Featured

RV Tips and Tricks: Things We Can’t Live Without

IMG_3823

When we bought our travel trailer, we decided that in order to get the most use out of it we would implement what we call “minimal trip prep”. Minimal trip prep for us meant outfitting the trailer with everything we needed so we wouldn’t have to pack or unpack every time we went camping. Now, with the RV completely outfitted, all we have to do is throw a few clothes in the closet, round up our food, and hit the road. Hopefully, by seeing how we roll, you will be able to do the same!

Everyone needs the inevitable sewer hose, water hoses and filters, electrical paraphernalia, grill, chairs, etc., etc., etc. We enjoy having a few convenience items when we camp, whether it’s simply an indulgence or a time or space saver. In random order, here are some of the things we don’t camp without:

Picnic caddy. This is so handy for indoor and outdoor use. We use this to store our napkins, paper plates, paper bowls, plastic ware, and our salt and pepper shakers. It frees valuable cabinet and drawer storage space and is easy to carry right outside to the picnic table. While there are many similar models out there, this is a very nice model sold by Amazon. (We also like having pop-up mesh food covers when serving and eating outside.)

Headlamp and good flashlights. Okay, headlamps don’t look very cool, but man are they great when you need both hands free. We can’t count the times we’ve had to set up camp in the dark, and let’s face it, most parks are very dark! Good lights are a great investment and a necessary safety tool. As for flashlights we like the smaller tactical grade type.

Cordless vacuum. This one might be a budget buster, but hear us out. The Deik Cordless Vacuum, purchased from Amazon, is the one we use at home, and we take it with us when we go camping. It is lightweight, takes up very little room – we store it behind the little trash can in our bathroom – and it’s rechargeable. The best part is that the top part comes off and becomes a hand held mini vac. For such a small vacuum, this thing picks up just about everything. How many times have you stepped barefoot on one of those tiny pieces of gravel that got tracked into your camper? This little vacuum works on vinyl and wood floors, and carpet, too. LOVE IT! By the way, we aren’t getting paid for our recommendations, so this is not an ad, and we never recommend anything that we don’t use ourselves. Jeff Bezos, you’re getting a lot of free advertising, buddy.

Sound machine and ear plugs. Yes, we’re talking about the same kind of sound machine used in babies’ nurseries to soothe them to sleep. Ours has settings for several different sounds, such as waterfall, ocean waves, rain, etc., and it runs on electric power or batteries. Have you ever tried to sleep while parked near a busy highway, or at a truck stop, or even a Walmart? If you have, then you know what we’re talking about. A sound machine will help drown out the background noise so you get a better nights sleep. As a side note, we will admit that we sometimes use ear plugs, too.

20181204_174513

Weather radio. We live in Tornado Alley, and our weather can sometimes be pretty scary. Our weather radio runs on electricity or batteries and is just one more safety precaution for our travel trailer. Heavy rain and hail pounding your camper in the dark and not knowing what to expect does not make for happy campers.

Battery operated flameless candles. These are great for inside and outside. If you don’t have a campfire, a few of these sitting around will certainly give the campsite some ambiance. We use them on every camping trip. Beware these will melt if stored in a hot place.

Body wipes. We admit that we don’t always shower every day when we’re camping. Shocking, we know! Anyway, we love the convenience of using body wipes for a quick sponge bath. Our favorite are these Epic Wipes that we purchased from – you guessed it – Amazon. While they are not inexpensive, they are almost as large as a bath towel and are very refreshing. These are also great to use after hiking or being in the lake or to wipe down grubby kiddos.

Britta water pitcher. The one we use for the camper is a 5-cup pitcher. We drink a lot of water, and with the Britta pitcher, we can refill water bottles with filtered water and not have to carry so many bottles, which just adds to our towing weight. The pitcher we have is shown here, and it fits in the bottom shelf of our refrigerator door.

Flag and flagpole. Yep, we are proud Americans, and we like to fly our colors. We have an American flag and a couple of others. Our FlagPole Buddy brand pole, which we purchased from RV Upgrades, is a 16′ telescoping fiberglass pole that attaches the ladder on the back of our trailer. It can be seen (sort of) in the picture at the top of the page. We also have a garden flag stand with an American flag and an assortment of seasonal and decorative flags that we sometimes use to pretty up our campsite.

Inflatable ottoman. Like the one shown here from Amazon. These are also available from Bed, Bath & Beyond and catalogs. Most cost around $25.00 and come with a pump for easy inflation. There are tons of colors and patterns to choose from, and the covers zip off for washing. Dirt and grass does not stick to them so they’re great to use outside.

Space heater. Camping during colder weather prompted us to include a space heater on our “can’t live without” list. Ours is small enough that we can store it in one of the cabinets above the dinette, but it’s powerful enough to heat our 26′ trailer. Using the space heater instead of the furnace saves on propane, too.

Extra set of sheets. We thoroughly clean our camper before we leave a campground to go home, and that includes changing the sheets on the bed. With two sets of sheets, we can rotate them as we camp, and we have clean bedding for every trip. (We also keep pillows and a few extra blankets in our camper.)

That’s going to do it for our things we can’t live without. This is a constantly evolving list, so we will update you when we find more awesome items. Leave us a comment and let us know what you can’t live without. Thank you for stopping by, and we hope you will come back again for another great tip, trick, or trip.

Happy camping, y’all!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true products, vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own. Photo copyright infringement is not intended. Our written content and photos are copyrighted, and may not be published without our permission.

©2019

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_6171
Twin windmills near Post, Texas

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First stop: The Flume

IMG_6148

Where in the world is it?

The historic Carlsbad Irrigation Flume, known locally as The Flume, is located in Carlsbad, New Mexico. It’s an aquaduct that diverts water from the Pecos River to an irrigation canal. The Pecos River was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records because The Flume caused it to be the only river in the world that actually crossed itself.

IMG_6145

IMG_6157
Looking down the irrigation canal toward The Flume

For more information about Carlsbad, New Mexico and Carlsbad Caverns National Park, click this link to our post: Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Second stop: Throckmorton, Texas

Where in the world is it?

Throckmorton is located 111 miles west of Fort Worth at the intersections of US Highways 380 and 183/283. It is the county seat of Throckmorton County. The Great Western Cattle Trail passed through here during the nineteen years it was in use from 1874 to 1893. Trivia: Dallas Cowboys great, Bob Lilly, once lived in Throckmorton.

20190421_122020
The Throckmorton County courthouse was built in 1890 and in 1978 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restored to its original state in 2014, the courthouse is also a Texas Historic Landmark. The population of the county was a whopping 124 when this courthouse was originally constructed.
20190421_122337
This is the original Throckmorton County jail, built in 1893. The sheriff’s offices were on the first floor, and the prisoner cells were on the second floor. The old jailhouse now serves as a museum.
20190421_121837
This metal sculpture of a pioneer woman is located in a tiny park area next to the Throckmorton City Hall. Check out that huge prickly pear!

It’s a fact, Jack!

Twenty-six miles southeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico lies the only WIPP in the country. What in the world is a WIPP, you ask? Well, it is a Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. It is a repository for defense-generated waste, including clothing and tools among other things, that have been contaminated with or contain man-made radioactive materials and other elements such as plutonium. This type of waste is called Transuranic or TRU for short. The plant opened in 1999, and now our country’s radioactive nuclear waste is being buried almost a half mile (2,150 feet) underground in an ancient salt bed in the desert of eastern New Mexico. The plant is operated by the Department of Defense and with 1,200 employees is one of the largest employers in New Mexico. And now you know…

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Happy Anniversary To Us!

 

IMG_6101

In celebration of One for the Money Two for the Road’s first anniversary, we want to share some shots from some of our favorite national park posts over the last year. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate each of you for following us on the blog site and on Facebook. You are the reason we post our adventures! Enjoy the recap…

IMG_2953
From our very first post: Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park
IMG_1987
Zion National Park
IMG_2041
Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park
IMG_4206
Bear Lake with Hallett Peak reflection, Rocky Mountain National Park
IMG_2543
Grand Canyon National Park – North Rim at Imperial Point
IMG_2281
The Three Gossips, Arches National Park
IMG_3528
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
IMG_2339
Canyonlands National Park
IMG_2632
Death Valley National Park
IMG_4367 (2)
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
IMG_1224
Bison grazing at Wind Cave National Park
IMG_1541
Badlands National Park
IMG_2443
Monument Valley Tribal Park (Navajo Nation)
IMG_2242
Gifford Barn, Capitol Reef National Park
Sedona 2007 086
The Tepees, Petrified Forest National Park
IMG_3392
Great Sand Dunes National Park
IMG_0179
Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park
IMG_0334 (3)
Grand Teton National Park

Thank you for joining us over the past year. We hope that you will keep coming back for more fun adventures, tips, and tricks. Oh, and there are sixty-one “national parks” now, and we’ve only covered eighteen of them so far! We will be covering more national parks, national monuments, national historic sites, state parks, awesome camping sites, and some great cities during year two. We’re also going to give you some helpful tips on RVing and road tripping. You won’t want to miss a post, so sign up, buckle up, and let’s go. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road (or at a national park!) 

Mike and Kellye

IMG_0254

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

Featured

Amarillo, Texas

IMG_4873

Not far from the halfway point on the old Route 66 lies the city of Amarillo, Texas. Today, I-40 bisects the city which is hard to miss on any mid-America east-west road trip. Amarillo is a classic, from it’s Route 66 historic area to its museums and quirky Americana. Road trippers will want to spend a day or more checking out everything this city has to offer.

On the beaten path…

American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum

IMG_4894

For those who aren’t horse people (we aren’t) and especially for those who are, this is a fantastic experience! Located in a beautiful building at 2601 I-40 east (I-40 and Quarter Horse Drive), this museum and hall of fame is definitely worth a stop for an hour or two.

IMG_4890

Bloodlines from the first recorded quarter horse in America in the 1700s to present day are shown on the floor of the stunning Grand Hall.

Cadillac Ranch

IMG_4909

Ten old Cadillacs (we only captured seven of them due to mud) buried nose down in a field just west of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Bring your spray paint and leave your own mark on this American classic art installation.

IMG_4916

Jack Sisemore’s Traveland RV Museum

Bring on the nostalgia – this place is fun and free! Located at 4341 Canyon Drive (off of I-27 and Georgia). Enter the RV dealership for an escort out to the museum. Below are some of the vintage RVs and motorcycles that are on display.

IMG_4835
Trivia: Wally Byam incorporated the Airstream travel trailer company in 1931.
IMG_4861
Happy Max. 1948 Flxible used in the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams.
IMG_4846
The world’s oldest Airstream, a 1935 Torpedo, was owned by the Holman family for 81 years.
IMG_4829
1918 Harley Davidson motorcycle with rare left-hand side car.

The Big Texan

IMG_4925
An Amarillo and Route 66 icon! There is a restaurant (obviously), motel, and an RV park, along with photo ops and a free 72 oz steak dinner if eaten within one hour!

IMG_4926

Other points of interest on the beaten path:

  • Route 66 Historic District – west of downtown, beginning at SW 6th Street and McMasters.
  • Amarillo Zoo – 700 Comanchero Trail.
  • Wonderland Amusement Park – 2601 Dumas Drive.

Off the beaten path…

Coyote Bluff Cafe

IMG_4896

Located at 2417 S Grand, this place has some of THE BEST BURGERS we’ve eaten anywhere! Love the laid-back atmosphere here, too. Arrive early for lunch. There are only twelve or thirteen tables and they fill up fast.

Helium Monument

IMG_4905

Officially called the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument, the 60-foot tall stainless steel structure was erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Four time capsules dedicated to the preservation and responsible use of natural resources are contained in the columns. The first capsule was opened in 1993, and the second in 2018. The other two will be opened on the hundredth, and thousandth anniversaries of the 1968 establishment of the monument. Amarillo is home to a former helium plant and the Texas panhandle once held most of the world’s helium reserves.

IMG_4906

 

IMG_4901

Other points of interest off the beaten path:

  • Bill’s Backyard Classics. Classic car museum – 5309 S Washington Street.
  • Texas Air & Space Museum – 10001 American Drive.

