Friday, April 22, 2011

The Trek Northward

April 25th
 This morning, up and at em real early. We were on the road by 7:30AM on the way to the Canadian Border, Final stop for some slightly cheaper US gas at Shelby and arriving at Sweetgrass/Coutts at about 10:00AM. We were happy to see only a couple of vehicles ahead of us in the lineup, so we were through relatively quick. We had a fair amount of goods to declare as we had bought tires for both ELTORO and TOADONE. We tried to hide nothing and pulled over after talking to the officer at the booth and went inside and filled the necessary form, paid the $118, and were on our way. We may not have declared everything as it is difficult to keep a good listing when you have been so long away, but it appears that if you are as honest as possible and are agreeable to pay some GST over the $1500 you are allowed that, it goes a long way to appease them, and speed the process.  Anyway were on the road again in short order. We had sent Tom and Linda a message when we would be passing Warner, but they were away at Linda's Daughters for Easter, so we did not stop. There was a slight breeze blowing, but we had another good weather day, so arrived home in High River before 1:00PM. Now started the work!!  Unload ELTORO!!  This is not one of the most desirable parts of a long trip, but after multiple trips back and forth had most of the work done by about 5:00PM
April 24th
 Today we were on the road fairly early again. Took I 90 to Billings, a distance of only 40 miles, and then again branched off on State Highway 3, 12, 191, and 87. Our usual way is to go north from Billings, through Grass Range, Roundup and Lewistown to Great Falls, but of previous trips have noticed a lot of trucks turning south at a point west of Lewistown at Moore's Corner, so when we left Billings we decided we would try that route. It is a good route, following State Highway 3 and 12 to Harlowtown, then north to Moore's Corner. The passes are fewer than the other route and from Billings to Harlowtown we basically followed the Musselshell River, a very pretty drive, then north over a small pass to the Corner. Then on into Great Falls and to Dick's RV Park. We have stopped there in the past, as is quite central and easily accessible. Another 285 miles under our belts!!
April 23rd
 Got a reasonably early start today and headed north and west on I 90 as far as Belle Fourche, then branched of on Interstate 212 all the way to Custers Battlefield, then back on I 90 to Hardin, MT and to the KOA there. By taking the secondary highways we shortcut our trip from I 90 all the way around by Gillette and Sheridan by about 60 miles. This is a good option in good weather, but not recommended if it was snowing. The distance was our usual of about 275 miles, a distance we feel comfortable with. The day was good and we enjoyed an afternoon at the Hardin KOA relaxing.
April 22nd
Went down town at noon to meet Kathy for lunch, but to our surprise she had taken another day off, and was at home when we called her. So she drove down to meet us for lunch at Perkins Restaurant. While we at she invited us to her house for dinner, which we greatfully accepted. She headed home after lunch to put together her dinner and we went to the city center for some sight seeing. Rapid City is known as the Presidents City, and on each of the main corners, there are statues of the various Presidents. 

Today was a cold nasty day, the reason we 
stayed an additional day, but we wanted to 
take photos of all of the statues. Denice 
braved the cold to walk one 4 block section, 
but declined to do the other two 4 block 
sections. She waited in the jeep while I 
walked and took the photos for her. Later 
we went to Kathy's house for a delightful 
dinner of meat loaf with all the trimmings. 
Tomorrow looks like a good day, weather 
wise, so it was with great sadness that we 
bid Kathy a goodbye and returned to 
ELTORO to pack for the trip tomorrow.
April 21st
 Kathy took the day off work today to show us the sights of Rapid City. Although we have been here before, it is always nice to have a local to direct us to the best spots.  And Kathy did that well!!  First we went to Mount Rushmore and once more enjoyed the presidents faces carved into the mountain. 
Some Chain Saw Art in the Black Hills

Mount Rushmore

More Mount Rushmore

And still more Mount Rushmore

 Then we continued on to "Crazy Horse" to see how much progress there had been made, since the last time we visited. A fair amount has been done on the mountain, but what is most impressive is the museum and tourist facilities at the viewing site.
Crazy Horse
Art at Crazy Horse

