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Saturday, April 23, 2022

As the world turns our plans change

    Well we survived covid.  We both caught it back in February 2020 before much if anything was known about it.  Had lots of fatigue and bad coughing for a few weeks then recovered with no problems.  Actually it hit me while driving back from Arizona.  I’ve never been able to sleep while Cindy was driving the coach, maybe a light cat nap.  This time I’d lay down on the sofa and be comatose until Cindy shook me awake for me to drive again!  Back home we quarantined along with everyone else for most of the summer.  

     Then in 2021 we hit the road again, we figured we could quarantine just as well in the coach and be in nicer weather with beautiful scenery.  So we headed to Colorado and rented a lot at Arrowhead Ranch way up in the mountains at 9400’ between Gunnison and Montrose.  While we were there we decided that Arrowhead was one of the prettiest places we’ve been to so we bought a lot!  Full hookups with a nice shed.  

    That lasted only 1 year.  We met so many nice neighbors and really discovered the area so we decided to sell the lot and Foretravel and buy a cabin at Arrowhead.  It’s a 2 bedroom 2 bath log cabin with a great deck, single car garage, separate shed, and a basement.  I’ve always wanted a log cabin with a basement.  

    Our view of the Elk mountains

    Arrowhead Ranch is a special place.  We discovered it about 7 years ago while spending a month in Creede and have rented lots and a cabin since then.  There is a mountain lodge with restaurant and rooms.  A security patrol and a firehouse.  There are about 300 cabins with 40 or so people who live there full-time.  And a hundred or so RV lots.
    We went back at the end of January and stayed until the beginning of March.  In winter all RVs must leave and they close the “filing roads” inside the subdivision.  The road from Hwy 50 to Arrowhead is plowed and we have a winter parking lot where we park the car.  From there we either take a snowmobile or the Ranger with snow tracks.  The Ranger has a full cab with heater so is pretty nice to get around in.  Every Tuesday we have a potluck at the firehouse and play dominoes after.  I just couldn’t see Cindy carrying a pot of gumbo sitting behind me on a snowmobile.  Got lucky and bought the Ranger already setup from a neighbor who was leaving the mountain.  We burned more firewood in February than I have in my lifetime.  Glad Dirk left us plenty.
Cindy riding our snowmobile

Arrowhead Mountain Lodge

    Right now we’re back home waiting on Mike & Katie’s new baby to be born!  Yahoo!  Another grandkid to spoil!
We’ll probably head back to the cabin in late May or early June for the summer then probably get back to Louisiana in October or so.  Scott, Niki, and the grandkids are planning to come up for a week this summer.  It will be so much fun.  Gotta build a fire pit in the yard to roast marshmallows and make s’mores.
    Oh yeah we bought a Roadtrek van.  Found it in Tampa, had a friend check it out for me (thanks Richard), drove down and picked it up.  That’ll be our travel vehicle and for short trips.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Water shooting everywhere!

Tuesday 9/10/19
The weather Tuesday morning brought a light drizzle early and threatening skies so we decided not to leave early in the hopes the skies would clear for our drive.  We left West Glacier about 11:15 heading for Missoula.  The drive was another pretty one and the weather continued off and on with light rain and cloudy skies.  We fueled up the coach in Missoula just as we reached the I-90 then another 4 miles east on I-90 to our stop for the night.  

Our Harvest Host membership includes several Breweries throughout the country and there is one is Missoula we decided to try out.  We stayed at the Big Sky Brewing Co on Trumpeter Way right off the interstate.  We had called ahead to reserve a spot and got directions on where to park.  It was an easy in and out and we were entertained by a guy parking his trailer.  He was parked when we pulled in, right on the other side of the lot from where we parked.  No sooner had we shut down our engine when we see him get in his truck and pull out of the spot he was in.  Oh well, we thought, guess he decided not to stay there.  Then he turns around and comes back.  His wife (with her dog on a leash) directs him back almost to where he was before.  He gets out, looks around and drives out again.   We see him pull up a little past an 18 wheeler and park.  Then we see him leave again.  About an hour later we walked over to the Tap Room and see he is now parked behind us.  WOW, guess he just could not decide where he wanted to be.

