Travel Log for June 1998

Updated on July 8, 1998.

Early in June we returned from California to Texas to continue our trip. We purchased a new cellphone and started getting back on track. Then we changed our plans about going to the east coast; we decided to visit relatives instead in Oklahoma, St Louis area, and Kansas. After those visits, we headed to South Dakota to see Rushmore and Devil's Tower, then on to Wyoming and Montana heading to Great Falls for the fourth.

Log Date: +61: 980603: 2005CDT: 29N35'51.91: 98W57'26.97: Georgetown

We left Oakland mid-day and arrived back at the Austin Airport at 8:05 Wednesday evening and were met by Mike and Diane (who had recovered enough to go public). We stopped off for the second of three great meals in the Austin area on the way back to their place at Johnny Carinos in Round Rock next to I-35. It is a country italian place and serves delectable meals (I had a chicken picata on fettucini).

Thursday morning Alice and I moved the trailer back to its parking place. In the process I backed over the portable step we used to get into the trailer. Bent it all to hell. It just shows that you cannot make any assumptions that things will stay out of the way -- plan for the worst.

Later we went out to lub the truck and to shop for a cellphone. I decided to go with AT&T One Rate cellular plan. My reasons for doing so are based on availability, cost, and the future for data. That night the four of us went to Pappadeaus in Austin. Their specials are something to behold (and eat). I had crawdads, Alice had blackened salmon. We had it two more times from the left overs.

Friday was time for getting things in order since we were planning on pulling out the next morning and heading towards Atlanta. But at supper that night I mentioned my planned meeting in NC and Mike informed me that Steve was going to be in CA that day. I called Steve and got verification. Also, both he and Coker were headed to Supercomm in Atlanta so there was little point in my going. I decided to redo my schedule and save a 3,000 side trip.

Since we were not heading out on Saturday, we had the chance to visit with my cousin Betty McFadden and her husband. They live in a condo in Austin. It was very nice renewing memories about Uncle Owen and his family. We also had a chance to get the phone service reconnected. It turns out AT&T requires that a land-line be associated with the cellphone, so I used my daughter's phone number.

Log Date: +65: 980607: 1430CDT: 33N49'34.71: 96W49'47.54: Lake Texoma TTN

We left Georgetown and headed north on I-35. It was a mostly uneventful trip, except that we did find a Camping World north of Fort Worth and replaced the steps. I also found the electrical parts needed to finish the macerator electrical system.

The Lake Texoma TTN preserve is quite nice with a lot of 20 foot cedars separating the camping sites. They also had one of the loudest mocking birds I have heard just outside our rig. I set a tape recorder out on a post and recorded some of the songs he was singing. Then I played it back to him. It was "dueling mocking birds" for a while -- quite entertaining.

I finished up the macerator system and tried it out. It worked well except I had a leak in the coupling hose. That can be easily fixed at a later time.

Lake Texoma TTN provided a phone line so I was able to handle email using 800 number connections.

Later in the evening a rain storm came through. Most of the bad weather was up in Oklahoma.

Log Date: +66: 980608: 1330CDT: 35N1'43.46: 97W55'55.66: Chickasha OK

Leaving Lake Texoma we headed up US377 then across to I-35. Driving the narrow roads after being on four lanes takes some getting used to, and I found myself clutching the steering wheel. We left I-35 at Pauls Valley and headed over to Chickasha. I drove through a number of towns I remember from my youth, and went by what had been the farm of one of my Dad's best friends. We barely slowed down going through Alex where I had seen the results of a tornado some 45 years before.

We stayed at the Best Western RV park in Chickasha. It was satisfactory. We called my Aunt Lottie and went to visit with her and her daughter Joyce who lives next door. It was great to review family memories and look at old pictures.

When we got back to the rig the weather was beginning to look very threatening, but it was all to the north of us. About 5 tornados touched down in OK that night, and there was a lot of hail, but none of it affected us.

Aunt Lottie and family all came over to the rig for supper that night. I realized I could not find my billfold, and there was a frantic search all over for it. I finally found where I had laid it atop the fruit basket. But it made me realize just how much a problem it will be if I do lose it sometime while full-timing. I need to develop a plan and make some records.

