Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Wandering around Wyoming...

We've finally found some nice sunny days without the cold wind blowing us around here in Wyoming...enough to enjoy exploring this big, beautiful state!  So...we've been driving around...and around!  We've had some  l o n g  day trips, from Thermopolis to Buffalo, and then  l o n g  day trips all through the Bighorn Canyon areas site seeing, enjoying beautiful canyons and waterfalls. The animals were out as well...we were able to spot several young moose, even a  couple of marmots, only one wild horse, lots of mule deer, and of course the ever present range cattle. No bear though...much to Jack's disappointment...

Our longest drive was out to see Shell Falls, but, wow, it was well worth it!  Intense, heavy flowing falls, gushing down 120 feet over a basement rock of granite.  All along are outcrops of the Cambrian Flathead sandstone.  The views surrounding it are just as beautiful too.  Off into the distance is the "Copman's Tomb", a massive limestone promontory to the north, as well as small view of Brindle Falls.

The colors of the Bighorn Canyon were amazing, it just took my breath away!  Devil Canyon Overlook where the canyon crosscuts the gray limestone of the of the Devil Canyon Anticline, a 1,000 foot high segment of the fault blocks that make up the Pryor Mountains is spectacular.  It helped that big gray & black clouds creeped up on us and just as we were leaving it started to rain, as that just intensified the colors of the rocks below!  Things a photographer just loves...;-)

The drive all along was scenic too.  It seemed like every mile had something different to show us...

This is such a beautiful country, that's why we love what we do!  That's what keeps us ...on the road


If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Warming up in Wyoming....

After days and days of constant cold winds, from Colorado and Wyoming, we headed from Rock Springs to the town of Thermopolis Wyoming to the promise of natural Hot Springs!  One of the couples we met at the rally told us about a campground there, called Fountain of Youth, that had three natural hot springs right at the campground, so you didn't even have to go into town to them!  I loved that idea, so called and made a reservation before the rally was even over!  I was tired of being cold all the time, and ready to relax into warmth!

Thermopolis is the home of the "World's Largest Natural Hot Springs", and boy howdy, it is BIG!  Wow, I can sure say I've never seen one that big before in all our travels!  After we got settled in, we took a drive into town and walked all along the park, which was really quite pretty and quite large.  It has several pools that you can pay to go into with various types of slides and sizes to enjoy.   You could see that they had an abundant winter as an area was blocked off because the water line was higher than their terrace was!

They had a "Tepee Fountain" that was built in 1909 to vent steam from hot mineral water that was piped throughout the park.  As water flows over the structure, it cools and deposits layer upon layer of travertine.  This process is similar to the formation of terraces seen throughout the park.  The different colors seen on the fountain are various types of algae that grow in the hot mineral water.  It was really quite something to see.

Afterward, it was time to spend at "our" little bit of paradise...and it was!  The waters were GREAT!  They had three pools, each had a little different temperature.  I mostly stayed in the middle, then used the cooler one towards the end to cool off before heading home.  The weather here was also nicer.  Not as windy as it has been, which was a welcome relief.  Lovely, warm sunny days, yea!

We are only here a couple of days, then heading on to Buffalo for several days, hopefully to more sunshine...keep your fingers crossed for us!  ;-) 

...on the road in Wyoming,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Rally fun...

Every now and then it's fun to gather with other folks who also have RVs like ours...well, sort of, anyway...  We have a Tiffin RV, and this was a Tiffin Rally, set up in Rock Springs WY for a week of fun, food and classes.  About the only thing we had in common with the other RVs was that ours was made by the same company...

You see, all but two others (out of over 300) were almost brand new ones, or less than five years old, anyway.  Ours, on the other hand is a "classic" at 12 years old (2007).  It really looks it to, in that it's all white with gold swirls, while all the newer ones are all black shiny ones and much bigger & taller.  Don't get me wrong, we love our sweet coach, and in truth, ours probably gives us a whole lot less problems than the more expensive ones do, it's just that it stands out from the crowd a bit, and looks a little funny tucked in from the rest...kind of like the "poor kid on the block".

When the newer ones start around $250,000, you know you are in with the "wealthy crowd" especially when they talk about their "other homes" in Huntington Beach or Whitby Island, etc.  I just smile...

The "retirees" are getting younger too (or am I just getting older?)  I was talking with a gentleman who is just now 60, and he retired 9 years ago!  "Wow" I thought, "how did he do that?"  ("and afford a Tiffin Motorhome too?").  They announced the folks who bought brand new coaches while at the rally (27 people) and one couple didn't even look like they were 50 years old!  My husband said maybe they are using it to work from and writing it off as well; that made me feel better....;-)  It's always fun to meet new people and chat with them though.  Everyone is always friendly, no matter what they own. 

