Sunday, July 31, 2011

Indian Point Campground, Duluth, MN

Today's Photo - Site 20, Indian Point Campground, Duluth, MN

Another day of no photographs other than a campground picture. I'm in site 20 at the Indian Point Campground just outside of Duluth, MN. Electric only, but plenty of shade, a picnic table, and fairly level. I did unhook because I wanted to make a stop at Walmart & see how difficult the drive to AAA was. I'm glad I did - many of the entrances & exits on I 35 are closed, and my GPS wants me to take all of them! I did find both, but a 5 mile trip turned into a 15 mile one. I think I'll go to AAA in the morning without the trailer. I need a MN map (although I'll probably be leaving the US tomorrow), a Duluth map so I can find a way to get to MN 61, and both maps & campground books for Ontario Canada.

I have a new camera. I have been a bit nervous about taking my D700 or even the older D200 out in my kayak. Although I do have dry bags, trying to dig out the camera, hang on to the paddle, and put things away after a shot seemed a bit much. So, I've been looking at "Waterproof" cameras. I like the Olympus 810 which happened to be on sale at Best Buy. Kind of interesting that my highest resolution camera is now a point & shoot at 14MB, but the miniature sensor in the Olympus is not anywhere up to the ability of the full frame Nikon D700. Still, it is good for a depth of 25' which is deeper than I expect to swim, and a lot deeper than I'd ever want to see one of my Nikons!

Until Tomorrow...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

St Cloud, MN

Today's Photo - A Dragonfly

While sitting in the shade behind the trailer yesterday I noticed a dragonfly that really liked the tip of my cell antenna. I got a picture - not as good as some from my garden, but it is a South Dakota dragonfly! I also took a photo of a dandelion next to the trailer. By the way, the Pelican Lake Recreation Area is a nice place to stay, either overnight of for awhile. Many of the sites are on the lake, all have electricity, and a few also have water. Clean restrooms, and good hot showers.

I got a bunch of things done over the morning. First I washed the trailer, including the chains - it no longer smells like a skunk, then got an empty propane tank filled. Since they charged by the gallon and couldn't figure out how to add 1/2 a gallon, the fill only cost $9.00.

I continued east on 212, switched to MN 23 at Clara City, and stopped at the AAA office in St Cloud. Unfortunately, they are not open on Saturdays. Since it was a hot, clear weekend, I decided to call ahead to my planned stop, the Grand Casino Hinckley RV Resort & Chalets in Hinckley, MN to make sure they had space. A good idea - they are closed due to wind storm damage. So, checking the AAA book, about all that was in reasonable driving distance was the St Cloud Campground & RV Park. They were also full, but managed to find space in their overflow area. I even have electricity (20 amps) and water at a tent site price.

Until Tomorrow!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pelican Lake Recreation Area, Watertown, SD

Today's Photo - A Rainbow at Bob's Restort, Gettysburg, SD

Last night it started to rain a little before sunset. Not as hard as yesterday, and just as the sun was setting it broke through under the clouds. Made a very nice rainbow. Photo doesn't do it justice - it is one of the few I've seen that is visible from end to end.
I didn't do any records for distance today, just 165 miles. Today I broke 17K miles for the trip. I stopped at Pelican Lake Recreation Area a little southwest of Watertown, SD for the night. An electric only site for $18.00 plus a $4.00 fee for entering the park. A nice, large site not too far from the bathrooms which, by the way, include showers. Last night's "Resort" didn't actually have bathrooms. The building I thought was a bathroom was just storage. The only one available was the one in the gas station at the entrance to the complex.

I "ran into" an interesting problem on US 212 - a dead skunk was in the middle of the road (one of my favorite "tune up a sound system" songs by Loudon Wainwright III) and although both the RAV4 & trailer passed over it, unfortunately, the safety chains didn't. Can you say STINK? And, did you ever try to wash chains, particularly at a site without water? I hope I can find a car wash tomorrow that is large enough for the trailer.

The rest of today will be spent doing nothing. Seems I do a lot of that lately! Sooner or later I'll be getting back to the Oswego routine. If I get back soon enough I might be able to postpone "routine" since Spiedie Fest in Binghamton starts on August 4th. It's a great place to take photographs!

Until Tomorrow!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gettysburg, SD

Today's Photo - Site 42, Bob's Resort, Gettysburg, SD

Last night it started to pour around 5:30, the time the campground restaurant opened, so I ended up eating in the trailer. I guess I'll never know how good the BLT Salad was!

I got an early start heading east on US 212. Interestingly, I drove 212.3 miles on US 212, crossing the Missouri River (which is still quite flooded) & stopping for the day at Site 42 in Bob's Resort just west of Gettysburg, SD. I'm not sure why it is a resort - the hookups are in the right place, I have a picnic table, and the price is only $21.00. A level pull through with full hookups & a bit of shade. They do have Bob's Steakhouse next door - maybe I won't be cooking for dinner. The only minor problem is I'm about as far from the bathrooms as I've been anywhere on the trip.

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spearfish, SD

Today's Photo - Roughlock Falls, Savoy, SD

Not a lot of photos today. I drove to Roughlock Falls which is on SD 222, a well graded dirt road off US 14A near Spearfish. It is a pretty falls, although the time of day & the vegetation and decking around it all get in the way of a good photograph. 

I looked for campgrounds a bit further east on US 212, and didn't find any, so I'm in the Spearfish KOA. By now I have paid for my card. It is a nice, open, level pull through site (#31) with a welcome shade tree over the trailer. It isn't quite as hot as it has been over the last couple of days; more like the Oswego summer temperatures I'm used to - it's 83°F by the thermometer under the propane tank cover.

Not sure what is for dinner tonight - they have a restaurant at the campground which is tempting!

