Saturday, June 22, 2013

Epic Adventure

This is my first time creating a blog so please bear with me as I learn how to use it. Lyn and I are leaving on a Trip around the USA on Friday June 28th. We are planning a trip that will take us northwest to the Badlands and Mt Rushmore and then on to Yellowstone National Park. Then we will turn south and head to the Grand Canyon. After that we will meander back along a southern route and just see what happens. We are currently in the process of making lists and trying to figure out what we can take with us. The bigger our list gets the smaller our car looks! We will be tent camping most of the way so a few extra items are needed. This will be Lyn's first trip camping and it will be three weeks long! (By the way did I mention we are taking our dog Jasper?) So far Lyn's only hesitation is the bears that she has read about in Yellowstone! I have to admit that has my interest as well.

  This is just a few of the items we are taking.

Home sweet Home!

The Route. (Subject to change.)


Thursday, June 27th 2013
Finally we are leaving tomorrow. I am really getting the feeling that we are taking too much! We have decided not to add to the list or go to another store until we are on the road!Just got done packing the car. I think everything is going to fit. All I have to add is the cooler our clothes and of course Jasper and we will be ready to go. Next stop... Louisville Kentucky! We are staying at an Urban KOA campground. It is only a mile away from downtown. I have never been there so this should be interesting.

The first two days of our trip will be two big driving days once we hit the Badlands of South Dakota we will spend less time in the car and more time exploring the different areas.  We will be camping in the Badlands National Park campground. I was warned that at night the winds could get up to 30 mph! Today I went out and bought larger tent stakes. They also have pit toilets there. I have been trying to explain that to Lyn and finally decided to tell her they were so fancy that you did not even have to flush them. Something tells me I will be in trouble for that one. Oh well that is many miles down the road.

When I have talked to people about this trip there seems to be two camps! The first camp is  "Wow that is the coolest trip ever! I have always wanted to do that." The second camp is "This trip sounds like a recipe for disaster. I guess time will only tell but for me I think Clark Griswold said it best when he said....... 

"Why aren't we flying? Because getting there is half the fun."

Day 1 June 28th 2013 

Packed to the Max
So the day has finally come and...........we are off!! I started off with a huge headache but after we put a few miles behind us it slowly went away. The day was pretty uneventful, good weather, good traffic and of course good company! We left at 7:15 and arrived at the campsite at about 4 pm. It was about 500 miles.

We have decided that we are going to stay on a strict budget on this trip so we can go more places. (About $125 a day.) In order to accomplish this we are staying away from restaurants and tourist traps as much as possible. So today we stopped at many rest stops along the way. It always amazes me how nice some of these places really are. Most of them have beautiful picnic areas and it is always fun to watch the people come and go.

We arrived at the KOA at 4 and they took us directly to our Camping Cabin. It sleeps two adults and two kids and thats about it. We chose this over the tent because we are allowed to leave Jasper here while we go explore downtown Louisville. It does have AC so we are not roughing it tonight. There is always tomorrow in the tent for that. One of the things I like to do is find unusual signs. Below is a sign that is in the KOA bathroom. It tells you not to smoke but then they provide you with a screwed down ashtray at every sink. Too funny!!!

I know we have along way to go but I think Jasper is adjusting pretty quickly! Just click on his picture and look at that smile!!!! I think we are wearing him out! I am so glad we were able to bring him.

For dinner Lyn reheated what we had last night and added some steamed shrimp dumplings. It was very good and complete with special sauces. I do not think staying away from restaurants is going to be that hard after all. After dinner we decided to go and walk around downtown. It is only 8 minutes from the campsite.

We walked around town and just took in the sights. They had some very interesting architecture and some unusual statues. We walked around for about an hour and then back to the campsite. Tomorrow we plan to have lunch under the arch in St. Louis, and then on to Kansas City. Look out west here we come! 

Day 2 June 29th 2013

Home for the first night.
Jasper woke me up at 5:45 and was ready to go for a walk. After that I sat outside and finished yesterday's blog. Lyn slept in if you can call it that it was still only 6:45 in the morning.  Lyn fixed veggie omelets for breakfast and of course they were delicious. We are still eating food that we brought from home. It is really helping us stay under budget on the trip. 

Our camping neighbors cat!
As stated before we are budgeting $125 a day for this trip. Yesterday we spent $56 and today we only spent $37.50. These expenses are low right now because of two things. The first is that we brought food from home so we have not had to buy any yet. The second reason is that my kids have given me gas cards for holidays and birthdays. I figured it up and they have given me enough to make it all the way to the Grand Canyon. Thanks 
Rheagan, Chelsea, Justin, Luke and Caroline!

Ok now back to the trip. Our plan was to have lunch underneath
the Arch of St. Louis and then motor on to Kansas City MO. Getting to the Arch only took about 4 hours and we were able to park right next to it. We made our lunch in the parking lot and took it with us to the actual Arch and had a nice picnic lunch while watching all of the people visiting the monument. Jasper was in super chill mode. People were literally stopping us and yelling to us about what a cool looking dog he was. In fact while we were eating lunch a guy walked up and said that he "could tell that we really trained that dog." Of course I responded that I had watched the entire first season of The Dog Whisperer". Statements like that just pop out of my mouth and make me look like an idiot. Oh well at least I have a cool dog! 

Lyn and Jasper on a Picnic!
Jasper at the Arch!

After that it was on to Kansas City. It took another another 3.5 hours and we decided to stop at another KOA just outside of town. This one is very nice and we decided to put up the tent and give tent camping a try. We put up the tent with rain threatening but it never actually happened thank goodness. Anyway after a great dinner and several walks around the facility we called it a night and went to bed. Jasper went right in and went to his bed and went to sleep. I think he was warn out. We had an uneventful night and woke up fully rested. Amen!

Tomorrow we are off to Sioux Falls South Dakota! It will be one more big day of driving about 550 miles but it will be worth it. I have really been looking forward to showing Lyn the countryside there. I have only been once and I loved it.

Day 3 June 30, 2013

Well Jaspers first night in the tent went great. He slept through the night and got me up at the usual 5:45 am. Not bad considering the time change. Today we are still eating for free. (Leftovers from home.) Lyn made a pizza looking omelet and then after breakfast she made egg salad for our lunch.
We planned to stop at one of the great rest area picnic tables along the way. After breaking camp we headed to Walmart to get a few items for tonight’s dinner. I usually laugh at anything Walmart related but it is so nice to find everything you need all in one place. After that we topped off the gas using one of my handy dandy gas cards. Then I had Lyn type in the address into her GPS to get us to the next campsite. When it came up it said 6 hours. Wow last night when I checked it said 9. We rechecked and it was right. Three hours of fun at the campground was just given to us. Sweet!!!!!