Log Date: +67: 980609: 1100CDT: 35N24'33.49: 97W15'39.28: Oklahoma City OK

The next morning we got on I-44 and drove just beyond Oklahoma City to the KOA on the east side of town. It is actually in Choctaw, but the give their address as OKC. We finally made contact with my cousin RoseAnn, and she and Aunt Beaulous came out to visit. Beaulous is 92 years old and still going strong for that age. RoseAnn is her care-giver and is writing several novels and screen-plays. We talked about how to do some collaberation on writing.

I was able to get on the Internet at the KOA office and handle email.

That night a major storm came through with a lot of lightening about 4am in the morning. Misty jumped into bed with us and huddled between us. At least one clap of lightening was within 300 yards of the trailer; light and sound were almost simultaneous.

Log Date: +68: 980610: 1430CDT: 37N11'59.74: 93W24'6.38: Springfield MO

We headed out I-44 to US377, then north to I-44 on our way to Springfield. The trip was mostly uneventful. Tolls in Oklahoma were $2.75 and $6.00 for our two axle trailer, but the roads were in good shape.

We stayed at the KOA in Springfield. They had Internet access, so I was able to handle email and upload changes to the web pages. One of the changes was to delete the Art Gallery to make room on the Netcom server for other topics and photos. Of course, I still have the gallery in my own system.

Log Date: +69: 980611: 1330CDT: 38N45'41,65: 90W6'58.58: Granite City IL

Leaving Springfield, we continued on I-44 towards St. Louis. Alice was concerned about the weather we would encounter, and indeed it looked rather ominous. But the drive was smooth with some tail winds under cloudy but peaceful skies. We stopped at a Golden Corral for lunch and found a good truck stop with diesel at 83.9 cents per gallon.

I-44 ends at I-270 near St. Louis and we turned north to go around the city. I like the interstate entrances and exits in Missouri; they are smooth and do not disrupt traffic. We reached the north end of the city and turned towards the Mississippi River and Illinois.

As one local explained to me, they passed some laws recently in the area to collect more taxes for roads, so now they are all torn up being fixed. I-270 across the river was a one-lane experience. It was not too bad since it was the middle of the day, but it did go rather slowly.

The Mississippe is a huge river, and with all the storms around it is running dirty, brown and high. At least I had a good chance to see it since the traffic moved so slowly. We went three miles beyond the river to our exit to the North East KOA of St. Louis (it is listed in the Missouri section of the KOA directory, even though it is in Illinois).

They explained they had received a 3 inch downpour just before we arrived, so there was only one space where we could be put that was above water. They were exagerating, but it was a bit wet. We moved in, set up and called Krista to announce our arrival.

We headed over to Maryville where JC and Krista live, a distance of 13 miles. Most of the drive was through country-side, and with all the rain it was very lush, even for this time of the year. Our mail from Escapees and SBE was waiting, including the McFee books on geology. I did some work on the web and caught up on email. After JC arrived home from work, we drove by to see Ashley at St Elizabeth Hospital. She is in care there after a really bad experience with life, but she is starting to recover. JC and Krista then came over to our rig and we had supper, courtesy Krista. They were impressed with our home.

Friday morning we read and caught up on maintenance. We found there are no AT&T Wireless stores in this area, so we ordered a DC power cord for the phone from Texas. Our experience with the phone so far has been excellent, except when we found we needed to recharge the battery while traveling.

The sky was clear and the sun was shining when we drove to Maryville later that afternoon. Alice did the washing, and I read my books. When JC came in, I started helping him get ready to cook. We noticed the clouds start to come up in the west. Then it was amazing how quickly the sky turned darker and the winds increased. Within 30 minutes we were starting to get some rain. The local TV showed this tremendous thunderhead coming our way, and we watched the radar trace on TV as the hook formed to the south of the cloud. It hailed and poured rain on us. A tornado did drop out of that storm a short time later to the east of us, by which time the weather overhead had mostly cleared. After dinner we went back home. It was cool that evening.

Saturday we went to the Casino Queen with JC and Krista for breakfast and a round of riverboat gambling. The boat did not leave the dock, even though we waited for it to do so. We took the metro train over to St. Louis to the Union Station (no longer a rail center, but a delightful collection of shops and eateries). We had lunch at Hooters, where Alice bought a shirt (she is expecting to brag). After visiting again with Ashley, we had dinner again with JC and Krista.

