Canadian Rockies

7/7/18 – Banff/Jasper/Kootenay/Yoho National Parks, all connected together in what has to be one of the most awesome places in the world!  Have been here for 2 weeks, planning to leave tomorrow morning, but only going SW a little ways to Canada’s Glacier NP (not the same as Waterton which is connected to US Glacier NP – the International Peace Park) and Mount Revelstoke.  As I’ve said before, it has been raining and cold the whole time, even below freezing and snowed a couple of days.  Day before yesterday it actually cleared, sunny and warm enough for shorts and T-shirt!  What a glorious day that was!  Yesterday was partly sunny and then the dense clouds and heavy rains returned, all night last night and this morning, so I’m back in sweats and raingear.  Got pretty depressing there for a few days, but just one good sunny day helped so much.  Since it’s raining, thought I’d come back to the visitor center here at Yoho, catch email, and maybe even catch up to real time here.

In spite of the rain and cold I continued to venture out tho hikes were frequently shorter than I’d have liked, and some didn’t get done at all when rain was too heavy.  Luckily dogs are allowed on trails here, ah – wet dog in car and camper in addition to wet shoes!!!  I have plenty of raingear, poncho that covers backpack and all, but not waterproof shoes and rainpants would be nice too.  Use to have, where are they now?!  On the list of purchases.  Anyway, this post will mostly be photos again, lots of them, visibility is pretty sketchy in many, some sights were totally invisible, and I didn’t get everywhere I wanted to go.

First I was at Lake Louise in Banff NP for a few days, then went up to Jasper, Whistler’s CG.  Both had elec and showers, which I hadn’t had for a long time, much appreciated, especially the showers. 🙂  They were both reservations, the last I made, so after that I went to a couple of the “first come” CGs on the Icefields Parkway for a few days each.  That way I was able to do different portions of the Parkway each day.  No problem getting a site and I liked the CGs.  Very happy to be out from under the pressure of reservations and feel more confident that it’s possible.

Xena says “Hi” to Canada.  Here come those mountains!

 

Mountains!  Rivers rushing with the snow melt from the mountains!  Glaciers!!  Amazingly blue/green lakes!!

The last pic in previous group was Victoria Glacier reflected in Lake Louise.  The first one here is a photo of a picture of the mountains from Lake Louise, labeled.  So much of the magnificence is visible from the Icefields Parkway.  Julia, my neighbor from Brazil who loved Xena.

Rivers rushing to eat away at rocks and form waterfalls.  Views from higher elevations.

Another crystal blue lake, Lake Moriane and some of it’s “10 Peaks”.  More magnificent mountains and glaciers.  Mountain goats, a bear crossing the road and a mama elk in the campground.

One of my fav things – the waterfalls.  Oh, the waterfalls!!  So many, just pounding down from the snow melt and glaciers above, forming beautiful blue glacier fed lakes and rushing rivers everywhere.

I’ve posted some pics and videos on FB, the vids of waterfalls are particularly wonderful, really catch them better than photos. My wordpress account doesn’t allow vids.  If you have a chance watch them.

Athabasca Glacier at Icefields Center (also vid on FB where the wind nearly blew me away!) and some info.  Lunch at picnic area on Athabasca River and guess who came to lunch!?

There is sooooo much more!!!  But I have to stop.  It’s now the 10th and we just rolled back into the US.  Now sitting in a coffee shop in a sweet little old west town in Washington, Winthrop.  It’s near the campground in Okanogan National Forest and I’m trying to catch up with internet stuff before the tourists rush the town.  I came back to this and will catch you up on the rest later.

Sad to leave the Canadian Rockies, such a spectacular place, but glad to be where I know what the speed limit it and how much money I’m spending.  🙂

Still Rolling in the Northwest.