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jewel Cave, SD & More

Today's Photo - Jewel Cave National Monument, SD

Today I felt more like a tourist than I have for most of the trip. I started the day with a stop at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. We were there during our 2000 trip to Missoula for Karin's Wedding, and it hasn't changed all that much. They built a building over the area of the dig. Some photos at today's Lakeshore Images Page.

Jewel Cave National Monument was the next stop. I enjoyed the Scenic Tour and took lots of photographs. Again, some are at the Lakeshore Images Page, and more at a page devoted to both caves.

After that I stopped at the National Museum of Woodcarving in Custer. Although there are other contributors, it seems to exist mostly to exhibit the work of Dr. Harley Niblack. Some interesting stuff, particularly the animated works.

One of Dr Harley Niblack's Carvings
I wanted to see what the finished rebuilding of the visitor center at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial looked like. The last time I was there was on a 1996 trip & they were in the middle of construction. It sure is different. I remember sitting under some trees on a hillside taking pictures as the night lighting came on - now there is a large walkway & amphitheater. I don't know if it's an improvement, but it sure moves people through faster than the old set up. Again, some photos at the Lakeshore Images Page.

I saw something I haven't seen in years on the way back to Hot Springs from Mount Rushmore - a haystack. Didn't know anyone used them anymore with all the automatic bailers, etc but there were a couple of fields with them.

I finally got back to the campground around 5:30, made spaghetti & sausage for dinner.

Until tomorrow!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wind Cave National Park, SD

Today's Photo - Boxwork Formations at Wind Cave National Monument, SD

OK, first I have to apologize for not posting yesterday.  There really wasn't all that much to post, although I did include a campsite photo on the Lakeshore Images page. I do have to add that B. J.'s Campground in Lusk, WY is a great one night stop with the cleanest & nicest bathrooms I've seen.  Although the showers are a bit small for me, it is the first bathroom that includes paper cups!  Nice level sites and the inevitable whistling train was far enough away that it didn't bother anyone.

As for today:

Well, a new state, although I did go through South Dakota on the way out to pick up the trailer. I'm at the Hot Springs KOA. A nice, quiet park a few miles northeast of Hot Springs. I dropped the trailer & headed to Wind Cave National Park. I took Fairgrounds Tour, a 1 1/2 hours that includes views of Boxwork & Popcorn as well as many of the large rooms in the cave. Some photos from the tour are below. The only accurate colors are those shot with flash since the lighting is a mixture of different colored discharge or compact fluorescent sources. The problem with the flash is it washes out the detail the indirect lighting brings out. Of course, I had to include one image of complete darkness, something that almost every cave tour I've taken does. The actual colors in the cave are quite dull compared to most of the caves I've visited, but the formations, particularly the Boxwork, are beautiful. More photos at 2011 Trip - Day 99.

After the tour I drove to Jewel Cave National Monument for a tour, but they were completely booked for the rest of the day. I am scheduled for the Scenic Tour at 12:40 tomorrow. By the way, both caves honor the Golden Age Pass making the tickets for tours 1/2 price.

Since it was raining, rather than cooking outside in the rain of making a mess in the trailer, I decided to stop at the local Hot Springs China Buffet for dinner. The Buffet was excellent, and the hot tea was free.

Until tomorrow!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Johnson's Corner RV Retreat, CO

Today's Photo - Since I don't have much new, here is another one from yesterday at Hanging Lake, CO

Not too much happening today, although I did hit 16, 000 miles for the trip. I started east on I90. Not sure what is going on, but there is a huge bicycle race in the Vail area, and traffic was backed up in both directions a little west of Frisco. Not sure if that is normal for a weekend. I picked up CO 119 in Central City, a town that is interesting to drive through pulling a trailer. Glad it's small! Anyway, CO 119 twists & turns its way through canyons along side rivers full of rapids. Very pretty, although lots of 8% - 10% grades. After a short stint on I25, I got off at exit 252 & stopped for the night at Johnson's Corner RV Retreat in Johnstown, CO. I'm in site 154, 28' long, & I just fit without unhooking. A crowded campground that doesn't have a lot of shade & it's 96°F. I am running the AC!

The do have a pool just large and empty enough to attempt to do some laps. I'll give it a try after posting this. Otherwise, today is just a stop on the way north. The plan (subject to change, as usual) is to pick up US 85, and eventually US 2. I might make a stop at Crystal & Wind Caves - I haven't visited a cave yet on the trip, so that is the plan.

Until tomorrow!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hanging Lake, CO

Today's Photo - Hanging Lake, CO

I parked at the Hanging Lake parking lot around 8:30 this morning. I'm glad I got there early. Not only was the lighting better than it was on the way down the trail at 11:30, when I returned to the parking lot there was a line of cars waiting for a parking place.

After a long walk to the trailhead I started up, taking photos of the various cascades & small waterfalls along the trail. I made lots of stops to take photographs (and to catch my breath!) The trail is labeled moderate to difficult - you gain about 1000' over a distance of 1.2 miles. That said, there were people from 2 years old to 80 on the trail while I was on it, and a lot of them. If you are looking for a quiet climb without running into anyone else, this isn't the trail for you. On the other hand, the cascades & waterfalls along the trail as well as the lake itself are beautiful! 

There is a new railing system at the top of the trail, as well as new decking and railings at the lake since the last time I was here (in 1996). I made a page for Hanging Lake, but here are a couple of images:
Along The Trail

Along the Trail
After looking over the cascade & waterfall photos that I took later in the morning I decided to go back after the sun went behind the mountains surrounding to trail to Hanging Lake. Not that they are terrible, but the softer light helps a lot. I didn't go all the way back to the lake - (Once a day is enough plus since I started at 6:30, I didn't really have enough time to get to the top & back down before dark - it isn't a trail you want to do in the dark!) I reshot many of the waterfalls & cascades in the first 1/2 mile of the trail (More at the Hanging Lake page).

