We are beginning a 2 month trip today, August 5.  Our first stop is San Antonio, TX to Tom's Navy reunion (most have cancelled, but we will be there anyway), followed by a few days in New Mexico. Then on to southern Utah and Salt Lake City to visit Tom's sister, niece and family.  Following that, we will go to Glacier National Park, Waterton and Grasslands Provincial parks.  The next leg of the trip will take us to Badlands, South Dakota and Teddy Roosevelt National Park. -- you know I have to see some wild horses!!!!  I will be posting every 2 to 3 days as I have time and a signal.  If you would like to follow our daily footsteps, visit this link using password – tlc4girls. Hope you enjoy the ride along. 

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September 21, 2017, Badlands, Interior, South Dakota

Today I am adding entries from 9/14 through 9/21.

Another rest day.  We are just laying around, downloading photos from last night.  We both got pretty decent Milky Way shots, but not what we wanted.  We may try again tonight.  We start for home TOMORROW!  We are both excited and sad.  Although circumstances didn’t cooperate a great part of the trip, we are still fortunate to be on this adventure.  This may be my last blog, since once we get on the road, we will have long days.  I hope you have enjoyed the ‘ride along’.   Until next time.

September 20, Badlands, Interior, South Dakota

We got up early (5 am) and made ‘to go’ coffee so we could get some shots when the sun began to hit the badlands.  The colors are amazing.  We found a good spot and spent about an hour or more shooting the rising sun on the hills.  We saw buffalo, coyotes and big horn sheep.  We can back and cooked steak and potatoes for ‘brunch’, downloaded our photos and rested.  Tonight we are going to again attempt Milky Way and maybe we will even see the Northern Lights.  Tomorrow we won’t get up as early and will take another drive into the park to try to catch some big horn sheep.

September 19, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota to Badlands, Interior, South Dakota (320 miles)

We got here around mid-afternoon, got set up and downloaded our photos.  Wow, I got several good shots of the horses and can’t wait to finish up.  My photo software always acts up when we are on a trip, so I’ll have to do most of them when we get home.  But, I will try to post a couple to Facebook and on this blog. 

September 18, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

We are always early risers, so we got up and drove the loop again and saw the horses 2 other times.  I love the wild horses, so I was in ‘horse heaven’.  I took another 500 photos.  It will take me FOREVER to download the go through them.  We won’t download our photos until tomorrow.

September 17, Fort Peck, Montana to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota (198 miles)

The rain finally stopped and we had a pleasant drive through North Dakota.  We didn’t know how many nights we will have here, since we couldn’t reserve a spot. When we got to the campground, we had to get a ‘walk in’ site and could only stay there for 2 nights.  So, instead of moving for 1 night, we will just stay 2.  We came to this park because Tom knows how much I love the wild horses and there are about 160 here, in small groups.  After we got set up, we went for a drive and on the way back to the campground after driving the 25 miles loop, we saw the HORSES!  I was so excited and took about 200 photos.  Tom set up for night photography, but it got cloudy.  We will drive around again tomorrow.