Bronzes at Crazy Horse

April 20th
 Packed up and headed east and north to Rapid City today. Another short day, so arrived at Rapid City KOA shortly after noon. We are stoping here to see another of Denice's cousins, Kathy Whorkman, who lives here. After setting up we waited until Kathy finished work at BHFirehall" for dinner. It was great, although maybe a little noisey, as it is a Pub and Restaurant.  The food was good though!!
April 19th
 Spent most of day putting together list of items to Claim when we cross into Canada
Went and spent an hour with Aunt Norma again
Broasted Chicken and Shrimp for dinner
April 18th
 A wet uncomfortable day. Light rain and snow flurries were the order of the day. At noon Dawnita and Denice took Aunt Norma for a short drive out to Ft Robinson and around town. After they returned we rested for a while and then went over to the bar. Part of the bar used to be a restaurant, but Kelly  closed it down as too difficult to operate. However all the appliances and workings still exist, so Dawnita cooked us a great steak filet and crab legs dinner, again at Nebraska time of 6:30PM instead of the planned 5:00PM time. But no big deal!! We had a delightful visit with Aunt Norma, Dawnita and Kelly, and Kerry. And of course with the bar right next door, wine and beer and liquor was easily available.
April 17th
 Weather outlook not that good so we delay moving on to Rapid City until Wednesday
Dawnita and Kelly pick us up in Dawnita's jeep and take us for a jeep tour. Went to the top of the bluffs. It was a great trip. I enjoyed, but Denice was a little less impressed as it was steep and narrow and scary for her, but she over rode her vertigo fears and seemed to enjoy. I know she never would have allowed me to take her over those roads, but since Dawnita was driving, she accepted.

From the Bluffs above Ft. Robinson

Same as last

  After coming down of the mountain, we went to Ft Robinson and drove around the facilities there. It would be a good place to camp with an RV as it has all the amenities. 
The only tunnel in Nebraska
Ft. Robinson, Crazy Horse Death and Bluffs
 Then we went to an old railway tunnel SW of Crawford at Belmont. It is not used any more as they have double tracked the route through a very deep cut adjacent to the tunnel, but it is still open and we were able to drive through. From there, after watching a couple of very long Coal Trains negotiate the 7% climb from the valley with the assistance of 3 additional "Push Engines" from Crawford, we continued down "Breakneck Hill" and down to Comeco's Uranium Mine. Here Comeco, a Saskatchewan company, has found what they call, "the mother load", of uranium and extract it by an in-situ process of hundreds of bore holes into the 600 ft deep zone and dissolve the raw product , bring it to the surface and  process it into "Yellowcake", a useable form. Then we returned to Crawford, went over and visited with Aunt Norma for an hour or so. Dinner was broasted chicken and a shrimp basket from the local drive in
April 16th
Over to the bar for cofee with Kelly and Kerry in the morning. Kelly's fiancee, Dawnita, arrived from Lincoln last night at about 10:30PM after a 6 hour drive, but was attending a funeral this AM. They had made arrangements with us to pick us up after Kerry finshed work at the bar at about 500PM, and take us for a drive and picnic lunch out to Dawnita's family ranch 15 milesfrom town. However everybody seems to work on "Nebraska Time" down here so no one showed up until about 6:00PM. Seemed a little late to us, but we went out anyway to what Dawnita called the pond. The family ranch is about 6000 acreas of hilly, badland type of terrain, but good cattle country. At he pond, is near where her parents and grandparents both lived and it was a lovely little fishing, swimming hole. 
At "The Pond"

At the Pond

We lit a big bonfire, drank a little beer, ate some great broasted chicken, and had a great visiting evening until about 10:00 PM when it was time to return to town. 
April 15th
 Packed up and moved on to Crawford, NE today. Only a 127 mile trip on interstate 85 and 26. Arrived shortly after noon and parked right in front of Kelly's bar. Another tow of Denices cousins own the Bar. We went in and met with Kerry. Kelly joined after a while, then Kelly took us on a tour of the town and down to the park to find a parking place for ELTORO. We found one with live power. Then while we were driving around he mentioned that he had a space right beside the bar if we wanted to be there. We looked at the empty lot and it looked good to us, complete with power, so we parked there.
Kelly's Bar and RV Park

Later in the day went over to see Aunt Norma. She looks good for a lady of 88 years old. Spent an hour or so with her before returning to ELTORO for the evening
April 14th
 Sat tight another day as weather was not cooperating - Wind and wet - snow at Crawford, NE, where we plan on going next
Took Disco and Edie out for dinner at the "Lunchbox" Later Lindy came over to visit as well as some friends of Disco and Edies, Tim Lewis and wife.
April 13th
I drove around a little today - 
Oregon Trail Ruts

More of the Ruts

Old Signatures in Sandstone

Oregon Trail ruts, Signature Cliffs, National Guard target practice area, Airport, and down town
Denice made diner and took pork roast ever to their house for Dinner
April 12th
Did little today as weather was not the best again
Had prime rib at Edie and Disco's
April 11th
 Travelled from Limon, CO to Guernsey, NE
Parked at disco's and Edie's an had dinner with them when they got home from work - visited until 8:30PM and then retired
April 10th
 Traveled from Limon, CO to Guernsey, NE today to where a couple of Denices Cousins live
Parked in front of disco's and Edie's home, and had dinner with them when they got home from work - visited until 8:30PM and then retired
April 9th
 Sat out the weather today
April 8th
 Today traveled from Dalhart, TX to Limon, CO
April 7th
Traveled from Albuquerque, NM to Dalhart, TX today