Evening Cascade Image

Time for some big decisions. It is getting around the time I need to start heading back to Oswego. The problem is how? My original thought was to drive across the middle of the US along something like US 30 or even US 50, then up through PA to NY. The problem is the heat. It doesn't look like the current heat wave is going to let up ant time soon. Another thought is to go back to Denver on I70 (about the only way east from here) then head north & take US 2 (a favorite of mine) across the north, go into Canada either at Grand Portage, MN or Sault Ste Marie, MI, hoping it will be a little cooler. From the news I've been hearing it probably isn't all that much cooler going north, but I can pretend! I guess I can put off the decision until I get close to Denver since all routes start out heading that way.

Until tomorrow!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Glenwood Springs, CO

Today's Photo - Actually, from yesterday; all I have from today is a campsite photo.  Anyhow, its The Lower Copeland Falls in the Wild Basin section of Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

I'm at the Glenwood Canyon Resort, another one of the campgrounds that calls itself a resort meaning they charge more & do things like put the sewer connection so far from the trailer's outlet that you need two or even three hoses to get to it. It doesn't really matter since I generally don't hook up to the sewer connection anyway, but I have no idea why they put them where they did. At least I have a picnic table. Most "Resorts" don't supply one. It is a pretty location overlooking the Colorado River at the western end of Glenwood Canyon, although the campsite doesn't. Their new "No Name Bar & Grill" building is right next to the campsite - we'll see how that works out over a Friday night!

For those interested, they have a climbing wall, rafting, and a ride on a cable over the river.

The plan is to do little or nothing today & head for Hanging Lake, about 2 miles from the campground, tomorrow. I did go into Glenwood Springs for gas, and checked out the Hot Springs - Anne Guido thought I should do the Springs, but I guess I'm too lazy. It looked very crowded, no parking spaces, and expensive. Just excuses, but I passed it up.

Until Tomorrow!

Rocky Mountain National Park, Day 2

Today's Photo - A Marmot at Rocky Mountain National Park

My sister Jan & her husband Stuart live in Lyons, CO, a town about 20 miles from Estes Park. I gave then a call & they came to Estes Park for dinner. It was fun to catch up.

This morning I drove most of the Trail Ridge Road. It was just as busy as the Going to the Sun roan, in fact, maybe more, and like Glacier, had construction (well, repaving) producing one lane sections. I stopped at many of the turnouts & took some photos.

After returning from the Trail Ridge Road I tried to purchase a copy of the "Rocky Mountain Day Hikes" to decide which waterfall I'd hike to, but it is out of print & not available at any of the bookstores in the park. So, a change of plans. I headed back to the campground & had a early dinner with plans to go back up part of the highway this evening when there is more interesting light. Of course, if it was like last night, it won't work - we had heavy clouds and a bit of rain. Right now it looks good, but the weather changes very quickly here at Rocky Mountain. If it works, I'll add more images tonight.

I did go back out - First to the Wild Basin area to photograph Copeland Falls and a hen & chicks of a bird I don't recognise. On the way back along CO 7 I took a couple of photos of a building at the St Malo Center. A beautiful stone building that looks to have been a chapel; I think it is now a visitor's center, but was closed when I went by.

On the way back to Estes Park I passed the Stanley Hotel. A large hotel complex that inspired the Stephen King novel "The Shining". The story is that Stephen King spent the night in room 217 the night before the hotel closed for the season. The hotel was almost empty of guests, had a reputation of being haunted, and from that came the idea for "The Shining". Parts of the TV mini series was filmed at the hotel, although Stanley Kubrick's major motion picture with Jack Nicholson was not.

After that I went back on the Trail Ridge Road. Although the light did get better, the images didn't. I did get a rather soft photo of a Pika, some more elk, but the sky was prettier than the photos suggest.

As usual, the rest of today's photos are at the Lakeshore Images 2011 Trip Journal for today.

After that it was back to the trailer for a snack & calling it a night.

Until Tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park

Today's Photo - Sprague lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

I made the short drive to Estes Park and I'm now in site 51 at the Estes Park KOA. Yea, I know I said I don't usually stay at KOAs, but the park campgrounds are all full, and it is still hot enough that electricity is a bonus. 

After setting up I drove into the park & up the Bear Lake road. I stopped a couple of times to shoot the stream running along side the road, then parked at the Glacier Gorge Traihead. I hiked up to the Alberta Flls, then on to Bear lake, and took the shuttle bus back to the Glacier Gorge parking lot.

On the way back down Bear Lake Road I watched a bear & two cubs cross the road in front of the car in front of me. I managed to get a picture of the bear as it disappeared behind a tree. If you look very carefully, you can see it! I think it is interesting that I've spent over 2 weeks in parks that are filled with bears & never saw one. According to a ranger I talked with, there are only 20 or so here at Rocky Mountain, & this is where I saw one.

After that it was on to US 34 & the Old Fall River Road to see the Alluvial Fan. That was about the only place in the park we stopped at during our 1996 visit to the park. Tomorrow I plan to drive the length of US 34 across the park - the Trail Ridge Road. We also drove that during the last trip & I remember it was a great drive.

I'm not sure what to have for dinner - I didn't dig anything out of the freezer. I have some squash to cook & the nearest Safeway is only 1.5 miles away, so maybe I'll go get something. On the other hand, it is starting to rain, so cooking outdoors may not be an option. Decisions, Decisions!

Until tomorrow!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cheyenne, WY

Today's Photo  - A Stormy Sunset at Devils Tower, WY

I didn't get any star or sunrise photos of Devils Tower - the clouds were too heavy. The sunset did some interesting lighting over the campground - a little of the effect showed around the tower.

Another long day of driving. I decided to stop at Cheyenne rather than drive all the way to Rocky Mountain National Park in one shot. I'm at the A. B. Camping RV Park, Site M2. It is only a little over an hour to the park from here so I'll have plenty of time to get there tomorrow.

