About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Friday, August 28, 2015

History, Movies and no popcorn

Cell service aka internet connectivity has been sparse at best for us over the last 2 weeks so forgive this very long blog posting.

On leaving Cody we still had about 3 weeks before we were due at Flaming Gorge so a very leisurely swing by some other historical sights seemed like a good idea. Just north of us is the Little Big Horn National Monument and we would have stopped but we had already visited it during one of my cross country transfers while in the Coast Guard. Instead, we took highway 16 around the southern edge of the Big Horn range and ended up in Buffalo.

We had intended to visit the Ten Sleep museum with its collection of pioneer artifacts but unfortunately it was closed and there wasn't much to see from the outside. Probably a good thing as we needed that extra time for the Powder River Pass. No, not for the road, traffic or hill but for the stunning, magnificent scenery!

Rolling hills and sage scrub gradually gave way to pinion trees, evergreens and towering cliffs. Thankfully there was an abundance of pull-outs and we must have availed ourselves of every one of them just to stop and gawk. The pictures simply don't do it justice; the smoke haze from the northern fires had drifted in casting its depressing shadow across the landscape.

We arrived in Buffalo with the Wyoming breeze gusting to 35mph and some dark clouds on the horizon so we snagged the first RV park we could find to ride out what appeared to be a humdinger of a storm. It couldn't have been more than 5 minutes after getting set up when the RV began to rock and we could hear that pebble on the roof sound of falling rain. Sort of odd that, since the rain was actually falling SIDEWAYS.
Some of park's trees thought horizontal was the best position as well and we could hear a couple first shed some of their branches then succumb completely to the very stiff wind. Fortunately nothing was damaged and since the leaves had already been stripped by the wind, no real loss of shade either.

The next morning brought perfect traveling weather; clear, calm and cool so off we went to our first actual scheduled stop; the Massacre Hill Memorial. Also called the Fetterman Massacre after the commanding officer, the memorial recalls the loss of an entire 80 man patrol to hostile action about 10 years before Custer's famous last stand.

The terrain is very much similar to the famous site to the northwest with rolling hills blanketed in scrub sage brush, prairie grasses and the occasional tree.

Why are the most peaceful spots for self reflection also those commemorating bloody conflict?

Coming down off the high ridgeline of the memorial Chris mentioned she wanted to see that mountain Dreyfus made in the movie with his mashed potatoes. Having lived with this wonderful woman for the past 36 years I immediately knew she was referring to Devil's Tower and we were off.

Once again we got on Wyoming 14/16 and were traveling on a very well maintained and seldom traveled 2 lane highway wandering through farmland followed by a short stint on I-90 (have I mentioned I don't care for interstates?), then getting back on 14 for a short jaunt to the attraction. The storm we had experienced in Buffalo seemed to be hanging around so when we got to Devil's Tower we were taking pictures through a steady drizzle of rain. It did give the Tower an ominous look though.

We got real lucky snagging a pull-through site at the KOA campground with Devil's Tower framed in our front windshield. Not so spectacular the first evening but the next morning – breathtaking!

Part Two

As I mentioned, our cell service and connection to the internet has been very sparse lately so while I have been typing up the blog normally, the posting has just not happened.

We only stayed at Devil's tower for the night. Neither of us are rock climbers and we've already seen the movie several times (nightly showings at the campground). Returning to our original thought of looking at historical sites we headed out via Moorcroft (mentioned because $2.39/gal diesel – SCORE!!) with our next destination set for Independence Rock.

Independence Rock is like Idaho's Signature Rock only writ large. Wagon trains, hand carts and all manner of people passed by this rock migrating along the Oregon trail. The rock was named by a trapping expedition that camped out at its base one 4th of July and the Sweetwater River was named by the pioneers for its clear, clean taste after the alkali waters to the east. Passersby would carve their names and dates into the rock and while they are faded and lichen covered today, you can still make out some of them; over 150 years old.

Not far to the west of Independence Rock is Devil's Gate and just a bit more further west is Martin's Cove – our reason for coming. Both of our ancestors were pioneers who came west with the Mormon trains and we are very much interested in the where and how. While our predecessors came in wagons, others were not so fortunate and traveled the entire route pushing handcarts. In 1856, one such group, the Martin company, set out late in the year and eventually were trapped in a cove alongside the Sweetwater.