Quirky…

Ozymandias on the Plains

IMG_4978

These “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” are located near the southeast corner of the intersection of I-27 and Sundown Lane, south of town. We suspect that people are using their leftover spray paint from Cadillac Ranch to keep this sculpture colorful.

IMG_4979

Second Amendment Cowboy

IMG_4918

This big (muffler man) guy can be found next to the Cadillac RV park at 2601 Hope Road and the south I-40 frontage road, west of Amarillo and just east of the Cadillac Ranch. The site also includes three old Cadillacs that have mannequins of Willie Nelson, John Wayne, and Elvis sitting in the driver’s seats, and a gift shop. The marker in front of the cowboy is a faux historical marker that touts our Second Amendment right to bear arms, but surprisingly the cowboy does not have a gun. Side note: the RV park is fabulous!

Nearby points of interest…

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

IMG_4931

  • Website: Alibates Flint Quarries
  • Cost: free
  • Visitor center hours: daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Where: approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo off of Highway 136
  • Hiking trails
  • Ranger led tours of the quarries by reservation only

IMG_4935

Come here to learn about the Plains Indians who quarried the harder-than-steel flint to make arrowheads and spear points. Dating as far back as 13,000 years, flint from these quarries has been found far and wide. While at the visitor center, watch a film about the monument, and then enjoy the small museum.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

IMG_4952

  • Website: Lake Meredith
  • Cost: free entrance
  • Visitor center located in Fritch, Texas open daily 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays
  • Where: seven minutes west of Fritch, Texas, which is approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo
  • Hiking, RV and tent camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting
  • Hotels, additional RV campgounds, restaurants, and groceries available in Fritch and in Borger, which is approximately 20 minutes east of Fritch

IMG_4965

IMG_4971

Check with the park regarding lake levels and boat preparation before arrival. Hunters must comply with park and state regulations. Texas fishing licenses are required. Camping is free at all sites, except for the electric/water hook-up sites at Sanford-Yake. See the website for details.

IMG_4955

Other nearby points of interest:

  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park – approximately 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo. Beautiful Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US. (We will cover Palo Duro Canyon in a separate post.)
  • Large Cross in Groom, Texas – approximately 45 minutes east of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Great stop with Stations of the Cross, which are life-size sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, and a visitor center that displays an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin. Free, but donations are appreciated.

Okay, that’s going to do it for our Amarillo, Texas overview. We hope you enjoy your journey. We love that you joined us on ours. Please come back again! You never know where we’re going to take you. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_3603
Vintage motel in Delta, Colorado

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Cameron Trading Post

Sedona 2007 041
Cameron Trading Post

Where in the world is it?

It is located in Cameron, Arizona, which is about 51 miles north of Flagstaff, at the intersection of US Highway 89 and Arizona Highway 64, and east of the Grand Canyon. The trading post was established in 1916 by two brothers named Hubert and C.D. Richardson.

Sedona 2007 042
The Cameron Suspension Bridge

The Cameron Suspension Bridge, above, opened in 1911 and spans the Little Colorado River Gorge. This bridge allowed faster, safer travel to what is now the town of Cameron, Arizona. The Richardson brothers built Cameron Trading Post next to the bridge where it still sits and thrives today. No longer in use, the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sedona 2007 040
Little Colorado River Gorge west of Cameron, Arizona

Second Stop: Helena, Montana

IMG_0550
The Beautiful Montana Capitol
IMG_0553
Herd Bull Sculpture at the Montana Historical Society

IMG_0552

It’s a fact, Jack!

Arizona produces more than half of the copper in the US, making it the largest copper producing state. Montana is the fifth largest copper producing state in the US. At one time, the nation’s largest amount of copper was mined at Butte, Montana. One Montana resident, William A. Clark, became one of the wealthiest men in the US because of his copper mining interests, among other businesses, and was considered one of the three “Copper Kings” of Butte. His mansion there still stands today, although, it is now a bed and breakfast. Clarkdale, Arizona is four miles southwest of of the town of Jerome, Arizona. Jerome, a National Historic Landmark, is the home of the now-defunct United Verde Mine, once one of the largest copper producing mines in the US. United Verde Copper Company, which was owned by William A. Clark, developed the United Verde Mine. Clarkdale, Arizona is named for William A. Clark. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our Quick Stop tour of the Cameron Trading Post and Helena, Montana. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

Badwater Basin

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_3123
The road goes on forever and the party never ends. Robert Earl Keen

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Turkey, Texas

20181013_133902

Where in the world is it?

Turkey is located in the Texas panhandle, about 103 miles southeast of Amarillo, at the intersection of Highway 86 and Highway 70.

20181013_133831
This restored vintage Phillips 66 cottage gas station sits right in the middle of town.

So what’s so special about this tiny town with its population of around 420 at last count? Well, it’s the home of Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing. The town hosts a Bob Wills Day festival every year on the last Saturday in April. There’s a museum dedicated to Mr. Wills in town, and a monument (pictured below) in the city park honoring him and his Texas Playboys band.

20181013_134136

20181013_133850
This replica tour bus sits next to the old gas station

 Second stop: Dismal River

img_1623.jpg

Where in the world is it?

Dismal River is located in west-central Nebraska. This part of the river is located near the town of Thetford, off of US Highway 83.

IMG_1624

We didn’t think the river was dismal at all. Actually, it was a beautiful, welcome sight within the Nebraska sand hills. The river runs for only about 72 miles until it converges with the Middle Loup River, and its source is the Ogallala Aquifer.

IMG_1625

It’s a fact, Jack!

During the early 1950s, another western swing band, Ole Rasmussen and his Nebraska Cornhuskers, became popular recording artists on the Capitol Records label. Ole Rasmussen must have idolized Bob Wills because he styled his music as well as his band’s country chic look after Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Though one would think that Ole Rasmussen and his Nebraska Cornhuskers were from the state of Nebraska, they weren’t. They were from California. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our virtual tour of Turkey, Texas and the Dismal River. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

Hot Air Balloon flight

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

Featured

Albany, Texas and the Fort Griffin Fandangle

IMG_6304
Shackelford County Courthouse, Albany, Texas, built in 1883.

We’re in love! Albany, Texas has captured our hearts. Not only is it a beautiful small town, it sits amid rolling hills covered in mesquite, pecan, and oak trees. The town is surrounded by ranch land, and the Clear Fork Brazos River flows nearby. Albany has a rich history, proven by its thirty-five historic landmark designations, as well as historic Fort Griffin fifteen miles north of town.

IMG_6286
This sunflower field near Albany just makes us happy!
IMG_5585
This classic sits across the street from the courthouse
IMG_5587
Historic buildings in downtown Albany
IMG_5605
Restored Gulf gas station

During the last two weekends in June, the town of Albany puts on the Fort Griffin Fandangle, which is the oldest running play in Texas. This year (2019) was the eighty-first production. People come from all over to see the townspeople tell the story of the settlement of the area. This wonderful show will delight the whole family, and we highly recommend going to see it!

IMG_6298

IMG_5474 Fort Griffin is home to the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd, and a few of them star in the show! We had never seen a more well behaved bunch of cattle before. Plus, they’re just kinda awesome. For more information about Fort Griffin, please see our Abilene, Texas post. Here’s a link: Abilene, Texas

IMG_5476
Some of the Fandangle cast

Also during Fandangle, there are many events around town, including a catered barbecue dinner, tours of historic buildings and homes, and baby longhorns on display on the courthouse lawn.

20190629_191221 (1)
Precious!

We bet this calliope is something you haven’t ever seen, and if you have seen one, we bet it was a long time ago. We were enthralled. This one is about 76-years-old, and they play it for thirty minutes before each show. Beware it is loud, but so intriguing! Turn up your sound and check out the video.

 

While there is a hotel and RV park in Albany, there are also hotels and campgrounds in Abilene, 35 miles south. Since we love camping in our RV, we chose to stay at Fort Griffin. The campground is not only pretty, it has clean showers and bathrooms, a playground for the kids, and full hookups. We woke up to birds singing, longhorns mooing, and a couple of spectacular sunrises. In the evenings, cicadas, tree frogs, and crickets chirped, and the dark skies afforded breathtaking views of the stars. Frankly, it was hard to leave the place.

20190630_065028
Fort Griffin Sunday sunrise
IMG_6211
This guy was singing his little heart out next to our campsite. Isn’t he gorgeous?

We’re going to close this post with a couple of shots of the old Highway 183 truss bridge over the Clear Fork Brazos River near Fort Griffin.

IMG_6284
From the new Highway 183 bridge. Yes, we stand in the middle of highways to get the shot.
IMG_6272
Standing in the middle of the old Highway 183 while looking up. No traffic on this one though.

That’s a wrap, folks. Be sure to make plans to attend the Fort Griffin Fandangle in 2020. We hope you will return to our site for more great trip ideas, tips, and tricks, and if you’re already a follower, THANK YOU for your support of our site. We do this for you. If you’re not a follower, become one so you never miss a post. We would love to have you aboard on our journeys. Until the next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Abilene, Texas

IMG_5388

Abilene, Texas may now be known as the storybook capital of America, but the city is so much more. In 1881 when lots began being sold and cattlemen began shipping cattle on the Texas and Pacific Railway, a thriving city was born. Shortly thereafter, Abilene was named county seat of Taylor County, having won a vote to move it from Buffalo Gap. Today, Abilene is home to three universities, satellite campuses of a junior college and a technical college, as well as Dyess Air Force Base. Located 150 miles west of Fort Worth on I-20, Abilene is a can’t miss stop on a West Texas road trip. We highly recommend staying over for a day or two to experience this wonderful, historic city.

On the beaten path…

Frontier Texas!

IMG_5421

Located at 625 N 1st Street. This is a multimedia museum unlike any other we have ever seen, and we loved it. Go to learn about the history of West Texas from the people who settled the area. Exceptional western heritage exhibits, videos, and holograms. Yes, holograms, and they are amazing! Beautiful building, lovely grounds, and a nice gift shop, too. Open Monday – Saturday 9:00 – 6:00 and Sunday 1:00 – 5:00. Adults $10.00, Seniors/Military $7.00, Students/Teachers $6.00, Children (3-12) $5.00, Ages 2 and under are free.

IMG_5430
Flying Buffalo Herd at Frontier Texas

The Grace Museum

IMG_5410

The Grace Museum is an art and history museum that includes a hands-on children’s museum area. The building was originally the Hotel Grace, built in 1909. We happened to visit on a free admission day, but we would have gladly paid the $6.00 per adult fee for the art exhibits alone. Located at 102 Cypress Street, The Grace Museum is open 10:00 – 5:00 Tuesday – Saturday.

Storybook Sculptures

img_5405.jpg
The Lorax in Everman Park

Storybook sculptures can be found all over downtown Abilene. Dr. Seuss characters, among others, can be seen in Everman Park (across the street from The Grace Museum) and more at the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden (1008 N. 6th Street). Kids and adults of all ages will love these whimsical characters! Click here for a Storybook Adventure Guide: Abilene Storybook Adventure. While visiting downtown Abilene, be sure to check out the NCCIL (National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature) located at 102 Cedar Street for weekly children’s activities, an illustration gallery, and a children’s bookstore. The NCCIL (aka the nickel) is open 10:00 – 4:00 Tuesday – Saturday.

IMG_5390
Characters emerge straight out of the pages of a storybook! This fabulous sculpture in Everman Park is called “Childhood’s Great Adventure”

Abilene Zoological Park

IMG_5558

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Seven

 

IMG_0318
Peeking through the trees at the Grand Teton Mountains

→Note: this is the seventh post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

IMG_0333

We would be remiss if we did not mention that Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone’s next door neighbor to the south. The John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway is the route between West Thumb (Yellowstone) and the northern tip of Jackson Lake (Grand Teton). The scenic parkway is twenty-seven miles long, but the road (US Hwy 191) continues another forty or so miles to Jackson, Wyoming, winding through the park along the Snake River. Teton Park Road is the one to take for the most scenic parts of the park. The park road begins at Jackson Lake Junction, running for approximately twenty miles, then joins US Hwy 191 at Moose Junction.

