Thursday, July 31, 2014

O'Neill City Park, O'Neill, NB

A Short Stop at Badlands National Park
Thursday, July 31, 2014, O'Neill City Park, O'Neill, NB - 249.1 miles, 14,540.7 For the Trip

I got a reasonably early start (leaving the campground around 8:30) after a nice sourdough pancake breakfast. I stopped in the park for a photograph that included the trailer, headed for a short drive on I 90, then south on US 83 to US 20. Unless I discover something I want to see, I'll follow US 20 across most of the US on the trip home.

I did lose an hour crossing into the central time zone & stopped for the day in O'Neill, Nebraska. They have a great city park that has free camping for 3 days, complete with 30 or 50 amp electric, water, and showers. After three days it is $10.00 per night. What a deal. A campsite photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Since I stopped for a late lunch, a fillet of fish at McDonalds, dinner will probably be cheese & crackers.

Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Badlands Interior Motel & Campground, Interior, SD & Badands National Park

Devils Tower & the Milky Way From the West Side
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, Badlands Interior Motel & Campground, Interior, SD - 176.4 miles, 14,291.6 For the Trip

After putting together yesterday's page, I had an epiphany - since the sun rises in the East (well, I know, it appears to - it is actually the rotation of the Earth) the stars (and the Milky Way) do the same. While I had to wait until 2:00AM to have the Milky Way rotate to a position over Devils Tower, shooting from the west would position it earlier! Very logical, but I didn't think of it until almost too late. At 10:15PM I hopped in the RAV4 & headed back to Joyner Ridge Trail parking lot. There was still one car in the lot - not sure where the owner was, but I was there alone. Very definitely big skies with more stars than I've seen in a long time. Much darker than the campground side, and lots of interesting animal sounds, a few of which I couldn't identify, but they didn't sound big & hungry!

I set up the D700 & tripod & shot away. The first image is a single frame, but the second (the one used for today's photo), while it looks smaller on the web page, is a composite put together with the Panorama tool in Photoshop to form a 4509 X 5029 pixel, 139.1MB file. It is hard to believe it could do it, but it is made up of 8 individual 30 second images that were made from random swivels of the tripod head. No order, but somehow Photoshop put them together. Should be capable of making a pretty good sized print.

I got back to the campground by 11:00, driving with my parking lights to avoid shining up everyone's tent or RV. I sure hope the guy from Quebec didn't take up my suggestion of stopping at the parking lot at 2:00AM; it probably would have been too late. If he did, I'm sorry!

After breakfast I headed to the Badlands with a short stop for a trailer photo on the way out of the park. I've been to the Badlands before, but it has been quite awhile. This time I drove SD 44 to the town of Interior, dropped the trailer at the Interior Motel & Campground (water & electric for $25.13, sites unlabled) and entered the park from the south. The internal park road to Wall is being repaved, and made driving messy & slow, with long waits for single lane sections. I probably added a couple of hundred miles to my tires with the oil I picked up, as well as undercoated the RAV4. Glad I wasn't towing the trailer! I didn't drive all the way to Wall, but turned around in time to get a wait free drive back to Interior.

Lots of photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Since I have hookups, dinner will be an Amy's Indian Palak Paneer frozen meal cooked in the toaster oven on the picnic table - it is hot enough that I'm running the AC & don't want to cook inside.

Until tomorrow.

Devils Tower National Monument, WY, Day 2

The Milky Way & Devils Tower
Tuesday, July 29, 2014, Devils Tower National Monument, WY, Day 2 - 0 miles, 14,115.2 For the Trip

After posting last night's page, I drove up West Road, a gravel road that is a left hand turn (going up) about a mile from the top. While there is a sign stating it is a view point for the tower, it is small, and easy to miss. If you visit, be sure to take the short drive to the parking area for the Joyner Ridge Trail. A great location for viewing the tower, particularly at sunset.

Last night it was very quiet - almost no one there, and no sound but the wind in the trees. While I was sitting in the RAV4 waiting for the sunset, a deer walked across the view. Unfortunately, as I got out of the car for a photo, it took off. No clouds, and no color to the sky, but lots of changes in the color of the face of the tower.

When I got back to the campground, I programed the CamRanger & D700 to shoot some star photos. I wasn't sure what time the milky way would appear over the tower, so I set it up to take a 30 second photo every 20 minutes. The last image before the camera battery died was at 2:00AM, and included the milky way. I also included a bizarre image made by putting together a stack of all the other images from last night. The shots were too far apart time wise to make a good star circle, but it is different.

