Wild Times with the Sisters, part 2

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The Million Dollar Road going to Silverton and Ouray

September 2016

When leaving Durango we called ahead to Pleasant View Resort, just to remind them we were bringing 2 motor coaches and make sure everything with the cabin was ok!!

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We discussed which road to take to Lake City, as they are much higher in elevation. Mr. Jim explained that the Slumgullion Pass, on route 149, had a really steep incline, of 7-8% and very hard on the brakes and nerves. He gave us another way to go, but would take an extra 3-4 hours. That was not what we were planning on, so we checked out our maps, conferred with gps and made the decision to head up Hwy 550, to Silverton and Ouray, then around towards Gunnison!!

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We did not check elevations nor did we check the road grade!! Once we were on Hwy 550, there was no turning back…there were switch backs, sharp turns, tunnels, 9% grades, it was straight down in many places over 2,000′!! There are no guardrails, very, very small shoulders along this road.  What were we thinking??? Talk about nerves….I will say that this was one of the most scaryest roads we have ever been on, Guy has stated that “No” he wouldn’t go on this road pulling out truck again.

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We learned that the road was called the Million Dollar Highway and was the most dangerous and beautiful road in Colorado!! When we arrived in the town of Ouray we needed to stop and let Rogers brakes cool down as they were smoking, it was a great time to have lunch.

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Ouray, “The Switzerland of America”

Ouray is known as “The Switzerland of America”. The town is surrounded by the most awesome mountains, of the San Juan Mountain range. Ourays  victorian buildings and the steep mountains are what bring many tourists to this quaint town. On the map Ouray is straight across from Lake City, but we needed to go around the mountains which took 3 more hours, overland we could have made it in 1 hr.

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It was a great relief when we finally arrived in Lake City and off the twisting and steep roads. Penny and I had already packed our clothes and most of the food items to be moved from coaches into the cabin but the refrigerator stuff still needed to be packed. The coaches were parked on the other side of the property and would be along way to carry all this stuff, so we waited until the guys got the buggies off the trailer and truck, packed them with all the bags and drove everything over to the cabin a few times.

 

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Our sweet 2 bedroom cabin

Pleasant View has 10 cabins, and 2 homes they rent as well as jeeps and polaris razors to anyone wanting to go explore the mountains.

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After moving into our little cabin we  decided we were to tired to cook and needed someone else to do it for us so we walked into town to the nearest restaurant and ordered a pizza, beer and wine.

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Our rigs on the other side of the resort

Friends of ours from RV Dreams Class of 2014, James and Cindy were staying in Ouray,  we were hoping we could meet up with them for lunch, but they were out hiking and couldn’t get back. It took us over 6 hours to get to Lake City which should have only been a 3 hr ride on Hwy 149.  (A week later when we left Lake City we took Hwy 149 and found it to be so much easier and really wish we had taken that way to begin with.) We all looked at it this way, we would not have seen so much territory and beautiful country had we not taken the Million Dollar Hwy. Now we know we can drive on anything.

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One of the reasons we were excited about staying in Lake City, was due to the amount of trail riding we could do. We were not disappointed, the trails were so numerous, most of the trails went up mountains as high as 13,000’.

 

The first day we explored off-roads that were close to Lake City as we could see some pretty wicked clouds coming our way. We found a couple of old mines that were being preserved and in good shape. There were no trespassing signs all around the area, but you could still get the idea of how the area must have been.

Some of the old houses we found as we were exploring.

This house was in the town of Capital City, which was founded in 1877

It rained, hailed and snowed on us a few times. We all luckily had hats, gloves, and 4 layers of shirts and jackets on. We all had purchased Frogg Togg rain suites, pink for the girls, black for the guys, which kept out the rain and the cold.

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Cindy and Penny in their frogg suites and it’s snowing

The beginning of the Alpine Loop left out of Lake City, we followed a map of the off-road area, we went up and over Nellie Creek, Wetterhorn Peak, 14,015′, Engineers Pass, 12,500′, Cinnamon Pass, 12,620, and Poughkeepsie Gulch. There are over 75 miles of roads that connect Silverton, Ouray, Lake City in the San Juan Mountains.

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James and Guy, Cindy on the left getting out

We met up with Cindy and James, on our second day out, they have been in this area for many years and knew the trails very well. They took us to a few mines and old mining towns where we could go in the preserved homes from the 1800’s. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to live in these mountains.

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Cindy and Roger

The guys climbed around the old mines, but most were sealed off. There were eleven mining town sites between 1875 and 1885 along the Alpine Loop. All the mines that are left are privately owned and off-limits to the public, most are unstable and have poison air in the mine shafts.

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Our first geocash house

We also accidentally found our first geocash. There was an old mining house that was in good shape, we climbed to the second floor, looked out the windows and there it was above the window.

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Our first geocash

We signed and dated it, then looked and looked for something to leave, found a pen with Rogers company name, Mertec Engineering, on it, which we left.

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It was such a great time to be on the mountains as there were so many colors going on, the aspens were starting to change colors, from green, to yellow and red. There were numerous flowers still in bloom, reds, purples, yellow and white. It was so beautiful as everywhere you turned there were multiple colors on the mountains, it just took your breath away.

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James and Cindy, Guy and Sue, Roger and Penny

The routes we followed through the mountains follow ancient paths worn by Native Americans as they moved from camp to camp and to their traditional summer camps. In the late 1800s, miners used these paths in search of precious metals, they widened them to use horse and mule drawn wagons to access mines. The remains of ghost towns, mines, mills and railroads are reminders of the mining history or the area.

 

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The guys exploring

One intact small town,  Animas Forks, was developed in 1873 at an elevation of 11,200′. By 1876 there was a hotel, general store, saloon, post office and thirty cabins. The Gold Price Mill was built-in 1904, which brought in the Silverton Northern Railroad.

We left James and Cindy here at Animas Forks, it was getting late and very cold, it looked like we were going to get some heavy-duty rain as well.  We headed over Cinnamon Pass, 12,620′ towards home and now know why it’s called Cinnamon Pass. The landscape here had changed so differently, it is called Alpine Tundra, it is found in the arctic and in high mountain ranges, tundra has a very short growing season.There no trees, the mountain scrub grass and low-lying shrubbery were all cinnamon colored.

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The fab 6

At the end of the Alpine loop we ended up at Lake San Cristobal,  which is the largest natural lake in Colorado. We checked out the campground but there are not any spots big enough for us. Darn!!

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The town of Lake City is very rustic with most of the roads still gravel, the mule deer come into town to eat what little grass there is. There is also a wonderful soda shop in town where, yes, we had more root beer floats!!

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Guy with his root beer float and my espresso chocolate and raspberry ice cream

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our new headbands

Lake City is along the Silver Thread Scenic and Historic Byway, in the heart of the San Juan Mountain Range at the elevation of 8,661′. The population is 408. Lake City served as the supply center to the cities and mines in the higher elevations, at that time there were as many as 3-5,000 settlers. When it was discovered that there would not be extensive or rich deposits in the area the population soon dwindled and it became farming for cattle and sheep, the Alpine meadows we great for summer grazing.

Here are some pictures of the Lake City.

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Cute artist studio

Two sweet churches in Lake City

 

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Our time at the cabin was way to short but we were all very glad to get back into our own beds and reorganized for our trip down to Pagosa Springs.

