Casper, WY

We gathered in Casper, WY fairgrounds with 88 other motor coaches and their occupants for the Eclipse of 2017.   We had a nice visit and really appreciated the hard work that Joe and Pat put into the rally. We had a couple of pot luck dinners and happy hours with the group. They had also arranged a guided tour of historic Oregon Trail sites around Casper and Glenrock, Wyoming.

The National Historic Trails Center in Casper is a very interesting museum with free admission. One of their Rangers guided our Oregon Trail tour. It was very informative and Shawn (the guide) was passionate about the subject. He also gave a presentation to our group after one of the pot lucks. Most of the stops on the tour were at graves, a lot of people died on the wagon train trip west.   We also stopped at a pony express stop at Deer Creek station in Glenrock, WY.

We also took a day trip to Alcova Lake, about 30 miles outside of Casper. It is a beautiful man made lake with a great campground. The campground is right on the lake and have large sites. Large enough for us, the only problem is that you have to cross bridges that will not hold our weight to get to the campground!!! Freemont Canyon leading to Alcova lake was magnificent. It is very popular with rock climbers and you can see why.

Of course, the main event from Casper was the Eclipse. It was truly a wonderful experience, we have both experienced partial eclipses, but this was a million times different. It was very easy to imagine how scary it must have been if you didn’t know what was going on. Without the special glasses it appears as though the sun is just burning out!!! The sky darkened to a twilight and although I did not see any, I heard others say that they saw Venus during totality. Totality was beautiful a hole in the sky with a ring of fire!!! When the moon finally (2 ½ minutes) moved and the diamond ring brightness came out of the other side, I found myself cheering. We would survive the sun was coming back. Also, it was amazing how cool it got during the event. We had our digital thermometer out with us and pictures only show change from 82 to 74, but I recall it being 86 before the event?? Who knows, but 2 ½ minutes of the sun being gone changing 8 degrees is impressive enough. 8 or 12 who cares, we would freeze with out the sun!!

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Being at the fairgrounds with lots of other people was quite interesting as well. They all had different tricks and tools to view the eclipse safely and we were allowed to join their fun!! What and experience, can’t wait for the next one, only 7 years!!!

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Peace, Love and thanks for the SUN!!!

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Laramie, WY

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We followed Joe and Pat to Laramie and stayed in the Albany County Fair Grounds. This was a first for us staying at a fairground, but have heard that in Raleigh, NC the fairgrounds are the bomb for camping. Our Casper (eclipse) reservations are at the fairgrounds so who knows. It was not too bad, the main complaint would be fresh animal waste in places, but they had just had the County Fair there the week before and their county fairs are not amusement rides and funnel cakes, they are animal judging and rodeo type activities. There was also rain most days which did not help the mud. Will checkout fair grounds in the future not a bad deal all the way around cheap and quiet.

We visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison the first federal prison in the west. It was used as a prison from 1872 until 1901 and was given to the University of Wyoming and converted in to stables and used for experimental livestock breeding (???). The facility was completely restored and opened to the public in 2004 and is quite a nice museum. Butch Cassidy was incarcerated here for a couple of years in the 1890s. The prison mad to pretty much pay their own way so inmates had to work. The prison had a broom factory. They made really nice brooms.

We also spent and afternoon on the campus of the University of Wyoming. The campus was really nice, full of sandstone block buildings and open spaces. It was really nice that they have several museum exhibits around campus that are open to the public for FREE!!!

We visited the conservatory and they had Venus Flytraps… All the way out here in Wyoming!!

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They had a geology museum of dinosaur finds in Wyoming. The most interesting exhibit I did not photograph, but was a play box of sand about 3 ft square that when you moved the sand around it projected topographical images on the sand as it moved. You could make mountains or lakes as you see fit.

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Of most interest was the entomology exhibit. Thanks Melissa Smith, bugs interest us now. They had live praying mantis’ and walls of dead bugs. Pretty as long as they are not creeping up on me or in my bed!!

They also had a great art museum on campus. An entire floor was devoted to the exhibits as well as a statue garden. Did I mention that all of these places on campus were FREE and open to the public? How great is that… They also had a planetarium.

One day we took the scenic by-way thru Snowy Mountain Range in the Medicine Bow National Forest directly west of Laramie. You could see the mountains from Laramie and there was still snow fields in August!!! This is a relatively small mountain range, about 100 miles north to south and 40 east to west, but it reached heights of 12,500 + well above the alpine and tree line level. Beautiful alpine lakes natural lakes not part of a river with dams.

In October of 1955 the worst aircraft accident to date occurred in the mountains. A plane flew directly into the mountain side without warning. All 66 people on board the plane died. There were numerous factors that contributed to the accident, weather, the need to fly low (the plane was not pressurized), the unusual height of the range in contrast to the surrounding landscape, etc.

