This page is the illustrated journal of our fifth quarter-year of Dreamstreaming around North America, Jul 2008
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July 15, 2008
Both laying low today despite huge sightseeing and outdoor opportunities. Call it a down day, more for her recovery and my relaxation. Our first in a couple weeks or more. Nice to enjoy the quiet in the campground while everyone else is out and about away from the campground. Deb's catching up on periodicals and mostly staying on the bed. I've spent the day working on data, pictures, and websites.
The day started out cloudy and nice, around 60-65 degrees outside. It is now 80 degrees outside (at 1430 hours local) and the sun is brightly shining overhead a little from the west. We are beginning to have shade by a twenty feet tall quaking aspen tree six feet away from our camper. Tonight's temps will be in low sixties, a considerable difference from low thirties we had in Yellowstone. We were, in Yellowstone, at 7,700 feet above sea level. Our Helena campground is 3,900 feet above sea level. At nominal 3-5 degrees per thousand, this accounts for most of the night-time temps difference between the two locales.
We're in Helena, MT til tomorrow a.m. then off to Great Falls, MT for three days, then to St Marys, MT for three days, then West Glacier, MT for a couple days, then one night in Idaho on our way to eastern Washington and onward across Washington then south, along the Pacific Coast.
July 14, 2008
Our drive from Fishing Bridge Campground in Yellowstone NP was almost effortless and so scenic. We had previously entered and exited via Yellowstone's East, North, and South gates. We again shared the road with wildlife. Today it was a pair of svelte bison unhurriedly sauntering not so much across as down the road a ways.
Today we chose the West gate and drove too briefly through the little town of West Yellowstone. I wanted to stop and see the hundred-year old General Store but didn't plan well enough to include it for the drive today. We paired for the drive with another amateur radio operator, KF4GTJ Dave Blum, and his wife Linda. It was nice to have solid inter-car communication for the entire drive, no matter how far apart we might become during the 240 mile drive to Helena. Our drive took us along the Gallatin River most of the drive north. The scenery was much like following the Yellowstone River last month up to Bozeman, MT from Yellowstone. Both rivers are well-swollen from the large snow-melt still underway at higher elevations.
We arrived Helena, MT midday today and as quickly as we could drop our camper in the site we located a physician covered in our health plan.
Deb started a course of antibiotics late this afternoon for ear and sinus infection. We stayed out late today at Last Chance Ranch for a catered dinner with fun live entertainment (by Bruce Anfinson)in a thirty feet diameter tipi in mountains southwest of Helena. Wonderful meal cooked in an outdoor kitchen over large propane-fueled stove. Very nice salad, followed by whole grain rolls & butter, then prime rib, new potatoes, and sauteed vegetables. Last course was "cowboy" coffee and huckleberry cheesecake. The cowboy coffee was made by boiling water with the coffee grinds in the water, and serving without straining. Last cups from each 1.5 gallon pot were somewhat chewy! Returned to our camper after 2200 hours, and I was fueled until almost 0200 hours by the three cups of stout coffee.
July 13, 2008
We attended inter-denominational service this morning provided by A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. We and the students were delighted when the worshippers and the students leading the worship introduced themselves. Dowling McDade, from Mooresville, NC, is an ASU student! He is working this summer in the Yellowstone NP recycling center and each Sunday participates in presenting services at several venues in the Park.
Several of us hiked several miles out then back through woods and meadows after service. We spotted several deer nearby and one bison at great distance. Even better, throughout the hike we were surrounded by beautiful wildflowers and views of the Yellowstone River. We were hoping and gratified we didn't encounter any grizzlies. Some of our caravan group reported seeing grizzly bears at a distance from their cars within Yellowstone NP. I'm carrying "bear spray" and would much prefer not trying it out. This reminds me of bicycling in the Chapel Hill countryside in the mid nineteen-seventies.
Farm dogs seemed to lie in wait for me, hiding behind a chain link fence as if I couldn't see them through it. Some places and days I would take the bait and prepare myself to sprint just before they did. Other times I would resignedly turn back and they, sensing I would get no closer, would take futile chase after I had already put them distantly at my back. Finally I bought a small spray can of "HALT" to carry on my bicycle's handlebars. Would you believe the dogs could not only read but could do so at over sixty yards? Once I carried the spray deterrent, they no longer gave chase! Go figure. Well, the bear spray worked equally well today. Good investment, eh?