Lynn and Xena

ps – I’d love to hear from you, please write, email, text, call.  Been missing my peeps and news from home, especially while I didn’t have service in Canada.  Now that I’m back, texting is probably best, even tho I still won’t always have service, only occasional wifi but will check email as long as I have data.  Hope you’re all doing well and staying cool, well those of you in NC or otherwise in the south.  slh

 

 

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Glacier

Before I write about Glacier, a little real time news.  7/3/18 – Banff NP, Alberta, Canada.  7am. -2 degrees C, 30 F!!!  Snowing!!!  What!?!?  Good day to do some writing.  Back in time to Glacier time.

6/21/18 – Sad to leave Yellowstone, not nearly enough time there, but excited to move on to Glacier and the famed Going to the Sun Road.  Long drive, got there kinda late and got I think the last available campsite.  It wasn’t good, in a dip and camper door facing away from picnic table.  So didn’t unhook camper, figuring I’d get another spot early in the morning since it’s a first come campground.

6/22 – Which I did, right across the camp drive up a few spots.  Perfect.  But, but, but, Going to the Sun wasn’t open!!!  The main thing to do, the way to see Glacier, what else do you do here?!  Hiking of course, lots of fantastic hiking trails but I certainly can’t hike across, plenty of folks biking it tho.  It goes east-west across the giant peaks from one entrance of the park to the other.  The only road. They have to clear it each Spring of all the 80′ of snow and avalanches.  And repair, and replace the guard rails on the winding, narrow, clifts-edge road.  They take them down before snows start because avalanches do it for them if they don’t.  Well, it was open part way from each direction, so we’ll just have to drive the west portion.  Then next day drive around the southern boundary road and start from the East entrance.

The first days drive was great, around Lake McDonald, the huge, long lake the campground is on, water falls and some 8-9000′ peaks.

 

The next morning the Ranger came by and said the Sun Road was open!!!  Yippee!!!  So off we go to do the whole thing.  What a spectacular road!!!  An engineering miracle for sure.  Fantastic views of peaks, Going to the Sun Mountain at 9642′ being the highest.  As you’ll see in the pictures, it was rainy, misty, socked in, and very scary driving at points.  Could have as easily been named “Going into the Clouds Road”.  Very limited visibility, but fantastic anyway.  We were in the clouds, on top of the world.

 

The last 2 are looking down into the valleys, zoom and you can see the rivers.

 

If you can zoom in on the signs, interesting info and the 3rd one has a map.  See how close the road is to the “wall” and cliff?  Yikes!!

 

Bikers, above the clouds.  See the road going across Bird Woman Falls? Just went over it.  Glaciers.

The “weeping wall”, driving right in it’s waterfall.  Interesting info about Logan Pass and Glacier Park.  Wonder how these trolleys make it on those sharp turns and not hit the wall.  All that can be seen of the visitor center, all socked in, and looking away at the view.  Except this little fella, just chattering away, probably saying “what are all you folks doing here? I was having a nice quiet spring!  There were people standing all around watching and listening.

 

Coming down the other side got a little clearer, St. Mary’s Lake.  We then drove up to the Canadian Waterton Lakes National Park..  Waterton was established as a NP by Canada in 1895, Glacier by US in 1910.  They adjoin each other on the US Canada Boundary which led to the two governments linking the two parks in 1932 as Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. The land has always been sacred to the Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai Indians.  Now, 2 countries and the tribal people share stewardship, protect and celebrate this beautiful, sacred place.

After very exciting day returned to camp, scurrying over the mountains as it was getting late, so not many return pictures.  Leaving the next day for Banff NP in Canada.

See you in Canada,

Lynn and Xena

 

 

 

Yellowstone!!!

6/13 – From Bighorn I was entering Yellowstone from the east, had gone through Cody on the way, Buffalo Bill/William Cody fame. There’s a huge Buffalo Bill Museum/Historical Center but I wasn’t able to go. No dogs allowed, and it was sunny and hot and no shade for parking. Soooo, on to Yellowstone.

I didn’t have reservations, it was late afternoon and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a spot so I stopped at a little campground called Eagle Creek, with plans to drive in to one of the “first come” campgrounds early in the morning. Just 5-6 miles from the East Entrance to Yellowstone, in the Shoshone National Forest. Interesting that Yellowstone NP is surrounded by National Forests, all the land in that area of the country is so magnificent, definitely worth saving. Anyway, campground right on the Shoshone River, I could hear and see it from my campsite, and mountain behind it. (bottom pix).   Really nice.

