• We are home! Day 102

    Day number 102 of our summer road trip and we are back home in Lake Charles.

    During our summer adventure we travelled through 17 states - Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana.  America is such a beautiful country with such diversity in landscapes from the flatlands of Louisiana to the mountains and beyond.

    We drove our 2015 Tiffin 35 QBA Open Road and towed a 2014 Honda CRV,

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    We visited16 magnificent National Parks starting with Joshua Tree, Channel Islands, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Pinnacles and Lassen Volcano in California, In Oregon we visited Crater Lake and in Washington we toured Mt. Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades. Teddy Roosevelt was our destination in North Dakota and In South Dakota we went to Wind Cave National Park. We stayed in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and drove through Yellowstone.  In Colorado we toured Rocky Mountain National Park. Our final national park was Hot Springs National Park.

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    A Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Park

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    We saw thousands of dolphins on our boat ride to Channel Islands

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    Hiking on the Santa Cruz Island of the Channel Islands

    \We joined our friends Ken, Linda, grandsons Dylan and Drew, Ed, and Tracey in California before we went to Sequoia National Park. We also had our grandson Ben since we left home.  He said with us for 62 days before we flew him home from Denver.

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    Sequoia National Park

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    Kings Canyon National Park

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    Pinnacles National Park

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    Lassen Volcano National Par

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    Crater Lake National 

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    Mt. Ranier National Park

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    Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

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    Grand Teton National Park (hazy from CA fires)

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    Yellowstone National Park

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    Teddy Roosevelt National park

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    Wind Cave National Park

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    Rocky Mountain National Park

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    Hot Springs National Park

    After this trip we have visited 49 of our nation’s National Parks and have been truly blessed by all that we were able to see and do.  We enjoyed many miles of hiking, riding our bicycles and driving through spectacular scenery. Although we had many days of record high temperatures, we were also blessed to have only three days of rain.

    So, now that we are home, here are the statistics from our trip:

    • We drove a total of 11,823 miles - 8,184 in the motorhome and 3,639 miles in the car. An average of 115.91 per day.
    • Our last campground was the Shreveport/Bossier City KOA for $48.85.  Campground total is  3,829.46
       or an average of $38.40 per night
    • Eating out and groceries total $2,956.94  or an average of $29.87 per day.
    • Gasoline cost $4,014.01 or a total of 39.35 per day
    • Grand total of Gas, food and campgrounds =$10,800.41
    • We spent $44.50 on tolls,
    • $124. to wash clothes ,
    • $104 to  wash car and rv,
    • $1,607.41 for Shows and Entrance fee
    • $174.01 on clothes
    • $225.12 for souvenirs 
    • TOTAL COST OF 102 DAYS OF TRAVELING = $15,284 OR $149.84 PER DAY

  • Hot Springs National Park - Day 100

    Hot Springs became a national park on March 4, 1921 but before that it was known as Hot Springs Reservation.The Reservation was initially created by an act of the United States Congress on April 20, 1832 to be preserved for future recreation.  This was before the concept of National Parks was developed.  This was the first time that land was set aside by the U.Sl government to preserve its recreational value and use.

    The city of Hot Springs was incorporated in 1851. In the early 1900s it was known as the home to Major League Baseball spring training.;  Later it was also known for illegal gambling, speakeasies during the Prohibition era, and gangsters such as Al Capone, horse racing at Oaklawn Park, the Army and Navy Hospital, and 42nd President Bill Clinton. 

    The entire Bathhouse Row area is designated as a National Historic Landmark District.

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    Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the “Army and Navy General Hospital Historic District,” this building was built in 1933 and is now being used as the Arkansas Career Development Center.

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    The Buckstaff and Quapaw Baths (pictured below) are the only two bathhouses still used for that purpose.

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    The Fordyce Bathhouse is now used as the national park visitor’s center. The picture below is a stain glass window inside.

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    Our campsite #17 at Crystal Springs Campground and Marina

    Trip Statistics:

    • We have driven 7,947 in the motorhome and 3,639 miles in the car for a total of 11,646 miles
    • Crystal Springs Campground was $11.  Campground total is 3,829.46 or an average of $38.69 per night
    • Eating out and groceries total $2,956.94  or an average of $29.87 per day.

  • Petit Jean State Park - Days 98 & 99

     

    Petit Jean State Park and its native log and stone facilities were constructed by the  Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) beginning in 1933. The CCC built trails, roads, bridges, cabins, and the focal point of the park, historic Mather Lodge, a 24-room lodge overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon.

    Petit Jean State Park is a certified Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Site. In the 1830s, Cherokee Indians along with members from the other Southeastern tribes of the United States passed by Petit Jean Mountain during their forced migration to present-day Oklahoma.

    The park has 33 cabins and 125 campsites as well as two swimming pools, tennis court, basketball court, playgrounds, picnic shelters and an amphitheater.

