I am way behind on documenting this trip, and I know I will forget some things. I had no cell service for much of it, and I didn’t even take very many pictures that I can post.
We left home on Wednesday, 7 June, for a big family get together in South Fakota. The first night we stayed at Flaming Gorge in a lovely campground named Lucerne near Manila, UT. Kevin made a reservation at the last minute to guarantee a lake front site with electricity. Cost was around $20 since the electricity was from a concessionaire. We had a lovely view of the lake and surrounding hills plus ok phone and data service. We just enjoyed the view from the recliners while under the trailer awning. It was a lovely start.
The next morning we headed to the Bighorn National Forest and found a spot at Boulder Park on the west side of the park. Absolutely no cell service, but a gorgeous mountain forest site. There were quite a few sites with long pads, but we had some trouble with narrow entry roads that weren’t wide enough to back in the site. Cost was a whopping $8 with our Senior Pass. We enjoyed the roaring creek providing all the white noise we could manage that night. On Friday morning I had a medical issue arise (lots of brand new “floaters” in my left eye) so we headed to Gillette on the east side of the NF to find an eye doctor. The very helpful Gillette Optometric Clinic worked me in on a busy Friday afternoon. I really appreciated the thoroughness of Dr. Fischer was did the examination. Turns out I had a vitreous detachment, fairly normal for someone of my age, but there is a 10% risk of a serious retinal issue in the next month so I need an ophthalmologist. He did say it was ok to continue with the vacation as long as I am aware of the symptoms and know where to find an emergency room with an ophthalmologist on call. This trip that is basically Rapid City! (I have already made an appointment for a follow up with the Moran Eye Center in SLC.) The only immediate issue is the huge bother of numerous dark floaters in my eye, one right dead center. Sigh. Supposedly they will get better in the next 3-6 months.
We stayed at the KOA next to Devil’s Tower Friday night. We didn’t even do any hiking, since I was emotionally exhausted and Kevin’s knee was really acting up. It was nice to have full hookups before going to a dry camping site (the family get together) for a week. Cost was somewhere around $35 or so for an older campground that definitely makes its money on tourists stopping for Devil’s Tower. One of the unusual thing they do is play the move “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” every evening. The movie centers around Devil’s Tower, and we saw a number of people heading that way. We have seen the move a number of times, so I didn’t feel the urge to see it this time.
Saturday was check in at the vacation rental we were staying at. Since the cabin was just outside of Spearfish and we spent the night only an hour away, we really dawdled leaving the KOA. We then decided to drive around some of the Black Hills since we couldn’t get to the rental until 4:00. We had a nice lunch at a cute diner in Hills City across from the school. I can’t remember the name because the sign out front just said “Diner”. We also looked at the railroad museum there. I wish I had thought to make reservations for the short train ride, but I totally forgot.
The vacation rental included one main cabin and a separate bunkhouse, each with two bedroom spaces. My oldest son’s family (including their three kids) took the bunkhouse, my daughter and her husband and baby took the upstairs bedroom in the main cabin, and my second son (single) took the second bed in the cabin. The cabins were in the woods, but there was a lovely meadow nearby where we parked the trailer. The new power converter Kevin installed a month or two back seemed to maintain the battery better than we expected. We were in a canyon without any cell service unless we had the cell booster turned on. With the booster we occasionally got two dots of LTE service on our Verizon phones. Just as often we would get one dot of 1X – voice but no data. We somehow burned out the transformer on our booster after the first day, but Kevin found one at a local store that worked just fine. One of the reasons I don’t have many pictures on this post is that I don’t like posting pictures of other people on a public site, and I did take lots of pictures of the family! We alternated spending a day primarily at the cabin with a day that had some sightseeing or exploring. It seemed to work out well for the little kids.
The last night at the cabin was Thursday, and everyone was gone by 10:00 on Friday morning. Kevin and I decided we wanted to stay in the Black Hills another day to do some sightseeing and relaxing. We ended up at the Rafter J, a really great private campground. It was also expensive at around $65. For that we got full hookups (including cable) and a pull through gravel site with lots of grass around it plus room to enjoy sitting outside. It rained quite a bit though, just like it had a lot of the week. We did get a chance to go through Spearfish Canyon and the Needles Highway though.
We had planned on staying in Rawlins, WY at the Walmart on Saturday night, but there wasn’t room in the parking lot! By 4:00 when we arrived there were already 3 vehicles with big trailers pulled in plus one pickup camper, and it has a small parking lot. We decided to go on to Rock Springs, and I am now in the Walmart lot there. It just kills me to pay $30-40 to just park for a night since we don’t need utilities, and I knew we would never find a public campground on a Saturday night in the summer. There is a lot of highway noise but no brakes or trains, so it should be ok when we close the trailer up to sleep. Continuous road noise acts likes white noise to me and doesn’t keep me awake. We should be home fairly early tomorrow since it is only four hours or so. Sometime on Sunday I will edit add a post with some pictures, but I wanted to write what I could now. Monday we will do laundry, go through the mail, and head to Bozeman on Tuesday to help my son move so we won’t be home long. I intend on being back Thursday night with a utility trailer full of his stuff while Kevin will stay until Friday. I am coming back early for the appointment with the ophthalmologist, and hoping for a good report.