Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, Parks, RV Living, Travels

Wasatch Mountain, Utah

We left Flaming Gorge and headed west and south to Wasatch Mountain State Park Campground.

Welcome to Utah!

 

Wide open spaces and strong winds = Wind Farm

This park is just south of Park City, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics.  The campground is in Midway, Utah and is not easy to find with online maps, we had to drive through a couple of neighborhoods to find it!  The town has a large Swedish community and lots of cute painted buildings!

A cute Hobbit house!
Swedish-style painted house

The campground is in a large state park that includes a golf course, and, nearby Wasatch Mountain.  The campsites are paved with full hookups and 50 amps of power, each nestled into the trees with a little stream behind.  They have very nice paved patios with fire rings set down into the ground and are easy to use. The sites are nice and clean; we would certainly stay here again!

The campground is in the trees in the foreground

We stayed here for just 2 nights to give Barry a chance to get some work done after the Labor Day weekend.  That gave me an entire day to explore the area so I headed up into the mountains!   The road in the park was newly paved and an easy upward drive; my first stop was a nice lake with hiking paths around it.

Nice lake in an open meadow.

Did you know that one aspen tree is actually only a small part of a larger organism?  A stand of aspen trees is considered a singular organism with the main life force underground in the extensive root system. Before a single aspen trunk appears above the surface, the root system may lie dormant for many years until the conditions are just right, including sufficient sunlight. In a single stand, each tree is a genetic replicate of the other, hence the name a “clone” of aspens used to describe a stand.  Ref:  https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/tree-profile-aspen-so-much-more-than-a-tree

 

Beautiful old Aspen Trees around the lake.

I continued up, turning left and right around switchbacks, driving past the park boundary and into the Park City limit where the nice road became a very rough road (due to the loads of snow and plowing in the winter).  At the very top was a nice parking lot with multiple trail heads for me to choose.  I picked the shortest one that lead to the summit and headed upward following a heavily trafficked gravel trail.

Looking south towards Midway
Looking West toward Brighton at Silver Lake
10,000 Feet!!!!

 

Yep! I am at the very peak!!!

 

Coming down from the peak to Jupiter Lift!
I Love Alpine Flowers!

 

The Ski Patrol cabin was unlocked and this walkway out the back offered great views!
View from the Walkway

We had such a nice relaxing time at Wasatch, catching up on work, exploring, hiking and relaxing.   We would certainly return here for a longer stay!  Next stop:  Tahoe!

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Posted in LIfestyle, Travels, Wildlife

Poudre River Fun

After I saw bears in the mountains, Barry could not wait to go out into the mountains with me!  We spent a day driving northwest from Fort Collins along the Cache la Poudre River valley on Highway 14, aka, Poudre Canyon Road.  This is just a lovely drive that follows the river through the canyon alongside lots of rushing water and pull-out spots.  At one such spot, we noticed a car stopped and a man standing outside with his camera pointed upward into some rocks.  We slowed, then pulled to a stop on a bridge and we jumped out of the car to see a bear in the bushes along the river there!  Barry grabbed my camera and watched and photographed that black bear!

Barry’s bear!

That bear got tired of photos and climbed further up and over the hill and out of sight…..we returned to our much more lovely drive!

 

Yes! We drove through this Huge Rock!!
Barry – without the bear!
Very Cold Water doesn’t scare me!!!!


We found a little spot right on the river to stop for dinner, The Mishawaka.  It is a concert venue / bar / restaurant, and truly just eating here alongside that wonderful water made the food delicious!  On the opposite bank, the hill rose up high to a solitary cross but I kept watching for wildlife as we enjoyed dinner.

I would love a Chieftains concert here with this lovely backdrop!
The aftermath of a forest fire……so very sad……..

 

We left Poudre Canyon Road and climbed up and up on Stove Prairie Road that would take us back to Horsetooth Campground.  As fun as the river road is to drive, this road is equally delightful with so very much to see!

Love to see horses in a field!
Such a fun fence!
I could look at this vista everyday (unless it was snowy!)