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The town of Pagosa Springs was having a big celebration, balloon festival, wine and cheese party, Porsche car show and quilt show so it was very busy. The one thing we didn’t understand was why they were doing a controlled burn at the same time, the air was filled with smoke, the mountains weren’t very visible, your eyes burned, and it was hard to breath. Didn’t make any sense to us. We walked the town, checked out the stores (bought some bear jammies) and decided that Mexican food and margarittas were in order, we found a great place outside of town and ordered way to much food.

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One more awesome vacation on the books

 

Roger and Penny left us on Saturday morning to head back to Bullhead City to drop off their buggy at their house there, Rogers brothers family were all there for the weekend so there was no rest for them, they continued the party well into the night.

My sister wrote something to add to our wonderful vacation.

Sweet Sister Vaca….
It was exciting to finally be off on a journey that Roger and I looked forward too for months..

With our long-awaited anticipation for the day to come, it’s hard to believe our awesome annual vacation has sadly come and gone and we are already back to reality and the hectic life. 

We hit the highway with power and speed from Bullhead with many adventures waiting for us up ahead. 

Our long-awaited trip to the Grand Canyon did not disappoint and to our amazement it was as beautiful, amazing, huge, colorful, and magical as you hear about. It was worth the wait and definitely worth a return trip. Our adventures left no stone unturned and included everything from driving, unpacking, packing, driving, challenging 280 stairs, drinking, driving, eating, laughing, singing, driving, off-roading, eating, driving, site seeing, walking and did I mention eating and driving.. LOL

After traveling with Guy and Sue for the last 2 weeks we have finally figured out why they have chosen the Nomad lifestyle during this time of their lives.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy the beautiful and wonderful wonders of the world and enjoy all the various stops in other states, cities, and enjoy a different culture as they expand their loving friendship to others along the way.

I will say it sounds like their life is all fun, easy, and relaxing but to be honest it’s stressful, trying, and down right hard work.. Hats off to all you full timers, I admire your determination to travel.
 
Here’s to a vacation of no regrets and can’t wait to do it all again soon.. Love to you both and so glad for the wonderful, special and loving relationship we have between us all.. Safe travels..

Love Roger & Penny 

 

We spent some time while we were all together to plan the next trip, so March 2017 we all head to Cabo San Lucas for a few weeks. Yea, so looking forward to spending time with then again.

Come on back as the “Rover” has taken us on another wonderful adventure, with more snow and more friends involved!
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Wild Times with the Sisters

September 2- 17, 2016,

Grand Canyon, Az to Durango and Pogasa Springs, Colorado

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The Baby Sister to the Cutest, Oldest Sister

It has been a busy week in Bullhead City, Az as we wait for Penny and Roger to arrive, before we all head out to the Grand Canyon and then on to Colorado. Three mornings Guy and I, need to be at the repair shop with the coach by 5:30 am! Yes, you read that right, they start early, but are usually finished early if all the parts are in. Three days means, no parts!! The buggy and truck, also went in for a recall and the oil change. But all is well now, 3 vehicles worked on and ready for our next adventure.

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Roger, My Sister Penny and Us

Penny and Roger arrive on Friday morning, we had planned this trip about 8-9 months ago so the excitement of getting together was extremely high. There were still things that need to be done, groceries, spare tire and rim for their trailer, coaches packed, buggies loaded up, we work like crazy on Friday. So off we finally head, Saturday morning to Williams, Az. It was so frustrating for Penny and I as there was no cell service and we could not keep in touch.

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One of the buildings in town

We stayed at the Railside Ranch Campground for 3 days, from Bullhead City it is less than 3 hours.  The drive from Williams to the Grand Canyon is only an hour, we wanted to stay at the Grand Canyon but they were booked. Upon arriving at Railside Ranch we were informed that the owner of the park was treating all campers to a Labor Day bbq with a country singer.

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country singer for the bbq

That was an awesome surprise, Penny and I were so glad we didn’t need to cook, what a great start to our vacation together.

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Adult beverage time, with Laci on her princess pillow

The town of Williams is very small town but busy place, of course, it was the Labor day holiday! We decided to check out the town and the visitors center before the bbq, and

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The boys having a beer

the first thing the guys wanted to do was find a great bar so we can celebrate the start of a great couple of weeks and our fun times together. It was a hard start for Roger as he had just had some dental surgery at the beginning of the week and was very sore and bruised.

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What ’s better after walking the town and having a beer than a great root beer float, but not when it’s made with hot root beer, it was so disappointing.

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Ice cream store on one side, marijuana sales on the other!!

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found this cool sign in one of the stores in Williams

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loved this restaurant decided breakfast was needed

Roger and Penny spend a lot of time with their Elks Club helping to keep it active. Penny now writes the Antler, which is the monthly newsletter, she brought with her a stuffed Elk, called, Elroy!! Everywhere we went on this adventure we took pictures of Elroy.

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Elroy on his marvelous adventure

Penny  put pictures of him on the Elks Facebook page and in the Elks newsletter. We got pretty creative with the pictures and had lots of fun with him.

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The Wild Bunch at Grand Canyon

There are no words to explain the Grand Canyon so just a few facts:

1. The canyon is a mile deep, the distance across is 10 miles, at its widest point it is 18 miles across, the narrowest point stretches 4 miles across.
2. The distance in length is 277 miles.

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3.The Colorado river runs thru the middle, with white water rapids and continues to erode the walls of the canyon.
4. It will take you 5 hours to drive the 215 miles between the South Rim and the North Rim.

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5. The Grand Canyon is a natural formation of layered red rock 1.75 billion years old.
6. It is not the worlds deepest canyon nor the widest canyon. Australia has the world’s widest canyon, Capertee Valley.
7. The most common snake in the park is the pink rattlesnake, it has an unusual pink hue that matches the local rocks.

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8. The first expedition down into the canyon was lead by J.W. Powell in 1869.
9. The Grand Canyon became a National park in 1919 and was the 17th to be established in the US.
10. There are more than 5 million visitors a year.

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We were staying  at the South Rim, which is 7000’ above sea level.

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One of our side trips was to Walnut Canyon which is just 10 miles outside of Flagstaff. This is a self guided hike along the rim of Walnut Canyon, there are cliff dwellings set among the rock formations.

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Every where we went were flowers, yellow, purple or white

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It is at the 7,000’ elevation, the trail descends 185 vertical feet into the canyon. The canyon is 20 miles long, 400 feet deep and 1/4 mile wide. There are 240 steps down the cliffs to the ruins below, remember what goes down must come up!!

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The people who inhabited these pueblos in the rocks were called Sinagua, it is estimated that they lived in this canyon more than 700 years ago. Sinagua is Spanish for without water, the Sinagua who lived on these dry cliffs we good at conserving water and dealing with droughts. They were traders from as far away as Central America. They mysteriously left the canyons around 1250CE.

There are 25 cliff dwelling rooms as well as many across the canyons. There are as many as 80 cliff dwellings, that were built under the limestone ledges deep in the canyon. The dwellings were small but large enough to sleep and cook in.


The primary source of water was in a creek many hundreds of feet below, the gardens were high above on the rim hundreds of feet above. The wildlife included ravens, coyotes, bears and cougars.