September 16, Fort Peck, Montana

Well, this is a day that will not soon be forgotten.  We anticipated a low-key day, but that was not to be.  I wanted to do laundry today for what is hopefully that last time of the trip.  We have been gone 6 weeks!  We loaded up the dirty clothes and headed to the only laundromat in Glasgow (15 miles from Fort Peck).  When we got there all the washers were taken but 1 and I needed 2.  So, I had decided to eliminate some of the wash and just use the one.  Two young women came in and they had almost finished with their laundry and said I could get one of theirs in just a few minutes.  Problem solved.  So, I loaded 2 washers and stood around and Tom and I chatted with them.  They were special education school teachers from the Philippines who had been brought over to teach in the elementary school on Glasgow.  They have only been in the US since August and said they thought everyone was so nice.  They were soon proven WRONG!  Tom left me in the laundromat and walked about 2 blocks to the Wells Fargo bank to get us some cash from the ATM.  Just after he left, a pickup truck raced up the street and stopped in front of the laundromat.  A woman came rushing into the laundry, visibly angry about something. She was talking to herself and flinging her laundry around.  I was just getting my laundry ready to dry and had put my dryer sheets in a dryer waiting for the 2 minutes on the washer to expire.  When I looked for my dryer sheets, which I keep in a little sandwich bag, I couldn’t find them.  I looked down at a ‘trash can’ and saw a baggie with dryer sheets, so assuming they were mine, I picked them up and used 2 in my dryer.  The woman who came roaring into the laundry came over to the ‘trash can’ and started screaming because HER dryer sheets were missing from her ‘laundry basket’.  I told her that I thought it was a trash can and that I thought they were mine.  I apologized and gave her 2 of mine and the remainder of what was in the baggie.  She began screaming at me that I was a thief, I was being videoed.  She jerked her laundry basket out from under the table and screamed, ‘does this look like a trash can – may it does in YOUR house’.  I would love to have told her that she was the only trash I could see in the laundromat.  About that time, Tom walked in and looked like ‘DUH, what’s happening?’  I gave him a sign to not say anything.  I was afraid he would go off on her and based on how she was calling me a thief and accusing me of ‘touching her stuff’ and that she would ‘call the law’, I realized real quick she was certifiably crazy! I didn’t talk back to her or say anything except, in a very calm manner, that she could have all of mine and that I honestly thought they were mine.  Tom said ‘Is 2 dryer sheets, what this is about’.  Well, she lost it again.  We both stayed calm and when she said she was calling the cops, I said ‘do what you need to do’.  There was a camera in the laundry and I was not concerned about any issue with the police.  She slammed her dryer shut, backed out of the laundry screaming and cursing all the way.  When we got into the street, she was flinging her arms around and shouting.  Those poor 2 little Philippine women sure got a taste of what evil lurks in the US when you are least expecting it.  She shook her fist and said ‘I’ll be back in 20 minutes!’  I simply told her to have a good day.  However, we went to sit in the truck to wait for the dryer to finish and Tom thought it best I not go back in just in case she came back.  She didn’t show up before we left.  Something tells me the police know this woman well!  When we left there, we stopped at a restaurant/saloon/casino for lunch. This is a day I wouldn’t want to repeat.  I could see her as someone who would come back with a gun.  Anyway, just another interesting, weird day.

September 15, Fort Peck, Montana

We are here for 3 days to ride out the rain.  Our next stop is Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the weather is supposed to improve in that time.  It rained all day today and we just lolled around all day.  Tomorrow we will take a drive, even if it rains.

September 14, Grasslands, Canada to Fort Peck, Montana (183 miles)

We left around 9:00 this morning and got to Fort Peck before 2:00.  We were not able to get out site from earlier in the week, but at least we were able to get in.   It is raining here also, but we have electric and can just sit it out for a few days.  We may go into town (Glasgow) in a while and rent some Redbox movies.  Nothing to do outside.

September 13, Val Marie, Canada

We drove to Swift Current and found a Wal Mart where we could pick up a few essentials.  Not much going on there, but the drive through the rolling hills of the prairie were just beautiful.  The smoke was so bad today, we did not even attempt to go out.  We decided we would leave Grasslands early – tomorrow – due to the smoke, and the forecast is to rain for a few days. It will rain no matter wherever we go, but at least we won’t be remote and on a 25 miles dirt road.

September 12, Val Marie, Canada

We just rested today, anticipating having another good night of photography.  Near sunset, we went up Tipi  Ridgein Grasslands that is just on the edge of the campground.  The sunset wasn’t super spectacular, but pretty any way.  The 'red chairs' were placed in national parks in Canada as a way of connecting Canadians with nature in the country's most unique and treasured places. Tonight we stayed at the campground and were able to see the Milky Way very clearly.  I shot toward the North to see if the Northern Lights were visible and they were, but just e nough to show up in a photo.  Tomorrow we will probably go up to Swift Current (about 70 miles from Val Marie) to do a little shopping.

 

 

 

 

September 11, Fort Peck to Grasslands, Canada (183 miles)

The decision is to move on to Canada today instead of tomorrow because the skies will be clear tonight and  tomorrow night.  Then, we will play the rest of the week by ear.  This may be the last update on the blog until we come back into the US in about a week, since we will have very spotty cell coverage.  Since we checked in 1 day early, we had to take a site next to the one we had reserved.  So, we will just move tomorrow.  When it got dark, we drove down to the old corral and the Milky Way was out in full force.  I was shooting to the NW and didn’t realize that I got a little of the Northern Lights.  They were filtered by the hazy sky, but still visible.  After a couple of hours, we were getting ready to go back to the truck when we heard this high, shrill squeak.  Tom tried to convince me it was birds, but I wouldn’t buy that.  I was convinced it was a rodent with huge tusks, like the one in the movies.  We shined our lights around toward the sound, and as we walked back to the truck, it began to follow us.  I ran to the truck and jumped in – Tom was trying to see it and I was frantically trying to get him back in the truck!  We survived.  After talking with the rangers, they said it could have been a badger, blackfooted ferret or coyote.  I still think it was a big toothed rat monster!  I’m sticking with that. 