The Allegro Club folks did a great job with the entertainment each night.  A Beatles group one night, a Jukebox Music group another night, the best was a young man playing the piano though, his name was Brady Goss.  Boy could he play!  Everything from blues to country, singing, playing the piano and few songs on the guitar.  He played Jerry Lee Lewis to the Eagles, to Merle Haggard to America the Beautiful.  Just fabulous.

I had hoped there would be more vendors here, even though we spent enough as it was (always seems to be that way).  It's just that I had hoped Rand McNally GPS systems would be here, as my plug-in broke just as we were arriving and I need a new part!  ;-(  It's also more fun to look at more "goodies"...but, that just means more "temptations" too!

Oh well, all good things come to an end, and so did this one.  We opted to stay on the extra day, as we have been to other rallies where everyone left at the same time, and it's not much fun...bumper to bumper getting out!  So, we'll leave tomorrow up to where some hot springs are and do a little "natural soaking" and see how that feels...ummm...

...on the road in Wyoming,  Marie

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Keeping promises...

You know how you promise yourself how you will "return someday?"  Those promises you make to yourself when you visit a place that either you really enjoyed so much that you just want to come back again, or that you just didn't have enough time to see it (all) and had to leave, or drive right through it?  We all make them...but do we keep them?

Our first trip through Nebraska in 2012, we were scooting back "home" in October, with little time, as the fall was upon us, and we needed to get back to Washington before it got to late.  We happened to "pass through" North Platte, and discovered that they had a unique attraction there - the Golden Spike Tower that over-looked the Bailey Train Yard.  Now, Jack and I love trains...Jack, of course is more into the mechanics of them than I am, but both of us are fascinated by them.  When we read what the Golden Spike Tower and the Bailey Train Yard was, we immediately got excited and headed our RV right towards it, hoping we could spend some time exploring this great place!  ...we got there 15 minutes before it closed...

We rushed up to the top of the Tower, and spent those 15 minutes watching all that we could, talking to the gentleman as much as possible...but all to soon, our 15 minutes was up, and we had to leave..."promising ourselves we would return...someday".

That "someday", finally came this past week.  It has taken us all these many years, but, we kept that promise, and booked ourselves 4 days in North Platte Nebraska!   ;-)

The Bailey Yard is the World's Largest Rail Yard in North America, having 2,850 acres, 8 Miles long, 2 Hump Yards and 1 Diesel Shop.  From atop the Golden Spike Tower, you can watch the action from two different observation decks (one enclosed/one not) as the crews of  the Union Pacific Railroad sort and connect over 10,000 cars a day on two classification hump yards, with nearly 120 bowl rows and 315 tracks.  Even if you are not a "train nut" it's pretty fascinating. 

Well, once we got our fill of trains, we now had time to explore North Platte and see what else there was to see...it turned out, it has several interesting things!

One, was the Grain Bin Antique Town!  Seems some folks gathered up about 20 historic wooden and octagon granaries and relocated them out in the country, along with a very large building and started filling them with antiques!  They kind of "themed" each one, linens in one, china dishes in another, tools in another, etc.  When we went out there (after quite a long, dirt road ride) we were practically the only ones out there!  The gal shared with Jack (while he waited for me) that they had just started opening on Mondays, but usually on weekends, the place is so packed they have to have people direct traffic! Yea for us!  I had a ball wandering in one building after another all by myself...and of course found some goodies I just couldn't live without!  ;-)

The other wonderful discovery we made the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park!  Seems this is where Bill Cody and his wife settled down and built a beautiful home and raised their family back in 1887.  His sister is actually the one who took charge of the design and construction while Cody was out on the rode.  It's of the "Second Empire" style with Eastlake and Italianate features and was built and furnished at a cost of $3900.  It originally had two barns, but a T-Shaped one burned down.  He had the home built with "retirement" in mind, and named it "Scout's Rest Ranch" and had that put on the barn.

When we arrived, we were greeted, much to our surprise, by Mr. Cody and his wife Louisa!  As there were no other visitors at the time, Mr. Cody spent some time with us, telling us a number of wonderful stories about the ranch and his adventures.  He was quite an enjoyable storyteller and made our tour of the home complete!  It was so nice to be able to stroll through the house and barn and then out to see the new baby buffalo.  It is a beautiful place, but seeing pictures when Cody lived there, it was sure "out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a whole lot of dirt!".  Wow...hardy people...