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Wyoming, not sure if I have mentioned that there are more cows in Wyoming than people. Well here is an example of a WY traffic jam…

On the east side of Laramie towards Cheyenne is another section of Medicine Bow National Forest.  We visited this area a couple of times.  The rock formations reminded us of Joshua Tree (kind of) just too many trees.  The climbing area Vedauwoo was really cool enjoyed a walk and picnic with Nellie.

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Finally, one of our quandaries in Wyoming has been these fences. We could not figure out what these things were for. They don’t hold anything in and they don’t keep anything out. Some are very long and some short. There are multiple ones or just a single row??? You would not believe the tells we told each other about what these fences are for. I hope you know and if not, maybe I will tell you later.

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Peace and love!!!

 

 

Cheyenne, WY

On our way to Casper for the eclipse with some time to spare, we stopped in Cheyenne the capitol of Wyoming.   We stayed at Terry Bison Ranch which is listed first on the Visit Cheyenne website as things to do and see. As far as camping goes it was pretty tight and not much to rave about, but the other attractions must really pull folks in. They have a train ride you can take out to the Bison (buffalo) herd and for $2 more you can purchase Bison food and feed them. We skipped the ride, but bet it was fun!!

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The front façade of their “trading post” (i.e. camp store and check in) had the old west look you see around here, not sure why they do it, but they do.

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Although I only saw it running once, they had what appears to be a homemade amusement park. So glad that Daddy and Uncle John never decided to make their own rides. These look a little scary and I am not sure if there is any safety inspections, but apparently they work!!! I got a really big kick out of the rides, sorry so many pictures.

There was also a restaurant and saloon we had a good bison burger at the restaurant (pretty pricy, but good) with a couple that will be our hosts for the Wanderlodge Eclipse Rally in Casper. We did not know them, but Joe and Pat Garner are really great folks from Sedona, AZ. We kept running into them in Cheyenne so we just followed and camped together in Laramie the next week. Cheyenne is not a large town so we literally ran in to them each day at different tourist/historical attractions.

Of course, we did everything that was free. The state capitol building was not open, it was closed for renovations that will be going on for several years. They are stripping to the bare bones and redoing. The state museum around the corner was very well done and was free, learned a lot about Wyoming. There was also nice botanical garden, although we did not go in the greenhouses (Nellie was with us) we had a nice picnic and walk around the lake.

The old Governors Manson was very interesting and was open for free self-guided tours. It was built in 1905 and was remodeled in the 1930s and 1960s so it really had some furnishings and items that we could relate to. It is interesting that “old” things here are really not as old as things on the east coast dating from 1600 and 1700s… A lot of the house reminded me of Grandmother White’s.

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Other items of interest were the old Union Pacific train depot. Had a large museum but was pricey and mostly about the railroad coming west. We had already learned about Cheyenne and Wyoming at the free state museum.

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There are also Big Boots scattered around Cheyenne, I believe about 18. They were purchased and decorated by local groups to raise money for the train depot renovations. They are 8 feet tall, big shoes to fill. They treat it like a scavenger hunt to find them all, we did not participate, but saw several around town.

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They also have the world’s largest steam locomotive No 4004 built in 1941. It was designed especially for use by the Union Pacific Railroad on its rugged Cheyenne to Ogden, UT run. It was retired from service in October 1958. Weight 1,208,750 Lbs, overall length 132 feet 9 ¾ inches, fuel capacity 28 tons, water capacity 25,000 gallons, original cost of the locomotive was $265,000 and it ran for 440,545 miles. Details mostly for Gibson, how does that compare to modern locomotives?? Trains were really big news out west, and improved not only accessibility to goods and services, but made human travel tremendously easier. Just think Oregon Trail vs rail from NY to San Francisco.

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The Wyoming Hereford Ranch a working ranch since 1883 is still working. We did not see anyone, but drove the property anyway. Believe it is used for parties, weddings and other gatherings as well as being a ranch. There were cows, I assume Hereford cows???

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Lastly, the Lincoln statue/monument. Between Cheyenne and Laramie WY on Interstate Hwy 80, it was once on Hwy 30 commemorating the highest point on the first coast to coast highway the Lincoln Highway at Sherman Summit 8,878 ft above sea level. It was moved to I80 at its completion in 1969. Although it is a rather odd (craggy) Lincoln bust it is worth a mention and side trip to see.

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Just FYI, Wyoming is the second least populated state with 6 people per square mile, but they are the equality state and state of many firsts.  The first National Park (Yellowstone), first National Monument (Devils Tower), first to allow women to vote in 1869 (50 years before everyone else), first female governor and there are a couple more I cant think of right now.

Peace and Love from Cheyenne, WY!!!

 

Eldorado Canyon Colorado

We followed Rick and family to Eldorado Canyon State Park on their way to Nederland, CO and a last night in Denver before heading home.  Eldorado was way cool!!!  The small artsy community heading in and the magnificent canyon.  Were we were totally enthralled by the rock climbers.  Randy, Nellie and I must have watched for over an hour.  A nice spectator sport with no interest in participating.

