Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander



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Travel Blog 271: Prairie Dogs and Black Hills

Deer Haven RV Park to Mountain View RV Park

On to East Central Wyoming
From Saratoga we took 130 north to 30 east to 487 north to 220 east to 258 north to I-25 south to Wyoming 95 north, where we settled in at the Platte River RV Park just outside of Glenrock. The 172-mile trip was pretty in its sparse sort of way, but most of the time I puzzled if we were in the center of nowhere or near the edge. Great day for driving, with fair skies, very little traffic, and lots of pronghorns for the pups to view.

Road Trip
We took a road trip out in the boonies south and east of Glenrock and saw lots of birds and some interesting terrain.

Western King Bird

Three Old Mailboxes

On to Sundance
From Glenrock we made an easy 200-mile journey east on I-25 south, north on Wyoming 59, then east on I-90 to Mountain View RV Park in Sundance. Once again very light traffic, and the only significant population was that of the herds of pronghorn.

Much of the soil around Sundance is the bright red associated with Sedona. An interesting eye-catcher just east of the town is a yellow, twin-engine plane placed between and above the going and coming lanes of I-90. I call it the Wyoming Hood Ornament.

Sundance Scenic II

Wyoming Hood Ornament

Devil’s Tower
We had been to the Devil’s Tower in the past, but thoroughly enjoyed seeing it again. Jan took a few shots of the tower, but my photo efforts were geared toward the Prairie Dog Town.

Munching Prairie Dog

Mr. Squirrel

Black Hills National Forest
Our RV park was just two miles from the Sundance trailhead in Black Hills National Forest. Several mornings I took Jack up the trail. Luckily, as the photo shows, I had a detailed map so as not to run astray. Another interesting stop in the forest was the Warren Peak Lookout Tower, still manned everyday by rangers spotting and reporting fires. Here is a shot from the lookout.

Trailhead Info

Hiking Jack

View From Lookout

Another time we took another family hike on the Reuter Trail in Black Hills National Forest. Once again, we saw no one else. However, hollies and the turning leaves acted as colorful boundaries along the trail.

Holly and Friends

Day Trip
From Sundance to 116 south to Upton, then 16 northwest to Moorcroft, up 24 then east on 113 to Pine Haven, adjacent to both Keyhole Reservoir and Mule Creek Bay. From Pine Haven we took McKean Road north into the countryside. We turned south on Lower Kara Creek Road, connecting to Inyan Kara Creek Road that led to I-90 and our return to Sundance.

Cindy B’s in Alladin
With Alladin’s population of 15, Cindy B’s restaurant doesn't have a huge population base from which to draw its diners. However, regulars help to fill the seats, and the word-of-mouth of great home cookin’ brings in some tourists like us. Here is a pic of Cindy’s place, plus a shot of some local ranchers talking about tracking down missing cattle, the high price of hay ($150/ton), and the rain that drops everywhere but on their ranches.

Cindy B's

Cindy B's Boys

Old Trucks
Here are five old trucks all from eastern Wyoming.

Old Truck 1

Laramie Old Truck

Old Moorcroft Fire Truck

Old Platte River Truck

Old Sundance Truck

Trip to Eastern Wyoming
Most all our time spent in Wyoming in the past was in the western part of the state, primarily in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. We love both these parks and will frequent them again.

This year, though, we thought we’d explore the eastern portion of the state. As blog followers know, we started west of Laramie, camping in Saratoga. We explored the Medicine Bow National Forest, and took in the Wyoming Annual Beerfest. From there we headed to Glenrock, east of Casper at the north end of the forest. Next we spent several days in Sundance, east of Gillette in the Black Hills of Wyoming. The scenery was wonderful, the pronghorns and deer were plentiful, and the traffic was sparse. Very enjoyable stay in this wonderful state.

See you next time from another state of mind.

Travel Blog 270: Young Brews and Fast Critters

Chatfield State Park to Deer Haven RV Park

Up to Wyoming
From our campground in Chatfield State Park, we decided to take the scenic route up to southern Wyoming instead of taking major roads and interstates. We took 121 north to I-70 west, US 40 west, CO 125 north, and as we passed into Wyoming, we continued onto 230 west and 130 west to the Deer Haven RV Park just north of Saratoga. It was only 216 miles, but much of the trip was steep and winding, affording wonderful views by requiring Jan’s full attention driving the bus.