September 10, Fort Peck, Montana 

 Well, the smoke was pretty bad again this morning.  The wind is blowing the smoke from the west.  We just thought we had left it behind.  We stayed around the campground today – another rest day.  Seems like we have had more rest days than not.  We have been checking the weather at Grasslands in Canada and it doesn’t look so good.  This has definitely not turned into a great photography trip, but we are still having a great time, being in nature.  What to do???  Not many choices, as this whole region is expecting rain, wind, etc.  Oh, well, we will figure that out tomorrow!  Tonight we are going to try to get some stars, Milky Way, or reflections again. 

September 9, Fort Peck, Montana 

This morning we drove into the nearest town, Glasgow, and pick up a few supplies.  After we stored the groceries and filled the coolers with ice, we drove to the dam which is just across the river from us.  Fort Peck was constructed in 1867 as a trading post and later, when trading with the Indians began to taper off, it became the Indian Agency.  Later the Indian Agency was moved to another town.  In 1934, Fort Peck was moved 2 miles and   rebuilt by the US Corps of Engineers to house Corps of Engineers employees who were sent out to build the dam.  The dam was built on the Missouri for flood control and irrigation purposes.  A power plant at the dam sends electricity to 5 surrounding states. We toured the dam’s powerhouse and the museum.  It is amazing how the dam was constructed using sludge to build up the walls.  There was a museum at the powerhouse that contains many fossil casts from fossils found in Montana.  Very interesting!  When the sun went down, we walked the trail from our campground to the Missouri and took a few shots of the powerhouse towers which are lit up at night and reflect in the river.

September 8, St. Mary, Montana to Fort Peck, Montana (369 miles) 

The smoke from the wildfires made the sun brilliant orange!  It is so smoky; glad we are leaving today!  Our lungs, eyes and throat are in pain.  The drive across Montana was mostly wheat fields.  After 200 miles, we finally began to see blue skies!  Fort Peck is a US Army Corps of Engineers facility.  We could pick out campsite and we lucked up.  We got a really good spot on the outside loop with plenty of space.  We have neighbors on each side, but not real close, and we can sit outside and see the dam on the Missouri River, and the power station.

September 7, St. Mary, Montana

My last post was on September 4, so today I updated the 5th, 6th and 7th.

Really smoky this morning, so we stayed here again.  I did what little laundry we had and we made a good  lunch/dinner around 4:00.  I paid a few bills and updated this blog.  It may be a while before I can update again.  Since we can’t go to Waterton Lakes, we are heading east tomorrow to Ft. Peck, Montana.  There is an Army Corps of Engineers campground on a large lake on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.  We called yesterday and they said there is no smoke there.  YEAH!!!  I will post again when I can.  The plan right now is to stay at Fort Peck campground until 9/12, and then move up to Grasslands National Park, Frenchman Valley campground in SK, Canada for 7 days, then back into the good old USA.  Rain is forecast there for the end of that week, so we may leave early.  We will just play it by ear.

September 6, St. Mary, Montana

This morning the smoke had cleared enough that we drove up to Many Glacier, a little north of us.  We hiked just a little and took a few photos.  But, the smoke hanging over the mountains made photography ops almost non-existent. After a couple of hours, the smoke began to roll in again, so we returned to the Casita, made lunch and took a long nap.  We considered leaving tomorrow, a day early, but didn’t have the energy to pack up.  They would give us a full refund for tonight, but we decided to just wait and leave on Thursday, as planned.  We had received an email from Waterton Lakes, Alberta, Canada suggesting we cancel our trip up there scheduled for Friday due to wildfire activity up there.  When we called, they said the entire park was going to be evacuated and they recommend we not come.   They will give us a full refund.

