Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Alaska Day 15

Tuesday May 30, 2006 Cody Wyoming
We arranged for our mail to be delivered here at the Parkway RV Campground by FedEx. It should be here before noon tomorrow.

We spent the morning at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. It is 5 separate museums in one facility. Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Museum of Natural History and the McCracken Research Library. In addition they currently have an exhibit of the Whitney Gallery of Western Art. You could spend many days here. In the Draper Museum we heard sounds of the animals as we viewed the displays. It was exciting to see a stuffed marmot, after we had seen live ones in Colorado on the Bachelor Historic Tour. We were reminded that Buffalo Bill served in the US Army, and was an advocate for the Indian. A nice touch was a timeline which included two lines of US and World history matched with events in the life of Buffalo Bill. We noted that in 1867 Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million. Flashbulbs were not allowed, so many of the pictures we took do not have enough light. Especially poignant was reading about Wounded Knee....

A trike ride with Jake and a session of fetch the dummy rounded out our day. High of 61 and low of 49. Low humidity. Nice. Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Alaska Day 13-14

Sunday May 28, 2006 Rawlins to Thermopolis Wy
Our friends Sam and Inez Thormton of Fayetteville AR caught up with us and we left Rawlins (about 7,000 ft el), heading for Thermopolis, and crossing the Continental Divide at 7,174 feet. More snow fences, two trees, big sky......Fierce winds on Hwy 287 would catch the left side awning and make a tremendous noise. We stopped at a pullout and Sam assisted Herb in securing it with a bunjie. We took tons of pictures in the Wind River Canyon and Wind River Indian Reservation. Big Horn River ran along side the highway, with a quaint railroad on the side of the mountains entering a small tunnel which was shored up with wooden beams.

We checked in at Eagle RV Park in Thermopolis, which had become a Passport member a week ago. However, we paid the full $24 with Good Sam discount, since it was a holiday. The park is mature with gorgeous tall trees, and affords nice place to sit in late afternoon watching weekend Memorial Day vacationers have their family cookouts. Winds have calmed, and temp is 53 low overnight. We got a good medicinal soak at the hot mineral springs (free) at the Hot Springs State Park. If you are Rving, you can go in the RV entrance and park next to the bath house, change into your suit and walk across the street to the baths. After your soak, come back to your RV, change clothes and be on your way, no charge. We found a small full hookup RV park next to the river behind the Holiday Inn, within walking distance of the baths for only $12.50. No phones, check it out if your are in the neighborhood.

Monday May 29, 2006 Thermopolis to Cody Wy
Partly sunny with 20% rain forecast, it was a short drive to Cody, and more awesome scenery of hills. We could see the snowcaps of Yellowstone in the distance, probably enhanced by the predicted snowfall of last night. As we came into Cody, we saw a light dusting of snow on the ground along the highway. We are at the Parkway RV Park about one mile past the Buffalo Bill Museum. Best price we could find in town and a nice place. Room for Jake to run a bit and convenient to the museum and Wal-mart. We will try to get our mail delivered tomorrow or maybe send it to Great Falls MT. The three day weekend has thrown us a curve on our schedule. After much discussion, we are going to leave Cody and head Northwest and go over Beartooth Pass on the WY-MT border. Wilma and I traversed this pass several years ago on the our BMW motorcyle during our trip to the BMW National rally in Missoula MT. Wilma's eyes really lit up when she heard the news.


See our pictures of these two days here.


Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Alaska Day 11-12

Creede CO to Rawlins WY via Rifle CO
Friday May 26, 2006. Today we face a real test of the engine overheating problem. We have a clean radiator, the muffler and exhaust pipe are "securely" attached, and we have a new insight as to how to shift the transmission during hill climbs. The test is Slumgullion Pass at 11,361 feet. We leave Creede at 8500 feet and start toward Lake City, the route we traveled yesterday to the Jeep road over Cinnamon Pass. The Discovery performs flawlessly. The temperature stays down and it appears that the fuel mileage is much improved. The exhaust system must affect the computer data that controls the operation of the engine.

