Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Visit to Little Bighorn

Tuesday, we left Billings, Montana and head over to The Little Bighorn National Monument. As a history buff, this is a must see spot. It was the turning point of the Indian wars of the 1870s. After the inglorious defeat of Lt. Col. Custer and his men which outraged the federal government and the folks back east, the Indians of the northern plains never won another battle.


the monument commemorates those who died on both sides and the interpretive videos and talks speak of the cause for the united effort on the part of the plains Indians in their fight against the white man's incursions. (It actually sounds a lot like what may be happening today with the federal government's trampling the rights once guaranteed by our Constitution.)

Atop the hill is a monument to the soldiers, civilians and Indian scouts who died here on June 25, 1876. The remains of nearly all were interred beneath this stone. Some few have been reburied elswhere, like Lt. Col. Custer who has been laid to rest at West Point.

Standing on the north side of the monument and looking down toward the Bighorn River there are a number of white stones marking where those under Custer's command were found in the days following the battle. Most are on this flank of the little knoll.
 If you look closely, you'll see one stone has it's engraved statement of identity in black.
 This stone, seen above, marks the spot they found Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.

Other stones are to be found in the area around the battle site. Some, like the one below mark the place Indian braves were known to have died in defense of their way of life.

And one, marks the burial site of the horses belonging to the 7th Cavalry. Many of these were shot by their riders who were in desperate need of protective shelter.

The Little Bighorn National Monument is a place for reflection and remembrance.


The Monument, surrounded by the Crow Reservation is also the start of Route 212 also called the Warrior's Road which runs east southeast through Montana and into Wyoming and South Dakota. We drove along that road today heading to the Black Hills and Rapid City.

Tomorrow we go to see Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument.

Glacier National Park

Terry and I visited Glacier National Park over the weekend. After spending Saturday getting our air conditioner repaired--a necessity as the temperatures were into the upper 90s and even hit 100!--we sent over to the park on Sunday to view the glaciers and the work the glaciers had done in sculpting the landscape. We didn't get a chance to tour the park on the red buses as we had hoped. I should have made reservations weeks ago before we started on our trip.

We did drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road on our own, however. And the views were spectacular. A little less ice and snow than I expected--then again it was approaching 100 degrees!--and there were scars from forest fires on the shores of Lake McDonald and elsewhere, but the ride was fantastic!

Being on the passenger side, Terry got the best view of the steep drop offs to the valley below--whether she wanted them or not! There were a couple of times she almost climbed over the gear stick and sat in my lap and several times I heard her say, "I'm shutting my eyes! La, la, la...."

Monday we headed south along the east shores of Flathead Lake and on to Billings, Montana--where we had to get our refrigerator repaired!

Thank goodness, both Glacier and Billings had competent repairmen who made house calls. And hopefully we won't need to see any more of them on this trip!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ten Days on the Road

Well, not really. We've been parked in an RV park just off I-84 in Fairview, Oregon for the last week as we visit with Rick, Sandy and, of course, little Chelsea Rose.

Chelsea Rose with a BIG smile. (photo from Rick & Sandy's Tinybeans page)

Grandpa, Chelsea Rose, Grandma & Penny and Harbor

After five days of visiting, (and watching Chelsea eat sleep and poop--a lot) Terry and I decided to revisit Mt. St. Helens. The volcano blew in the spring of 1980 when Terry was still home with our first born, Jessica. We then visited the northeast side of the mountain back in 1993 when Jess was 13 and Rick was 10. This time, Terry and I approached from the southwest and took the long ride along the Toutle River drainage on highway 504.

We could see Mount St. Helens from our campground back in Fairview (south side of the Columbia River), but then we could also see Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. The campground is approximately 50-60 miles away from Mt. St. Helens--as the crow flies. Driving took a wee bit longer. First west (I-84) then north by northwest (I-205 and I-5) then east on Washington 504--a very twisting, winding east.

For much of the time, but especially while on 504, you can see the mountain with its snowy flanks. What you can't see is the land laid bare by the lateral explosion that took place 30 years ago.

Our first stop was at the visitors' center on 504 which is still some 48-49 miles from the observation center at the end of the road.

At this point you are still many miles away and well outside the "Blast Zone."  Up on the ridge, you would have experienced the ash fall but little else. Down in the valley of the Toutle, however, it would have been a far different story! The landslide on the north face of Mount St. Helens send huge amounts of earth down into the valleys below burying the rivers, creeks and lakes. The hot ash and gases melted the snow and ice that lay on the mountain side sending cascades of water downhill. When the buried water and the runoff joined together there was a wall of water tens of feet high filled with ash, rock, logs, homes and anything else that got in its way.