The drive up was beautiful and was pretty much uneventful. The landscape is really opening up as we get closer to South Dakota. I love the views.
South Dakota
We also saw several trains that were unbelievably long. One of them appeared to be over a half a mile long. Lyn enjoyed the ride and now has played Candy Crush in nine different states since we started this odyssey.  She loves traveling and about the only demand she has are frequent bathroom breaks.

Lunch time!!!
We stopped along the way at a very simple rest area. It was small and very clean. It had lots of covered picnic tables and we grabbed one for lunch. There is something about eating outside at a picnic table that makes good food even taste better. Today was no different we gobbled down the egg salad and then hit the road. Jasper continues to be the most chilled dog around.

Dinner time!!
After about 6 hours of driving we arrived at Jellystone Campground. The home of Yogi Bear!!! We checked in and set up camp. I have stayed here before and new what to expect. Lyn loves the Yogi Bear theme and at least for now is Ok with Bears in the campground. Lyn fixed another great dinner of chicken, lentils and puto. We are definitely eating well on this trip.

Yogi Bear himself walked through the camp much to the delight of the kids and one Mrs. Lamorena Miles!

This place has a heated pool and a hot tub. I may try to get in that first thing in the morning before we leave. At the end of the day we had spent $60. Not too bad!
Lyn, Jasper and Yogi!

Tomorrow we head for the Badlands National Park. I am really looking forward to this. While I have some reservations about the conditions of the campground it has adventure written all over it!!!

Day 4 July 1st 2013

Today’s the day we are heading to the Badlands.  I have been looking forward to this because I have never been there and we will be camping in the National Park which is a little more like real camping to me. The price is only $16 a night. That is with water and no electricity. Wait I am getting ahead of myself let’s start at the beginning of the day.

Jasper woke up at 4 this morning and was ready to go. He jumped on our air mattress as if to say what’s wrong with you guys lets get going! The entire tent is one big air mattress and if one person or dog moves everybody moves so it really can be a little like a circus under the big top. I finally took him outside and put him in the car and he went back to sleep right away.

We had Puto with coconut for breakfast. Lyn made it the night before and it was delicious.
Coconut puto!
By the time we packed up and got showers it was nearly 10 am. As we were packing we noticed that the downy clothes softener had leaked out all over the back of the car. We took everything out and cleaned it out best we could. I would guess it was about 100 ounces. Our car has never smelled so fresh. It may have been just what we needed since there are no showers in the campground at the badlands. We had about a 4.5-hour drive ahead of us. The drive was beautiful! This is one of my favorite drives for sure. The fields are so large and just go on for miles and miles and miles. It is so flat and open here that the world just seems bigger. We flew down the highway, as the speed limit was 75 almost the entire way. I liked being able to put the cruise control on 80 and just watch the scenery go by. We had a very smooth trip and only stopped three times, once to get some free gas, thanks to my gas gift cards. The next stop was at the infamous Corn Palace.
Corn Palace

Corn Palace

We are avoiding tourist traps but how can you pass up a free corn palace?!?!?!? We got our pictures and a cheap souvenir and we were back on the road. Last but not least we stopped at a rest stop that had a small museum and fantastic over look areas. It also had poisonous snakes. On the way out to the overlook Lyn said she heard a rattler and quickly came down the trail. Sure enough on the way back we heard it again.
Jasper at the rest stop.

Finally we made it to the Badlands National Park. The Park entrance was $15 but we paid $80. We bought a national pass that will allow us to go into as many parks as we can for a year. We should come out about $25 ahead even if we never use it again after this trip. After that we set out to find the campground.  We had been warned that they filled up fast so we felt lucky to get one.  
We made it!
It was first come first serve so we were hoping that there would be a spot open. When we arrived there was no attendant but there were directions that said as long as the site did not have a reserved sign for today’s date then you could have it. We drove around and to our surprise there were a number of sites open. Lyn picked a very nice one with a tree and plenty of shade. After you picked your site you put $16 in an envelope and put it in the rangers box. I asked a fellow camper if I was doing it right and he assured me that I was. His name was Rick and I am guessing he was in his late 20’s. He really stood out to me because he was driving a worn out 1972 white Cadillac convertible.
72 Cadillac?

This was probably the most impractical coolest car you could cross the country in. So naturally I had to know how he got here. He said he was a musician and that he played gigs from Atlanta up to Chicago. His girlfriend from California met him there and they planned a cross-country trip from there. He said they were headed to Seattle then down the coast of California! How fun and carefree!

View from our campsite.

After setting up camp we went out exploring. We went to several overlooks and Jasper was allowed to go on all of them. After passing beware of rattlesnake signs we were rewarded with unbelievable views. It was really neat to be able to take Jasper and he was a hit with the kids everywhere we went. After that we went back to camp, and had another great meal made by Lyn. The weather here is sunny and about 82 degrees. There is a strong breeze that keeps you cool and keeps the bugs at bay. We are considering staying in the Badlands one more night at their free primitive campsite. What I love most about this trip is that we can stay or we can go as we please. No reservations means no schedule that we have to follow. It is a different mindset for sure and I love it! Today’s total expenditure was $106 but that did include our National Park card.
Wide open spaces!

We ended the night with a ranger presentation at the campground amphitheatre. The ranger talked about the park and then did a special on owls and they have just become my favorite bird.
Outdoor amphitheater.

The rangers were very good and we learned a lot. This finished up about 10 and we were ready for bed, as the time had changed another hour in this part of the country.

Day 5 July 2nd 2013

Wall Drug Store
Jasper made it to 5:45! That was awesome considering we have a two hour difference in the time here vs. Greensboro. We were all worn out last night after a full day. He also got us up just in time to see the sunrise and get a few good pictures. After breakfast we started packing up. Our plan today was to go to the Wall Drug store and then come back to the National park and this time camp further in the interior. 

Posing at Wall Drug Store.
After packing up we went out of the park and went to the infamous Wall Drug store. It is a tourist trap for sure but it is also a fun place to look around. We took lots of pictures and also bought Lyn a t-shirt. Then we got gas and headed back to the park. This time I had to pay for the gas as there were no shell stations to be found. That’s ok we will just use it later.     

The campground is called Sage Creek and it has no electricity, no water and pit toilets. We are going to stay one night and then head
Almost there!
to the Black Hills near Mt. Rushmore. The campground was down a 12-mile gravel road. It was really cool to drive through these fields with hardly anyone else around. We saw a field of bison and several prairie dog towns. They are very fun to watch as they pop up and down from their    
                                      holes in the ground.

