Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September 30,2008 Buffalo Chips

Man the phone signal is terrible here at Custer State park and I have a ton of photos to share. There are animals everywhere. There is so much to do it's ridiculous. We got here yesterday at the tail end of the Buffalo Roundup which is a yearly event. The park service rounds up some 1400 head of buffalo for vaccination and auction off all but about 950. These 950 are released back into the park and with the new calves will have a roundup next year. We went to the corrals where the buffalo were being held. Don't ever believe these beasts are slow because you will be mistaken. They are large, short tempered and fast. One of the females with a calf charged me twice as I approached the fence. She meant business. Also there was a very large bull that had no intentions of going in the pin and he gave em hell. They, the workers, chased him all over those hills in trucks and finally hemmed him up and escorted him up into the wilderness. All that after they quickly made us, the tourists, get back in our vehicles for safety. The bull ran right past us and he was some kind of pissed off. He was snorting and grunting and thundered past the car with 6 pickup trucks hot on his heels. Later, we saw him slowly walking down a hill with a truck following him. I think they wanted to make sure he had calmed down and went where he and humans would be safe.
Today we took a road trip on Needles Highway. There are these great spires as the road twists along a winding mountain road. The trees are orange, red and yellow as fall is here. Traffic is minimal. There are many areas to pull off of the road for photographic opportunities. If you have the chance to take the tour allow yourself at least 3 hours. The road is only about 14 miles long but frequent stops for the views will definitely slow you down.
Our next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. Awesome place. This monument has been in the making for more than 50 years and will probably not be completed in my lifetime. Crazy Horse was a Lakota Indian who was stabbed and killed by an American soldier while under a flag of truce. He was a defender of his people and the Indian way of life. The memorial is a tribute to American Indians of all tribes and represented by this inspiring work of art. The memorial is being carved out of an entire granite mountain and is entirely funded by visitors to the memorial and donations. It is quite a site to see. Later that night we attended a laser light show at the memorial....my first light show. Very cool indeed. Randy also got to take the helicopter tour around the mountain which he said also included a fly over a herd of buffalo. He loves helicopters.

We stayed in a little one room cabin in the park. It was very comfortable except for showers and bathroom facilities we had to go to a main bath house. It's cold as hell in South Dakota at 3 AM but man the stars are big, bright, look close to the ground and there has to be a million of them.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

September 28, 2008 I Hate Electronics

I have had a major problem with card readers today. Last night my card reader stopped working so we walked across the street from the motel and bought a new one from Radio Shack for $54. It was the only one they had and I was desperate. I have 3 digital cameras and all of the cards have photos from the day. It was nearly 10 PM and by the time we got back to the room and discovered the new reader would not read my new 4 GB high capacity card but it was too late, the store was closed. I figured it was my pissy luck because this morning we were up and gone before Radio Shack opened. About 150 miles down the road in Hastings, Nebraska, we found another Radio Shack and stopped to see if they could help. The salesman was very helpful and did his very best to get the reader to read my card but to no avail. In the end he exchanged the reader for a high capacity reader which was also $30 cheaper. So I was happy. We got to Broken Bow, Nebraska and guess what...it won't work. After several hours of working at trying to get my photos off of the cards I have decided it is this crappy laptop. I made the mistake of leaving my Dell laptop at home and bringing Randy's Toshiba. Bad choice. It has given me grief since we left home. The only solution is to have my Dell Fed Ex'd to me....somewhere. I will call FedEx tomorrow and try to get this solved.
As for the trip, we did not get as far as we would have liked but we goofed off at Radio Shack and we stopped at every historical marker between Abilene, Kansas and Broken Bow, Nebraska. One of them was the geological center of the United States. I've got pictures....oh damn.
We had supper at the Tumbleweed cafe and got a room in the Pump and Pantry Motel. We are the only guests. Ain't that cute?

September 27, 2008 ToTo Is Alive And Well

Great news everyone! Toto is alive and well and living under an assumed name here in Kansas.