From the visitors' center we drove closer to the mountain passing several view points along the way bit stopping only when we got to the end of the road: Johnston Ridge Observatory.

Still 5-6 miles away from the volcano, you are definitely in the Zone now! The land before you was first covered in rubble and debris from the land slide that crashed into the ridge before being turned westward, then coated thickly with ash and other pyroclastic materials from the explosion. The ridge itself was scoured and sandblasted.

Nothing was left standing for some 7 to 17 miles after the blast, A lot depended upon your exact location. Some valleys funneled the destruction others, laying perpendicular to the direction of the blast, offered limited protection.

On our way back down highway 504, we stopped at the Forest Learning Center built and sponsored by Weyerhaeuser, the largest landowner in the area affected by the 1980 blast. It's a very interesting place with displays on forestry practices and some that contrast the natural approach for succession being used in the National Monument to the assisted reforestation that Weyerhauser is using. Weyerhauser foresters planted 18 million fir seedlings (mostly Noble Fir, Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine) in the three years after the eruption. (Other landowners--including the National Forest Service--planted trees on their own properties outside the Monument. The Forest service alone planted 10 million seedlings on 14,000 acres.)

So much time was spent in discussing the destruction that took place I wanted to stand up and remind everyone that this was instead a natural process of rebirth for the land. Yes, old, mature forests were leveled, but like the fires that sweep through the forest, there will be new and different life forms for a time. What Weyerhaueser has done is speed the process up and skipped over steps that may take decades so as to provide a return on their (and by "their" I mean their stockholders') investment while producing usable forest products within a reasonable amount of time.


Well, we've one more day in Portland and one more short visit with family, before we head out on the road again tomorrow. First stop will be in the Coeur d'Alene area and then several days at Glacier National Park.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Report From the Road

Well, we departed Hills Creek State Park bright and early on Friday ahead of what seems to have been some hellacious T-storms and high winds in the Northern and Southern Tiers. We did run into some heavy rains along I-80 in western PA but nothing too unusual.

Our first stop was in the Toledo, Ohio area and our next was in Kellogg Iowa. Our third (tonight's) was in Ogallala, Nebraska. We've made some good time and have had the benefit of crossing two time zone lines and gaining those hours on consecutive days. This has allowed us to go just a wee bit further than planned each of the last two days. As a result, Monday's travels will be a tad shorter than anticipated. We still plan on stopping in the Rock Springs/Green River area of Wyoming.

The Tundra is behaving admirably under the strain of towing the Vibe. However, it's getting only around 8 mpg which necessitates our stopping every 160 miles or so to get fuel. And the gas prices.... They were pretty damn high in Indiana and Illinois. And let us not mention the tolls in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The tolls in Ohio were higher than our campground fee. And the toll booths in Indiana are not manned. The result of that is a sizable delay if someone can't follow the directions on the board or has trouble swiping their credit card. (Like the trucker ahead of us.) How they work if you're paying cash, I haven't a clue.

The trailer is doing well also. Although there were a few instances where a screw wasn't tightened sufficiently and eventually came out (the shower door and where the drain pipe from the sink separated because it too wasn't tightened properly). Cushions and draws under the couch and bench seats seem to slide out with some of the rough roads and boxes in the pantry will have to be battened down a bit better, but other wise all systems (hot and cold water, electric, stove top, AC, etc.) are go. Oh, except for the grey water tank sensors. They don't seem to be registering a thing even after several instances of washing dishes, faces and hands. They should be reading something. Maybe after we both take showers tomorrow. The black water tank is reading 2/3 full so it's time to think about dumping that and what ever is in the grey tank. After all, we have some extra time I hadn't planned for.

I mentioned the exorbitant tolls.... Perhaps Illinois should use some of that money to repaint their rest area signs. Have of those blue signs are missing letters  or just plain look like crap. Maybe they could get one of their former governors to do something about them while they serve time.

And Nebraska should do something about the parking at most of its I-80 rest areas. Semi trucks and RVs must parallel park in about six or seven spots along the side of the entrance roads. We drove through two of them without stopping because there was no way. Both times we were following a tractor trailer whose driver came to the same conclusion. Only once, as we approached North Platte, did I see a rest area with a large enough truck/trailer parking area where vehicles could pull through and park on a diagonal.

The rains in western Nebraska must have been quite heavy last week The Platte River, noted for being a mile wide and an inch deep, was way over its normal channel flooding many corn field and pasture. The cows seem to like their new swimming holes, however.

Well, that's about all for now. I'll write when I'm able, bit you can also follow my scriblings on Facebook--which is a wee bit more iPhone friendly.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Trip Begins in 5 Days

Getting closer. We do a test run starting Monday and then hit the road on Friday.