September 5, St. Mary, Montana

We stayed around the campground today since the smoke was so intense.  That gave me time to work on some accounting items that were pending.  Tomorrow we may drive up to Many Glacier if the smoke clears a little.  The smoke is getting so intense and we have been in it since we first got to West Glacier.  It is beginning to affect us as far as headaches and scratchy throat and red eyes.

September 4, West Glacier, Montana to St. Mary, Montana (145 miles)

NOTE:  I am updating August 31 through September 4 today, so scroll down to see the other updates. 

We left around 10:30 and drove down to Columbia Falls for groceries before heading to St. Mary.  The drive was more plains than mountains, and as we came through the Flatfeet Indian Reservation, we passed acres and acres that had been scorched by a prairie fire.  It is so very dry out here, fires have popped up in many areas.  I did laundry today and we turned in early. 

September 3, West Glacier, Montana

This was an interesting day.  We did drive on the Going to the Sun road on the west side of Lake McDonald with the intention of finding a good spot to shoot the lake, mountains and hopefully capture the colored rocks in the lake.

We picked out a spot and then decided since we were so close, we would go on up to Logan Pass and hike to Hidden Lake.  Hidden Lake is about a 2 mile hike with elevation gain of approximately 600 feet.  It took a while to go up the mountain, but the scenery was absolutely beautiful, with the wildflowers and glaciers.  The lake was REALLY hidden.  It is in the valley below and today was shrouded by the smoke from the wildfires.  My best photo was of a marmot living in the rocks. We rested at the top after hiking past the overlook where it was less crowded.  When we started to drive the 16 miles back to the campground, the Ranger stopped us and said the Going to the Sun road was closed and we would have to go to the east side to get back to our campground.  That was around 116 miles back to camp when we were only 16 miles away!!!  It took us about 3 hours to get back.  Oh, well. 

September 2, West Glacier, Montana

We have been on the go for so long, we decided to take a rest day today.  Tomorrow we will drive around the lake again to scope out the area. 

September 1, West Glacier, Montana 

 We drove around looking for a good spot to take lake photos and then rested the rest of the day.  When it got dark, we drove back down to Apgar to shoot the fires again.  It is amazing how much larger the fire had grown.  Although we both got very good photos, we are saddened by the devastation these fires have brought to a beautiful nation park.  The Sperry Lodge burned that night. 

 

 

August 31, Ennis, Montana to West Glacier, Montana (323 miles)

Although we learned the smoke from the wildfires was pretty heavy in West Glacier, we decided to go ahead with our plan for 4 days in West Glacier and move if we had to.  We got into the campground and we were happy to see the smoke wasn’t too bad.  The Sprague file was north of us at the head of Lake McDonald and we are on the south side.  On the way up, we came through the community of Speery Lake where another wildfire was burning.  As we came into town, we saw a HUGE wildfire staging area with over 100 tents and numerous emergency vehicles.  Helicopters were carrying the bladders of water to drop on the fires. We drove around a little and later than evening, Tom decided he would go back to the Apgar Village beach area and see if he could get a photo of the fire at night.

August 30, Ennis, Montana

We drove to Virginia City and Nevada City this morning. There are many restored buildings from the 1880’s with  their contents displayed.  Virginia City was formed in 1863 with the name Verina, later renamed Virginia City.  Most of the city is now owned by the state government and is a National Historic Landmark operated as an open-air museum.  Nevada City is an unincorporated community in Madison County, Montana, United States. In the 1880s, it was one of the two major centers of Commerce in what was known as one of the "Richest Gold Strikes in the Rocky Mountain West", it shared that role with its sister city Virginia City. Since the late 1990s, Nevada City has become one of Montana's biggest tourist attractions, as well as a largely residential area.  Tomorrow we head to Glacier National Park.  We are praying the wildfires don’t run us out.  They are not that close, but the smoke can get pretty bad.  Anyway, we will be out of pocket for several days, so my next update may be close to a week off.

