At Least One Of Us Is Feeling Better :-)

Sorry ‘bout no post in 11 days…but we were sorta overcome by a series of events that prevented us from posting…thats my story and Ima stickin’ to it.

When last we left our heroes…they had finished up bearing maintenance at the MORryde factory in Elkhart IN and were getting ready to head over to White Pigeon MI to the Quadra Bigfoot factory where we were scheduled for maintenance on our jacks.

Neil woke up the last day in Elkhart coming down with a cold and spent the next week and a day feeling lousy, then better, then lousy but not as lousy as before then better again pretty much by yesterday. Connie carefully avoided kissing him, breathing the same air as him, and sharing glasses, utensils, and the like but she ended up coming down with probably the same cold about 6 days into his bout with it. As of today…he’s feeling pretty much back to normal and she’s still suffering some with it…but overall it looks like she’s on the way out of it instead of the way in.

Nonetheless…an update on our 11 days.

We headed over to White Pigeon as scheduled and our maintenance there was complete by about 1300 Thursday afternoon and we had no campground reservation until Saturday. He called down to Winton Woods Campground in Cincinnati to see if we could get in early…no joy there so we looked at a couple other options and ended up getting 2 nights at the Wapakoneta OH KoA about 140 miles south from Elkhart. As it turned out…it was a good thing we couldn’t get into Cincinnati early as that was another 120 miles down the road and it was about 1800 by the time we got parked anyway. With Neil feeling poorly…we didn’t do anything in Wapakoneta…didn’t even go out of the campground…just stayed in and vegetated in site 23, a nice pull through gravel full hookup site.

Saturday morning he was still feeling lousy but after drugging himself up we headed out to Cincinnati…it was a shorter drive so we had to coordinate leaving the KoA right about checkout time so as not to have to waste too much time on the way down…but we still had most of an hour to kill so we had lunch and rest period at a rest area as we headed south. We pulled into Winton Woods…which is a county park…and got quickly setup in site 7F for a 5 night stay. We had a couple things scheduled for Fun Stuff© in Cincinnati…but as it turned out we ditched some of them as he was not recovered yet and she was in the initial stages of the disease.

We headed out along the bluff overlooking the Ohio River hoping for some nice views down into the river valley…and we had a wildlife sighting…yeah, this was it for the entire post…a super huge praying mantis. It turned its head towards Neil while he was taking its portrait…and I’m not sure whether it was staring him down or calculating whether he could be lunch…take a look at the closeup and see what ya think.

D75 3551

D75 3552

Here it is from the other side…it was sitting on the fence post by where we parked in Shawnee Lockout Park and was still there when we left 15 minutes later…it had to be 7 inches long.

D75 3538

Couple of little known facts for ya…first…hummingbirds are found only in North America although there are some fossilized ones from a bazillion years ago that were found in Europe…second…praying mantis sometimes prey on them. Don’t know where it’s going to put that lunch…but not my problem.

PrayingMantisHummingbird

In the park there is a spring house dating from the early 1800s and a restored cabin from 1795.

D75 3542

D75 3546

The bluff turned out to be mostly a bust…it was what we call a North Carolina overlook…since we first observed the custom of building an overlook but not bothering to trim the trees/bushes so that you could actually overlook something in North Carolina. This is the best Neil could do.

D75 3554

Another day we went to the William Howard Taft Historic Site…which is the house he was born in. It fell into extreme disrepair and was basically falling down before it was designated in the 1970s and then restored in the 1980s. It’s basically like Disneyland though…there are only a few artifacts that actually belonged to the Taft family and even the inside has been restored based not on any photos of the interior but on looking at payment documents found in the house that had things like wallpaper and tile patterns noted on them.

This clock is one of the few Taft owned pieces…the remainder of the furnishings beyond a few portraits and a silver platter is period accurate but not Taft family owned.

D71 8661

The exterior of the house…front door on the right facing side and even the house isn’t original to when the Taft family purchased it. The original house at purchase consisted of just the front half of the house back about to the drainpipe you can see coming down…the portion to the left at the back of the house was built in the years following their purchase. The house went out of and then back into Taft family ownership (they’re pretty famous and important people in Cincinnati over the generations) before being deeded to the park service in the 1970s. 

D75 3559

We drove by the Mushroom House…a private residence in Cincinnati…

D71 8666

And then stopped at Fleishmann Gardens which has the largest gingko tree in the state of OH. Not sure why that’s important…but apparently it is.

D75 3566

With our work in Cincinnati done…we headed out another 150 or so miles east to Hocking Hills State Park and quickly got parked in site 24, a nice back in paved full hookup site. We wondered if we had made a mistake with this reservation on the way into the park…as it’s really steep, curvy, and wooded along the access road…but it turned out to be a pretty decent place…luckily our passenger side faces north so that provides us nice shady places to sit in the afternoons of our week’s stay.

The first day here…we headed out on a 2 mile hike…Connie still felt poorly but decided to bore on…to see three waterfalls…or as I guess I should say waterless falls…there’s a drought in OH right now and the creek/river is not only not flowing, it’s mostly dried up with just a few puddles in places and nary a drop coming over the falls. Neil did take a picture of one of them…but it is too depressing so I’m not posting it here. We ended up shortening our hike and going back to the rig sooner than planned.