Terry and I spent the last two days loading "stuff" into the Vibe in anticipation of starting our 2015 Road Trip: Portland, OR or Bust. We've each got our clothes pretty much stowed away as are the pots and pans, utensils and dried/canned foodstuffs for the galley. The towels and cleaning supplies are tucked away in the bathroom and I've got some fishing stuff in the undercarriage storage along with a set of canvas folding chairs.

I worked on the itinerary some more and printed out a page for each travel day along with two or three campgrounds at the end of the day. We'll make some reservations for the longer layovers in Portland, Glacier, Rapid City and Racine, but for the one night layovers while going from point A to point B, we'll call the day before or the day of our arrival. Such a practice has worked for us before and I see no reason it won't again.

I've got my reservation for our trial run at Hills Creek State Park printed out. I can't actually check-in until around 3 PM, however, so there are a few chores I'll be doing in the morning.

Looking at the weather forecast, they're predicting thunderstorms Monday afternoon and night so I better be sure to put a few books in the trailer.

Hills Creek does not have wifi reception (or cable for that matter) and I've not got a satellite account so anything I post after tomorrow will be through my iPhone unless I come home for such things as cutting the grass so don't expect much.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Prospective Itinerary for 2015 Road Trip

Starting Monday afternoon, the Vibe will be spending some days over at Hills Creek State Park. From Monday through Thursday Terry and I will be making ourselves familiar with the new travel trailer in preparation for our cross-country. Our concerns will be to familiarize ourselves with the operation of the stove, grill, fridge, etc. as well as making sure to stock the pantry and fridge for the first seven days of travel. At the end of seven days we plan on being in Portland, Oregon where we'll stay for almost a full week have an opportunity to restock while visiting with Rick, Sandy and Chelsea Rose.

I've worked out a "Plan" for our trip, but as always it is subject to change.

Prospective Itinerary for 2015 Road Trip:

Day 1 Friday, June 12 Depart Hills Creek State Park with Toledo, Ohio as our goal. This is merely a one night stand as we head west.  Approximately 440 miles.
Day 2 Saturday, June 13 Depart Toledo area for Cedar Rapids Iowa. Again a one night stand. Approximately 475 miles.
Day 3 Sunday, June 14 Depart Cedar Rapids for North Platte, Nebraska and another one night stand. Approximately 540 miles.
Day 4 Monday, June 15 Continue west from North Platte for Rock Springs, Wyoming and another one night layover. Approximately 475 miles.
Day 5 Tuesday, June 16 From Rock Springs we go to Brigham City, Utah where, after a relatively short day’s drive (approximately 200 miles) we’ll do some birding at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge.
Day 6 Wednesday, June 17 From Brigham City we head for Ontario, Oregon and another one night stop. Approximately 340 miles.
Day 7 Thursday, June 18 Departing Ontario we traverse the state of Oregon to arrive at Portland. Approximately 380 miles.
Days 8 Friday, June 19 through 13 Wednesday, June 24 are spent visiting with Rick, Sandy and Chelsea Rose as well as touring Portland.
Day 14 Thursday, June 25We’re back on the road as we depart Portland for Couer d’Alene, Idaho. Another one night stand. Approximately 385 miles.
Day 15 Friday, June 26 From Couer d’Alene we head to West Glacier, Montana. Approximately 240 miles.
Days 16 Saturday, June 27 and 17 Sunday, June 28 are spent sightseeing in and around Glacier National Park.
Day 18 Monday, June 29 We depart West Glacier for Billings, Montana and one more one night stand. Approximately 415 miles.
Day 19 Tuesday, June 30 From Billings we head for Rapid City, South Dakota. Approximately 320 miles.
Days 20 Wednesday, July 1 and 21 Thursday, July 2 are spent at Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park and, of course, Wall Drug.
Day 22 Friday, July 3 We head for Worthington, Minnesota—another one nighter. Approximately 400 miles.
Day 23 Saturday, July 4 From Worthington we head for the Caladonia/Racine area south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we’ll be stopping for several days. Approximately 450 miles.
Days 24 Sunday, July 5 through 27 Wednesday, July 8 We visit with Brian and Vicki (Milwaukee, WI), tour Milwaukee and visit with John and Cindy (Long Grove, IL). Both are less than 30 miles from where we hope to camp.
Day 27 Thursday, July 9 We head for Toledo, Ohio and another one night stand. Approximately 320 miles.
Day 28 Friday, July 10 From Toledo we go to Presque Isle, PA to tour the state park. Approximately 210 miles.
Day 29 Saturday, July 11 We stay at Presque Isle.
Day 30 Sunday, July 11 Depart Presque Isle for home. Approximately 230 miles.

