2019 Summer Western Trip

July 6, 2019: Yesterday evening we went out for very good Mexican dinners at “Felisa’s Mexican Food & Lounge” (good Margaritas) a mile or so from the KOA we are in. We were planning to go to the “El Azteca Mexican Restaurant” and we actually walked in, but even though it is highly rated Jeri was put off by the bars on the windows and doors and the general look of the place, so we left.

We had a bit of brief rain in the wee hours this morning and our newest rescue pup, sweet little Faith (or Fay Fay) was very restless and her stomach was making noises. Jeri took her outside a couple of times and Faith came and cuddled with me while I tickled her tummy and chest (Faith’s, not Jeri’s 🤪). She finally settled down and went to sleep and seems fine today.

Sugar and Faith (white)

Bent’s Old Fort: Around lunch time Jeri and I drove out to visit Bent’s Old Fort, a national historic site. We have been there a few times over the years. It was built in the 1830s of adobe bricks and heavy log beams and was used for a couple of decades as a fur and buffalo robe trading place and a stopover for those adventurers and business men traveling the Santa Fe Trail. The fort was privately built and owned and while once or twice the military did stop there briefly it was never a military fort. It initially was on the banks of the Arkansas River, but over time the river channel moved south away from the fort. I just simply love this place, everything about it, especially the way it is laid out. If I could afford it, I would love to build a smaller version of it (modernized, of course) to live in.

Some pictures.

The central courtyard.

The dining room.

The adjoining kitchen.

The store.

The main owners (Bent brothers and St. Vrain) had their own rooms. Here is one.

I bought a beautiful handmade coffee mug and a 130 minute video about the fort. I already have a book or two on it from previous visits.

If you want to learn a bit of very interesting Western history, Google it. I highly recommend you do so because it played it big part on the Santa Fe Trail and early Southwestern commerce.

After the visit to the fort we stopped at a excellent Mexican food take-out place, “Delicias Tamal House” and got a half dozen tamales and a burrito verde to take back to the trailer for lunch. The food was excellent, delicious as advertised (4 1/2 star rating on Yelp—I have it a 5).

After lunch a bit of a nap, then while Jeri and the pups finished napping I drove into the Loves gas station in town and filled the F-350 up with diesel fuel and added another 2 1/2 gallons of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid—it prevents the black smelly smoke from the exhaust that diesels are infamous for. LOL).

La Junta is a small modern city with a touch of the old west and some decent restaurants. Also a Koshare museum that we visited several years ago.

Tomorrow morning I will dump all our tanks and we will head west on US-50 to dry camp for a couple of days right beside the Arkansas River in the Rincon Campground (we reserved the site for two nights yesterday). Rincon is just east of Salida, CO. Now that the July 4th holiday is open campsites are opening up.

2019 Summer Western Trip

This will be a very long post as I catch up the past few days.

July 5, 2019: Yesterday we moved from the KOA Lakeside Park in Fort Collins all the way down to the KOA in La Junta, Colorado. We could not stay in Fort Collins because they were booked solid. After hours of searching this was literally the only place in Colorado where we could camp until Sunday through the July 4th holiday weekend. We’ve never seen such full campgrounds out here this time of year.

This is a fairly decent KOA, although it appears they are still doing some improvements and there appear to be at least three to four permanent residents. The staff is friendly and helpful, but the office/store has been inconsistently open; maybe due to it being a holiday weekend. There are several nice rigs here. Very fast Wi-Fi here! This morning I ran some speed tests and was getting 24-30 mbps. About the best free Wi-Fi we have encountered anywhere.

Yesterday evening we met a couple in a huge, 43′ three axle toy hauler fiver with both a rear and side drop down decks.

We drove out north of La Junta and parked alongside the highway with lots of other folks and watched a very nice fireworks display.

Our campsite:

Some fireworks last night:

On the way down here we met one of our sons, Billy, for lunch at the Chili’s on south Kipling Avenue just a short distance from C470. It had a very large parking lot and easy in and out for our rig.

South of Colorado Springs we ran into a brief thunderstorm with some HAIL. It was making some noise hitting the truck, even at low speed, but when I checked later I didn’t find any dents. 😁

Did I mention how hot it is here in La Junta? No? Well, when we arrived here late yesterday afternoon it was 98 degrees. Sure glad we have two 15,000 btu air conditioners on our fiver! They cooled it down pretty well.

Okay, now I will try to get us caught up since my last post.