Lyn really loves camping. She said it reminds here of when everyone knew each other in her neighborhood because they stayed outside to stay cool. You can really tell a difference when you camp near the really large RV’s they tend go straight inside and turn on the AC and hardly come out. Well there is no Rv’s at Sage Creek Campground so everyone should be out and about.

We arrived at Sage Creek at about noon. We grabbed one of the last tables that had an awning. It was a good thing because today was hot with not much of a breeze.
No breeze = hot!
We took off in the car and went exploring. There were several overlooks, more bison and as always beautiful countryside. When we got back about 5 and it was still hot. We were beginning to feel like we might have made a mistake camping here as a cold shower would have been great. 

Then all of a sudden a lone bison came over the hill and right into the campground. Well of course all of us had to get pictures and just

take a closer look at this animal. You could here everybody making plans on what to do if he charged us but he just ignored us and stayed there for several hours.

Bison in our campground.

There was a family of three camping next to us. They were on their way to Idaho to visit friends. Their daughter was missing her dog, so she asked if she could come over and play with Jasper.

Lyn, Annie & Tanya
Lyn, Annie & Jasper


They were a very nice family. The husband was a Neurologist that had managed to get three weeks off and they were making the most of it. Finally as the sun went down and the stars came out this campsite more than made up for the heat we had endured. We all went to bed about 10 and fell asleep quickly. Tomorrow it is on the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore

Day 6 July 3rd 2013

Today it was me that got Jasper up early. It was about 5:15 and the sun was just about to rise. I brought him outside and let Lyn sleep in. It was a pleasant 68 degrees. Several people were up getting ready to take pictures of the sunrise that was just a few minutes away. My daughter Rheagan let me borrow here high-end camera so I used it to capture it as it rose above the hills. (Pictures to come later.) We got an early start this morning. We were packed up and ready to go by 6:30. I know this sounds early but we are still on Greensboro time and with the sun coming up it just felt right to hit the road. We drove 10 miles out on a gravel road before we hit a paved road. We will be back here for sure. This place needs to be shared with family and friends.

We drove a couple of hours and ended up in Mt. Rushmore. We had been without wifi for a couple of days so we decided to stop at McDonalds. We bought two items off the dollar menu and used the Internet for about an hour. Not a bad deal. After uploading the blog and finding our next campground we headed out. Our campground was about 40 minutes away near Hill City. It is located just 5 minutes away from Mt. Rushmore. As we got closer the landscape changed to that of trees and hills. We were arriving in the Black Hills. After a stop at Wal-Mart to buy food and other necessities we arrived at the campground.
Campground office

Overpass on the way to Kemp's Kamp Campground
Our home for two nights.

When we got to the Kemps Kamp campground the manager said they only had one site left with a covered picnic table. Well take it!!! We set up camp and went and had two fantastic showers. We had not had one in two days. Yuck!!!! (Thankfully because of the Downey spill, our car still smells great!) We tried to take a nap but it was a little too warm for that. We have decided to stay here for two days and then move on to Cody Wyoming the last stop before we head into Yellowstone.

We decided to go to Mt. Rushmore tonight to see the lighting of the presidents show at 9.  We need to be there buy 8:30 to get seats. We decided to go into Keystone and just walk around town with Jasper. It is only a few minutes from our campsite. It was pretty touristy but had a fun appeal about it. We got some ice cream and Jasper watched us eat it with such intensity that we had to go out and buy him some milk bone treats to make amends.

Hill City

We went back to the campsite and Lyn fixed Chicken Afritada (A Filipino dish.) with rice. It really hit the spot.
Mmmm mmm good!
Lyn has adapted to cooking on the coleman stove and has no problem cooking our favorites from home as well as some new dishes as well. (Thanks Mom and David for the stove!! It works great and we are still using the original canisters of gas.) Then we headed off for Mt. Rushmore about 7 PM. Jasper is going to stay in the car for this one. It was in the 60’s so he will be fine. When we get of the car he moves to the front passenger seat and pretends like he is big stuff. Then when we come back he jumps in the backseat like he has gotten away with something.

At Mt. Rushmore the entrance is free however parking is $11. The parking pass is good for one year. We arrived at 7:45 and it was crowded. We had been told to be seated in the amphitheatre by 8:30 to see the lighting of the presidents. At 9:10. We decided with this crowd we better go on in and have a seat. They had n orchestra playing 40 and 50’s big band music and ending with a slew of patriotic songs that really got you in the spirit of the moment. They can no longer do fire works due to the dry conditions but it really felt like a special July 4th moment all the same. Tomorrow we are going to visit the Crazy Horse memorial and come back to Mt. Rushmore and hike the trails for a closer view.  
Jasper putting on the Presidents face!

Day 7 July 4th 2013

Wow we have been n the road a week now. It is crazy how time flies. We are still going strong and looking forward to each day.

Crazy Horse
I really am glad that I am doing this blog to help me remember all of the things that we are doing. By the way Lyn wants me to clear up something to do with the Downy spill that we had in our car. Before we left on our trip she wanted to put a smaller amount of the Downy in a smaller bottle and I insisted we take the whole bottle because I thought if we changed it we might have a spill. Somehow I had forgotten that fact. :) Anyway............

Today we woke up about 6. We are all adjusting to the two hour time difference. However when we got up we could hear thunder. I am not talking your average thunder I am talking really loud rolling thunder. We decided to go to Crazy Horse First before the rain started. It was about 40 minutes away and before we got there the rain started complete with thunder and lightning! It was really a site to see and we were both glad we were in our car and not in our tent. We arrived at Crazy Horse and it was obvious we would not be going to this attraction today. 

We decide to drive on and visit the town of Custer. When we got
Town of Custer
there they were just stopping the parade due to heavy rains. The temperature had cooled to 59 degrees. We decided to leave Jasper in the car and walk the main street as the side walks were covered. The shops were interesting and we bought a magnet and a t-shirt. After about an hour we decided to go
Town of Custer
to Wal-mart and then head back to camp and see what was left with our campsite.

We went back by the Crazy Horse memorial and the rain had really slowed down so we decided to take a chance and visit.
Crazy Horse
The temperature was still 59 degrees and heavy overcast so we knew Jasper would be OK. We parked the car walked Jasper and made a quick lunch. After we ate we went in for a tour. As most of you probably know this project is nowhere near finished. A man started it around 1948 and now his kids are continuing it. It is funded by the memorial park and donations. The federal government offered to give him 10 million to help with the project and he turned them down.
Scale model
To give it some perspective all of Mt. Rushmore would fit in just the head of crazy horse and it is being carved on both sides of the mountain.

