Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bones and Baths in Thermopolis

Our next stop on our trek west was Thermopolis, WY. We got this recommended stop from the lady at the hardware store in Newcastle. Must be legit, right?
We parked at the Eagle RV resort just outside of town. Tight quarters but there were lots of shade trees and the owner and his Son were the nicest people we've met so far.
We had two days scheduled for this stop, the first day we took in the Wyoming Dinosaur museum and the Hot Springs State Park. Everything was within 5 square miles of the RV park so we took the opportunity to ride our bikes around town.
Our first stop, the dinosaur museum, was one of the best we've visited. Lots of information about the fossil history of our planet with enough jaw dropping displays to keep you reading the fine print and actually learning something. The dinosaur fossils in the main hall were staged well, the supersaurus taking up the full space with his smaller cousins filling in the open spaces. They even offer an extra ticket to visit nearby dig sites and help scientists discover new bones.

The Hot Springs State Park was a pleasant surprise. Built around the world's largest single mineral hot spring, Big Spring pours millions of gallons of mineral water every 24 hours at a constant temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The perpetual fountain forms a seething caldron and some of the water is channeled into pools to be cooled and then piped into bathhouses for public use. From another stream, the water flows over a Rainbow Terrace and then spills down into the Big Horn River.
In the bath house we had our choice of indoor and outdoor pools. Guests are limited to 20 minutes every 2 hours. After sitting in the outdoor pool for 20 minute we can certify this is for health reasons only. Any longer and you would cook.

The next day we took a drive out to Legend Rock to see the Petroglyphs. This protected spiritual site has been important to native Americans for thousands of years. Thought to be a place where one could speak to the spirits, the petroglyphs here show a rich visual history of the people who have lived here. The wall carvings date from 8000 to around 400 years ago.

This might be our favorite spot on this stop. We would have stayed longer but the deer flies wanted to eat us alive.

More photos here on Flickr.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Oh Wyoming!

We've got to agree with our friend Jim, Texas does not hold the patent on true cowboys and hearty souls, Wyoming is the real west.
We arrived in Newcastle, Wyoming on June 24th after a hot and grueling 430 mile ride from Great Falls, SD.  Climbing the hills near Mount Rushmore we saw the thermometer hit 97 degrees, so we were happy to find a parking place where we could finally plug in and crank up the A/C. As we setup camp and got our bearings we checked out what there was to do in this town with a population of 1003.
We got lucky and stumbled on a 50th anniversary celebration going on at the Anna Miller museum in town. Anna Miller was famous for being the first librarian, pioneer schoolteacher, and school superintendent in Newcastle. Her husband, sheriff Billy Miller, lost his life in the last recorded indian conflict in 1903. Anna lived another 50 years, dedicating her life to education.
The museum is in the old calvary horse stable, a well preserved building that shows off the clever construction techniques of the time. Full of items from the county's wild past, it is worth a visit. Outside the museum we got to talk to town residents, some with a long family history in Newcastle. We enjoyed hotdogs and homemade ice cream with rhubarb topping as we watched kids play on the lawn.

We had one full day to explore the area before heading further west and decided to follow a loop trail outlined in a book provided by the local Chamber of Commerce. Called the Beaver Creek Loop Trail, it covers about 50 miles along paved and gravel roads and has 25 stops highlighting stories of Wyoming's rich history.

Along the drive we saw amazing views of the badlands, hogback ridge, the black hills, and the great plains. With the helpful signs and the well written guide book we learned about how Newcastle started (if you guessed gold, you'd be right). Stories of stagecoach robberies, salt mines, sawmills, a ghost mining town, cowboys, indians, and grizzly bears. A rich and colorful history of the pioneers who called this area home over a hundred years ago.
For more information, visit this link: History of Weston County, WY

Halfway through the loop tour we headed north to visit Sundance, WY, birthplace of the Sundance Kid. We then headed to Spearfish to pick up the scenic drive south through Spearfish Canyon. Along the way we stopped to hike the Devil's Bathtub trail (the only devilish thing about it was the number of time we had to cross the stream before we finally got to the waterfall). Our last stop in Spearfish Canyon was Roughlock Falls.