July 1, 2019: We went to the laser show at the Crazy Horse Memorial last night. It was a bit chilly, but didn’t rain. Small crowd. Good story to the show, but since the mountain is 3/4 mile away some of the pictures the laser displayed were kind of hard to make out detail. We probably would not bother to go again. I do want to stress that the memorial, though far from finished is worth seeing, the facility is beautiful and the food we had was good and reasonably priced. Did I mention the coffee is free?

A couple of pictures:

Today we took a picnic lunch in a cooler and spent most of the day touring Custer State Park. Beautiful place. The Needles road has a couple of very narrow one lane tunnels carved out of the rock. I had to close the outside towing mirrors (a touch of a button) on our big F-350 to fit through them. Beautiful drive though with lots of scenic overlooks.

A picture of one of the road tunnels.

Here is our picnic spot.

After lunch we drove all around what they call the Wildlife Loop Road. We saw a couple of bison, a couple of deer and antelope and Jeri said, “where are all the buffalo.” Then we got off the paved section and drove further in on the gravel Fishermens Flats road to the right of the Wildlife Station Visitor Center. We came upon two herds of 50-80 bison each and spent some time watching them, then turned around and headed back toward the Wildlife Loop road. Suddenly Jeri spotted this HUGE herd of bison up on a hill to our right and they were slowly feeding and moving down toward the gravel road we were on. We moved further along the road until we were stopped by other vehicles waiting for the bison to come down and pass through. Some of us wisely left a few car lengths of gap between our vehicles so the bison could pass through.

And pass through they did!! For the next hour we pretty much just sat there while bison passed through beside, in front of and behind us as they crossed the road and spread out. Lots and lots of mommas and their calves.

And some more.

In the upper part of the above picture a mother bison is nursing her calf right in the middle of the road.

We estimated there were probably somewhere around 1,000 bison that passed by. It was one of the most spectacular wildlife encounters we have ever had. We could only imagine what it was like 160 years ago when tens of thousands of bison would pass by!!! It was AWESOME!! Definitely a big highlight of this summer trip!

I have to leave this with this little video. LOL

July 2, 2019: Dumped tanks and topped up the freshwater tank and headed south and west to Wyoming today. We managed to snag a coveted campsite in the Reno Cove campground of Glendo State Park. While we did not get the really primo site #8 we did score the primo site #4 for one night and had a great view!

We had a 50 amp hookup. A bad thunderstorm moved through and there were tornado warnings for the area, but luckily none developed. We had a nice night, although it did rain a bit more during the night.

We are having trouble finding campsites with our apps and phones down in Colorado because of the impending July 4th holiday weekend. But we will figure something out; we always do. 🤪

July 3, 2019: We left this beautiful campsite around 10:30 this morning and headed on south on I-25 as Jeri frantically searched for someplace to camp. We stopped in Fort Collins, Colorado to try and find something and finally found one night (and one night only) at the KOA Lakeside on the northwest side of Fort Collins. This turned out to be a nice place with very friendly helpful staff. It was full. We spent most of the evening trying to find a campground for the long holiday weekend, with no success. We have been out here before over the 4th of July and have never seen it as hard to find a place than this year! We could stay at some friends’ 5 acre ranchette outside Parker where we have stayed a couple of times, but I am not sure we can maneuver our larger fiver into there driveway from the road.

July 4, 2019: Okay! This morning I found us a campground with openings through the holiday weekend. That’s the good thing. The bad thing: it’s clear down in La Junta, CO. But at this point we have no choice. After many phone calls and searching with our apps this the only thing we can find. Colorado is very busy this holiday! The KOA in La Junta is the only KOA in the entire state with openings!

2019 Summer Western Trip

June 30, 2019: This morning we broke camp at Fish ‘N Fry and made a leisurely trip 50 miles south to the Custer Crazy Horse Campground. Along the way we stopped at a visitor center by a pretty lake.

We checked in at the campground after they guided us back to it and assisted with guidance while I backed the trailer up and into the spot off a loose gravel road. The 4×4 capability of the F-350 came in very handy! Since the sites are so close together they have us two sites for the price of one.

After completing setup we went to the Crazy Horse Monument. $24 for the two of us to get in, but that includes a pass to come back in to the laser light show at night and one more entry over the next two days. This is what it is supposed to look like when finished (not in our lifetime).

This is what it looks like today after 71 years of carving the big granite mountain.

Here are the specs and a comparison to other similar items. When completed this thing will be the largest of its kind in the world.

We had a great lunch of salad and a Native American fry bread taco and were trapped inside the impressively beautiful facility while a heavy rainstorm rolled through.