August 29, Draper, UT to Ennis, Montana (365 miles)

We got up really early, 5:00 am, so that we could be on the road by 6.  Salt Lake City and suburbs is a HUGE city and the rush hour traffic is horrible.  We were actually able to leave by 6, and although the traffic was not light, it was bearable.  The drive through northern Utah and SE Idaho was beautiful.  The desert was replaced with rolling hills, meadows, and enormous farms.  We got to the RV Park around 2:00 and have relaxed the afternoon away.  Tomorrow, we will probably drive to Virginia City and Nevada City, which are 2 1800’s gold mining towns.  The skies here are hazy due to wildfires in northern Montana (near Glacier which is our next stop- UGH), and the smell of smoke is strong.  We will keep watch on the Glacier Park website to make sure the park doesn't close.  The fire is not that close to where we plan to be.

 August 25, Torrey, UT to Draper, UT (194 miles) – August 28

Someone tried to break into our truck last night!!  We awoke around 10:15 with the truck burglar alarm blaring.  Tom had left his camera in the front seat and someone definitely was trying to get in.  Luckily the alarm sounded and we were there to check everything out and shut it off.  Today we drove to Sandy, UT to spend 4 days with Tom’s sister, his niece and her daughter and grandkids.  They had just moved the yesterday and were loaded down with boxes and a lot of items they had yet to move from the apartment they lived in.  So, we pitched in and helped transport boxes, unpack boxes, etc.  Tom fixed a couple of things around the new place.  It was actually kind of fun to have work to do, and it was a pleasure to help them out. 

August 24, Torrey,  UT

Today we took a drive across Boulder Mountain (elevation around 9,000 feet).  We drove the 35 miles to Boulder, UT and had lunch as this wonderful little café.  The lunch was great and the drive was beautiful.  The terrain turned to pines atop the mountain with scenic views as far as we could see.  We came back to camp and Tom set up his camera to try to get star shots, but the clouds interfered again.  So, we went to bed around 9:00.  Around 10:15 we both were awakened by the burglar alarm on our truck.  Tom had left his camera in the front seat and someone definitely was trying to get in.  Luckily the alarm sounded and we were there to check everything out and shut it off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 23, Torrey, UT

 We drove the Capitol Reef loop this morning around 9 before it got crowded.  So many visitors here, many of them are foreign.  We stopped at an overlook with a trail to Sunset Point, about ¾ mile hike.  Then we drove the scenic road in the park – about 9 miles each way.  We went to the end of the road and then took the dirt road (Capitol Gorge Trail) for about 1 mile in.  Along the trail and ancient petroglyphs and an area named Pioneer Register, where early pioneers carved their names into the wall.  Some date back to 1880’s.  Before we started back, Tom hiked up to the ‘Tanks’ which is an area up a cliff that had several pools of water.  When we came back, we were exhausted, so after lunch, we took a 2 hour nap.  It would have been longer but we were awakened by hail hitting the roof of the Casita.  Luckily no damage.  Since it is cloudy again tonight, no Milky Way shots. 

August 22, Natural Bridges, UT to Torrey, UT (147 miles)

We left Natural Bridges around 10:30 since we had a short day.  An uneventful day.  We got a wonderful spot at 1000 Lakes RV Park with a view of the red bluffs behind us.  This campground is clean, spacious and great!

August 21, Natural Bridges

The ranger came around yesterday, and told us they were having an eclipse talk/watch at the Visitor Center, so we drove up there around 10:30.  The peak would be 80% here and would be around 11:30.  They had a large telescope set up in the plaza and even some eclipse viewing cards they loaned out.  Tom was able to get a pretty good shot on his cell phone through the eyepiece of the telescope!  What an awesome sight!!  We then drove up to Blanding to check messages (no cell signal at Natural Bridges), get ice and gas.  As we returned to Natural Bridges, a huge dark cloud got closer and closer and it began to rain really hard – even some hail.  Tom stepped on the gas because we had left our chairs out and all of the windows open.  Luckily we got home before the rain hit.  It is very cloudy tonight, so we will stay in. 