After setting up I immediately drove into Yellowstone, just couldn’t not, even tho it was getting late, but not dark til 9-9:30. Didn’t realize the entrance was 25 miles from the active area of the park! But what a drive! Just Wow!!! Drive through a pass between mountains, snow still on the higher elevations, then as the road rose there was the snow at our level. And the road fell to the Yellowstone lake. Just a fantastic drive. I decided even tho it was a drive, I liked the CG and the drive so much I’d stay a day or two then move into the park.

Next day drove back in early, saw many wonders I didn’t see the night before. Stopped to watch some kids sliding down one of the avalanche snow banks. Cold bottoms! And as I got close to the lake a crowd of cars and people pulled off and standing with binocs and big lens cameras. What? Bear!! Ranger there telling everyone it was Rose, a 3 1/2 y.o. who was just separating from her mom, Raspberry, so she could mate again. Could see it with my binocs but the ph. camera zoomed all the way could barely get it. It was so exciting to see how happy and excited all these people were, me too, at seeing a bear even from a great distance. Ear to ear grins, excited yelps, everyone friendly and talking to everyone, sharing the experience with strangers. What fun!!  Zoom in and you might be able to see the cub in the first photo.  2nd is the crowd watching.  What’s left of avalanches.


Many of you have been to Yellowstone, for those who haven’t, it’s huge, but most of the hydrothermal action is in the center “caldera”, a crater that was formed by a volcano and then carved and filled by glaciers some 14,000 yrs. ago. The caldera area contains the geysers, hot springs, fumaroles (hot steam coming out of the ground or water), mud pots, etc., and is surrounded by mountains, big rivers with waterfalls forming canyons and lakes. The active center area is basically an irregular circle, and there’s a drive probably 150 miles, plus a road cut through the middle. No matter where you stay, a lot of driving is required. At strategic points, at each of 5 entrances and each big action spot, there are “villages”, really congested spots with visitor centers, stores, gas, lodges, camping, large parking lots, etc. The visitor centers are really good, I always stop at them, educational materials, displays, often movies, rangers to answer questions, Since it was raining a lot they were very popular places, along with gift shops which I basically avoid tho I did buy a T-shirt!!, so crowded but still good. Sooo much to see in Yellowstone, it’s not just Old Faithful.

It rained every day I was there, tho not all day long. It was pretty amazing even with cold cloudy rain, I’d love to see it all in the sunshine tho. I ended up staying at the Eagle Creek CG 3 nights, those days I drove all the sights on the east side, and every day’s drive into the park center was a new adventure. The east side included the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and it’s waterfalls, pretty amazing overlooks to view them.  Mud Volcano Area on the way.

And one day I went south to the Grand Tetons, impressive gigantic mountain peaks.  On the way once again even bigger crowd close to the same spot.  Not only saw Rose, but across the road was mom Raspberry and her new beau.  As far away as previous, so won’t post pic.

Xena saying goodbye to the Tetons and saw another bear pair (not sure if it’s mom and cub or mating pair cause the male is so much bigger than the female)

The last day at EC, again cold (below freezing the morning before!) and raining!, I went to the Old Buffalo Bill/William Cody Lodge Museum on the way into Yellowstone.  He build a hotel in Cody (and much more) and then this lodge at the edge of Yellowstone as tourism was growing here.  Very interesting, with an interesting William Cody lookalike as tour guide with lots of Cody (the man) stories.  There’s new lodge and cabins (built on same spots as original ones) and a restaurant where I ate a buffalo burger for early lunch.  I was glad I stopped here since I didn’t get to the museum in Cody.

There’s a Bald Eagle in that tree, zoom in.  An eld in the meadow and fumaroles everywhere.