We have made it as far as Abilene, Kansas. I think this is actually just alittle place that popped up for motels, gas stations and restaurants for traffic on Interstate 70. We drove nearly 600 miles today through mostly plains. The plains are a tan color with gently rolling hills. I kept thinking how beautiful it must be in the wintertime when it snows.

Along the way Randy spotted an elk of all things with a full rack and then another nearby. I whipped the car around and went back for a look and sure enough...2 elk. Huge animals standing there looking at us like we were some kind of tourists. They were fenced. Is it legal to keep these animals? They had a very large enclosure with trees and a stream and what a site they were. I have never seen a elk in real life. Very majestic.

Later we came up on a cattle herd in the road with dust flying and men on horses and in trucks trying to round them up and get them across the road.

The speed limit on highway 77 is 65 mph so even though we are not on an interstate we are still making pretty good time. We got a room at the Days Inn in Junction City, Ks. but went right back to the office and got a refund. I would not advise anyone to stay there. It looked OK but looks can be deceiving. There seemed to bee alot of riffraff, as my Dad would have said, hanging around near the parking area and then there were many underage drunken teens cursing & hanging around the stairwell which was next to our room. The final kicker was when we opened the door to our room that cost $67.00, it was under construction. So, we got a refund and drove another 20 miles to Abilene. There is some big biker rally going on close by and the motel we ended up in is full of bikers...very nice people and we feel much safer here.

Check out my flickr site http://flickr.com/photos/dewesemilstead/

Saturday, September 27, 2008

September 26,2008 Hello From Mount Ida, Arkansas

We finally got on the road at 2:30 this morning but by the time everything was packed I was too tired to drive. We got a nap, like most old folks do, and by sunrise were into northern Louisiana. The land there is flat and wide open. They grow cotton and sugar cane and the fields stretch for miles and there was a soft mist laying on the ground. As the sun came up and Randy napped I listened to the music on my Zune and clicked off the miles.
Our plan is to stay off of the interstates as much as possible. You just can't see the real America if you don't get onto the roads that are the heart of our country. So with that in mind, it will take alittle longer to get from point A to point B but that is really what this is all about. I want a closer look.
We stopped for a stretch and lunch in Prattsville, Arkansas. It is a very tiny town with some very nice people. We ate Pork BBQ and shared our picnic table with one of the ladies that worked in the restaurant. It was her birthday and a couple of the local people stopped to wish her well. She was very informative about places nearby for tourists, that's us, to visit. Lake Hamilton is very large and this weekend is hosting some big time boat races. Time trials are today. Of course, that got Randy's radar up and going so we thought we might check it out. As it turned out and to make a long story short, we got lost and missed the whole thing. That's about right. We finally decided to find a motel after driving for 14 hours. We made it here, Mount Ida, Arkansas. We got a clean room in a nice family operated motel right on Hwy 270 and there is a restaurant as well. It has a pool, free wifi, coffee pot, fridge, 2 rockers and a picnic table right outside the door.

I hope you will go to my Flickr page and check out the photos from the trip. They are listed under the dates or if you check under collections they are in a folder named Road Trip 2008. Here's the link.http://www.flickr.com/photos/dewesemilstead/

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today Is The Day

Today is the day we are suppose to start our trip and we are going to go but the car is still in the shop. I have to go to Meridian, Ms. this morning to pick it up. The ignition repair has taken longer than expected as there was a delay in getting the parts so I am getting a free detail on the car as a consolation. I had taken off early from work yesterday to go get the car but thankfully the dealership let me know before I drove 100 miles up there that it was not ready. Instead, I took the time to get packed, clean camera equipment, check out computer operations and make sure batteries are all charged. I also had a chance to review my "to do" list and give directions to Michael, my stepson, on care of the animals and house while we are away. The route has been planned, banking is done and once I go to the pharmacy and pack the car, I will be ready.
It's here...finally.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Anxious To Go

Our next trip is coming up and I am very excited. We are leaving on Thursday, September 25, for what I hope to be a great adventure. This will be the ultimate road trip for me. We are going by car and not taking the camper so alot of weeding out of supplies had to be done. The car is a small 2 seater sports car with very limited space and since the trip is 3 weeks long...well I suppose I will have to stop at a Laundromat along the way. I have planned and planned for this trip. The route has been mapped out to our destinations only using interstates when we have to. We want to experience the heart of America.