After that we went to Wal-mart and then back to camp to see what was left of our site. When we got back it was sunny but obvious they had a lot of rain. We checked inside the tent and everything was dry. We basically took it easy the rest of the afternoon and had another great meal made by Lyn. Pork Chops, cabbage, potatoes
and gravy! Yum Yum!!! We went to bed bout 10 and plan to get an early start for Cody Wyoming in the morning. It is about a 7 hour drive and with any luck we will be staying in a Teepee.

Day 8 July 5th 2013

We woke up about 5. I took Jasper for a short walk and felt a few rain drops. The guy camping next to us was camping in the back of his truck using nothing more then a hammock no netting
From the Office Porch at Kemp's Kamp
whatsoever. The rain drops woke him up as well and proceeded to talk loudly to me about the night before. He apologized for making any noise and then proceeded to tell us loudly about what he did the night before. Remember this was 5 am and most of the campers were fast asleep. Lyn and I wondered how many people he woke up apologizing for being loud the night before. Too funny.  We decided to go ahead and take the tent down since it was dry and go ahead and pack it up for the trip. We are heading to Cody Wyoming today. It will take a little over 7 hours and we will be rewarded with spectacular views along the way. We had bacon hash browns and fried eggs for breakfast.

Going to Wyoming

After breakfast we took showers and started to pack up. One thing that I have been amazed at in our travels is how everything is automated these days. The routine for washing your hands consisted of holding your hands beneath the hand dispenser and moving them around until the soap comes out. Then on to the water once again moving your hands around until the water comes out. Now they have added paper towel dispensers that you move your hands around and a piece of paper comes out. So here I am at the paper towel dispenser at our campground moving my hands around with no success whatsoever. Now how long do you think a person would stand their and move their hands around until they figured out that it was not automated. Well, in my case it was until the little boy behind me said...."Hey Mister you just need to grab one!" He probably thought I needed help back to the campsite but thank goodness he did not offer.

We left about 7:30 and entered Wyoming in about an hour. Wyoming has some vast lands without people. There are many times when we would lose cell phone coverage for 30 minutes at a time. We went through several small towns. In fact one of them had a sign that said Population 11. Wow!!! I stopped at a visitor center to find out the most scenic route to Cody. Turns out it was Highway 14. They did not recommend it for Rv's because it was so steep. 

The route took us right through Big Horn National Park. It had everything from heavily forested areas to open canyons. Spectacular views about every corner. At about 12:30we started looking for the a sign with a picnic table so we could have lunch. We found one that also said their was camping. We turned in and in just a few minutes we were in the middle of an oasis. Wooded
Picnic area
areas for picnic tables. a bubbling brook and good size pond that two kids were fishing in. We were up in the mountains now so the weather was about 59 degrees and over cast. We made our lunch and just sat at the table realizing that the only reason we were there was due to a little ugly brown picture of a picnic table that said turn left. Awesome......what a treat!!!!! After that we headed to the campground which was about 3 more hours away.

Were here!

The Ponderosa campground is in the Heart of Cody. It is city camping. It is only a quarter mile from main street on one side and yet it really has a unique look once you get inside. We had heard they had Tepees and we wanted to sleep in one. These are real Tepee's that are just over the ground. Nothing fancy just canvas a few ropes and sticks to hold it up. Now 
I know that some of you are wondering why would you sleep in a Tepee. To be honest if you have to ask then I cannot explain it to you. All I can say is when I first heard it was an option. I had to do it. 

Our Tepee was located down a very steep hill behind the campground by a small river. The sound of the river was very
Soothing. When we went inside the Tepee both Lyn and I could not believe how good it was. I am guessing it was 12 feet high in the middle. Lyn was happy with the space and said that this was a 4 start camping tent and she loved it. We were a little worried about bugs but other campers assured us that they were not a problem so we took it.

After eating another great dinner fixed by Lyn we decided to go to a rodeo that was right down the street. It was about to rain when we got there but the seats were covered and they said the show would go on. The show was good and both really enjoyed the barrel racing. They even had 12 year olds that really could maneuver those large horses. It was outside and the view of the hills and sky in the background was breath taking. It rained off and on throughout the show but that never slowed down the rodeo one bit.

At the Rodeo
We went back to the campsite and decided to go to bed as it was already abut 10:30and we are still on Greensboro time ormaybe something in between. So here we are going to sleep in our Tepee and talking about how far we had come and all the things that we had done since Lyn got here just a little over two years ago. Every time we got to the part "and now we are sleeping in a Tepee" we just busted out laughing!

So the moral of this story is that if you are ever asked to sleep in a TePee the answer should always be yes! Tomorrow we plan to stay in Cody and see what it has to offer before heading out to Yellowstone the following day.

Day 9 June 6th 2013

New Friends
We woke up at the usual 5:30 and said goodbye to some new friends we had met the day before. They were from Florida and doing a similar route that we were except they were a day ahead of us. They were heading out to Yellowstone today and we will be going that way tomorrow. We shared some information on future campgrounds and they were on their way by 6. 

Making Breakfast
We had puto for breakfast again. For those of you who do not know what it is, it is a kind of bread made out of rice. It is a little sweet and you can eat it plain or add things to it like nuts, coconut, bacon or even cheese. It is a bit like a muffin. Lyn steams it in a steamer so it is a little like getting baked muffins off of the stove stop. They
Morning view from our Campsite
are very moist and delicious. It is naturally white but Lyn likes things to be colorful so she puts a little food coloring in to spice things up.

Lyn use to be a girl scout in the Philippines and I asked her if they ever went camping. She just smiled and told me that there was no reason to go camping as they were already living in camping conditions. Anyway her lifestyle growing up has made her way more prepared for this trip than I thought. 

Buffalo Bill Center
Today we decided to go see the Buffalo Bill Museum. Everybody has told us that if you can only do one thing in Cody this is it. We needed to find somewhere for Jasper because the Museum could take over three hours to tour. I looked on the internet for a place but there was no answer when I called. We decided to drive there since it was only a few blocks away. When we got there it had a closed sign but there was a
Doggy Daycare
woman watering some plants in the side yard. I went to talk to her and sure enough it was the owner. She said that she had friends in town and had closed for the whole weekend but she needed to do some things around the house today and keeping our dog might be just the thing to keep her there and on task. So she said she would do it and her rates were $9 for half a day. She also said that she had a Jack Russell terrier and did Jasper like to play? Wow we felt so good about leaving him there. He took off through the house with her dog in hot pursuit.

Bears yikes!
Lyn and I went to the Museum and had a great time looking at all of the displays. They had a section on Buffalo Bill as well as Yellowstone. They also had a special section on Guns with an entire floor of guns from the smithsonian. Now I am not a gun person but there was enough there to keep
Pocketknife with Gun
my interest in fact it was fascinating learning about its evolution. They also had a raptor section complete with a live show. It was very interesting as well. 