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

Broken Bow, Nebraska

We left Pine Grove RV Park and headed west on I-80 to Grand Island, Nebraska.  There we followed NE highways 2 and 92 into Broken Bow.  This is a lovely county seat trying to update from a tired old town to a vibrant city.  We camped right downtown at Tomahawk Park for RVs and were pleasantly surprised.  Though they had less than 20 spaces, each was neat and clean with long pull-through sites for big rigs like ours.  The grass was manicured so very well and our site (#13) had a big shade tree nearby.  Although we only had 50 amp service, without water or sewer, for a few days it was just fine.  The WiFi, Verizon, and AT&T service was weak.  My map program (Waze) brought us in over a low-water bridge; we made sure not to leave that way!  Barry had a business call here that turned into a second call at the same company the next day in Holdrege (about an hour south of Broken Bow) and I drove while he emailed!

First, we discovered a wonderful breakfast spot just a few blocks from the park, Prairie Grounds.  Delicious cups of milky coffee and freshly baked blueberry muffins started my day off just fine!

After Barry’s morning appointment, we drove west of town to see one of the largest feedlots in the world.  It is the Adams Feedlot with a total capacity of between 85,000-100,000 head of cattle (depending on your source).  Barry & I are carnivores and love steak and hamburgers, but it is a little unnerving to see so many animals in such a place.  The smell wafts into town almost daily depending on the wind; but the wind blows steadily enough to keep it from being overpowering.

Adams Feedlot with ground corn feed under the large cover

The next day we drove south to Holdrege, Nebraska, south of I-80 for another appointment.  Job completed, we took our time returning to Red Bow and found these historical markers.

Pony Express marker
Platte River Valley marker

Back in Broken Bow, we detoured to the Straight Arrow Bison Ranch.  A family-owned business, they keep a herd of buffalo on their range year-round as a source of meat and other byproducts for retail sale.  Although they weren’t open that day, we did get a chance to see the herd from the road.  You can learn more here:  www.straightarrowbison.com  

Straight Arrow Bison

All-in-all, Broken Bow was a pleasant stop and nice town.  We would definitely stay here again when passing through on business.

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

Around Pine Grove RV Park

After we left Lee’s Summit, Missouri, we headed north, past St. Joseph and the Iowa border, then turned west and wound our way to Greenwood, Nebraska.  Pine Grove RV Campground is a decent park, with gravelly old paved roads, lots of steep speed bumps, and gravel parking sites but no patio space, just grass and an old picnic table.  The grass was a bit hairy and tracked inside every time we took the dogs out.  The WiFi was weak, but they had an AT&T tower nearby to boost that signal.  We had full hook ups, but low water pressure, and a great view across a huge soybean field facing west.  This park has a small pool, shuffleboard and tennis courts, playground for kids, and, more importantly, fenced dog parks!  The corgis had a great time running free, barking just to bark, and getting much need exercise.  After the eclipse, we were happy to enjoy the evening sunsets out the front of the coach.


Barry had appointments east in Omaha on Tuesday and west in York on Wednesday…..so we really were working here!

I did enjoy the old cemetery at Trinity Lutheran Church during the eclipse on Monday.  My grandma used to like to walk around the cemetery in our town, checking all the graves to see if anyone had died that she had missed, looking to make sure Grandpa’s grave had fresh flowers, etc.  and I, also, like to walk around cemeteries.  This one is an old German cemetery with graves dating in the mid-to-late-1800’s.

I am related to the Schmidt family on my father’s side; my great-grandparents immigrated to the USA before my grandparents were born.  I like to check old cemeteries for any of the names in any of my family trees, and I found these graves, just not people in my tree!


We ran into Omaha and across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday evening to the Bass Pro Shop there.  It is in a big casino complex at the intersection of I-80 and I-29 and had some public outcry and controversy when they built the overpass into the complex.


These pieces of “art” grace both sides of the overpass (2 on the North and 2 on the South), weigh 70,000 pounds, shoot 60′ into the sky, and cost an estimated $3,000,000 dollars.  They are titled “Odyssey” and were designed by renowned metal sculpture artist, Albert Paley.  We are familiar with his work from a piece at the entrance to the St. Louis Zoo; titled “Animals Always”, it is perfect for that site!  https://www.stlzoo.org/about/blog/2015/09/02/public-art-contributes-our-zoos-charm   These pieces, however, tower over the overpass and the highway in a crazy, Edward Scissorhands-like presence that is almost overwhelming.

