Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lunch in Buffalo, Wyoming

We'd heard about Tom's Diner in the quaint little
town of Buffalo, Wyoming. We decided to stop and
check it out on our way through.

Just our kind of place, small, unique, and
full of locals. Tom's the owner, the cook,
and an author too. Really nice guy.

This pretty much sums up the size of the place. Tom's the guy
in the middle in the gray t-shirt, busy cooking with his
back to the camera.

And here's the size of the homemade green chili
burger with handcut french fries. Too big! Should
have split one. Really good though!

Tom sings while he's cooking, and comes around
the counter to visit with you in between orders.
Here's the really funny part...

I was reading a newspaper clipping on the wall
about Tom's recent book about his childhood in
Wyoming. Wrote it with his older brother Jerry.
Turns out it's Tom and Jerry in Jerry
Spence the big time defense attorney, often seen
on national TV in his big cowboy had and fringed
buckskin jacket! There was one small photo on the
wall of the two of them. It's a small world after all.

Check it out if you're in Buffalo. Open for
breakfast and lunch, Tom locks the door about 1 p.m.
Right on the main drag of town, easy to find.
We parked the rig about two blocks away by the
elementary school.

Hanging out in Sturgis, SD

Our next stop was Sturgis, SD. I needed
a few days to get some writing done, and
we found this big rig park high on a hill.
They don't advertise, and essentially exist
just for the famous Harley gathering in August.

We had the place to ourselves! Super nice folks
that run it, $15 a day, lots of wind and a
spectacular view in every direction.

If you can find em', they'll let you in. Call first,
it's actually called the Big Rig RV Park. They'll
meet you at the end of the long, uphill, dirt driveway
and guide you to the top.

Nothing fancy, but BIG views in all directions.
Expect to pay considerably more during the rally,
if you can even get in. The town will be PACKED to the
gills. Many of the RV parks exist solely for the 10-days
in August.

Furious Blogging-the Badlands...

This is getting ridiculous. I'm getting emails
from friends saying "you're not doing anything..."

Yeah sure. Actually, I'm working my kiester off
and haven't had time to post. So I shall now
leap into a furious blog fest as I try to get
caught up to the present...

After Cabellas, we headed straight to the
Badlands. We were here years ago, and always
thought it would be cool to spend a night here.

Who says you can't stay in National Parks
in a big rig?

For five buckaroos a night, this was our stopping place.

It stays light out for a long time now, so
we took an evening walk through the hills.

We decided we wanted to get moving on to
Wyoming, so left at 5:30 a.m. The morning
light was glorious, and we stopped at a trailhead
to have a morning stroll. At 6 a.m., we were the
only ones on the trail. Here we are looking back at
our rig...we became human petroglyphs with our shadows!
Can you see Rusty's shadow too?

It's such an unusual place, with expanses of
prairie bordered by the rock formations.

The wind dances through the wildflowers...

and the craggy canyons carved out by time...

After our walk, we drove a little further.
Isn't it hard to imagine that this great expanse
was once a sea and then a jungle?

The hills reveal their ancient past in their rich colors of red
and green. Compressed palm trees perhaps??

As we were leaving I commented to Ron that my only
disappointment was that we hadn't seen any Bighorn Sheep.
They were almost gone for good here, but have been
reintroduced. Right before we left the National Park,
we decided to stop in one last pullout to admire the view.
We crested a hill just in time to see...

This guy! But it got even better.
He wasn't alone. He was with his family!
Here's one of the Mom's with her kid...

They scrambled over the side, and made their
way up a steep rocky face.I could hardly stand
to watch as the little baby sheep teetered on a
rocky ledge. It was so quiet, you could hear the loose
rocks tumbling from under their feet. But the little guys stuck
like glue. Here's a closeup of the group...

This will give you a better perspective
of the precarious position! Can you see them
in the middle of the picture?

Big Daddy kept an eye on things from below...

We were so happy to see this unique
moment with the whole Bighorn Sheep family.
What a great way to finish our stay in
the Badlands. Next stop...WYOMING!

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Friend To RVers...

This is such a cool place. We stopped in Wall, SD to
cruise through Cabela's on Father's Day.
Pix are kind of dark because it was raining a bit,
but check this out. HUGE parking lot specifically
for RV's. Trucks are directed to a separate lot. You
can stay here, no problem.

There's a complete dumpsite too...

This is a great parking place, with Menards across the street. If you
haven't been in one before, they're like a nice Home Depot or Lowes.
Super Wal-mart on the same block too.

There are even dog kennels at the end of the RV
parking lot, and a huge grassy area with a pond.
You can see it in the background behind the kennels.

You can get locks for the kennels at the front desk
if you want to leave your furry friend in a kennel
while you shop.

We had a great time and spent hours in the store. They even
had a little Father's Day breakfast buffet.

Rusty couldn't quite figure this guy out though...

But that was only the beginning of the critters
he encountered.

Cabela's has ALL thinks hunting and fishing, along with
lots of other outdoor gear. Plus, the decor is quite interesting
to say the least.