I'm going to have more trouble identifying the location of my photos from now on. I have been using a GPS that attaches to the camera that records the location of each picture. It is helpful when trying to figure out where you took the photo years afterwards. I have 2 of them - the first one I purchased was an EasyTag. It started to refuse to lock on to the satellites on a trip south, so I sent it back to China to be repaired (under warrantee, although the shipping was fairly expensive). Anyway, since I wasn't sure it would be back before this trip I purchased a Solmeta GPS as a replacement. It is interesting - they both have the same instructions, are the same size & shape, but have the ports, buttons & camera mount in different locations. The Easytag came back just before I left so I brought both with me. The Easytag went back to taking 1/2 an hour to lock onto the satellites, then even after locking, would not send the information to the camera. The Solmeta locked on fast, had a few problems when connected to the camera (when connected, the camera LCD screen would not stay on) but for some reason if fixed itself  and worked for most of the trip. Unfortunately, I stuffed the camera back into the camera bag too many times for the connection between it & the camera cord to survive. I pulled the case & the connector has lifted off the circuit board. The connections are far too small for me to resolder them so I'm without a GPS for the rest of the trip.

I passed what looked like a brush or forest fire along US 85 on the way. Also went through Lost Spring, WY a town of 4 that has a large sign welcoming everyone to the town.

I did manage to do some real grocery shopping at a Safeway here in Cheyenne. Had a hamburger, corn on the cob, and rice for dinner. It has cooled off quite a bit compared to Devils Tower - it is 7:15PM & it's down to 83°F with a nice breeze.

Until tomorrow!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Devils Tower National Monument, WY, Day 2

Today's Photo  -  Devils Tower at Night

Since Sundays are a day of rest, I took mine! Although I did take a couple of walks around the campground & to the store for a couple of cold drinks, I didn't go anywhere. I may drive up to the tower if the sunset looks good since it sets on the other side of the tower from the campground. Right now is doesn't look good. Heavy clouds & a prediction of thunderstorms, but you never know.

I did get a couple more moon light photos of the tower last night & got up at 5:30AM to shoot a couple of sunrise images. The strangeness of the tower makes for interesting shots under unusual lighting conditions. I wish I could also be here on a moonless night to shoot a star circle (1-2 hour exposure that shows the track of the stars due to the earth's rotation) but I'd have to wait almost a month & I don't have the time. 

The results of last night & this morning are at the today's LakeshoreImages Journal Page.

It was another hot day - it hit 104°F again. I spent much of the day reading sitting in my canvas chair under a tree for the shade. I could have sat in the trailer with the AC running, but I much prefer being outdoors & watching the tower, the campers, etc. It was interesting this morning - 35 RVs, mostly Class A all arrived at once, a tour complete with a wagonmaster. The campground staff did a pretty good job of getting them to their sites.

I also met 3 people that rode bicycles from Portland Maine & are heading to Portland, Oregon. There was a time I might have tried something like that, but my longest bike ride has been less than 50 miles, and I'm going to stick with my trailer!

I'm going to finish off the cheese sausage & last hamburger patty for dinner. I sure do miss vegetables. I did find some apples at the campground store, but a normal meal is pretty hard to come by. I need to find a real grocery store!

Until tomorrow!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Devils Tower National Monument, WY

Today's Photo - Devils Tower National Monument, WY

Hard to believe I've been on the road for three months & 15,000 miles. Less than a month before I have to be back in Oswego.

Lots of pictures today! I'm at Devils Tower, WY at the KOA located at the entrance to the monument. I thought about staying at the campground in the monument, but it is 104°F in the shade & I want electricity to run the AC! Although the campground has WiFi, it is overloaded & times out trying to send these images to my website. Luckily, the Verizon signal is pretty good so I'm using that.

The last time I was here was in 1996 on our 60 day trip across the US with Don & Anne Guido. We were here in July that time & I seem to remember it was just as hot & we were in tents. I love the trailer!

Anyhow, I drove into the monument & took the Tower Trail with my 17-35mm lens. I shot an image every 45° or so going around the tower & posted a few here for anyone interested in seeing the view without doing the little over a mile loop. When I got back I switched to my 300mm lens with the 2X teleconverter to take some photos of a couple groups of climbers. I'll post a couple on the Lakeshore Images 2011 Trip Page for todaymore at the Devils Tower page. The trail is really a walkway. It is completely paved; there were people with strollers & although some sections are a little steep, I suspect an athletic wheelchair user could make the trip. There are a bunch of "Speed Bumps" that are there to help drain rain water off the path, but the rest is smooth asphalt.

I was hoping there would be a Deli here in one of the campground grocery stores, but the pickings are very basic. I'll probably eat the rest of the cheese sausage for dinner and look for a store to replenish supplies for tomorrow. I don't want to get too far ahead - with the 100°F temperatures, the fridge is getting above 40°F, even with the additional cooling fans, particularly when I'm driving. Not sure why - at first I thought the wind was blowing out the gas flame, but I stopped a bunch of times today & the heater section was hot. The freezer is doing OK, but the lower section (it's a one door fridge) is getting too warm. I added a block of ice & that helped for today.

It's now down to 91°F outside, 70°F in the trailer (the AC is way too big for the size of the trailer - I'm running on low & it still cools things off very fast). Time to make dinner...

Until tomorrow!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Miles City, MT

Today's Photo - The Site Where My Daughter Karin & Her Husband Brian Got Married in 2000.  Not A Bad Background!

Another day with a pretty boring report. I did more driving than I have in awhile, but the campgrounds in this area are few & far between. For those interested I'm at 322.1 miles, 14,821.4 for the trip.

Not as flat as yesterday; I spent the drive on US 87 & US 12 passing through farms & ranches on rolling hills. Again, the only photo I have is one of the campsite. There was one nice image of an old barn against a hillside & neat tree on US 87, but with the speed limit 70mph & no turn offs, I didn't stop. Although I generally drive 57mph (the best combination of "getting there" & fuel economy) the people behind me don't! US 12 is a very empty road. I saw another vehicle about every 20 miles or so.

