Friday, December 11, 2009

End of October and November

It seems like I’m always behind in posting to the blog, but I’m still here!

I went to the Smokies in Tennessee for a week in October.  I have camped a good bit in the Great Smokey Mountain National park over the last 15 years or so.  This time I stayed in Walland, TN.  I had hoped to see some fall color, but saw some color that I didn’t expect -


Yep, I went to see the colorful leaves and saw snow instead.  Actually the snow was only at the higher elevations.  I missed the peak season for leaves, but a few days later I went to Chattanooga, TN and drove to Cloudland Canyon for the day.

It was beautiful!!  While in Chattanooga, I also went to the Tennessee Aquarium.  I enjoy aquariums.  One of my favorites is the Leafy Sea Dragon.   I’m also a fan of the Jellyfish.

After this, I finally made my way back to Georgia.  My plan was to stay fairly close to Athens so I could visit some friends and go to a few appointments.  I stayed at Watson Mill Bridge State Park, but unfortunately the second day I was there I got the stomach virus that was going around and didn’t do much for a few days.  A great advantage of being sick in the RV is it is only a few steps from the sofa to the toilet!  Towards the end of the week, I did get out and do some hiking and saw a few friends.  The picture below is of the covered bridge in the park. 


After Watson Mill, I headed up to the mountains.  I stayed in Dillard, GA, which is about 15 minutes from where my mom lives.  I had planned on doing some of the RV maintenance that I had gotten to, but I didn’t do much.  I am going to have to figure out a plan to get everything done.  Maybe just plan on spending one day a month doing maintenance?? 

I am now on Sanibel Island in Florida.  I will post about this later.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Catching up – Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky

I realized I left off a very important stop that I made while in South Dakota.  I went to the famous “Mitchell’s Corn Palace”.

cu mitchells1cu mitchells close upEvery year they redo the designs and this year it was “America’s Destinations” and yes, they are all made out of corn.   I was there about 5 minutes – I told you it was important.  Interesting, but a few minutes was enough. 

While visiting my sister, I stayed at Lake Wissota State Park in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Nice park, but in my camp site there were 2 trees that had these berries that looked like large blue berries.  While there, it was stormy and a lot of these berries ended up on my RV and car. 

After visiting with Amy and her family, I went to the “World’s largest Cranberry festival”.  It was packed.  The festival was basically a huge arts and crafts festival and a flea market.  Plus lots of good fair food.

After leaving Wisconsin, I traveled to Shipshewana, IN – part of Indiana’s Amish Country.  While there it rained a lot.  But I did like driving around and looking at the farms – Amish and English (ascu rise n shine donut the Amish call us).  Also, while there I discovered the world’s best doughnut – In my opinion.  It was a caramel doughnut made at the Rise and Shine bakery.  Yum!!!!   Also while there I went to the Shipshewana flea market and auction.  I’m not really into flea markets, but the auction was interesting.  At 9:00 a bell went off and then 9 auctioneers in different areas of the same room started auctioning off items.  It was so loud I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but very interesting.   I also enjoyed watching people – both Amish and non-Amish.  

cu amish farm

 cu amish farm2 

cu amish wagon cu amish farmer

When I think about the Amish, it always makes me think about what we have and what people can do without. 

Then I went to Hueston Woods State Park in Ohio.   This state park is known for their fossils and unlike in many parks you can collect here.  So in addition to a few small hikes, I went fossil hunting.  I didn’t have to hunt too hard. 

cu fossils 

cu my fossils

While in this park, I noticed something very interesting.  There were quite a few of these green “brain-like” things.  Below is a picture of the “brain”  (with a key beside it to show how large it is) and the tree they grow on.  Anyone know what this is?

cu green brain

cu green brain on tree

After Ohio, I camped at Levi Jackson State Park in Kentucky.  While there I went to Natural Arch in Daniel Boone National Forest. It’s only about a mile hike, but I loved the arch.

cu natural arch 1

cu natural arch 2

I also went to Cumberland Falls State Park (in Kentucky).  One of these days I would like to be there during a full moon.  They claim to be one of the few places in the world where you can see a moonbow. 

cu cumberland falls 1

cu cumberland falls 2

Unfortunately it had been raining the previous days, so the river/falls were muddier than normal.

While traveling the last month, I have seen some interesting things on the road.

cu dicks no phone

I don’t think my toes need service, but it’s good to know that if they do I can get it 24 hours a day!

cu big tires small

I don’t know what uses tires this big, but I thought it was interesting.  On the truck in the front, they had tied a small  “Michelin Man” to the tires..


I’ve since been to Tennesee and am back in Georgia for a few weeks.  While in Ga, I’ll finally make time to do some of the maintenance items on my RV that I have been putting off.  I’ll post on that later!

