Grand Tetons June 2005

       Daily log below reflects the trials and tribulations of a small group of our friends heading west into charted waters for life long dream fulfillment to see and feel first hand the Great Rocky Mountains.
      Our caravan heads west from Michigan to Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and home again. Thirty days plus covering some 4500 miles in all.  Members of the party are:
     Errol & Nora Atkinson  -  Chuck & Mary Berg  -  Bob & Carol Oshnock  - Nick & Patti Rieser  -  Lytle & Donna Russell

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Thursday May 26, 2005  - Getting ready!
Excited as school boy getting ready to skip school. Camper came back from service last night and today will be spent reading for the trek. We had a rain leak on the driver-side floor that I couldn't find. Warranty handled it (I hope).


Friday May 27, 2005      St. Clair Shores, MI to Coldwater, MI  156 miles
Got most all preparations finished yesterday today we wait for the garbage men. Friday is our pick up day and can't leave a mess behind. Usually they're here by 8 am but on the days we want to leave early they seem to sense it and come late. 10 am still not here 10:30 nope, 11:15 I can't wait any longer I asked our neighbor if she would put the cans away, we left at 11:30 am.  Got a call on the road from son Gary who asked us to meet him at I-75 and Dequindre. Worked out good because that's were we met the Riesers as well. Seems son Gary wanted to drop off a gift for his Pop when he realized we are leaving ahead of schedule, hence the meeting. New seats for the bikes, thank you. We're rolling and for the first seventy-five miles with out a hitch. Seventy-six miles and we're at a dead stop due to construction. Thirty minutes to the next exit where we headed south for an uneventful rest of the day. Pulled into Coldwater's Wal Marts where we hope to meet the Bergs and Atkinsons. 
     Errol and Nora rolled in and we received a call from Chuck and Mary saying they won't arrive until the schedule time tomorrow. We all sat around a watched home-movies till bed time. Boy weren't they sleepy!

Saturday May 28, 2005     Various starting points to Princeton, IL. 256 miles,  Gas $1.92
     Everyone was up early, still excited I'm sure. We headed towards the Indiana toll road I-80 which was only a twenty minute drive. We were to meet around noon Detroit time, so we had lots of time. We topped off the gas then drove to the meeting area on the toll road. To our surprise Lytle and Donna had pulled in just ahead of us. Mary and Chuck are the only ones left. They Arrive half hour ahead of schedule in a brand new motorhome. twenty-five foot Coachmen with slide-out. After inspection we rolled west deciding to leave the Chicago mess by heading south to US 30.
     We don't know for sure if we made a good decision or not but after 193 traffic lights ( all red), we all felt we would have been better off on I-80. We pushed on to Princeton Illinois where we arrive  around 6 pm. It's been a long laborious day and we all welcomed Wal Marts. Yes, WM for another night.
     Chuck used a hand-held CB all day with very limited transmissions. So in Wal Mart's lot we were helping to install an external antenna to increase output. To make a long story short. We have to buy a new connecting RF cable for chuck since it fell apart in my hands.. GROAN.

Sunday May 29, 2005      Princeton, IL. to Council Bluffs  360 miles, gas $1.82
     We schedule departure for 8 am local time but found ourselves all standing around gabbing at 7 am so by 7:30 am we're motoring again. Today was a big drive day but everything hereafter should be less. A couple of rest stops a lunch stop and a reorganization stop and here we are in Council Bluffs. Super Wal Mart again tonight then a real campground tomorrow night, something we are all looking forward to.
     Well after a long hard day everyone opt for dinner out. So for the first time since we left home we dined out, Applebee's don't you know. After a short wait we were eating, drinking, and unwinding, food was delicious.
     Lytle had some minor problems, about one a day. First his cruise control needed a new wire, then a muffler strap gave way, and tonight a pair of batteries for the coach. (picture).  Chuck asked Errol to install his CB in his new rig (picture). Nick was having problems connecting to the internet via his cell phone, I think we resoled that problem, his email is flowing.  All in all things are good. Even Dieter and Gypsy are doing well...  Looking forward to tomorrow.

Monday May 30,   Council Bluffs to North Platte   285 miles gas $1.95
      Woke up to another cloudy day. It seems it's getting colder instead of warmer out. The driving has been about the same, basically flat farm land without a lot of attractions. Drizzled most of this afternoon but didn't hamper driving any. Interstate 80 in Nebraska has turned lousy in the last three years. A constant rumble bumble bouncy ride. It looks new cement but vary undulating, we were all glad to pull into the Holiday campground. Outside temperature at 4 pm is 58. The rain has stopped but it's still overcast. Walked the park and laid back the rest of the evening. 
      Initial investigation found interesting things around here to visit. Buffalo Bill's park, Union Pacific Bailey Yard (over 10,000 rail cars handled every 24 hours, 3,000 sorted daily), Cody Park, and a Wild West Memorial. We'll talk about staying a day to do some tourist stuff. 