July 12, 2008
A chilly night last night dropped our little home's indoor temperature to 43 degrees F. No problem, we "lit" the furnace and the radiant
heater and soon enjoyed a hot "Happy Birthday to Jim" breakfast in a warm camper. He opened a couple of birthday cards
and his presents. Then we rode with Hugh and Jane Bartlett to Jackson Hole for the day. We left at 0830 hrs and didn't arrive home until almost 1900 hours and enjoyed every bit of it. We stopped along the way at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, an Episcopalian log church built in 1925 to serve the budding community along the Snake River. A number of families had moved here upon invitation of the U.S. Government to establish homesteads. One of these was the Menor family, and they appear to have been clever and successful. They established a store and a ferry across the Snake River. They also maintained gardens to provide their own subsistence.
A short drive later we arrived and drove briefly about Jackson then found parking near the town square. The square has, at
each of the four corners, a twenty-five feet tall arch of elk antlers. The elk grow and drop these each year. The Boy Scouts gather the antlers for the annual auction in the square and apply the proceeds to charitable work. We walked by the stores completely around the square then asked a very nice attendant in the Pendleton store where she dines for lunch. She recommended the Sweetwater Restaurant as the place the locals eat. I ate a very good elk burger and cold apricot/ginger soup. Jane (whose birthday was yesterday) and I toasted each other's birthdays with a pair of Jackson Hole Pale Ales. After lunch we toured the fifty-year old Jackson Hole Museum, then drove briefly to a nice Elk Visitor's Center before we took the one-hundred mile trip to our campsite in Yellowstone.
July 11, 2008
Deb and I drove north fifty miles to Mammoth Springs and old Fort Yellowstone, just inside the Park's north gate. Along the drive we stopped and viewed the Ranger Museum and had a nice meet with the on-duty ranger. He is retired from a long
career with the Park Service and continues to volunteer as an Interpretive Ranger four days weekly for part of the summer. We viewed an intriguing rock formation at Sheepherder Cliffs, so named because the Shoshone Indians of the site customarily raised and ate sheep. The basalt lava rocks are arrayed in vertical columns and looked as though someone stacked them in hundreds of thirty-feet high columns. The rocks were instead forced into this shape by a heating and cooling which caused contractions and resulted in this unusual break-up pattern over 500,000 years ago.
Congress chartered Yellowstone National Park in 1871, five years before the battle of Little Big Horn (Custer's Last Stand) occurred near Hardin, MT. The U.S. Federal Government realized trouble was brewing within fifteen years of the Park's creation. Congress authorized U.S. Army to assume command of managing the world's first national park. The Army posted various Calvary Troops at Yellowstone over the next thirty years. They created over four hundred miles of roads and numerous ranger stations for use by the Troops in carrying out their mission of aiding visitors and protecting the Park against poachers and vandals. Congress created the National Park System in 1916 and over the next two years NPS replaced the Army as resource management in Yellowstone.
The Army left a nice campus of over a dozen Colonial Revival style buildings of sandstone and brick, and some of wood frame construction. The buildings were built from 1894 through 1913 and have held up magnificently. The most recently built is the stone Yellowstone National Park Chapel.
Unfortunately the Chapel was locked so we could not see the interior but are sure it is superb. Another very attractive building we identified as the Army Engineers by the engraved lettering in the limestone beam across the porch. A sign instructed us to wipe our feet so we thought it was one of the few open buildings for viewing. Yes it was open but not for viewing. This pretty building has served thirty years and continues to serve as a Federal Courthouse the Marshall advised us as he blocked our entry. He didn't know why the building lacks, and has always lacked, any identification to its purpose.
July 10, 2008
We had a nice, short, seventy-five mile driving day to Fishing Bridge Campground in Yellowstone NP. Traveled with Snows, Moores, and Phil Glassey out of Cody, WY immediately after the 0800 hours drivers' meeting. This worked out perfectly for us since we made this drive just a month ago and then enjoyed sightseeing along the way. The goal today was instead to arrive early to the campground and scout the camping area to determine best way to direct arriving caravanners into optimal camping spaces. Variables are campsites lengths and camper lengths and whether caravanners benefit from proximity to comfort station and dumpster locations. Worked out well and simply and everyone is in place.
Our first evening in Yellowstone we had dinner and another get acquainted meeting (GAM) at the nearby Lake Lodge. Deb and I rode with Hugh and Jane Bartlett, our GAM leaders for the evening. Everyone ate in the cafeteria, a charming old log structure with cathedral ceiling and tall windows affording views of Yellowstone Lake. Deb and I had very good trout amandine (that's how they spelled it so I guess it might be correct?). Our GAM five couples sat in the tremendous lobby area of the old Lake Lodge and introduced ourselves. We each told briefly about who we are and how we came to travelling in Airstreams.