Saratoga
The literature says that Saratoga is an interesting place, and it is correct. Although only 1,600 inhabitants, it has a lot to offer. It attracts hunters and fisherman (mainly fishing for trout) from all over the country and the world. They have an airport with a runway that can handle B-52s, and in the fall they say there may be a dozen or more big corporate jets transporting the rich (don’t know about the famous part.)

In sharp contrast to the high-density, heavy-traffic, go-go of the Denver area, this sparse, lightly populated area was a nice, slow change of pace. Deer wandered everywhere, and hundreds and hundreds of pronghorns populate the surrounding countryside. Our pup, Jack, feels that there is nothing more fun to watch than running pronghorn.

Oh, Deer

Running Pronghorn II

Dog Park
I was quite surprised that this small town had an off-leash dog park, and very pleased at how nice it was. It quickly became the cornerstone of our morning.

Microbrew Fest
Saratoga hosts the Steinley Cup (pronounced “Stanley” like the hockey version), Wyoming’s microbrew fest in which most all the microbreweries in Wyoming compete for honors. The 21st annual happened the Saturday we were staying in Saratoga, so we felt obliged to participate. Pleasant day, friendly people, good beer.

Brewfest Pup

Brewfest Vendor

T-Shirt Girls

Young Howard Stern

Battle Pass Scenic Byway
One afternoon we drove south to Encampment, then took Highway 70 up into the Medicine Bow National Forest, up over Battle Pass, and west on toward Baggs. Scarce traffic and great scenery. By the way, the name came from the numerous battles fought between the Indians and the trappers.

Road Block

Rock Ptarmigan

Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Snowy Range Scenic Byway
Another time we headed south for about ten miles, and then went east on highway 130 once again into the Medicine Bow National Forest, stopping at Centennial for a nice lunch, and then on to Laramie. Once again, beautiful scenery and light traffic.

More Colorado Pups
Here are more pup pics from Colorado that I didn’t have ready for my last blog.

Black Pup

Run, Jack, Run

Where Is the Baby?

Wild Child

Old Trucks
Since an individual from Pine Island complained about my lack of truck shots, here are three old trucks from the Old Truck Reserve.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.

Travel Blog 269: Wild Weekend with Yogi

Riverview RV Park to Chatfield State Park

Larkspur
From our campground west of Loveland, we took 34 east, and then I-25 south down to our campground near Larkspur.

Jellystone Park
This campground and “resort” is the perfect place for kids. Since we volunteered to take our grandkids plus one friend, we wanted a place with lots of activities. We found the right place. Here are just a few of the activities: morning flag raising with Yogi and Boo Boo, goat grazing, bounce pillow, pancake breakfast (with sausage), swimming pool, afternoon ice cream with Yogi, movies, candy bar bingo, waterslide at the Old Swimming Hole, hayrides, and so on, and so on. However, the biggest hit was that we rented a golf cart for the weekend and Austie became the chauffeur. Great weekend—we packed a week into 48 hours.

Cute Swinger

Fishing Hole Slide

I Love Yogi

Nattie and Austie on Jump Pillow

Silent Specatator

Chatfield State Park
From Jellystone, we took the short drive north and west to Chatfield State Park. We have stayed many times at this wonderful park…full hook-ups, roomy sites, lots of privacy, rabbits everywhere, and one of the best dog parks on the planet.

Ala Carte

Axle

Ball Retriever

Black and White

Jumping Jack

.Run, Jack, Run

Tank

Wet and Wild

See you soon!

Travel Blog 268: Beautiful Colorado

Ridgway State Park to Riverview RV Park, Loveland, CO

Buena Vista
The trip from Ridgway State Park to the Buena Vista KOA was gorgeous. However, whoever was driving had to concentrate on the steep inclines and declines and pay close attention to curves and drop offs. Gladly the weather at our destination was wonderful—in the low to mid-80s instead of the high 90s. Although a dusty park, the views were beautiful. A nice feature was that there was a trail that started in the campground and continued up into the forest. Perfect place to let Jack off-leash and let the crazy canine run wild.

Fort Collins
We had intended camping in the Denver area, but every campground within 60 miles of Denver was booked! Never seen anything like this before. So we had to drive all the way to Fort Collins, and then we could only stay five nights instead of the ten we wanted. I guess cheap fuel and a slightly improved economy is having its impact! However, our campground (Fort Collins KOA) was a gem—great place for dogs and for grandkids. We will remember it for future family ventures.