Tuesday May 31,   North Platte   
     Rain, cold what a start for a day of touring the city. Being the troopers that we are we gathered with bright spirits for a group photo (picture). We had some time before things opened so at the request of Ron Reuter I got a picture of Berg's new rig (picture).  Everyone else gathered in our motorhome to wait till 9:00 am. for things to open up in town (picture  picture).
    First stop the Buffalo Bill museum. This was a real nice bit of history at a reasonable cost. Because we were a group we got in for two bucks a person. Mary operated some of her childhood toys (picture). A collection of early American dolls was enjoyed by Patti & Mom (picture). After the museum we all jumped aboard the caboose (picture) before we all drove down the block to Buffalo Bill's homestead (picture). A gorgeous piece of property kept in great condition by the state. In the barn they had some nice wagons and artifacts. We took in a short informative movie about Buffalo Bill (picture).
     Next up was a self-guided tour of the largest rail distribution yard in the world, the Bailey Yard (picture). We watched the gravity feed system from a small observation platform (picture).  From a twenty foot high mound train cars would roll down by gravity to the mixing bowl. (That's where they are fed to various tracks to build trains). This is mind boggling, I never seen so many diesel engines in my life (picture) and these were only the ones in for repair.. They move 10,000 cars every 24 hours of which 3,000 are sorted across 114 different tracks. This yard is so big and busy that some of the engines are not manned. There are signs all over cautioning you to beware (picture).
     After the yard we went to another yard where we could climb all over the equipment (picture). Donna got into it and was about to deliver some steam (picture). Now for the best thing of the day, the sun came out and the temperature soared.. What a beautiful day ending to what turn out to have been a real fun as well as educational day...(picture). Here is a (picture) of our ducks in a row at the Holiday campground. In order are the Bergs, Atkinsons, Oshnocks, Riesers, and the Russells.
     Tomorrow a long drive day so early to bed tonight....

Wednesday  June 1,   North Platte NB to Rawlins WY  368 miles, gas $1.95
     Everyone's up early, sunshine, clear day, and ready to go. Chuck grabbed the lead and we were off and running by 8 am. Everything went smoothly to Big Springs. Not far beyond this I-80 bends slightly to the northwest and I-76 bends to the southwest, just before this intersection Mary spotted smoke at the Big Spring east bound exit and we all saw an 18 wheeler burning on the ramp, big fire. It was an engine fire and all appeared safe. We moseyed on to this I-80 split where some construction was underway right at the bend. Well some of us bent and some didn't. As the trailers leaned north and watched our leader bend south to Colorado. Loud shouts were heard on the CB as the Bergs and Russells headed south. We went on a little way to the next rest area and settled in.  After a short time I got a call from Mary stating "Nothing seamed to be going right" they had to travel to Colorado before they could turn around. Next the exit to north bound I-80 was closed because of this construction so they had to go on east to the next exit. This is where the 18 wheeler was on fire so there they sat waiting for the exit ramp to clear.. I detected a little sadness in Mary's voice. It wasn't long before they we back in the fold and we were on our way. Chuck temporarily relinquished his leadership role.
     We stopped in Cheyenne for lunch and were off again heading west. It was here we discovered good news that my chart was off by hundred miles and we would be in Laramie way to early. We decided to push on past Laramie the hundred miles to shorten tomorrow's drive, so we did. Off to the south we could see the snow capped mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park, beautiful site. Winds were picking up and the sky begin to darken as we pushed on. We passed the Green River wind generators, a wind energy farm of over a hundred large wind-mill style generators. As we drove on we passed another sign which read Caution High Winds next 5 miles, every 5 miles thereafter was another sign, this went on for well over 25 miles.
     We all checked in to RV World in Rawlins WY just before dinner. A Pass Port America park which means we saved 50 %, cost $11. Later that evening we gathered in out home to firm up tomorrows travels. We'll be on a two lane road all day so it was decided to spread out and not be concern with tight travel. We all know final destination and have cell phone for problems so it should go well..

Thursday  June 2,   Rawlins WY to Grand Tetons 268 miles, gas $2.31
     8 am. the Atkinsons and Bergs stopped at a local restaurant for breakfast while the rest of us motored north. The driving was great no traffic  good roads and excellent scenery. As we started out under a cloudy sky but we could see bright a sky ahead. Only a few miles down the road we could see the snow capped peaks of the Teton chain of mountains (picture). The scenery along required frequents stops to capture the moment (picture). I don't know if you could live here like this (picture), would you get anything done?
     After a Mexican lunch stop in Lander and several hours of driving we were closing in on the Grand Tetons. The winding road took us up to 9600 feet and as we approached it we spotted patches of snow tuck away in the pine tree forest. The higher we climbed the more snow. Now there's snow everywhere, in fact it's coming out of the sky. Snow more snow blinding blowing snow, as we reached the summit we were at near white-out conditions. As we crested and headed down the snow subsided giving way once again to sunshine and green grass. Finally our destination the Grand Tetons (picture).
     We checked into Colter Village Campground $46 per, had dinner and took a mini motor tour. In less than an hour of driving we seen Elk (picture), Buffalo (picture), Moose and baby (picture).  I think we're in for a nice stay..