    The campsites are all paved with full hook-ups, a fire pit and a pole for hanging a light.

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    The park has a paved bike path that runs through the woods

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    Our campsite was #1 and was very level and spacious.

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    One of the beautiful bridges built by the CCC

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    Cedar Creek Falls (this picture was taken the last time we were here. There was no water going over the rocks this time).

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    This was a water tower according to the sign, but I don’t know how it held water.

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    This chimney is the remains of the recreation hall where the men gathered to relax in the evenings after working all day for the huge wage os $1.00 a day!

    Company V-1781 was the designation of Petit Jean’s CCC camp.  The “V” indicated the company employed WWI veterans.  Only 10% of CCC camps around the U.S, were veteran camps.  Most camps consisted of young men between the ages of 17 and 25, while veteran enrollees on Petit Jean Mountain were mostly ages 35-45.

     

    Trip Statistics:

    • We have driven 7859 in the motorhome and 3,616 in the car for a total of 11,550 miles.
    • Petite Jean State Park Campground was $39 a night for a total campground cost of $3,818.46 or an average of $38,96 per night
    • Groceries and eating out have totaled $2,887.04 or an average of $30.55 per day
    • Gasoline has cost $3,829.46

  • Bentonville, Arkansas Days 95-97

    Bentonville is someplace special! It is the birthplace and world headquarters of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.  The family has been very philanthropic in the funding for parks, bike trails and the arts.  Ann Walton founded Crystal Bridges which is a stunning gallery of art.IMG 1979

    Crystal Bridge Art Museum 

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    Chihuly gardens

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    “We the People” in string art.

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    This is the original Rosie the Riveter painter by Norman Rockwell.

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    Bachman-Wilson home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

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    The is the Bachman-Wilson come which was  originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1954 for Abraham Wilson and his first wife, Gloria Bachman.  Crystal Bridges acquired the home and had it  moved from New Jersey where it was originally located and reassembled here in 2004.

    Mildred Cooper Memorial Chapel

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    Mildred Cooper Memorial Church is the perfect venue for a wedding. The walls are constructed with 15 main arches, within each arch are three or four Gothic arches.There are 4,460 sheets of glass and 31 tons of steel.

    Bentonville, Rogers, and Bella Vista Bicycle Trails

    Bentonville has some of the best singletrack trails, paved pathways, and on-road routes in the country.The bicycle trails that we road through this area are very well maintained and very enjoyable to ride.  There are banked and hilly dirt bike paths that go up the mountains and also run parallel to the paved bike paths.       

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    Walmart Museum

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    This is the original Walton’s 5 and 10 with Tom Walton’s pickup truck parked out front.

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    An example of merchandise people returned to the store

    On Sunday we rode through the Osage Preserve 

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    21c Museum and Hotel

    21C adds another artful element to the Bentonville scene, with over 12,000 square feet of gallery space that adjoins this 104-room boutique hotel and world class restaurant The Hive. Downtown Bentonville is among one of only seven other cities to house such a unique place to stay and play.

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    The decorations inside The Hive Restaurant

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    The green penguin can be purchased for only $5000. It is made out of recycled plastics.  21c fans and residents of Northwest Arkansas selected green as the color to best represent both the region and the unique character of 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville. Green because it a color of sustainability. The mission of the Cracking Art Group (their creator) is “to raise awareness of environmental issues and the use and misuse of natural resources by creating artworks out of petroleum products.’

     

     

    Trip Statistics:

    • We drove 165 miles from Branson, MO to Bentonville AR, in the motorhome. Total driven in the motorhome of 7,684. Plus, we drove 139 miles in the car.  Total on this trip for both is 11,343
    • We stayed at the Bella Vista RV Park on Blowing Spring Rd for $39 a night. We have spent $3,779.46 on campgrounds or an average of $39.78 per day.
    • Groceries and eating out have cost $840.69 or an average of $29.29 per day
    • Gasoline has cost $4,405.38 or an average of $6.37 per day.

  • Branson, MO - Days 92 - 94

    We drove from Lee’s Summit to Branson and arrived around 2:30 in the afternoon on Monday.  It was 97 degrees when we got here which felt like 106.   We had a beautiful campsite facing the White River near Branson Landing.  It stayed miserably hot the whole time we were here.

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    The dog part in our campground

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    Ice cream truck

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    The new aquarium

    The first show we attended was Magnificent 7 which covered all types of music from 7 different decades as well as TV commercials from each of those decades.  Joe and Tamra Tinoco proceed and performed in the show along with their extremely talentedr16 year old daughter Tayla and a cast of four others.  A wonderfully entertaining evening.

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    On Tuesday afternoon we went to hear the acapella group SIX, a group of six brothers who perform.

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    After the show we ate dinner at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner. It’s a 1950s themed diner that has talented, professional singers, as the waiters.   We had a good dinner and enjoyed the music provided by the waiters. 