After the Falls we finished the loop drive and returned to our coach, ready for a new adventure the next day.

Fore more photos visit out link on Flikr.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Great Falls!

We left West Chicago Last Saturday morning and traveled about 300 miles. We stopped at a KOA off the interstate - a well shaded park and a friendly staff. They served ice cream in the evening and pancakes for breakfast so we give it 5 stars. We pushed off for Pipestone, MN the next morning and chose a state park campground next to a lake. Electrical connections were not up to standard so we spent a warm night with the windows open and decided to cut our stay short. Took a morning trip to Pipestone National Monument before departure.

The Pipestone monument was created to preserve the pipestone quarries, a sacred place for American Indian tribes for thousands of years. All tribes, even those at war, came here in peace to quarry the stone and create sacred pipes and carvings. Pipestone is a workable red stone created from fine clay compressed between diamond-hard granite over millions of years.

Walking the path through the quarries and along the river and waterfall, we could understand why the area was sacred and significant. Today the Dakota Sioux work the remaining active quarries and create tribal carvings and pipes that are sold at the park.

We left for nearby Sioux Falls, Monday around lunchtime. Our coach needed its charging system checked out so we scheduled an appointment for Thursday. That gave us a few days to spend exploring the town. We parked at the Fairgrounds in SW Sioux Falls, made sure we had reliable electricity for our air conditioners, and became tourists.

We found Sioux Falls to be a pleasant town, with great outdoor spaces and nice people. It even has a 19 mile bike path that encircles the city and goes through the numerous parks. The sculpture walk in downtown Sioux Falls was our favorite walk. You can see pictures of the sculptures here: Sculpture Walk.

Today is Friday and we're on the road again, headed for Newcastle, Wyoming. The flat plains are turning to rolling hills as we slowly approach the Rockies.

Visit our FLICKR album for more photos.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

It's been One Week

It's been one week since we started our adventure and we've logged a lot of miles and had fun along the way.

After a few overnights in Tennessee and southern Illinois, we parked our coach in a beautiful state park about an hour from the Chicago (Big Rock Campground). Our plan was to relax a few days and see the city of Chicago. Rather than drive into the city and find parking, we took the METRA train in and out for two days. Everything you could ask of a commuter train - clean, fast, and cheap.

We thought we had escaped the heat in Florida only to arrive in Chicago and enjoy 90 plus degrees on our first day there. We couldn't be satisfied with just seeing the city, we had to go into space (Adler Planetaium), back in time (The Field Museum), and under the ocean (The Shedd Aquarium). The air conditioning was nice as well.

Our second day in Chicago gave us very different weather. Cloudy, drizzly, and a 70 degrees cool. We decided to get our fill of history by riding the Hop on - Hop off busses. The buses and trolleys take you all over town and stop at popular locations; you can get on and off the buses as you like. Along  the way a guide points out interesting information about the city and its history. Important stuff, like where to get the best deep dish pizza.

We tried to get a bird's eye view of the city by visiting the 94th floor of the Hancock building (now called Chicago 360). Socked in with fog, we did not get the view you will see at the link above. It was fun though and we learned a lot about the building and its history. We were most impressed by the spider who chose to live outside on the 94th floor.

We had a little better luck at the the SkyDeck (Sears building) when we visited the 103rd floor. We could see things below the building but not much beyond that. That might have been a good thing since playing on the LEDGE was already pretty darn scary! Re arrow in picture below shows where we were hanging out (literally).

We only had two days in Chicago but we managed to see a lot, now we're off to adventures further West.

Visit our FLICKR library here for more photos of our Chicago adventure:

Friday, June 10, 2016

New Season - New Destinations

This cruising season looks to be a great one as we are headed for the West coast!

We're loading up the motor coach and should be underway soon.

Follow this blog for great pictures and stories about our road trip.