Friday, October 9, 2009

South Dakota

I’m a bit behind in blogging.  September 16 – 19 I was in Badlands National Park.  Since I love rock formations, I instantly liked this place.  I wasn’t expecting the different colors.  And the stripes – wow. 

bd one bd stripes bd two bd colors

bd three

I know that typically colors are more vibrant at dusk and sunset, so one morning I was up and out very early to see what things looked like.  Well, luck was with me that day – I saw 2 bobcats.  A ranger I showed the pictures to (to verify they were bobcats) said she had been there 2 years and had not seen any.  Once again the pictures aren’t great, zoomed out to the max and at dusk the light wasn’t the best.

  bd bobcat

bd bobcats sil

The badlands has several “towns” of prairie dogs. I had read that they “kiss” and I finally got a picture of it -

bd prairie dog kissing

In addition to driving, hiking and visiting Wall Drugs (twice) I went rock hounding.  This area is known for it’s agates, jaspers and petrified wood.  You can’t collect it in Badland’s National Park, but you can in Buffalo Gap National Grassland which is just next to Badlands.  I collected too much and found a great piece of petrified wood. 

After the Badlands, I went to Lake Vermillion State Recreation Area for a few days.  It is definitely a weekend park.  It was full Saturday night.  Sunday there were about 8 of us left (out of about 30).  Monday it rained all day and the other 2 RVs that were supposed to stay that night left, so I had the campground to myself.  This was just a place to unwind, walk around the lake…

Next I will be visiting my sister and her family in Bloomer, Wisconsin and then Amish country in Indiana. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Black Hills, SD

I spent last week in Custer State park.  I toured the park and spent some time in the surrounding area, visiting Mt. Rushmore and a couple of caves. 

Custer State park is known for their wildlife, especially their bison.  I saw lots of them.  Since Yellowstone, I have been trying to get a good picture of a bison head.  I didn’t quite get what I wanted, (I wanted a picture of the side of their face, with them looking out of the picture), but I like this one.

csp bison headshot I also got a chance to watch a bison calf.

csp bison calf

There was also big horn sheep, more pronghorns and prairie dogs.  Custer State Park has several herds of wild burros.  Unfortunately people feed these burros, so while on a drive around Wildlife Drive I stopped to take some pictures and the burros walked right up to my car. 

csp burro car

csp big horn sheep csp big horn sheep1 csp prairie dogcsp pronghorn

Custer is not only known for their wildlife, but also the beautiful scenery.  The area pictured below is called Cathedral Spires.

csp cathedral spires 2csp lakeThere was a trail around this lake, but the best part was scrambling among the rocks. 

To me, the best part about Mt. Rushmore was the drive there.  I took the Norbeck scenic byway.  There are some interesting parts to this drive.  There are several one-lane tunnels.  Two of these tunnels have a surprising view as you get to the end of the tunnel. 

csp mt rushmore tunnel Yep, as you are in the tunnel you can see Mt. Rushmore.  Also, this road is famous for their pig tail bridges.  I didn’t think too much when I heard that because they have at least one of those in the Smokies.  A pig tail bridge is where the road crosses over itself.  But one of the bridges was cool --

csp pigtail bridge In this one, you come out of a one lane tunnel and onto a bridge.  Then you circle around and go under the bridge you just went over. 

csp mt rushmore There are several caves in the area, I went to Jewel Cave National Monument and Wind Cave National Park.  Jewel is like many other caves that I had seen, but Wind Cave was a bit different.  One, it didn’t have the typical roomy walkways.  Also it didn’t have the typical formations.  It is known for boxwork formations. 

csp windcave tight walkways csp windcave boxwork

This area is a great place, lots to see, places to hike…  I’ll be back someday.  I stayed at Game Lodge Campground in Custer State park.  From the campground, I saw deer and burros.  They had to put a fence up to keep the bison out. 

Great place, I loved it!

Yellowstone – part 2

For part 2 of my Yellowstone trip, I stayed a couple of days in the park and then the rest of the time at a private campground in Gardiner, MT – just outside of the West Yellowstone entrance.  This side of Yellowstone is very different than where I was last week.  More animals, less geysers. 

When I checked into the private campground they warned me that a grizzly had been seen the last couple of days in the campground, along with some elk.  Well, I never saw the grizzly but I did see the elk.  For the most part they stayed next door on the Mormon church property. 

ys2 cmpgrnd elk

I saw lots of bison and got in several bison jams.  Just after I took the picture below, they started running towards me and it was a bit frightening until just before my car they veered off to the right going within feet of my car. 

ys2 buffalo jam

One day I decided was going to be my wildlife day.  I woke up very early as dawn is one of the best times to see wildlife.  It was a bit foggy, but that burned off quickly   That day, I saw a coyote, 2 wolves (thru a spotting scope), elk, bison, pronghorns and big horn sheep.  I had never seen pronghorn before this trip, they are an interesting animal. 

ys2 lamar valley early morning fog

ys2 pronghorn

I did visit some geysers and hot springs.  I love the colors of the hot springs.  Most of the colors are different types of bacteria. 

ys2 spring colors 2ys2 springs and boardwalkI hiked one trail that was not in Yellowstone National Park.  I hiked in the Tom Miner Basin which is in the Gallatin Petrified forest.  This particular hike is among volcanic cliffs and caves.  In one of the caves, there is a petrified tree in the ceiling.   This is a view of the valley, the trail  and the volcanic cliffs. 

ys2 tom miner basin hike The Mammoth terraces were interesting and quite different from the other things  in the park.   In several places they look like snow and ice. 

ys2 terraces

ys2 terraces2