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    We saw two people order this huge ice cream desser to sharet, but we did not stick around to if they were able to finish it.

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    The next show we attended was The Haygooods on Tuesday night. This was our third time to see them perform and as usual, they put on a fantastic show!  The group is comprised of 5 brothers and one sister who are all so incredibly talented and able to play many different instruments.  Michael started the show by riding a zip line from the back of the auditorium above the audience  to the stage hanging upside down while playing his guitar .  Catherine play the song “Let It Go” from Frozen on a harp which sounded beautiful.  This is a show everyone needs to see in Branson.

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    On Wednesday we saw Hot Rods & High Heels and Clay Cooper’s Country Express.  On Thursday we enjoyed the #1 Hits of the 60’s and finished off the evening with entertainment by The Duttons.

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    One big disappointment was that the show “Jesus!” At the Sight and Sound Theatre was not open  the week we were there.  We have seen the productions of “Sampson” and “Moses” in the past and those were absolutely amazing. The shows we selected were all very good, but we need to return another season sometime because Branson is miserable in the summer

     

    Trip Statistics

    • We driven the motorhome 7,583 miles and the car 3,431 for a total  trip distance of 11,110 miles.
    • Branson’s Lakeside RV Park is $45.76 per night making the campground total $ 3,691.46 an average per night of $38.45
    • We paid  $2.49 per gallon for gas.  Total gas is $4,405.38
    • We’ve spent $2,721.84 on groceries and eating out or an average of $29.59 per day.

  • Leawood & Lee Summit, MO Days 88-90

    We left Colorado Springs on Wednesday August 18, and  stopped for one night at the WaKeeney  KOA ($37.35) and in Abilene, Kansas at the Covered Wagon RV ($35) on our drive east to reach Leawood, Kansas and Lee’s Summit, MO. ($29 per night)Screen Shot 2021 08 23 at 11 17 04 PM

    The evening we were in Abilene we wrote our bicycles nine miles around town in the afternoon.

    We arrived at Longview Campground  in Lee’s Summit on Friday evening and rode our bikes in the campground and then through the subdivisions around the campground for a total distance of 8.57 miles.  It was dusk as we rode back into the campground and we saw 17 deer as we rode the last mile into the campground.

    On Saturday morning we rode some of the Longview Lake Trail and the bike paths on the roads to get there and back for a total of 18.30 miles.

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    Ann & Steve Ryan invited us to their home for dinner on Saturday evening.  They also invited four other couples from their church. We had a wonderful evening visiting with everyone. The meal was delicious!

    On Sunday morning we went to church service at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood where Adam Hamilton is Pastor.  After church we went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse and then were to Phil and Linda Creason’s home and visited with them for several hours.

    Trip Statistics:

    • We drove 310 miles ffrom Colorado Springs to Wakeeney, 151 from WaKeeney to Abilene, and 172 to Lee’s Summit for a total driven in the motorhome of 7,384. Plus, we drove 171 miles in the car.  Total on this trip for both is 10,845.
    • We spent $3,459.42 on campgrounds or an average of $39.76 per day.
    • Groceries and eating out have cost $2,641.70 or an average of $29.35 per day
    • Gasoline has cost $4,254,30 or an average of $48.90 per day.

  • Colorado Springs- Days 83-86

    We stayed at the Mountaindale RV Resort which was a nice campground, but about a twenty mile drive back into Colorado Springs making it too inconvenient.  There was nothing to do around that area.

    After having Tom’s Bike stolen in Lakewood we decided to buy e-bikes and spent our time in Colorado Springs  testing different brands of bikes.  We purchased two Aventon Bikes and a bike rack to hold them.

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    On Tuesday August 17, we road the COGS Railroad to the top of Pikes Peak.  We were on the two-seat side of the train which is the worse possible place to sit.  For anyone wanting to get better views, book seats on the three-passenger side of the train.  We had assigned seats so we were not able to switch sides.  We rode the COGS railroad in 1992 with four of our children and arrived at the top in 32 degree temperatures and six feet of snow on the ground.  Our little southern boys were freezing.

    Since our first trip to the top, we have driven to the top on six different occasions and definitely prefer that way to reach the top.  The scenery is much more magnificent when seen while driving.

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    Trip Statistics:

    • We stayed at the Mountaindale RV Reort  for $59.91 a night.  The total campground cost is $3,300.07 so far.
    • We have spent $2,572.39 on groceries and eating out which averages $29.91 per night
    • Gasoline has cost $3901.06 so far on this trip.

     

     

  • Buena Vista, CO - Days 81 & 82

    Buena Vista (which means beautiful view) is my new favorite place to visit in Colorado during the summer. The town is located between Leadville and Salida, two towns we’ve enjoyed visiting in the past. The area boasts the highest concentration of summits over 14,000-ft. in Colorado and is home to the Arkansas River -- one of state’s most popular whitewater rivers. There are so many nice places to hike, bike ride and tour. We are staying at the Snowy Peaks RV Park and would definitely consider coming back for a week sometime.The weather has been absolutely perfect!  