Sunday morning I dumped using the macerator, and it went well. We visited with Ashley again and went to Joe's Crab Shack for an early Father's Day, courtesy of Krista. I had not realized Joe's was a nationwide chain; it is pretty much the same, including the Macarena.

I updated the web page, we wished Dave and Krista goodbye until next spring in WA, and we returned to trailer and prepared for travel the next morning.

Log Date: +73: 980615: 2330CDT: 39N0'19.47" 94W20'27.34: Blue Springs MO

The weather was overcast when we headed out from the Granite City KOA about 8:30am. I caught I-270 at Highway 3 and turned west. I had expected there to be a lot of commuter traffic, but there was none in our lane. It was one-lane across the Mississippi, but everyone was moving along briskly.

We saw a sign saying there were delays on the I-70 bridge over the Missouri and suggesting we take I-370. Being trusting people, we did, and it was a great road. The only problem was that Co-Pilot's data base did not know of the new road, so it thought we were driving through corn fields. It finally quit objecting when we reconnected with I-70.

The drive across MO was uneventful but pleasant. There were infrequent raindrops early on, but it stopped as we went west. We drove from hilltop down to creek and then back up again and again. Along the way we say cuts of the limestone that lays so flat throughout the midwest.

Diesel fuel was 97cents when I filled up in the middle of MO. My back was bothering me some, so we stopped at a roadside rest and had sandwiches while I stretched out and rested.

When we neared Kansas City, we turned south on I-470 for a couple of miles and took the off-ramp at Bowlin Road to go to the Blue Springs camp ground. It announced itself as a US Army Corp of Engineers camp, but the host explained it is now run by the county. It was a beautiful area near the Blue Springs Lake.

We settled in and then made a run into town for some groceries. Driving around the lake was very pleasant. It looks like there should be some good fishing in the reservoir.

Log Date: +74: 980616: 1330CDT: 37N39'43.20: 97W29'25.09: Wichita KS

The next morning we continued on I-470 around to I-35 on our way to Wichita. I did not like the trip planned by Co-Pilot, so I rerouted us through Newton to get us to the west side of town a little more directly. That meant we drove across US56, which was a very nice drive through the wheat fields of Kansas. At least in the eastern portion there are lots of trees and creeks to break the monotony.

We turned down I-135 took I-235 around to US54. Turning west for four miles we arrived a Blasi campground before we realized it was there. We had a nice level spot on concrete. The wind was really picking up by then, so I did not bother setting up the DSS.

I rested my back for a spell, and then we called Gene and Virginia Thomas (old friends of my parents from before WWII). We announced our arrival and made plans to join them for supper. It is good we are nearly finished with visits to friends and relatives. Many more meals like the pot roast Virginia served and I will pork out of all my clothes.

We had a great visit with our friends and made plans for breakfast (oink, oink). That night the wind blew even more.

Log Date: +75: 980617: 1300CDT: 38N33'50.00: 97W40'10.00: Lindsborg KS

We went back over to have breakfast with Gene and Virginia and said our goodbyes. Maybe we will see them next year in the fall. I said I did not plan to revisit Kansas in the spring and summer, what with the wind and stormy weather.

We quickly rigged for traveling as the wind was coming up, and headed back east on US54 to I-235 north. We caught I-135 (aka US81) and made tracks for Lindsborg with a good tail wind. At times the wind was over 40mph, but it was coming from our back quarter so it was not a problem. The weather was clear and rapidly warming.

We turned off of I-135 at exit 72 and took Business 81 towards Lindsborg, which is about 4 miles off the interstate. The wheat fields all around are ready for harvest, and several large combines were already working. There was a motorhome ahead of us, and I assumed he was going to the Malm RV Campground the same as we as we crossed the Smokey Valley River. I was correct, so when he missed the turn, I did too. We did a U-turn and came back.

The campground is quite nice with a fishing lake and flat, grassy parking spots. We settled in amidst the winds that continued to blow from the southwest.

As I had stopped the truck, I noticed the oil pressure dropped to zero with the engine running, but if I reved the engine it came back up to 50. This had happened earlier in the day at a rest stop, so plans were made to take the truck in for a service look.