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See the cliff dwelling built in the side of the mountain

While looking at the map after Walnut Canyon, we decided that a trip to Sedona would be fun…not thinking that it was a Labor Day!!! Taking the one lane scenic road turned out to be not only beautiful but bumper to bumper…it followed along the Oak Creek river, where many, many people were enjoying the sun and water.

some of the mountains on the way to Sedona

We finally made it to town about 2 hours later, we took a vote, which was unanimous, so we drove right thru the town of Sedona, it is filled with crowds and cars. We kept going and headed instead over to Jerome, heading back towards home, this town was built up on the side of the mountain at the 7,800’elevation.

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Taken at the top of the hill after we left Jerome

 

Jerome sits atop the Cleopatra Hill, it is a historic town, known for copper and gold mining back in 1876. When gold was discovered miners and gamblers and bad boys of the old west flocked there. Saloon and bawdy  houses were the entertainment after a hard days work. Its rowdy population was once 15,000 people.

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Amazing views from the top

The road thur town was all switchbacks and very narrow streets, the buildings sat right on the street. It was very confusing as we drove in circles thru the town, (the signs did not help)  trying to get to the other side and the road we needed to be on. The views were amazing looking down into the canyon. We couldn’t even imagine how they built this town on the edge of this mountain. No pictures tho.

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It was time to head to Durango, Colorado after our wonderful stay in the Grand Canyon area, as we had a date with the Silverton/Durango Railroad!! On the way we went thru the Four Corners of the US, where the four states touch, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. Most of the Four Corners region belongs to the Native American nations, the largest is the Navajo Nation, followed by the Hopi, Ute, and Zuni nations.

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All standing in a different state

 

Our next campground was actually in the town of Hermosa, Co,  about 10-12 miles from Durango, along the Animas river. There were numerous off roading trails we would be able to ride our buggies on which was exciting for us after dragging them all that way.

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The first day, off we went up a very rocky rough road with Roger and Penny leading the way, not knowing we needed to purchase OHV stickers!! The first person we meet is a Sheriff, he does not see that we don’t have them!! We really don’t know how lucky we are.

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top of the mountain

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We get to the top of the mountain take our pictures, admire the view, and head back out on a much narrower road, but decided it’s not for us, Rogers back wheel starts sliding downhill as he starts to back up. Not good!!

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Backing up does not work the tires just slide down the hill more, it is a good 800’ down, can’t even see the bottom, lots of vegetation in the way. What to do…luckily we have wenches which we use to wrap around a trees, tow straps tied to each buggy, long story short, we tie our buggy to theirs and yes, our front end starts heading up hill as the wench pulls it, that makes the back end slide towards the edge. There is no way to move it, the guys wench it to a tree, as well!!

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Rogers buggy sliding down the side of the mountain

 

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trying to jack our buggy to the right

It takes us 4 long hours to get both buggies off that trail, turned around and heading back down the hill to home, where we all kiss the ground and each other and many prayers were said. That night there were many adult beverages consumed. Penny and I were pretty nervous while we were up there that a bear would come around the corner, so Penny and I would sing lots of stupid songs, down into the canyon,  while holding cans of bear spray and our gun!! Of course, the guys just shook their heads and laughed at us.

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The Silverton/ Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad, and starts in Durango and goes up thru the mountains following the Animas River up 45.2 miles to Silverton, Co. which is an old mining town.  It is a 3 ft narrow gauge railroad, the train is powered by a coal fired steam powered engine. It is best to wear glasses as there is lots of debris from the coal in the air and will get in your eyes.

IMG_0023.JPGGuy and I had taken the train last year, it was a great ride, so we wanted to take Roger and Penny. We left our campground at 7:15 am for the train that leaves at 8:00am sharp, wether you are on it or not. There was no time for breakfast so we were glad that there was McDonalds next to the train, coffee and Mcmuffins were sure good.

IMG_0029.jpgIt is an all day adventure, we did not get back until 5:30. The train ride takes 3 1/2 hrs up and back and stops in Silverton for about 2 hours, just enough time to walk the town and have lunch and of course ice cream, before you head back to Durango.

The town of Silverton

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looking down from the train

It was a fun time in Durango but now the time has come to make the trip to Lake City and the cabin. Penny and I were not looking forward to packing up all the clothes and food out of the coaches and into the cabin, too much work.

Stay tuned to what happens with the 4 of us as we take on the town of Lake City and meet up with James and Cindy, to buggy across the mountains of Colorado.

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Bryce Canyon

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August ,2016, Bryce Canyon, Utah

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When ever we meet up with either old friends or new friends the question is always, “where is your favorite place you have visited?” We want to answer with something profound and awesome but, so far everywhere we have visited has been our favorite!! We truly can’t say we have found it, so our answer is “We are still looking!”

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With that being said, Bryce Canyon is sure a wondrous area to visit, and could be up there for first place, but as I said, we are still looking and have many, many places to visit. There is so much to see and do in Utah, Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks, The Arches and Canyonland, it could take months to really do it justice. But, we only had 3 days to see Bryce Canyon, then we needed to high tail it to Bullhead City, AZ.

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We stayed at Ruby’s Campground in town, they have added new big rig sites, they are the biggest sites we have ever stayed in. They are full hook ups, fire pit, picknic table, and grass. There was so much room we had our truck and the razor pulled in next to us. Our view was great as we were last row where we could look out into the forest and watch the deer and pronghorns walk by.

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There are miles of off road trails where we could take the buggy, you can get maps at the office, which were very helpful. The trails looked like they were used as fire breaks by the forestry, some we rough, but mostly just little easy roads. The views from the tops of the mountains were breathtaking, I didn’t get any pictures because the roads were dusty or some days muddy and didn’t want the camera in the middle of all that. We had some pretty rainy days, with hail, thunder and lightening. We even had a beautiful rainbow that we could see both ends.

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There is a shuttle that will pick you up right at the entrance of the campground and takes you to the top of the canyon, Bryce Point, but they have it closed for an indefinite time while under repair. The bus dropped us off at Inspiration Point, it is just down from Bryce Point. There are three viewing areas, two are a bit of a hike up, but the view is awesome. You can also walk along the rim of the canyon, back down to the lodge which is about 1/2 mile, or you may continue to another view point and walk another 1/2 mile, which is what Guy and I did. There are also some much longer harder hikes down into the canyon, which I bet i beautiful looking up at all the sprees.

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The day Guy and I started out, it was cold in the morning, we had on jeans, sweatshirts and were carrying jackets. As the day wore on the temps went up into the high 80’s, we did not have on the right clothes to hike down and back up. That’s our excuse, and we are sticking to it.

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We signed up for the 3 hour tour (yup, the Gilligans tour), called the Rainbow tour. It goes up to Rainbow lookout, guess what, it’s also closed for repairs, just our luck. The tour guide was great, the driver knew his knew so much about the geologic happenings of the area. We stopped at numerous turn outs, where he would explain about the area and point out things that you would not notice if you were alone. It turned out to be well worth the 3 hours, and its free.

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It sure was a fun and fast 3 days, we met our neighbors, Wes and Katrinia, who live not to far in St. George, Ut, we sat at their site the first day, having a little wine and some cheese. We made plans to go out on a buggy ride together the next day, off we went for about an hour trying to head away from the very dark black and threatening clouds, we could hear the roar of the thunder, but that didn’t stop us, we were determined. After about 2 hours, everyone was getting wet and it was so cold, we gave up and headed back faster than we started.