After 3 days I went to the campground at Norris Geyser Basin on the west side. which was really I think the best Geyser Basins (where geysers are clustered together at particularly “hot” active spots). After I got settled, it was raining particularly bad, I went into the town of West Yellowstone west of the park, to do laundry, grocery shopping, much needed shower, and WiFi (no success there). The guy who owns the laundromat, with showers, worked in Yellowstone for years so he knows what the campers need. Got a booming business going. He should also have WiFi! Just sayin’. All those services are available somewhere in the park but far away in the busiest areas and very expensive.

Norris Geyser Basin has all the different kinds of hydrothermal action in Yellowstone.  That last photo in particular shows the dramatic scene of the steam and clouds meeting.

Those days at Norris I did all the other west side attractions, including Mammoth Hot Springs, the other Geyser Basins and Old Faithful. Mammoth Hot Springs are amazing, steaming water flowing over huge rock “terraces”.  And as you would expect, huge crowds.  The “village” area includes and area of old buildings from old fort used to protect Yellowstone in the past.

Those pix were all from a viewpoint above Mammoth, the last one you can see the boardwalk trail that takes you from this viewpoint down to Mammoth.

And these are from below, including a flower growing through it all.

I saw OF erupt but it wasn’t very impressive, all steam, not much water spewing visible. Apparently when it’s cold, when the hot water hits the cold air it condenses quickly and is all steam. Managed to see it 3 times since I walked around to see all the Upper Geyser Basin where OF is, which took a long time so it was ready to go again, and again.

I heard a child near me say that last spring should be named pac man.  Can’t remember it’s name, but that’s more appropriate.
I was in Yellowstone for 8 days, could have stayed a month, so much to see, and I was blown away by it all. My head is still reeling. And there’s so much geological information and history to take in too, I could write forever about it all and not make a dent.

A few parting shots of some of the wildlife.

In case you don’t recognize it, that’s my car!  In the campground.  That buffalo chased a man who ran in between my car and camper!!!  Thanks.  Elk in the field.  Buffalo mom and babe.  Elk mom and babe.  Well that’s not wildlife, it’s a woman from FL who spends 5 months in the summer in West Yellowstone.  She comes out everyday and patiently, meditatively waits for some of the geysers to erupt that aren’t so regular.

That’s all folks, til next time.

Lynn and Xena

 

 

June 26, 2018 – Is it possible . . .

. . . that I can actually post to blog?  It’s been a long time, very little access to internet out in the wild west.  And little time when I do, so much to do, so much to see.  Such an amazing world out here.

Let’s catch up a bit while I have a little time and internet:  Left you in Black Hills, I believe.  I started this once but can’t find it either as a draft or a post, so hopefully you haven’t seen it.

6/10 – From Black Hills we headed northwest through the northeast corner of Wyoming into Montana to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA).  On the way stopped at Deadwood and Devil’s Tower.  Deadwood, of wild west, gold rush fame, much larger, both then and now, than I expected, and more modernized.  enlarge the pan pic below and see what I mean.  Big tourist trap in my opinion.

Devil’s Tower much more impressive, Native American sacred space, and awesome natural wonder.

On to Bighorn Canyon, another amazing canyon created by a river in the mountains.  Bighorn River, Bighorn Mountains, in Crow Indian Country in Montana and Wyoming.  First went to the north section in Montana, at Fort Smith and the Yellowtain Dam.  Beautiful small lake called Afterbay.  Small, basic, free campground with great views, especially of the sunset.

6/11 – Spent only one night there and headed to Hardin to a great museum of local Indian and settler history, the to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (NM), site of Custer’s Last Stand.  In spite of the fact that Custer and the US army and government lost this battle, more space and attention is given the soldiers who died than to the Indians success or to their dead.  Monuments to soldiers covers more space but of course more headstones since they lost far more.  However the Indian memorial is absolutely beautiful.  Also part of the space has been turned into a national cemetery with memorials to soldiers and others who died in unrelated wars or events.  Seems to take away from the intended purpose.  It’s a beautiful site, with a long driving tour through the hills of various individual battles.  A ranger gives  very dramatic “talk”, he must be an actor in another life.