We left Missoula for our 260 mile move to Island Park, ID which will put us close to the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  Since it would be a mix of Interstate and US Highway driving we would both drive this day.  Forest started out to get us on to the Interstate then Cindy took over and drove a couple of hours on I-90.  We switched out again when we saw a “Chain Up Area” sign, that means some steep grades are coming, not good for Cindy.  GOOD THING we switched when we did, it was a windy, steep section that is fit for Forest.  We found a nice little Rest Stop for our lunch stop.  Arrived at Valley View RV Park in Island Park, Idaho for our 4 night stay.  It puts us just 20 minutes from the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

We were up at 5am to be sure we would enter Yellowstone ahead of most of the crowd.  The drive was a little slow once we entered the park because some people like to just inch along rather than utilize the pull-outs for their sightseeing.  Our choice for our first trip into Yellowstone was to take the south loop towards Old Faithful.  We made our first stop at the Fountain Paint Pots in the Lower Geyser Basin.  There is a nice elevated boardwalk trail taking you past many bubbling boiling cauldrons.  We noticed lots of wildlife “droppings” along the way and were just commenting and wondering if we would see any animals when on our next turn there was a very large male Bison just grazing right on the side of the boardwalk.  He did not appear to be bothered at all with us.  Very glad he did not decide to run us off because I know he could run faster than either of us could!

 Next stop was the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin.  Again there was ample parking at this hour and another raised boardwalk.  A lot more people at this stop but not too crowded.  The colors were very nice and it was a good hike.

We had not really planned to stop at Old Faithful but did change our mind and glad we did.  This of course is “a must see” for all tourists, kind of the “calling card” for Yellowstone, so we expected a ton of people.  Yes, there were a lot of people but there is a very large area with several Geysers.  This particular stop has lodging, visitor center, gift shops, cafeteria, gas stations, etc.  It is a “village” for sure.  There are several parking lots and being early, we were able to get a spot in the lot closest to Old Faithful.  There are “predicted times” posted for Old Faithful and several other Geyers in this grouping, so we found the spot we wanted and waited to see Old Faithful give us her show.  The viewing area is set up with two rows of benches around the boardwalk circling the Geyser.  We set up the tripod and camera next to a youngster from Alabama, and had a nice visit with him while waiting.  When we picked out spot it was very early and there were only a couple of other people out.  By the time the “predicted eruption” arrived there were hundreds of people waiting.  Old Faithful gives her show about every 90 minutes and we were glad we decided to see it.

While waiting on Old Faithful we looked at the predicted eruption times for the nearby geysers.  We decided to see the Grande Geyser’s show.  The expected eruption was showing 12:45 but the “window” was from 12:00 - 1:30.  So we grabbed a snack and rested a bit inside before making our way to Grande.  The boardwalk took us past several smaller geysers, some of which were bubbling.  Looking into the ponds the water is so clear you can't tell how deep they are, they are, and are HOT!

We arrived at Grande Geyser about 11 am.  There were some benches just as at Old Faithful but not nearly as many, so we were glad to get there early.  We picked out spot and before long the guy we were next to earlier to watch Old Faithful joined us.  He is a young man from Alabama, we figured in his early 20’s, traveling alone with his photography equipment.  He and Forest set up their tripods and cameras and spent the next couple of hours talking photography and travel.  It was nice to have someone sharing the same interest to visit with.  I guess they looked pretty professional because we had many many people stop to ask us when would Grande Geyser give her show.  The window of  12 - 1:30 came and went.  There was some bubbling, some steam but no show.  After waiting that long we were not leaving until we saw the Grande Geyser erupt.  Sure enough, about 1:45 the activity began.  Grande Geyser is the largest of three geysers grouped together and it is the one that will spurt the highest (about 200 feet).  When she did it was a beautiful sight to see and we had no regrets for waiting so long.  Old Faithful was nice but only shot up once.  Grande Geyser was prettier and shot up three times with the other two geysers showing also.