    We drove into Buena Vista and hiked the Barbara Whippel Trail and then crossed over the river and hiked the River Trail.  It was an interesting hike because we were able to watch a few people kayak down the Arkansas River, a person ride the whitewater standing up on a paddle board, and a wedding reception at the Surf Hotel.

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    This was not us, but it sure was fun to watch them!

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    Look how cute this “living room” set located at the playground in historic Buena Vista is!  All the pieces are decorated in ceramic tile—including the cat and dog.

     

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    There were two bridges on the trails about 1 mile apart  to cross the Arkansas River

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    Cottonwood Pass and Loss Lake Hike

    Eighteen miles from Buena Vista driving up the Collonwood Pass is a beautiful hike called Loss Lake Trail that we hiked today. Between that hike and hiking to the top of the Continental Divide Trail at the Cottowood Pass, we hiked 4.19 miles.

     

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    We couldn’t have asked for more spectaucular weather or more beautiful weather.  Clear and 68 degrees!

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    Site 20 at the Snowy Peaks RV Park

    Comanche Drive in Theatre

    We ended the evening with a trip to the  drive in picture show.  We passed the theatre this afternoon on our way back from hiking and decided to go back tonight and give it a try. The movie was the new release of Disney’s The Jungle Book which was underwhelming to sat the least. 

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  • Frisco & Breckenridge and then to Buena Vista - Day 80

    Peak One Campground, White River National Forest

    This morning I took a 2 mile walk around our beautiful campground.  This is one of my favorite campgrounds because there are so many beautiful views and trails to walk and bicycle in the park. However, we have to dry camp here.  That means we have to provide our own water, electricity and sewage disposal.  The water and sewer were no problem, but we could not get the generator to start and run.  The inverter will power the water pump, lights and a few electrical outlets, but the generator needs to run to use the toaster, coffee pot, microwave, and of course, the air condition.  The park is at 9,100’, a higher attitude than any other park where we’ve camped and needed to run the generator.  The generator worked fine everywhere else.  We had the exact same problem three years ago when we first camped at this campground and unfortunately, still don’t know what the solution is.IMG 1550

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     I walked down to the bicycle parkl and watched a few bicyclists trying their hand at the slopes. The park has four different parts for riders of all ages and I have learned some new terminology :  1.  pump track- a BMX style track with a loop of rollers and berms; 2. Slopestyle Course - a mixture of jumps and mountain biking; 3. Dirt Jump Facility - practice on jumps and 4. Dual Shalom Course - the riders can race on jumps, bumps, and s curves.

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    Breckenridge

    We drove into Breckenridge and had a nice lunch at Eric’s.  This is our third time to eat there in our visits from the previous years and really I really enjoy the pizza there   Afterwards, we walked to the biclcyle shops to get information on e bikes

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    In the late afternoon we drove to Snowy Peaks RV Park in Buena Vista. We drove over the Fremont Pass  and then took the Top of the Rookies Highway (Hwy 24,) which went through Leadville, the highest incorporated town in North America.

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    Trip Statistics:

    • We drove the motorhome 74 miles (6,646 total) and the car 37 (2,995 total).  Total miles driven on trip 9,733.
    • The last gas fillip was $3.799 per gallon.  Our total gasoline cost if now $3,859.23
    • The Snowy Peaks Campground was $59 for a total trip cost of $3,003.28, or an average of $37.54 per night.
    • Groceries and eating total $2,386.45 or an average of $29.83 per day

  • Steamboat to Frisco, CO - Days 78 & 79

    Tuesday morning when we were packing up to leave Steamboat, we started the engine on the motorhome, put in the slides, and unleveled  and then turned the engine off while we got everything else ready to go.  When we tried to start the engine to leave, it would not start! We tried to jump the battery with the car and with our battery charger. Tom got out the Manuel, called Tiffin who connected us with Ford Motor Co, etc to no avail.  Finally, after trying everything and waiting about an hour, it started and ran perfectly. We drove 102 miles to White River National Forest Peak One Campground  where we parked in space 50.

    Smoke from the wildfires in California are  still causing the beautiful mountains to barely be visible.

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    The water in Green River Reservoir looked very low when we drove past on our way to Frisco.

    We arrived at Peak One Campground on the Dillion Reservoir.and are dry camping..We camped here three years ago when we first got this motorhome and were never able to get the generator to work.  The generator started at first, but when we turned it on later in the evening, it wouldn’t run and hasn’t run since).

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    Our campsite is quite spacious and in a very pretty location

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    Today we rode our bicycles 16 miles on the Blue River Trail.  