We rested a bit (my back was really acting up) and then called Margaret and Ralph (Alice's sister and brother-in-law) in McPherson, and they said they would drive up to see the rig. In the meantime I worked a considerable bit getting the DSS antenna lined up. Turns out I should have looked at the compass; I was off by 70 degrees on where south was, and it was only be chance I found the spot. In any case, I had to use the picnic table to prop up the antenna mount from the wind.

When the kinfolk arrived we had a nice visit and made plans for supper back at their place. Ralph and I dropped the truck off at the Dodge dealership on the way. It was a midwestern experience where I handed the keys on good faith to the mechanic and he said he would work it in when he had a chance. Ralph loaned us his car for the evening.

We had supper and I checked email on the Internet. The Jordan Brake Control had arrived so I also started planning on the installation. I also squirmed around trying to get my back to stop aching. Margaret mentioned that Ralph's brother was celebrating his 50th anniversary on Sunday, and wondered just how long we were staying. After talking it over, Alice and I decided we would leave Saturday morning rather than Monday.

Thursday Ralph drove everyone to Wichita so Margaret could check on the status of her bus trip to Purdue for the Christian Women's get-together. We had lunch at an Old Country Cafeteria (another midwest experience) and then went to the Wichita Botanical Gardens next to the Little Arkansas River. It was a beautiful garden and we enjoyed the butterfly attrium. Upon return to McPherson, we found that the truck would not be ready until Friday -- they had to order a part.

Alice and I returned to the rig and went to supper at the Hideaway Restaurant next to the campground. The food was excellent, and we even had a Rosenblum wine, a Zinfandel Cuvee XVI (Bill, your wine is known in many places!!).

Friday started hot, then it got hotter. We went back down to McPherson to have lunch with Margaret and Ralph and Ruth (their daughter) and Errin and Jason (grandchildren). We had a good visit. However, it was disturbing that when the mail arrived our Priority Mail from Escapees did not come as expected. We checked with the Post Office, and they explained that usually it takes 2-3 days for delivery, but sometimes it takes more. This time was more. Ralph will forward it to us at Belle Fourche.

kansas clouds The truck was finally ready, and I went back to the trailer to rest my back. Ralph and Margaret joined us for supper at the Hideaway. That evening there were some of the most spectacular cumulo-nimbus clouds I remember seeing. There was quite a storm over near Emporia, but it never reached us. We said our goodbyes that evening and started preparing the rig for travel.

Log Date: +78: 980620: 1745MDT: 43N53'28.68: 101W8'47.29: Exit 170 I-90, SD

Well (and I know it is a deep subject), we have just completed our longest day of travel, 535 miles. We shoved off at 7am and headed up I-135/US81. The weather predictions were for 95 to 100 degree weather in mid-Kansas, and we wanted to vacate that country before it arrived.

US81 north is a good divided highway most of the way through Kansas and part of the way to I-80 in Nebraska. The road is pretty smooth, so I was able to average 60mph for the first three hours of travel, sometimes with a tailwind. The temperature climbed to 77 then 80 then 81, but then it held steady and started to drop back into the 70s. We were winning the race with the hot winds.

We turned west on I-80 and shifted over to US281 at Grand Island, Nebraska. Somewhere in that stretch we crossed through the cold front coming in from the west. We noticed some clouds, and then when we refueled in Grand Island, the wind was starting to come strongly from the northwest. The temperature dropped to 75.

We continued up US281 fighting a strong headwind. We turned west on US20 at ONiell. and refueled 226 miles from Grand Island in Valentine. The mileage in the first stretch was 12.5mpg and the second stretch was 9.0mpg. The 3.5mpg difference was directly attributable to the difference in winds, probably a total of 45mph.

Somewhere I read about the geology of Nebraska; it was really the Great American Desert at one time. As you drive through the land now along the route we took, you see rolling hills interspersed with flat, waterlogged valleys. At one time (10 to 50,000 years ago), it was so dry in the area that it was a desert and large sand-dunes traced across the land. As the weather turned more moist, the rains sprouted the grass seeds on the dunes, locking them in place. Creeks and rivers started flowing out of the land-locked lakes that formed between the dunes. In time, most of the lakes were almost totally filled with blowing sand and marshes and swamps spot these valleys now. There has been some erosion, but not much. You can still see the dunes as hills, their march in whatever was the prevailing direction now halted by the covering grass. In some places, the farmers have plowed the land and planted corn, and there you see evidence that the dunes may march again.

