Old Falls River Road – RMNP

They still maintain Old Falls River Road as a nine-mile gravel road. This was the original road thru the park and was used by Model Ts and other ancient vehicles after it was completed in 1920.   The park was dedicated in 1915, but many of the improvements were not installed until the CCC in the 1930s.

This road is one way and if you start you cannot turn back. Nine-miles can take an hour or more depending on how much you enjoy it. The views behind looking at Horseshoe Park were amazing…P1100461 (2)P1100591 (2)

And the views straight up with craggy ridges and across to flat alpine meadows with snow fields were incredible. The waterfalls all the way from snow patches on top to the rivers way below.

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We also stopped at Chasm Falls.   Nice little hike down to viewing stations.

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The road ends at the Alpine Visitor Center (11,796 ele) very close to the highest point in the park accessible by road. The view at the Alpine center was awesome, we even saw two elk from a long distance. The elk pictures are extreme blow ups. There was also a hike up for 360 views of the park.  The view is a glacial cirque, a bowl shape in the tops of mountains that have filled with glaciers ice over and over in the last billion or so years.

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Peace and Love!!

 

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Alberta Falls – RMNP

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Since Bear Lake was so easy, we decided to venture on to Alberta Falls. A ranger shared a tip with us. When you leave Bear Lake you descend about 200-300 ft?? (a lot) and then after crossing a creek you ascend up to view the water fall. The ranger told us that if on the way back you turn before the foot bridge you miss the opposing incline from the steep descend from the beginning and end up at another trail head, Glacier Gorge and take the park and ride back up to Bear Lake or where ever your car may be… nice tip, because it was a lot of downhill to begin with and I would not have liked going back up that!!!

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The falls were beautiful and were too easy a hike for Jenn and Rich. They took off up the rocks near the falls and Ricky followed?? We continued up the trail (they were off trail) because we thought that there was another better view – that we had not yet reached the falls!! Some how or another we ran in to Ricky and the kids and all realized that we were way past the falls and needed to turn back. Nice hike and nice to know that we can/will actually go further than planned!!!

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This was a great day of hiking with the family. Great weather, fellowship and friends!! Peace and love!!!

 

Bear Lake – RMNP – Rocky Mountain National Park

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YEAH had our first visitors on the road. Ricky, Bobbie, Jenn and Rich all came out to Estes Park, CO to see us, visit RMNP and generally scope out the area.   We were fortunate enough to stay about 2 miles from them and we were all within 5 miles of the park. Estes Park is at 7,522 elevations and the highest elevation in the park on the road is 12,183!! Ricky, Jennifer and Richard all hiked up Flat Top Mountain to and even higher elevation of 12,324. Randy, Bobbie and I did other less strenuous site seeing, but that is another day and another story.

Our first adventure was to Bear Lake. Bear Lake Rd is the most popular part of the park and is about 5 miles long with many trailheads, lakes, waterfalls, etc this is the part of the park you go to if you only have a day. It is extremely busy so they provide shuttle buses with a park and ride area from the various trailheads which have limited parking. We chanced going to Bear Lake with fingers crossed and lucked up with a parking spot!!!! Woop Woop!

Bear Lake is at 9,500 ft and is about ½ mile around so would be an easy walk to test the altitude effects on us all. Was much easier than anticipated, which is great!!!  The chipmunks were friendly to a point of being obnoxious in a cute way??  Bet they have NEVER been fed.

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People other than us in our pictures, seems strange…  Peace and Love!!

Nebraska

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Nebraska was a pleasant surprise. We had not planned on going there, but had a week to kill before Rick and Bobbie came and were not happy with where we were in Wyoming so Nebraska it was. State #19 of our trip so far. We were going to stay in Scotts Bluff, but they were booked for Oregon Trail Days, apparently the biggest celebration of the year for Scotts Bluff. They recommended we stay at Chimney Rock about 25 miles out of town for the weekend and then move back into town. This proved to be a nice choice, the RV park at Chimney Rock was not much, but we had a grand view of the formation right thru the windshield!!!P1100321 (2)

On the hosts recommendation, we went to Carhenge one afternoon. It was pretty cool, dedicated in 1987 on the summer solicits, it is a to scale replica of England’s Stonehenge made of junk cars. Initially it had 4 foreign cars included in the sculpture, but they have since been removed, all cars are vintage American made. They even had a funeral procession and burial of the last three foreign automobiles leaving the headstone below. Admission is of course FREE!!!P1100317 (3)P1100307 (2)

We returned to Scotts Bluff, NE on Sunday and were going to participate in Oregon Trail Days, until we realized that it was just a carnival. Thought there might be some history, reenactments or something going on, but no just a carnival that we could see right out the windshield. The view at Chimney Rock was better, but such is life.