On second thought…Connie will want him to post it anyway…so here it is…a place called the BathTub because Upper Falls empties into it.

D75 3568

It’s Sunday afternoon as I post this…and we’ll be here until Thursday morning. We have a few more Fun Stuff© things on the list but depending on how Connie feels we may…or may not…do them. We did pick out a fancy-schmancy dinner place…the Inn at Cedar Falls…that we’ll head out to one night.

Interesting things found on the net.

Not sure how the process would work for this one if it actually happened.

MogrelMix

WindowRepair

Ya don’t see this at every wedding.

DontSeeThisAtEveryWedding

ArgueWithWoman

BestKarateInstructor

CatHumor

Groundhog

GlueStick

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Transit to Elkhart IN

This could be subtitled as “Worst Travel Day Ever”.

We rolled out of Higginsville IL Sunday morning for a 600 mile trip to Elkhart for bearing maintenance on the rig. We aimed for Casey IL about 330 miles east on I-70 which would leave about 260 remaining for Monday to Indianapolis then north to South Bend on US-31 and east on US-20 to Elkhart.

About 30 miles before we got to St. Louis…we ran into the back end of a 45 minute traffic delay due to an accident. That one wasn’t too bad…at least we were moving most of the time. When we finally got clear of that we continued on eastward until we were almost to Altamont IL…and then the worst travel day ever really got started.

Connie was following Neil and there was an accident about 200 or 300 yards in front of him…he was in the right hand lane and had a birds eye view…albeit from a distance…of the interaction between a semi, two pickups towing trailers, and a VW Tiguan…at least that’s what we think it was.

We had seen the VW for about the last 30 or 40 miles…the driver was alternately slowing to about 40 and then speeding up to 80 or so…speed limit was 65 or 70 on that part of the freeway. He wasn’t texting or weaving…just changing speed dramatically. At one point…the VW was somewhere in front of him and he observed a red car flipping over a couple times in the left lane and a truck towing a trailer full of horse trailers fishtailing and then heading off the right shoulder.

Here’s a shot of the aftermath…Neil was first in line and we sat there for 5 hours at 90 degrees.

IMG 4397

Neil and another fella were on the scene within about 90 seconds of the crash and did what they could for the participants. After wandering around during the delay…here’s what he thinks happened based on looking at the damage to the various vehicles…although as I said he never saw the Tiguan or semi involved.

The semi was in front followed by the black truck with the trailer in the right hand lane…the red car was on the trailer. The driver of that truck was just coming back east from Arizona where he attended his mother’s funeral…that was her car and possessions on the trailer. The Tiguan…which after the accident was about 8 feet long and 3 feet tall…it’s upside down just off the right shoulder below the white trailers in the shot; there’s a dark blue shirted cop next to it…anyway it was following behind the black truck/trailer and based on what happened it had to be one of the times when the Tiguan was at about the same speed as the truck.

The truck with the trailer full of white horse trailers…up on the shoulder in the woods in the picture…came up from behind and smacked the Tiguan square in the rear…he must have been considerably faster as the back end of the Tiguan was crushed in about 4 or 5 feet and the front of that pickup crushed about 3 feet. The Tiguan swerved to the right from the impact then tried to correct back to the left…but by that time it was next to the black trailer but on the shoulder…he went up and over the trailer knocking the red car into the left lane and flipping it a couple times. He then bounced off the front of the black truck with the trailer…the Tiguan’s front end is crushed in as is the front of the black truck…flipped, and went over into the ditch. The horse trailer trailer ended up smacking into the back of the semi and then bounced off the road into the woods to the final position it is in..

Looks pretty clear to him that the white truck with the horse trailers was not paying attention and going too fast…he had passed Neil and Connie behind him a minute or so before at a pretty good clip…they were doing 65 which is their normal cruise speed on travel days.

Unfortunately…the driver of the Tiguan didn’t make it…when Neil and the other fellow got there he was barely breathing and choking/wheezing…lots of blood but by the time EMS got there less than 10 minutes later he had passed away.

In the photo above…Big Red is about 50 feet forward of the initial impact point. After about an hour and a half or so…the accident reconstruction team got there and spent an hour moving all the stopped vehicles back, onto the shoulders, and into the left lane to clear the initial impact point. They originally wanted Neil to back 3/4 of a mile down the shoulder with the ditch on the side…he suggested that would be practically impossible…the reconstruction guys agreed and he just backed straight back a hundred feet or so once the remainder of the the vehicles behind him cleared.

And then we sat.

And sat.

And then sat some more.

It started about 1530…and about 1800 Neil called our CG for the day to see about late checkin…told the nice lady there we were stuck and where (about 50 miles from the park). She said to call her back when we cleared the accident and let her know when we would be arriving and she would come up to check us in.

We finally got moving and ended up at the park at 2120…we had some cookies and Goldfish crackers for dinner while waiting for hours…Neil put on power, slides went out and we went to bed.

Monday morning…he dumped our tanks and filled the fresh with water for our expected 4 or 5 nights with no hookups while in Elkhart…then we had a blessedly calm travel day on to Elkhart.