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    This is the satellite picture from our ride as recorded on the Activity app on my watch.  We actually rode 16 miles, but I forgot to turn it on at the very beginning.

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  • Steamboat Springs - Days 76 & 77

    We drove into town and up to the Steamboat Ski Resort where we spent the afternoon playing Putt Putt, riding the chairlift to the top of the mountain and riding the Outlaw Mountain Coaster (three times).  There was a 30 minute wait in line each time we rode the coaster, but the ride was over one mile long and a lot of fun.

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    On Monday we rented Bull EVO ebikes and rode the bike trails of Steamboat. The bikes we rented were BULL EVA pedal assist and  were an absolute pleasure to ride. 

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    After the bike ride we visited the Botanical Gardens.

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    When we were on our bike ride we passed a big nest up on a pole.  We later found that it is an osprey nest. Interesting fact about the Osprey nest pictured below. The Botanical Garden installed the osprey nesting platform on top of a 45’ pole in 2013. 2.5 years later a pair of ospreys nested and raised 3 healthy chicks. They have returned every year since and have successfully had 3-4 chicks each year. They spend 5 months in Steamboat and then migrate to Central and South America.

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  • Steamboat Springs, CO - Day 75

    We drove from Grand Lake, CO to Steamboat Springs.  The scenery was hazy the whole way because of the fires in California.  We were getting air quality emergency alerts on our cell phones.  Last night on the news I heard that Denver had the worse air quality of any place in the world yesterday.IMG 1411

    The mountains are barely visible in this picture I took as we were driving towards Steamboat Springs.

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    We celebrated our 33 rdwedding anniversary with a steak dinner at the 8th Street Steakhouse.  We thought it was just a regular restaurant and were surprised when we discovered that we had to grill our own steaks!

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    Look at these cute barrels with saddles to sit on to watch the steaks cook. We, of course, had to try them out.

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    Trip Statistics:

    • We drove the motorhome 103 miles.  After we arrived we drove the car 18 miles.  Total trip mileage 9,460 miles.
    • Soaring Eagle RV Park  is $60.00 per night. Total campground is $2,778 or an average of $37.04 per night.
    • We have spent $2,270.57  on Groceries and Eating out  or an average of $30.27 a day
    • We didn’t buy any gas today so our total stays at $3,597.76

     

     

  • Winding River RV Resort and Grand Lake - Day 74

    We drove into Grand Lake this morning and played a round of Putt Putt and then ate lunch at Grand Pizza.

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    After lunch we came back to the campground where I had a reservation for a trail ride.  My horse’s name was Socks and he was very obedient—just what I needed.

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    Trip Statistics:

    • We did not drive the motorhome today, but drove the car 24 miles. The total miles driven on the trip is 9,363.
    • Winding River RV Resort is $63.00 per night. Total campground is $2,718.25 or an average of $36.73 per night.
    • We have spent $2,182.07 Groceries and Eating out  or an average of $29.48 a day
    • We didn’t buy any gas today so our total stays at $3,597.76

  • Rocky Mountain National Park - Day 73

    This is our sixth year to visit Rocky Mountain National Park!

    Since we did not have advanced reservations for our entrance into Rocky Mountain National Park, we needed to enter the park before 9:00AM so we were on our way into the park at 8:30AM.  As we drove into the park we were able to see some of the damage done by the East Troublesome Fire that started October 14, 2020 which burned 21,307 acres within the park.

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    Our first wildlife sighting was a moose laying in the field munching on the grass.IMG 1202

    We drove 22 miles up Trail Ridge Road to the Alpine Visitor’s Center.  The road stretches from Grand Lake to Estes Park Road and is the highest paved through road in Colorado and it is also the highest paved road in Colorado that crosses the continental divide.We hiked the Alpine Ridge Trail to the top at 12,005 feet. The trail is only .6 miles roundtrip with a elevation gain of 209’, but is very steep.  This is the 6th time we walked up to the top so it has become our tradition.

    IMG 1267As we were leaving the Alpine Visito’s Center this coyote was walking down the road right in front of us.

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    This was near the top of the Tundra Communities Trail

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    We drove the Old Fall River Road which was completed in 1920 and was the first road built in the park.  It follows a route long used by Native American tribes, including Ute and Arapaho. The 9 mile road is gravel and dirt and only one way. It starts from Horseshoe Park up a deeply cut valley to Fall River Pass at 11,796 few.  It then joins Trail Ridge Road at the Alpine Visitors Center.  The drive is beautiful.

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    The Ridge Road going toward the Continental Divide.