The Scenery is fantastic after passing the community of Lake City; the road winds through a deep canyon beside the Lake Fork River. Hard to watch the road with all the beauty surrounding us. Herb has traveled this road on the motorcycle, but at somewhat greater speeds. Hwy 149 crosses the Gunnison River about 9 miles west of Gunnison CO. Here we join US 50 and turn west following the Gunnison River and Reservoir. Just before Montrose, we turn north in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It is still a little early to stop for the day, but the park is situated along the rim of a huge canyon with steep walls. Jake had no fear going right up the edge and looking over. The canyon was so named because at Warner point at 2,772 ft deep, it was so narrow with very little sunlight able to get in,and so deep that early travelers found it shadowy and foreboding. Molten rock formed crystals of quartz and garnet as it cooled, and the lighter colored rock, called pegmatite dikes, weathered more slowly and resulted in the rugged walls seen.

Back on 50 West and into Grand Junction where we join I-70 East for about 60 miles to Rifle CO. The interstate follows the Colorado River where we pass some nice campgrounds and pullouts that would have been a nice place to stop and arrive in Rifle for the night. After fueling up at $3.169, we see a new Wal-mart Super center. We pull in over to one side and park near a great bike path that follows the interstate behind motels and business parks. We have a restful evening, and before leaving the next morning, we spend about $40 in Wal-mart. We find that it is more expensive to stay in Wal-marts than in a regular campground....it just seems less expensive.

Saturday May 27, 2006. Leaving Rifle CO, we head north on CO 13 through the little communities of Meeker and Craig. North of Craig, the winds become noticeable as we pass through some very desolate country. Lots of Oil and Gas activity though. I notice that the crude tanks at the wells are painted a dull tan to match the terrain. A nice touch that the oil companies I am sure are glad to do in order to drill and produce in this region. By the time we get to I-80 in Wyoming, the winds have picked up tremendously. As we turn East on 80, the winds out of the South make for some interesting Discovery dancing in our lane of travel. By the time we reach Rawlins and fuel up at the Flying J ($2.799), we are ready to stop at RV World Campground at Exit 211. This is a Passport America site and we pay $12. Lots of rabbits and ground squirrels that get Jake's attention. The winds continue until dusk when they die down and start up again the next day.

Lots of history here that is captured by the Wyoming Frontier Prison and Museum, and the Carbon County Museum. "Big Nose" George, who was associated with Jesse James' gang, killed two deputies in 1878, persuaded the law not to hang him and he would rat on his partners. After an attempted escape from jail, he was taken by a lynch mob and strung up on a telephone pole. Two doctors did an autopsy to study his brain in order to determine what caused his criminal behavior. Dr. John Osborne removed skin from the body, had it tanned and made into shoes which he wore to his inauguration as territorial governor to 1893. Not sure the good guys were any better than the bad guys.

Day 11 and 12 pictures are here.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Alaska Day 8-10

Tues May 23 – Engine behaved even with climbing. Sam fished – caught rainbow trout and brook trout.
Wed May 24, 2006 – Jake’s morning walk went past the duck pond at the campground, where he saw two geese. He thinks he will “make a dog,” to quote our friend David Harwell.

Can Alaska be more beautiful than Creede? We had an early morning stop at the Forest Service to see if Rat Creek 4x4 Road was open. It is a 4WD only trail, but probably impassable because of melting snow. With that warning, we began the 17 mile Bachelor Historic Tour which took us to 11,000 feet and past abandoned silver miles and amethyst mines. The one-lane two-way traffic road showed us awesome rock cliffs and rushing streams, which flow into the Rio Grande. The marmot (sp) is native to the area and resembles a beaver, but with a bushy tail. Near the end of the tour we drove thru a cemetery where Bob Ford’s grave is. Famous for shooting Jesse James in the back, it is told that his body was dug up by his wife and was moved elsewhere.

Late lunch was back at the RV park with Sam deep frying his catch of yesterday, and Inez making her tasty broccoli/craisin salad. Dinner tonight is on our own, as Sam is fishing again.