IMG_0326
Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake

Destination: Grand Teton National Park

  • Website link: Grand Teton National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for one week pass
  • Accommodations include: lodges, cabins, dude ranch, tent camping, backcountry camping, RV campground, restaurants (hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants also available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • Hiking, biking, scenic drives, wildlife, fishing, canoeing/kayaking, climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, (downhill skiing and other winter sports available in Jackson, Wyoming)
  • When to go: anytime, but check the website as well as road reports for closures during winter months

IMG_0332

IMG_0334 (2)

Since this is our final Yellowstone post, we thought we would list some tips for visiting this spectacular park:

  • Don’t rush. Plan to spend several days, if not a week or more, just to see the major attractions of the park. The park is so big it would take months (or years, even) to cover the majority of its almost 3,500 square miles.
  • Make park campground and hotel/lodge reservations well in advance of your trip. These sites book months in advance. Over four million people visited the park in 2017!
  • RV sites in Yellowstone can be small and difficult to maneuver, especially for longer rigs. There are many RV parks outside the park.
  • IMG_0350The wildlife in Yellowstone (and Grand Teton) is wild! The park service recommends staying at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other large animals. And, never feed the wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. Animals that get used to being fed by humans don’t continue to thrive in the wild.
  • Hike with a group. Bears are more likely to attack a lone traveler than to approach a group. Hikers might want to consider carrying bear spray.
  • Stay on the boardwalks and designated trails in geyser areas. People have been killed because they did not follow the rules.
IMG_0297
Colorful thermophiles at the edge of boiling Excelsior Geyser
  • Our last and most important tip is to plan, plan, plan before you go. Research the park’s website, watch online videos, and read blogs! Decide on everything you want to see and do while you’re there and write it down. We make a detailed itinerary for every trip. Yes, itineraries take time (and we don’t always stick to them), but it beats arriving at a destination and not having a clue about where to go, where to eat, and what to do.

Below are a few more pictures of beautiful Yellowstone National Park.

IMG_0099

IMG_0265

IMG_0366

IMG_0508

IMG_0363

Thank you for joining us on our Yellowstone National Park adventure. We hope that by posting our trips we are inspiring you to plan your own adventures to the places we have visited and loved. Become a follower, or simply like our page. Follow us on Facebook. Leave us a comment. Tell us about your own travels. Come back often to see more great road trip destinations, and tell your friends about us!

We leave this post with a picture of a vintage 1936 National Park Bus. Eight of these refurbished tour buses operate in the park today.

IMG_0503

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Six

IMG_0482

→Note: this is the sixth post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destination: Tower-Roosevelt Area

From Mammoth Hot Springs, take the northern Upper Loop east/southeast for 18 miles toward the Tower-Roosevelt Area. Drive time between Mammoth and Tower: 45 minutes…unless you get stuck in a bison jam, and then there’s no telling how long it will take.

Travel tip: always have snacks and drinks in the car.

IMG_0461
Bison jam!

This part of the park is rolling hills and vast grasslands with mountain peaks in the background. We saw many bison here. Interestingly, as many bison as we have seen on our travels, we still get a thrill when we see them. Did you know that the bison in Yellowstone were almost extincted due to unenforced hunting in the early years of the park? The current genetically pure (haven’t been bred with cattle) herd, which now numbers in the thousands, are the descendants of the original twenty-four head that were diligently preserved and carefully bred by the park.

IMG_0468

IMG_0469
A shot of the beauty of the most northern part of the park

Calcite Springs Overlook

The Calcite Springs Overlook is about half-way between Mammoth and Tower. This is a must-see stop when in this part of the park. There is a short trail (boardwalk with stairs) that affords great views and excellent photo ops. Our research said to allow 15 minutes for this stop, but we spent at least twice that time there enjoying the breathtaking views.

IMG_0486
Calcite Springs are the white cliffs along the Yellowstone River in the Yellowstone River Canyon
IMG_0490
Another view of the Yellowstone River

Did you know that the Yellowstone River originates in the Absaroka Mountains southeast of Yellowstone Lake? It does, and it flows through the park, then across Montana for about 700 miles until it meets the Missouri River in North Dakota. The Yellowstone River is the largest tributary of the Missouri River.

IMG_0485
Columnar basalt formations along the canyon edge
IMG_0488
Basalt column detail
IMG_0487
More basalt with beautiful mountain peaks in the background

A few miles after leaving this viewpoint, the road will begin to climb Dunraven Pass. While driving through this area, notice how the 1988 fires affected the landscape and how now, more than thirty years later, the forest is regenerating itself.

Continuing along the east side of the upper loop, you will find the Tower General Store, which is located a few miles south of Roosevelt Lodge. Behind the store is the Tower Fall trailhead. Uphill all the way, the trail is only one-tenth of a mile long, and the end result is a beautiful 132 foot waterfall!

Travel tip: Tower General Store has grab-and-go snacks and some fast food items. Whether eating purchased food or your own, picnic tables outside the store provide a good spot for lunch.

IMG_0494
Tower Fall
IMG_0498
Pinnacles above Tower Fall. The rock “towers” are what gives the fall its name.

That’s going to do it for this week. We thank you for joining us on our travels, and we hope that you will return to our site again and again. We are going to end the post with one more shot showcasing the beauty of the northern section of the park.

IMG_0471

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

 

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Five

IMG_0370

→Note: this is the fifth post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destination: Mammoth Hot Springs Area

From West Yellowstone, drive 14 miles to Madison Junction, then drive east/northeast to Norris. Continue north from Norris Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs. Drive time between West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs: 1.25 hours.

Travel tip: early morning travel between West Yellowstone and Madison Junction calls for a good pair of sunglasses! The sun will be blinding (seriously) while traveling east on this road.

IMG_0354
Antler Peak, Gallatin Range, Yellowstone National Park

In the Mammoth area of the park, there is something incredible to see at every turn. From mountain vistas to the breathtaking terraces of the hot springs to beautiful historic buildings.

Did you know that the park headquarters, located at Mammoth, was originally a fort? It’s true. Fort Yellowstone was established in 1886 as Camp Sheridan to protect the park from visitor damage, devious developers, and interlopers. The first buildings of Fort Yellowstone were constructed in 1891, and of course other buildings followed. The Army relinquished the fort to the National Park Service in 1918. Most of the original buildings are still used today as offices and living quarters.

IMG_0413
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel built in 1936 is within the historic district

Stop in at the Albright Visitor Center to learn more about the history of Yellowstone National Park and Fort Yellowstone. Then take a walk through the Fort Yellowstone Historic District.

Travel tip: elk love the manicured lawns at the park headquarters. It is likely that you will see many of them grazing here or lying under trees in the shade. Remember to keep your distance, and do not approach them.

IMG_0453
This is the Roosevelt Arch at the north (Gardiner, Montana) park entrance. The landmark, which contains a time capsule, was constructed in 1903 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Unfortunately, due to road construction, we were unable to get a picture of the front that shows the inscription “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”.
IMG_0452
Standing just under 11,000 feet, majestic Electric Peak can also be seen at the north park entrance. Note: This beautiful view can be seen anytime by going to our Places/Links tab at the top of the page, then clicking on the “All National Park Webcams” link. Scroll to Yellowstone and click on “North Entrance”. Watch the scenery change with the seasons!

Okay, we’ve kept you waiting long enough. It’s time to see the springs and terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. Below are some of of favorite shots. We will let the pictures speak for themselves.

IMG_0408

IMG_0431

While they appear to be icy in nature, the terraces are actually composed of travertine produced by the large amounts – about two tons per day – of calcium carbonate that comes up through the springs. The colors are created by those pretty little thermophiles.

IMG_0441

IMG_0396

 

IMG_0403

We’re going to call this post done. Thank you for joining us at Mammoth Hot Springs. Don’t forget to come back next week when we post the Tower-Roosevelt section of the park. In the meantime, we will close with a picture of Rustic Falls as seen from a pull-out on the side of the road just before arriving at Mammoth.

IMG_0359
Rustic Falls

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

 

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Four

IMG_0264

→Note: this is the fourth post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basins

From Madison Junction, drive south for approximately 16 miles to Old Faithful. From Old Faithful, backtrack to Madison, stopping at the Midway and Lower Geyser Basins, then continue back to West Yellowstone.

First stop: Old Faithful

Ah, Old Faithful! Located in the Upper Geyser Basin, Old Faithful is not the tallest geyser in Yellowstone, nor is it the most frequent erupting geyser, but it is certainly the most popular! And what’s not to love? Take a look below.

IMG_0224
Just beginning…
IMG_0225
A little higher…
IMG_0249
Full blown!

Did you know that the white, chalk-colored substance around the geysers in Yellowstone is called geyserite? And, did you also know that the Upper Geyser Basin contains an estimated 100 hydrothermal features?

The Old Faithful Inn is another icon in the Upper Geyser Basin. Completed in 1904, the inn is a National Historic Landmark.

IMG_0250
Old Faithful Inn

Take a peek inside this “parkitectural” wonder…

IMG_0253
Constructed of locally sourced logs, the 76 foot tall ceiling of the lobby is simply spectacular. The stone chimney of the fireplace is made of rock quarried nearby. The clock on the chimney, as well as many of the light fixtures and furniture pieces are original to the building.
IMG_0254
The dining room as seen from the second floor.

Take the Upper Geyser Basin Trail (mostly boardwalk) for a total of five miles to see most everything this area has to offer.

IMG_0261
Castle Geyser

Second stop: Midway and Lower Geyser Basins

Midway Geyser Basin is home to another iconic Yellowstone feature: Grand Prismatic Spring. The spring is the largest and deepest hot spring in the park, and it is known for its deep blue water and the rainbow of colors that surround its outer edges. Take the boardwalk, which starts at the Firehole River, to see the spectacular features of the area. Then take the short hike up Picture Hill to Grand Prismatic Overlook to view the basin and and the spring from above. Park at Fairy Falls trailhead for this hike, which is a little over a half mile, and be prepared for crowds and limited parking.

IMG_0280
Grand Prismatic Spring

Next door to Grand Prismatic lies Excelsior Geyser crater, which formed when the geyser erupted with such force that it collapsed on itself. While not as grand as as Grand Prismatic, we loved the boiling crystal blue water of Excelsior.

IMG_0289
Excelsior Geyser Crater
IMG_0269
Turquoise Pool
IMG_0298
Silex Spring with its bright orange and yellow thermophiles
IMG_0313
Clepsydra Geyser – so pretty and playful!

We’re going to end here, but we hope you will come back next week for Yellowstone – Part Five when we will be covering the Mammoth Hot Springs area of the park. Thank you for joining us for this leg of the journey. We will close with an “abstract painting” shot of the colorful thermophiles of Grand Prismatic Spring.

IMG_0273

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Three

IMG_0211
Yellowstone Lake

→Note: this is the third post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: West Thumb Geyser Basin and Mud Volcano Area

From West Yellowstone, drive the 14 miles to Madison Junction. Here you can go north/northeast around the top of the lower loop or you can go south/southeast around the bottom of the lower loop. Either way, the drive from Madison Junction to West Thumb Geyser Basin is approximately 36 miles. We recommend the south route.

IMG_0213
Fishing Cone Geyser sits in the water at the edge of the lake

West Thumb Geyser Basin lies on the shore of beautiful Yellowstone Lake. The largest high elevation alpine lake in the lower 48 states, Yellowstone Lake boasts a large population of cutthroat trout that thrive in the average 41 degree temperature of the water.

IMG_0212
Another view of tranquil Yellowstone Lake

First stop: West Thumb Geyser Basin

Stop by the Grant Village Visitor Center, then take the short hike on the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail (boardwalk). Afterward, drive north to Fishing Bridge (fishing from the bridge is no longer allowed) to watch the cutthroat trout in one of their favorite spawning places.

Below are some of our favorite shots along the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail.

IMG_0217
Abyss Pool
IMG_0215
Black Pool
IMG_0214
Ribbons of colorful bacteria (thermophiles) seem to ooze out of Black Pool
IMG_0209
Bluebell Pool

Now, we are off to our next stop: Mud Volcano.

From West Thumb, drive north approximately 21 miles to Fishing Bridge, then continue north approximately 6 miles to Mud Volcano.

Second stop: Mud Volcano Area

IMG_0196
Boiling, steaming, mud

Take the short boardwalk trail to see Mud Volcano and its neighbor, Dragon’s Mouth Spring.