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    Trip Statistics:

    • We did not drive the motorhome today, but drove the car 94 miles. The total miles driven on the trip is 9,399.
    • Winding River RV Resort is $63.00 per night. Total campground is $2656.24 or an average of $37.41 per night.
    • We have spent Groceries and Eating out 2,143.42 or an average of $29.35 a day
    • We didn’t buy any gas today so our total stays at $3,597.76

     

  • Grand Lake CO & Rocky Mountain National Park - Day 72

    We are staying at the Winding River RV Resort in Grand Lake, CO which is right outside the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Winding River EntranceThe RV Park has a stable with horses that can be rented for trail rides, a petting area with a pony, calf, sheep, lambs, baby pinks, ducks and chicken.  There are cabins to rent, two covered wagons for rent, RV sites with corals for people to bring their own horses.

    We enjoyed walking around the park and seeing all the sites.IMG 1120

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    Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the National Parks that require reservations to enter.  The reservations could be made the first of each month for the entire month.  We did not have reservations, but anyone can enter the park before 9:00AM and after 3:30PM.  So, after 3:30, we drove to the East Inlet Trailhead and hiked to Adams Falls  and then into the meadow past the falls.

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    IMG 1137The East Inlet Trailhead

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    Adams Falls

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    Grand Lake

    We walked around the town of Grand Lake after our hike and stopped for some ice cream.IMG 1165

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    Grand Lake Lodge

    We stopped at the Grand Lake Lodge on our way back to the campground. The Grand Lake Lodge was opened in 1920 to serve tourists visiting Rocky Mountain National Park via the Trail Ridge Road.

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  • Lakewood, CO to Grand Lake, CO- Day 71

    It was a beautiful drive from Lakewood to Grand Lake, but when we left I-70 and started climbing over the Berthoud Pass, the road was very steep and winding with many switchback turns.  We went from an altitude of 5,518 feet in Lakewood to 11,306 feet at the top of Berthoud Pass back down to 8,677 feet in Grand Lake. As we reached Winter Park it started to rain and rained until 10:30 PM.  This is the most rain we’ve gotten since the trip started.  In fact, in the 71 days we’ve been gone, we’ve only had 2 days of rain.

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    This is the map for Route 40 that we traveled to go over the pass.

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    I used the Altitude App to take this picture showing we were at 11,282 feet above sea level.

    Berthoud Pass sign

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    We arrived at the Winding River Resort right by the southern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park around 3:30.  It was pouring down rain as I backed the motorhome home into our muddy space.  We spent the rest of the day inside the camper watching Longmire.

    Trip Statistics:

    • We drove 102 miles from Lakewood to Grand Lake, CO.  Total miles driven so far this trip 9,295 in both vehicles.
    • Winding River RV Resort is $69.90 per night. Total campground is $2,537.11 or an average of $39.19 per night.
    • We have spent Groceries and Eating out 2,130.24 or an average of $30.00 a day
    • We didn’t buy any gas today so our total stays at $3,597.76

     

     

  • Lakewood, CO - Days 68 & 69

    Saturday morning we drove Ben to the airport for his nonstop flight back to Birmingham.  This was the first time he has been old enough to fly on his own without being an unaccompanied minor.  His flight left at 11;10 and arrived in Birmingham at 2:55.

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    After we got back to Lakewood we met our friends, former Lake Charles residents Celina and Marian Perry, at the Village Inn for lunch.  This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve met for breakfast or lunch.

    The rest of the day we watched the Olympics and visited with Darien and Felicia.  We also got to meet Zelie their new granddaughter.  Check out this creative birth announcement Dustin & Rosalie had made for her.

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    On Sunday when we went outside, we realized someone had stolen Tom’s bicycle from the bike rack behind the car!  They cut the cable lock which was about ½ inch thick and took the bike which was in the middle of the three bicycles.  We know it was on the bike rack when we left the restaurant, but I went to Walgreens and the grocery store late on Saturday night and don’t know if it was taken at one of those places or not.

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    Hammond Candy Company

    On Monday Felicia took us to the Hammond Candy Company where we were able to take a tour and watch the workers make the candy. They gave each of us a hand twisted candy cane.  We bought some hand dipped chocolate turtles and their version of a peanut butter & chocolate cup (very good) and a foot long strip of Laffy Taffy.

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    This is the dough for the handmade striped candy canes.  This batch weighs 70 pounds!

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    Trip Statistics:

    • The motorhome has remained in the driveway, but we have driven the car 136 miles while we were here.  Total trip mileage is 9,234.
    • We have spent 2,130.24 on Groceries and Eating out  or an average of $30.00 a day
    • We bought gas for $3.279 for a total of  $3,597.76 for the trip.

  • Water World near Denver - Day 67

    This morning we drove from Longmont  23 miles to Water World in Federal Heights, CO (outside of Denver).  We arrived before 9:00AM and met Darien and Felicia in the parking lot.  The park doesn’t actually open until 10:00AM, but we wanted to make sure we had a place to park the motorhome.  It was a perfect day for the water park with temperatures in the 90s and sunny.  This is the best water park we’ve ever visited.  
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    We waited 1.5 hours in line for the first ride!IMG 1022

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    We stayed the entire day from the time it opened until the time it closed.  We left the motorhome in the parking lot while we drove our car to Popeyes for dinner.  After dinner we came back and drove both the car and motorhome to Darien and Felicia’s home where we parked it in their driveway for the next four nights.