August 20, Kirtland, NM to Natural Bridges, UT (150 miles)

 We left around 10 this morning so that Tom could wash the truck and the Casita.  The red dust from Ghost Ranch had completely covered the both vehicles. At Bluff, we stopped at Twin Rocks Trading Post for lunch.  We had eaten there before, and they have the best Navajo tacos. If you have never eaten one, this is a must when you travel to this part of the country.  We arrived at Natural Bridges Nation Monument and instead of camping on the overflow camping on the abandoned airstrip, we were able to get into the park campground.  We got 2 spaces so we would have plenty of room for the truck and the Casita.  Any, we didn’t have any neighbors, which is what we like.  We drove the 9 mile loop around the park and hiked down to one of the bridges intending to take night photos.  We will find a place tomorrow to watch the eclipse.  We were able to get 1 pair of eclipse glasses at LBJ Ranch

August 19, Abiquiu, NM to Kirtland, NM (59 miles)

 The drive to Kirtland was beautiful.  We were going uphill most of the way to elevations of 6,000 to over 7,000 feet.  We began to see trees instead of just the sagebrush of the desert.  Then when we came back down the mountain, sagebrush and desert again.  Kirtland is not far from the Shiprock formation, a huge rock formation on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  It is plays a significant role in Navajo religion, myth, and tradition.  Shiprock has been featured in several movies. 

August 18, Abiquiu, NM 

I discovered that this less than modern facility had a very clean shower.  I was surprised to find a washer and dryer, even a clothesline!  So, this morning after breakfast, I did what laundry we had and we got out night shots downloaded and uploaded to Facebook and our website.  We went back to the cabin tonight and the clouds were pretty thick, but we walked away with a couple of good photos.  The pics below are from the first night.

 

 

 

 

 

August 17 – Santa Fe, NM to Abiquiu (75 miles) 

Check-in time at Ghost Ranch is 11:00 and, although we have reservations, it is first come first served as far as which site you get.  So we got here around 11:15 and found the campground almost deserted.  So, we got a very good spot with as much shade as you can find in the desert of New Mexico.  After lunch, we took a nap, we have gotten so exhausted from moving and just driving.  It became cloudy in the evening, but we went back to City Slicker cabin when it got dark and waited for the Milky Way to appear.  The clouds finally moved out around 9:30 and we got some good shots of the Milky Way over the cabin.  It was almost midnight when we went to bed and won’t have to be rocked to sleep. 

August 16 – Santa Fe, NM 

We took a day and drove up to Abiquiu to tour the home and studio of artist Georgia O’Keefe.  She created many southeastern themed art pieces from this studio.  We decided to drive on up to Chama for lunch.  Chama is the depot of one of the narrow gauge railroads in New Mexico.  The Ghost Ranch is on the highway to Chama, so we stopped by to see what it was about.  They have a campground there, so we booked the next 2 nights, not knowing what the campground would look like.  There is a cabin on the ranch, ‘City Slicker’ cabin, which was built when the movie City Slicker was made in this area. We had lunch in an old hotel that I would not recommend.  The service was slow and my food was very cold.  It was 6:00 pm by the time we got back to camp and we were exhausted (closed to 300 miles round trip). 

August 15 – Carlsbad, NM to Santa Fe, NM (261 miles) 

We left Carlsbad, NM around 8:45 and ate breakfast in Roswell, NM, the home of the alien encounter in 1947.  We first visited the UFO Museum in Carlsbad where they have a lot of old newspaper clippings and other information (much of it speculative) regarding the UFO sighting in Roswell July, 1947.  New Mexico is a large producer of walnuts, pistachio and other tree nuts.  And, as we continued the route, we saw many acres of pecan farms.  We stayed at the Santa Fe KOA for a couple of nights. 

August 14 – San Antonio, TX to Carlsbad, NM (450 miles)

 We had a long day today, so we got up early and left around 6:45 am.  We drove through ‘miles and miles’ of Texas, and about 37 miles in New Mexico.  For over 100 miles after we left I-10, we saw nothing but oil wells, storage facilities, drilling new wells and huge storage tanks.  When we got to Carlsbad, we rested a bit and then went to a little converted service station restaurant – Happy’s- for the best hamburger in the world!!  We are going to try to go to Carlsbad Caverns this evening around sun down to see the bat flight.  The bats leave the Caverns just after sundown for their night of feeding --- I mean, LOTS of bats!   They do not allow photography of any kind and you cannot even use a light so as not to disturb the bats’ flight pattern.  Tomorrow, we head to Santa Fe.

 August 13 – San Antonio, TX

 We got a call from Taylor around 6:30 am and she has gotten a really bad cough, sore throat, etc.  She sounded awful and we told her she should not board a plane and fly all the way out west feeling so bad.  She was upset because she really wanted to come, but she realized that leaving home was not the right thing to do.  So, sadly, she was not able to join us.  So, I went down to the hotel lobby, used one of their computers and cancelled her flights.  She should get a full refund since the Delta insurance was purchased for each ticket.  So, I did laundry and Tom went to Wal Mart for supplies.  We just lolled around the rest of the day – temperature was 101 degrees, feels like 105 degrees. 