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Now, we are sitting in AZ, at my sisters house, the coach is having some service done and our aqua hot (hot water) is acting up, so a repair, as well. The truck will also be serviced and the buggy has a recall that will be fixed while we are here. My sister and her husband should get here on Thursday afternoon, shopping on Friday, then Grand Canyon on Sat.

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Thanks Penny and Roger!!

The road we traveled from Utah thru a small part of Arizona and into Nevada before going back into Arizona again. I kept thinking about how small we are compared to these massive rock formations.

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This roadrunner came right up to me this morning and was not scared of me.

If y’all want to know how much mischief the 4 of us get into in Colorado come on back and find out with my next blog! See what Colorado looks like thru our eyes.

 

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Presidents, Indians and Bikes

August 1-10, 2016, Custer, South Dakota

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There are two other scenic roads in the Custer State Park, one is Needles Highway, which is 14 miles, with tunnels that cut thru solid rock, tunnel 5 is 8’4” x 12’, tunnel 6 is 6’9” x 12’3”. The highway got its name from the needle like granite formations of the rocks along the highway. Only one car at a time can make their way thru.

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So, I’m thinking how do I get pictures, yup, I open the skylight and stand up thru the top, it was pretty packed with cars waiting their turn to go thru.

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The other scenic road is Iron Mountain Road, it’s 17 miles long, and also has tunnels, tunnel 2 is 13’ x 12’2”, tunnel 3 is 13’4” x 12’4”. This highway connects Custer State Park and Mt Rushmore Memorial. As you go thru the tunnels you will see Mt Rushmore off in the distance. These roads were amazing, the camera does not capture it the same, I took hundreds of shots, but how hard it is to pick just the right one.

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coming thru the tunnel

After taking the Iron Mountain Road we ended at Mt Rushmore Memorial, neither Guy nor I had ever been to the memorial. This year was the 75th anniversary of Mt Rushmore’s completion. The faces of the presidents tower 5,500 ft above sea level. As you enter into the visitor area you walk down the Avenue of Flags, it displays flags of all the 50 States.

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The first blasting for the monument started on Oct 4, 1927, the monument was finished in 1941 but not until 1991 did the official dedication happen. Most every night there is a light show with music and a dedication to our military, it does’t start until 9:30pm – 10:30, it was way to late for us so we missed it. It was impressive enough during the day.

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The next day we toured the Crazy Horse Memorial which is 17 miles from Mt. Rushmore. The memorial was started in 1948, with the goal of honoring and preserving the history of all North American Indian People. You can view the monument from a viewing deck, or take a guided bus ride to the bottom of mountain carving.

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The memorial was designed to be the spirit of Crazy Horse and to his people. His left hand is outstretched in answer to the question asked, “Where are your lands now?” He replied, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”

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This is how the memorial will look once finished

As we were going thru the museum at the Crazy Horse Memorial, who do we see but our new friends, Joe, Debbie and their fur baby, Harley. We chat for awhile then go our separate ways, and later receive a text from Debbie, “how about dinner”? We decided to meet in Custer at the Buglin’Bull. Once we got there the place was packed, they don’t take names or reservations, first come…it was a great dinner, with laughter and great food.

SPA_3486.jpgWe also took a drive down to Wind Cave, a 145 mile underground maze with out end. We decided to take the 2 hr tour down into the cave, the original natural entrance to the cave is a sacred site to the Lakota Indians, and not used anymore, now to get down you take an elevator which goes down 220’.

 

We toured the upper and lower levels, there were 450 stairs, with one flight of stairs at 89 steps straight up. There is little water in this cave so there are no dripstone formations, but we did see box work formations.

 

We did not realize when we decided to stay in Sth Dakota, that it was going to be bike week in Sturgis which is about 70 miles north of where we were in Custer. Last year was the 75th anniversary with over 1 million bikes attending. We think it was close to that this year, there were motorcycles everywhere we went, Custer State Park, every town had sections down the middle of the streets just for the bikes, and even in our campground and the 5th wheel camped beside us.

We enjoyed seeing all the different models, colors and sizes, the personality of each persons bike.  The whole drive to Sturgis the streets were linned with tents selling everything from hats, scarves, tee shirts or anything else for a motorcycle.

 

We decided one day to take a ride up to Deadwood and then on into Sturgis. The streets in Deadwood were shut down to cars, and open to motorcycles only, they were down both sides of the street as well as the middle.

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Since it was lunch time we found a great place to have lunch, up on the roof of Deadwood Social Club Resturant where we could look down and watch all the action. We had a little adult beverage and just enjoyed the afternoon.

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The logo on a tee shirt

 

 

 

After lunch we headed off to Sturgis, there are two streets totally dedicated for bike week. One street had all the vendors and a few big bars, the other was shut down to just bikes, with all the stores were catering to the biker.

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There were many tent selling food of every kind. Guy and I did check out all the vendors, yes, we did come away with some new stuff, tee shirts, bandannas, and some new helmets!! Mine has some cool bling!!

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We drove about 6-7 miles out of town to the bar, Full Throttle Saloon. A few years ago Full Throttle Saloon had a tv show that they filmed during bike week, our daughter and son in law got us into watching it, so I wanted to check it out.

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It was pretty mellow at the time we were there, the bands were just starting, the bars (about 8) we open. There were different kinds of acts going on, one guy hanging from the ceiling with clips in his back, twirling and then holding a lady. It was pretty weird!

 

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There was a guy in a big wooden circular building riding motorcycles around the sides. We left the Saloon before the night crowd arrived and before it might get rowdy.
It was an experience visiting Sturgis and one we won’t soon forget, I’m glad that we were there to experience it.

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We sure had a great time in Custer,South Dakota and have decided that we need to head back that way someday as there are still many things that we did not have time to see.

It’s now time to head onward to Dubois (Du-boys), Wyoming, we hear there are some really great mountains and some awesome Old Faithful geysers to check out, so come along with us to see what we see.

Our Diverse Landcape

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August 10-22 2016, Dubois, Wyoming

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After such a great week in Custer, we were not sure what to expect in Dubois, (Du-boys) Wyoming. We had tried to get reservations in Yellowstone National Park, but we were to late in the season to make that happen. On August 25, 2016, our nation will be celebrating the 100 year anniversary of all our National Parks. Which means, everyone had made plans a year ago to visit the parks, not 2 weeks before they wanted to go.

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While researching, Jackson and Yellowstone, I found Longhorn Ranch & RV Resort, luckily they had room for us for the 10 days we would be there. Usually, I get on Google Earth to check out the campground and surrounding area to check out what it looks like, not this time, I was just glad to find a place.

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I was a little apprehensive, as we were driving there were very few trees, yikes, would we not have trees? I was pleasantly surprised, it was a wonderful campground, large sites, on the Wind River, we could see the majestic red/yellow colored sandstone mountains from the campground.

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We decided to go to the Chamber of Commerce and get information about the town, to see what the town had to offer to visitors. It just happened to be the busiest week of the summer for the town, there were Chariot races, buffalo BBQ, rodeo, square dancing and a music fest. Yea, our weekend was planned. The big thing we were happy to hear was we could drive the buggy on the streets and there was an off road map to show where we could take the buggy.