We were politely interrupted by a woman inviting us to attend a brief lecture on "Indian People in Yellowstone" on the Lake Lodge porch in a few minutes. Her name is Emma Hanson and she is a Curator of the Cody Museum of Plains Indians. She gave a very interesting presentation on the history of Native Americans in Yellowstone and why our government originally (and incorrectly) contended Native Americans never occupied Yellowstone NP. Archeologists have found loads of undeniable evidence of both ancient hunting and trade routes and of settlements of Native Americans in Yellowstone. But you should still believe what your government tells you for your own good, okay?
July 9, 2008
Trail Town is a collection of old Wyoming and Montana buildings rescued and moved to a section of Cody. Three of these buildings are alleged to be frequented by the Hole In The Wall Gang. Jeremiah "Liver Eating Johnson" is buried here. After visiting Trail Town, we visited Historical Center's Whitney Gallery of Western Art. Our favorite works were sculptures and a painting entitled "Battle of Greasy Grass" telling the story of the Little Big Horn Battle, painted by Allan Mardon. We really enjoyed the replicas of studios of Remington and Keaner. We also finished the Cody Firearms Museum by visiting the 1,200 weapons in the lower level.
It was late afternoon and we hadn't had lunch so found Adrianos Italian restaurant downtown for a very late lunch (or early supper?). Also toured Sierra Trading Post and found a couple things we really really needed and at a great discount. Jim played mixed doubles with Hugh Bartlett, Agnes, and Carol at the local high school courts. We plan to play in every state in which our caravan camps us. So far we've played in MT and WY.
July 8, 2008
Today is the caravan's first full day in Cody, WY. Richard & Julie Hunt and Roberta & Bruce Williams invited us to join them on a scenic drive of Beartooth Mtn. The drive took us north of Cody to Bear Creek, MT, population 100. Along the way we kept seeing hand-painted advertisements for "The World's Best Banana Cream Pie".
We pulled in at the little roadside cafe and found a delightful couple of people and fresh-baked bread smells, ten kinds of fresh pies, and lots of conversation. Yes, we all ate pie at 10:45 in the morning. How could we not? And bought fresh bread. Sadly, just at the west edge of what used to be a thriving mining town are the ruins of the Smith Mine. The Smith Mine Disaster in 1943 killed 74 of the 77 miners at work that day. The town never recovered and the Smith Mine was apparently shut down before long.
Red Lodge is a short distance beyond Bear Creek. We spent an hour walking this vibrant little town's streets and stopping in the bakery. Seems purely a tourist town now, if there is such a thing. After Red Lodge we drove up the scenic highway through the pass at over 10,000 feet elevation. The scenic overlooks were breathtaking, and we had fun stopping and playing briefly in the snow. Deb and I, upon returning to Cody from this adventure, attended to grocery shopping, reading, napping, showers, and bed time. Great day!
July 7, 2008
Jerry and Ann Hall and Jim were de-parkers, briefly inspecting every trailer and motorhome for lights and proper hitch-up before leaving the campground this morning for Cody, WY. They earned their pay, finding a couple of break-away switches to correct and a couple of awnings to secure before the wind catches and rips them on the highway.
We took our camper to the carwash after we sent everyone else down the road for Cody, WY. The drive to Cody was uneventful. We're again staying in Absaroka Bay Campground and really like it. Tonight the caravanners grilled bison burgers and had a delicious supper followed by ice cream then a GAM, or "get acquainted meeting". We hosted one of the GAMs by our camper. Four couples joined us while similar gatherings occurred in three other locations. The object is to get to know one another and then go to the evening's activity together.
Our GAM group carpooled to the Cody Rodeo, a real treat. This is held nightly throughout June, July, and August. We watched calf-roping, team calf-roping, barrel racing, bronco riding, and bull-riding. The events were interesting and fast-paced, and we found ourselves cheering the barrel racers on the most. The bull-riding was the most exciting, though. A couple of the bulls were overly energetic and threatened to climb out of their chutes. The bull rider requires a lot of hands-on support while still in the chute to prevent rider injuries. So a lot of cowboys are fully around the chute of the next rider, protecting and preparing the bull-rider. Only two riders lasted the required distance on bull-riding, and the second one ended the rodeo with a win.