Well, after a time of relaxing, now we are off to Wyoming!

...on the road,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Monday, June 3, 2019

A Castle in the mountains...

Did you ever wonder what makes someone do what they do?  Ever come across a building, or a structure and wonder "why" or "who"?  So many times it all happened so long ago, the history is lost and one knows, or we are just "passing through", so don't have any way of finding out the story behind it...

This time we were lucky.  Our host at our campground suggested we take a nice scenic drive out to see Bishop's Castle in the nearby San Isabel Mountains.  It wasn't to far, and the drive was a nice one, with a lunch stop on the way back at The Three Sister's Cafe.  She said the owner might even be there working on the place, "you never know, and he's an interesting guy".  I read up on the place, a rock castle, built by hand over several decades...sounded fun, so off we went!

The ride was indeed delightful, and the weather cooperated nicely.  Pretty valleys that wound up into the mountains.  Then, all of a sudden, there it was, looming right in front of you, this big, bold rock monstrosity!  Cars were parked all along the roadside, so that was also a give-away.  Tall trees tried to hid the entrance, but fail, at over 160' tall, it's hard to hide.

This "Castle" is hard to describe, as it's not like any you've ever seen, I believe.  You see, it didn't start out to be one, according to Jim Bishop.  Here's his story...

When Jim was 15 (in 1959) he decided to buy (from his own money saved from mowing lawns & delivering papers) two and half acres of land for $450.  He had dropped out of high school the year before and joined his father in the family ornamental iron works business.  When he was 25, he decided it was time to start building on the property.  Since wood and rock was plentiful, he decided to build a one room stone cottage. 

To make a very long story shorter, Jim, Phoebe (his wife) and his father, would come out on weekends during the summers and work on the "cottage"...it continued to grow, and grow, and grow.  Friends would say "what are you building, a castle?"  After awhile, Jim decided that's what he was supposed to do with it, build a castle...for people to come and enjoy...so he has kept building it all these years, never stopping, with Phoebe by his side until a year ago when she passed.  He does not, and he will not charge admission; Phoebe managed to set up a non-profit so that any donations can go to financially help local families with medical expenses for young children that aren’t covered by insurance.

After walking up and down several flights of stairs, in and out of many domes, around balconies, peeking through doors, taking lots and lots of pictures, we ventured out to find Jim Bishop.  Jack found him, where else, but digging rocks out on a project site!  They had a nice long chat while I perused the gift shop, then joined them towards the end.  Jim shared with us about loosing his wife and young son and his faith in God.  He's a small man, maybe only 5'6", frail, but what a life, and a mission to keep this project up, for the people.  I asked him about ever living here, and he said, it was never intended for him and his family, it was always intended for others to enjoy, that's why he does it.

What a treat to be able to actually meet the Dreamer, to hear the Vision, to Know Why...
It made my day...Thank God for people like Jim Bishop...

...kicking back in Colorado,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Passing the time in Pueblo

We are hanging out west of Pueblo Colorado these days, passing a little time until we can meet up with some friends of ours.  Seeing what there is to see and do...turns out, quite a bit!

Our first venture out, was to check out their "Riverwalk".  We have been to San Antonio's in Texas, so I wanted to see if it was anything like it.  Theirs is along the Arkansas River, and is a loop of about a mile and a half.  It is mostly art sculptures and a few restaurants.  It's more open than San Antonio's (theirs is "sunken", if you haven't been).  I guess this part of the area that Zebulon Pike camped at in 1806 as it is dedicated to him and much of it is about him and his journals.  (Pike's Peak in the Rocky Mtns. is named after him)

Afterward, we went to check out the Rosemount Mansion/Museum.  It was built in 1891 for the John Thatcher family who began in the dry goods business, then started the First National Bank of Pueblo and grew from there.  This 37 room home was built for $100,00 back in 1891, from the best that Colorado, New York  and Pennsylvania had to offer.  Tiffany & Co lighting system, stained & painted glass windows, painted canvas ceilings, and plumbing brought in from a 2,000 gal. water tank that was installed in the attic for to gravity supply throughout the home.

Mrs Thatcher loved roses, so roses were planted all around the home, hence the name.  She also had numerous themed rooms with them.  No pictures were allowed inside the home (I got, so got two inside the kitchen before they told me not to).  Needless to say, the home is beautiful and well maintained.  They left almost all the furnishings to the "museum" after the last child no longer wanted to live in the home (Raymond).  He never married and decided to leave the home to the city as a museum.  He died in 1968.