The metal sculpture is on a round stone wall with the inscribed memorial granite pieces all around.  I hope you can enlarge and read them, very moving.  So relevant, then and now and forever.

We continued on to Bighorn Canyon, a very long way to get to the other end of the canyon because there’s no connecting road within the NRA.  If you’re following on a map, continuing  down I-90 back into Wyoming and onto hwy 14 and crossing the Bighorn Mountains on 14A.    What a crossing!!!  Huge mountains, up and over!  Amazing views.  First sight of snow on the mountaintops.

The South section near Lovell has access to the canyon and a very good visitors center.  The camp grounds on the canyon were pretty exposed, windy, so the ranger told me about a town campground in Lovell.  Even if I didn’t stay there, I could get a shower, much needed.  I checked it out, really nice, at a town park where there was little league games, nice camper section, and free!!!  I’ve heard from fulltimers that there are town and county parks like this, but this is the first one I’ve run into.  I stayed 2 nights, other campers were friendly, town volunteers were friendly, all in all really nice.  Good hot shower, clean bathrooms.

6/12 – And the Canyon, OMG!!!  Another amazing natural wonder.  Apparently the river was raging through this canyon before they dammed it, and now is calm enough (controlled by dam) for boating, canoeing and kayaking.  I saw a motorboat from the rim of the canyon, tiny, really put things in perspective.  Can you see it? tiny white dot near center of 2nd pic. First one’s campsite on the canyon rim, glad I didn’t stay there.  Wild horses, didn’t see, and Bighorns of course!!  Did see, munching right off the road.

Rested and clean, went on the next day for the big one – Yellowstone!!
Real time – 6/26 – And that’s all I’m going to do for now.  I know, another teaser!   I’m in Canada now, Canadian Rockies!!!  More fantastic HUGE beautiful mountains!!!  I’ve done a lot of driving, too much.  All along I’ve wished I had more time to stay in each place, plus just some down time and time to take care of business.  Part of the problem is making plans months ahead for places you know little of what to expect, part is having to make reservations, I don’t like to make them, they tie you down.   I only made a few at places I thought I’d be in trouble if I didn’t (like here), but they dictate how much time I have where I am before them, I can’t just decide to stay longer when I want.  I constantly feel like I’ve got to go see and do whatever there is, all my waking hours, this will most likely be the only time I’m here (wherever “here” is).   And all the driving days between.  I’m very tired.  If you decide to travel like this, give yourself more time, sure wish I had.  I have no cell service in Canada so can’t text or call or hotspot (even if I had lots of data), but luckily the visitor center and a coffee shop both have free WiFi so I can catch up with some Internet, emails and blog when I have the time, like now.

Anyway, we’re still rolling, and still amazed at all the wonderful natural sights in this world, even if tired.  Will catch up more when I can, in the meantime I’ve posted a few pix and vids on FB in real time, if you can catch them.

Rolling in Canada,

Lynn and Xena

 

Black Hills National Forest

6/6 – 6/10 –  Much nicer!!  Green, evergreens, pine and cedar mostly, looks a little black from a distance, especially next to lush green prairies.  Stopped by the visitor center in Grand Rapids for campground info, no trouble finding a campsite.  Oreville Campground in the Forest.  A sweet small campground, shady spot, plenty of room.  Only drawback a little close to a road that’s busy mostly during the day.  Got here in time to talk to the host, secure my spot and go into Custer only 6 miles away and get those camper tires from someone the host recommended.  Pricey but good to have it done and to have made it this far without any trouble since there was nothing before now.  While I waited I found a wonderful place for an ice cream.  Purple Pie Place, should have been Purple Pig Pie (and ice cream) Place :).