I'm in site 3 at the Miles City KOA. I generally don't do KOAs because they tend to be more expensive, and I don't use most of the extras they provide, but on this trip it probably would have paid to get one of their 10% discount cards. I've ended up in 4 of them so far, and will probably be in another at Devil's Tower. Oh well, too late now! The site is OK, but the cottonwoods are dropping seeds all over the place. For those that have not dealt with cottonwood trees, they are supercharged dandelions - fluff all over everything. OK until you find your car filled with them or swallow one!

By the way, I did manage to make a Skype connection with Karin in Botswana yesterday.  It was a very slow connection, but the interesting thing about it is the slowness was on my end, not theirs.  Her husband Brian was connected on his laptop to his parents in Long Island & they had no problem.

Until Next Time!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Great Falls, MT

No photo - For what ever reason, Neither the campground WiFi nor the Cell link will connect back to my computer to allow a photo to be posted.  Downloads are reasonably fast, but uploads are not. Not that it matters - I didn't take anything but a campsite photo today...

Very little happening today. After a quick breakfast I packed up & headed for Great Falls, MT. On the way along US 89 there was a herd (well, 4, but they were all antlered males) elk running parallel to the road. It was amazing to watch. They leapt over cattle fences, and almost kept pace with the traffic for miles. No pictures since the road was busy & there were very few pull offs large enough for both the RAV4 & trailer, but they sure were impressive to watch!

The rest of the trip was mostly across flat, wide open spaces. I stopped early since I wanted to get the RAV4 serviced at the Great Falls Toyota dealer, City Motor Company. According to them the tires didn't need rotating, and the oil change was pretty quick, at least for a dealer.

I don't even have anything but a campground photo for today:

I'm in site 60 at Dick's RV Park here in Great Falls. A bit crowded, but they have hot showers (at least they promised them by this evening - they weren't working when I got here. After t days without hook ups of any kind, I'm sure anyone near by will appreciate showers! By the way, the solar did fine keeping up with the trailer's electrical demands, even with all the rain, much better than in the shade at Apgar Campground. The worst case was this morning - the batteries were down to 82% after recharging the laptop the iPod dock and running the router all night (I like to listen to Pandora), but back to 96% by the time I left. The combination of the RAV4's alternator & the trailer's solar had them back to 100% by the time I stopped for coffee at Browning.

Dinner was a quick stop at a Chinese Buffet. Kind of lazy, but I didn't feel like cooking.

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park

Today's Photo - Logan Pass Visitor Center, Opening Day of the Going to the Sun Road

Last night one of the clouds over the mountains south of the campground took on a wonderful glow.

Although the road was suppose to open at noon, I decided to start at 11:00 & stop at Rising Sun for coffee. I kept going after filling my cup & the road was already open. parts are redone & wider than in the past, but there is still lots of work to do. There are construction crews working on much of the road, particularly at the higher elevations. Many parts are gravel, many sections one lane. The longest wait I had was 45 minutes on the way west; coming back it was only about 10 minutes. Although busier than the past times I've been on the road, it wasn't too bad. The biggest problem was many of the pull offs (or turn outs) were filled with construction equipment. The waterfalls are running beautifully, but most of my photographs of them were shot through the windshield as I drove by. I'll stick a bunch of Glacier National Park images on it's own page, but here are a few from today:

I decided since it was late & I didn't really have anything ready to cook for dinner that this would be a night at a restaurant. The Cafe in St Mary had an hour wait so I drove 5 miles up US89 to the Two Sisters. Had a very tough Chicken Fried Steak, however excellent broccoli & french fries made up for it. A thunderstorm came & went while I was eating. It's very cloudy, and looks like more rain - I'm settling in for the night. 

Tomorrow it's on the move again - I'm heading to Great Falls to try for an oil change on the RAV4. The next planned stop is Devil's Tower, WY

Until Tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, MT

Today's Photo - The Stream Below Running Eagle Falls, Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, MT

I took a photo of the moon rising over the campground around 8:30 last night. Not quite full - according to The Photographer's Ephemeris, an App on my iPhone that gives information on the time & locations of sun & moon rises & sets, it is at 87.7% waxing gibbous!

I woke up at 6:00AM to a thunderstorm. It didn't last too long, but I'm sure glad I'm is a trailer - our old tent usually managed to get water inside when it rained, even with a rain cover & hood over the door. It all stopped by 8:00 and I headed off to Two Medicine, a part of Glacier National Park that I hadn't visited in our last few trips. One reason is you have to drive MT 49 to get there. I'm sure MT 49 is named after CA 49 since it has as many twists, switchbacks & hills as the California road. On top of the curves, much of the road has frost & slide damage - the 25mph limit is necessary in many parts of the road.

Two Medicine has a number of hikes as well as Two medicine Lake, a pretty lake surrounded by mountains. I took some photos at the lake & a couple of waterfalls on easy 1 mile or less hikes. I did a very expensive oops at Running Eagle Falls - I shot the first photo of the stream using my Variable ND filter. It is thicker than a non variable filter since it consists of two pieces of glass and, as you can see in the first stream photo, causes some vignetting (shadows in the corners). So, I replaced it with my thinner B+W 10 stop ND filter. Since I already had the camera on a tripod & the image composed, I didn't bother to screw the filter all the way on. As I picked up the camera it fell off, landing on the rocks in the streambed. Of course it shattered. Oh well, I did get the photo but I will be shopping for another 77mm ND3 filter!

As usual, the rest of the photos are at today's Lakeshore Images Journal page.

On the way back I saw a couple of horses along US 89. I do mean along - they were on the road.