Tuesday morning…we were up at 0430 to be ready to pull into the service bay at 0600. By 1300 or so we were done, bearings greased and everything checked for any other service needed, and back out in the parking lot. Neil tried to get our appointment at Quadra (jack builder) moved from Thursday to Wednesday…no joy there…so we checked with Brian from MORryde and he said it would be no problem to just stay 2 more nights. So that’s what we did. Tuesday night we had leftover ribs from the BBQ Shanty in Higginsville…the ribs were only OK while the pulled pork and brisket were pretty outstanding…Wednesday we ran over to Yoder’s Meats and picked up some meat then went out to Iechyd Da brewery for dinner…a couple of very nice brews and an outstanding pizza…ham, mozzarella, roasted garlic, balsamic, and arugula on top. Coming home…we had some maple nut fudge from Yoder’s for dessert and then it was TV until bed.

We’ll be off 20odd miles to White Pigeon MI for jack service tomorrow…then off to Cincinnati OH…I’ll post again later on.

No interesting stuff from the net today…in view of the fatality accident I discussed earlier it just didna seem right.

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

Junction City KS, Repairs, and Higginsville MO

With our stay in North Platte NE complete…we departed last Sunday for the 330something mile trip down to Junction City CO…birthplace of our Majestic at the New Horizons RV factory. We pulled in about 1500 and got ourselves parked in front of the repair bays on the right side of the property…then had some leftovers for dinner and had an early bedtime as we were tired and had to meet Ken (service manager) early Monday morning.

We went and visited Ken at 0631 right after he started work on Monday morning…figuring we needed to be first in line in order to be done by Friday afternoon…we have an appointment in Elkhart for bearing maintenance next Monday. Gave him our list which included 3 items…adding a support for our microwave at the rear, we replaced it a couple years back and the bracket that holds it to the wall is failing meaning only the bolts from the cabinet above are holding it…repainting the lower front end under the bedroom and behind the kingpin with rock guard paint…and repairing the T-molding on the rear of the LR slide that was damaged in northern CA when we inadvertently dumped the passenger side wheels into a rut in the dirt turnaround. He said fine…we told him we needed to be done by Friday…he said fine and headed off. To our amazement by 1300 on Monday the bracket was installed and the molding installed and ready for paint…and the rock guard paint was on order from the local supplier they use for paint. Late Monday he told us that he would probably get us into the paint booth Wednesday evening which meant we would sit around doing nothing on Tuesday. We figured that was situation normal for service visits based on past history.

Tuesday about noontime…he knocked on our door and told us he had changed his plan…we would go into the paint booth Tuesday evening so we needed to move out. We headed over to the Motel 6 (Tom Bodett left the light on for us) about 1500 after they took the rig off for painting. We showed back up about 0820 Wednesday morning and the painting was done and we were back in front of the service bay…it al looks great. That meant we were done but by the time we officially figured that out it was about 1200 so we decided to just stay and head out Thursday. We were scheduled to overnight in Higginsville MO about 30 miles east of Kansas City on Saturday night anyway…and after checking to ensure site availability we went ahead and setup a reservation for Thursday through Saturday nights. We went out and had some sushi for dinner…amazingly pretty good for Kansas…way, way better than the sushi in Cody WY…then stopped at Walmart for some groceries. 

Our friend Robert had arrived Monday for some work…and although we had time to chat with him for a couple of short periods he is in the throes of battery and tire issues…and with us being at the hotel on Tuesday night we didn’t get a chance to have dinner with him and a detailed chat about life since we saw each other last.

Thursday morning we hitched up and were ready to go a bit after 1100…we knocked on Robert’s door to say our “until next times”…no answer…turned out he was asleep so he didn’t hear either that or the text or phone ring.

I have to say…things have improved considerably for service at the New Horizons factory. Ken moved from the main building out to an office in the service facility…which gets him out of sight of the customer lounge and employee lounge. In addition…the new CEO Brian is slowly changing the culture of the company to be more customer and service oriented…and we have to say it’s a most definite up-tick. I can’t say for sure what improved things…but this is the first time ever that we had no issues with getting what we needed accomplished and ahead of schedule to the good.

We headed east out of Junction City and south around Kansas City ending up at Great Escape Campground in Higginsville MO. We had stayed here before…and we recognized the buildings and layout when we arrived…but at least as far as Neil was concerned it wasn’t what he thought it would be even though he recognized it when we pulled in. He was thinking of another place we overnighted in the past somewhere in the middle of the country…it was located in the same place relative to the freeway exit as Great Escape is and somehow he got the two of them mixed up. No worries though…we quickly checked in and pulled into site 57…one of their super sites which means it’s wider and longer than most…right down by what they call the lake but we would call it a pond. It had poured rain as we headed toward Kansas City…but by the time we got east of town most of the storm had thankfully passed north and west of us so it was dry in Higginsville. 

We went over to the local winery/brewpub/eatery for dinner…had a decent but not really worth $20 bottle of wine and an outstanding mushroom and roasted garlic pizza…it had fermented sourdough crust that was really, really tasty…too bad there wasn’t just a bit more of it.

We’ve got nothing at all planned for our stay here in Higginsville…we need to go fill Big Red with diesel as we need to fill up once between Kansas and Elkhart and we’re already unhitched here while our next stop is just an overnight no unhitch required site. We’ll need some DEF before we get to Elkhart but will just pull around in the truck stop where you can pump it instead of having to get multiple boxes and put them in. Neil’s grilling some lamb chops today with fresh grilled corn and grilled balsamic mushrooms…and we’ll finish last night’s white wine at Happy Hour and open something or other to go with the lamb. Tomorrow is the Alabama game then off to Mass and an eatery she found up in town. 