 

 

When the carnival was over we did have quite a nice view of Scottsbluff from our campsite. Both Scottsbluff and Chimney Rock are along the North Platte river and were well known landmarks on the Oregon, Mormon and California trails. All three trails were basically one in the same thru Nebraska and then split off going their own way. Interesting to note that the Pony Express traveled this same route for about a year and a half 1860 – 1861 until the first transcontinental telegraph was installed making the pony express pretty much obsolete.

Scotts Bluff National Monument is made up of 5 large rock formations of sandstone. These formations guided many pioneer emigrants thru Mitchell Pass one of the only passes navigable by wagon train. The landmark was turned into a National Monument in 1919 and a road to the top of “Scotts Bluff” with three tunnels and a trail down and around “saddle Rock” with a tunnel thru it were all completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps – CCC in the 1930s. The hike is not a loop but for lazy hikers like us there is a shuttle bus. We took the bus up to the top and hiked down…P1100402 (2)P1100339 (2)P1100379 (2)P1100337 (2)

We were lucky because there was an avalanche on the trail about 18 months ago and the trail had been closed for repairs until just July 8th!! Perfect timing, you can notice the result of the avalanche, so thankful that although there were people on the mountain no one was hurt when it happened.P1100377 (2)P1100385 (2)P1100391 (2)

Other Nebraska sites – Minatare Lake and Light house. This is a state park and has some really nice camp sites on the lake and has this lighthouse that is open to be climbed. They boast that it is one of only 7 interior lighthouses in the country, but this one does not have a light?? Is it still a lighthouse??P1100370 (2)

Toad Stools Geologic formations – This trip was around 200 miles round trip (with a couple of other sites) and over 40 miles on gravel roads. But the temperature was 105 and we couldn’t really think of much else to do except ride in an airconditioned car. The problem was when we got there, there was a 1.5 mile hike to see the formations in 105 temperatures with Nellie. It was so hot we could barely sit outside for lunch. Luckily, another visitor told us that you only had to go over this ridge to see the best formations and not the entire hike, so we did.P1100418 (2)

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Rubidoux family was important in this area with trappers and fur traders in the 1800s.  We visited their old trading post on one of the passes south of Mitchell, not much to it, but notice the antler door knob.  Passed these long horns on the way.

 

All in all Nebraska was a really pleasant surprise. Peace and Love!!

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Bye to WY for now

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We are heading down south to meet Ricky, Bobbie and family in Estes Park, CO for the last week of July. Don’t really have anything planned so just wandering. Found a cheap campground in Guernsey, WY only $150 for a week, so decided to head that way. We weren’t expecting much, but a little more than there was. We were only able to get two TV channels and their internet barely worked. I know it sounds slack, but a week with little to no TV or Internet is just unacceptable, especially in that particular location. Nothing to do for miles. We did have a nice afternoon and spent one night before moving on to Nebraska.

Guernsey is right in the path of the Oregon Trail, which follows the North Platte river for quite some ways. The big attractions in Guernsey are wagon wheel ruts and the registry cliff – both free. The Oregon trail was the path used by over 400,000 people heading west in wagon trains from the early 1800 thru at least 1869 when the first transcontinental railroad was completed. The North Platte River cut thru the soft sand stone in this area and left about 40-50 foot sandstone cliffs. Many emigrants on the trail as well as contemporaries have signed the registry by carving in the soft sandstone. Most of what we saw was more contemporary or graffiti looking.

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The most interesting part of these cliffs to me was the barn swallow nests. They were really cool looking.

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Next was the wagon wheel ruts. The sandstone is a rather soft stone and with the number of wagons passing thru here they left ruts in the rocks. This reminded us of Pompeii, Italy. Although in Pompeii it was not sandstone, it was just thousands of years of use. The ruts in Guernsey are impressive and much deeper than in Pompeii.  I am glad we visited, but I was a little more impressed by the ones in Pompeii, judge for yourself.

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Pompeii

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From here we ventured a little further east to Fort Laramie. Over the years we have seen many forts in various stages of ruin, so I was not really expecting much. But we were pleasantly surprised. The fort was mainly used as a supply stop for fur traders in the early days and later as a frontier Army Post supporting emigrants, traveling on the Oregon trail. After the railroad came thru there was not as much need for the fort and was used by private citizens which is one of the reasons it is so well preserved. There are numerous buildings that have been fully restored and furnished in period furnishings.  Check out the bubble in the old glass windows.