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    Trip Statistics:

    • We drove 42 miles from Longmont to Lakewood, CO.  Total miles driven so far this trip 9,098 in both vehicles.
    • We are parked in the O’Brien’s driveway for free. Total campground is $2,537.11 or an average of $39.19 per night.
    • We have spent $1,948.69 on Groceries and Eating out or an average of $29.08 a day.
    • We didn’t buy any gas today so our total stays at $3,557.95.

     

  • Glendo, WY to Longmont, CO - Day 66

    Today was another travel day. We drove from Glendo State Park in Wyoming 173 miles to St Vrain State Park in Longmont, CO. In Wyoming we saw this lone metal cowboy up on the hill along the interstate.  

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    As we passed the WY border into Colorado on the interstate, we looked for the bison on the hill each year.  It’s a metal cell phone repeater cleverly camouflaged as a bison and is located on the property of Terry Bison Ranch where we have stayed several times in the past.

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    We stayed at the St Vrain State Park Campground in Longmont which is a beautiful campground with several lakes and nice walking trails.  Each picnic table had a shelter which kept the afternoon sun off of us.

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    Ben made and grilled our hamburgers for dinner tonight which were delicious!IMG 0985

    Trip Statistics

    • St. Vrain Campground - $45.00; Total Campground Cost $2,467.21 or an average of $38.55 per night
    • Miles driven today 173.   Total miles driven in camper and car is 9,034.
    • We bought gas for $190.24 $3.399 per gallon.  Total gas purchases on trip is $3,557.95

  • Rapid City to Glendo, WY - Day 65

    This morning we left Hart Ranch in Rapid City, SD and drove south 206 miles to Glendo State Park in Glendo, WY.  The views were hazy the whole way because of the fires in the west and the scenery was mostly flat. We are headed towards Colorado where we will be spending the  two weeks moving around the state and hopefully, enjoying some cooler weather.  These 65 days have been very dry.  We  have only had two days of rain the whole time we’ve been gone and the rain only lasted about an hour or two each day.

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    For at least the first half of our drive the scenery was flat and unremarkable.

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    Driving in southwest South Dakota

    When we crossed into Wyoming, the road was payed in some red material instead of being gray or black.  We saw a few small mounds  and a big rocks or two along the way.

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    This is the Glendo Reservoir near our campsite

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    Trip Statistics

    • We drove 206 miles in the motorhome today and none in the car.  Total trip mileage is 8,847.
    • Bennett Hill Campground at Glendo State Park was $48.00.  Campground Total is $2,422.21 or an average of $37.85 per night.

  • Hart Ranch, Rapid City, SD Days 57 - 64

    We drove from Medora, ND 248 miles to Hart Ranch in Rapid City, SD.  Hart Ranch is a beautiful time share campground resort which we purchased 28 years ago when our boys were small.  This is a wonderful family campground with beautiful facilities and activities for the children all during the day. Lap swim for adults is at 8:00am followed by aerobics from 9:00-10:00.

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    Front of Lodge—Registration Area

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    Back of Lodge where pool table, TV,  games area, and fitness center are located.

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    I did the water aerobics each morning and Tom and I ended each day by sitting in the hot tub.

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    This is the recreation center for the kids.  Ben enjoyed spending time here and playing gaga ball all in the arena below.

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    Putt Putt Course

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    Bicycle rentals

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    Volleyball anyone?

    We spent eight days here which is the longest we have ever stayed at any location.  We had a wonderful time, but definitely had some hot weather with temperatures between the high 90’s to as high as 107. Even though it was still in the 90s n the evenings, it felt very comfortable to be walking around the park or riding our bicycles.

    Trip Statistics 

    • We 248 miles to  Hart Ranch.  Total driven so far is 5,840
    • We’ve driven the CRV 413 miles for a total of 2,594 miles.  Total for both vehicles = 8,641
    • Hart Ranch is $10 per night for members.  Campground total for trip = $2,374.21 or an average of $37.10 per night
    • We paid $3.179 per gallon for gas in Rapid City and have spent $3,367.71 so far on the trip.

  • Wind Cave National Park- our 49th National Park

    Wind Cave National Park

    We drove from Hart Ranch to Wind Cave National Park, a 51 mile drive. When we arrived at noon, we paid for the first available tour which was at 4:00. Instead of waiting and  walking around, we drove to Custer State Park (which shares a boundary with Wind Cave) where we enjoyed the afternoon seeing all the animals roaming free in the fields and on the roads.