Friday June 3     Grand Tetons
Jackson Hole today! Another day of confusion. We going in three separate cars with the understanding that we'll all meet at 4 pm at the world famous Silver Dollar for dinner. Mary said she'll make reservations and we should check with the restaurant when we get to town to be sure she able to make reservations. Errol & Nora were the first to leave. Errol stopped in before leaving inquiring that he should stay on 191 to get there. I said yes it goes right through the center of town. Russells joined the Bergs they were the next to leave, and we left a short time later with the Riesers. 
     The sun started peeking out as we got to town, and after shopping in a few of the hundreds of gift shop we walked over to the Silver Dollar (picture). Here we learned that the time has been changes to 5:30 pm.   So it was a good thing I checked.  Mom asked me about the menu which of course I didn't check. So Nick, Pat and Mom went back in to see what's what as I waited outside. Pat and Mom came back out and I asked where Nick was. "He's still inside sitting down awaiting oxygen."  Paste plate $17.95 and that was the cheapest thing on the menu. So the reservation was changed from 10 to 6 people. Walking around we caught up with the Bergs and Russells and explained our sentiments about the costly dinning and gain support from the Russells. The Bergs felt that was the cost of traveling and if you want to dine with the best you have to pay. As we sat under the antler arch in the city park (picture) we quarried each other the whereabouts of Errol & Nora, after all we left before 10 am and it was almost 1 pm.  I was able to contact Errol on the cell phone and questioned his location. He said he was still on the road about 10 mile out of town. Asking him where he's been he replied "Yellowstone."  Well after a long discussion we learned he headed north on 191 instead of south taking him to Old Faithful.
     In a short time Errol and Nora join us under the antlers where we talked more about the cost of the dinner. Nora agreed she didn't have to spend that much for dinner. After a Hagen Daus break provided by Nick (picture) we left for Teton Village to take a gondola ride to the top of the mountain (picture). Atkinsons weren't up for the ride and decide to shop around town. The Russells and Bergs were so up for it they skipped ice cream and left before us.
     A short ten minute drive to Teton Village and senior tickets of $14 pp. we were soon heading up. Twelve minutes to traverse 4000 feet to the 10,000 foot summit. Temperature at the top 21, winds 20 mph, snow, you won't believe (picture).  We spent half hour at the top taking pictures and had a hot coffee in the small comfort station. On the ride down (picture) we asked driver to recommend a good place to eat. He rattled off a number local bars so I rephrased the question. Where can you get a good hamburger. The best hamburger in town was at the Cadillac House 'Billie's Burger'.  Now here is an experience. A horseshoe counter seating about twenty customers was filled. Fortunately for us a mother and three kids left and we jumped in. The counter horseshoed around the grill where two young men or old kids hustled burgers and fries. The burgers were delicious and the guys behind the counter were great entertainment. example, when a customer paid with a credit card he shouted who else wants their bill on this card. We had a vary enjoyable day and topped off with a great burger, what else could ask for...
On our ride back we saw buffalo off the road when Carol spotted one running back and forth along the fence, on the road side. We stopped and watched the frustrated buffalo when he decided to come on to the highway (picture). We continued on our way with the buffalo roaming.

Saturday June 4th    Tetons WY  to Yellowstone WY   61 miles
    Goodbye Tetons  hello Yellowstone. Causal departure and easy drive north. Wireless and cell service is slim to none I may not be able to get on for another three days. We're staying at Fishing Bridge RV park $35 per right in the middle of  Yellowstone. Made reservations for a circle tour tomorrow which will last all day. Toured the general area and found a dial-up connection at Lake Village Hotel. Took the computer over and spent a hour uploading and retrieving. Ice cream at the general store and home for the evening. Mom baked a cake for Nora's birthday tomorrow. Baking at high altitude presents some problems, we'll see tomorrow.

Sunday June 5th      Yellowstone WY
     Park office at 9:15 am. (picture) (picture) for the circle tour. Our bus driver is a young girl and this is her first tour as a bus driver. Oh boy! First stop was the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Here as elsewhere in the park is where hot water bubbles up at temperatures in excess of 170. Nick checks the water (picture). This basin is located adjacent to Yellowstone lake (picture) and has numerous bubbling pools of crystal clear water with vary colorful mineral deposits encrusted around the pools (pictures). 
     Next stop is Old Faithful . We stopped here for an hour and half, time enough to see one blow. She blew twenty minutes early and not a very impressive blow either (picture). Hundreds of folks ringed the geyser for a view (picture). Some sat in the distance cause they've seen it all before (picture). The water leaving these hot spring paint a colorful picture on the mounding walls (picture). Here in front of the lodge we got a view of the type of tour car we'll be in at Glacier (picture).
     Continuing the tour we stopped at several viewing areas along the way and also seen a lot of wild life. I got this neat shot of a bull Elk (picture) at the side of the road. As the tour ended our last stop was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. A very colorful canyon which was over 1,800 feet deep. as you look at this picture try and see the depth as well as the color (picture).
     After the nine hour tour we all went home and ate then met at our place for coffee and cake so we could sing happy birthday to Nora (picture) (picture). Nothing scheduled for tomorrow everyone will do something on their own.