This area is full of things to see.  Campground was also just 5 miles from Crazy Horse Mountain.  Was kinda smitten with Crazy Horse.  It’s a non-profit foundation, not a national monument and gets no funding from feds or state.  Nor would they accept any.  This is Sioux country.  As with all the US, it was stolen from the Indians, then the gov. “gave” (wasn’t that sweet of them) them a tiny by comparison, piece of land to live on, where it was impossible for them to live their nomadic lifestyle, especially since the whites had also killed all the buffalo they depended on for not only food, but clothes,  housing, tools and weapons.  Then gold was discovered on the Sioux land, the gov. offered to buy it back which the Indians refused – “Our land is not for sale”!  So naturally the white gov. stole it too and the gold diggers and traders moved the Sioux out with the gov. blessings.  The US gov is still trying to buy that land, and they still refuse.  Therefore Crazy Horse Foundation refuses too.  It’s beautiful!  Very unfinished.  Was started in 1947, 70 yrs, and much is left to do.  The children and grandchildren of the sculptor who did the design, sculpted model and started the carving, are the primary ones working on it now.  What a contrast with Rushmore, with all the gov. funding it needed was completely finished in 17 yrs!  With lavish visitor center, programs, etc.  Crazy Horse also put money into a wonderful visitor center, museum, programs, native music and dancing entertainment, but overall you can tell much lower budget.  It is also much larger than Rushmore, and much more intricate, will take a long time to finish.  I saw a great film, took a guided bus tour to the base, heard a wonderful musician, who had such a bitter-sweet life story of being taken from reservation and adopted to white parents then finding out the truth after they died and returning “home” to welcoming arms.  Also saw Indian hoop dancing.  Nothing about it is as slick as neighbor Rushmore, but I took it into my heart and just loved it.  The idea was from a native leader, who hired the sculptor.  In it’s purpose statement it is to honor all native people, not just Sioux.  Natives serve on the board and are included in all aspects, many were working in the facility.

I also drove in Custer State Park, more buffalo, prairie dogs, Pronghorns, and went to Wind Cave.  Wanted to go to Hot Springs and some falls, but not enough time.

I did go to Rushmore the next day, basically did an obligatory drive-by-shooting (pictures).   It’s impressive, yes, the massiveness, an amazing feat.  Way too slick, too many people for me (lots were at Crazy Horse too), and way too rah-rah-wearing-the-flag patriotic.  Not a mention that it was carved on sacred native space, and the faces are those responsible for theft and genocide, Indian, slaves and others.  And a few good things, I know, like National Parks and monuments.   I am immersed in everything Native American, Rushmore felt like a slap in the face.  😦

To get to Rushmore I drove the Needles Highway, such beautiful natural sculptures, why mess with them, a wonderful drive tho I was constantly aware of the intrusion and destruction the making and driving of the drive itself did/does to the natural setting.  Especially the tunnels, several of which “frame” Rushmore from various viewpoints and distances.  I enjoyed it, it is delightful, I guess I’ll always be disappointed at our impact on nature, and here I am, part of it.

A woman I’d met at Theodore Roosevelt NP, Meggie, who I’d kept in contact with, joined me here.  We had a great time catching each other up on our travels, enjoying supper and next morning breakfast together.  We went together to the Crazy Horse Light Show (at 10 PM!!! – that’s when it gets dark here!).  We went early so she could see some of the other stuff, lucky for me the movie was different.  The next day we went to another cave(I forgot the name and don’t have notes with me) and 5 Mile Ghost Town.  I didn’t get any pictures because they had chickens and rabbits running around loose and I had Xena on a leash!!!  Bad combination, would have enjoyed more without her but was glad they let her in since it was very sunny and no shade.  Meggie got lots of pictures, if she sends me some, I’ll show you.  On the way back, stopped for pie at The Purple Pie Place.  🙂

IMG_1421

I pulled out the next day early, went to Deadwood, of wild west, gold rush, Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane fame.  I was really surprised it was so large, both then and now.  The Old Town doesn’t really look too old, it’s been kept up and modernized and made into lots of touristy hype.

Also went to Devil’s Tower , another amazing natural phenomenon, held sacred by Native Americans with ceremonies and rights of passage held here even today.

Both Deadwood and Devil’s Tower were on the way to my next destination, Bighorn Canyon and Little Big Horn Battleground National Parks.  Which is where I am now and will be for next post.