    We drove back to Wind Cave for our 4:00 tour and learned that it was the first Cave to be designated a National park anywhere in the world. The cave is known for its boxwork and for its frostwork. Wind Cave is one of the longest caves in the world with 156 miles of explored passageways and is the densest Cave system in the world. One to three miles of new passageways are being discovered each year.
    Having said all that, it’s my least favorite national park.

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    Park ranger showing wind coming out of the cave at the point where the cave was first discovered in 1881.  Whether the wind blows out or sucks into the cave is dependent on the barometric pressure.

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    The year round temperature within the cave is 57 degrees which felt wonderful on such a hot day1 
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    95 % of the worlds’s boxwork and frostwork are found in Wind Cave

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    This is calcite boxwork on the ceiling of the cave.
     
    Cave Frostwork and Popcorn Wind Cave
     
     Frostwork


    Custer State Park 

    We drove the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park and were so excited to see the herds of buffalo along the way!  We must have seen over 1,000 of them in the fields and many of them were walking across the road, in the road and along side the road.  

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    We also saw bighorn sheep on the side of the road and crossing in front of us.

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    There were also burros in a field beside the highway who were very tame and seemed to enjoy all the petting.

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  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park-our 48th National Park. Day 55

    This morning we drove into Theodore Roosevelt National Park, our 48th National Park!  Until we arrived in Medora, I did not realize there were Badlands anywhere other than South Dakota, but there are definitely Badlands here — in addition to Badlands in several other states such as Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, and Montana.   

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    When we stopped at the Visitor’s Center for information, we saw this cute wildlife petting chart.

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    We saw hundreds of prairie dogs

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    Wild horses were in two different spots within the park today

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    It was another HOT day!

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    This was the original entrance to the east side of the park which is now deserted.

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    We only saw one lonely bison

    Trip Statistics: 

    • We did not drive the motorhome today.  Trip total in motorhome is still 5,577 miles
    • Miles driven in CRV 50; Touring total is 2,168 miles.  Total driven in both vehicles is 7,967 miles
    • We stayed at the Red Trail RV Park  for $36.00 per night.  Total campground cost is $2,258,21  or an average of 41.82 per night
    • Groceries and eating out total $1,588.87 or an average of $29.42 per day.
    • Tourist Admissions:  $808.73

  • Medora, ND - Day 54

    We left Miles City around 11:00 this morning and drove 150 miles to Medora, North Dakota where we met our friends the Lukes and Findleys once again at the Red Trail Campground. IMG 0479

    Medora is a town with a population of only 112 according to the 2010 census. The lady who owns the campground told us there are only 67 residents who stay here during the winter. It is the only  city in Billings County and is also the county seat. The area surrounding the town are part of either Little Missouri National Grassland or Theodore Roosevelt National Park.   There is a wide range of temperatures here from a record high of 110 to a record low of -49.

    We ate dinner at the Little Missouri Saloon before  attending the Medora Musical at Burning Hills Amphitheater.  The amphitheater has 2,863 seats and is absolutely the nicest outdoor theatre I’ve ever seen.

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    The show is It's an ode to patriotism, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Great American West!

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    In addition to the wonderful musical, Marcus J Monroe was a guest performer. He was hilarious.  He is pictured below riding a TALL unicycle which juggling three knives with torches attached which wearing a lit torch on his helmet.

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    In another one of his acts, a timer was projected on a large screen and set for 90 seconds.  He painted while the audience announced each ten seconds and then counted the final ten seconds together.  When he turned his painting over, he showed us a painting of Theodore Roosevelt.IMG 0628

    The entire show was truly amazing!  Even more amazing to us was that a show  and venue of this  caliber was performed in a town this small.  Definitely something to see if you ever head this way!

    Trip Statistics

    • We drove 150 miles from Miles to our campground in Medora.  Trip total in motorhome is 5,577 miles
    • Miles driven in CRV 8; Touring total is 2118 miles.  Total driven in both vehicles is 7,917 miles
    • We stayed at the Red Trail RV Park  for $36.00 per night.  Total campground cost is $2,222,21  or an average of 41.15 per night
    • Groceries and eating out total $1,588.87 or an average of $29.42 per day.
    • Tourist Admissions:  $808.73

     

  • Miles City, MT - Day 53

    We drove from Cody, WY to Billings, MT.  We stayed at the Yellowstone River Campground where I did the wash and just cleaned up around the motorhome.  That evening John and Holly Gott took us out to dinner at the Montana Club.   Tom, Ben, and John all ordered a Bison rib-eye and thought it was delicious.IMG 0442After dinner we drove to Baskin Robbins for dessert.

    Holly came over and visited with us on Thursday and I made gumbo and caulifour potato salad for dinner.

    Friday morning we drove to Miles City, MT and stayed at the Miles City KOA.  Ben and I went to Walmart and then later rode our bikes to the swimming hole in the river.

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    In the evening Tom and I walked along the river for several miles.