Monday June 6th      Yellowstone WY
     During the night it rained, according to everyone it rained all night. The morning was cold wet and drizzling. Thinking about the day and the days ahead I could see no point in remaining here. We saw what we wanted to see in this area. From here to the north park exit is 50 miles and the remainder of what we want to see is at the north end. I suggested seeing if we could get a refund for tonight and drive to the north-end today and dry camp at the park in the north end. We'll save $28 and we'll be 50 miles closer to or next destination. Russells and Riesers were up for it. Bergs felt they wanted to do something around the camper and preferred to stay put. Atkinsons said they would stay with them.
     We got our refund and the three rigs motored to the north end. A two hour drive to go the 50 miles. We stopped a few times, once because a bison had planted himself square in the middle of the roadway (picture). After several minutes he lumbered off and we were on our way again. We checked in and had lunch at which time the rain stopped. We drove over to the Terraces to investigate. I was totally amazed at what we found. Mineral Terraces that flowed with hot mineral water, 14 years ago when we had last visited here, were all dried up (picture).  There is still activity but not to the scale we had seen (picture) (picture). As we walked and drove around we found various formations that we enjoyed (picture). The information posting explained the Terraces do in fact dry-up some times for weeks and sometimes for years.
     This day was Nick and Patti's anniversary. Nick wanted to treat his bride to a sit down dinner so we all decided to join him. We had a very good meal at a very nice dinning room. We talked about Bergs and Atkinsons and wished they had been here to dine with us. After dinner we walked over to the ice cream shop and had our desert. We'll leave at 8 am and will meet-up with the rest of our group tomorrow night at the predetermined camp sight, SWM Missoula MT.  

Tuesday June 7th,      Yellowstone WY to Missoula MT    280 miles  gas $2.29
     A beautiful bright morning and a gorgeous drive. Interesting thing, as we left the Yellowstone via the north entrance we had to stop at the gate and show our receipt or Golden Age Passport.  ??  Didn't question anything just showed and drove on wondering why. First time I ever showed anything leaving a park. 
     We followed, I believe, the Yellowstone River north through the beautiful valley for some fifty miles to I-90. I was impressed by how many homes we seen along the way. They were scattered and remote but we always had some outstanding view in the distance of a homestead on a grassy mountain side or meadow with snow capped mountains in the distance. Even along I-90 the valley opened wider revealing the "Big Sky Country" in all it's grandeur. Sunshine and fluffy white clouds on a bright blue sky made for a very pleasant drive. We ate lunch in Butte  and continued along I-90. An hour out of Butte I called Errol to see how they were moving. We determined they were only about an hour behind us, as they were just coming to Butte, even after stopping in Bozeman to pick-up a prescription the Bergs had forwarded. (Someone forgot to bring enough pills).  
     We pulled in to a supper Wal Mart at the north end of Missoula which was very crowded. In circling the building signs were posted "No overnight RV parking."  We found space at the side of the building and Mom went in to do our grocery shopping and asked management if RV overnight parking was OK, they replied it was OK.  About this time the Bergs and Atkinson pulled in and we all together again.
     Glacier Park's western entrance tomorrow..

Wednesday June 8th,      Missoula MT    to Glacier National Park 160 miles  gas $2.29
     OK that's it. We've been cat and mousing with mother nature for over a week now. Nice enough to do our thing but each night a little rain, during the day  mixed clouds, at the Teton sporadic views of the mountains. This morning a little warmer with a promising outlook for the drive north. Well the drive north proved to be just fine except for a small truck was trying to pass Nick and their mirrors smacked leaving Nicked with cracked glass and the run away truck with a dangling mirror.. Near the entranced of Glacier we stopped for lunch in Columbia Falls. Now driving to the park entrance with only a couple of miles to go it started raining. We pulled into Apgar campground taking advantage of out NP Golden Age Passport which brought the price of camping down from $15 a night to $7.50, and set up camp. OK the rain is bad enough but after donning our rain gear bring out the umbrellas and walked to the edge of Lake McDonald to view and photograph the mountains across the lake we find the mountains are now cloud covered... Tomorrow is our prepaid chartered Red Bus Tour across the Going to the Sun Highway. Well we've learned regardless that the highway was opened two months ago when I made reservations they have since close the highway due to heavy snow. No refunds. Good news at 2 pm they have opened the highway. Bad news 5 pm they closed the highway. Good news 6 pm they may have it opened by morning. Bad news suppose to rain all week... Then a little something to cheer me up as members of the party stopped by they added, "You know we just talked to the kids back home, you know it's 91 in Detroit today."  Today has not been a good day. We had some booze, joked the best we could ,and I guess that made us all feel a little better.