After returning home (trailer) we napped briefly and finally added another state sticker to our RV camping map.

We now have RV camped in 30 states! Plus Alberta, British Columbia and The Yukon Territory.

Tonight we plan to go to the laser show.

2019 Summer Western Trip

June 29, 2019: Last night we went to the Medora Musical, along with around 2,500 other folks. The musical is a first class operation that is in its 55th season. It started out fantastic with two bull elk on the skyline of the hill behind the stage that we watched after getting into our seats.

The show itself tells the story of Medora in a musical and its many characters. It was pretty expensive, but very worth it. We highly recommend seeing it if you are ever up this way.

Mr. Roosevelt and me.

The show venue. All those empty seats were full by the time the show started. The buildings in the background were on tracks and went to the sides during parts of the show.

This morning we saddled up and left this beautiful National Park and headed south. We did some grocery shopping in Spearfish, SD and visited the new geographical center of the USA that includes Alaska and Hawaii in Belle Fourche.

We are camped tonight at the Fish ‘N Fry campground just a few miles south of Deadwood. After setting up we drove into Deadwood so Jeri could gamble a bit and we had a delicious dinner at the Buffalo Bodega on Main Street. This place is the oldest continuous restaurant in Deadwood. Would you believe over 170 years?!!

Tomorrow we will move about 50 miles south down to Custer, SD where we will spend at least two nights at the Custer Crazy Horse Campground, 4 miles south of the Crazy Horse Monument (still unfinished).

2019 Summer Western Trip

June 27, 2019; 8:15 PM: The sun is starting to set behind the bluffs in our beautiful campsite (#31 that we lucked into) in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground. Roosevelt has a ranch here back in the late 1800s.

Since have our National Senior Pass entry is free and our campsite is $7.00 a night. No hookups at all, so we are boondocking. Good test of the solar system I installed.

We traveled the Enchanted Highway in the way here. It was a beautiful drive, but not as many huge metal sculptures as we expected. Here is a sample.

We visited the Custer House this morning before leaving Fort Abraham Lincoln, but did not have the time to take the tour of the house. Here is a picture of the outside.

George Custer was the commander of the cavalry post before he rode out to infamous glory and death with the 7th Cavalry. Since the infantry post had several Indian attacks I asked a old time uniformed soldier how they kept the cavalry post from being attacked. I was told there were three Gatling Guns stationed on the hills behind the post to protect it.

Here are some pictures of our campsite.

After setting up camp (pretty easy with no hookups) we took a long drive back into the park. Here are a couple of pictures.

So far we have seen a couple of bison, several wild horses and a deer.

We are booked here for two nights. Tomorrow we will go into town and get tickets for the western musical tomorrow night.

Very poor cell signal, so that may have to wait to post this until in town (Medora) tomorrow.

2019 Summer Western Trip

June 27, 2019: We spent the night at the Fort Lincoln State Park near Bismarck, ND. Our campsite is less than stellar. A thunderstorm rolled through again in the wee hours and our campsite has lots of mud puddles. I am not sure why we seem to always get assigned to what seem to be some of the worst campsites, but we have decided that in the future we are not going to accept it. There are plenty of empty very nice campsites here that we could have had.

Our trailer is surrounded by mud puddles—breaking camp is going to be a mess.

Yesterday evening we visited the infantry post on top of the hill. The CCC several years ago rebuilt the blockhouses and foundation corners of many of the buildings. Several skirmishes with the Indians were fought here back in the 1870s.

The view from the infantry post of the cavalry post (Custer House) and Missouri River.

Our campsite

We plan to visit the Custer House this morning before departing for the Enchanted Highway and then spend a night or two at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park at Medora, ND. We have been on the road now for eight days and every stop has been one night. It’s time to spend at least a couple of nights in the same place.

Some more pictures:

Albino bison:

World’s largest gonads. Sorry, I couldn’t resist this. 🤪👀😜

2019 Summer Western Trip

June 26, 2019: Beautiful morning in the 70s so far (high of 86) here at this lovely park in Aberdeen, SD. We were woke up by a fairly brief thunderstorm in the wee hours. Didn’t rain all that much but a couple of strong wind gusts sure rattled the slide toppers.

We are about to break camp and head up US-281 to Jamestown, ND, 102 miles, to see the World’s Biggest Bison. The m pretty excited about it because I like seeing the “world’s largest” of anything. Jeri not so much. LOL. Pictures later.

Here is a picture of the “World’s Largest Bison.”