July 6, 2008
Last night opened our National Landmarks Caravan led by Phil Glassey. Twenty-three couples will camp together and travel more than 2,600 miles during the next fifty days, getting to know each other well and sharing in the many wondrous and beautiful sites in this part of our great country. We will spend a week in Wyoming, a week or two in Montana, a couple of weeks each in Washington, Oregon, and California visiting National Landmarks and Parks. We carpooled to dinner a mile from Hardin's Grandview Campground to the Golf Club for a very good roast beef dinner. It was nice to meet everyone and start getting to know one another.
Today we attended worship services at the Hardin United Methodist Church. We almost did anyway. Yesterday several of us carpooled over to confirm the location and time of summer services. All looked okay to us. We failed to notice the sign said service was at another location. This morning we arrived wondering if we were the first or the only ones not to get the cancellation message. A landscape worker told us services are at the Congregational Church five blocks away.
Hardin, MT has a shrinking population. The churches are merging services and use of buildings to economize. Four months these two churches meet at one building, then they meet at the other's building for the next four months. We failed to ask how they work out pastoral duties but can imagine they don't have two ministers. We comprised ten attendees and were the only two full pews. We liked the service and enjoyed coffee and cookies and talking with the staff and congregation afterward.
Soon after church we carpooled a short distance on I-90 to Little Big Horn Battlefield and National Cemetery. All my life I've heard stories and seen sorts of depictions of "Custer's Last Stand". We drove the park road through the battle fields and it wasn't at all what I had imagined. The battles occurred in separate parts of what is now the park, and the severely rolling terrain seemed to play a huge part in the critical loss of communications throughout the battles. Coulees and ravines and knobs and plains and woods and the river dictated formations and movements and were more successfully managed by the Native Americans than by the vastly outnumbered Union soldiers.
The visit was rewarding. A museum at the visitors center has super-nice exhibits and the interpretive rangers did a wonderful job describing the run-up to the "Last Stand" in which Custer and forty soldiers and scouts lost their lives. The Union lost over 260 men and had many more injured. The Native Americans lost forty to one-hundred warriors. I'm no historian but it seems the severely out-gunned Union forces lacked, or failed to use, good information about their targets. Very sad for both sides, no winners here. The Native Americans gained some time but would not be left alone.
Jim and another caravanner played a set of tennis after the battlefield tour then rushed home to clean up for ice cream social and a drivers meeting. We have at least four tennis players on the caravan, and three active amateur radio operators. Tomorrow we drive to Cody, WY.
July 5, 2008
No days have been quite as exciting as last Sunday's worship and then rafting trip. Just a great day! This week we washed two monster loads of laundry on the 2nd and did a big grocery shop. Those two accomplishments will last us approx fourteen days. We jointly presented the WBCCI International Rally full-timing beginners seminar to a great (but not huge) audience. This is the first time we've formally presented on this topic and the audience received it very well. Jim facilitated a expert panel discussion on more advanced issues of full-timing on July 3.
This full-timing panel discussion went just great because we were blessed with seven very good panelists and an audience with a nice sense of humor. Jim has fun when the crowd loosens up a little with him. He prepared six starter questions for the panelists including: (1) How long have you been full-timing? (2) What's the biggest challenge you have faced? (3) How do you manage your medical/dental care on the road? After the panelists successfully addressed these questions the audience jumped into action and provided enough questions and follow-ups to occupy the remainder of the two hours.
The rally ended with the closing program and entertainment on Friday night, July 4. The entertainment was a twosome called Rivoli RV Revue and they were really cute. Good jokes presentation and nice vocal music. We enjoyed this evening's entertainment the most of the week. We hitched up the trailer and packed all the out-of-doors gear into the truck for departure in the morning. Saturday morning we attended the WBCCI International Board of Trustees meeting. This was pretty disappointing. Perhaps if we'd stayed to the end it would have resolved properly but we had to leave for Hardin, Montana to hook up with our Caravan.
There was no sign the meeting was going to improve, although we hope it did and look forward to finding out soon from a friend who stayed. The problem we saw involved strongly negative financial projections for current budget year with no assigned investigations or small working groups to hash out feasible and approvable changes to expenses and income. Look at this picture, here's a really intelligent group of men and women who have volunteered to lead this very large corporation. But they seemed to leave the fiscal issue on the table until the next meeting, six months hence. Seemed a heck of a way to run a business, eh?
We said our goodbyes to friends old and new. We know we will see some this winter in Florida, and some in Dayton, OH or Orlando FL at the amateur radio meetings. Others we may catch up with in Rio Grande Valley or Quartzite or other wintering places. We will see them "Down the Road", we just don't for sure know when and where. Ann and Jerry Hall caravanned with us for the four hour drive to Hardin, MT. We pulled into the assigned campground for the start of our WBCCI National Landmarks West Caravan.