We made our way back out of the park the same way we came in rather than making the loop.  Traffic coming in had certainly increased in the time we had been there.  The areas where we had stopped coming in which had lots of parking available now were overflowing with cars and campers.  People were parked all along the sides of the road for about a quarter mile in each direction from the attracted sites.  So glad we went in early.

Friday 9/13/19

Today will be a down day to catch up on laundry and allow our backs and knees to rest up from Thursday.  Always glad we have the luxury of time to let our old bodies recover.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Going to the Sun Road: NOT!

Monday we continued our drive down the Cassier Hwy to the Yellowhead Hwy which took us down to Houston, BC.   This section of the Cassier was a much better road.  The transition to the Yellowhead brought us much heavier traffic but the road was a good one.  Cindy was able to drive a couple of hours with no problem, Forest was able to take a nap while she was driving.  We stopped for a couple of nights at the Shady Rest RV Park on the east side of Houston.  It is a nice family owned park with wide, angled gravel sites with grass separation.  Very nice park and would stay again.  We had FHU 30amp service.  Very good Indian Curry Restaurant in town and a nice grocery store.

Tuesday we spent time discussing our route and decided to skip Coeur d’Alane on this trip.  We will continue east on the Yellowhead from Prince George to the Icefields Parkway (AB Hwy 93 S) and head for Yellowstone National Park.  
World's largest fly rod

Wednesday 9/4/19
We fueled up in Houston at the Petro Canada Card Lock using our new Fuel Card.
On down the Yellowhead Hwy to Prince George BC then down Hwy 97 (the Cariboo Hwy) to the MaMaYeh RV Park (which is our first Passport America park in a LONG time).  We were pleased with the park, which is a Passport America Park.  We had a FHU 50amp Pull Thru site which was very easy in/out.

We headed out about 10:45 for the Icefields Parkway in Alberta.  Our short drive up Hwy 97 to Prince George took us back to the Yellowhead Hwy where we would drive East to connect with Icefields Parkway just below Jasper.  About 65 miles east of Prince George is the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park.  It was a nice stop.  There are a couple of trails through the forest with one being on a boardwalk.  We opted for the boardwalk trail.  The trees were HUGE and a true test of time.  The stop was a good break on our drive and just in time for a quick lunch after our hike.  We only ran into a couple of construction areas today, the longest hold up was at the entrance to the Jasper National Park.  We sat in line about 20 minutes to get to the toll booth.  Once we hit Hwy 97 things moved along well, only a couple of “sightseers” who would not pull over to let people by.  I am alway amazed at the cyclists on these highways, brave or crazy people if you ask me.
Some of the cedars are 1000+ years old!

We should get a good nights rest.  Temperature for tonight is expected to be 0 degrees celsius!  Forest is loving it.

Drove down Hwy 93 (Icefields Parkway) to Invermere BC.  It was a very pretty drive but very challenging.  Lots of twists and turns, ups and downs with steep grades.  Forest drove the whole way!

Overnight at the Copper Point Golf Club with our Membership with RV Golf.  The stay is at no charge in their Clubhouse parking lot.  We enjoyed supper  at their restaurant.  Participating hosts with RV Golf and Harvest Host allow for a free nights stay but ask that you spend a little money at their facility.  Could be a round of golf, food, souvenirs, etc.  It was a good experience, quiet, dark and NO neighbors or yappy dogs.  This was our first stay using our membership.
The sunflowers are over 10' tall

We headed out at 7:35am for our drive south and across the US-Canada Border.  We said good-bye to Canada today as we did to Alaska just 17 days ago.  Shortly after 10am we were back to the “Lower 48” entering in Montana.  Our stay for the night will be using our RVGolf Membership again.  We will overnight at he Glacier View Golf Course in Columbia Falls on the west side of Glacier National Park.  We arrived shortly after noon.  Once parked, we went inside and ordered a couple of burgers at their Grill.  Plenty of time for a nap before getting ready for Mass back in Columbia Falls (a short drive) at the St Richard Catholic Church which we passed coming in.