We turned north up US83 at Valentine, continuing through hills that looked like the remains of huge sand-dunes. The valleys cut deeper as we moved on into South Dakota, but the land looked much the same. It all had a beautiful green cover of grass at this time of year. But it seemed to go on forever. This is the land of the Souix and Cheyenne, and it looks to be a hard place in the winter when the winds sweep down from the north.

We reached I-90 and I was beginning to tire after driving for over 10 hours. We went down the road another 20 miles and found a KOA. I know a lot of full-timers who do not like KOA, mostly because of their prices, but at least I know the quality will always be good. I was right.

When we stopped the temperature outside was 71.1 degrees according to the digital thermometer; It was 98 in Kansas.

Log Date: +79: 980621: 1745MDT: 43N53'28.68: 101W8'47.29: Rapid City, SD

We drove the 122 miles on over to the Hart Ranch Resort, south of Rapid City, SD, arriving about noon. This was our first experience using our Coast to Coast membership. When we called to ask about reservations, they told us they were booked through August, but to come by because they could put us into overflow until something became available. When we did arrive, someone had cancelled so we were able to move into a spot for the next five days.

Hart Ranch is in a beautiful, flat valley a half mile wide between foothills of the Black Hills range. The hills and valley are covered with vibrant, green grass at this time of the year. The brook that gurgles through the ranch can become fierce in heavy rains, and they have a scrap book showing the effects of the flood of '96 when the whole valley floor was covered with water.

The campsites are concrete slab surrounded by grass. They are adamant about one thing: "Thou shalt not bespoil the grass!" In the mornings about 7am there are squadrons of girls on ATV mowing vehicles racing around cutting the last night's growth back to a respectable height. They even cut under the edges of our rig.

Since we had such a clean slab, I decided to climb under the trailer and check things out, especially the brakes which seemed to not be effective. I was right about their effectiveness. I found that each wheel had a broken wire in the electrical connection! I had been using the brakes on the truck as the sole stopping power for some unknown amount of time. It taught me a lesson: if something seems wrong, check it sooner than later.

brake fix I called AutoMate and talked with Ray about the problem. He verified that both wires coming from the brake drum on the wheel should be connected -- one to the ground wire and one to the control wire on the trailer. I looked things over in more detail and now believe that the problem started when they connected the 14 gauge wires from the wheel to the 10 gauge ground and control wires using a 10 gauge butt connector. The wire on each side was about 4 inches long, so as the trailer bounced and the winds blew, it flexed the wheel wire at the crimp point in the connector over a range of 60 degrees or more. In time, it simply flexed the wire to the point of failure, and the connection broke. What was missing was some kind of restraint to prevent the wire from flexing at the crimp point.

I purchased a supply of butt connectors, crimping tool, and web wire wrap and proceeded to do the repair on all four wheels. I used tie-downs to hold the web wrap on the wires so that there would be no flexing. The first test proved I now have good braking on all four wheels. I will monitor the situation to be sure everything is working properly and remains in good order.

dakota clouds While futzing around with the brakes (and doing other small maintenance jobs on the rig) we had some weather problems. On Tuesday evening a storm went through to the north of us. We found out the next day there had been a series of tornadoes coming out of the cloud. The thunder and lightening was impressive; the dog was nervous.

During our stay at Hart Ranch, we were able to get onto the Internet several times, but only through SBE. Everyone seemed to be having trouble getting connected to their service provider with 800 numbers; there may have been some kind of problem with the PBX at Hart Ranch.

Mount Rushmore On Wednesday we finally became tourists and headed out for Mt. Rushmore. There were storms in the air, and the lighting was not bright, but it was still an impressive sight. The visitor center has been completely redone since our visit 10 years ago; it is now built of the local granite. An ampitheater is available for the evening lighting program (which we did not attend).

Sam at Mt Rushmore We took the guided tour along the base of the sculpture and heard of the construction of the faces. Borglund was quite a dedicated person, as well as being a good engineer. Alice took one of the few Sam pictures of me coming out of the small cave by the walkway. I am including the picture since pics of me are so rare (I usually am the one holding the camera).

Mountain Goats After leaving the National Monument, we drove to the southwest to take the Needles highway. Much to our surprise, we came upon a mountain goat momma and her kid. The little guy ran around a lot, and momma seemed to just not care much about things. Of course, there was a monstrous traffic jam as everyone coming along the road had to stop and take pics. When we came to a buffalo a few miles later, we did not even bother stopping.

On the Needles Hwy The Needles Highway goes through some of the most eroded granite that can be found. The erosion has been down into the layers of the batholith, creating many sharp spires of rock. You do not drive fast on this road.

tunnel on Needles Hwy There are three tunnels on the Needles Highway cutting through the spires of rock. This is the most narrow, 9' 6". Alice went ahead to stop traffic on the other side, and I drove through. Unfortunately, just because the width is constant does not mean that the sides move in a straight line. I ended up scraping the right-side mirror on the wall because of the slight twist in the tunnel. No damage, just a battle scar I can point to when I am doing the macho thing.

chipmunks Further along we came across a peddler/whittler parked on the side of the road selling his wares. He provided people with seeds to feed the chipmunks crawling over and around the rocks. I noticed on the other side of the rocks it looked like the hulls were about a foot deep, so he had been doing this business for a long time. Alice bought one of his rock carvings for our treasure trove.

As we were feeding the chipmunks, the rain started. It had been clouding up more and more during the day, so we decided it was time to head back to camp. Of course, camp was about 50 miles away, so I was driving the winding roads in the Black Hills in intermittant rain for some time. When we finally came out of the hills on the east side, we could see a green wall of rain ahead of us. The radio reported a severe thunderstorm coming into Hermosa from the south. Just then a sign went by that said the US79 junction where we were heading, and Hermosa, were 5 miles away. It was quite a race to see if we could reach US79 before the storm and head north ahead of it; it was a tie. We made it back into camp just as the rain really started coming down, wet and tired but satisfied with a fun day.

Thursday the day dawned bright and clear. We did some cleaning around the trailer and then headed out to Belle Fourche and Devil's Tower.

The drive to Belle Fourche was up I-90 past Sturgis to SD34. The drive was through interesting ranch/farm land which at this time of year is still a vivid green, except where it is brilliant yellow with clover. We knew basically nothing about Belle Fourche, except they had a post office where we were to receive our mail. We now know it is pronounced "Bell Foosh.", is a small town of about 4,000, has a great museum, and is now the geographical center of the United States (as they tell you all over the town). It is named after the Belle Fourche River which runs through town. The French fur trappers were acquainted with the area many, many years ago.

Belle Fourche museum After picking up our mail, we visited the museum, a three room structure of about 1200 square feet that is packed with some of the most interesting memorabilia I have seen in a small, hometown museum. I sincerely recommend going by to see it. Alice found an old cream separator like the one she cleaned when she was a kid, and I found an old stone wheel like the one we had on the farm in Oklahoma. There was a doll collection, and many other items of interest.

Leaving Belle Fourche, we headed west for Devil's Tower, crossing the Belle Fourche River several times along the way. No one had told us that Wyoming had torn up a 7 mile stretch of WY24 to make it into a speedy thoroughfare. At this point it is only the scrappings from a number of skip loaders and bull dozers. We had pleasant conversations with three different flag-ladies as we waited for clearance to move on, section by section. Actually, since we were not in a hurry, it was very pleasant, the scenery was good, and the weather was pleasant.

When we reached Devil's Tower National Monument (the first National Monument in the nation, courtesy of Teddy Roosevelt) we crossed the Belle Fourche River once again and stopped at the first prairie dog town on the right. About every 15 feet there was a prairie dog hole with a dog standing up and whistling as we walked by. We finally realized that they thought Misty must be a coyote, and they were a mite upset. The town covered many acres.

Devil's Tower We had been watching Devil's Tower for several miles on the way in, and it simply got bigger as we drove around it up to the headquarters. There is an easy 1.5 mile walking path around the tower, so we left Misty sleeping in the shaded truck and headed up the hill.

piece of column The tower is over 800 feet higher than the headquarters building, and it is hard to judge distances and sizes. The formation is a column of lava that cooled very slowly, allowing time for macroscopic crystalization that created vertical planes of weakness in the rock. The tower has shed many layers and looks like a collection of hexagonal columns leaning into the center. As we walked around the base, we went by fallen columns of lava whose diameter was larger than our height, giving us a much better feeling for the size of the columns we could see on the sides of the tower.

At the top of the tower we could see turkey vultures and a couple of prairie falcons nesting in the rocks. On the far side of the tower we looked up to see two climbers working their way up the side of the tower. A fellow hiker explained that they would be able to come down much faster than they had climbed -- not by jumping but by rappelling down on ropes they carried.

Unfortunately, I had used up the battery in my camera and most of the diskette space I had with me, so most of the great pictures were left on the side of the mountain. This was especially sad because as we ended the walk we had a close encounter with a couple of aliens scampering across the rocks, complete with pierced ears and funky hairdos. The next time I will carry an extra battery.

As the sun set in the west, we headed back towards home in Rapid City. We made it just in time to have supper at the Hart Ranch Restaurant. We then started preparing the trailer for the next day's drive.

Log Date: +84: 980626: 1530MDT: 44N21'26.73: 106W40'17.05: Buffalo, WY

We rigged for travel the next morning and pulled out. I tested the trailer brakes, and they really worked for a change. We went north on US16 truck route to I-90 and headed west. There was a bit of headwind, and the weather was partly cloudy, but there were no big storms on the horizon. After a time we left the verdant green of the Black Hills and headed into what I remembered of Wyoming, with tufts of sagebrush dotting the hills. It was still green; mostly from the recent rains. The drive was easy all the way into Buffalo with one stop for lunch.

Deer Park Campground We had selected the Deer Park RV Campground because it was the farthest from the freeways and because it gave an Internet address. It was a good selection. The people were very nice and more than friendly, offering a nice place where we could plug into a telephone jack. I was able to trade email and update the web page. While downloading, I met Shirlee and Ross Deter, a couple from Sacramento who are one month into full-timing. We will see them again at FunDays.

We decided to eat out, so we went to the nearby Bozemans Restaurant. I had a delicious prime rib (the devil made me eat it) and Alice had her liver and onions, and when we returned to camp we went to the ice cream social put on by the campground. For $1 each we had a very large bowl of ice cream while we talked with a bunch of other campers. We met another couple: Dee and Buddy Jenkins. We went to supper with them at the StageCoach Inn the next night. We rode in their Freightliner -- what an experience. We expect to see them down the road in a TTN park.

Deer Park was so peaceful and pleasant, we decided to stay a couple more days. On Monday morning we got up very early and headed to Sheridan to have the truck serviced and to check the power steering. We walked the Main Street of Sheridan while waiting for the truck and visited some of the businesses. I found a hat holder to put in the truck, and Alice found a new scale (to replace the one she had nuked in the microwave). The Dodge service department said the chatter I was experiencing in the steering when starting up was not a problem, so we did not fix anything at that point.

We headed out of Sheridan before noon, and decided to take a 200 mile side trip on the way back to Buffalo. We went north up I-90 to US14 and turned west towards the Big Horn Mountains. Passing through Dayton we headed up the incline, a long pull averaging about 7 degrees climb, some steeper. Having just finished John McPhee's book "Rising from the Plains", I had a general idea of the geology of the state, and while in Sheridan I had purchased a book called "Roadside Geology of Wyoming". That background with the roadside signs made the trip over the range very interesting.

Something pushed the Big Horns up out of the plains. I will add to this discussion at a later time.

Log Date: +88: 980630: 1430MDT: 45N45'50.76: 107W35'34.53: Hardin, MT

We left Buffalo and headed for Hardin, MT. The trip was uneventful. More will be added later.

Supplemental Log: 45N33'50.96: 107W25'47.78: Little Bighorn Battlefield, MT

Custer graveyardOnce the rig was parked at the KOA in Hardin, we went back down the road to the Little Bighorn Battlefield and toured the grounds. It covers several square miles, and it is impressive in its extent and the history it represents.

More will be added as I have time. I do have some pictures of the battlefield.

[RV Travel Log] or [year 1998] or [May 1998] or [July 1998]