After the museum we decided to go out for lunch in downtown Cody. We went to eat at Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel and Restaurant. It is on the National
Lunch time!
Register of Historic Places. We split a half pound buffalo burger with some Irma fries. It really hit the spot. The bar in the restaurant was actually a gift from the Queen of England. She sent it to Buffalo Bill after he had taken his Wild West show to England and performed for her.

Famous Bar
After that we picked up Jasper and he was happy and warn out. We went back to the Tepee and Lyn tried to take a nap while I worked on yesterdays blog and Jasper laid in the sun. After that Lyn went and washed clothes while Jasper and I took a nap. Lyn called when she was done and we decided to go to the campground gift shop to get a magnet for our fridge. Then went back to the campsite to fix dinner. We decided to eat all of the leftovers that we have been accumulating over
View from our Campsite
the last few days. We had a great meal in a beautiful setting and decided to go to bed a little early. There is something about camping that is invigorating and wears you out all at the same time. I love it.

Tomorrow we head to Yellowstone. We are going to attempt to get a tent site at Grant Campground on the South end of the Yellowstone loop. If it is full we will go to plan B and then C and then D. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to do this trip! Looking forward to entering Yellowstone in the morning!! Pretty sure no wifi in Yellowstone so we might not be connected for a couple days.

Day 10 July 7th 2013

We woke up early as usual and said goodbye to the Ponderosa campground. We were very thankful for the shelter of the Tepee. We weathered out the biggest storm of our trip so far. It was amazing how it took the wind gusts and kept us dry. For about an hour we could not decide if we needed to stay or run for the car.  Every time I heard someone outside I was wondering if they were coming to tell us to get out or if they were coming seeking shelter.

We packed the car and headed up to the shower house. After that

we headed to McDonalds to use our coupons. For $3 we were able to get one coffee two sausage and cheese Mcmuffins and two sausage biscuits. That took care of breakfast and most of lunch. We made one quick stop at the biggest Wal-mart I have ever and we were off.

We made it!

The drive to the entrance to Yellowstone was about 50 miles away. We made it in just over an hour including a few picture stops along the way. Once you enter Yellowstone it was another 1 and half to two hours more to get to our campground.  I had heard these campgrounds filled up and we gat one of the last two sites available. It was group site meaning that it was very big and meant for groups but they let it out if it was all that was available. We would only use up a small part of it but wait I am getting ahead of myself. We had passed many signs warning us about bears and being in bear country. Before I could get the site I had to sign a statement that I had read and understood all of the bear warnings Hmmm things just got serious. The more you read the more it starts playing tricks on your mind. Anyway we proceeded on.
that was in the pamphlet.

Some of the rules!

When we got to our site it was beautiful. It was like a mini ponderosa of our own. Wait did I say on our own?!?!?!? Our closest neighbors were a little to far away from us and the back of our site was nothing but pure woods! Actually kind of scary! We decided to camp in the front portion of the site near
Our campite
our car. We actually dragged a pretty heavy table there just to feel safer. Basically you can leave nothing in your tent or at your picnic table that has a possible smell. This includes all food, water and perfumes. You could not even have a bottle of closed water in the tent.

We quickly ate lunch and decided to go out and tour the park for the rest of the afternoon. We went to Old Faithful and watched it erupt and then we went to the Old Faithful inn and took turns
touring the lobby. (Jasper was not welcome of course.) It is a beautiful Inn that was built in 1904. It is amazing and I hope to stay their one day. The rooms are small and some even have bathrooms down the hall but the charm and character just ooze from every corner. After

that we decided to cruise the bottom loop of Yellowstone. We decided to do most of our sight seeing tomorrow as we were tired and just driving the lower loop would take several hours. So we stayed in the car and just took it all in. Yellowstone has a way of bringing nature right to your car window and today was no different. We went around a corner and had to stop because there was a mom and Dad Bison with their baby calf walking down the road towards us. They all three past us within
Mom and baby calf!
several feet of our open car window. We drove the rest of the way back to camp and warmed up leftovers for dinner with a careful eye and ear turned towards the woods behind us.

First Fire
As the evening wore on it started to get chilly. 
Lyn built a fire with wood we had purchased from the camp office. She grew up building fires and was very good at it. It felt great sitting around our first real fire. Lyn made it last for about two hours by gathering up some wood in the area. After we made sure it was out we turned in for the night.

I had a mummy sleeping bag for Lyn and Jasper and I just toughed it out with blankets. It was very cold! Both Jasper and I wished we had more blankets and will add more for tomorrow
Jasper guarding the camp.
night. Despite the cold we made it to 6 am in the morning. Tomorrow we will explore some of the sites that Yellowstone has to offer.

Day 11 July 8th 2013

Wow was it cold last night. Lyn had the mummy sleeping bag so she was Ok but Jasper and I froze. I kept covering him up at the end of the bed but I could tell he was cold and I knew that I was. When we got up it was 39 degrees! I will say it took our minds off of the bears for a bit but tonight I will dress warmer and may let Jasper sleep between Lyn and myself to keep both of us warm.

Random Bison
I told Lyn not to worry about fixing breakfast. I had always wanted to eat at the Old Faithful Inn and heard that breakfast was a good time to do that because the crowds are less and the cost is less. Remember we are on a budget. We have a lot of fun but we can stay out more days if we watch our money. So we got up and I fixed Lyn's coffee and we were off to get some warm showers. They have a shower house that opens at 7 every morning. You are allowed to take one shower a day for free and after that you have to pay. We arrived at 7 and went in for the showers. These were the best conditions we had seen yet. Very clean and plenty of space to lay your stuff out. I finished before Lyn and walked jasper and added more ice to the cooler. I also met a man named Rick.
Rick living the dream!
He had recently bought a BMW trike and left his house in Alabama last April and has not been back sense. His wife was joining him in a few days and they were headed to the West coast.