After that it was back to St Mary Campground. At the gate the word is the Going to the Sun highway is scheduled to open around noon tomorrow. I'm not sure if it makes sense to line up behind the barrier waiting for it to open or to just wait a couple of hours after noon to hit the road. No matter which, I'm sure it will be busy. This is the latest opening ever, and there are a lot of people waiting for the day.

Until tomorrow!

Monday, July 11, 2011

St Mary Campground, Glacier National Park, MT

Today's Photo - Site B85, St Mary Campground, Glacier National Park, MT

I'm back in the US. I crossed the border at CA 2 / US 89 with no problems, I wasn't even asked "Why did you come all the way to the west to buy your trailer" this time. The first photo on the Lakeshore Images Trip Journal  page is the view of the Rockies from about a mile before the border crossing.

I decided to spend a night at St Mary Campground in East Glacier to see how well the trailer worked without hookups in the sun. St Mary Campground is very open; site 85 has brush around it, but no trees. Another advantage of a small trailer - the site puts the door & awning on the wrong side but the trailer is small enough that I could turn it around (on the one way road) and now the door faces both the view & the picnic table.

At the entrance station the ranger told me that they expected to open the Going to the Sun road on Wednesday, so rather than one night I decided to go for three so I could drive the road again. Let's hope it does open on time!

Since I drove by the Two Sisters Cafe, I stopped to get a another photo that included the entire cafe.

I had been wondering what the voice mail on my phone was - I didn't access it in Canada, and here at the campground I have a good Verizon signal, but no AT&T, which has been typical in many of the areas I've visited. If you have a choice and want coverage in the more remote areas of the US, particularly the West, I suggest using Verizon over AT&T.

Anyhow, I drove to Browning, MT to get gas, groceries, and an AT&T cell signal. The voice mail was HSBC card security telling me to call them. The interesting thing about that is that when I contacted them from Canada, the told me they contacted me by email because they didn't have a phone number for me. Very interesting!

I got back to the campground around 3:00 & plan to do nothing (other than slap mosquitos - they are just as bad here as at the Daisy May campground). Dinner will be a steak & green beans.

Until tomorrow!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Daisy May Campground, Fort Macleod, AB

Today's Photo - The Canadian Rockies Along CA 1

I stopped by the cafe (my internet source for the last 2 days) in Lake Louise Village for my last cup of coffee (at least at Lake Louise) and said good by to the Australian Barista on my way out of town. Lake Louise was a bit of a disappointment, not because of the location; it is beautiful, but because of the weather. I suspect visiting later in the summer would make more sense since the fog/clouds that currently hide the mountains behind the lake would probably be gone, but I tried for 2 days & it is time to head south.

I spent most of the day driving south on CA 1, a 4 lane 110kph road. At Calgary I switched to CA 2, another 4 lane road & followed it to Fort Macleod where I stopped for the night at the Daisy May Campground, Site 78. It is a back in large enough for both the trailer & RAV4, and level enough that I didn't have to unhook. A nice campground, but the mosquitos seem to be feasting! I'm typing this outside in my canvas chair & I am spending more time slapping than typing.

My complaint for the day is credit cards. Both companies I have cards with (HSBC & Capital One) asked for & were given an itinerary for my trip, including when I'd be in Canada. Both have suspended my card, sending me email asking me to contact them by phone. The problem with this is you spend between 10 - 15 minutes on hold at $.79 per minute waiting for someone to ask you if you made specific purchases for "X" amount on "X" day, something that I don't always have in my head. I did get AT&T to do a conference call to HSBC that should have ended up free; I'll find out at the next bill. At least that is better than HSBC did with my older Visa card. It expired in June, I left for my trip in April. They would/could not replace it before then even though I explained that I would be traveling & would not be able to pick it up at my house since I'd be 3000+ miles away when it arrived. I can't believe that they don't have a way to get a new card to people that travel more than a couple of months, but according to both the people in India & the supervisors in Buffalo, NY, there is no solution. Maybe it is time for a new bank!

Until next time!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lake Louise, AB Day 2

Today's Photo - Lake Louise Again, No Rain, But Not Much Better...

Well, today the weather isn't much better. It isn't raining, but the sky is very cloudy. I did get a few patches of blue at Lake Louise, but that's about it. I got a photo of a very popular bird at Lake Louise - it is not afraid of people & looks well fed. Not sure what kind it is.

There is an area on the way to Moraine Lake that looks like a avalanche took out the railing. If you look closely at the large version of the photo, you can see the railing at the bottom of the hill. I wouldn't have wanted to be on the uphill (or even worse, at the spot) when this happened! As usual, the additional photos are at today's Lakeshore Images Journal Page.

After visiting both sites, I went back to the trailer to put this together & do a little reading. It will probably be inside although it did get up to 57°F...

I did find an internet capable cafe in the Lake Louise village. Free for the first 15 minutes, then $3.15 for a 30 minute addition. So both yesterday & today get posted. Not sure where I will be tomorrow, but it will probably still be in Canada.

Until the next internet capable location!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lake Louise, AB

Today's Photo - Lake Louise, AB in the Rain & Fog

For the first time in quite a while, I don't have an internet connection. I'll drive into the village later to see if I can find a WiFi connection. I'm at the campground at Lake Louise, currently in site 50. I had to move from Site J2, a tent site. Although with quite a bit of manoeuvering I did manage to get the trailer into the site, there was no room for the RAV4. On top of that, it was very shaded & no electric so my solar won't do much charging, and it is cold enough that I would be running the furnace quite a bit - a trip back to the campground office got me moved to an electric site big enough for both the trailer & the car. They have an interesting way of dealing with bears in the tenting area - the entire area is surrounded with an electric fence. They still expect you to bear proof your site, but I suspect the fence discourages the wildlife. The campground is huge with 189 RV sites & at least that many tent sites. Although it is well forested, the highway runs along side the RV sites, as well as a railroad track that supports horn blowing engines as they go by!