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I’m sad to say that the only thing we did make it to that weekend was the buffalo bbq, which was held at the park. The volunteer fire departmenSPA_3896.jpgt served, we had corn, beans, slaw, buffalo burgers, and sliced roast with gravy. We both liked the buffalo so much that when we went to the grocery we bought buffalo steaks, burgers and sausage.

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We took off in the buggy up into the mountains, we found a wonderful river, 3 beautiful lakes, many rough rocky roads, lots of cows blocking the roads that were not happy with us.

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One mom got separated from her baby and gave us the evil eye and bellowed quite loudly. There were also numerous signs with big bear prints on them announcing that we would probably see one. Thankfully, we did not.

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Eating our lunch, sitting on rocks along the river,  looking at all the wonderful granite mountains and watching the fly fisherman, and thanking God for such a wonderful country we live in, all the while looking around making sure we did not get a surprise big brown visitor.

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Guy, found a great stream to go fishing on, as well, as a beaver pond that had lots of trout. It was a great find as he brought back 2 nice sized trout for dinner, he let most of them go. He also, went to right out our door to the river to practiced his fly fishing, but no luck. There were to many other fisherman out fishing!

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It was 60 miles from our campground to the Tetons, and 80 miles to Yellowstone National Park. We decided to take our lunch with us to the Tetons so we could take Lacilou. Stopping at a lookout area to take pictures was so disappointing  due to haze surrounding the mountains, I didn’t get very good shots. I thought maybe once we got closer it would be clearer, but, that didn’t change things. ( We went back to the Tetons 3 times trying to see if the sky was clear but due to a new fire in Yellowstone, they were still hazy)

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Due to the park anniversary, it was packed with people and cars, it was almost impossible to stop at any turn out or historical marker. We did find a place at Jenny Lake and hiked down to the water, we took our lunch, sat on the rocks and admired the Teton mountains. Lacilou had a great time chasing the waves that were made by the tour boats across the lake.

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We had heard that you should see lots of animals in the Tetons, I had the camera ready because I was going to get lots of pictures. There were no moose, no elk, no bears, but we did see buffalo just as we were at the end of the road going home. They were behind fences and not close to us at all.

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I got out my 300 ft lens and tried to get some close ups. Guy even went down some dirt roads off the beaten road trying to find animals, to no avail. When we talked to our camping neighbors they talked about the moose and bears that they saw. Darn!!

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Guy and I had not planned to go into Yellowstone due to the crowds, but then we thought, darn, we are here lets just do it. When Guy was 16, he worked at the Hamilton Stores as a dish washer. So, off we went looking for the store/restaurant, Hamiltons. Not saying how old he is but 50 years ago, Yellowstone looked very different. Needless to say the store is gone, the roads have all been moved, there are all new buildings and campgrounds. Again, we only saw 1 buffalo, laying down in the grass with his head looking the other direction.

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Visiting Old Faithful, we drove around the parking lots numerous times trying to find somewhere to park. We finally found an empty field and parked, we were the only ones parked there, when we came back everyone else had taken our lead, the field had turned into a parking lot.  I guess we started something.

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It was hard getting pictures of Old Faithful as we could not get close, we stood back at the lodge, which turned out to be the best place to stand. It was pretty amazing watching the steam shoot up out of the ground.

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We drove by the Tetons again, as we headed to Jackson, for the day hoping for a few better pictures, but the haze was actually worse as the fire was getting bigger, so I didn’t even attempt to take pictures.

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The town of Jackson was a surprise to me, what a busy place, lots of hustle and bustle going on. The town surrounds a quaint little park, where you can sit and just enjoy your day. There was a guitar player that was attracting people with his music, people were sitting on benches listening, or eating ice cream!! Yum! Guy and I walked the square looking in the art museums, jewelry stores, tee shirt stores, boot stores and hat stores.

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My Guy is always on the hunt for unique pieces of jewelry, things that you don’t see all the time, well, he zeroed in on a jewelry store off the main street and found a beautiful black jade square pendant, with gold surrounding the pendant and a diamond in the center.

We left the store and decided food was needed, right outside was a Thai Restaurant, we sat outside under umbrellas, people watching. The sun was out, the sky had big puffy white clouds, a slight breeze was blowing and the food was excellent. When we left the restaurant, he turned back to the jewelry store and got the necklace for me for our 46th anniversary.

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you can just barely see the Tetons in the background

As we headed back to our campground I was hoping to find the buffalo close enough so I could get a few pictures. They were still in the fields and were somewhat closer but I still had to take out the bigger 300’ lens and try to rest my arm on the side of the truck.

 

Wow, Guy and I have been blown away by the amazing beauty we have seen coming across the Northern part of the US. There is such diversity in this country, every part is unique in its own way, from areas loaded with trees and vegetation to the vast prairie land with the prairie grasses that blow in the breeze, that go on for miles, to tall mountains, short mountains some with sharp hard edges and those that are smooth edged and sparse of trees. We have learned to appreciate and love the diversity of each area.

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We are always talking about how lucky we are to travel the way we do. Checking out the states, the places we have seen and are very glad we made this decision to leave all the trappings of house and yard to others, so that we are free to experience new and different places in this wonderful country. We have always been travelers, but mostly in other countries and are glad we finally can explore the U.S.

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Off, we head to Bryce Canyon, just for a short 4 days,  as we are gaining on Bullhead City, Arizona, where we meet up with my sister, Penny and her husband, Roger. The 4 of us will camp our way to the Grand Canyon, and then on to Colorado, where we have rented a cabin in Lake City, Co. Guy and Penny can do some fishing, while Roger and I sit on the side with our adult beverage. There are numerous off road trails where we will go buggy riding.

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So y’all come on back and check in with us to see how much trouble the 4 of us get into.

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Remember: This is the day the Lord has made, be happy and rejoice in it.

Corn, Buffalo and Pronghorns!!

August 1-10, Custer, South Dakota

Leaving behind some pretty great friends and Minnesota we head towards Custer, South Dakota with an over night stop in Mitchell, South Dakota.

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While walking with LaciLou, around the campground in Mitchell, she finds another sweet little fur baby that she wants to meet. There is no changing her mind, she plants her feet down and won’t move until there is some sniffing and greeting between the two!! Which turned out to be a great meet and greet for us as well. While LaciLou meets her new friend, Harley, we meet his pack, Joe and Debbie, who after chatting a while, we find out they are from a little town not to far from Camp Alexander, in Georgia. It’s so amazing how small this world is, we now have met a couple of people on our travels from North Ga.

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We all really had a great time chatting in the street and before we know it we are all going out to dinner, yes, Mexican, and to the one thing that Mitchell is known for….The Corn Palace!!

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The Corn Palace, was built over 100 years ago, as a way to show the world that South Dakota has a healthy agricultural climate. The current building also hosts basketball games and tournaments, concerts, dances, exhibits, proms, as well as many other events.

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A different theme is chosen each year and the murals are designed to show the theme that decorate the inside and outside of the building. Ears of corn and other materials are nailed to the palace to create the scene.

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The corn palace is decorated each year with naturally colored corn, corn husks, other grains, and native grasses, There are 13 different colors that decorated the palace, red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and green.