Thursday June 9th,      Glacier National Park west to Cut Bank MT  102 miles
     Seven am. still sprinkling, heavy overcast, and no mountains in sight. What's the point of going up the mountain if you can't see anything at $76 a couple. We were all at the staging area promptly by 8:15 am. to learn the pass is closed. I talked to the Red Bus driver and explained to him that we contracted to go across the mountain. He said that won't happen today but the company will take us for an all day ride around the mountain. I said I don't think so. Asked about refund, and he said the lodge at lake McDonald well handle the problem for us. So all ten of us went got into the Red Bus and were driven ten miles up to the lodge. After consulting with our group we all agreed to go for the refund not the ride around the bottom of the mountain. I talked to Jan at the desk who said no problem and got on the phone made three calls, disappeared, came back with another person and they explained that the policy is no refunds. Discussion took place and bottom line is, I would have to write a request explaining the circumstances and request the refund. Stressed but left with no options agreed and we all returned to a Red Bus for the return trip to the camp ground. Still sprinkling out side, windows in the Red bus fogged up, no heat in the bus, cloud cover meant no Mountain pictures, everyone is a little stressed.
     With the forecast of continued bad weather we all met and decided not to stay but drive around the bottom of the mountain to the east side which we did. We stopped for a lunch break at a river overlook (picture) and tried to cheer each other up. Talk continued as to what to do now. After Glacier we had planned to touch Waterton Park Canada for high-tea at the Prince of Wales hotel. Now we've learned the Atkinsons don't have the necessary paper work for their dog so that's out for them. On the east side of the mountain, weather still a main factor for "dry" camping, we could not locate a campground. Stress mounts. We continued to drive east to the center of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to the small town of Browning with a small "tacky" campground. Again we gather and decided to move farther east along US 2 to Cut Bank at a full service campground there. We arrived in late afternoon, still raining sometimes heavy, at Riverview campground ($18) where it looks like we will be the only guest. We decided to stay anyway.
     Here I called my credit card company and explain the lack of service from the tour company, they credited my account.
     Deleting three night in the Glacier area puts us ahead of schedule. After a lot of talk back and forth it sounds like two couple would like to go back (one hour drive), two couple would like to go on, and one couple not real sure yet. We already knew that Atkinsons and Bergs would taking the fast road home after Deadwood because of other commitments. We'll decide in the morning.
     Still in a cell phone dead area we found high speed internet at the Supper Eight across the highway from camp. Nick and I parked in their lot and up loaded web stuff and checked mail...

Friday June 10th,      Cut Bank MT  back to Glacier National Park east MT   66 miles  gas 2.23
     Sun Shine, 7 am blue skies sun shine, warmer day and sun shine. Oh what a beautiful day, sun shine (picture). The group gathered this morning and all expressed there desires. Atkinsons and the Bergs plan to continue on east. The rest of are heading back to GLACIER! Everyone is in excellent spirits. What a difference a day makes. We all talked for about an hour before saying our good byes and yellow rocks. I stopped one more time to upload the web then we headed west across US 2 to Glacier's eastside.
     We parked at St. Mary's campground (NP $8.50) just inside the gate on the eastside of the park. We had lunch and then load ourselves into the Blue Bus (Nick's Liberty) and headed up the Going to the Sun Highway to Logan's Pass. The drive up gave us the pictures we wanted. The road is still not opened all the way across but at least we made to the top (picture).  And, here is a picture  of son Gary when he biked across Ameica a few years ago.Yes there was snow at the pass this day and lots of it (picture).  On the way down we stopped again at one of the many pull offs to view the big horn sheep (picture). They were too far off to shoot with the camera but we all enjoyed seeing them, about twelve in all. We did see the Red Buses on the way down (picture). We must of got in and out of the car fifty times to see the views and walk the short trails.
     After dinner we set out for homemade pies at a small restaurant near the park entrance. We finished our delicious deserts and it was only 8 pm so we decided to hunt bear, after all it's still light at 10:30 pm here. We drove to Many Glaciers area to take in the lodge and lake views (picture). No bear sighting but a large male moose with full paddle horns. No picture to distance. We also saw this mother moose with her calf (picture).

Saturday June 11th,  Glacier National Park east
     We decided to spend another day here  and drive up to Waterton Park Canada. We all climbed into the Greyhawk and took the scenic ride north. Customs was not a problem. The agent did come aboard check our ID and passed us through. The town of Waterton Park is a small tourist area with very little traffic today. We think the traffic was light because of the recent rash of bad weather it was very quiet. Prince of Wales hotel is picturesquely located here. We had a long lunch (Russells) (Riesers) (Oshnocks) at a water front restaurant then did a little shopping (picture). The return trip was uneventful with the sighting of only a few sheep and deer. We talked about heading east tomorrow.