I spent this afternoon tying the muffler to the exhaust pipe. I used a ratchet strap to pull it together and then secured it with a two bands of stainless steel hose clamps. I had bought a dozen 5.5 to 7 inch ones at a hardware store in Alamosa this morning. Maybe it will hold until we can get it in for service.


Thurs May 25 - The adventure for the day was a sightseeing trip with Sam and Inez, making a big circle from Creede thru Silverton, Durango, Pagosa Springs, South Fork and return. We drove Hwy 149 to a turnoff just before Lake City to Hwy 30. Our first stop was a waterfall with the tourist viewing point fenced because of a steep drop off. A monument stone read Ferguson with birth and death dates of a man on one side, and only the birth date on the other. We wonder if it was placed there because he plunged to his death there. It was also the site of a toll road built from Lake City to the north at a cost of $5000, and Post-Pleistocene period artifacts have been found. We crossed Spring Creek Pass at the Continental Divide at 10,900 ft., and lost count of the waterfalls. At Slumgullion Pass (el 10,530) we saw snow banks.

On entering Hwy 30, the road narrowed and became gravel. We saw the once thriving mining town of Sherman, mostly abandoned now, from a scenic cliff. A confusing sign told us about only 4WD vehicles and 21 miles. We assumed it meant 21 miles of rough road. So far so good, we came upon a beaver pond that Jake needed to wade in belly deep, and we had a time getting him to go in the clear water to wash off the slime. Had to throw a stick into the clear water for him to retrieve. The road took us up and down sides of mountains, riding on a one-lane road, but with two-way traffic. Now and then we came to a wide place where two vehicles could pass. No guard rails!!! The road became treacherous with large rocks and boulders, although we could see the tracks of grading tractors that had improved it. A few places were so scary and narrow, that if you had a rock on the mountain side of the road, you could not move to the left, as the next step down was hundreds of feet below. We did meet a few vehicles, but always at wide places, so no-one had to back up.



One couple we met asked about our trip thus far, where we entered the road and what time we started. We now had been traveling two hours on gravel. The laughed and told us we had adventure ahead, as we would climb to 13,000 feet and would need all the clearance our Jeep could give, and would take three more hours. At this point we were in denial of this info, as it was near noon and lunch was to have been in Silverton. They wished us well. They were almost right, as it only took another hour and a half, but we bit many fingernails from this point on. Some hairpin turns were over boulders -- unbelievable! We only slid or spun wheels a couple of times and thanked the Lord for 4WD. Lots of very tall snow sticks. At Cinnamon Pass (el 12,559) there was lots of snow left on the mountains, but it was icy rather than powder. We stopped to view and noticed some interesting curves coming down the mountain. Then we saw the reason: a skier on top had made the tracks and was preparing to descend again. He had to walk up there because was no lift. After a long time (working up his courage?) he started down. A beautiful, uneventful run.

We continued on, finally giving in to one of Inez's granola bars she had thoughtfully brought along. We survived the remainder of the road, even tho our speed was only 1 or 2 mph most of the time. Aspen and Doug Fir trees contributed to the beauty of the area. The adventure turned out to be a Jeep Road with signs prohibiting any vehicle not a 4x4.


When we arrived at Silverton, Wilma kissed the ground. Anticlimactically, we drove through Wolf Creek Pass and saw more snow. A quick tour of the hot bathing pools at Pagosa Springs, and then on to Creede for a light dinner at the picnic table.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Alaska Day 6-7

We pulled out of Shallow Creek RV park, elevation 380 feet, onto I-20 West for Denton and Camping World to pick up a brake system for our dinghy (towed car). We left with much good advice and a quick review of Jack and Della's most recent video of their trip to Alaska.. The best wishes of our Discovery Texan family and about 5 extra pounds from the good eatin' are coming along with us.

While at Camping World, we found a couple of covers to fit the trikes. So far they are working fine and keep some of the weather off them.