IMG_0193
Another look at mud volcano
IMG_0198
Up close and personal with Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Dragon’s Mouth Spring was one of the highlights of our trip, but the steam, which emitted with a thunderous roar, had an extra potent sulfurous odor.

IMG_0204
Thermophile colonies make their home on grasses near Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Thank you so much for joining us as we travel through Yellowstone! We hope you will return to our site next week for another great Yellowstone post. We are closing this post with a couple of shots of Hayden Valley.

IMG_0187
Hayden Valley is the place to be early in the morning for animal sightings. We saw a lot of bison here and we also saw a grizzly bear. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the bear, but we were able to watch it through binoculars as it ran across a meadow.
IMG_0186
The Yellowstone River meanders through Hayden Valley. We found this to be one of the most tranquil and uncrowded places in the park.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part Two

IMG_0127

Porcelain Basin

→Note: this is the second post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Yellowstone National Park website link: Yellowstone National Park

Destinations: Norris Area and Canyon Village Area

First Stop: Norris Area

From the west park entrance, drive 14 miles east to Madison Junction. At Madison Junction, continue east/northeast past Gibbon Falls, then north past Artist Paintpots to Norris. It is approximately 14 miles from Madison Junction to Norris.

Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest thermal area of Yellowstone National Park, is home to the elusive Steamboat Geyser which is the tallest geyser in the world. Steamboat Geyser has erupted recently, but sometimes remains dormant for years.

Take the three-quarter mile Porcelain Basin Trail (boardwalk) to see geysers, fumaroles, hot springs, steam vents, boiling water, and bubbling mud pots. Below are some of our favorite pictures from Porcelain Basin.

IMG_0138
Certain bacteria thrive in the boiling hot waters of Yellowstone National Park. These brilliant green thermophiles make an artistic display.
IMG_0139
Holy smokes!
IMG_0142
Steam vents and pristine water

The Norris area is also home to The Norris Geyser Basin Museum. The structure has a breezeway that straddles the path leading to the Porcelain Basin Terrace Overlook. Construction on the building began in 1929, and the museum is now a National Historic Landmark. This is a can’t-miss feature of the area.

Another can’t-miss feature of the Norris area is the Museum of the National Park Ranger. Originally the Norris Soldier Station, the building has seen many changes over the years, including a total rebuild using original materials and the original floor plan. Stop in to see the exhibits and watch a short film about the history of the National Park Service.

IMG_0147
Museum of the National Park Ranger

Travel tip: the steam emitted by Yellowstone’s geysers and vents smells like sulphur. This odor can linger on clothes and in hair.

Now on to the Canyon Village area of the park.

From Norris Junction go east 12 miles to Canyon Village.

Second stop: Canyon Village

IMG_0171
Coyote in a meadow between Norris and Canyon Village

Stop in at the Canyon Village Visitor Education Center. Several points along the road as well as trails offer exceptional views of the canyon and the upper and lower falls. Artists Point is a popular viewpoint. While listening to the roaring power of the falling water, hike (stairs) to the brink of Lower Falls and see them crash 309 feet down into the river canyon below. This area has several hiking trails. Check the website above for details.

IMG_0173
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
IMG_0179
Lower Falls – taller than Niagara Falls!
IMG_0176
Near the brink of Lower Falls

Yellowstone – Part Two is a wrap! We are going to end this post with the grizzly bear sculpture in front of the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone, Montana. Come back next week for Part Three. We will be posting more exciting sections of Yellowstone National Park. Thank you for joining us!

IMG_0155
A visit to the Yellowstone History Museum in West Yellowstone is a great introduction to your trip to Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to watch the film about the 1988 forest fires.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Yellowstone National Park – Part One

IMG_0510

  • Website: Yellowstone National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car for a seven day pass
  • RV, tent, and backcountry camping
  • Lodges and restaurants in the park
  • Hiking, scenic drives, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, swimming, wildlife/bird watching, hydrothermal features, etc.
  • Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing in the winter, and less crowds
  • When to go: anytime. Most crowded during the summer months. We recommend September.

→Note: this is the first post in a multi-part series covering Yellowstone National Park. Our journey originates in West Yellowstone, Montana.

IMG_0162
Forest fire? Nope, just some early morning thermal activity.

Hands down, Yellowstone is our favorite national park. Although we haven’t visited all of them yet, we can’t imagine anything topping this gem. Every aspect of the park, from the flora and the fauna to the rivers and the waterfalls to the mountains and the unique thermal features, is breathtakingly beautiful. We visited Yellowstone in the early fall, but we would love to go back for every season.

Yellowstone is 320 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah, which has the closest major airport, so that is where we begin our trip. If time permits, we recommend spending a couple of days in Salt Lake City. Here’s a link: Salt Lake City

Getting there

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 north toward Ogden, Utah. Continue north toward Pocatello, Idaho. Stay on I-15 to Idaho Falls.

20150910_171047 (1)

Bonus stop: Idaho Falls, Idaho. We spent the first night of our trip in Idaho Falls. A walk along the river in the city’s greenbelt/riverwalk area was the perfect way to stretch our legs after a day of travel. The city offers several parks, museums, and shopping.

*Recommended hotel in Idaho Falls: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Idaho Falls: Sandpiper Restaurant, 750 Lindsay Blvd.

*There are many campgrounds and RV parks in and around Idaho Falls.

Drive time between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls: 3 hours. (The scenery is gorgeous!)

From Idaho Falls, take US Highway 20 north toward Rexburg, Idaho. Continue north to West Yellowstone, Montana, which is the west entrance into the park. Drive time between Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone: 1.75 hours.

Travel tip: while driving north of Idaho Falls, look east to see the Grand Tetons on the horizon in Grand Teton National Park. There is a pull out along US Highway 20 with signs that tell about the mountains (how they got their name) and offers a good photo op. At Ashton, you will enter the beautiful Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

IMG_0512

*Recommended hotel in West Yellowstone: Kelly Inn – 104 S Canyon St., West Yellowstone, Montana – (800) 259-4672.

*There are many options for tent and RV camping in West Yellowstone as well as in the park.

Destination: Yellowstone National Park

IMG_0098

Yellowstone is huge! It takes a lot of driving and several days just to hit the highlights of the park.  However, the roads basically make an easily navigable figure eight shape (Upper Loop and Lower Loop), and with the help of the park map everything is easy to find.

Travel tip: each section of the park that we’re going to cover has either a Visitor Center and Museum, Visitor Education Center, or an Information Station. Take advantage of these excellent resources. The park rangers are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

Now on to Madison. Since we stayed in West Yellowstone, we entered the west entrance of the park and drove 14 miles (about 30 minutes) to and through the Madison area of the park every day.  The scenery along the Madison River provided us something new each day, whether it was steam rising from the river due to the chilly morning air or animals starting their day in the meadows.

First stop: Madison Area

IMG_0094
Elk along the edge of the river
IMG_0157
Steam rising from the river

The route we’re taking in this post goes from the west park entrance to the Madison area and then north toward Norris Geyser Basin. It covers less than a quarter of the Lower Loop road which is 96 miles long.

Travel tip: traffic comes to a halt when animals are on the roadways. They have the right of way! Observe speed limits, and be prepared for delays when traveling through the park. Animals on the side of the road cause traffic jams, too, because everyone (including us) wants a picture. Remember that it is illegal to approach or feed the wildlife.

IMG_0114
This bad boy caused a very long traffic jam. We ate our picnic lunch in the car while we waited.
IMG_0101
Gibbon Falls from the scenic pull-out

Travel tip: Pull-outs for park features such as waterfalls and other points of interest can be very crowded with vehicles and pedestrians. Use caution when driving in and around these areas.

IMG_0104

Second stop: Artist Paintpots 

This area makes for a nice little hike and showcases some interesting features. Fumaroles (cracks or openings in the earth where a volcano let’s off steam and gasses), steamy water, and bubbling mud are some of the features that can be seen here.

IMG_0118

IMG_0119

IMG_0121

IMG_0122

That’s going to do it for Yellowstone – Part One. Stop by next week for an exciting Part Two as we cover more of this extraordinary park. Thanks so much for traveling with us! We will close this post with a beautiful view of Mount Holmes.

img_0123.jpg

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true products, vendors, and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own. Photo copyright infringement is not intended. Our written content and photos are copyrighted, and may not be published without our permission.

©2019

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_2689
Blazing Winter Sunset

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: By Bridge

IMG_3741

Where in the world is it?

By Bridge is located in Moab, Utah. It is a pedestrian bridge that spans the Colorado River.

img_3743.jpg

IMG_3746

IMG_3751
Looking upstream at the Colorado River from By Bridge

Second stop: Gruene, Texas

Jordan's 2007 pix 231Gruene (pronunced green), is home to the famous Gruene Hall. Built in 1878, this 6,000 square foot dance hall and saloon has hosted and launched the careers of a multitude of musicians. It is the oldest dance hall in Texas.

Where in the world is it?

Gruene is about an hour southwest of Austin, off of I-35. The town of Gruene was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. In 1979, the city of New Braunfels annexed Gruene which has become a popular tourist destination.

jordans-2007-pix-230.jpg
Once the home of the son of the founder of Gruene, this beautiful building is now the Gruene Mansion Inn
Jordan's 2007 pix 247
The Guadalupe River at Gruene, Texas

It’s a fact, Jack!

More than 50 movies have been filmed in and around Moab, including City Slickers II, Con Air, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Thelma and Louise to name a few. One movie, Michael, starring John Travolta, was filmed in Gruene. In the movie, John Travolta’s character, Michael, danced at Gruene Hall. Additionally, both towns sit on the banks of rivers that empty into gulfs. The Colorado River runs for 1,450 miles to its mouth at the Gulf of California, and the Guadalupe River runs 230 miles to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120 

 

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Great Sand Dunes National Park

IMG_3382

  • Website link: Great Sand Dunes National Park.
  • Cost: $20.00 per car.
  • Accommodations: Lodges and camping located just outside the park. Campground located in the park is open from April through October. Backcountry camping permitted on the dunes, in the mountains, or in Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. See website for details.
  • The Oasis Restaurant and Store is located at the park’s main entrance, and is the only restaurant near the park.
  • Many hotels and restaurants in Alamosa, Colorado, 40 minutes southwest of the park.
  • Hiking, backpacking, sand sledding, and playing in the water (if Medano Creek is running) are all popular activities at Great Sand Dunes.
  • When to go: April through October. May is typically when Medano Creek is flowing at it’s peak due to snowmelt in the mountains.

Great Sand Dunes National Park is approximately:

170 miles from Colorado Springs, Colorado240 miles from Denver, Colorado

Our trip is going to start in Colorado Springs because it is the closest major airport city to the park. So, pack a bathing suit, some road food, a full water bottle (or two), and some hiking shoes, and let’s hit the road!

*Recommended hotels in Colorado Springs: Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn.

Travel tip: Colorado Springs is a great vacation destination itself. There are many attractions in Colorado Springs including: Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and The United States Air Force Academy. There is also a zoo, Seven Falls, and Cave of the Winds, among other attractions.

Getting There

IMG_3396
Sunrise near Saguache, Colorado

From Colorado Springs, take I-25 south to Walsenburg via Pueblo, Colorado. At Walsenburg, take Highway 160 west to Highway 150 north to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drive time between Colorado Springs, Colorado and Great Sand Dunes National Park: 2.75 hours.

⇒Side trip: Royal Gorge. From Pueblo, Colorado, take Highway 50 west to Cañon City and the Royal Gorge. Walk across the the Royal Gorge Bridge, a suspension bridge that sits 955 above the Arkansas River! Gondola rides, zip line, kiddie rides. There’s something for the whole family. Drive time between Colorado Springs, Colorado and Cañon City, Colorado: 1 hour.


Great Sand Dunes National Park lies in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in South Central Colorado. The dunes are the highest in North America, with the highest dune, Star Dune, topping 755 feet. The dunefield covers about 30 square miles.

IMG_3394

The dunes appear to take on different shapes and shadows, depending on the time of day and angle of the sun.

IMG_3388

Late summer at the park. Medano Creek is almost dry at this point, but even the smallest amounts of water cool the sand. In the summer, the sand on the dunes can reach temperatures up to 150 degrees!

IMG_3391

This guy did a little skimboarding on Medano Creek, while a lot of other people took off for the dunes.