Check out this sequence.  First looking at canyon and flat lands beyond thru the middle.  Did not notice the climbers on the left side at first.  I circled in red areas that are zoomed to on the next pictures.  WOW can’t even imagine wanting to do this…

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The end of a great week with Rick, Bobbie, Jenn and Rich we really enjoyed the visit.  Miss you all!!

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Peace and Love!!!

Big Hike Day – RMNP

Ricky, Jenn and Richard ventured on an 8.8 mile hike to the continental divide In RMNP!!! It started at Bear Lake and went up about 3,000 ft in 4.4 miles each way to Flattop Mountain. It was estimated to take about 8 hours, but I think they took only about 6 or so?? Needless to say, Randy and I were not participating in this family bonding, character building activity and neither was Bobbie. We choose a route down the eastern side of the park visiting a waterfall and lake with little elevation change and ~3 miles hiking more our speed. The peak on the right is where the “kids” hiked to picture from Sprague Lake..P1100783 (3)

We went down Co Hwy 7 east of the park and mostly outside the park “proper”.   There were two easy hikes and I thought maybe less busy being “outside” the park. These areas were also very busy and it was difficult finding parking. At Copeland Falls we had to park more than ½ mile from the official parking lot but the walk was worth it and Nellie got some exercise walking the road since she is not allowed on most National Park Trails.

Copeland falls nice cascading falls near the southeastern corner near the Wild Basin Area.P1100651 (2)P1100659 (2)

Lily Lake was beautiful as well and was really right outside of Estes about 5 miles?? They have an interesting path layout around this lake. There are basically an outer loop and an inner loop that run into each other a couple of times. The outer has some rock scrambling and elevation changes and the inner is wheel chair accessible. Really a nice combo for families with varying levels of fitness.   They have also had moose visiting the lake this year.P1100697 (2)P1100696 (2)

On Hwy 7 there is a beautiful chapel – Saint Malo’s Chapel on the Rock built in 1936 and almost washed away in 2013 in a land slide. It is currently fenced off and having what looks like major renovations done. Glad they are preserving it as it is really beautiful. There are some great pictures and info here = http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/colorado/denver/chapel-on-the-rock-denver/ if you are interested. I knew nothing except that we passed it on the road and I like it!!! Nice to have to time to check out things just because I think it looks/feels/sounds cool. Wow.P1100685 (2)

Our day was wonderful for all, the high hikers and us low rollers. Peace and love to all types!!

Trail Ridge Road – RMNP

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The main road thru RMNP is CO Hwy 34 or Trail Ridge Road. It parallels the gravel Old Fall River Road and extends about 50 miles to Grand Lake on the western side of the park. It pretty much enters the park in Estes and climb to over 11,500 ft in the Alpine region to ride the “Hwy to the Sky”, and descends on the western side of the park to a valley following the Colorado River where the river is very small. Yes, the same Colorado River that carved the Grand Canyon is very small at this point high in the Rocky Mountains. Must have thousands of tributaries between here and there…

So basically, if you are not on Bear Lake Road or the Gravel Old Fall Road you are on Trail Ridge Rd. On the way up you get great views of the Alluvial Fan. This was created as a result of a private dam failure from further up the mountains and subsequent flood. This occurred in 1982 and was devastating to the entire area. It flooded downtown Estes and the water continued down Hwy 34 to Loveland, CO. We took this road up to Estes and it would be easily flooded with narrow winding canyons.P1100526 (2)

You snake up the mountains thru ponderosa pines and aspen, then enter subalpine forest of fir and spruce, finally reaching the tree line and alpine tundra. The views are simply unbelievable. Here are just a couple.

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Being above the tree line with such grand views was very impressive, we are so fortunate to have access to such beauty complements of our National Park Service. The west side of the park, as mentioned above, follows the Colorado River thru the Kawuneeche Valley. We started with a hike on Coyote Valley trail, and before even getting started saw a female moose and her baby. Not sure if this was really a baby or an adolescent, but was definitely not an adult.

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The moose was exciting and we did not complete the hike because it started raining pretty hard. We chased the rain or it chased us (depending on how you look at it) all the way down the western side of the park. At the west entrance to the park is Grande Lake the largest natural body of water in Colorado. Interesting fact, in the 1940 a 13.1 mile tunnel was constructed under the mountains connecting Grande Lake on the west with Lake Mary in Estes Park on the east. It goes directly under the continental divide and at the highest point if 3,800 feet below the ground. This tunnel provides much needed water to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and the plains to the east.   The tunnel is named for Alva B Adams a big advocate for the project. Adams falls near Grande lake provided a needed hike and out of the car time on the western side of the park.

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The ride back brought a nice herd of mule dear.  We saw most wild life on the Trail Ridge Road, could be because that is the main road??

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Peace and love!!