Sunday June 12th,  Glacier National park to Helena MT   247 miles  gas $2.20
     (note:  I added a few pictures to yesterday's note)
     This day will start our return trip home, the furthest north (Waterton CA) and the furthest west (West Glacier) have been achieved so this is the turnaround point. We had a casual start this morning with heavy overcast sky returning and as we hit the road rain started. We made adjustments to our itinerary as we are now leaving from St. Mary's and not Waterton Park. We would arrive Great Falls way too early, instead we'll push on to Helena MT, and do a SWM for the night. The drive along U.S. 89 was all grass land, you could not see a tree in any direction for miles. As we neared Helena on I-15 the road wound through some mountains as it follow the mighty Missouri River. This was a very scenic drive.
  Since the weather dictates our activities, we'll catch up on the laundry and shop Wal Marts tonight. 

Monday June 13th,   Helena MT  to Hardin MT 301 miles  gas $2.21
     On the road a 8 am. Perfect blue sky with white cotton puff clouds (picture). The driving was spectacular! first mountains then the rolling treeless expanses of the prairie. Driving was easy because there was no traffic, excellent roads and Dieter co-piloting (picture). We stopped for lunch at Big Timbers (an oxymoron I think) and watched the artist paint the mountains (picture). Carol said the man was made of steel (picture). 
     We checked into Grandview Campground, $25 includes discount and 7% bed tax. Bed tax is the only tax you have to pay in Montana, no sales tax on anything. After dinner a young boy came around saying there would be an ice cream social at 7:30 pm. While eating our four scoops at $1.50 we talked with some other campers who were on their way to Glacier NP. As we talked they explained they were traveling in a group of four rigs and just came from where we are going. Nick asked if they belonged to a club or something and they replied "Yes we're all square dancers."  
     Square dancers don't you know.  They danced in Texas with Nasser at the Fun N Sun where we stayed and danced this past winter. We probably danced with them. They brought along some records and invited us to dance if we could find a flat surface.  No dancing so we just took a drive around the area to wind down the night.

Tuesday June 14th,   Hardin MT 
     Flag day. Good day to tour Custer's last stand. We watched Lytle work on his motorhome this morning. His brake assist wasn't working so he was under the rig. He replaced a relay to no avail so he called the local diesel mechanic. Low and behold a young lady came in and made the repair. A blown fuse and loose wire. Lytle was happy. Take a look at the rig that pulled in while I was sitting at our campsite (picture). I think Bankstahl was talking about getting a setup like that.
     While the repair work was going on we went with the Riesers to the battlefield (picture). The main exhibit of course is the hill of the last stand (picture). Nick bought a motor tour CD so after walking the immediate area and taking in the ranger's presentation we drove the four mile path learning all about Custer and the army and Indian's positions in the area.
     We made it home in time for dinner and the ice cream social. The other square dancers were at social as well and we all talked for some time. Ending the evening watching the Pistons beat San Antonio.      (picture)?

Wednesday June 15th,   Hardin MT to Gillette WY    185 miles
     Nice day nice drive. Leisure day, departed around 9 am. and arrived Gillette in time to have lunch at Granny's Kitchen. Gillette is known as the Energy Capital of the Nation producing 30% of the nation's coal. Driving into Gillette the horizon is dotted with oil and natural gas wells. An open pit coal mine utilizing house-size mining equipment is near by. 
     We spent the night at Green Tree's Crazy Woman campground $23. Crazy Woman was named after a woman who spend years alone living on the banks of Crazy Woman Creek. She set her wickiup alone on the banks of the creek and on moonlit nights, she could be seen leaping back and forth across the creek.
     The Crow Indians considered this Crazy Woman a symbol of good luck. They choose this name for the campground to bring good luck to the traveling campers..

Thursday June 16th,    Gillette WY  to  Deadwood SD   136 miles  gas $2.05
     Bright and sunny departure. We drove up to Devils Tower (picture), which was a little out of our way. An interesting area in the fact why so many people want to see a large stone. This is still early in the vacation season and yet as we entered the park and drove the three miles to the visitors center we could not fine a space to park all three rigs. Nick dropped off Patti and asked me to pick her up as he and the Russells headed back down the road away. I parked our camper in a few vacant car-spots and we three walked to the base of the tower. It is a fascinating area, as we gazed up the rock wall (picture
) we spotted a climber (picture) ascending the thousand foot vertical wall. We were soon on or way again rolling into Deadwood in time for dinner. We checked into Whistler Gulch campground  ($32) located at the edge of town.
     We took the trolley from the campground to town (.50) where Lytle immediately found a way to pay for the trip (picture) and Donna found other interests (picture).  We all walked Main street  and enjoyed the sights (picture) (notice the second floor windows) and gun fight (picture).  After walking the town we all went to the Silverado for a buffet dinner (picture).  Afterwards, the Russells got lost in a casino and the the Riesers took the trolley home. Mom and I sat at the bar in Kevin Costner's "Midnight Star" and watched the Pistons whoop San Antonio.