IMG_3392

This is a great park for RV or tent camping at the park’s Piñon Flats campground, and  tent camping on the dunes is very popular. We would recommend going later in the fall or earlier in the spring when the weather is not so hot and the crowds are thinner.

IMG_3384
Dunes in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Thank you so much for traveling along with us! Leave us a comment about your trip to Great Sand Dunes, or tell us about your favorite national park. We would love to hear from you! Stop by our site often for more great trips and tips, or better yet, become a follower so you never miss a post. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

 

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_0526
Pelicans on a river

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Hovenweep National Monument

img_3794.jpg

Where in the world is it?

Hovenweep straddles the state line between the southeastern corner of Utah and southwestern corner of Colorado. It abuts Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

IMG_3796
Twin Towers

Hovenweep National Monument protects six ancient villages that are spread throughout the monument’s desolate terrain. Although the area was inhabited by ancient pueblo-dwelling farmers from about 500 AD, the park’s masonry buildings date from about 1200 to 1300 AD. Nobody knows exactly what the towers at Hovenweep were used for, but there are many theories, such as observatories, fortresses, storage structures, or religious buildings. It is estimated that 2,500 people once inhabited the area.

IMG_3800
Eroded Boulder

It is said that the Zuni, Pueblo, and Hopi tribes are descendants of the ancient Hovenweep Puebloans. Hovenweep is a Ute word that means “deserted valley”.

IMG_3798
Stronghold House

Second Stop: Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park

IMG_1652

Where in the world is it?

It is in North Platte, Nebraska.

IMG_1662

Buffalo Bill Cody was probably the first world-renowned super star. An epic showman, his traveling Wild West shows ran from 1883 to 1915 and drew thousands of spectators in the US and around the world. The show was so big that it took two trains of fifty cars each to transport the performers, animals, supplies, and props for the extravaganza. Scout’s Rest Ranch was his part-time home. His ranch near Cody, Wyoming was “home”.

IMG_1698
This is the ranch house. Scout’s Rest Ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s a fact, Jack!

William Cody was nicknamed Buffalo Bill, probably because of the large number of buffalo he killed. As a young man, he had been employed by a railroad to hunt and kill buffalo in order to feed the men who were building the train tracks. Buffalo Bill was a friend of General George A. Custer. Custer led his cavalrymen into battle against an allied group of Native American tribes at The Battle of Little Bighorn aka The Great Sioux War of 1876, which took place in Montana. Contrary to popular belief, the celebrated Lakota Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, did not fight in the battle, though he had an earlier vision of his people winning the battle. Sitting Bull’s vision and encouragement helped to spur the Native American warriors into defeating Custer and his men. Years later, Sitting Bull was hired to be a performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He was paid $50.00 per week to ride around the arena during the opening of each show. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Be sure to come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Petrified Forest National Park

Sedona 2007 097

  • Website link: Petrified Forest National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car (one week pass)
  • Hiking, biking (on paved roads), backpacking, horseback riding, backcountry camping with permit
  • Scenic drive
  • Historic Landmarks
  • Museums
  • Picnic areas
  • Restaurant in the park
  • Accommodations and restaurants in Holbrook, Arizona (30 miles west on I-40 or US Highway 180). Check out the Wigwam Motel for some Route 66 nostalgia. Here’s a link: Wigwam Motel. RV campgrounds also available in Holbrook.
  • When to go: anytime, but note that summer temperatures can be very high.

Sedona 2007 086
The Teepees

Petrified Forest National Park is 208 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has a major airport. This is our starting point, so gas up the car, drop the top, and turn on some golden oldies. We’re going to get some kicks on Route 66!

Getting ThereSedona 2007 074

From Albuquerque, take I-40 west toward Gallup, New Mexico via Grants. Cross the Arizona state line and continue on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Albuquerque and Petrified Forest: 3 hours.

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express

Campgrounds and RV parks are also available in Albuquerque.

Bonus stop: El Malpais National Monument. Website link: El Malpais. Stop by the visitor center in Grants, New Mexico then head south on Highway 53 to the monument. Entrance is free. Drive time between Albuquerque and Grants: 1 hour. Drive time between Grants and El Malpais: 30 minutes.

Bonus stop: El Morro National Monument. Only 15 minutes from El Malpais on Highway 53. Entrance is free. Website link: El Morro.

*Recommended hotel in Grants: Holiday Inn Express

RV parks are also available in Grants.

Sedona 2007 061

From El Morrow National Monument take Highway 53 west to Highway 602 north to Gallup, New Mexico. Drive time: 1 hour.

Continue west on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Gallup and Petrified Forest: 1 hour.

⇒Side Trip: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Located 86 miles north of Grants via Highway 509. Cost: $25.00 per vehicle for a one week pass. Camping available, but no RV hook-ups. Closest hotels and restaurants are approximately 1.5 hours north of the park. Here’s the website link: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Backtrack to Grants to resume your journey to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Chaco Culure and Grants: 2 hours.

Destination: Petrified Forest National Park

This is a big park! The park road is 28 miles long and includes many pull outs and stops. Come for the scenery and the learning experience. (We also like the nostalgia of Route 66.) There are photo ops around every turn, and as you will see, the sights in the park are spectacular. Be sure to stop at the visitor centers, the Painted Desert Inn Museum, and the Rainbow Forest Museum. The park also features archaeological sites, including Puerco Pueblo, Newspaper Rock, and Agate House. Theodore Roosevelt did us all a favor when he made Petrified Forest a national monument in 1906. It became a national park 56 years later in 1962.

Sedona 2007 064
Petrified Tree Trunk
Sedona 2007 062
Wood turned to stone
Sedona 2007 084
These logs appear to have been cut and purposely placed here by an ancient lumberjack.

Below are some up-close views of the beauty of the petrified wood. Just look at those colors!

Sedona 2007 070

Sedona 2007 073

Sedona 2007 087
Where else can you see this?
Sedona 2007 079
Or this?
Sedona 2007 091
Painted Desert Vista
Sedona 2007 093
Another view of Painted Desert
Sedona 2007 090
Oh, the colors!

Much of the park can be seen from the car, but we highly recommend getting out, taking a hike on or off the trails (see website), and absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells this amazing place has to offer.

Sedona 2007 065

⇒Side trip: Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Entrance is free. Website link: Canyon de Chelly.

Take I-40 east to Chambers, Arizona. At Chambers, take Highway 191 north toward Ganado, Arizona.

Bonus stopHubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Website link: Hubbell Trading Post. Cost: $5.00 per person to tour the Hubbell Home. Kids 15 and under are admitted free.

Continue north to Chinle, Arizona and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Drive time between Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly: 1.5 hours.

This concludes our trip to Petrified Forest National Park. Thank you for joining us, and we hope you enjoyed the journey. We would love to hear from you, so leave us a comment and tell us about your road trips. In closing, we are leaving you with one last photo because it reminds us of a vintage postcard that might have been found in a Route 66 curio shop back in the day!

Sedona 2007 075
Hoodoos

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_1851
Restaurant in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we’ll be on our way!

First Stop: Mexican Hat (Utah)

Where in the world is it?

It’s in southeastern Utah, and it really is a town. We heard that the town’s population is 31, but that might be a stretch. So why in the world would anyone name a town Mexican Hat? Well… ↓

IMG_2414

Surprise! It’s named after this rock formation near the town.

IMG_2412

This surreal mountain scene is also near Mexican Hat. Reminds us of Southwestern Native American pottery! Isn’t it amazing?

Second Stop: Idaho Falls (Idaho)

Where in the world is it?

The city of Idaho Falls, Idaho is in the southeastern portion of the state. The Snake River runs through the city and that’s what creates the “falls” of Idaho Falls.

20150910_171047 (1)

Below is a picture of the spire of the Latter Day Saints Temple in Idaho Falls all lit up at night. We think it’s an architectural work of art.

20150905_211458

It’s a fact, Jack!

Mexican Hat is located in the state of Utah, and so is the Great Salt Lake. Utah is derived from a Ute word meaning “people of the mountains”. No fish live in the Great Salt Lake. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! If you like our Quick Stops posts, leave us a message and let us know we should keep doing them. If you don’t like them, tell us that, too. Until the next trip…

Travel save, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Ouray, Colorado

IMG_3594

Sometimes called the Switzerland of America, Ouray (pronounced, your-ay) is one of the prettiest mountain towns in Colorado, and that’s saying something because there are a lot of them! Located on US Highway 550, aka The San Juan Skyway, which runs from Montrose, Colorado, via Silverton and Durango, Colorado, then 550 continues down to Bernalillo, New Mexico. The portion of the road from Ouray to Silverton is called the Million Dollar Highway, and is one of the most scenic drives in the United States.

Getting There

IMG_3572

The closest major airport city to Ouray is Grand Junction, Colorado, so that is where our trip will begin.

*Recommended hotel in Grand Junction: Hampton Inn.

From Grand Junction, take US Highway 50 south toward Delta, then to Montrose. Continue south through Montrose on US Highway 550 to Ouray. This route follows the Uncompahgre River to Ouray. Drive time between Grand Junction and Ouray: 1.75 hours.

Bonus stop: Ridgway State Park. Located just north of Ouray, this park offers numerous camping options, including yurts. Boating, fishing, wildlife watching, hiking, and birding are some of the activities found at this park. Plus the scenery here is spectacular! Here’s a link: Ridgway State Park.

Destination: Ouray, Colorado

IMG_3597

Here is a website link for information about lodging, food, and things to do: Ouray, Colorado

Our first stop in Ouray is Box Cañon Falls Park. Admission: $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child. Take a nice, easy trail from the entrance to the falls. You will hear the falls before you see them – they roar! Most of the water cascades behind the walls of this slot canyon, but you will catch glimpses of the falls through gaps in the rock and at the bottom. At times, the rushing water seems to appear out of nowhere. This stop is well worth the admission price. We will let the pictures below speak for themselves.

IMG_3553

IMG_3557

In addition to the easy trail to the falls, there is another trail to the top of the falls that is a little more strenuous (quite a few stairs), but the views are worth the hike.IMG_3564

Upon entering the park, you may notice pipes and sprayers arranged on the rocks along the side of the road. These are used to make ice in the winter. Ouray has become an acclaimed ice climbing destination, and the town hosts the Ouray Ice Festival every January.

Our next stop is for a short hike at Cascade Falls. Although it is only about a quarter mile to the falls, this is a moderately strenuous, steep, uphill hike. However, the waterfall is worth a little panting, and there is a nice covered area with benches at a viewpoint.

IMG_3585

While visiting Ouray, take a few minutes to learn about the town’s namesake: the great Ute Chief Ouray, and his wife, Chipeta. Their former farm, located on the Uncompahgre River south of Montrose, is now the site of the Ute Indian Museum. Another home, a cabin, stood near where the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is today in Ouray. By the way, the pool, which has recently been renovated, will delight the entire family! Here’s a link: Ouray Hot Springs Pool.

IMG_3595

Eight square blocks of the original town of Ouray are a National Historic District. We would encourage anyone visiting the town to take a walking tour along Main Street. Stop in at the Ouray County Museum for a history lesson and pick up a walking tour map, then take in the many historic sites, as well as the shops and restaurants along the way.

IMG_3574

The scenery is breathtaking, and just getting to spend a few hours or days in the peaceful solitude of this town makes it well worth the trip. Unfortunately, our visit was cut short by a large screw embedded in our tire.

IMG_3601

We hope our overview of Ouray, Colorado was informative and that we’ve inspired your wanderlust. As we always say, “Just get in the car!” With a little planning, there’s nothing more fun than a road trip, especially when you get to see scenery like this! Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_2466
Northern Arizona Sunset

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Clark Canyon Reservoir

IMG_0656

Where in the world is it?

Clark Canyon Reservoir is located in southwestern Montana about 10 miles south of the town of Dillon, at the intersection of Highway 41 and I-15.

IMG_0653

What’s so special about a lake? You may be thinking they’re a dime a dozen and that you can see one (or many) anywhere you go. Those thoughts are true, but Clark Canyon Reservoir is a special lake. It is the headwaters of the Beaverhead River, a 69-mile-long tributary of the Jefferson River. The Jefferson converges with the Gallatin River and the Madison River to form the headwaters of the Missouri River.