Sunday 9/8/19
A lazy morning since our drive today would be such a short one, all of 0.7 miles!  We fired up the engine about 10:30 to make our move and were parked and set up at the West Glacier RV Park in no time.  It is a very nice park with wide, angled pull thru FHU sites.  The park is new so the trees between sites are still small.  The roads are paved and the sites are gravel with grass between, fire ring and picnic tables at all sites.  There is one section with 60’ sites and another with 80’ sites.  It is walking distance to West Glacier Village with shopping and eating options.  The west entrance to Glacier National Park is only about a mile away.
The coach has been so dirty and we have not been able to give it a good cleaning in a long time.  Sunday afternoon Forest pulled out the Wash Wax All and cleaned off a ton of grime.  She looks so much better now!

Rain started late yesterday afternoon and continued all night.  So we figured it should be ending by mid morning.  After breakfast we headed out in the truck to drive the Going-to-the-Sun-Road through Glacier National Park.  Since our stop at Glacier was last minute, we had not made any plans in the area.  This was to be a very pretty drive.  WELL, we left out with very low clouds and rain and that did not end.  The entire drive had such low visibility we could not even verify there were mountains, much less glaciers, except for the up and down grades of the road.  The good thing was with the weather the traffic was not very bad.  We only stopped at one pull-over to see McDonald Falls because it was so close to the road.  We certainly did not see any at a distance.  Once in a while along the way there would be a little break in the clouds and we could see something close by.

We exited Glacier National Park on the east side in St Mary and drove on to the town of Browning were we enjoyed a good fry bread burger at Nation’s Burger Station.  After lunch we took the Hwy 2 route around the south end of Glacier back to West Glacier RV Park.  The rain continued until around 4pm.  No need to get out again since we will be leaving tomorrow.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Let there be light!

Thursday 8/29/19
After breakfast we packed a lunch and returned to the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Area to try to see a bear catching salmon.  After visiting with the rangers and watching the fish for a couple of hours (no bears), we left for the Salmon Glacier.   Just a little ways past the Observation Area the pavement ends and it is a 17 mile dirt road up to the Summit Viewpoint.  The Salmon Glacier is the 5th largest in Canada.  The road up to the Summit followed along the glacier for a good ways and there were several spots to stop along the way for pictures.  After enjoying the views and taking a few pictures, we had our picnic lunch up at the Summit Viewpoint.  

On our way back we stopped to visit the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Area again.  There is a board which displays bear sightings and it did not show any bear yet for the day.  So on down the boardwalk we went searching for bear.  About an hour after we got there someone saw a black bear catch a fish and scurry back into the brush.  Of course we were on the other end of the boardwalk and missed it.  We continued watching and waiting when someone saw a bear cross the road and was heading toward the creek.  We quickly made our way down the boardwalk to wait for the bear and did catch a glimpse of it in the brush though it did not come all the way to the creek.  So much for watching bear fish for Salmon.  Kind of like all the Moose in Alaska, it is a tough act to catch.
It was interesting to watch seagulls eat the fish eggs.