The first thing I did was order a luggage rack for the car, you know, the kind you can take off and store away for another trip. http://www.autoanything.com/Next, I ordered a waterproof cargo bag for the luggage rack.http://www.cargogear.com/ I have it partially packed and it looks like everything is going to fit in it except camera gear, a small cooler and a small tool box grill.

I had the car checked out at the dealer to make sure it is safe for a 4800 mile trip. They put a new belt on it and I have to take it back in the morning for a new ignition. This one has been giving me a little trouble and I would hate for it to stop working in BF. So I am getting a new one. I also took it and had the tires checked out and got a new one on the passenger rear. It had a leak and turned out to be a nail in the sidewall.

I am also trying to get wireless service turned on to my laptop so I can blog everyday.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The First Trip September 2006

In September 2006 my husband, Randy, and I took a trip with our RV on a 15 day trip from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, through Colorado, over to Arches National Park in Utah. I had read a book about Arches and when we decided to go, Arches was number one on the list. I just felt like I had to go, I had to see it. We made all the preparations: planned the map, packed appropriately for weather changes, bought groceries, made sure the camper and truck were safe, had enough cash and credit cards. This trip was really an important step for us, especially Randy. His idea of traveling has always been driving 45 miles to the nearest recreational area and camping for the weekend. He would never have embarked on such a journey had I not been so adamant. He is content here in Mississippi and it is a very nice place to live but there is so much more and I want to see it all. So..he has to go with me. The good thing is that he is game for just about anything. And so, the big morning finally came.

The first leg of out trip took us to Tyler, Texas. We found a nice spot for the camper on the lake at Tyler State Park. Throughout the entire trip, we never had any difficulty finding a place to camp even though we had not made any reservations anywhere. We decided this was because school was back in session. Early the next morning we were back on the road. Our route took us through Oklahoma, Kansas and into Colorado. On the third night we stayed in an RV park just off the highway in Breckenridge. I will never forget the sunset that night. The clouds were a deep red as they disappeared behind the mountains. During the night there was a light snow and we awakened to a wonderland.

Camper trouble: We have a Prowler 5Th wheel camper and it has a kitchen/living room slide out on one side. At Breckenridge we got it out but it wouldn't go back in. It wouldn't do anything. That was our biggest fear..to have some sort of breakdown so far from home. There's some sort of do-hickey under there so you can manually roll the slide out back in but if you have ever tried to actually do it you will find out that it is nearly impossible, especially when the person trying to roll it in is mad, upset and throwing a hissy-fit. Luckily I had all the paperwork with me and I called the dealership with my cell phone. The guy I talked to wasn't a mechanic but he did know enough to help us locate the fuses. Once replaced the slide out returned to working order and there were no more problems.

The ride between Breckenridge, Colorado and Moab, Utah is spectacular. There are quaint little towns, gold mines, snow covered mountains and crystal clear lakes. Wild mountain goats graze just off the highway and eagles soaring high above. The golden colors of the trees..the Aspens and their whisper. Arts & Crafts were everywhere. There are also several rather long tunnels through the mountains. Us flatlanders don't see much of this sort of thing so it was all pretty awesome. As you descend into the desert from the mountains there is a noticeable change in the colors of the landscape, it changes to red, tan and brown.

The closer we got to Arches National Park the more excited I got. I'm not really sure why except that one day I was garage sailing and found a book called Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. It was very inspirational and an account of Mr. Abbeys experiences at Arches many years earlier. All I wanted to do was see some of the things he described and of course it is a tourist attraction but since we went in September there were no crowds. Arches sits just north of Moab, Utah and preserves the most beautiful and unusual sandstone rock formations. These formations have been created over millions of years through wind and water. Arches is a magical place that everyone should try to visit at least once. We loved it and have planned to return. We found great accommodations at http://www.go-utah.com/Moab-Valley-RV-Resort/ and they are located on Hwy 191 just as you enter Moab. It's a gated resort so we felt safe, and it was clean and well cared for. Check out their website for more details.