Quick Trip to Southern California
I didn’t get a chance to experience much of the campground or the area, though, as I had a business trip to Southern California. Good client, great food, and just awesome weather made the trip a success.
 
Loveland
Our next campground was off of Highway 34 in Loveland, only 30 minutes away from Fort Collins. Highway 34 is one of the main drives into Estes Park and on to Rocky Mountain National Park. 
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
One day we violated all our rules about visiting national parks, as we visited in the middle of the day on a weekend in the summer. Telling ourselves to be patient with all the traffic, we drove into RMNP, and finding it was re-opened after washing out many months ago, we took the Old River Road, the 14-mile, one-way dirt road up to the backside of the Alpine Visitor Center. There were wildflowers all along the way, and we saw a herd of elk and a brute of a marmot at exactly the same place I saw one last year.

RMNP Elk Herd

RMNP Marmot

On our way home outside of the park we saw some bighorn sheep overlooking the highway. Here is a pic of Momma and Baby.

Big Horn Mom and Baby

Afternoon Trip

Loveland Road Trip

One afternoon we decided to check out the Poudre River area. We headed back up and past the Fort Collins KOA, picking up the Scenic Byway Highway 14. Just a gorgeous trip along the Poudre River. At Road 27 we angled back south and east around curvy roads and 12 percent grades.

Pup Strolls
Close to our campground was an off-leash dog park and a big nature area complete with miles of paths and several  ponds. Each morning we started the day off enjoying this wonderful area.

Old Trucks

Old Community Fire Truck

Old Orange Truck

See you soon.

Travel Blog 267: Mountain Bluebirds and High Meadow Wildflowers

Paria Guest Ranch to Gouldings to Sundance RV to United Campground to Ridgway SP
 
Monument Valley
From the hot desert of the Paria Guest Ranch we traveled to Goulding Campground in the hot desert of Monument Valley that straddles Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. The location of some famous John Ford Western movies, the dramatic landscape is awe-inspiring in the right light and weather.

Monument Valley Sunrise

Monument Valley
 
Mesa Verde
After a couple days in Monument Valley, we headed north and east to Sundance RV in Cortez, Colorado. We took some short trips, including a tour of Mesa Verde, a wonderful national park that we had not visited in several years. Here is a shot from the Park plus one of Hunting Jack from a morning stroll.
 
Hunting Jack

Mesa Verde
 
Durango
From Cortez, we took the short trip east to United Campground in Durango. What makes this campground special is that the famous narrow rail Durango-Silverton train runs right through the center of the place! So every morning and every evening campers walked down to the train track to hear the whistle, smell the smoke, and view the trains chugging along…actually, it is quite addictive!

Durango-Silverton Train
 
Ridgway
From Durango we made our scenic way to Ridgway State Park, just north of the town of Ridgway and close to the great towns of Ouray and Telluride. This is one of our favorite areas in all of Colorado, and that says a lot.
 
Our large, wooded campsite was full of birds, and we spent much time viewing their antics. Especially fun to watch was the large number of bluebirds.

Male Mountain Bluebird

Female Mountain Bluebird

Pine Sisken

What Does It Take to Get a Drink Around Here?

White Breasted Nuthatch
 
Owl Creek Pass Day Trip
We took a wonderful trip up into the mountains to Owl Creek Pass. From there we headed north and east on to Silver Jack Reservoir, especially enjoying the wildflowers--Indian paints, cow parsnip, bull thistle, larkspur, daisies, scarlet gilia, penstemon, goldenweed, elk thistle, hawksbeard, fireweed, and on and on. This is the same trip we took a few years ago where we spotted our first mountain lion.

Owl Creek Pass Wildflowers

Morning Walks
Every morning we took the Pups down to the Ridgway Day Use area along the reservoir. Since there were only a few fishermen up at that hour, we let the Pups run loose. Jack chased everything that moved, including chippers, birds, and grasshoppers. Mitzy strolled along sniffing and peeing as the mood fit her. When she got tired we put her in her buggy and gave her a ride. One morning we saw a red fox, and the next morning we saw two of them together. We watched them jump, box, and chase each other as they played in the morning sun. I did not have a long lens, but I did at least capture the solo fox the first day.

Jumping Jack

Mountain Jack

Racing Jack

Run Jack Run

Brindle Pup

Jogging Mitzy

Smiling Madeline

Ridgway Fox
 
In the town of Ridgway there was a really cool mural and a really neat old truck at the train museum. Just a wonderful area.

Ridgway Mural

Old US Mail Train Truck
  
See you soon.