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This building was used as officer housing and fort headquarters, and is believed to be the oldest existing building in the state of Wyoming built in 1849!! Coming from the east coast with its long history, this was an interesting fact.

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Well that was about all there was to see in that area of WY and it took an afternoon, not to mention we were not too happy with the campground so we only stayed one night and moved on to Nebraska the next day. Wyoming is not all bad and we will be back after our visit with Rick, Bobbie and the kids.

Peace and Love

Big Horn Mountain and Canyon, WY

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Finally spring wildflowers in July.

The Big Horn Mountains/National Forest in WY are technically part of the Rockies, but are not literally attached. The area is very similar to the Black Hills of SD but much taller so much steeper. We are on the east side of the mountain range in Buffalo, WY.

We really wanted to visit Big Horn Canyon while we were in this part of the world… but it was going to be a long day, ~ 5 hour driving without stopping. Well we found so many beautiful opportunities to stop that it took more like 10 hrs. + and we had to skip one of the “scenic byways.” We may have to repeat to complete the loop, so hot down here in the valley, mountain elevations are not bad especially for outdoors activities.

As I mentioned, these mountains are very similar to the black hills except the black hills tallest peak Black Elk (formerly Harneys) peak is ~7,200 ft and here the tallest is more like 13,000 with some snow patches in JULY and 100+ temps down in the valleys. The other most noticeable difference is the devastation of the pine beetles.

The devastation in the Black Hills was really sad. There were complete mountain sides that were dead, and most places that there were live pines the ground was covered with dead logs. This picture is from the Black Hills…

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Here there is some infection here at Big Horn, but it is nothing like the Black Hills. I hope that is because they understand how to fix or prevent it instead of it being just the beginning of things to come???

It is really crazy how hilly (and large hills) the valley can be and yet look flat from the mountains 5 miles away. Like the Black Hills, the Big Horn Mountains are (at least on the east side) surrounded by rolling plains and relatively flat land then just jut straight up.

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The mountains are stunning, but so is the immense valley/plains to the east.  We saw our first moose… the picture really is not so clear, but we were able to see it from other angles as we passed and it was a definitely a moose or a very deformed horse.

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We stopped to visit a Medicine wheel on Medicine Mountain. It is a Native American ceremonial site, although no one really knows when or who built it, it is still used in various ceremonies. The kiosk states that the formation is at least 250 years old but could be as much as 10,000 years old??? You can see the prayer offerings attached to the fence. The hike was a up and down a forest service road with absolutely no shade. Thank goodness at 10,000 ft of elevation it was comfortable – in the 70s, with snow banks still on the shady side of the road in places. Nellie loved the snow!!!

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After descending from the mountains partially at a 10% grade,

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We explored Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area, the canyon view was unbelievable!!! and the other views are not too shabby also.

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It is really odd how different the eastern side of the mountains is from the western side. Not really sure why, but it does not look like the same mountain range.

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Eastern Side
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Eastern Side
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Western Side
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Western Side

 

Peace and Love!!!!

 

 

Crazy Woman Canyon, WY

 

 

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Ended up moving from Miles City to Buffalo, WY. Gained some elevation to cool things off a little. Today has been high 70s, sooo nice. When we arrived yesterday 7/6 it was over 90, but a front came thru brought some rain/small hail and dropped the temps over 15 degrees. Cloudy and some drizzles this PM too, but no complaints from us.

Our first outing here was to Crazy Woman Canyon. Randy’s choice wonder why…   Must say this not smoking thing is a real BITCH. I am so glad and proud that we are not smoking by choice and are happy about this decision, but sometimes it is not easy, wishing for the day that I don’t even think of them…

Anyway, Crazy Woman Canyon is about 25 miles west of Buffalo down a one lane dirt road. There are several very nice camping sites heading down the canyon, I believe that they are on BLM/ National Forest land and either free or minimal charge. We of course could not take the bus down there, but would be very nice primitive camping. The road follows the Crazy Woman Creek and is only relatively scenic for the first several miles then boom – – – – the canyon walls are magnificent and the size of the boulders in the creek are amazing. Makes you really take notice of the beware of falling rock warnings.

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Crazy Woman Legend, 1 – it was named for an Indian woman who left to live alone here in her teepee and went insane. 2 – a settler went crazy after witnessing her husband being captured and scalped by the Indians.   I think that it was just named for all of us crazy women who visit this beautiful place.

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Nice to be in a cooler place and so far enjoying our first Wyoming stay. Peace and love.