The next day, Barry & I drove west to York, Nebraska to make a business call and I had such a wonderful day!  We stopped after the call in Lincoln to see the University of Nebraska stadium.

Memorial Stadium
Husker Nation!

After that stop, I dropped Barry off at the coach for a little exploring time on my own.  Now I had time to visit the Holy Family Shrine overlooking the Platte River valley.  It was modeled after Fay Jones’ Cooper Chapel in Arkansas as a place of meditation, reflection and prayer just off I-80, and stands as a welcoming refuge from the hustle and bustle of travel.

Visitors Center Entryway planted with so many wildflowers
Water is one of the major elements here and flows from the Visitor’s Center along a pathway and into the Chapel
Leaving the Visitor’s Center toward the Chapel
The Shrine is cool, quiet and reverent inside; the only sound is the water that runs under the stone floor up to the altar. The Holy Family is etched in the glass here.

Leaving the Shrine I took a different road back to the coach and found this funny lighthouse on the bank of the Platte River.

Combination of Lincoln & Omaha?

All in all, this is an interesting place to visit; big cities nearby, yet a rural setting for the campground.  We would probably stay here again when working in eastern Nebraska!

 

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Posted in LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels, Weather

An Amazing Thing to See

By now, you have probably heard every possible story about the “Great American Eclipse of 2017”; but not mine!  We were parked about 20 miles outside the line of totality and felt that we just HAD to drive down to experience the eclipse in totality.  We were parked in Greenwood, Nebraska at Pine Grove RV Park, just off I-80, and in-between Lincoln & Omaha.

So, about 9:00 AM on Monday, August 21, we drove into the little town of Waverly to have breakfast at Honey Creek restaurant.  After a filling breakfast, we set our sights south and started driving.  I followed a line of cars down a country highway until we came to a gravel road with a Lutheran church sign pointing east.  I turned onto that little road, bumped about a mile and then came to South 162nd Street (out in the middle of nowhere and that’s the best name they could come up with?), turned and drove south another bumpy mile before pulling into the parking lot at Trinity Lutheran Church at 10:45.  No one else was there, except the lovely old cemetery souls behind the church.

Right in the middle of corn and soybean fields!

I parked the car for the best angle at the sun, opened the sunroof, laid our seats back, and tried out the eclipse glasses……

It was fun to just sit there, windows down, wind blowing steadily, talking and waiting.  About noon, we started to notice a change along the edge of the sun…..just like a little notch on the western edge…….another car pulled into the parking lot, a mom and three teenaged daughters.  They got out folding chairs, a small cooler, put on their eclipse glasses, and waited.  The girls decided they would throw frisbee around while they waited; the only sound now was a few birds and shrieking girls.  A look up showed that more of the sun was notched out now, but you really could not tell that something big was about to happen.  A third car pulled up and parked behind us, a man got out, leaned on the hood and donned his eclipse glasses and looked up.  By 12:56, the sun was now a definite crescent shape and we all kept our eyes toward the sky.


At precisely 13:03, the moon completely passed in front of the sun.  And the clouds tried to cover it, drat!!!!  But, noticeably, the birds had stopped singing (as well as the teenagers!)…….and the earth, though not dark as night, was definitely darker.


All too soon, it was over……..the sun returned to it’s shiny self, the new moon was invisible in the sky.   But, we had witnessed a Total Solar Eclipse!  It was not a life-changing moment; I think those are reserved for the birth of a child or something that certainly marks a moment in time that was not the same the moment before.    But this moment was such an unbelievable experience, it made me reflect on the glory of God.  And now the birds began to fly and sing again, the teenagers started the frisbee again, and Barry started looking at emails.  But for about 5 minutes in time, everyone joined together and just looked up……no fighting or arguing or working or playing…….just looking up at the sun…….magical.

Posted in LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

No Reservations!

We purchased our first coach, as you know, in September, 2016 and set out to conquer the USA by road!  We have learned, and relearned so much about this new lifestyle along the way……. today let’s talk about travel planning.  The first thing you need to know about me is that I am a PLANNER.  I love a good ride down an unknown road to an unknown destination, but, in general, I like to know where this big RV is headed for the night.

