Family and friends

Curt Gowdy State Park, Wyoming

(Ken) May 24 – May 25, 2013.  While visiting Jim, Ashley and our Grandchildren at F.E. Warren AFB, Cheyenne, Wyoming we decided to stay in town over Memorial Day Weekend rather than drive across the state to Yellowstone National Park.

Instead of driving for two days, we decided to stay local and visit Curt Gowdy State Park.  Personally, I think this was a wonderful idea because it gave us more time to spend with them and the babies.

On the first visit to the park, we all wanted to hike the trails and climb the ‘hills.’  So we set out early for the 30-minute drive to the park.  It was the beginning of a holiday weekend and the weather was great – it was going to be crowded!

Jim took us on a fantastic scenic route through the park before we stopped at the main reservoir.  He wanted to show us a few of the highlights within the park before we stopped.  It was a wonderful drive on a warm sunny morning.

When we arrived at the reservoir, we were able to park in an empty lot right at the trail head.  The crowds had not arrived yet, so we had the entire trail to ourselves.  We were able to take our time and let the kids explore at will.

Once at the top of the highest point on the trail, we spread out a table-cloth and all sat and had our lunch.  It was so peaceful sitting up there that a Mule Deer decided to join us.

From time to time, Jim and I let our inner child take over and we just had to climb a rock formation.  Even Ashley and  little James got into the act a time or two.  It was so enjoyable to spend the time with them; doing things we all enjoyed.

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After the climb down, we followed along a finger of the reservoir.  If the water hadn’t been so cold, I think we would have taken a swim.  But the rock formations on either side awe-inspiring enough.

It was at this point that Jim and I decided to spend some father/son time and return the following day and take our kayaks out on the reservoir.  Unfortunately, someone forgot to bring the camera with him (only Jimmy would have forgotten MY camera……kids) and we were unable to take any photos.

We still had a wonderful time on the water together and could have spent all day out there.  But, a weather front rolled in and the water got real rough for our 7-foot kayaks.  So when we decided to call it a day, we headed back to the base for a brew and a BBQ.

The two days at Curt Gowdy State Park was a wonderful time.  An escape for anyone living in or near the city.  It’s places like this, little niches along the way that are too often missed.  In comparison to other State and National parks within the area, it is quite small, but we could have spent all week there!

So, until next time my friends………….Cheers!

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Whirlwind 2–Cheyenne Style

(Ken) May 19 – May 28, 2013.  The arrival in Cheyenne, Wyoming was highly anticipated; seeing my son Jim and Daughter-In-Law Ashley for the first time in nearly two years, but more importantly seeing our Grandchildren other than via the computer.

If our arrival was any indication, we weren’t heading in a very good direction.  We had “routine” maintenance that needed done, and the trip from Colorado Springs, Colorado saw the exhaust pipe fall off and yet to be fixed!

Problems aside, we set up as quick as possible and were off to see the kids.  Oh my, how everyone had grown.  Jim and Ashley were no longer kids, they were adults and more importantly – parents; and Leighla was a big girl of three now!  But, meeting our grandson James, for the first time was enough to eliminate any anxiety about motorhome repairs.

Over the next couple of days, our initial plans changed a couple of times, but this lifestyle allows for the opportunity of such changes.  I was fine with it all and just happy to be spending time with the grand children.

Instead of spending two days driving over Jim’s holiday break we decided to stay local and go to Curt Gowdy State Park rather than drive to Yellowstone National Park.  A great choice I think, because the two days we were able to spend there also gave us two extra days to spend together.

From the walks in the parks and the BBQ’s in base housing brought back many good memories for me and some pleasant new ones for Jodi.  But creating these moments with our grandchildren make them that much more memorable.

I will let the following slide show speak for our visit; because we had a wonderful time!

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Leaving was tough as the time we spent just didn’t seem to be long enough.  Just the same as when we left Florida and our other grandchildren.  Leighla, Makayla, James and Aubrey, we miss all of you very much and cannot wait to see you again!

Until next time my friends, and my family………..Cheers!

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On the Road to Cheyenne, Wyoming

(Ken) May 20, 2013.  Hello again, everybody!  Jodi and I have been extremely busy over the last six weeks, and are now settled in until September.  However, this leaves us with a lot of catching up to do!  So, what better place to start than where we left off!?

If I recall correctly, we just completed an informative week at the RVSEF Conference in Colorado Springs and decided to spend one more night at the Air Force Academy prior to making our journey to Cheyenne, Wyoming to see family.