The total travel mileage is approximately 5800 miles. Of course touring and such will add more miles to the odometer.

Any number of things could affect our plans. But, considering the longest days are 540 miles (from Cedar Rapids,Iowa to North Platte, Nebraska) and a pair of 475 mile days (Toledo, Ohio to Cedar Rapids, Iowa and from North Platte, Nebraska to Rock Springs, Wyoming)--all three days in the middle of the first week when things should be mechanically fine--I'm hoping to have sufficient slack time to accommodate detours and--God forbid--breakdowns.

We only had one serious problem when we went to Alaska and that was even before we met up with the crew in Dawson Creek. The trailer's twin axles were misaligned and the tires worn badly. Luckily we had a couple of days built in and spent one of them touring Edmonton, Alberta while repairs were made and tires replaced. And, when we went to Mardi Gras in 2013, we had to lay over one day on our way down because of tornadoes along our route.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Exterior of the Bolt Hole

Yesterday I posted some photos of the inside of the Bolt Hole and promised that I'd have some of the outside soon. Well, soon has arrived.

Come in the gate and onto the lawn and then drive up to the front porch and the main entrance into the Great Room. There's also an entrance to the kitchen from the covered porch, but that door is barred on the inside. The addition on the left is the first floor bedroom,

 (This photo was taken by Realtor Kay Delano and labeled cabin in the woods on 34 acres)
Turn around and look across the lawn and you'll see the garage (with workshop area in the rear) and the pole barn. Both need a little TLC. I built the barn in 2003 with help from my daughter, my son, my buddy Joe and his two boys. Each did one or two days labor but I had to put the final side panels and the final pieces of the roof on myself. And then I had to paint the whole bloody thing! (Needs another coat now.)

Walk around the west side of the  past an old shed that needs lots of TLC and you'll see the multiple roof levels of the Bolt Hole. The steeper section of silvery metal on the right is the roof of the kitchen and the small attic. The gentler slope at the bottom is the attached woodshed.

Obviously, you gain access to the deck by a sliding glass door from the upstairs bedroom.

From the other side of the back lawn you get another view of the deck and also of windows into the bathroom (on the right) and the utility room (on the left) as well as the screened porch.

Walk past the screened porch and look back and you can see the shed I rebuilt in 2002 after I tore down an old chicken coop of slightly larger size.

Except for the older shed behind the first floor bedroom, that's it. 

Inside the Bolt Hole

At the Bolt Hole for the second time within a week to clear out some of the clutter and make it look a bit more presentable. It officially went on the market today with a realtor from the town of Poland.

She took a lot of pictures inside and out so I was a little disappointed that you could only see one of them on her web site when it was posted. I saw her pictues and they were pretty darn good. I only have my iPhone with me so mine aren't quite as good, but here's what the insides look like with much of the clutter already in the Tundra.

When you first enter you are in the Great Room. This is our main living area and the source of much of our heat. There's a big wood stove and the stove pipe goes up through the upstairs bedroom.

There are four doors in the north end that you see here. The one on the far right goes out onto the screened porch. The one next to it goes into a utility room which is used for storage. The next one on the left goes upstairs and the final one on the left goes into the kitchen.

Standing behind the wood stove and looking into the great room, you see the second source of heat: the south wall is all glass and picks up a good deal of sun during the day. (Unfortunately, there are some planted fir trees on each corner of the building and they block a good portion of the sun.)

Leaving the great room, you enter the kitchen. There's another wood stove here that provides yet another source of heat. (There's also electric baseboard heat throughout the house, but, except for the the first floor bedroom, we've never used it. Electricity in New York state ain't cheap!)

From the other side of the kitchen, you can see the entrance to the great room on the right and the entrance to the bathroom on the left.

Next to the entrance to the bathroom is a door that leads to the attached woodshed.

On the west end of the kitchen, is the entrance to the first floor bedroom. The entire west wall is closet.

Going upstairs we have the "master bedroom." Here you can see the stove pipe as it passes through. (The former owner had a small wood stove here that connected to the same pipe which is 1-not safe and 2-inducive to some pretty smokey times in the bedroom!)

From the upstairs bedroom you can step out on the a small deck through the sliding glass doors. When we bought the place in 1989, the doors were there but, alas, there was no deck. It's about a 10 foot drop just outside the doors, maybe 12-14 feet off the deck's northern side.

And there you have it. That's the inside of the Bolt Hole. Tomorrow I shall endeavor to present you with some pictures of the exterior and the sheds, garage and pole barn.

BTW it was pretty raw today. It drizzled and rained for much of the day and the temperature nver got much above 50 degrees. (It was 45 when I woke up.) I tried to resist, but finally had to turn on the heat.