Sunday we’ll be off 330 miles through St. Louis to Casey IL then another 265 via Indianapolis IN on Monday to Elkhart where we’ll park at the MORRyde factory for our scheduled service on Tuesday Sep 17. We’ve got another appointment at the Quadra Bigfoot Leveler factory in nearby White Pigeon MI on Thursday…and then a scheduled stop in Cincinnati 269 miles south on Saturday Sep 21. If we get done early enough and can move Quadra to Wednesday…we’ll head on over there and if we’re done early we’ll see about getting into Cincinnati OH a day or two early…but mostly we’ll be hit and miss for those few days not knowing where we’ll really overnight until the day before probably. 

Once we get to Cincinnati…we’ll be back on schedule for the eastbound portion of the US-50 trip having just missed a little of it between Kansas City and Cincinnati…after our extended stay in Cody we’re looking forward to some Fun Stuff©…although I’ve got none of that for ya today.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

I don’t know what to think about the Democratic presidential candidates…apparently since basic Civics is no longer a required course in high school none of them learned about things like constitutional rights and what is and isn’t legal. For example…O’Rourke says that “Hell yes, we’re going to forcibly take your AR-15s and AK-47s”…but there’s a little trouble with that. First off…an AK-47 is a fully automatic military rifle that is already illegal under the Federal Firearms Act of 1934 unless you have a federal firearms permit. Second…the AR-15…despite what you read in the media about it being an “military style assault rifle”…is nothing more than your basic semiautomatic rifle…just like every other rifle in the world except for single shot bolt action rifles or muzzle loaders. The difference is that it has a detachable magazine…which may or may not have a lot of capacity…and it is black and looks scary. It’s also arguably the most popular hunting and target plinking rifle in the country depending on which source you believe…and it was the target of the much lamented by liberals Clinton era Assault Weapons Ban which did pretty much nothing to reduce crime. However…I can understand that liberals and gun haters want to get rid of them…but then there’s that pesky second amendment. I’m even fine with liberals and gun haters trying to get an amendment passed and ratified to repeal the second amendment. However…they claim that’s too hard and that is why we need “common sense gun control”…essentially they don’t have support to repeal the amendment so they want to nibble around the edges…just a little now but then next time they’ll be back wanting another nibble. Nope…ain’t happening. The amendment is pretty clear…and despite the liberals claims that it doesn’t apply to “military weapons”…as I noted the AR-15 isn’t a military weapon and back in the late 1700s private citizens could own their own artillery pieces if they wanted to…so the amendment clearly didn’t limit by intention or by wording. As I said…go ahead and try to change it…it’s hard but that’s because the founding fathers deliberately made it hard…because they wanted to prevent politicians from screwing it up without a real majority of the population supporting things.

Another example…Medicare for all…which not even the liberals most fervent partners in labor unions support. It will cost the government somewhere between $10 trillion (Democrat estimate) and $20 trillion (Republican estimate) over the next 10 years to implement. Even at the low end…that’s another trillion a year added to the current $4 trillion federal outlay…a 25 percent increase. Obviously…this will require a massive tax increase to fund…at least Bernie Sanders admits that this is true but all the rest claim that it will be paid for “out of savings”. Not sure how that works…and it’s all BS anyway…but that’s what they claim.

Third example…Ms. Warren’s wealth tax. She wants to tax…in addition to increasing income tax on rich people…the net worth of people over $50 million by 1 or 2 percent a year depending on how much money you have. This is essentially just a confiscation…but there are a couple of problems with it. First…it would require determining every year the net worth of all of those rich people…and that’s pretty impossible to determine. For instance…how much is a Van Gogh painting worth if it’s not sold…or how much is a privately held business the size of say MORRyde where we’ll be next week worth? Second…even if this impossible valuation could be done…it could certainly not be accomplished by any government bureaucracy on an annual basis. And the biggest problem…it’s unconstitutional. The constitution specifically says that any direct tax shall be apportioned according to population with the sole exception as authorized in the 16th amendment that an income tax can be applied directly to individuals. Some Democrats are claiming that the 16th allows a wealth tax…I guess they just can’t read. That’s the problem with loose construction of the Constitution as opposed to strict construction. The latter says that “the constitution says what it says” and the former says “it means whatever we want it to mean today” and “it’s a living document that needs to be reinterpreted for modern times. Strict constructionists (i.e., conservatives) believe that you can apply the rules and words in the constitution to modern times but you can’t just invent new rights out of thin air.

Don’t any of those people know how the government is supposed to work according to the constitution? Apparently not.

StepLadder2

297808 horse funny

EasterEgg

HomeDepotCats

Pillage

 

ShootTheMessenger

 

CanaryIslands

Got ya on that one…didn’t I?

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Transit to and Fun Stuff© in North Platte NE

Well…after finishing up Labor Day weekend in Cody WY…we were up and about early the next morning for our 600 mile trip to North Platte NE with an overnight stop in Douglas WY. We were out of the campground by about 0950 and headed south down US-20 through Wind River Canyon and Casper WY where we got on I-25 and continued on over to Douglas WY where we pulled into the KOA for the evening.