Friday June 17th,     Deadwood SD   
     Talked with Errol on the cell the other day. They had a good time in Deadwood and they were leaving the Corn Palace in Mitchell SD that day. Errol has had a roof leak in his shower that I asked about and he said he has not been able to patch it. Other than that all is well.
     Another great looking day ahead of us today. We all piled in Nick's car and headed a couple of miles to Lead SD. Home of the once most famous gold mine in the world, the Homestake Gold Mine (picture). Large surface open pit mine in addition to shaft mining to depths of over 8,000 feet. There's still gold in these there hills but just too costly to retrieve from these depths, the mine closed a few years ago. George Hearst (California) bought the claim of five acres for $70K in the 1877 and eventually bought the mining rights to the whole area. The Homestake mine produced over 40 million ounces of gold during it's lifetime.
     Next we were off to the Deadwood cemetery where we walked over to the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (picture). Boothill is located high above Deadwood and offers some nice pictures. Walking the cemetery is tiring due to the hilly terrain, but fun and interesting to read the inscription of stones such as "Killed by Indians at 38 years, 1879."  And, Hickok's "Died by pistol shot at 39, Custer was lonely without him."
     Nick talked with a fellow camper who had visited Kevin Costner's Bison/Indian museum called Tetenka. Originally Costner wanted to build a large resort hotel here with the bison and Indian theme. Seeking partners proved difficult for this theme and the project was scrubbed. From the onset he had commissioned a local artist/sculpture to create life size sculptures of how the Indians would roundup bison and run them off a cliff to provide food and hides. The resulting sculptures remained in storage for several years with no planned use until the idea/his dream materialized into a museum for the property. The resulting museum was very rewarding  and the walk of the property was awesome and inspiring (picture). Placement of a real Indian (picture) influenced the dramatization. Mom got a little too close to this one (picture).
     Took the trolley downtown this evening. Deadwood is celebrating Wild Bill Days by closing off all of Main Street and providing a live music concert. The band playing was 38 special. Unknown to us but most everyone else seemed to like them (picture). To be sure everyone could see and hear, one block up the street they had more speakers and a huge video screen showing what was going on down the street (picture). We tried to get into it but it was all after our time (picture).  We step into a casino for some quiet.

Saturday June 18th,    Deadwood SD   to Mount Rushmore 56 miles  
     Russells first up and first ready to go each day, stopped by early and said they were anixous to move on. Previously said they had planned to head to northern Michigan after viewing Mount Rushmore so today is the day. We exchanged yellow-rocks and they were on their way.
     Nick and I sat around talking and Nick asked are they going today because they won so much last night and want to share it with their son in upper Michigan. Donna hit for 5,000 coins last night. Naw, they just have good news from upper Michigan and want to share in the family joy, no money involved.
     Oshnocks and Riesers rolled out of camp around nine am. heading for Mount Rushmore. Two hours later we were checking into Pass Port America's Spokane Creek RV Campground, $12 per. This is the ultimate campground, each day they bake, right there in the office, fresh bread and cinnamon rolls. Now how can you beat that.
     Since it was still early we drove over to Mount Rushmore. The drive itself was memorable, scenery, hair pin curves, tight tunnels, and wala President George Washington (picture). We walked the aisle of state flags (picture). Walked up close to the base of mountain and took pictures from every angle. Even a picture from miles away was impressive. Then of course the ice cream break (picture). After ice cream Nick took a few minutes to explain how this all came about (picture). A great day!

Sunday June 19th,    Mount Rushmore 
     Happy Father's Day boys. We are in a no cell phone area again but we will call tomorrow (I hope). Today is a tour day, Chief Crazy Horse and Custer State Park. The first thing out of the campground we seen wild life,  Antelope (picture), this was a good sign of things to come.
     Observation: On this trip we've seen acres and acres of burn forest. I've never seen so much burn area over such a wide spread area from the Grand Tetons through Yellowstone, around Glacier, and now here in the Black Hills. In a lot of the areas they've cleaned the forest floors as a preventive. It looks so different to look into the woods and be able to see into the woods. The underbrush has been cleared away (picture) stacked by inmates to be burnt during a winter snow. You can see thousands of stacks of brush as you drive along.
     We stopped many times along the roads for picture after picture. The Needles Hwy is a fun drive as you watch all the peoples fascination with the small passages (picture). We made it to Crazy Horse and paid the $24 parking/entry fee to show our support for the project. It's been seven years since we've been here and there hasn't been a lot of visible change to the sculpture (picture). But, if you look close you can see progress. There are bulldozers in this picture. The head alone is over 90 feet tall. The most change occurred in the visitors center, it's tripled in size (picture). We had a good lunch of buffalo-burger and then we were on our way to Custer Park.
     We cautioned Nick about driving in an animal preserve (picture) but he was still a little nervous. The heard of buffalo was large as well as the many calves that accompanied it (picture). A little farther down the road Nick was ready to give up driving (picture). Mom from the back seat found a friend (picture).  Patti found one too (picture). We enjoyed all the critters (picture) before returning to camp to roast hot dogs over our first campfire.. Great day!