Finally we were off to the Old Faithful Inn. It was about 19 miles away with a speed limit of 45 and with constant stopping of traffic we arrived about 8:30. It was still cool enough to leave Jasper in the car so we cracked the windows and went in for breakfast. This was the
Old Faithful Inn
first time I had seen the Inn from the front. It was built in 1904 and is awesome in just about every way. We walked in the lobby and went upstairs to the upper viewing deck. This was where you could watch Old faithful do its thing. Like I said before we are staying here one day even if for just one night! After looking around the lobby and taking pictures we went to breakfast. They sat us in the old part of the dining room. The food was great and the company was even better. The atmosphere was unbelievable! 
Any way we talked to the waitress and asked her were all of the employees lived while they worked here during the summer. It is way to far to commute. She said that they lived in dorms on the property and that a lot of retired people brought their own campers and camped free while they worked there. Hmm something to think about.
Lobby of Old Faithful Inn

After that we started the tour of both loops of Yellowstone. With stopping this would take us about 7 hours to complete. We stopped first at the Midway Geyser Basin. Jasper was not allowed to go so he stayed in the car. We toured the entire walkway. The pictures do not really do it justice. All I can say is that it was amazing. This might just be the understatement of the year. Lyn loved it. She had never seen anything like it.
Midway Geyser Basin
She took a lot of pictures and jumped back in the car. Then we were off to Mammoth Hot Springs. They had a special road just for cars. No Rv's or trailers allowed. It took us to the top for some really great views. We went on the walk ways and then took many more pictures. Then it was on to Tower-Roosevelt falls. Here we had more pictures and also made our
picnic lunch. Then it was off to Canyon Village. More great pictures and then finally our last stop was at the Fishing Bridge. This is the bridge that you cross if you come into Yellowstone from the East entrance.

We saw lots of animals along the way and finally reached our campground about 5 PM. I was warn out. One thing I noticed on our drive was how many people were riding their bikes on the loops. Now I do not mean casual riders that were dropped off but real bikers that had all of their gear with
Home sweet home!
them and had arrived at Yellowstone on their own. Well when we got back to camp my new neighbor was one of those bikers. He had left Virginia near the coast and was riding all the way to the Oregon coast. He said he was traveling the Trans American Trail and that he had met many bikers riding the same trail. They would ride together from time to time and sometime on his own. I asked him how he had the time to do the ride and he told me that he was taking a year off from work and planned to back pack through India after that. Living the American dream??!?!? Well he was actually from England and as a side note his Mom was Filipino. Too cool!! You can follow him at his blog at

Tomorrow we are of to the Grand Tetons and then try to get most of the way to Salt lake City. Lets see where the road will take us.   


Day 12 July 9th 2013

Today we are leaving Yellowstone and headed to the Grand Tetons. They are only about an hour or two south of Yellowstone. Our plan is to spend half a day there and then drive on and camp somewhere near Salt Lake City Utah.

Once again it was a cold night. I would say it was in the mid 30’s. Jasper and I were the cold ones as
Lyn had the mummy sleeping bag. About 2 am I called Jasper up from his end of the bed and he got between Lyn and myself under the covers. Ahhhhh instant warmth for all concerned. Just as we got settled Lyn decided that she had to go to the bathroom, which meant we were all going. The bathroom was only 100 yards away but it was as dark as it can get. We had a flashlight but with bears living in the area our hearts were pounding a little more than usual. On the way back we looked up between the trees and were greeted with the Milky Way. It was so clear! We felt like we were a part of it. We settled back in and slept till about 6:30. We had leftover puto for breakfast and after breaking camp we headed to the showers.
Time to go!

We decide to make one more stop in Yellowstone before we left. It was called West Thumb Geyser Basin. It was only two miles from our campsite. Right when we turned in there was a huge elk standing right next to the parking lot. While he ate grass we took several pictures and videos. What a bonus! We parked the car and headed down to take a look it was a big set of Geysers and pools with a beautiful view of the lake. I am so glad we
stopped. Thanks Lyn for insisting that we not pass it up!

West Thumb
Now it was time to leave Yellowstone and head to the Grand Tetons! I had never been there and I was looking forward to it. When we arrived we went to the Visitor Center and made a plan of things we could do in about three hours. Behind the visitor center was their main marina. It was gorgeous! Would love to have a boat slip their for the summer. We started off with the main lodge. It was nothing like the Old Faithful Inn but it still had a great beauty all of its own. The view however was unparalleled! From there we decided to  go to Jenny Lake with a few stops in between. On the way we took many detours to take in as many vistas as we possibly in the 3 hours that we had given ourselves. Right as we approached Jenny Lake their was a picnic area so we decided to get our food out and have a picnic. We got the last table. Behind us was a family from
We made it!
China that was also looking for a table. I motioned for them to share ours. I was not sure if they spoke english or not because I had heard them talking chinese. Turns out they spoke better english then I do. I could understand everything that they said and they could understand almost nothing of what I said. Any way smiles were shared and their son played with Jasper. Next we moved on to Jenny Lake and loved seeing the reflections of the Tetons in the water. I will let the pictures do the talking but I promise you it was way better than they show.

Marina at the Grand Tetons

Love this view!

Looks like the Alps!

Up close!

Set up for the night.
Finally we left and headed for Salt Lake City or at least as close as we could get to it. The highway we
were on was truly out in the middle of nowhere. We went up to 30 minutes without even seeing an oncoming car. We could not imagine how someone lived this far out but I will have to say it was beautiful country side. Finally after about 6 hours of driving we started to see signs of civilization. We decided to stay in Evaston for the night. I was getting tired since it was already past 7 PM, we used the program "Around Me" to find a campground. We found an RV park that let us have a site for 18.50 including tax. We had water, showers, electricity and Wifi. What more could a person need. We went to walmart and bought burgers for Lyn to cook out. By the time we finished dinner and got caught up on the blog it was 10:30. We went to bed and fell fast asleep.

Day 13 July 10th 2013

Mcdonalds kid area.
We got up this morning and planned on getting an early start. We decided to eat breakfast at McDonalds and use their wifi to get the blog updated. Wifi would not connect but we did have a a
good cheap breakfast and we were on our way. We planned on going to Lake Mead today which backs up to the Hoover Dam and was about 7 hours away. We quickly were in Utah and decide to pass on Salt Lake City and do it on another trip. I know its a great place but we must save some places for later.

As we drove through Utah we were amazed with some of the canyons and rock formations. In some places we were driving very near the Grand Canyon. It gave us a taste of things to come. As we were driving we were in contact with some friends of ours Dereatha and Larry Rice who are on a similar trip. I work with Dereatha
and have been following their travel blogs for the last two years. Every year they go somewhere in the USA on their Harley and have quit the adventure. This year they are doing it in a BMW convertible! Anyway they are the ones that inspired us to go on this trip. When I read that they were going to be in Vegas the same time we would be at Lake Mead I knew we had to get a picture together and let our two blogs cross paths. We planned to touch base when we arrived and make it happen.