On arrival…we discovered that we broke the rear bolt in our LR slide deployment mechanism…haven’t broken one in almost 2 years as we figured out the correct way to position the rig to prevent this sort of occurrence previously. However…our site in Cody was somewhat less than level and we didn’t actually get ourselves leveled properly on the wheels with no twist to the rig before pulling in the rig. Luckily it was the rear bolt which is way easier to replace…and luckily Neil has 6 of them in the parts bin…so it was a pretty quick 20 minute or so repair to get ourselves fully functional again.

Why Douglas WY? Well…first and foremost it was more or less (actually slightly less) than halfway to North Platte but second we wanted to go and view the world record holder…as well as the previous world record holder…of one of the most feared creatures in the west.

This vicious beast can weight as probably 1,500 pounds…the size of a full grown bison…and I have to tell you it has many, many deadly weapons at it’s disposal. It can kick you with legs that have serious amounts of power such that a kick would fracture every bone in your body. It has tremendously long and razor sharp horns that can impale you. Finally…with it’s speed and agility it can easily chase you down, knock you down, and then sit down on you crushing the life out of you as surely as an anaconda or python.

So what is this deadly creature we went to see?

Why…it’s none other than the world famous Jackalope. It was first discovered in 1932 by Douglas Herrick and his unnamed brother when they brought one into a local taxidermy shop in Douglas WY. It’s since only been successfully hunted a few times…all around the Douglas WY area and many local drinking establishments have a taxidermied head of the fearsome beast hung on their walls. In fact…the 2 largest specimens ever taken have been mounted in their entirety and are on display in the town. Here they are…runner up first.

IMG 0253

IMG 7805

Mighty fearsome beasts I say…although the record holder seems sorta lean and mean compared to the runner up. In any event…I especially wouldn’t want to run into one in a dark alley outside of a drinking establishment…and since their favorite drink is whiskey that’s the most likely place to run into one. So…Pro Tip…when in Douglas if you’ve perhaps mebbe over-imbibed a bit jus’ make sure ya stay outa the gosh darned alley lest ye meet your doom.

We popped into a local restaurant for dinner…a brew each and some chicken wings and jalapeño poppers as we weren’t overly hungry before heading home to the rig.

Early the next morning…rinse and repeat. It was a quick setup since we only had slides, power, and front jacks to do…and Big Red remained hitched overnight. Back onto I-25 and then onto US-26 just north of the CO border. The GPS wanted us to stay on 25 and then take I-80 east…it prefers freeways to at grade roads. That way was 50 miles farther and we were mostly out in the middle of nowheresville WY and NE…so we took the road less traveled by. We did have to slow momentarily at 3 or 4 towns as we passed through…but otherwise easily maintained the same 64 mph cruise control speed we would have used on the freeway…so the couple of minutes we lost in the small towns were more than compensated for by the 50 mile shorter route.

Arriving in North Platte…we quickly set up in site 0 at the I-80 Lakeside Campground just east and south of the city. Neil dumped and flushed our tanks on arrival…the indicators were not working properly so we did our standard half full, add 4 gallons of vinegar and a cup of Dawn degreaser dish detergent and let it slosh around for 2 days travel to wash all the gunk off the inside of the tank. Our level indicators are ultrasonic based and read the fluid level from outside…but they do get confused by grease or stuff stuck on the inside of the tank and we routinely do this trick at least once during each travel season as well as again just before arriving in FL for the winter. After that it was leftovers for dinner from Labor Day.

Thursday…we were up early for the first of 3 Fun Stuff© outings here in North Platte…the Sandhill Crane Drive…it’s about a 30 mile loop around where the Sandhill Cranes roost during their migration. Actually they only roost here in the spring as they head north…in the fall as they head south they apparently don’t stop here…so we didn’t really think we would see any of them (we seen plenty of them in the past) but we figured we would see other waterfowl and that would make it worth the trip.

We headed out right at prime bird watching time…just after sunrise…but what we didn’t anticipate was it would be pretty seriously foggy and thus with limited visibility we would not see much.

We spotted 3 female mule deer walking through a field but were unable to get any photos before they disappeared into the woods. However…we had pulled into the driveway of a farm to try and catch them and we did spot a flock of wild turkeys.

Ya know…back in the 80s there was this movie Gorillas in the Mist that made Sigourney Weaver famous as she played the treehugger Diane Fossey…I wonder if I can get famous for Turkeys and Trees in the Mist?

D75 3514

D75 3520

D75 3524

Neil especially liked this tree in the mist with the early morning sunrise behind and to the left.

D75 3527 Edit

As wildlife drives go it was pretty slim…but we did enjoy finding the turkeys…we ended up seeing 3 or 4 other rafters (that’s the term) of them as we proceeded on our drive. The term rafter comes from either the fact that large heavy birds like turkeys tend to roost on the branches of trees which are similar to rafters in height…or from the fact that when they panic their paths tend to crisscross and weave as they run and the root word from Arabic for weaving is raff. 

We finished the day with a nap, lunch, and a steak that Neil broiled for dinner. He was too lazy to get the grill out for one meal…and it was hot…so he just dragged the Breville oven outside and used it instead. Not quite as tasty as a grilled one would have been…but we schmeared roasted garlic cloves all over it when it was done and that outstanding flavor covers a lot of other minor issues.