Loving our life of travel,

Lynn and Xena

 

Badlands, South Dakota

I left you in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, also called Badlands.  From there we went to the actual Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  Let’s see how far we can get today.  Again it will be mostly pictures since it’s such amazing to see.

6/3 – 6/5 – I had planned, even made reservation, to stay at Badlands a whole week, thinking I could set up and stay put and make day trips to Black Hills west of here and all the sights to see around there.  But first I realized it’s rally too far for days trips, and second it’s 100 degrees, blazing sun and not a tree in sight, much less in campsite.  So I cancelled 4 days and luckily wasn’t charged.

Again they don’t show up in the exact order I put them in.  Starting at top right these are all just getting there, the long lonely flatland road, finally some hills appear, turning into amazing rock formations of the SD Badlands.    The top big one is the campground, notice all the trees?!?!?!  If you can zoom in you can see us just right of center.

The Big Sky does make for some beautiful sunsets and star gazing (sorry I can get star pictures).  And sunrise the next morning.

Just like with TRNP Badlands there is a long loop drive.  Hiking here is really difficult, not just the terrain but also the heat and exposure.  I spoke with several “young” people who were nearly dead after just 5-6 miles.  Also dogs aren’t allowed on the trails (rattle snakes and other wildlife) and it’s way to hot and exposed to leave Xena in the car even with all windows open.  So I drove!!  I did walk a little into the trails, one a little longer with Xena.  I have a million amazing pictures.  Here are some:

A few hardy flowers poke their heads out, pretty amazing considering the cracks in dry ground.  Lots of meadowlarks I heard more often than saw, and a couple of other interesting birds I didn’t know and still haven’t identified.  The last 2 pictures are close ups of the cottonwood “cotton” and resulting seed pods.

The “loop” takes you to Wall, SD.  I drove into the town with intentions of stopping at famous Wall Drugs but it was so overcrowded, no place to park and even if there had been it was to hot and exposed to leave Xena so I passed by.  Looks like the perfect example of tourist trap.

Next day we drove part of the loop again and an extension of it.  More amazing formations – Mama Nature is just such an artist.

Xena waiting so patiently, and beautiful, unafraid pronghorns.

1st picture is one of the strange birds I got later.  Anyone identify?  Folks in this rental RV said Xena must have modeled for the picture.  All this company’s rentals have dogs in the window, different dogs.  Sorry Pronghorns in the road didn’t turn.

That afternoon the winds picked up really bad.  I heard the next day there were 100 mph tornadoes not far away in northern SD and Montana.  Here some tents were blown down and some away.  Made for dramatic sunset, and beautiful sun on the west face of rock formations.  I’d met some lovely young women who held their tent until the winds subsided a bit.  But then winds picked up the worst overnight and it was flattened.  They spent the restless night in their car.  Aliner with wind strap held but it was a rockin’ and rollin’ night.

Next day I was outathere by 7am!!!!!  It is beautiful, stark, harsh, inhospitable, hot and windy, but beautiful.  Worth a visit, make it short!!  I do have ac but no elec at campsite.  But I did get a much needed shower.

Next stop – Black Hills.

Real time – I don’t have elec where I am now at the Bighorn Canyon and computer battery was low so I’m sitting with my coffee outside the bathhouse where there’s elec.  🙂   I needed to take some downtime this morning anyway and it’s a quiet town camper park.  I’ll post this and see if I have time this evening after sightseeing to do another post.

I’ve posted more pictures and video on FB and I’ve sent a few via text to friends who don’t do FB.  Can’t post videos here and it’s easier to quickly post pictures real time on FB when I have just a little time on internet.