I came to Lake Louise to see the mountains & get a photo of the lake. I can only see the bottom of the mountains, and the lake photos are less than spectacular. It is raining, foggy, cold, etc. It was 43°F at Moraine Lake and as I type this it is down to 48°F at the campground at 4:55PM. Like I mentioned earlier, I expect to run the furnace!

Anyway, I'll post a couple of photos from the day, but I sure hope it clears up tomorrow. I have the site for two days, hoping things get better.

Till the Next Internet Connection!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Glacier National Park, BC

Today's Photo - The Summit of Grants Pass, Glacier National Park, BC

I'm at the Whispering Spruce Campground & RV Park , Site F2. The campground is just off CA 1 with too much traffic noise (CA 1 goes up (or down, depending on your direction) a fairly steep hill, so you get both engine & brake noise. Still, it has full hookups, showers & WiFi so I will be able to post today's going on.

I drove from Fairmont Hot Springs to Golden, BC, and arrived a little after noon. After getting a site, dropping the trailer and setting up I headed to Glacier National Park (the "other" Glacier, although Canadians would call ours the "other". Anyway, it was a couple of hours drive each way to get to the far side of the park. It is a beautiful drive, however it is quite different than driving through most US National Parks. Rather than slow moving internal park roads, The only road through the park is CA 1, with a 90km speed limit (around 55mph). There are quite a few 2 lane passing sections, but very few pull offs to stop & see the view and at 90km on a 2 lane road you don't want to take your eyes off the road for too long. One interesting difference between this & the US Glacier - there are a bunch of avalanche "tunnels" along the road.

Since the side of the road is lined with tall pine trees, about the only place you can see a good view of the mountains is as you cross bridges, and, of course, there is no way to stop on a bridge.

So, the photos don't do the park justice - it is one you have to drive through to appreciate. I got back to Golden around 4:30, the plan for dinner is veal parmesan, broccoli & rice. The rest of the day will be kicking back, reading, and, of course, posting these pages. By the way, the rest of the day is getting longer & longer. Last night is was still daylight at 10:00PM. I think it is the combination of being on the edge of a time zone change & being further north.

I'm making an "long distance" wave goodby to Karin, Brian, Valerie & Zoe until I see them appear again on Skype. Have a good flight & enjoy Botswana!

Until the next internet capable location!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fairmont Hot Springs, BC

Today's Photo - A Sunfish on Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, MT

Last night I went back to the boat dock at Lake McDonald for one last try at capturing a photo that I liked as much as the one I use on my card. No such luck, but I did get a couple of useful images. At first, the sunfish sailboat was annoying, however as the lake calmed down the reflections of its sail got interesting. I also experimented with a ND filter to create long exposures to smooth out the ripples. You can check out some samples at today's photos at Lakeshore Images 2011 Trip Journal.

I crossed the border on US 93 at Roosville with a very short wait & without any problems. It has been interesting trying to explain to the Canadian customs agents why I would drive all the way from New York to British Columbia to buy a travel trailer - apparently they don't know that the best fiberglass trailer is made in Canada!

I switched the GPS to kilometers to make it easier to keep within the speed limits, but the odometer on the RAV4 is staying at miles so I can keep track without getting confused. I stopped for the night at Fairmont Hot Springs, the Spruce Grove Resort, Site 74, did laundry, and will take a real shower tonight. I may even wander over to the hot spring fed pool for a swim later on.

For some reason the WiFi Ranger picked up a local, open WiFi source. Not sure where it is coming from - the RV office said I would have to go to the lobby of the hotel to make a connection (hardly what I would call "internet available" in AAA's description of the campground). In any case, I'll post this while connected.

Until the next internet capable location!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Glacier National Park, Day 4

Today's Photo - Dead Horse Dam, Dead Horse, MT

Today was a fairly quiet one. I drove back to the mustard seed field because I wanted a better photo than the one I took last time. On the way back I stopped to see the Dead Horse Dam, a short drive off US 2 in (of course) Dead Horse, MT. I also had the thought that it would be interesting to take a helicopter ride to where they are plowing to photograph them.  I stopped at one of the helicopter charters outside the park - $455.00 for a 1/2 hour, the time it would take.  Nice idea, but just a little more than I'm willing to spend.  A little different from Viet Nam - when I was doing operations & training for the 101st I'd just make a call & one would meet me at the landing pad. I guess I'll stick with the Glacier's flickr page.

After that it was off to Polebridge to pick up a couple of sticky buns & cinnamon rolls. Yes, it is a little crazy to drive 48 miles round trip just for a couple of rolls, but:

They are really that good!
I'm on vacation!
I'm retired - I can do what ever I want!

After that it was back to the campground and Skype my daughter Karin on her birthday. We "talked" for awhile - they are leaving for a 2 year stint to Botswana on Thursday. I'll miss them, but last time they were in Africa we managed to Skype back & forth almost weekly; I'm hoping it will be the same this time.

Tomorrow I will be heading into Canada. My Verizon data plan (through Millenicom) does not cover Canada, and the cost of connecting through my AT&T plan would cost me hundreds of dollars per week, I will have to make my updates at either campground WiFi connections, or other open connections until I get back to the US. So, if you don't hear from me it isn't because I don't care!

Till Whenever!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Glacier National Park, Day 3

Today's Photo - Wild Goose Island, Lake Sherburne, Glacier National Park, MT

Sitting in the shade isn't doing my solar recharging system much good. Up till now, I've been able to do just about anything (other than run the AC) & the solar system would recharge the batteries to 100% by the end of the next day. Here at Apgar that isn't happening. After a full day, mostly away & with nothing on, I'm only back to 85%. The computer is the biggest hit - it draws 8-9 amps on the 12 volt system. So, I'm sitting in the RAV4 editing & posting today's journal.