Friday we did laundry and a winery/brewery tour in town. The wine was good as was the beer and the pizza we had was the best one we’ve had in many months.

Saturday…we headed off on the Wild Horse Canyon Scenic Drive…but it turned out to be pretty much a bust. Nothing to see…not really a canyon that we would call a canyon, and no wildlife. We did spot some glossy ibis (they’re black) but they flew off before we could get a picture.

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Last Day In Cody.

OK…moving along to a less unhappy subject…we’re well into our last day here in Cody…which coincidentally is also the penultimate (or next to last) day of no air as by Wednesday afternoon we’ll be at an elevation that starts with 2 rather than 5.

So…after the weekend where we had numerous calls/emails/texts/messages regarding Baby Sis with a lot of people…we pretty much did nothing. We did watch the Alabama game and as noted in the previous blog hoisted a cocktail or three to honor her but beyond that we went to Mass and did pretty much nothing.

We’ll miss the Elks Lodge here in Cody…they’re really friendly, have a non smoking section in the bar, and keep giving us free cocktails…not to mention the food is pretty good as well as inexpensive as Elks Lodges tend to be. What we won’t miss is the lack of air…we’re feeling the effects of the altitude significantly more than we did when we were last here in 2017. The other thing we won’t miss is the gosh-darned Small Minnow Mayflies…there’s a bazillion of the dang things. They don’t bite but fly into your face, land on your arms and everything else and are generally annoying. Every time you open the door to go in or out another 3 dozen of them fly in…we’ll be smacking them with the flyswatter for the next month I think. They breed in/near fresh water ponds…and since we are at the Cody Trout Ranch campground there’s a whole bunch of trout hatchery ponds just a couple hundred yards away. Once we get out of the campground they’re non existent but they are a real pain here unless the breeze is up a bit.

On Saturday we did head out for our final scheduled Fun Stuff© activity here in Cody…a trip back up the Chief Joseph Highway 20 miles or so then off into the Sunlight Basin area…essentially another canyon. We stopped by the Golden Arches right after sunrise then about 40 minutes drive out to the basin…we figured it would be prime wildlife viewing time…but alas we were wrong.

On the other hand…we did get some nice photos of the views and also had an unexpected surprise.

D75 3466

D75 3468 Edit

D75 3472

D75 3490

D75 3480 Pano Edit

What was the surprise…well…it was an honest to goodness cattle drive. We didn’t get quite out as far down the “adventure portion of the tour” dirt road as we planned because we ran into this.

D75 3474

Yup…a whole heard of cattle being driven down the road from one pasture to someplace I guess. Here’s a couple of shots of the ranch hands in charge.

D75 3477

D75 3478

There’s something wrong with those people though…they’re supposed to be cowboys and cowgirls so what in the heck are they doing wearing baseball caps instead of 10 gallon Stetsons…I tellya…what’s the world coming to. And 2 of the 5 that we saw had on sneakers instead of boots…and to think they probably call themselves cowboys.

We followed along behind the herd for a few hundred yards then decided to give up and headed back. Once we got back off the dirt road and onto the paved highway…we did spot this doe mule deer alongside one of the switchbacks as we headed up towards Dead Indian Pass.

D75 3500

D75 3499

We were actually surprised to see her out that late in the day…it was going on to 1200 by the time we saw her.

We stopped at the Clark’s Fork Canyon overlook right before cresting Dead Indian Pass for some more views.

Neil thought that flat topped mesa was pretty cool.

D75 3510

Overview of the canyon.

D75 3505 Pano

And a closer view…that’s the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River down in that canyon.

D75 3511 Edit

We crested the pass and continued back on to home.

Today…Neil will grill some country pork ribs for dinner along with rice and black beans…one of our favorite dishes. Then we’ll get packed up…we’ve sort of spread things out a bit more than typical for travel season as we’ve been here almost 7 weeks. Then tomorrow we’ll head 260 miles to Douglas WY then another 310 to North Platte NE for 4 nights…then the last 350 to Junction City KS to get the rig’s boo-boo on the LR slide skirt fixed along with a couple other minor repairs. Then we’ll head via Indianapolis to Elkhart IN for bearing and jack maintenance then back down to Cincinnati to continue our 50 eastern portion trip over to the coast before heading south for the winter like the birds do.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

Seen in a high school football locker room…again, great advice for our younger generation.

ReadlityCheckForMillenials

Baby Blue Marlin…these grow up to be up to 15 feet long including the bill although 8 feet or so is a pretty big male as females are 2-4 times the weight and longer as well.

BabyBlueMarlin

WeightIsPerfect

JuryInstructions

PharmacistInstructions

LowesFreezers

Yeah…about that.

YeahAboutThat

CurseWordMom

The look on the non speaking dog is pretty priceless…best I’ve seen in awhile.

GrassTicklesNipples

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Sad News To Report

Just a quick post today to pass along some sad news for those readers who we haven’t already emailed or called.

Neil is one of 4 (now 3) siblings…his brother Ron is a year older than he is, Mark 3 years younger, and Mary Jane…known to all as Baby Sis…was a year younger than Mark. She lived in Knoxville with her disabled adult daughter…having successfully single parent raised both of her daughters.