Cold, malnutrition and other factors lead to the deaths of more than 150 members – nearly a quarter of the company. The Mormon Handcart Historical Center commemorates this event and also the raw courage demonstrated by those who made the trek with only a two wheeled cart to haul their belongings.

Staying at a nearby RV park we were treated to wildlife up close and personal. Apparently our site was on the regular daily migration route of the local antelope, the playground for innumerable rabbits, and the feeding lot for the ruffed grouse. Several times when I opened the door to get something out of the basement I managed to startle one type of critter or another.

Our trip continued westward and we visited the grave of Sacajawea near Fort Washakie and had lunch at the Hack Memorial. It was at the Hack Memorial we were actually able to smell the smoke that was so heavy and preventing any pictures. The smoke stayed with us all the way to Jackson Hole (which didn't seem to slow down the hordes of tourists) and it wasn't until we found our
boondock site at Hoback campground that we had “clear” air.

I'm now writing this blog on the banks of the Bear River just north of Preston, Idaho. Its been five days since we were at Hoback campground and I've just managed to snag some connectivity to get this posted up. For the history buffs, take a look at this area and look up the Bear River Massacre. Probably never heard of it but I bet you've heard of Wounded Knee.

Sunday we'll be heading out to the Red Canyon Visitor Center at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. We're both extremely excited to do our first volunteer gig and who knows, there just may be cell and internet service.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Far too soon our time with family ended as each member headed back home. Chris and I stuck around for just a few days to complete some errands down in the big city of Logan. I mention it here only because we accomplished all of our errands and never left highway 91 other than to enter the parking lot. It was a pretty good analogy of the internet with us on the main connection, only branching off when we had something to get or it struck our fancy.

Before we left we stopped and visited Chris' sister. In their living room was a stunning picture of a flower in sunlight that initially I simply noted its presence thinking it was merely a print or one of those computer painted pictures. Imagine my surprise when I found out my niece had painted it from a photograph! To have such talent. We were fortunate to see some of her other work (actually class assignments since she just graduated from high school) and all had this vibrancy that I simply can not describe..

Our next destination was Cody Wyoming with an over night stop outside Shoshoni at the Boysen Reservoir. Coming up through Lander, we could have pushed it and gone the remaining 2 hours but after a day of several altitude changes from 4000ft to 8000ft and back to 4000ft again we were a bit tired. Not to mention having ears that continued to pop. What struck us the most was the vastness of the area. 

Miles and miles of miles and miles with hills that changed colors seemingly on a whim. A light, ash colored hill would be right next to, and sometimes part of, a blood red escarpment.
We were very thankful Wyoming has numerous pull outs along the road to allow us to stop and admire all of the scenery, including some wildlife neither of us had seen before.

Cody, like its namesake embodies showmanship and grand entertainment. Featuring nightly gun fights and a rodeo, the town seems to be centered on tourism however that is not quite the case. Just beneath the surface there lies a dedication to preserving the culture and history of the west and this breaks through fully at the Buffalo Bill Cody Center of the West with its 7 acres of museums, art galleries, and a research library.

The tickets were cheap; $19 at the door, $17 online, especially when you consider they are good for 2 days; which is barely enough time to really see it all. On our first day if it wasn't for getting hungry we would have lost track of time entirely. Luckily the center has a small cafeteria so we didn't have to leave the complex. I'll let some of the pictures tell the tale.

One of the most surprising things for me was learning Buffalo Bill Cody was not just a showman, he was a strong, vocal advocate for developing the west, more specifically, around the town of Cody. A good example is the Buffalo Bill Cody Dam. I was amazed to find out this massive concrete structure was built in the early 1900's and that the Hoover Dam was modeled after it. Standing on top and looking down it is very hard to imagine most of the materials were hauled to the site by horse and wagon.

We have really enjoyed our stay here and we will be returning in the years to come. Today we'll head east towards Sheridan to visit the lesser known Massacre Hill memorial.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


When I first started this blog one of the things I promised was I wouldn't post up family pictures. Usually they really don't mean much except for other family members and in some cases only serve to embarrass the person in the picture. After this past week I hereby rededicate and reinforce my promise not to post pictures of family members – mostly for the later reason. (There you go, you are safe for another year.)

After leaving Salmon we traveled north and east to Virginia City, Montana. Virginia City is an old mining town turned roadside attraction located in the Ruby Valley. Chris and I have been there on several occasions in the past so didn't feel like battling for parking or doing the tourist bump. Instead, we continued on, eventually turning south on highway 20 outside of West Yellowstone.