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Decorating usually starts in late May, they remove the old murals, and add new ones that are completed by the end of October.

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The next morning we were up and headed west, and decided at the last minute to stop at  Badlands National Park, not knowing if we could drive our coach towing the truck thru the park. (Since we are 71’ long there are not many places we can go fully attached). We found out that the 240 loop through the park was going to be just fine for us, there was smaller rv in front of us.

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What a truly amazing drive it was, the park is 244,000 acres with both barren land, prairie land and layers of rocks painted rose, gold, green and sandy colored. The wind and rushing waters of rivers have eroded the dry, fragile soil, gouging out channels and gullies leaving deep gorges and gullies. There are cliffs, odd rock formations, and rock spires. Everywhere you turn it is breathtaking.

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Finally, back on our way heading to Custer, amazed at what we just experienced, wondering how could it get any better, but it does. Our GPS takes us thru Rapid City and down to Custer State Park, which is in the Black Hills of Sth Dakota.

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I frantically look at the map…can we take this road…are we to long…are there tight curves that we can’t make…yikes…I get out my trucker app…if they can go we can go!!
Ok, stop sweating…we can go..

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It takes about an hour to get to our campground, Custer’s Gulch, it is just outside the park entrance on the west side. This campground is a great place to spend the next 10 days, lots of room, grass and we found out we can take our buggy out on any of the streets or mountain roads as long as it is registered (it is in Arizona).

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The town of Custer was about 10 miles from our campground is the oldest town in the Black Hills and surrounded by granite rocks and Ponderosa trees. Along the street of Custer, are life sized painted buffalo, that will be auctioned off at the Custer Stampede Buffalo Auction in September. The town is loaded with restaurants, art galleries and stores of all kinds.

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Guy found a woodcarving museum in town so off we went to check it out, all the work was done by one man who was at one time a chiropractor. He carved miniature and life sized figures, miniature steam engines, paintings and furniture. He even designed and built the animation at Disneyland.

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Within 30 mins from town you can get to all the National Park sites, Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument. Guy and I had 10 days to try and do and see it all. We drove down to Hot Springs and found the “New Prehistoric”, which is an active working excavation site, that have found 61 Columbian and wooly mammoths, wolves, camels.

The most exciting was the drive on the Wildlife loop in Custer State Park, which is 18 miles long, we are told there should be buffalo ( the park has 1,300), pronghorns and prairie dogs, mountain lion, big horn sheep and burros.

I was so delighted when the first animals we saw were a field of prairie dogs. They were funny little creatures, they chase each other, roll around on the ground, one came out from his hole with dirt all over him from playing in the dirt.

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A few miles down the road we did find 3 different herds of buffalo but they were so far from us it was hard to get any good pictures.

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Driving further there was a smaller herd not to far from the road and were lucky that one of them decided to walk in from of the truck. I was standing up thru the skylight trying to take pictures.

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Along one of the pull outs we found a group of burros sticking their heads into car windows, and people out of their cars petting and feeding them.

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I do not know what this animal is, does anyone know?

A few days later we decided to take another trip on the wildlife loop to see if we could get some closer pictures of the buffalo…we did not see one buffalo…I was so disappointed.


Then out of the corner of my eye I see some deer in the field..I had Guy stop and I got out to walk across the street…it was a small group of pronghorns. That was amazing as I had never seen them before…I tried taking pictures but when one car stops…guess what happens…so do 50 other cars…I did get a few decent pictures.

We have just started touring this beautiful area, we have driven the buggy into town, up and down the mountains and thru the trees, but we have more that needs to be explored.

Come back and visit us so you can hear about the presidents, Indians and bikes!!!

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Two Harbors

July 24 – 29, 2016, Two Harbors, Minnesota

It was time for us to pull up stakes in the Up and head on over to Minnesota  to meet up with some work mates of Guys from Seagate Technology, where Guy worked for 30 years.. We still had a few days before we met up with everyone, we wanted to finish our tour along the US side of Lake Superior so we headed up to Two Harbors, MN.

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Driving along Hwy 26 we were amazed at the destruction that was caused by the storm we had experienced as we were leaving Newberry, MI.

SPA_2925.jpgWe had skirted the storm on our drive and did not experience the full brunt of it, and that is what is called Divine Intervention. The drive from Houghton was over 5 hours, the trees were uprooted or broken in half the whole way to Two Harbor, MN.

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We found a great little private campground, Penmarallter Camp, it is privately owned  with only 24 pull thru sites, the sites are very spacious, most have water and electric, with campfire pits. The owners have owned the campground for over 20 years and had purchased it from their parents. They live on the property, sell firewood, will pump tanks once a week, and help plan your trip while you are there. (sorry no pictures)

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The road that follows along the coast of Lake Superior will take you up into Canada, and will take you around the Canadian side of Lake Superior. We drove up to Grand Marais, Mn (yes, its the same name as in Michigan).

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Along this coast are many areas that produce and ship iron ore on big barges. Taconite or iron ore is low-grade iron that is used to make pellets. These pellets are shipped to blast furnaces on the lower Great lakes to make steel. The area ships over 10,000,000 tons of taconite or iron ore annually.

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There are 6 steel docks and over 1,300 feet long and abut seven stories tall. There are 112 pockets on each dock, trains full of taconite or iron ore, move along the top of the dock and pour the iron into hoppers, which drop the ore into the full of the boats.

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One of the barges that move iron ore

Besides the 6 docks for iron ore there were two that were used for freight, coal and wood shipping. At one time there were up to 75 ships using the bay.

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The Edna G. tugboat, was the last steam driven tugboat in operation on the Great Lakes, it was retired in 1881. The tug was used to help bring boats to the docks, move boats around from dock to dock, and to assist in life saving efforts.

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The Two Harbors light Station was built in 1892, it was built to improve the safety of the barges carrying the ore. The light is still active and operates 24 hrs a day, it is almost 80 feet above lake levels.

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Not long after we left Two Harbors we came to a turnout with lots of cars, with cars comes something fun…a beautiful river, Temperance River. The water was flowing thru the rocks that looked liked years of water had eroded the rocks.

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There is a bridge we were able to walk out to where the river then emptied into Lake Superior.

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We found many rivers and light houses along our tour of this area, we stopped at Gooseberry Falls State Park, where we hiked up along the Gooseberry River, to the Fifth Falls up thru rocky gorge where the water flows over a series of 30′ waterfalls with the last that plunges 60 feet to the last pool and then into Lake Superior. There is also lots of lava flow that can also be seen along the coast of Lake superior.

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Split Rock Lighthouse State Park was built due to a storm in 1905 which 6 ships wrecked within a dozen miles of the Split Rock River. The light was used for 59 years, today it is open to the public. Major logging operations were conducted at the mouth of Split Rock River, the forest at that time was predominantly red and white pine. Today you will find birch, spruce, fir, ash and lowland brush and marsh that replace the pines.

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On our last day in the area we decided to drive down to Duluth, MN to see what there was in town, but we never made it, we found the scenic route and drove it. The road started out as a nice paved road, but turned into a dirt road. The views were fantastic of the lake and the skyline of the city.

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When we got to the best viewing area we found a nature walk along the top of the hill, Guy took the walk as we had LaciLou and did not think if there were animals that it would be good having her with us. It was too hot to leave her in the car so I stayed behind and took pictures of the wild flowers that were in bloom and the city skyline.

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The next thing I know Guy is calling me from up the hill wanting me to bring the camera as he had found something he wanted a picture of!! Putting Lacilou in the truck off I went not sure what to expect, and this was what he found, a discarded snake skin. It was all intact, even where the eyes had been, we moved the tail so I could take a picture.

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As we kept driving we came upon another waterfall, when we stopped we could hear lots of laughing and yelling. We took the trail down towards the noise and were so surprised to see a large swimming hole at the bottom of the waterfall. They were jumping from about 15-20′ off the rocks. Some of the kids were a little scared to jump so the others were egging them on.

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Our journey ended not to far from our campsite, that made our decision on whether  we wanted to go back to the city, the vote was “no”. But we made our last stop along the lake for my final pictures of this beautiful coastline.

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We leave this beautiful Lake Superior and head on down to Minneapolis, where we will camp at Dakota Meadows, right by the Mystic River Indian Casino. We could see the top of the casino and the flashing lighted sign. Luckily Guy and I are not thrilled with gambling and just throwing money away. So no the place did not get any of our money. We thought we would not go over but late on Sunday we didn’t have anything to do so took the free bus over, we walked in, yup, just what we thought, cigarette smoke. We took one walk around and went back out to the bus.

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The first afternoon we arrived our friends, Adam and Sarah came over with their daughter and her friend, bringing beer and a wonderful bottle of wine!! Thank you Adam and Sarah! The conversation never stopped, it was so great catching up with them catching up with Seagate stuff and our life on the road. The girls loved being in the coach and watching tv. We hope that some day we see them both out here on the road with us.

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Later that night off we went to Jim and Renee’s hours for dinner. They have a beautiful house on a small lake with trees and rabbits all around. They also have a beautiful view of some of the city buildings. Jim fixed lamb chops on the bbq, they were wonderful, little did Jim know that lamb is my all time favorite. The conversation went on for hours, it was so wonderful to catch up with them.

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Jim and Renee also had a get together at their home with other past Seagate friends that we hadn’t seen in so long. It was great seeing everyone, and telling stories about things work related. We have also made plans to be in Arizona in November with some of them as they move there for the winter. (I can’t believe I did not take any pictures of anyone nor Jim and Rene’s home.)

We are now heading west towards Sth Dakota and the Yellowstone, Grand Teton area, so come along and tour the area with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houghton, MI

July 21-24 Houghton, Michigan

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Looking down towards Houghton, Mi

The 5 hour trip to Houghton, MI was very uneventful, no rain or wind, which we had expected as that is what the weather was saying it would be. When we arrived at our campsite right along Portage Lake in the Keweenaw Peninsula, we could not check in as the electricity was out for approximately 200 miles. This was all caused by the storm that had come thru earlier, they were saying that possibly the winds were 70-75 miles per hour with even a possible tornado had touched down.

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Our home on wheels, you can nearly see Guy strumming the banjo.

We did not see the effects of the storm until we went out and started driving around. The area had numerous trees and electric poles and lines down. That makes us even more glad we have solar, it also helped that temps were in the 70’s.

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our view in each direction

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This area of MI is known as Copper Territory, which has three copper mines on the peninsula, Calumet &Hecla, Quincy and Copper Range.

As we started our trip out into the peninsular we found this wonderful waterfall and bridge, Eagle River Falls and Historic Bridge, that we just had to stop for.

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The 47 mile highway is called Copper County Trail National Byway (US Hwy 41) and goes from Houghton out to Copper Harbor (the end of the hwy) and follows the copper lode that lies deep underground.

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The beginning of US Highway 41 started in Copper, MI it goes thru 8 states, MI, WI, ILL, IND, KY, TN, GA and ends 1990 miles away in Miami, FL. We found this sign as we were looking for a road out to the lighthouse.

We found this sign to be quite interesting, and now we know we will never have a desire to live any where near this area. The nice thing about us is we can now just pick up and move if we don’t like the weather.

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The winter of 1978-79 the record snowfall was a total of 390.4 inches, which is at the top of the red line. This is a record for the east of the Rockies. This sign says that the 54 year average is 2408 inches, the all time low was in 1999-2000 was 16.11 inches. The red arrow shows the snowfall for 2015 at just under 20″.

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The drive along the Copper County Trail has many scenic loops thru smelting and stamp mill sites, former mining communities, as well as sandstone.

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The forest along the way is very dense with a view of the rugged coast, there are many small lakes, and the largest known lava flow on earth.

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We took these pictures on our drive, it looks nice and inviting but when we got out to walk around it was so windy and cold, we didn’t stand out there to long.

While driving along the coast road we were looking for a place to have lunch, well we found one, The Gay Bar, in Gay, MI. We went in but it was way to busy so we decided to leave.

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The Gay Bar

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Copper rock

Guy and I decided to visit the Quincy Mine, the copper mines started in the mid 1800’s, many mines sprang up along the peninsula, the mines closed after 100 years of operation. The mine has a self guided tour thru buildings with one building that has a very informative video, we took a tour thru the mine itself on a tram down 7 stories into the workings of the mine. Before we could go down we needed to pick out a fireman jacket and hard hat. It was only 45 degrees, wet and muddy.

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There are 10 lighthouses along the coast of the peninsular, we visited 1, Eagle River Lighthouse and then could only view Copper Harbor Lighthouse from across the lake.

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The town of Houghton has everything you would ever need, the town still consists of lots of old brick buildings. We found a great place for lunch, Ambassador Restaurant, right on the water, where we could watch the boats and jet skis, zooming up and down the lake, there were also people taking a leisure stroll along the walkway. This was a very old brick building but the inside was so awesome.

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We ordered a pizza that was one of the best we have had, thin crust, pineapple, sausage, pepperoni. A little vino and beer and the afternoon turns relaxing! We sit on our deck, Guy plays his banjo, I try to write a blog but there are to many boats on the water to watch, my attention span is short.

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We travel with our bikes on the back of our pickup truck, they get beat up so bad with all the weather, sun and rain. I have not been able to shift gears for a few months so it has not been much fun riding. Guy had taken it to an Amish family while we were in Indiana, they oiled and cleaned it and tried to fix the shifting but that did not work. While walking thru Houghton we found a bike shop that could work on it right then, we luckily had the bike with us and within 1/2 hour they were calling to tell us it was done. I haven’t ridden it yet and so not sure how good it works, looking forward to some bike riding soon.

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Well our few days in Houghton has come to an end and now we head on over to Two Harbors, Minnesota. We will eventually end up in Minneapolis to visit with Guys work mates. We will be staying at the Mystic Lake Casino at their campground, Dakota Meadows. Who wants to know if we won or lost?

Well come on back to find out who won and check out how much fun we have with our fellow Seagaters!!

Rocks, Rocks and More Rocks

July 15-21, 2016 Munising, Michigan

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Pictured Rocks

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore stretches 42 miles, between Munising and Grand Marais along Lake Superior. Pictured Rocks is famous for its rugged shoreline, towering 50 to 200’ high, of multicolored sandstone cliffs, massive sand dunes, waterfalls, and beaches.

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We started our boat tour from Munising, MI, the tour was 32 miles round trip, there were many points of interest, Lover Leap, Indian Head, Miners Castle and Chapel Rock, battleship Rock and Spray falls, which flows 70’ down into Lake Superior. The weather was great, about 75, sunny, with a little wind.

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The sandstone is stained by the minerals in the groundwater. The color occurs when the groundwater seeps into the cracks and down the rock face, Iron (red and orange0, copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), limonite (white).

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There are several shipwreck sites in the area. The Bermuda, 145’ schooner is only 30’ underwater and intact, the steamer Smith Moore sank after it collided with another ship in 1889 and is mostly intact and upright in 95’ of water they both can be viewed by glass bottom boat, or scuba diving.

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Sea caves about 20’ underwater can be explored by scuba diving, they are under cliffs that the sandstone has been eroded by waves.

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There are many ways to experience viewing the rocks such as; kayaking, renting a pontoon boat or catamaran. We decided to go on the catamaran with a hundred other people!! We will warn anyone that plans on going, sit up top, but towards the back of the boat, up front the top of the boat is high, making it hard to see over. Also, I suggest getting to the boat loading zone at least 1/2 hr to 45 mins early as the line gets very long and chances are you won’t sit together.

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It was a pretty warm and sunny day, the water was so clear and blue, and lucky us no wind which means no choppy water!! The rocks were magnificent, we were amazed at the height of the rock formations as well as the colors running thru.

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East Channel Lighthouse was activated in 1868, it is no longer a working lighthouse and is located on Grand Island. It is constructed of brick and wood.

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It was time to head out to Houghton, MI after a wonderful week in Newberry, as we were packing up we could see it was going to be some nasty weather, the clouds were dark and menacing. A few people that we had been talking to in the campground came over to say good bye but also talk about driving in the wind and rain.

There is one rule we broke as we were hooking the truck to the coach, we started talking to neighbors, when that happens mistakes are made or you forget what you were doing. There is a procedure we follow, but that day it wasn’t to be. When we got almost 1/2 way to Houghton, we did our normal stop to check out around the coach and truck, well we found out we had forgotten to connect the most important electrical plug. That means we had been without lights or turn signals. The cable had also been dragging on the ground and was now totally ruined. Darn, as we had just gotten this new cable as the old one was frayed. This time we ordered 2 new cables, just in case.

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We had not even left the campground and it started pouring, we were second guessing our decision as we listened to the radio and heard about all the wind damage and flooding that was going on in the direction we were headed. After awhile the rain stopped, and lucky us we never had rain again the rest of our trip that day.

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The Nomads!!

We arrive safely in Houghton, but come on back and check out Houghton, MI with us and find out about the copper in the area.

Daddy, Mommy and Baby Bears

July 15 – 21, 2016 Newberry, Michigan

This little town of Newberry, MI is the perfect location to visit all the wonderful sites while in the area. The weather had been beautiful, low humidity, 78-80 degrees, light winds, we were loving the cool temps and then we wake up to the sound of rain, thunder and lightening!! It sure didn’t stop us tho…off we went with our umbrellas.

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Since we missed out on our trip to Alaska this summer, I felt we missed seeing bears….so I happened to read a brochure that right down the street was…Oswalds Bear Ranch. It’s not the same as seeing them in the wild, still it was fun watching them play and chase each other. In fact, they stayed very close to the fence waiting for someone to throw apple pieces that you may purchase.

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Dean Oswald and his family have been raising rescued black bears, since 1984 and has opened his 160 acre ranch to the bears and the pubic. Once a bear has been rescued they will live the rest of their lives at the Ranch, the average lifespan for a bear is 25 to 30 years.

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The ranch has four natural habitats, with trees, fresh running, water which is used for drinking and swimming. There are sleeping areas or dens that have been made but most of the bears prefer to dig their own.

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The habitats have 10’ outer fence with a shorter interior fence which is equipped with a mild electric shock system which allows the bears freedom to roam. Two habitats with 1/2 and 1/3 mile perimeter and 2 smaller habitats with 1/4 mile perimeter. There are wooden platforms at all habitats to enable visitors to view the bears without the fence in the way.

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There are 31 black bears located at the habitat now with half males and half females, they are kept in separate habitats. The yearlings have their own habitat as well as the babies. The babies are kept in the Oswald home during the winter and moved into the habitat when the weather warms up. They feed the cubs canned milk, rice cereal, yogurt and eggs, the cubs feed about every 4 hours.

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When we arrived at the KOA we were told we could ride our side x side buggy on any road as long as the number of the road did not start with an M!!

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First thing we did was head to the forestry service to see if they had off road maps of the area and buy the road permit of $30.00 (we ended up not getting the permit). There are many dirt roads in the UP that we could ride the side x side buggy, that was exciting to hear.

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We decided to head out on a few of the dirt roads in the truck, the area was beautiful, we found a few out of the way, quiet lakes, lots of trees, ferns and wildflowers, small campsites. We almost got stuck in the mud out in the middle of nowhere as we were trying to get closer to a small lake. We did decide not to take the buggy out since we could take the truck on all the back roads.

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The coast of Michigan on Lake Superior is absolutely beautiful, it is the largest freshwater lake in the world and holds 10% of the world’s surface fresh water. There are 31,700 sq miles of surface area to this lake, it expands from Michigan into Ontario, Canada. The Circle Route with a 1,300 mile road goes around the lake thru Michigan and up into Ontario, Canada.

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We headed up to Grand Marais by way of the shoreline and were pleasantly surprised at how much history and beauty there was along the way. There were walking and hiking trails, Grand Sable Dunes, Sable Falls, Log Slide Overlook, Au Sable Lighthouse. We didn’t want to miss a thing and stopped at all the turnouts to check it out.

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The Grand Sable Dunes are 5 sq miles atop of the 300’ banks. There was a Log Slide which was used for lumber that was sent down a 300’ wooden chute to the lake below, some say that there was so much friction that the chute would catch fire. The logs were hauled to the chute by teams of horses, then the logs are slid down a dry chute into Lake Superior, where the logs are then moved on to large rafts. The rafts were towed by boat to the Grand Marais sawmills.

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Grand Marais is French for “big marsh” which is puzzling as there are no marshes there. The Chippewa Indians fished along the shoreline for many years before the settlers in the 1860s. Grand Marais boomed as a lumber town between 1885 and 1910. By 1911 the boom was over, the population dropped from 3,000 down to 200.

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A cool burl found on our hike

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Sable Falls

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The Pickle Barrel House is located in Grand Marais, it was designed as a vacation cottage for the creator of the cartoon story, The Teenie Weenie.

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The main barrel contained a living area of the first floor, bedroom on the second, the kitchen was in a smaller, in the single story connected to the big barrel. I have to admit I had no clue this was a museum, I thought we  would be able to buy pickles!! It was closed when we stopped but had a sign outside explaining all about the history.

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Pickle Barrel Garden

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As we were driving around the town we came to the Maritime Museum, it was closed due to renovations. We walked out to the beach and tried to walk to the end of the seawall,but the waves were coming up and splashing, the water was way to cold for us, so we ended up turning around.

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Looking back towards town

This ended our tour to Grand Marais but come on back to see thru our eyes our catamaran trip to Pictured Rocks. AWESOME