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The first thing I have learned is that I need to be aware of Big Days on calendars.  A Big Day can be a holiday or a special festival in a certain area or a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence…..let’s say a Solar Eclipse.  I waited too late last year and had to make a less than desirable reservation in a campground in Ft. Lauderdale for Christmas….I have already made a very desirable reservation for this year!  Father’s Day requires advance planning (apparently Dads like to camp!).  The Three Big Summer Days require thoughtful planning (Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day).  And this year add in the Solar Eclipse.

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So, I have had my work cut out for me with snagging campground reservations this year.    I do have reservations for all the Three Big Summer Days and the Solar Eclipse.  But there are also lots of days in-between all the Big Days, just regular days that we need to stay somewhere overnight.  That is where the hard part of planning begins; now I have to figure in Barry’s work schedule.   Because he is still working, we need to be in his territory for sales calls, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, southern Illinois and other places here and there.  We need to be able to reach his manufacturers also for sales meetings and to do factory testing on machines, those are in Vancouver, Toronto, Tampa, and Athens, GA.  The timing of these visits are not usually something we can plan more than a couple weeks out.

This happened in the last two weeks:  PLAN:  Travel to Des Moines, IA for sales calls, Travel to St. Joseph, MO — sales calls, Travel to McPherson, KS — sales calls, Travel to El Dorado, KS – make sales calls in Wichita, Travel to Lee’s Summit, MO – sales calls in KC area and a flight to Toronto for annual sales meeting, Travel to Lincoln, NE – sales calls.  Reservations were made at all those locations……but, there was this little thing hanging over our heads.  A new X-Ray machine was being delivered to a new customer and there will be a FAT (Field Acceptance Trial) at that location after delivery and setup.  The machine was being shipped from the factory in Europe, there were shipping delays, Customs delays, QC in Tampa before the final shipment to the customer In Minong, Wisconsin.  REALITY:  All the reservations needed to be altered and a trip scheduled for him to “no where near us now”.

fullsizeoutput_4fa2Reservations were changed, cancelled, extended.  I lost a reservation fee and overnight charge in Wichita, but stayed at a more reasonable priced park near St. Joseph.  Sales calls won’t be made in central Kansas right now.  I’m in Missouri and he is in Wisconsin.  This all takes a crazy amount of time……and some days my brain gets frazzled with it all.

But it is still better living here than anywhere else with, or without, reservations!!

Posted in LIfestyle

Forty-one and Counting

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary.           We got married in July, 1976 because “everyone in the family gets married in July”; it was a very hot and humid day.        It was a nice wedding in a small town in a small church stuffed to overflowing with guests.  Barry’s cousin married us and asked, “Do you Sharon …. uh …. Susan take this man?”, and I laughed out loud!           All our family and friends were there and went to the church basement after the ceremony to enjoy cake and punch.  Barry’s uncle took the photos and many of the guests left before we could join them downstairs.           Afterwards, we changed into our polyester wedding clothes and drove to St. Louis for a night in a hotel.

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So young and in love!

Our marriage has been just like that; nothing flashy or showy, just comfortable for us.  We fight and laugh and like and dislike together.  We have 3 sons, 1 daughter-in-law and 1 grandson.  We have loved and lost some of our grandparents and parents.  We have lived in 4 houses and, now, 1 RV.  We have had 8 dogs, 1 rabbit, 1 chinchilla and 1 parakeet as well as 25 different cars (we would probably be richer with less of those).  We have had 10 different jobs and more part-time ones.

 

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I’m the shortest!

Last year was our big year:  we both turned 60 and celebrated our 40th anniversary.  Truthfully, we did not really “celebrate” last year, we just recognized those days.       This year was different.  We drove to Kansas City and ate dinner at Chaz on the Plaza located in the Raphael Hotel.  Years ago, Barry surprised me with a weekend getaway to the Raphael; it has great memories for us.  A delicious dinner in an intimate setting reminded us of the good parts of our marriage.

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Our daughter-in-love and sweetest grandson!

I think we will keep counting anniversaries for the rest of our lives.