From there, we drove around town and discovered some really beautiful murals.  This town has some great artists!  What surprised me was that they don't sign them.  Most places not only have their artists sign them, but they even advertise their murals.  I even checked to see if they have a web page, and nope.  To bad, they are huge too...whole building-sized, most of them.  Here's just a sample...

They also have a really cool alley...It does have a web page that I found.  Seems a single man is responsible for this, it's called "Neon Alley".  Joseph Koncija has been collecting neon signs (along with various other signs) for years and has over 41 of them displayed on two buildings downtown.  They look great, even during the daytime!  Hooray for him!  Look at these great signs...

Nearby is a wonderful 1889 Pueblo Union Depot.  They have restored it and use it for functions.  They have done a great job, it's a beauty.  ;-)

Well, that was a full day...time for lunch!

...kicking back in Colorado,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Sunday, May 26, 2019

As we headed out of town, we took a side trip to Trinidad Co.  We had been here several years ago,  so this was a quick trip through this time just to see it again, and what changes there might be, or what we might have missed.

One of the things we did want to go see this time was just out of town, in Ludlow.  It was the site of the Ludlow Massacre.  It was the Ludlow Tent Colony Site National Historic Landmark.  Jack had to enlighten me, as it was something I had not heard of before.  The coal miners called a strike in September of 1913.  The coal companies evicted thousands of miners and their families from their homes in company towns.  In January of 1914 the United Mine Workers Assoc organized a rally in Trinidad to protest poor working and living conditions.  Governor Ammons called out the Colorado National Guard to help keep the peace and by April 1914, membership in the local militia units consisted mostly of company employees, who sided against the miners.  On April 20th hostilities came to a head, which resulted in the Ludlow Massacre.  Lives were lost on both sides.  The tent colony burned and two women and eleven children suffocated in a cellar dug beneath their tent, know as the Death Pit.  The Death Pit and the monument serve as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the battle.

John Lewis officially became UMWA president in 1920 and remained at the helm for 40 years.  Lewis built the UMWA into a formidable union, raising the living standards of mine workers throughout North America and transforming health care in Appalachia.  His work in creating the Congress of Industrial Organizations (the CIO) in the 1930s brought millions of unorganized industrial workers into unions and led to an increase in living standards for millions of American families.

All this happened long before many of us were even born, and if it were not for memorials like this, we wouldn't know of the bravery of those before us.  That's why I believe it's important that statues, and memorials are important, least we forget...and therefore repeat our mistakes.

We are now in a new area of Colorado for us!  Alamosa!  It's home to a National Park...so, we got to go to another one yesterday!  This one said it was one that is "a least visited park"...well, I had to laugh as we waited in line for an hour just to get into the park!  ;-)  It is the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Colorado!  Well, it was worth every minute of the wait!  After all, we don't have little ones asking "are we there yet?", or anything barking, we had food and beverages, and nothing else on our agenda, so, we were just fine with the delay...The sun was shining and as we inched along, I got out from time to time and snapped pictures!  All was good!

Line ahead of us...line behind us...as far as the eye can see!
Once we arrived, Jack's "parking karma" worked and we got a parking spot at the Visitor's Center, went in and checked things out, saw the video, purchased our postcards, etc. then drove on down to the dunes, and once again found another parking spot, had our lunch then walked on over to see the dunes.  Well, what a site!

First of all, coming from California, I'm used to seeing people experiencing dunes via "dune buggies" - right off the road.  Big white hills, with people driving all around, here and there, up, down, around and around.  So, I guess, that's kind of what I expected.  Nope, not here.

Here, it's treated more like the beach, only...up hill, a 700' hill.  First, you walk, play in a creek, a very cold creek (well, cold to me, not so much to the locals, they thought it was just fine).  Then, after crossing this creek (Medano Creek) you walk along the sand for quite a bit, this you hike up the hill as far as you want (the dunes go up 700') and you slide down on however you want...people bring wooden boards, snowboards, rubber tubes, or just tumble down!  Some just like to climb to the top to sit and look out at the mountains.
People come for the day, bring chairs, tents, buckets, coolers, beach stuff!  It's amazing!

We made it as far as the base of the hills, but by then I was out of steam, no way could I make it up those hills.  By then the winds were really blowing, stinging and I had, had enough.  It was beautiful, amazing, fun, and I was ready to leave.  Leave the "sliding" to the young ones.  Maybe 20 years ago I would have done it, but not today...but I had fun anyway!  Glad we came!  Interesting place, I must say!

...on the road in Colorado, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/