 August 12 – San Antonio, TX

 Today, Tom and I went up to Stonewall, TX to tour President Lyndon Johnson’s ranch (his 2nd White House).  The ranch was donated to the US after Lady Bird died and has been restored and is furnished with original furniture and even their clothing.   The small Air Force One jet that flew him from the Air Force Base to the ranch is in a hangar at the ranch, right by the house.  There is a 6000 foot runway that he had built prior to becoming president, largely to use as a way to reach the ranch when it flooded.  After the tour, we saw there were a lot of vineyards.  We stopped at what seemed to be the most interesting:  Bad Ass Winery!!!  We did a wine tasting and enjoyed the ambience.  On the way out, Tom saw a group of women turning their backsides to the front of the gate.  He scooted behind them and took a shot.  We then went to Luckenbach, TX – this was on Tom’s bucket list.  Although it was extremely hot, we were sitting outside under huge Texas live oak trees.  No fee to go there, just have to pay for drink and food.  It was AMAZING!  The country band was amazing!  We had a wonderful time just relaxing – all in all a great day.

 August 11 – San Antonio, TX

 We visited 2 mission:  Mission San Jose and Mission Concepcion.  These were missions built by the Friars from France.  They used the indigenous natives to build the structures and turned them from hunter/gatherers into farmers and cattlemen.   They attempted to convert the Indians to the Catholic religion and were only moderately successful.  Many of the original Indians who lived in this mission went back to their native ways, but died out because they could no longer be hunter/gatherers.  By neglecting the land (no more burning to keep the foliage down), there were no wildlife and the cactus and mesquite took over.  Both of these missions are National Historic Sites.  We checked into the hotel and met up with Tom’s 2 Navy buddies and their wives.  Later this evening, we all went down to the River Walk for dinner at a restaurant called Ricks’.  This is the establishment where the staff is trained to be obnoxious and loud.  If you don’t mind being offended or shouted at, it is a great place to eat.

 August 10 – Ennis, TX to San Antonio, TX (243 miles)

 We had a pleasant drive to San Antonio, except from Austin to San Antonio, it seems like the cities combine.  So much traffic.  When we got to the campground, we ate dinner and just rested.

 August 9 – Ennis, TX

 Today we got our new Casita cushions.  Tom had posted on the Casita forum that we were going to get new cushions from the Casita factory and he received a message from a full-time Casita camper who was 150 miles away who needed cushions.  So, after we picked ours up, he drove us and was so happy to get ours.  They were in excellent condition, just a little smashed from use.  We had planned to get an awning as well, but FIAMMA company office in Florida, where Casita gets the awnings was the business impacted by a mass shooting and 5 of its 8 employees were killed.  So, we will get something later. 

August 8 - Ashdown, AR to Ennis, TX (236 miles)

 We got a great spot at Mott Park on Lake Barnwell right on the lake.  We were here 7 years ago, when we picked up our Casita.  Tom got a call this evening from a disabled camper who needs cushions so we are giving ours to him.   So glad they could be reused.  They are in pretty good shape and he doesn't have any his, so this works out well.  We will get our cushions in the morning and meet upon him later and just rest up after 4 days on the road.  We will stay here until Thursday when go to San Antonio.

August 7 - Wynne, AR to Ashdown, AR (239 miles)

We were able to get into Millwood State Park, AR campground in western Arkansas. It was raining when we arrived, but stopped after a couple of hours. We had a great site right on the lake.  Had a beautiful evening.  Excited to be heading to Texas tomorrow where we will get new cushions for our Casita. 

 August 6 - Crossville, TN to Wynne, AR (374 miles)

We landed at Village Creek State Park in eastern Arkansas.  This was a good choice. Great site back in the woods.  Can't beat that.  The drive was good except for an accident on I-40 that backed us up for 1 1/2 hours.  Long day.

August 5 - Walkertown. NC to Crossville, TN (332 miles
The first stop was in Tennessee at Cumberland Mountain State Park.  The state park campgrounds tend to be relatively spacious and clean.  And you can't beat the price.  


 

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