We were on the road early Sunday morning because we very anxious to see our grandchildren.  The weather was warm and clear but the wind was blowing hard from over the Rocky Mountains.  A constant side wind attempting to make our motorhome part of the landscape.  This made the drive interesting, especially at the higher elevations.

All was going smooth (other than the wind) until we approached Denver.  Whether this is constant in Denver for a Sunday morning or there was some special occasion, traffic slowed to a crawl.  No worries though, it gave us extra time to enjoy the views when we were on higher ground!

Once past Denver, it was a nice leisurely drive to the north.  Even the Fort Collins area as flowing well.  One medium hill to climb and a slow grade right past the Wyoming border and into Cheyenne.

If life was all roses, however, it would get boring real fast.  Ever been to a dirt track race and listened to the cars without a muffler?  Just as Jodi and I approached the top of our last uphill run – boom!  In an instant we were the stock car making a wonderful racket on the highway.

Pulling off at the next exit ramp, in the middle of nowhere; I crawled under the rig and found the exhaust pipe was completely separated from the exhaust manifold on the driver’s side.  Either the pipe had broken or the bolts had broken, and the exhaust pipe was resting the frame!

Being only 20 miles from F.E. Warren Air Force Base we decided to drive extremely slow to the base rather than wait hours for roadside assistance to come to us on a Sunday afternoon.

The acceleration wasn’t too awfully bad, but decelerating was very embarrassing!  Nothing like a 13 ton motorhome slowing behind a compact car sounding like a stock car coming into the pits!

Red faced and all, we made it into the Family Camp.  We had had enough of the rig for one day, so we set up quickly and set off to see the kids and grand babies; I would look at the engine in the morning, when it was nice and cool!

Knowing I was going to have routine maintenance done in Cheyenne anyway, the next morning I crawled back under and took a real good look.  Fearing the worse (having to drive downtown in a race car sounding motorhome) I found that all three nuts had come off of the exhaust manifold bolts!  The bolts were not broken, and the gasket bracket was not broken!

A quick phone call to the nearest Chevrolet dealership,a six-mile round trip drive and $3.75 later I was back in business.  I checked the nuts, grabbed lock washers, my socket and ratchet and in 15 minutes we were ready to roll on down the highway in silence again!

Anyone who has ever owned a boat or an RV will tell you, that is not the cost of any repair!  Especially one that could have been extremely costly even if one bolt was stripped or broken or the bracket had broken.  So, we are considering ourselves very lucky with this fix.

We will let you know how the “routine” maintenance went, so until next time…………..Cheers.

Categories: Family and friends, Maintenance & Hardware, Where in the World | 1 Comment

Did Someone Say Road Trip!?

(Ken) April 1 – June 1, 2013.  Sixty days and about 4,500 miles later, we have made it to our first work camping job at Luton’s Teton Cabins in Moran, Wyoming!

From the day we left Youngstown, OH.; we knew we were going to take the scenic route and visit friends and family along the way.  But, who travels from Ohio to Wyoming via Florida and New Mexico?  Well, we do of course!

With kids in North Carolina, Florida and Wyoming, and friends in Louisiana; it was only natural to take the route we did.  And knowing that we had sixty days to do it in, we took our good sweet time!  It was our point to take in and enjoy as much as we possibly could.

I could sit here and list all 14 states we’ve traveled in the last two months, but I think the pictures cover them all.  But the pictures don’t tell the stories we experienced along the way.  So, I would like to take a moment of your time and touch on a few.

I will tell you, the scenic route through the mountains and back woods of West Virginia is no place for a 36 foot motorhome towing a car!  Lets just say we survived what I thought was banjo music and my white knuckles regained some color about half way across South Carolina!

If you are looking for alligators, don’t look in Florida; it’s just too darn hot there so they all moved to Alabama! All of our ‘gator sighting only happened in Alabama.  And, don’t ever believe the person who says it never rains in Mississippi – BUCKETS!

Yes, Texas; everything is bigger in Texas, including the traffic jams and the nothingness!  If your not in a city in northern Texas, you are on the blacktop in the middle of nothing!  Seeing the glass half full – at least the roads were paved.

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Crossing the boarder into New Mexico is like crossing into a different world.  Immediately after you enter the state; the terrain changes, the sky clears and the temperature cools.  Sorry, Texas; maybe the next time through we will see more than……nothing!

The drive north had the Rocky Mountains on our left from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Fort Collins, Colorado.  Good thing I was able to hear the camera shutter going behind me or I would have thought I left Jodi in Albuquerque!  She did get some great pictures from back there.