We received a call from Mary Jane’s married daughter who lives out in Washington on Friday that Baby Sis had passed away overnight on Thursday.

She had gone to bed early and her younger daughter…who has Aspergers Syndrome…was unable to wake her before she headed out to Breakthrough…essentially her adult day care folks…she told them on arrival that she was unable to wake her mom so when they dropped her off in the afternoon the driver came in and checked and found her deceased. EMS came and confirmed the death, the medical examiner came and evaluated it as peaceful unexpected passing in her sleep.

MJ’s daughters, son in law, and ex husband are there in Tennessee taking care of immediate needs…so all is under control on that front. Services are still up in the air at this point.

MJ was a lifelong Crimson Tide fan along with Neil…and she was far more rabid about it than he is. So I’m quite sure that her spirit was somewhere in the rafters at Atlanta Stadium yesterday watching the Tide trounce the Duke Blue Devils…screaming her head off and having a glass of wine.

So tonight…for those of you who knew her…and even for those who didn’t know her…let us all raise a toast of a glass or three of wine (red preferably as she drank) to our dearly departed Baby Sis. We will miss her phone calls to us…almost always initiated by her and she always said “hi, it’s Baby Sis”…even though we already knew who it was since our iPhones told us so.

There will be a happier post tomorrow as we did have some Fun Stuff© to report on…just not today.

Cyas.

Posted in Other | 2 Comments

Bighorn Canyon Boat Trip

Today was probably the highlight of the summer travels for Connie…because there was a boat involved…and we all know that she luvs boats…any kind of boat, any kind of water, just about any kind of weather except frigid…she’s down for it. In fact…the only boat trip she has refused to go on was when Neil offered to take a cruise with her…he’s adamantly opposed to paying money and going on a boat out in the ocean for fun after a career of taking the submarine to sea…but he did offer to go with her on a cruise…but the only one he is interested in is the one in Norway during the winter. Yeah…it’s cold…but other than the time spent outside photographing the Northern Lights…he would spend the rest of the time in the warm bar, hot tub, wheel house, and honeymoon suite. She turned him down though…I can’t imagine why.

Anyways…boat trip.

We headed out about 0815 for the 75 minute drive up to the Horseshoe Bend Marina at the extreme southwest end of Bighorn Lake which was formed in the 1960s when the Yellowtail Dam was finished near Fort Smith MT. The dam was built for irrigation, flood control, and generation of hydroelectric power. Prior to the dam…the entire 55 mile length of the Bighorn Canyon was white water but today the river is a lake in the bottom of the canyon ranging from 35 to more than 400 feet deep. 

We arrived at the marina and about 1015 got underway for our 1000 boat trip…nothing like starting things on time. The trip is about 2 hours and goes down lake about 12 or 13 miles from the marina with the turnaround just past the Devil’s Canyon Overlook we were on top of the other day.

Our guide/boat captain was Michelle…she’s been doing this tour for 14 years and she gave us a brief safety lecture before we departed…how to put on a life jacket and how to use the satellite phone to call for help if anything happened to her. We would actually probably have just driven back towards the marina rather than calling for help…but as it turned out we didn’t need to. When we set out…it was about 60 degrees and a bit windy but once we turned around at 1120 to head back the wind was at our back and the temperature had warmed to a pleasant mid 70s so we were able to shed our hoodies.

On to the photos…those that need a caption for a little explanation will be so captioned.

Our boat the “Belle”…took this while we were waiting for the 1000 boat trip to start.

D75 3030

Looking across to the rust colored limestone ridge across the lake…this one actually was the first shot of the day rather than the Belle shot above.

D75 3027

Underway on diesel power…

D71 8498

D75 3032

Just 55 miles to the Yellowtail Dam. And there’s uranium in them thar rocks…in the wild uranium is found almost exclusively as uranium oxide…also known as yellow cake for it’s distinctive color…the yellow below and right from the mile marker is the uranium oxide. Michelle claimed that if we had a Geiger counter it would have gone off…but she’s wrong. In the wild…uranium is 99.3% uranium 238…which is the non radioactive isotope which is useless for either a reactor or a bomb. For that…you need uranium 235 which is obtained from its naturally occurring 0.7% ratio through the enrichment that you’ve heard all the hullabaloo about on the news. Basically…you take the uranium oxide and convert it to a gaseous form and then put it through a centrifuge, The slightly heavier uranium 238 gas goes to the outside of the centrifuge drum and the useful 235 isotope gathers on top of that. Then you…without stopping the centrifuge…siphon off the useless 238 based stuff. There is some inefficiency in the process so after doing it you end up with uranium that is now 0.8% of the good stuff…235. Repeat ad nauseam thousands of time and eventually you get up to the 90ish% you need for a naval reactor, 60ish% used for a commercial reactor, or 98ish% needed for a fission based bomb.

The only thing that the 238 variety is useful for is that if placed inside an operating reactor…what is typically called a breeder reactor…the uranium 238 over a long time absorbs a neutron and becomes plutonium 239…which is absolutely useless as fuel for a reactor but is essential for making a bomb that actually produces a significant amount of bang…plutonium is much, much better for that purpose than uranium is. One of the 2 bombs used in WWII was uranium based and one was plutonium based. Unfortunately, plutonium 239 doesn’t naturally occur…at least I don’t think it does…but since it is so much better for making things that go bang the early nuclear scientists were very interested in making it. Long explanation of why Michelle was wrong I know…but as a recovering engineer Neil just couldn’t help himself telling me what to write here.