 When we were about three hours away Derethea called me and
Jasper in chill mode.
said she had a proposition for me that I could not say no to. Hmmmm interesting?!?!?!? She proceeded to tell me that they had reserved a room for us at the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino and that Jasper was welcome! It was located just 11 miles from the Hoover Dam. After we arrived at the room Derethea and Larry met us in the lobby for a great steak dinner then it was off the Vegas to walk the strip. We had not even planned on going into Vegas since we had Jasper and we were watching our budget. Our personal tour guides showed us the sights with us ending up having desert at the Eiffel tower. During this time we shared stories and just generally had a good time. Meanwhile Jasper was relaxing in his own bed back at the hotel watching tv! Life was good all the way around.

Japser living the good life!

Lyn and Dereatha

Dereatha and Larry
I know that thank you is not enough but it is the best that I can do. Thank You!!! We were so blessed by these two people, they are true inspirations to us in their faith and lifestyles! (I guess that would actually be one in the same.) We arrived back home about 11 and fell asleep in something called an actual bed with a big box in the room that controlled the temperature!!! Life is good and cool!!! :)

On another note Lyn has some relatives in Los Angeles. (Lyn has not seen them since she was in grade school.) They noticed our facebook posts and wanted to see if we could visit them. Unfortunately we could not make the trip. They called back and said they would actually be in Prescott Arizona this weekend. Problem solved we will see them this Saturday after going to the Grand
Motorcycle Trailer
Canyon! Blessed all the way around.

For those of you who are interested here is a budget update,

Budget $125 a day.

Day 1    $57.00
Day 2    $36.50
Day 3    $60.00
Day 4    $102.50
Day 5    $55.00
Day 6    $161.00
Day 7    $77.27
Day 8    $125.00
Day 9    $132.00
Day 10  $76.50
Day 11  $35.00

Total 917.77

Average per day $83.43

Day 14 July 11th 2013

We woke up about 6:30 in our huge hotel room. It was kind of like sleeping in. It is amazing what good curtains will do. I took Jasper out and then fed him breakfast. Now it was time for Lyn and I to eat. My friend Dereatha told me that the hotel had a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs and french toast for under $5. We decide to go try
it.  It was so big we just spilt one and were totally filled up. It was delicious. On the way back to the room I took a few pictures of Lyn pretending to gamble. Let me just say I now know that they do not allow that!!! They quickly came over and made me delete the pictures. They were very nice but said there was no pictures of the "pit!" 

Got one!
We decided to take our time checking out of the room. Check out time was 11 and at 9 it was already 92 degrees outside. We checked out at 10:59 so it would not look like we were abusing the situation. :) We pulled out and went straight to a shell station and used the gas card that my kids have given me. It is always nice to be driving on free gas. Finally we off to Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and with any luck the   Grand Canyon.

Boulder City
Within minutes we were in Boulder City. I love this little town. About 6 years ago I went through here and got a hair cut. It just so happened I needed one again and it was still there on the main strip. I went in and it was a little like going into Floyd's Barber shop on the Andy Griffith show. Only two chairs in the entire place. After that Lyn and I
walked around town and took some pictures. The town has a very cool vibe.

Next stop was Lake Mead. It is a beautiful lake that you can camp on for $10 a night. It looked like it would be great especially if you had a boat. We drove across the Hoover Dam and took some pictures but did not do the tour. It would have been too long to leave Jasper in the car.
Lake Mead
Finally we were off to find a campsite at the Grand Canyon. 

We had a beautiful drive and just missed a few huge storms. It felt funny to be driving on I40. Somehow it made us feel connected to home. We turned on to highway 64 and
Storms are a brewing!
that took us all the way to the park. Once we were in the park it was another 25 miles along the rim to get to the Dessert View campground. On the way we kept seeing glimpses of the canyon. It reminded me of driving down the beach as a kid and seeing the ocean between dunes. We also saw a sign that warned us that their could be mountain lions for the
Mountain Lions
next 10 miles! Very exciting!

We arrived at the campground about 7. There were a handful of sites left. All were very nice with plenty of room. We unloaded our stuff and set up camp. Then I went and registered us for the site on a automated machine. This beautiful site that was within walking distance of the rim
Our site!
was only $12 a night. Fantastic! 

After we got settled in we went to the point were the Watchtower was. It was built in the 30's right on the edge of the southern rim. They made it out of stone so it would look natural in the setting that it was in. They did a great job. You are allowed to climb to the top to get even more spectacular views. Then we went back to camp and Lyn fixed another great dinner of chicken rice

ce and vegetables. We called it a night and tried to forget about Mountain Lions that might be sharing our home.

Day 15 July 12th 2013

Tomorrow More of the Grand Canyon and then it is off to Prescott AZ to meet some of Lyn's family.

Day 15 July 13th 2013

We camped last night at the Desert View campground. It was nice and cool at night perfect weather for sleeping. We planned to get up and see the sunrise over the canyon. We slept till 5:45 and missed the sunrise. We went to the canyon anyway and were presented with beautiful views. We stayed for a while just to soaked it in. When we went back to the
car there were two huge elk eating leaves of our tree. They let us get really close and take pictures. What a bonus! 

We went back to camp and Lyn made breakfast with what leftovers we had. She fixed a veggie omelets and leftover pancit. We decided to get an early start on viewing the Canyon. We planned on going to most of the overlooks on the way out of the park. We packed up camp and headed out.

Mountain Lion
We stopped at several views and took lots of pictures. I really cannot do it justice so I will just let the pictures do the talking. It was a 25 mile drive to the South entrance to the park. Once we finished taking pictures we headed out of the park and were on our way to Prescott AZ. It was only 2.5 hours so this would be a light driving day.

The drive was uneventful and familiar half of it we had just done the day before. When we arrived in Prescott at the campground we found out that they did not allow tents. Some parks are only for RV's. Even though we could not stay there she was very helpful. She told us about a city campground that was right next
Skirted this storm!
door and gave us maps of the city and a things to do list. We went to the city campground and it was perfect except for one thing. They did not have showers. Since we had not had showers the night before this would not work especially since we were going to meet Lyn's family the next day. We checked a couple of hotels and they were way too much for the budget. I called the original RV park and she told me of another campground just a few miles away.

We went to Willow Lake campground and it was just what we
Downtown Prescott
needed. Big campsite and hot showers. All of that for only $19 a night. After we set up it was time to wash all of our clothes, sheets blankets ect...  Lyn did this while I hung out with Jasper and walked him around the park. After the clothes were done we went to McDonald's and updated yesterdays blog. Then we decided to head downtown and try to find a place where we could eat outside with Jasper. 

Jasper taking it in!
Prescott is a very cool town. When we got there they were having music in the park in the court house courtyard. There was a pizza place right across the street. We laid out a blanket and had dinner while listening to some very good music. It was 77 degrees! Perfect! About 9 PM we headed back to camp and called it a night.   We fell asleep quickly, Tomorrow we will be meeting Lyn's relatives for lunch and then
At the park!
heading on. Not exactly sure the direction but we will end up in San Antonio in a couple of days. Loving this trip so far!