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Cheyenne, Wyoming found us in the repair shop for two days.  A visit with family and some routine maintenance made us forget about the weather.  Highs in the 40’s with rain and sleet one day and 70’s and sunny the next.  But, where in the world did all that wind come from?

I truly believe it was the wind that made the nuts fall off the exhaust?  How odd, the bolts were not broken or stripped, but the nuts that held the exhaust pipe to the exhaust manifold; simply came off.  What was really nice, it was a $5.00 fix that only took me 20 minutes.

With a complete tune up on the engine and transmission; we were ready to tackle the Rocky Mountains!  Northwest we headed towards Thermopolis, Wyoming.  You can trust me when I say I was ready for a nice long soak in the Hot Springs!  Ahhhh, that was fantastic (as long as you held your nose… sulfur)!

With the rig and the body tuned, we were off to Yellowstone National Park.  Now, understand, Jodi and I have never been out west, but we knew the weather could change quickly when you get into the mountains.  But a flipping white-out snow storm on the 29th of May!  That made the drive through Sylvan Pass (8559 feet) quite interesting.

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears; oh my! Well not really, but the drive from the East Entrance to Bridge Bay camp ground produced Bison, a Black Bear, and a Grey Wolf.  We were really excited, until two Bison camped out next to our rig the first night.  You can only watch an animal graze for so long! But it was still pretty awesome.

The final two and a half hour drive from Yellowstone to Luton’s Teton Cabins was a beautiful day past the Grand Teton Mountain Range. A picture definitely does not do them justice.  The high jagged peaks covered in snow are stunning!

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Arriving at our final destination, at least until September was a fantastic feeling.  Completing the first leg of our journey successfully is quite satisfying.  After 60 days and thousands of miles, we are ready for a long rest and an opportunity to catch up on all the blog entries we need to complete!

So until next time……………Cheers!

Categories: Family and friends, Figuring it all out, Living in an RV, Where in the World | 2 Comments

Dude! We’re in Shreveport, LA.

(Ken) May 1 – May 5, 2013.  We set out early from Fontainebleau State Park knowing we were in for a longer day than our normal driving time.  Normally we like to keep it to 4 or 5 hours, but this was going to be a 6 plus hour day.  Needless to say, with the rain being on and off, the ‘love bug’ swarms and the Shreveport/Bossier City malfunction junctions; we won’t be planning a long day again!

With Jodi’s fun meter pegged and me being well past my last nerve we exited the interstate right into another of northern Louisiana’s infamous construction zones! I could see where we needed to go but you just can’t get there from here.  Four lefts later; we were 50 feet from where we started and were able to enter the gate to Barksdale Air Force Base!Pulled into the entrance of the Family Camp on base with a big sigh of relief because we were done! The Camp Hosts were wonderful assisted with setting up in the overflow section….because someone got us there a little later than expected.

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The main purpose of the stop in Shreveport, beside the fact it was along the route, was to visit an old friend; Derreck ‘The Dude’ Price.  An old dart partner and teammate from Youngstown, Ohio who relocated south a few years back.  We were both looking forward to seeing him again.

Still reeling from the drive we cancelled the first evening but decided to get started early the next day.  Derreck and his friend Stacy took us to a restaurant in downtown Shreveport – The Blind Tiger.  From the Pecan Catfish that Jodi had and the Snapper I had; I think we agreed they were better than the seafood we had on the gulf shores.

If you are ever in the Shreveport/Bossier City area; we highly recommend this place if you want some seafood!

A huge thank you goes out to Stacy, who very stealthily managed to pay the bill and tip our waiter while no one was looking! So, I felt it only necessary to buy the drinks at T ‘n’ T’s when we headed out to throw some darts.  After not throwing for a month, the rust was quickly eliminated and I was back to my old self.

Once we got up and around the next morning, Jodi, Derreck and I headed to the SciPort, Shreveport’s interactive science center.  We three, were like little kids trying out all the exhibits.  After exhausting ourselves, we decided to take a walk along the Red River and ended up walking through one of the casino’s.  It was a great day.

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Derreck managed to find a charity blind draw for us on Saturday.  So, while Jodi stayed home, Derreck and me were off to play darts like he had never left! I managed a third place finish and relegated Derreck to forth, but the most important thing was we had fun and it was for charity.

So again, thank you Derreck and Stacy for your hospitality and for showing us your wonderful city.  Our door will always be open to you where ever we may roam.

Categories: Family and friends, Where in the World | 2 Comments

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