I woke up to a great sunrise the next morning, and, although it was east of the tower, I managed to catch part of it in a photo.

There was rain off & on during the day, heavy at times. I spent most of the rain in the trailer reading. I decided it would be a good day to go out for dinner & drove 9 miles to Hulett for a shrimp basket with cocktail sauce that had the most horseradish I've ever had. Almost had my eyes watering!

This evening I went back to the Joyner Ridge Trail parking area, and it was full of vehicles. I found a place for mine, and waited for sunset. Met a couple from Quebec that was taking photos of their RV against the tower. They were doing it for the same reason I have taken photos of my trailer - hoping to get them in the manufacturer's calendar. A much better sunset than last night. It is amazing how fast the colors change. I was ready to pack it in at 8:15 as the shadow moved up the tower, but decided to wait & was rewarded with some good color in the clouds only 20 minutes later.

More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

There is a real temptation to drive back to the Joyner Ridge Trail parking area tonight for a photo of the milky way from the other direction, but I'm not sure I want to go for a drive at 2:00AM.

Until tomorrow.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Devils Tower National Monument, WY

Devils Tower & the Circle of Sacred Smoke
Monday, July 28, 2014, Devils Tower National Monument, WY - 171.9 miles, 14,115.2 For the Trip

Lots of driving of empty roads, mostly on MT 59 & US 212. I arrived at Devils Tower around 12:20PM, pulled into the campground where both loops were almost empty, and set up in site B17. A great view of the tower from my front window, however I should have taken the next site. The tower would have been hidden from the trailer by trees, however the picnic table location has a clear view. Someone moved into the site, set up a big pile of firewood, so my nighttime photos of the tower may be a problem. We'll see...

After setting up the trailer I drove to the Prairie Dog Village and took a couple of photos, came back to the site to find a Casita 16 a few sites back from me, and talked with the owner for a bit. I drove to the visitor center, bought a "T" shirt (I'm going to have to move the "T" shirt shelf down a notch to fit all my new ones), took a few photos of the tower, then headed back to the trailer to read.

While the movie "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind" made the tower popular to millions of Americans who have never seen the tower in person, you don't need to have seen the movie to be awed by it. It is a scared location for many Native American tribes, and every time I see it I can understand why. Very impressive!

Dinner will be a sandwich made from the leftover grilled chicken, and broccoli.

Until tomorrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Meadows RV Park, Miles City, MT

Pelicans in Montana?
Sunday, July 27, 2014, Meadows RV Park, Miles City, MT - 213.3 miles, 13,943.3 For the Trip

Another cool night, this time down to 44°F. Probably a good thing since my refrigerator stopped working on 120V electric. Woke up this morning to 16F in the freezer & 45°F in the refrigerator. I switched it over to gas & it started to drop, although not as fast as I would have liked. It is hot today, and most of my driving was east, putting the side of the trailer with the refrigerator aimed at the sun. It did drop more quickly once a hit the campground & put out the awning. The last time the refrigerator quit on AC, it was because the plug fell out of the receptacle. No such luck this time - it is still plugged in. I don't want to try it on AC until it cools down to the usual temperatures, so I will troubleshoot tomorrow.

There was a great picture of round hay bales combined with a great looking tree & background. Unfortunately, there was no where to stop, so while I'll remember the image in my mind, I can't show it to you! I did discovered something I didn't know further along US 12 - Pelicans don't only live at the ocean. I stopped at a farm pond to photograph a couple of white birds & Canada geese, and through the 70 - 200 mm lens discovered what they were. Finding them in Montana was a surprise to me! Just goes to show what I know about birds...

I also shot a photo of the Vanana School building, long out of use. Vanana is a pretty small town along US 12 and the school, sitting by itself, was the only multi story building in town. It looked very out-of-place. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I stopped for the day at Miles City & the Meadows RV Park. At $35.00 for full hookups, not inexpensive, but nice, clean restrooms & showers, and convenient - there is a Walmart Supercenter across the street. The other choice was a KOA which was even more expensive. As I said, it was hot, so I spent most of the afternoon reading a Clive Cussler novel in the shade of the trailer, running the air conditioner to help cool down the fridge.

Dinner was a southwestern salad & grilled chicken breast.

Until tomorrow.