D75 3034

D71 8500

D71 8518

D71 8524

One of the dozens of caves that were occupied by humans dating back up to 10,000 years ago. Many have been excavated by archeologists and there are dozens awaiting analysis.

D71 8530

D71 8534

D75 3049

D71 8552

We ran into 4 or 5 groups of bighorn sheep…depending on whether you believe we saw one of the bands twice. That one was a mile or two away from where it was an hour previous if it was the same one…but it did have a lamb with it…but then there are many lambs down here this time of year. Ewes come down in the spring to give birth and stay here through the summer. Rams don’t come down until the mating season. Just in case you’re confused about which is a ram and which is a ewe…here’s a ram…it’s the one with the curly horns. This shot I got from the intwerwebs…although Neil has some in his photo catalog it was easier to let google fine one for me than hunting.

All of the closeups are Neil’s shots since Connie isn’t interested in the weight of a longer lens.

Verticalbighorn

This is the ewe…note the much shorter and not nearly as curly horns. And these are actually horns like a cow or pronghorn has and not antlers like a deer, moose, or elk has that are shed yearly…horns continue to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime.

D75 3061

D75 3071

D75 3062

D75 3073

I think this is a mother and her lamb…note the lack of horns on the smaller one. They stayed very close together.

D75 3082

D75 3087

You can see here that some of the ewes have longer horns…that means they’re older.

D75 3103

D71 8561

D71 8563

D75 3125

The red ridge edge just left of center is Devil’s Canyon Overlook…you’ll recall the photos from up there the other day. Here’s what it looks like from 1,500 feet lower at lake level.

D71 8570

Second band of bighorn ewes…you can see the large horn size difference between these two specimens. I could not tell whether there is another horn behind the visible one on the right side ewe or if it had been knocked off.

D75 3138

D75 3141

D75 3160

This one has an expression like “what are you looking at”.

D75 3153

D75 3149

Aha…there is a second horn on the one laying down.

D75 3181

D71 8585

This is a shot Connie took…you can see both the steepness of the canyon side here as well as get an appreciation for how close they were…her lens maxes out at 55mm…or slightly shorter in focal length and magnification than a typical portrait studio lens. Still was able to get a decent shot though…these are maybe 50 yards away.

D71 8582

Closer view of the Devil’s Canyon Overlook.

D75 3221

Distant view of a feature called the “eye of the needle”…where wind, water, and freeze/thaw cycles have opened up an opening in the edge of the canyon wall…just below center on the left side wall. It’s about a half mile or more away though…so it is actually probably big enough to drive a semi through.

D71 8590

One of the erosion features on the canyon wall…an amphitheater-like feature named “The Concert Hall.”

D71 8587

Devil’s Canyon Overlook again…the red rock left of center and the second one away coming in from the left.

D75 3233

Closeup of the eye of the needle.

D75 3222

This hoodoo has been formed via erosion and the freeze/thaw cycle…it will fall down sometime in the next 250,000 years or so.

D71 8591

Head on view of Devil’s Canyon overlook…looking astern as we rounded the bend past Devil’s Canyon itself. Unfortunately…getting a worthwhile shot of Devil’s Canyon from the river was nigh on impossible.

D75 3234

An area called Cave City…3 large caves that you can see along with another one to the left that you can’t see from this angle.

D71 8598

D71 8602

The large cave to the left in Cave City.

D75 3240

Distant shot of Cave City…you can see the 3 caves from the closeup above just to the right of the lowest portion of the blue sky on the left.

D71 8610

All 4 caves up in Cave City.

D75 3243

More sheep.

D75 3277

This is the “Bat Cave” Da-da-da-da-dah! Dracula type bats, not Batman type bats.

D71 8614

This is the Cathedral…it was scoured out in the round form by white water millions of years ago when it was at water level…today it is most of 1,000 feet up to it.

D71 8622

D75 3292

D75 3281

D75 3298

D75 3357

D75 3342

D71 8638

D75 3411

D75 3380

D75 3399

Right before we exited the canyon on the way back we spotted more sheep way up on the canyon rim. These are about 1,200 feet above the river and something outside of a mile away. 

Three different treatments of the same photo here. First is the fully processed one, next is what it actually looked like with your eye, and the third close in silhouette is because Neil thought it would make a neat photo.

D75 3440

D75 3440 2

D75 3440 3

She was wandering around having lunch.

D75 3446

D75 3448

And was joined by her posse of lady friends…there must be a bighorn sheep bathroom up there since females always go there in a pack.

D75 3455

With that…our boat trip was done. We got back to the dock, tipped Michelle for her commentary and excellent “nothing happened to me” performance and headed home. We stopped in Powell for lunch…Subway before heading home for the afternoon and dinner.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

Shortest underwater tunnel ever constructed.

ShortestUnderwaterTunnelEver

Important advice from Bill Gates…too bad millennials don’t pay attention to it.

BillGatesAdvice

ManWrongFace

RepeatVows

InmateBlondWife

KKKMeeting

BeerWorksMiracles

MemoryFoamInsoles

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment