Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ridiculous Road Trip #1, Part 30 - Summary of the Ridiculous Road Trip #1

Back to Part 1, the beginning of the Ridiculous Road Trip
Back to Part 29

Now we're home in Indianapolis. And I finished up our 2017  ridiculous road trip blog, did a bit of editing, and summarized some of the awesome that we saw in the last two months. We loved it and we're plotting how to capture the rest of the states (and provinces). Also, Doug and I must really love each other, because divorce wasn't threatened at all during 62 days of constantly being together!

Some souvenirs that followed us home
Here is the album of all the photos and below is the summary Ridiculous Road Trip.

62 days
53 nights in the camper (3 visits with friends and family gave us 9 nights in real beds)
13 nights with electric hookup and 40 nights without hook-ups at primitive sites
3 nights at Walmart/Truckstop

Miles: 10,000ish

States: 17
National Parks: 9
National Forests: 17
National Monuments: 4
National Grassland: 1
National Bison Range: 1
National Scenic/Recreational Areas/BLM Sites: 7
State Parks/Recreational Areas: 11

Cost we paid for the "America the Beautiful" Annual Pass: $80
Cost if we didn't have the Annual Pass: $263

Truck Trouble: 1 - overheating transmission (transmission cooling fan installed)
RV Trouble: 2 - leaky window gaskets, non-cold refrigerator (gas jet cleaned!)
Hospital visits: 0! (minor falls only, not bad for my usual klutzy self)

Thanks to the people who let us sleep at their lovely homes, in non-camper beds, let us use their showers, and washing machines:
Bob and Joanne in Tuscon, AZ
Michelle and Jeremy in Henderson, NV
Andrew and Anne in Duvall, WA

All the National and State sites that we visited:
Badlands National Park
Bear Butte SD State Park
Bighorn National Forest
Black Hills National Forest
Bottomless Lakes NM State Park
Brushy Creek NE State Recreational Area
Burro Creek BLM
Butte Valley National Grassland
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Coeur d'Alene National Forest
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Coronado National Forest Sabino Canyon
Crater Lake National Park
Death Valley National Park
Deschutes National Forest
Flathead National Forest
Glacier National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Hoover Dam/Lake Mead Recreation Area
Hot Wells Dunes BLM
Idaho Panhandle National Forests
Johnsons Shut Ins MO State Park
Lewis and Clark WA State Park
Lincoln National Forest
Living Dessert NM State Park
Lolo National Forest
Mark Twain National Forest
Mt Hood National Forest
Mt Rainier National Park
Mt Rushmore National Monument
Mt Si Natural Resources Conservation Area.
Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument
National Bison Range
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Ozark National Forest
Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area
Sequoia National Park
Shastap-Trinity National Forest
Stanislaus National Forest
Starved Rock IL State Park
Sun Lakes Dry Falls WA State Park
Table Rock MO State Park
Tahoe National Forest
Three River Petroglyph Site BLM
Tumalo OR State Park
Wenatchee National Forest
White Sands National Monument
Winema National Forest
Yosemite National Park

All of our campsites:

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ridiculous Road Trip #1, Part 29 - Nebraska, Ashfall Fossils, Iowa, Starved Rock

Back to Part 28

June 25
On the advice of another camper, we stopped at the 1880s Western Town just a little way down the interstate, east of the Badlands. Lots of historic buildings that have been saved and moved to the "town", as well as a lot of the props and costumes from the movie, "Dances With Wolves", which had been filmed nearby.

We were a little sad that we couldn't get close to this awesome sculpture of a skeleton man walking a skeleton dinosaur. But I was pleased that it showed up on the map.

Then we drove for a LONG time. And camped for the night in Atkinson, NE, where there was a lovely sunset.

June 26
The next morning, we woke up and wound our way through country roads to get to Ashfall Fossil Beds National Historic Site. It's an active archeological site, with people still working to excavate remains from the ashfall beds. We were very impressed with the conclusions drawn from the bones found in the different areas of the ash--for instance, the rhino bones were found in the deepest part of the ash beds, where they logically would be found wading in life. Or that herbivores were much more likely to have died from diseases associated from lung diseases, because they were actually eating through the ashfall to get to food. Very neat stuff, indeed!

And then we drove for a VERY LONG time. We discovered that there's just not a whole lot to stop an see in Iowa, except for this giant ball of popcorn.

June 27-28
For the last campsite of our ridiculous road trip, I lobbied for Starved Rock State Park along the Illinois River. Starved Rock is only an hour and a bit from where my family lives. And some of them were able to come out and join us at the campsite. My sister, Siobhan, came out our first night there to eat dinner with us and to roast marshmallows over the campfire.  The next morning we were joined by my sister Erin and her two youngest, Dylan and Zach, my Mom, and my niece, Tiernen, and her kiddos, Atticus, Imogyn, and Finnian. The weather did not completely cooperate. In fact, it poured down rain, for many parts of the day. But there was lots of laughing and catching up, tasty food, bouncing of babies, and poking at the campfire. It was a lovely day and a great ending for our two months on the road. 

June 29
And then, we drove home. And showered, loved on a very loud cat, and slept on a king sized bed. It was wonderful.

Up next, the last chapter and summary of the Ridiculous Road Trip #1

Ridiculous Road Trip #1, Part 28 - Mt Rushmore, Badlands

Back to Part 27

June 24
We started the morning at Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The visitor center at the Mt Rushmore had a really interesting exhibit that had letters protesting the original idea of this monument. Paraphrasing a lot, just because we can do something epic, doesn't mean we should sacrifice the beauty of the natural world.

We left Mount Rushmore and headed to Badlands National Park. Badlands is one of the places that I can just barely remember from family vacations a million years ago, but it's a place the us often fondly remembered by my family members. I've always want to visit again.

You can just barely make out the bison to the right in the distance

Bison, Prairie Dogs, and the HodgePod at Sage Creek Campground
Leaving the highway and taking a 12 mile long bumpy drive down a gravel road, we set up camp at Sage Creek Campground. It's an odd campground. There's a big gravel road loop without defined sites. People just park along the loop, and set up camp in the middle (or in their parked camper). It is very windy, dusty, and without utilities, but it is free! Also, there are free roaming bison and prairie dogs all over it. The photo above captures our bison, prairie dogs, and our camper all the way on the right in the background. After lunch, we hopped back in the truck and took the road that runs all the way through the Badlands.

One of our first stops along the Badlands Loop Road was Roberts Prairie Dog Town, a historic homestead that has been colonized by black-tailed prairie dogs. In the video below, you can hear a rather agitated prairie dog, and if you squint, you might be able to see him in the middle of the frame, before he disappears down the hole. My apologies for the noisy wind.

There was also one very large prairie dog that seemed entirely unconcerned by us. It was rather odd.

Then we drove on, into the spectacular weirdness that is the Badlands.

We finally saw some long horn sheep!

And we took the fossil walk, where we only seemed to take picture of the interpretative signage, which was very well done. Especially the one that described the squid-snail that was once bigger than a person. 


And we enjoyed the swallows.

Then we looped back to the campground and Doug stalked the prairie dogs for a while. Prepare yourself for adorableness.

 And, of course, some more bison.

Ever since arriving in California, Doug has been spying these birds. We finally got a photo so that we could identify them as magpies.

And we fell asleep to the calls of coyote. It was flipping awesome.

Up Next, Part 29