IMG_0651

We have also heard that Clark Canyon Reservoir has some of the best trout fishing in Montana.

IMG_0657

Though, perhaps more importantly is what sits beneath the waters of Clark Canyon Reservoir. It was called Camp Fortunate. Lewis and Clark set up camp here in 1805 as they sought a passage through the mountains. While at Camp Fortunate, they met and befriended a group of Shoshone Indians who told them of a path used by other Native Americans to cross over the mountains and provided the expedition with horses that were needed to traverse rugged terrain.

IMG_0652
Clark Canyon Reservoir sits at the 45th Parallel

Second Stop: Jacob’s Dream Sculpture

IMG_1516
Jacob’s Dream

 Where in the world is it?

Jacob’s Dream is located on the campus of Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas.

IMG_1520

Completed in 2006 by sculptor, Jack Maxwell, Jacob’s Dream depicts angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven as described in Genesis 28: 10-22. For anyone traveling through Abilene, Texas, this beautiful work of art is definitely worth a quick stop.

It’s a fact, Jack!

Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian woman, was born in 1788 in what is now Idaho. Around age twelve she was kidnapped by a rival band of Indians and taken to North Dakota. Some years later, she was sold to a French-Canadian man who claimed her as one of his wives. The Corps of Discovery aka The Lewis and Clark Expedition hired Sacagawea and her husband to travel with them as interpreters. When the expedition met and befriended the Shoshone Indians at Camp Fortunate, the chief of the tribe turned out to be Sacagawea’s brother whom she had not seen in years. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our virtual tour of Clark Canyon Reservoir and Jacob’s Dream. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_3816
A yak eating yellow flowers!

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Golden Spike Tower (Nebraska)

IMG_1627

Where in the world is it?

Golden Spike Tower is located in North Platte, Nebraska. The eight-story tower overlooks Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard, which is the largest train yard in the world. The Bailey Yard operates twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and is responsible for making sure that 10,000 rail cars per day get sent in the right direction.

IMG_1630
Watch the workings of the rail yard from the top of the Golden Spike Tower.
IMG_1634
Locomotives!

Second Stop: Lajitas, Texas

IMG_3413
Sundown at Lajitas

Where in the world is it?

It is located 12 miles southwest of Terlingua, Texas on Highway 170. Lajitas, once a thriving community turned ghost town, is now a resort.

IMG_3414
Awesome old building in Lajitas

It’s a fact, Jack!

In 1868, when the Union Pacific Railroad was extended west, the town of North Platte, Nebraska was born. The city sits at a point where the North and South Platte Rivers converge to create the Platte River. Lajitas sits at a point on the Rio Grande River, but the closest railroad is located in Alpine, Texas, almost 100 miles to the north. North Platte’s Canteen served refreshments to millions of servicemen as they passed through the depot there during World War II. By 1912, Lajitas had a saloon that served thirsty cowboys and miners who worked in the area, but the town didn’t have electricity until 1949 – four years after the end of World War II. And now you know…

That’s all for this trip. Thank you for joining us! Please come back to the site to see where our next road trip is going to take you.

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Capitol Reef National Park

IMG_2220

  • Website: Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Cost: $15.00 per vehicle.
  • Accommodations in the park: RV and tent camping. Backcountry camping allowed with a permit.
  • Great park for hiking, biking, and climbing.
  • Lodging, additional camping, and groceries available in Torrey, Utah – 11 miles west of the west park entrance.
  • Restaurants available in Torrey. *Recommended: Slackers – good burgers!
  • When to go to Capitol Reef: Anytime. We recommend May or September.

The interesting terrain at Capitol Reef National Park was created by a 90-mile long wrinkle in the earth called a waterpocket fold. The picture below was taken from a high point on Highway 12 looking toward Capitol Reef (mid-background).

IMG_2218

Getting There

From Bryce Canyon National Park, take Highway 12 (recommended scenic route through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) east toward Escalante, Utah, then north to Highway 24 through Torrey, Utah to the park’s entrance. Travel tip: use extreme caution on Highway 12 through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There are twists, turns, and high points on the two lane road with no guardrails in some places, however, the scenery is spectacular and very worth taking the route. Drive time between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef: 2.5 hours, or,

From Salt Lake City (closest major airport city), take I-15 south to Scipio, Utah. At Scipio, take US Highway 50 to US Highway 89 to Richfield, Utah then Highway 24 south(east) through Torrey, Utah and the park’s entrance. Drive time between Salt Lake City and Capitol Reef National Park: 3.5 hours.

Travel tip: if you are continuing on to Moab, Utah, top off your gas tank in Torrey before entering the park. The closest gas station (in Hanksville) is an hour east.

Destination: Capitol Reef National Park

IMG_2233

Stop in at the visitor center for information about the park. Then continue on Highway 24 to Fruita, Utah, which is the site of an old settlement that is now contained inside the park. Did you know that the original orchards planted by settlers in this area remain in Capital Reef today? The orchards are open to the public during the picking seasons. Check the park’s website for details about how and when the fruits can be harvested.

At Fruita, stop in at the Gifford House Museum and Store, check out the Fruita Schoolhouse, and don’t forget to take a few pictures of the Gifford Barn; it’s a classic!

The Fruita historic area is a great place for a leisurely stroll and a picnic. There is a campground here, too.

img_22421.jpg
Gifford Barn

IMG_2250

Take Scenic Drive south of Fruita for scenery and views of the waterpocket fold, or continue on Highway 24 east through the park. There are several places to pull out. We enjoyed seeing the petroglyphs. Parking is available in this area and there are easy trails/boardwalk to allow ample viewing of these ancient wonders.

Of course, the scenery is what we went to Capitol Reef to see, and it didn’t disappoint. Below are some of our favorite shots.

img_22361.jpg

We are quite fond of red rocks, and no, they never get old!

IMG_2259
Interesting Formations and Beautiful Colors

This park is where we first learned about desert varnish. The “varnish”, from minerals and metals in the rock turns the rock into a work of art. Isn’t nature amazing?

IMG_2251

This cliff face looks painted, but it’s not. It is just that pretty, although, the photo does not do justice to the actual view. The petroglyphs pictured above were high up on this wall.

IMG_2268Travel tip: Capitol Reef has miles and miles of hiking trails for day hikers of all skill levels. There are also many options for backcountry hiking and backpacking. Just remember that this is the desert and it can get extremely hot during the day. Take more water than you think you will need.IMG_2223We hope you enjoyed our short overview of Capitol Reef National Park. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get as much traffic or publicity as some of the other Utah national parks, but a short or long visit to Capitol Reef will be well worth you time. Leave a comment below and tell us about your trip. We love hearing from you. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

IMG_1658
West Texas cotton field

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Very Large Array (New Mexico)

Where in the world is it?

The Very Large Array, or VLA for short, is located about 50 miles west of Soccoro, New Mexico off of US Highway 60, near the tiny town of Datil. The VLA is a collection of 27 dish-shaped antennas that combine to make a radio telescope which is part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Radio telescopes focus on things in the universe that give off radio waves, such as quasars and black holes. The dishes/antennas sit on tracks so they can be moved as needed, thus the array can span a distance of 23 miles. They also tilt and turn. (Take it from us…you don’t want to be standing underneath one of these things when they start moving!) Take a look…

Sedona 2007 059

Sedona 2007 138
Each dish/antenna measures 82 feet in diameter.

For those wanting to visit the VLA, here’s a website link for information: Very Large Array.

Sedona 2007 058
Pronghorns near VLA

Second Stop: Petrified Wood Gas Station

Where in the world is it?

The building is located at 501 Main Street, Lamar Colorado. Obviously, it is no longer a gas station, but we suspect that those holes in the concrete in front of the building are where the pumps used to be.

IMG_4316

IMG_4919
Up close. Petrified wood mosaic comprising the side wall of the building.

It’s a fact, Jack!

Sedona 2007 131

Carl Sagan was a guy who wore many hats, but he was primarily a renowned astronomer, astrophysicist, and author. He was acclaimed for his research on extraterrestrial existence and was a professor of astronomy at Cornell University. Actress Jodie Foster, a graduate of Yale University, starred in the popular 1997 movie, Contact. Parts of the movie were filmed at the Very Large Array. Carl Sagan wrote the book, Contact, upon which the movie was based. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us on our virtual tour of the VLA and the petrified wood gas station. We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Monument Valley Tribal Park

IMG_2420

IMG_2438

  • Website: Monument Valley Tribal Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car, up to four people
  • Visitor center
  • Tribal owned hotel and restaurant in the park (Arizona)
  • Campground in the park
  • Privately owned lodge and restaurant in the park (Utah)
  • Additional hotels and restaurants in Kayenta, Arizona
  • Hiking
  • Guided tours
  • Scenic drive
  • When to go: anytime

Iconic. That is the word that comes to mind when seeing Monument Valley for the first time. At least it was for us. This spectacular park sits within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation in southern Utah and northern Arizona. It is not a national park service park, as some believe. It is a tribal park of the Navajo Nation. Many movies have been filmed at Monument Valley because the scenery epitomizes the American West.

IMG_2434

Getting There

Our trip is going to start from Page, Arizona, which has a small regional airport.

From Page, take Highway 98 east to US Highway 160. At US Highway 160, take US Highway 163 northeast to Kayenta, Arizona. Continue east to the park entrance near the Arizona-Utah border. Drive time: 2.25 hours.

*Recommended hotel in Page: Hampton Inn

*Recommended restaurant in Page: El Tapatio – 25 S Lake Powell Blvd.

Destination: Monument Valley Tribal Park

Our trip to Monument Valley was on the highway (US Highway 163 and US Highway 160) because we arrived when the visitor center was closing. This is a park that we will definitely return to in order to see and do everything it has to offer. However, a lot of the beauty of the park can be seen from the road. We will let the pictures speak for themselves…

IMG_2454
Awe-inspiring Agathla Peak near Kayenta, Arizona
IMG_2457
Owl Rock near Kayenta, Arizona
IMG_2446
West Mitten Butte, Monument Valley
IMG_2445
He posed as if he knew he belonged in the picture!

The tallest butte in Monument Valley rises approximately 1,000 feet above the valley floor. The colors are incredible, and, no, we never get tired of seeing red rocks!

IMG_2437
Setting Hen
IMG_2447
Beautiful Butte
IMG_2439
Monument Valley Vista

⇒Side trip: Valley of the Gods. On Highway 163, about seven miles north of Mexican Hat, Utah. Drive time between Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods: 1 hour. Fantastic scenery all the way, so the drive is worth the time!

IMG_2406
Valley of the Gods

Travel tip: Valley of the Gods is located on Bureau of Land Management property. The roads are graded dirt and there are no facilities. Take plenty of water, and prepare for the weather.

Bonus stop: Alhambra Rock. Located just a few miles south of Mexican Hat, Utah, this is a can’t-miss photo op.

IMG_2416
Alhambra Rock

Thank you for joining us on our virtual tour of Monument Valley. We hope that we have inspired you to venture off on your own road trip through this magical place. Please become an e-mail follower so you never miss a post. We would love to hear from you, so leave us a comment about your own trips. We are going leave this post with one last view of the fantastic formations in Monument Valley.

IMG_2435
The Stagecoach, Rabbit and Bear, Castle Butte, and the King on his Throne

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

img_2207.jpg
Your guess is as good as ours!

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Fort Davis National Historic Site

IMG_3135
Officers Row

Where in the world is it?

Fort Davis National Historic Site is located in Fort Davis, Texas, which is about 95 miles southwest of Pecos, Texas on Highway 17.

IMG_3128 - Copy
Remains of the original fort and some remaining buildings.

Established in 1854 as a frontier military post, the soldiers stationed at Fort Davis  were tasked with patrolling the San Antonio-El Paso Road. The widely traveled road was used to transport goods, mail, and emigrants traveling to California hoping to strike it rich in the gold rush there. Over the years, several regiments called Fort Davis home, including a cavalry regiment of African Americans called Buffalo Soldiers. The fort was abandoned in 1891.

IMG_3136
The fort’s hospital has been restored and is now a museum.

Second stop: Pipe Spring National Monument

img_2560.jpg

Where in the world is it?

Pipe Spring National Monument is located in northern Arizona on Highway 389, between Fredonia and Colorado City on Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians tribal land near the Utah border.