Here's the moosey guy who didn't quite make into the above photo.
Sorry buddy...

Four pairs of shoes, a shirt, and a life jacket for
Rusty later, we returned to the parking lot to find this
perfect example of too little truck for too much load. Don't
know if you can see it, but the truck was busy spewing it's
fluids all over the parking lot.

At any rate, we had fun at Cabela's and are happy
to see they are building new stores in both Boise, ID
and Glendale, AZ. All of their stores welcome RV's with
this type of facilities.

Don't Do This!

As we traveled across South Dakota we
stopped for the night at the Sam's Club
parking lot in Sioux City. Right next door
to the Wal-Mart, but much easier to park
and a lot quieter.

As we were preparing to depart in the
morning, this caught my eye. If you look
hard at the left hand corner of the photo,
you'll see where they dumped their dishwater
into the parking lot, along with stacking coolers
and other camping gear outside. Oh No!!

It was young couple, and we had a hunch
they just didn't know any better, so
Ron walked over and had a polite talk
with them. Sure enough, it was their first
trip in a borrowed camp trailer.

They thanked Ron profusely for talking to
them, so hopefully they won't be doing their
overnights like this anymore!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Good Eats In Kansas

We love to go exploring in the smaller towns, and
while we were at Horizons we headed out to find
a unique restaurant we'd read about. It's called
the Hickory Tree, and it's about 60 miles West
of Junction City in the teensy town of Smolan.

Set up in an old high school, folks travel from
miles around to go here. It's an "all you can eat"
BBQ buffet for $12 each, including tax, beverage, and
dessert. The entire gym has been transformed into
a dining room with a fun theme, and even still has
basketball nets and cages around the lights. The walls
are papered with old National Geographic Magazine covers.

Life is dessert first! The dessert table
is the first stop inside the door.

It's called the Hickory Tree because all the BBQ is done
over hickory wood. Ribs anyone?

There's also chicken and shredded pork too, plus
all the yummy side dishes. Mmmmmmmm good!

Be sure you stop here if you're in the area. They're
only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings though.

Everybody has a great time...

And if you want, you can even sign the wall in the
front stairway when you're done!

Custom Built Excellence - New Horizons

After our lakeside respite, it was
time for our visit to Horizons. How about
his for an all-star review?
Built by hand, only 50 are produced
each year and are the only fifth wheel
that gets a five star rating as a full-timer's
fifth wheel.

Here are some new rigs waiting
for the final touches...

And guess what? In September we'll be
back to check on one more in the line.
Our new one! We spent the week designing
our new rig. We'll be the first 2007 after
their new show rig is built. Yippee! Stay
tuned for the grand tour when it's done.

In the meantime, our gorgeous 2003 (prominently
featured throughout this blog) is now for sale.
It's a perfect fulltimer's rig, so drop us a
line if you're interested. Besides, it's stuffed
full of good karma!

Onward to Junction City, Kansas

Our next stop after Indiana was Junction City, KS
to go to the Horizons factory. After many
bug riddled miles, we pulled into the brand new
car and RV wash next door. In we go!

Too bad the second half of their business wasn't
open yet. Rusty could have had a bath! Haven't seen
one of these combos since the Oregon Coast (see
our old blog posts for photos)

Ron's got his work cut out for him...

but the new facility makes it a little bit easier, and is infinitely
more inviting than the slack-jawed folks over at the
truckstop wash. We took one look at their lackluster attitudes
and made tracks to do it ourselves! All the modern conveniences
including a credit card machine...

And the triple threat of tri-colored foaming soap!

Ewwwwwww. Looks like an explosion in a cotton candy factory...

We were a few days early for our appointment at
Horizons, so we cruised over to the Corp of Engineers
Park at Milford Lake. There are several nice ones, but
all were full for the weekend except Farnum Creek, about
10 miles out of town. Golden Access gets you in for $8 a night!
Water and Electric, with a good dumpsite.

Nice views out of our back windows...

Even as evening creeps in with the full moon over the water.

and night falls...

Isn't life magical?
The darkness is always followed by the dawn.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday Stroll

Finally, we're caught up on our week!
Today we headed out on the dirt roads around
the fairgrounds. If you want to stay here, be
aware that the fair is in July, so you won't be
able to at that time. This field is actually part of
the parking lot for the fairgrounds...looks like they
have their work cut out for them to clear it over
the next few weeks.

Words to live by or you'll be in deep doo-doo...

Or in grass higher than a guide dog's eye!

Ron couldn't resist venturing "in" so he told
Rusty to "stay" while he played wilderness explorer...

Rusty wasn't too sure about it though...

This is our last day at the fairgrounds. Tomorrow
we'll be going here...

It's only a few miles from here, so we drove
over to check it out. Look what we found!

They provide a great little RV park right behind their repair
facility and it's very quiet! If we'd known that, we'd have probably gone
straight there...did I mention the trains that pass the fair grounds all
through the night?? But then we'd have missed out on our adventures
at the here, so that's ok.

Look how nice the sites are...

They have electrical hookups at each of six sites, so if you're
in need of a generator service appointment, be sure to ask
about staying here.