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Back Tracking

Back tracking today some 200 miles. Left Picacho Peak and headed back east toward Las Cruces, NM. Drove some 250 miles to Deming, NM and 81 Palms RV Resort. Arrived early in the day and set up for the evening. The next morning (April 1) we were on the road by 8:30AM. Took interstate 26 across from Deming to I25 at Hatch and then north to Albuquerque, NM. Hatch is renowned as the Hot Pepper capital of the USA, and there were vendors everywhere selling the product. A couple hundred miles north on I 25 to Albuquerque, we swithed over to I 40 and checked in to the Albuquerque KOA by 2:00PM, just off I 40. The next day, decided since we were in no hurry that we would extend our stay to one week, so stopped by the office and made the necessary adjustments to our reservations. Then in the afternoon we went into the downtown area to see Denice's Young Aunt Cheryl. A rather unique situation here as her aunt is actually two years younger than she is. Anyway they spent the afternoon catching up on "Family Tree", as inter communications are not as good as they should be. In fact it was decided that the last time they had met face to face was Thirteen years ago! So as you can imagine, there was a lot to talk about. I just kept on the sidelines! Then about 4:30PM we went out for Dinner at the local "Olive Tree".  It was delicious as it always is, then we returned to ELTORO for the night. The next day, April 3rd, we picked up Cheryl and went to Old Town Albuquerque. 

Had an intersting afternoon visiting all the old structures with tourist catch alls, and catch us they did, but not too bad!!  Denice bought a few little knick-kacks and art work, but the one that caught me was in a store that sold Onyx items. While the women wandered around looking in other gift stores, I went into this one and started a conversation with the owner. He had a lot of beautiful bowls, lamps, and other items on display and he was describing the process of how they are made. This interested me as I make wooden bowls on similiar design. He told me that the items are all made in Mexico by Mexican artisans. Apparently Onyx is plentiful down there where there are mountains of it and needs no permits from the locals to quarry it. Therefore the ptoduct material is free and the Mexicans only charge for the time to shape it.  Well we talked for a half hour or so and then I said I had better catch up with my  gals, but as I wandered around with them I knew I had to go back and have a piece of the rock. We all went back and I chose a beautiful Chess Set. The board and the playing pieces are all intrically designed and shaped from different colored Onyx. The price was impressively low, I thought, and the owner guaranteed that if any broke in transit or even after I get them home that he would replace the free of charge. Amazing!!  I'm confident that back in Canada I would be able to re-sell this set for something in the order of 5 to 10 times the price I paid for it.  But now the problem, I have never played Chess, and don't have a clue of how to play. Guess that will be the next project, ---- or maybe the set will just become a decoration some where. Once we left Old Town, we returned to Cheryl's son's place and visited with him, his wife, Carol, and kids, Sophia (6), Makayla (4), and Nathan (2), while Chris and Carol prepared a great Roast Beef dinner. We enjoyed a nice evening with them, and especially enjoyed the rather rambunctious kids. Now we know why is young people that have kids!! The 4th was a rather quiet day as the weather was unsettled so we did little. On the 5th we went to the Sandia Tram ride, but found when we got there that the Tram was shut down for repairs until April 15th. The tram is billed as the longest in the world, and runs from the base of the mountain at about 6,000 feet to the top of Sandia Peak at near 10,000 ft. So, unable to do that, we just continued on Tramway Trail and went to the Balloon Museum instead. 

Wandered around there for a couple of hours and bought some momentos before heading home and stopping at Albertsons for some groceries. On the 6th, we again took Aunt Cheryl, as tour guide, and went to the Petroglyphs on the west side of the city.  There are over 20,000 native symbols there. 
We only walked one area, as there are 3 large areas of interest. To see the whole area you would have to have a few days open. We did see a lot and took a fair sampling of pictures before we tired and needed some vitals. Cheryl directed us to the best Mexican Restaraunt in town, where we enjoyed their quesine, and indeed it was fine. Not sure of the detail of the dishes, but it was good. On the 7th, we readied the motorhome for the next day move, and then in late afternoon went over to Chris and Carols for chinese dinner that we had delivered. The evening ended with a bunch of hugs from all the family including the 2 little girls, ages 6 and 4, and Nathan who is 2. So ended out time in Albuquerque.