IMG_2566
Living Quarters

Kaibab Paiute Indians have called this area home for hundreds of years, but when Mormon settlers arrived between 1860 and 1870, things changed for the Native Americans. Pipe Spring was an important water source in this arid strip of Arizona, and when the Mormon settlers decided to claim the land for themselves, conflict arose.

IMG_2569
Pond at Pipe Spring

Today, the site is dedicated to telling both sides of the story, and if you happen to be in the area, the park is definitely worth the stop. The park maintains farm animals, a vegetable garden, and an orchard at Pipe Spring.

img_2561.jpg
Farm animals at Pipe Spring

It’s a fact, Jack!

In 1918, German men were seen with Mexican troops at Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Anticipating an attack on the US at the border town of Nogales, Arizona, American Buffalo Soldiers engaged in an gun battle with the Mexican troops across the border. It was the only World War I battle fought on American soil. And now you know…

That’s all for this post. Thank you for joining us! We invite you to return to our site every week for another great adventure on the road. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

Featured

Black Hills of South Dakota – Day Seven

IMG_1448

Day Seven

Destination: Relaxation

Surprise! We’re leaving the entire day open for you.

However, we are going to leave you with a few additional photos. (Oh, and if you need help finding something to do on this final day of your Black Hills vacation, check out this link: Visit Rapid City)

IMG_1467
Badlands Bison
IMG_1599
Delta-01 Launch Control, 31 feet underground. Note the wall-size computer.
IMG_1589
Blast Door on the Delta-01 Launch Control Center
IMG_1477
Precious Prairie Dog
IMG_1453
Animatronic T-Rex at Wall Drug
IMG_1365
This snake interrupted our hike at Roughlock Falls in Spearfish Canyon.
IMG_1292
Dog “driving” a red truck at Mount Rushmore.
IMG_1214
Giant short-faced bear skeleton at The Mammoth Site.

Wow! What a week! Thank you for hanging on with us through this series of blog posts.  Below is a little trivia you can use to impress your friends.

If you followed our itinerary, you:

  • visited three National Parks (Wind Cave, Theodore Roosevelt, Badlands);
  • visited two National Monuments (Devils Tower, Jewel Cave);
  • visited one National Memorial (Mount Rushmore);
  • visited one State Park (Custer);
  • visited one National Historic Landmark (Deadwood);
  • visited one National Historic Site (Minuteman Missile);
  • visited one National Natural Landmark (The Mammoth Site);
  • visited three states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming);
  • saw a lot of wildlife;
  • saw some spectacular scenery;
  • probably learned something new;
  • can tell all your friends that you’ve been to Wall Drug Store!

Stay tuned for another series coming soon. Meanwhile, check back on our site each week for another great road trip or travel tip. We post on Saturday mornings, and we would love to have you join us on our journeys. By the way, we would love to hear about your journeys, too, so leave us a note in the comments section. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

Featured

Black Hills of South Dakota – Day Six

IMG_1448

→Note: this post is the sixth in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Day Six

Destination: Badlands National Park

IMG_1464

  • Website link: Badlands National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car
  • Accommodations: Cedar Pass Lodge and campground, and one additional primitive campground. Backcountry camping is permitted. See the website for details.

IMG_1456

Take I-90 east toward Wall, South Dakota. Drive time: 1 hour.

Bonus stop: Wall Drug Store. The ultimate tourist trap! You can’t miss the exit because there is a sign every few hundred feet (it seems) along I-90. This place has everything imaginable, including their famous free ice water. Definitely worth a stop for food, gasoline, shopping, and more.

From Wall, take Highway 240 south to the Pinnacles Entrance of Badlands National Park.

Look for bison and prairie dogs near the entrance station. Notice the pristine prairie of Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Listen for the wind rustling the grasses. The rattling sound the grass makes is enchanting.

IMG_1397

IMG_1509

After entering the park, turn right (west) on to Sage Creek Rim Road (unpaved) for spectacular views and sightings of bighorn sheep. Stop at each of the overlooks on this road for major photo ops of the Badlands Wilderness. Remember not to approach or feed wildlife.

Turn around and head east toward the paved road, which is Badlands Loop Road. Follow this road through the park, stopping at the overlooks for different perspectives and information on the park. Photos do not do justice to the beautiful scenery in this park. We believe it needs be seen in person.

IMG_1517
Badlands Wilderness
IMG_1541
Panoramic view from Badlands Loop Road

It is approximately 25 miles from the Pinnacles Entrance to the park headquarters, Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Just before reaching the visitor center, stretch your legs at the short, easy Fossil Exhibit Trail, then drive on to the visitor center for the exhibits, more gorgeous scenery, and additional park information.

IMG_1531
Stunning colors!
IMG_1543
Yes, it really is this pretty!
IMG_1556
Ancient Seabed

Take Highway 240 north out of the park toward I-90.

IMG_1586Bonus stop: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Just north of I-90 when exiting Badlands National Park. View the exhibits in the visitor center and check in for your guided tour of the park’s Delta-01 site. During the tour, you will go underground to see how minuteman missiles were used to protect the United States during the Cold War. Advance reservations are required for the tour, and there is a nominal fee. Check the park’s website for details. Here’s a link: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

img_1588.jpg

This is a very interesting site and a great learning experience! We highly recommend a tour of the Delta-01 site.

Return to Rapid City via I-90 west.

That’s day six, folks, and what a full day it was! We hope you enjoyed traveling with us to Badlands National Park, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, and Wall Drug Store. Our mission is to share our knowledge to help you plan your own great vacations. Log in to our site next week for the final day, Day Seven, of our Black Hills vacation itinerary. Better yet, become a follower so you get an e-mail notification every time we post a new trip. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Black Hills of South Dakota – Day Five

IMG_1387

→Note: this post is the fifth in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Day Five

Destination: Theodore Roosevelt National Park – South Unit (North Dakota)

img_1394.jpg

Travel tip: Day five will be a long day of driving. We recommend getting an early start. Take along plenty of water, road snacks, and a picnic lunch. Comfortable clothes and walking/hiking shoes are a must.

Take I-90 west from Rapid City to Sturgis. At Sturgis take Highway 79 north to Castle Rock. At Castle Rock take Highway 168 west to US Highway 85 north. Stay on US Highway 85 across the North Dakota state line to I-94. Drive time between Rapid City and Theodore Roosevelt National Park: 4 hours.

IMG_1386This part of the country is beautiful rolling hills and grasslands, with an interesting rock formation or butte every once in a while. We imagine this is where the deer and the antelope play. And speaking of antelope, look for herds of pronghorns along this road. We didn’t see buffalo, or rather bison, until we got to the park, but we thought this road sign was great! Which one is it?

Take I-94 west. At Exit 32, stop at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center for incredible views of the park! Continue west on I-94. Take Exit 27 to Medora, North Dakota and the South Unit Visitor Center. Here you will see Theodore Roosevelt’s cabin (pictured below)  from his Maltese Cross Ranch, which was located near where the park is today.

IMG_1391
View from Painted Canyon Visitor Center
IMG_1421
Maltese Cross Ranch Cabin

At the South Unit Visitor Center, you will be able to pay for your park pass, pick up your park brochure/map, view the exhibits, and watch a short movie about the park. Enjoy a picnic lunch before you head out to Scenic Loop Drive. The best of the park can be seen on this ninety minute drive. Take some of the short, easy hiking trails to stretch your legs and to get up close and personal with the park. Click the park’s link above for details.

IMG_1409
Sweet little doe! Isn’t she pretty?

IMG_1408

IMG_1475
Adorable little prairie dog!

IMG_1413

We we were able to see deer, bison, prairie dogs, and wild horses in the park, all from Scenic Loop Drive. The park is scenic, peaceful, and uncrowded.

IMG_1415
The Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
IMG_1404
Tranquility and beauty all wrapped up in one!
IMG_1407
Interesting Landscape

img_1445-e1534043587918.jpg

Take I-94 east to US Highway 85 south to return to Rapid City.

Bonus stop: Belle Fourche, South Dakota. Belle Fourche claims to be the geographic center of the United States. Stop to see the monument, although, the actual marker is located twenty miles north of the town and is (was) virtually unmarked. The Belle Fourche River runs next to the park.

Continue south on US Highway 85 to Spearfish, then take I-90 east to Rapid City.

We’re going to close this post with one final picture, simply because you never know what you’re going to see along the road. (And, you never know what you’re missing, such as this…ah, sculpture? in Bowman, North Dakota!) So get out there! As we like to say, “Just get in the car.”

IMG_1428

Come back to our site next week for day six of our Black Hills of South Dakota vacation itinerary. It’s going to be a good one! Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

Featured

Black Hills of South Dakota – Day Four

IMG_1448

→Note: this post is the fourth in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Day Four

Destination: Mount Rushmore

IMG_1287

  • Website: Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Cost: Free, but there is a $10.00 parking fee per car. Park passes are not accepted for parking fees.
  • Restaurant in the park.
  • Hotels and camping available in Keystone, South Dakota.
  • Great photo ops here. Plan to spend several hours.

img_1280.jpg

(Short route) Take US Highway 16 from Rapid City to US Highway 16A, and Keystone, South Dakota, then Highway 244 to Mount Rushmore. Look for Big Horn Sheep along this road. Drive time: 30 minutes.

Recommended alternate route: (Long route) Take Highway 79 south from Rapid City to Highway 36 and Custer State Park. Just before entering the park, turn right (north) on to the Iron Mountain Road (Highway 16A). This is a scenic route full of twists, turns, and tunnels. Large vehicles and RVs will not be able to navigate this road. Drive time on Iron Mountain Road: 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drive time to Mount Rushmore from Rapid City via Iron Mountain Road: 1.5 to 2 hours.

IMG_1279
View from the final tunnel on Iron Mountain Road. (Our apologies for the camera lens smudge.)

The musuem at the visitor center is spectacular! Plan to spend an hour in the museum alone. Learn about the sculptors, the workers, and how the monument came to be. Find out why Gutzon Borglum chose to memorialize the four presidents who are depicted at Mount Rushmore. Also visit the Sculptor’s Studio (reopening after renovations are completed in May, 2019) where Borglum worked and designed the memorial. Walk/hike the presidential trail and the nature trail then go back to the visitor center for ice cream. Watch for mountain goats in the meadows surrounding Grandview Terrace and the amphitheater. Pay a visit to the gift shop for souvenirs. Finally, stay to see the sculpture illuminated at night (year-round). An evening lighting ceremony is held during the summer months. Check the website for seasonal hours.

img_1285.jpg
Avenue of Flags
IMG_1295
View from the parking lot
IMG_1296
Black Hills as seen from Mount Rushmore

From Mount Rushmore, take Highway 16A via Keystone to Highway 16 to Rapid City. Drive time: 30 minutes.

Bonus stop: Keystone, South Dakota. Entertainment venues for the entire family from mini golf to museums to shopping to zip lines. Restaurants, hotels, and campgrounds available. Here’s a link: Keystone.

*Recommended hotel in Keystone: Holiday Inn Express.

We hope our overview of Mount Rushmore National Memorial has left you wanting to see it for yourself. While we can’t guarantee anything, we’re pretty sure you will love it as much as we did.

Visit our site next week for Day Five of our Black Hills of South Dakota vacation. Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

Featured

Black Hills of South Dakota – Day Three

IMG_1448

→Note: this post is the third in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Day Three

Destination: Custer State Parkimg_1266-e1534024838736.jpg

  • Website link: Custer State Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car for one week pass (as of August, 2018).
  • For the best wildlife sightings, arrive early in the morning or early in the evening.
  • This park has everything from biking to hiking to horseback riding to swimming.

Travel tip: this will be a full day trip. Pack road snacks and plenty of water, along with a fully charged camera battery/phone and a picnic lunch. Or, drive (15 minutes) in to the city of Custer and have lunch.

*Recommended restaurant in the city of Custer: Black Hills Burger and Bun Co – 441 Mt Rushmore Rd. Their burgers rank in our top three best ever, and their cheese curds… All we can say is you’ve gotta try ’em!

IMG_1262
View from Custer State Park

From Rapid City take Highway 79 south to Highway 36 west. Continue west on Highway 16A to the park entrance. Drive time: 45 minutes.