Monday June 20th,    Mount Rushmore SD to Badlands SD  125 miles  gas $2.19
     We were rolling by 9 am. heading for Wall SD, free ice water and 5 coffee. Not much change here (picture), one main street and a lot of shopping (picture). We had coffee and pie at Wall Drug and did a little more shopping? (picture) before heading for the Badlands. We took the scenic loop through the interior (picture) stopping for pictures at most turnouts (picture). We found a Pass Port America campground, Badlands Trail RV park where we ended our day. Hot this day over well ninety. This campground is located about ten miles from the Badlands located in the middle of no where. A little oasis near the White River...

 Tuesday June 21st,     Badlands SD to Mitchell SD.  211 miles gas 2.03
     Hot night and warm morning. Driving day, and rain for the drive. Heavy rain for two hours but as we zeroed in on Mitchell the rain stopped. We selected the Super Wall Mart for the night. Before dinner we toured the town and the Corn Palace the stopped at the Depot for dinner. This is the same restaurant we visited in 1998's trip. Look the same and the food was good. After dinner a return to SWM to watch the Piston beat San Antonio. A good over all day...

Wednesday June 22nd,     Mitchell SD  to Glencoe MN   (near Mall of America)    256 miles 
     We'll deviating from our planned route from here on in. We're coming home via the Mall of America and the U.P. of Michigan.  Beautiful drive day, we stopped at Pipestone MN to see what it was all about. Pipestone is the location of an earthen layer of stone that is soft and can be cut into pipes. This is the only spot known to have this layer of rock (picture). More enjoyable than looking at the rocks in the ground were the sixty some antique cars that paraded in to this National Monument. (picture  picture). A club of 1926 to 1928 Chevrolets owners organized this trip, members were from all over the United Stated. The cars were beautiful (picture). When I first seen the old cars come rolling in I expected to Frank Kot among them.
     We drove along MN route 23 to U.S. 212 towards the Mall of America. We stopped about an hour outside of Minneapolis at a Super 8 Motel.  Yep, we saw a sign on the road "Super 8 welcome RV'ers."   For $12 we got full service plus coffee in the morning..

Thursday June 23rd,     Glencoe MN   to Woodville WI (east of Mall of America)    105 miles gas $2.04
     We left a little after nine and drove about an hour to the Mall of America. Little confusion as to where to park but found a large empty lot right across the street from the mall. With charge cards in hand we stormed the mall. The center of the mall is a large entertainment park with a load of nice rides (picture). Circling around this are three levels of stores anchored at four corners with large department stores. To give you an idea of the size, we spent over six hours there without going into any of the department stores and did not completely circle all three levels. So to just walk around all three levels and do the department stores is over eight hours of work. Of course my favorite store is Tyler's store, the Lego Shop (picture).  Another good thing is there is a lot to eat there (picture).  More Lego pictures picture. All pictures taken this day are complements of Pat Rieser, thank you.
     Just after leaving the Mall and returning to the camper the phone was ringer from a return call from Errol. He said they just got home this day and that when the Bergs left to go to relatives a few days ago they decided to head back to the Mall as well. After the Mall they headed across Michigan's UP then home. He said they had a real good time. We're about five days behind them. looking forward to getting together with everyone after we return home.
     After the Mall we drove a couple hours to a Core of Engineers park where our Golden Age Pass is honored and camped for half price $9. Hot day today...

Friday June 24th,     Woodville WI (east of Mall of America) to Escanaba MI  315 miles 
     Seems like this was a very long drive day. Big thing of the day was a lunch stop in the parking lot of a Best Western where we did the internet thing. Overcast day with no rain. Sun came out when we hit Escanaba about 7 pm local time. Spending the night at Escanaba SWM.

Saturday June 25th,    Escanaba MI  to Brevort MI 119 miles  gas $2.04
     Short drive just to be able to spend time along the uppers short line. We stopped and bought some smoke fish and pasties, so got our fix. Campfire at the National Campground and hot dogs for dinner. 
     Web location for Nick and Patti Blog.

Sunday, June 26th,    Brevort MI to N. of Rose City MI   150 miles
     Hot and sunny. Wed stopped at the National Forest campground Wagner Lake, about 15 sites for $5 a night (Golden Age Passport). We had a camp fire and Nick burnt the last of his wood (picture). Tomorrow home!

Monday, June 27th,    N. of Rose City to Saint Clair Shores MI  198 miles  gas $2.29
     Left Nick and Patti sleeping at 7:30 am as we departed for the Shores.. Arrived home around noon. The drive home was easy and it felt good to relax in our own yard...