Off to see the Bighorn Canyon,

Lynn and Xena

 

Badlands – North and South

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the northern Great Plains of North Dakota – 6/1 – 6/3

6/1 – Arrived at TRNP after a long drive to winds gusting officially to 35mph, but I’m pretty sure it was higher there.  First challenge after arrival was putting up the Aliner in the high winds.  Thanks to Women Aliner friend, I’d gotten a high wind strap, literally ratchet strap connected to both bumpers and strapped around the peak to keep roof pieces from blowing apart in high winds.  I hadn’t used it yet so here was my chance.  Success!!  Tho downright heartstopping!!  Glad to have that under my belt.  Also have a tension rod inside to help keep the walls from being blown in.  (real time comment – talked to another Aliner owner today who said they’d been in 60 mph winds with no high wind protection and no problems, but scary)

The landscape is just jaw dropping amazing.  Beautiful in a stark otherworldly vast rugged way.  This is called Badlands too, tho not part of the Badlands National Park which is in South Dakota. The Little Missouri River and it’s tributaries run through it and over the past thousands of years, along with winds and ice,  have worn it down to it’s present fantastical form. A magnificent panorama of broken painted canyon walls and high buttes and hills in colorful hues delight the eyes.  Prairie Dog towns, Bison herds, wild horses, turkeys, bighorn sheep abound.  There is a scenic loop drive throughout and many trails to hike.  Dogs aren’t allowed on the trails because of wildlife, including rattlesnakes, but we got out at overlooks and trailheads and if safe I left Xena for a few minutes in the car to hike a little of a trail.  Did the loop in one direction the afternoon after arriving, and in the other direction the next day.  It’s really the way to see the area.  The wind continued both that night and the next day making walking and taking pictures a little difficult at times, even just holding the ph. was difficult!

This is going to be mostly pictures.  Words can’t describe it beyond what I already did, and even pictures don’t do it justice, but at every turn in the road was another awesome sight to snap, and I did – 1200 pictures.

These were all on the road driving in.

See the wind strap?  See the foreboding clouds?  The wind was ushering in big thunderstorms, which passed with only the clouds, wind and thunder, very little rain.  The campground itself was really nice in a valley between some of the buttes, beside the river (or tributary), mostly cottonwood trees.

After the threat of rain was over we ventured out to drive some of the scenic loop.

Lots of Prairie Dog Towns, rodents of course, cuties tho, popping up and yelping, running from hole to hole, some real tiny ones, then some coming right out to the road for a photo shoot.  Majestic Bison (Buffalo).  Single ones are males, groups are moms and daughters and calves.

 

Wondrous colorful formations, hills and canyons, more buttes. Setting sun and ominous clouds.  (the last one goes with the 3rd from last, doesn’t always post in order I put them in.  I put it in because it’s a better view of the one I took)

The next day another round of the loop, in the opposite direction.

More great vistas, more prairie dogs, more buffalo, Xena especially got excited over the prairie dogs, wanted out real bad.  A turkey, an old ranch.  Oh My!!  So much!  And then more!!  I could post pictures forever but the internet is so slow, I’ll quit for now.

I posted a video of the wind blowing on FB.  If you aren’t on FB maybe you can get someone who is to show it to you.  Pretty amazing winds, like none I’ve seen before.

Three marvelous days there.  Wish I’d planned more.  Went to a Ranger program about the prairie dogs, had other programs I missed.  Met several solo women RVers, shared contact info with a couple, plan to keep in touch while wandering.  One of the special things about RVing, new friends from all over.

The drive out of the park was as long and beautiful as it was coming in.  And finally I saw the horses, grazing in a prairie dog town!!

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Then the long drive to the Badlands of South Dakota.

In real time:  Wifi at the restaurant was very slow, probably because it was 100 degrees outside and everyone came in for ac and wifi, so the wifi highway was jammed.  It took so long to download pictures to post this that I didn’t get to finish.  Tomorrow morning we leave for the Black Hills so I’ll drop by on the way out to finish this, and post the rest of  Badlands when I next get wifi.

After the 100 degree day, tonight we had strong winds that blew some tents away and had other folks holding theirs down.  Threatening dark clouds came along with the winds, and some thunder and lightening.  Made for beautiful sunset and it finally calmed down with no rain and I think blew away the heat.  Still some sunset color at 10pm!!  The land of long daylight.

Windblown, but still on the road,

Lynn and Xena