Travel tip: Custer State Park is a place where you could spend an entire week and never have to leave the park. Great vacation destination by itself, and one of our very favorite state parks.

Lodges, cabins, tent and RV camping available in the park. Hotels available in the city of Custer.

*Recommended hotel in the city of Custer: Holiday Inn Express.

IMG_2608 (1)
Pronghorn herd

After entering the park, turn south on to Wildlife Loop Road for potential wildlife sightings of all kinds, including herds of bison and pronghorn. Look for prairie dogs, turkeys, and other wildlife along the way, too. Take your time while driving this road, and stop at the visitor centers for information about the park. Check out the lodges or campgrounds while you’re here so you can plan a trip back in the future!

IMG_1264
Along Needles Highway

At Highway 16A turn left to go to the city of Custer or turn right to go east to Highway 87, then turn north on to Highway 87 (Needles Highway).

Travel tip: Needles Highway has low, narrow tunnels. Check with the park before attempting to navigate this road in/with a large vehicle or RV.

Continue on Highway 87 northwest to Sylvan Lake. Drive slowly, and take advantage of the pull outs for the many photo ops along this road. Sylvan Lake is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch and then a hike or walk around the lake. Nice visitor center/store here, too.

img_1245.jpg
Sylvan Lake
IMG_1263
Panorama along Needles Highway
IMG_1271
Center Lake – good place to fish
IMG_1260
Narrow tunnel
IMG_1256
Needles

Backtrack south on Needles Highway to US Highway 16A. Turn left (east) and take US Highway 16A to Highway 36, and then Highway 79 north to Rapid City. Drive time: 1.5+ hours.

Alternate route: From Sylvan Lake, continue north on Highway 87 to US 385 toward Hill City. Stay on 385 north then take Highway 44 east to Rapid City. Drive time: 1 hour.

IMG_1248

That’s our wrap up of Custer State Park. We hope your trip there is as amazing as we think it will be. Check our site next week for Day Four of our Black Hills itinerary. Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

Featured

Black Hills of South Dakota – Day Two

IMG_1448

→Note: this post is the second in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Day Two:

Destinations: The Mammoth Site and Wind Cave National Park

Travel tip: pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at Wind Cave National Park and wear sturdy walking/hiking shoes with non-slip soles. A light jacket may be needed for cave tours.

The Mammoth Site

IMG_1222

From Rapid City take Highway 79 south to Hot Springs, South Dakota. Drive time between Rapid City and Hot Springs: 1 hour. The Mammoth Site is located at 1800 US 18 Bypass, Hot Springs, South Dakota.

img_1217.jpg
Replica of a Columbian Mammoth in the visitor center

Website link: Mammoth Site. Take a guided tour of the active indoor dig site and see the bones of mammoths right where they were found. Great learning experience for kids and adults! Tours can be booked ahead of your trip or you can book when you arrive. Plan to spend two hours visiting the site. This is a National Natural Landmark.

img_1211.jpg
Bones, bones, and more bones!
IMG_1215
Preserved baby mammoth found frozen in Siberia

From Hot Springs take US Highway 385 north to Wind Cave National Park. Drive time between Hot Springs and Wind Cave National Park: 15 minutes.

Wind Cave National Park 

img_1232.jpg

  • Website link: Wind Cave National Park.
  • Cost: free, although guided cave tours have various prices, depending on the tour. Wheelchair accessible tours are also available. Click the link above for details.
  • Hiking, biking, and horseback riding available in the park.
  • Campground with seasonal restrooms. Backcountry camping allowed with a permit.

Many animals, reptiles, and birds call this park home. See how many you can find. We bet you’ll see one of these ↓

img_1229.jpg

IMG_1235
Natural entrance to the cave
IMG_2595 (1)
Boxwork formations inside Wind Cave. This is the only place in the world it has ever been found.
IMG_2596 (1)
Another view of the cave ceiling
img_1224.jpg
Bison grazing on the rolling prairie of Wind Cave National Park

Take US Highway 385 south to Highway 101, then east to Highway 79 north, back to Rapid City. Drive time: 1 hour.

Recommended alternate route: Drive time: 1.5 hours. Take US Highway 385 north to Custer, South Dakota. Bonus stop: Jewel Cave National Monument. Several different cave tours available. Advance reservations recommended for the popular Scenic Tour. Many stair steps in the cave and children cannot be carried. Click here for information about the park: Jewel Cave National Monument.

Stay on 385 to Crazy Horse Memorial. Bonus stop: Crazy Horse Memorial. Click here for information about the site: Crazy Horse Memorial.

Continue on 385 to Highway 44 east to Rapid City.

IMG_1199

Hopefully, the second day of your Black Hills vacation has been interesting and fun. We will cover Day Three next week, so stay tuned! Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to the Black Hills of South Dakota – Day One

img_1448.jpg

→Note: this post is the first in a series as we cover a week long vacation itinerary. Our trip starts at Rapid City, South Dakota. 

  • Rapid City, South Dakota is a great “home” base for all this area has to offer.
  • Rapid City has a major airport.
  • Excellent family vacation destination.
  • When to go: Anytime. We recommend May, June, July and September. (Note: the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place during the first two weeks of August. We do not recommend going at this time unless you are planning to participate in the rally.)

There is so much to do in the western part of South Dakota that you could actually spend several days (or weeks) at most of the sites we’re going to talk about, however, we’re going to do it in one week. For those who want to do it all and see it all, but don’t have a lot of time, this road trip is the one for you!

Starting in Rapid City, let’s hit the road.

IMG_1231

*Recommended hotel in Rapid City: Holiday Inn Express on I-90. (Restaurants and shopping nearby.)

*Recommended splurge restaurant in Rapid City: Minervas Restaurant & Bar – 2111 N. LaCrosse St.

*Recommended family restaurant in Rapid City: Chili’s Grill & Bar – 2125 Haines Ave.

*RV and tent camping available in many locations in and around Rapid City.

Day One:

Destinations: Devils Tower National Monument and Spearfish Canyon

Travel tip: this will be a full day, so plan to leave early in the morning. We recommend 7:00 am. Pack a picnic lunch, road snacks, plenty of water, and suitable-for-hiking footwear for this day trip.

Drive time between Rapid City and Devils Tower National Monument: 1.75 hours.

IMG_1299Take I-90 West toward Sturgis. Bonus Stop: Sturgis, South Dakota. Even if you’re not a biker, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame is worth a stop.

Continue on I-90 via Spearfish, and then on to Sundance, Wyoming. At Sundance, the road changes to US Highway 14. Bonus Stop: Sundance, Wyoming. Crook County Museum – 309 E Cleveland St. Nice museum with history about the area and the Sundance Kid.

IMG_1309

Travel tip: top off your gas tank in Sundance.

Continue on US Highway 14, then take Highway 24 north toward Devil’s Tower.  Make a quick stop at the Devils Tower Trading Post for souvenirs before proceeding to the park entrance.

IMG_1330

Devils Tower National Monument

  • Website link: Devils Tower National Monument
  • Cost: $20.00 per car (as of August, 2018). Travel tip: the National Park Service will be increasing all park entrance fees during the next year.
  • RV and tent camping available in the park.
  • Picnic areas and hiking trails in the park.
  • Night sky programs.
  • Climbing is permitted with registration of climbers.

 After a stop at the visitor center, we recommend taking Tower Trail for a hike around the base of Devils Tower. Just a little over a mile long, the trail is easy (stroller friendly) and has some tree shaded areas and benches. Look up to see (the very gutsy) climbers on the tower. Afterward, enjoy a picnic lunch in the park.

IMG_1338
Devils Tower from Tower Trail
img_1326.jpg
Another view of Devils Tower

Take Highway 24 back to US Highway 14/I-90 east toward Spearfish, South Dakota. Bonus stop: Vore Buffalo Jump (archaeological site). Take Exit 199. Here’s a link: Vore Buffalo Jump.

Spearfish Canyon

At Spearfish take US Highway (Alt)14 south (Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway). Breathtaking scenery. Can’t miss: Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls for photo ops. Plan to hike the easy, paved trail at Roughlock Falls.

IMG_1358
Bridal Veil Falls
IMG_1373
Roughlock Falls

Continue on US Highway (Alt)14 to Deadwood.

Bonus stop: Deadwood, South Dakota.img_1383.jpg This town is a National Historic Landmark, rich in Black Hills Gold Rush and Old West history. Shopping, casinos, bars and restaurants, as well as historic homes, a museum, and the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

Hotels and camping available in Deadwood.

Continue on US Highway 14 to Sturgis, then take I-90 east to Rapid City.

We hope you had a fun and exciting first day of your Black Hills vacation. Check back next week for Day Two. Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

Sedona 2007 012
Magical, misty mountain with rainbow at Grand Canyon National Park

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Vicksburg National Military Park

IMG_1686

Where in the world is it?

Vicksburg National Military Park is located in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

For forty-seven days in 1863, Union and Confederate troops battled for control of Vicksburg, a stronghold on the Mississippi River, but the Union forces persevered and forced the Confederates to surrender on July 4. It was a turning point of the Civil War, as the Confederates lost control of the Mississippi River. Today, the national park is a beautiful memorial to the sacrifices made there. Two of the many monuments that are located in the park and the Vicksburg National Cemetery are pictured below.

IMG_1709
Missouri Memorial
IMG_1711
Texas Memorial
IMG_1707
Vicksburg National Cemetery

Second Stop: Terlingua Ghost Town

IMG_2730

Where in the world is it?

It’s in Southwest Texas near Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande River. Cinnabar, from which mercury (aka quicksilver) is derived, was mined at the Chisos Mine (Chisos Mining Company) in Terlingua from about 1905 to 1943. During the height of the mine’s operation, Terlingua reportedly had a population of 2,000.

IMG_2719
Terlingua Cemetery

The Terlingua Cemetery, established in the early 1900s, is still in use today. Terlingua Historic District, which includes the ghost town, the remains of the mine, and the cemetery, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s a fact, Jack!

Approximately 17,000 Union soldiers are buried in Vicksburg National Cemetery. Confederate soldiers are buried in the Soldier’s Rest section of Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg. The Terlingua Cemetery is the final resting place of miners, citizens of the town, and victims of an influenza epidemic back in the early 1900s. One Civil War veteran, John M. Southard aka Tomas Southard White, who died in 1910 and was a member of the 47th Kentucky Artillery, is buried in Terlingua Cemetery. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go To Fort Union National Monument

IMG_3160

 

IMG_3168

  • Website link: Fort Union
  • Cost: free
  • Hours vary seasonally
  • Short film in the visitor center about the history of the fort
  • Self-guided or ranger-led tours of the grounds
  • When to go: anytime

Fort Union National Monument is:

150 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and since Albuquerque has a major airport, we will start our adventure from there. Let’s go!

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

Campgrounds and RV parks are also available in Albuquerque.

IMG_3155
Prairie near Fort Union. Imagine a wagon train ambling along the Santa Fe Trail here. Aside from the barbwire fences, this scene probably hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years.

Getting There

From Albuquerque take I-25 north toward Santa Fe. At Santa Fe continue on I-25/US 84 east toward Glorietta and Pecos, New Mexico.

IMG_3877

Bonus stop: Pecos National Historical Park. We love this park so much that we have recommended it on our site before. Take the self-guided tour to see the remains of a pueblo that was built around 800 AD. Plan to spend a couple of hours here. The visitor center is very interesting and definitely worth a visit. Here’s a link: Pecos National Historic Park.

Continue northeast on I-25/US 84 toward Las Vegas, New Mexico, then continue north to the town of Waltrous. Follow the signs from Waltrous to Fort Union. Drive time between Albuquerque and Fort Union: 2.25 hours.

Hotels, restaurants, and RV/tent camping available 30 minutes away in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Destination: Fort Union National Monument

IMG_3163
Fort Union’s Officer’s Row

Fort Union was an important outpost on the Santa Fe Trail. The fort was originally established in 1851 to be a supply depot and living quarters for soldiers serving to protect travelers and traders on the trail. With the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, better living conditions were needed, and the fort’s original wooden buildings were refurbished or rebuilt with adobe and brick. Larger supply warehouses were added at that time, and Fort Union began providing supplies to all the forts in the region.

IMG_3175
Mechanic’s Corral. This is where they worked on the vehicles of the day.