Friday 8/30/19
This is our moving day and it is the start of Labor Day Weekend.  The forecast for the activity of the Northern Lights shows a good chance to view the lights the next couple of nights.  So we want a spot with no ambient light or clouds to increase our chances of seeing the lights.  The Meziadin Lake Provincial Park is a short drive from Stewart and has campsites available.  Since we do not have a reservation we will try to snag a “walk-in” site so need to get there early and it will be less than an hour drive.  Every park is different and you never know what size site you will find or how many trees with low branches will be encountered.  So Cindy left first in the truck to scope it out.  Forest followed shortly after with the plan being to wait just inside the park for “yes or no” on the sites.  We figured there would be no cell service, no not as easy as being able to just call with a report.
On the way up Hwy 37-A Cindy saw a black bear on the road!  A quick picture, though not great, was her proof.
As it turns out, the entrance to the park left no area to pull over in the coach, so Forest needed to drive on in.  And guess what?  HE saw a black bear just after he entered the park.
Two separate vehicles and we BOTH saw a bear!
Cindy was making the loop and came upon the park ranger.  He pointed out 2 “un-reserved” sites and even gave her a reserved tag to hang on the post.  Now to find Forest and bring him in.  Not finding him by the road and not knowing he had entered the campground, it was a game of chase.  Driving around the three loops we finally found each other and were able to get parked in site #33 without too much trouble.  Nice site overlooking the lake, until someone parks across from us.  Looks like a good spot to stay a few days.
The weather was perfect (well a little on the warm side for Forest).  Clear skies and no wind.  We have bacon in the fridge and it is time to cook it.  What’s better than frying up some bacon in a campground.  So we pulled out the stove and fried up bacon and eggs for lunch.  That is a real treat!

Saturday 8/31/19
We spent several hours over a two day period watching the Salmon spawn and looking for bears in Hyder, Alaska.  In Hyder we were looking down into Fish Creek where the Salmon had reached their destination.  The Salmon’s life cycle takes the mature Salmon on a journey back to where they were hatched to give life to the next generation.  Once the eggs are laid and fertilized the adult Salmon die.  So at the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Area there is the smell of dead fish.  
To close out August we drove out to visit the Lax An Tok Meziadin Fishway.  This viewing would be different.  This location brought us to a fish ladder where we observed the Salmon working really hard to make their way up the river to reach the creek where they were hatched.  It was fascinating to watch them jump out of the water in an attempt to reach the top of the waterfall to allow them to continue swimming upstream.  One can only wonder how fast they can swim to be able to jump so high and far.  There is a fish-counting station at the fish ladder where they determine the catch limits.  There is also a 1st nation fish camp where they catch salmon by dip net.

This was a beautiful area and NO smell of dead fish!
We then hiked down to the convergence of two rivers.  The hike was down a path thru the trees.  You do not want to startle a bear when walking through the woods.  So it is recommended you talk or sing as you walk along.  OH, if you should happen to meet up with a bear, do NOT make eye contact with the bear.  No worries, we did not see one this day.

About midnight we got up and went outside to look for the Northern Lights.  Looks like we may see a show, so we loaded the camera in the truck and headed out of the campground.  The best chance to see the Aurora Borealis is in a dark area and unfortunately lots of people leave outside lights on in the campground.  We drove out to the entrance for the campground and parked right along the side of the road.  It was DARK, which we needed, and no traffic.  Great!  There were some clouds which we hoped would blow past us, we could see clear patches of sky filled with stars.  The forecast for the Aurora showed a very good chance to see an active sky.
Before long we began seeing bright patches and bright streaks in different areas, time to start putting the camera to work.  “Look, over this cloud” “Look, over that tall tree” “Look, straight up the road on the horizon” over and over we saw changes in the sky.  “WOW did you see that?”  Suddenly there was a burst straight from the horizon, up and over us.  Again and again!  WOW!  It was like being at a 4th of July fireworks show, waiting for the next rocket to fire.

We had been enjoying the show for quite a while before we heard a truck coming down the highway.  The night was so quiet it was disappointing to hear the silence broken.  We backed away from the edge of the road and stood close to our truck, covered our eyes from the oncoming headlights, and waited for him to pass.  My hope was that he would not turn around to see if we needed assistance, and he did not.  Once he had passed and his lights were out of sight it was time to put the camera back to work.  We enjoyed more light shows before the sound of another vehicle broke the night silence again, then another.  They were becoming more frequent and the lights were quieting down.  Time to call it a wrap.  We loaded back up and headed for home.  We were quite surprised to see it was 2 am and had enjoyed the Aurora for two hours.  We had no idea we had been outside enjoying the light show for that long.  What a way to welcome in September!