I got up a little after 6:00AM to try for a morning photo of Lake McDonald. The lake was flat, giving a great reflection of the clouds & mountains, however the position of the sun was bad. Oh, well, I'll keep trying!

Anyway, today I drove to East Glacier. Unfortunately, it wasn't on the Going to the Sun road since it hasn't opened yet. I did drive as far as possible on both sides, but that is only about 14 miles on the East side of the park. I did take a photo of the road from US 2 (at least I'm pretty sure it is the road - all you can see is the cut in the mountainside). I also stopped at 2 Sisters near Babb, MT for lunch & a new "T" shirt. I did have lunch, but they haven't changed the shirt design since my last stop in 1998 so I didn't buy a new one. The place has a new coat of paint, but looks pretty much the same as it did the last time.

As usual, if you want more photos, check today's post at Lakeshore Images.

After lunch I drove into the Many Glacier part of the park, and after that took US 89 & US 2 back to West Glacier & the campground.

One difference I've noticed between this trip & the ones we took 10 years ago - there is much more haze in the skies. Not sure why - the forest fires have been to the east of where I've been shooting so I don't think they are to blame...

I'll probably add a day & stay here tomorrow - It's Karin's birthday & I hope to be able to connect to her on Skype. The campground has a good Verizon signal (my data connection) but a poor AT&T (my phone).

Till Tomorrow!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Glacier National Park, Day 2

Today's Photo - A Mustard Seed Field on Montana Route 35

Woke up to rain again this morning - my towel was out on the line "Getting Dry" (not) and my chair had a puddle of water in the seat. Since I wasn't going to be able to spend the day sitting around in the sun reading, I decided to drive as far up the "Going to the Sun" road as possible. "As possible" was to the Avalanche Creek stop. I did get some photos of McDonald Creek running faster than I've ever seen it. It rained off & on along the 16 miles of the road.

After that I drove into Kalispell to get a new 25' hose for the trailer water system. The one that came with it kinks far to easily. On the way back I drove by a beautiful mustard seed field & had to stop for a photo.

Since the rain stopped, I spent the rest of the afternoon reading or putting up this webpage. It's going to be pork chops, green beans & salt potatoes for dinner.

Till Tomorrow!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Glacier National Park, MT

Today's Photo - The Polebridge Mercantile, MT

I did get to Apgar by 10:00AM & drove through Loop A, the one closest to Lake McDonald & the one I wanted to stay in. It was full, but just like the first time I was at Zion National Park, someone moved to a better site (for them) and offered me their old site. I guess I'm just lucky! Anyhow, I'm in site A53 for the next 3 days. It's a pull through site that is plenty large enough for the trailer & RAV4; the only reason the last people gave it up is it isn't all that level & they had a class B van - they had to level their van every time they came back from a drive. Since the trailer only gets set up once, it is no problem for me. 

After setting up camp & took a walk to Lake McDonald. I stopped at the boat dock where I took one of my favorite photos (it is the one I use for my "business card" (in quotes because I don't really have a business, but they are handy when someone asks for the website link or under rare circumstances, wants to buy a photo). It is the photo over the link to State & National Parks on my homepage. The old dock has been replaced with a larger & less attractive one, so I went looking for a good location to duplicate the image. The best I found is in back of the lake front motel.

After that I went to Polebridge. I've been told by more than one Glacier visitor that you are not "official" until you make the drive to Polebridge & buy a Cinnamon Roll at the Polebridge Mercantile. It is a 24 mile drive, a portion on good road, another portion a good gravel road, and the final section a heavily potholed "barely paved" road. Although I've seen many complaints about the road, 've driven far worse on this trip!

The Polebridge Mercantile is a busy place that sells limited groceries & camping supplies and had a very good bakery. I had a hot roast beef sandwich (pretty good) a cinnamon roll (excellent) and a sticky bun that I will try tonight. Most of the trees on the way out to Polebridge are dead. Not sure if it is fire or insect damage, but while it does let you see Lake McDonald on the first part of the drive, the dead trees don't look all that attractive in photographs. Of course, a mixed blessing - if the trees were alive you wouldn't be able to see the lake at all.

After that it is back to the campground and time to kick back for the afternoon.

Till later or tomorrow - 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Site 46, Flathead Lake KOA, Polson, MT

Well I got my hour back that I lost overnight. I'm in Polson, MT & back on Mountain Time. This is an unusual KOA - a large part of it is a resort of permanently owned paved, level sites. The ones for travelers like me (I'm in Site 46) are gravel & very out-of-level. Even though the site is a pull through with plenty of room, I had to unhook the trailer just to get it close to level. The view makes up for it - snow covered mountains across the valley below the campground.

By the way, I have to give up on my theory that the western states save all their good beef for themselves & send the tough meat to us in the east. My New York cut steak was just about the toughest piece of meat I've ever tried to eat. It was from a place called Pauls, & if it is a chain, I won't be stopping at any more of them!

The drive to Polson was along ID 13 & US 12 and a bit of US 93. There is a very long uphill drive coming out of White Bird which ends at White Bird Hill Summit. A great view of Hells Canyon on the way. US 12 is called the Lewis & Clark Highway since it follows the path they took along the Lochasa River. I managed to photograph some rafters on the Lochasa, but only in a fairly calm part of the river. The problem was I was going upstream, so by the time I saw them & found a place to stop, they were gone.

I'm not doing well with my choices of meat - I stopped at a local Safeway here in Polson looking for skinless chicken thighs, but had to settle for a package of marinated chicken breasts. I cooked one - it was so salty it was barely edible. So bad that I threw away the second breast in the package. Oh well, I'll just have to eat some of the stuff in the freezer. I did find my favorite packaged rice & since I just finished the last package I bought 5 to cover the rest of the trip!

The plan is to head to Apgar campground in Glacier for the holiday weekend. It is only 75 miles from here so I hope to get there in time to find a site. So far this season the campground has never filled; lets hope for the same tomorrow!

Till then -