In the next few days, we expect to be at Mor-Ryde, as well as
some of the RV surplus places in Elkhart. Then it's off to Kansas
on some of the "red roads"...then on to Idaho. Stay tuned!

Saturday at Wal-Mart, Goshen, IN

Typical trip to Wal-Mart to pick up some stuff, right?
Wrong! As we were driving across the parking lot, I
realized I was seeing something rather unusual...

They have special Amish parking at Wal-Mart!

This carriage house has parking on both sides, as well as
around the edges. See our "horsepower" in the background?

This interesting little wagon has coolers in the back,
presumably for carrying groceries home. Notice how
huge this horse is too! Big guy for a little wagon.

The carriages all have the "slow moving vehicle" triangle on the back,
as well as a little license plate. These horses flat get up and move though,
pretty darned fast.

Water trough is at the side of the building, and a
shovel at the ready (though it doesn't look like anybody
has put it to use today!) Wonder which blue-vested
Wal-Mart employee gets to know.

When shopping is done, it's off they go! See the little
trailer behind the carriage? Full of Wal-Mart goodies...

On To The Heartland...

We arrived in Indiana with plans to stay here for a few days. Surprisingly, there
are not many RV parks in Elkhart. Kind of odd really, considering this is a
crossroads for everything RV.

We headed to the Elkhart RV park and were hugely disappointed! The
spaces were crammed closely together, and the Wi-Fi they advertised
turned out to only work in a few areas of the park. Since we had some
huge files to send, we wanted to use a faster download speed for
a day or two.

Normally we would dry camp at the Elkhart Elk's Lodge (right on
the golf course) but one of the reasons we're here is to get our
generator serviced, and the weather has been cloudy, so we decided
to stay in a park for a few days.

We headed south to Goshen to the Elkhart County Fairgrounds
which has been a much happier place to be. You can buy a Wi-Fi card
here for $5 a day.

We had a bit of a challenge getting backed in though. They had just
covered the ground with fresh sawdust, but neglected to mention
to us that they were covering wet mud! The weight of our rig was
considerable on the mushy ground, but we muscled our way in, just in
time too...a few minutes later that threatening sky let loose with a huge
thunderstorm. Look at that sky!

Another angle of the fairground sites...

There have been two rallies going on, but we're tucked
in over by the horse arena, which we have enjoyed. Here's the view
from our back window.

There was a small rodeo the past two evenings, and we had
a front row seat for all the preparations from our rig!

It's fun to take our walks through and the fairgrounds because there's
always something interesting going on. Without a doubt, my favorite
thing has been to observe the Amish lifestyle up close. Here's how it
looked the first night of the rodeo in the "Amish parking lot."

This poor horse looked like he needed a good meal and a retirement
plan in some blue grass for the rest of his life. He was pretty bony and
dejected looking.

The juxtaposition of past and present is quite interesting to see...

Saturday night brought even more folks for a regular
traffic jam at the hitching post!

While I was wandering by a horse barn, I heard a tiny
voice and looked what I found under a horse trailer...

This little guy from the "barn cat crew" was very shy,
but came a little closer...

Eventually he even got playful.

But then he retreated under another piece of equipment. Sure did
make me think about having another cat though! We used to travel
with our beloved cat Sam, until he passed away at 14 years of age.

Continuing on our way, here's the Indiana
sunset over the fairground RV sites...

And the rodeo crowd gathering...

Our evening trek continued through one of the RV rally areas.
A friendly group of folks from an African American travel club.
They had their rigs decked out with palm trees and a tiki bar
and were singing Margaritaville! Having a good time in Indiana...

This is a great example of why we love the the RV lifestyle...all
of this was from a little more than 24-hours in Goshen, Indiana!

Pretty hard to get bored with life on the road.

A New Baby In Washington DC

The week has flown by. Hope you'll understand, but we've been
totally devoted to welcoming a new "baby" into our midst...

Here it is...

No not the big guy in the chair! That's our son, setting up my new Apple iMac!
You can see my battle scarred PC next to him in my well-used mobile office.

Derek, a devoted Apple user, has been trying to convert
us for the past ten years. Now that Apple has the Intel chip, we've
finally made the plunge. It's very cool and we're excited about all the things
we can do with it. Ron is even getting ready to change over from his little
travel laptop in the truck to another iMac.

Derek has been patiently (mostly!?!) guiding us through the transition.

After a few days of intense orientation to the new system, it was time
to say goodbye to the kids for now, and head back West. Our departure
was made a little less traumatic with plans to see them again in a few

We were off by mid-day after taking Derek to the train for his trip
back to New Haven. We traveled the turnpike through Pennsylvania
where we found NO RV parking at the Pittsburgh Wal-mart! What a there is a rush of RV's heading for Pittsburgh for Pete's
sake?? At any rate, we pushed on into Ohio where we found a
quiet corner in a FRIENDLY Wal-Mart and spent the night.

At a turnpike service area in Ohio the next morning,
we spent a little time chatting with a fellow Freightliner owner.