Once we got on this highway it became readily apparent our timing was messed up. Almost every campground and RV park was either cramped or full or both and contrary to our desire of watching weekenders we wanted to continue the feeling of tranquility carried over from Salmon. We left the busy highway and opted for a lesser traveled one heading south in the general direction of our destination. We knew we probably wouldn't find a campground or park but we also knew that in between plantings and harvests there were other places we could set up for an overnight stay. About 15 miles from Tetonia on the way to Driggs we found it at an old seed potato silo. The stay was very quiet with only the passing thunderstorm to disturb the crickets and cooing of morning doves.

Waking up we realized this was the first "real" boondock or dry camp we had done in this motorhome and really wondered why we hadn't done something like this before. Hassle free, comfy and we got to choose instead  of being assigned a site. Lesson learned and will be repeated often in the years to come.

That brings us to our destination and the reason for traveling in so odd a manner - Family Reunion. You know, that event where you eat way too much comfort food and then have all the stupid things you ever did in the past recounted over the nightly; campfire. As you get older the reunions never seem long enough and I firmly believe it is all due to time and supply contraints - not enough campfires and certainly not enough firewood.

Each year my wife's side of the family gathers for several days to reacquaint ourselves and to celebrate how life goes on. My mother-in-law is the matriarch presiding over our rowdy bunch; almost always knitting something, smiling, and surprisingly, keeping track of who belongs to who. Age, and two knee replacements may have slowed her down a bit and sometimes the number of great-grandchildren can get confusing but behind those sparkling blue eyes the great dame I met 37 years ago when I married her daughter still resides.

We come together at a small, dusty recreation area called Twin Lakes which is about 10 miles outside of a small town called Preston Idaho. This reservoir which primarily serves as a water bank for the local farmers offers no amenities other than a vault toilet, (don't go there – ever), and the usual water sports. If the number of fishermen are any indication, the fishing is not bad either. As I lay in the hammock, hat over my eyes, I just realized this is one lake I've never fished despite the number years we've been here. Its a mystery I tell you, and one I will endeavor to solve; perhaps next year.

The town of Preston was the location for the cult classic, low budget movie Napoleon Dynamite. I'm not saying the town or the people are like the movie but there are some glimpses of the culture. With a desire for self preservation I will refrain from commenting further. They do have good cheese though.

Chris was fortunate enough to travel south of Logan Utah with her sister and visited the American West Heritage Center located in Wellsville, Utah. This is a living museum, cultural center and general rendezvous center filled with exhibits, activities and special events year round. Something not to miss if you are in the area. Fair disclosure: our brother-in-law is the coordinator for the Center but please don't hold that against him. He really does have something special going on out there for you to see.

Two weeks have flown by with little to nothing happening suitable for a blog yet the time has been enriching for us. We've caught up with family and made plans for our next reunion what more needs to be done?

If you have stuck with me this long here are some traveling tips/hints for the area:

Riverside RV Park. Next to the Bear river just north of Preston. $20/day $100/week. 12 full hookup, 50amp back in sites. Just a few steps bring you to the banks of the river for small mouth bass and carp. The river was running high and dirty following several rain storms while we were there so no fishing.

Lava Hot Springs is not too far away and well worth the trip if you are like us and enjoy soaking old bones in hot water until you prune up.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

It's the little things

Rest area pan handlers. 
For the past week we've been staying in a very small RV park about 12 miles south of Salmon Idaho. By small park I do mean small; only 12 pull thru, full hookup, grass sites situated on a green belt of vegetation along side the Salmon river with the only amenity being very clean restrooms with showers styled after a Nordic sauna. Yes, only the one amenity unless you count the peace and quiet and the wildlife.

I may be young, but I OWN this park.
Three years ago we literally stumbled upon this park and since then have been making it a point to stop by at least once each year for a visit and to recharge the soul. I guess it's the feeling of total contentment that settles over you once you are parked. Or it could be the surety that once parked you are going to see wildlife whether you want to or not.

Out our front windshield. Played peek-a-boo for a good 10 minutes.

Osprey standing watch, keeping an eye on...

the kid.

Or it could simply be the feeling of coming home, especially true after meeting Connie Heald who will welcome you and walk you to your site. Whatever it is, the place seems to enfold you into its peaceful serenity.