We spent Monday evening at Draper's RV in Clarendon Texas about 60 miles from Amarillo. We had a problem with the engine running hot while climbing long grades. So I cleaned the radiator as best as I could. While under the coach, I found that the exhaust pipe was disconnected from the muffler. This allowed the pipe to rest against the compartment housing my electrical hookups. I had been noticing some damage to the electrical cords from something hot in the compartment. This has been going on since the coach was new. I inserted the pipe into the muffler as much as I could, and it stayed in for about 100 miles before blowing out again. We will need to find a service facility to repair this and check the cooling system if the radiator cleaning does not fix it. We will find out today on our way to Creede. If we have a problem yet, we may detour to Denver for repairs. Please note the picture Wilma took of me coming out from under the coach.

We continued to have the overheating problem coming over Raton Pass 7800 feet. We found a high pressure wash and did a more thorough job of cleaning the radiator.


We ended our day at Lathrop State Park, elevation 6485, just West of Walsenburg Colorado. The park is nestled among cedars with views of snow capped mountains. We had a nice trike ride, as the park has several miles of paved roads. It is the oldest state park in Colorado, but was rebuilt with new campsites and roads last year. We had just completed our ride when the storms came. The 50-70 mph straight line winds with the storm cells that passed over us did not turn the motorhome over or do any apparent damage. It sure seemed like we would have some damage, though. Jake was fine, but he sure jumped when it sounded like a tree fell on our roof.

Now its off to Creede for a few days. Creede is just 137 miles up the road, so we will have a short travel day.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Alaska Day 1-5

We have spent the past 4 days at Shallow Creek RV Resort in Gladewater Texas. We met our friends with the Discovery Texans, a regional chapter of DOAI (Discovery Owners Association International). We meet, eat, and play. Our favorite game of the moment is "Jokers and Marbles". We all play on game peices made by Frank Sawyer, a retired builder who just has to keep making things! The groups' planned activities included a Casino trip and a day at the Kilgore Oil Museum. The Sawyers and the Quinns were our hosts for this rally, and really worked hard to be sure everyone had a nice time.

Hayes RV Sales of Longview Texas brought prizes for a bingo game after dinner Saturday night. Some great prizes and good fellowship. One of the new full slide Discovery motor homes wss on display for us to check out. Several of the sales team were here; guess they thought there might be some good prospective new coach buyers among us.

We have posted some pictures here of the weekend.

We leave in the morning for Creede Colorado. We will take three days to travel to Creede via Denton, Amarillo and Raton. We plan to spend around three days in Creede.

Walldog, Willie, and Jake


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Day Zero Bon Voyage

Our neighbors, Patti and David gave us a going away party last evening. We had a really great time on their new deck overlooking the lake. I posted some pictures here


We plan to pull out about noon today. I just heard from our Discovery Texan friends Leroy and Gwen. They are in Fairbanks for the next week or so. We may cross paths near Anchorage in eary June.

Walldog

Monday, May 15, 2006

Day Zero minus two


May 15, 2006 Longview Texas: Day 0 Here we are ready to roll out Wednesday.

The Trikes on the back of the Jeep are WizWheelz TerraTrikes. Wilma and I ride them in the neighborhood and have been on quite a few rails to trails and other bike trails throughout the country. One of our first was in Louisiana in Mandeville.

You can see Wilma’s write up of her first long ride at http://www.starkoutdoor.com/lance.htm

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Escapees

Walldog's Journeys We just returned from Rainbow's Inn in Livingston, Texas. The Escapees RV Club operates Rainbow's Inn. You can find more about them at http://www.escapees.com We set up our mail forwarding while we were there. We also visited CARE which is Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees. It is like assisted living in your RV. A daycare center is part of the project. A really neat idea. We had a visit from our Pearland grandchild on Sunday and a visit from Wilma's sister on Saturday. We attended St. Luke's Episcopal church. The rector is Dorothy Gremillion, her husband and I are from the same Louisiana hometown. The countdown continues...Alaska here we come.