Day 16 July 13th 2013

We woke up today at 6 and there were ants all over the outside of our tent. We decided to pack up and go to Mcdonalds instead of cooking breakfast to get away from them. Today was the day that we were going to meet some of Lyn's relatives. They live in Los Angeles but were visiting their daughter in Prescott Arizona. They had invited us for lunch and we were looking forward to it. 

At the carwash!
We decide it was time to get cleaned up and be a more presentable group. Two weeks of camping was beginning to show on our car and Jasper. After updating the blog and having breakfast we went to a car wash that Lyn had spotted earlier. We took everything out of the car and vacuumed out the car and then reorganized and repacked the car. It was a funny site and it was hard to believe that we got all of thse things in our car. After we put everything back we went and washed the outside of the car. Wow we were starting to look good!!! 

Dog wash!
We decide that Jasper really needed a bath and found a place that let you use their facility to give him a bath. We paid $15 and then we washed the dog. It was a pretty good set up and Jasper went along with it. I think he even realized that he needed a bath. Next we back to the campground to wash all of our clothes, sheets blankets ect. When we arrived there was a unique vegetable stand. Everything was
Dottie and Ralph
free. Lyn was able to get some sqaush and cucumbers. I asked the couple working their what the deal was and they said that their church grew the vegetables and that they gave them as a way to promote their church. What a neat idea! I found out that they had lived in Jamestown in the 70's for a couple of years. After that we took showers.  Finally we were ready to go meet Lyn's relatives!

Filipino feast!
Their house was only 9 minutes away. Once we arrived and all of the introductions were done we put Jasper on the back porch and then talked caught up on things. Margie (Lyn's relative) has lived in the USA for 40 years. First Hawaii and now California. She left the Philippines when Lyn was only 2. Lyn knew her from the trips that Margie would take back to the Philippines. After we talked we had a Filipino feast! The food was delicious and of course there was plenty to eat. While we are there we decide to call the Philippines and let some of Lyn's relatives talk to Margie. Lyn's parents are the God Parents of Margie. When Lyn called her sister to talk she found out that her Father had taken a turn for the worse. For those of you who do not know he is living with stage 4 colon cancer. He had become very weak and everyone had gone to the house to be with him. Lyn was able to talk to her
Dad and Margie was able to talk to family members as well.  As you can imagine it was a very stressful call and our prayers continue to go out to Lyn's Dad and her family. After talking to everyone we took a few pictures and said our goodbyes. They gave us leftovers from the lunch that will easily last us 3 days. Thank you!!!!

After about an hour of driving I asked Lyn if she still wanted to go to Corpus Christi or would she rather just go straight down I40 and head home. She felt that she wanted to go home due to her Dad's situation so we looked at the map and decided we could be home in about 3 days. 

We were going to drive til about 7 PM tonight and then find a campground. We stopped in Winslow Arizona and took some touristy pictures there and headed on down the road. We saw
Winslow Arizona
a billboard for USA RV Park. I called the number and asked if they had tent sites and he said yes. We arrived and much to our surprise was a very well run campground that had everything we needed and more. The site was $20. It was located in Gallup, New Mexico. The people were very friendly and they had live music. Lyn decided to call her family
Reststop Picnic Area
and check on her Dad. He was doing a little better and was sleeping comfortably which made everyone feel better. Lyn's Mom asked her when she would be meeting the other relatives in Corpus Christi and Lyn told her that she had decided to go home and not visit because the timing did not seem right. Lyn's Mom encouraged her to go see them because they are a relative to her Dad and said that it would be great for them to be able to talk to them when we got there. She said that Lyn would be the US Ambassador to update them on her fathers condition. Lyn called her cousin to make sure that they would be there and she i

s very excited to see us. We should be there in about three days. We are going to call her cousin back tomorrow and firm up the
details. We went to sleep feeling much better than we had earlier in the afternoon. God is always with us! We feel it every day but today it was especially true. We all turned into bed about 10:30. Tomorrow we will put our Ambassador flags on head in the direction of Corpus Christi.

Day 17 July 14th 2013

We had a great night in Gallup. We got up about 6am. I walked Jasper and tore down the camp while Lyn got up and showered. I can do it all in about 30 minutes. When Lyn finished I took my shower and we were on the way. We decided to eat breakfast in the car. We still had left over banana bread from our relatives in Prescott. We were headed toward El Paso Texas. That would be about half
Hello Texas!
way to San Antonio Texas. We planned to go there and then head to Corpus Christi to meet Lyn's other relatives the next day. It was going to be about 7 hours of driving. 

Most of the trip was uneventful. It was just lots of driving and taking in the scenery. We did stop at a rest stop in New Mexico to have lunch. We noticed that the entire rest stop was built up on stilts. When we got out we saw why........
Rest Stop
there was a sign that said watch out for rattle snakes. We took Jasper up to the picnic area and had lunch. It was 94 degrees and yet there was a strong breeze that came in off the desert that felt great. The view was awesome as well. This ranked as one of my favorite rest stops rattle snakes and all!

When we got to El Paso it was still hot and it did not look very camper friendly so we decided to press on and go a little further. Finally about 6PM we made it to a KOA in Van Horn Texas. This is a very small town with a few gas stations and fast food places. We tried to find a grocery store but there was none. We ended up eating off the dollar menu
Home Sweet Home!
at McDonalds. The camp site was not exactly run down but had a 1970's feel to it. There were only about 10 other campers there and the entire place looked like it needed an update. The cost was $25 dollars and it did have a grassy area for tents. Something we had not had in over a week. 

We decided to go to bed around 9 the only problem is that it was still hot with no breeze. Jasper and I got restless and decided to
KOA Van Horn
lay outside on a blanket, There were no bugs so it was actually nice. After about 30 minutes some winds came in and we went into the tent. The winds were very strong and made us wonder if we should be in the car instead. The tent stood its ground so we stuck it out. We finally fell asleep about 2 AM in the morning. Tomorrow we are off for San Antonio. I am looking forward to meeting our friend Beth and seeing a few sights.

Day 18 July 15th 2013

Weather in Van Horn
We got up at our usual time and decided to hit the road early since we had 6.5 hours to go. After showering and breaking camp we were on the road about 8:30. Not exactly early but hey were on vacation right?!?!?!? We had the left over banana bread and headed out. When I pulled on the highway the speed limit was 80 miles per hour. It would be that way for almost the entire trip.

Rest Stop Art
It started raining very hard at times and sometimes we would have to slow down a bit. We hit this very lonely piece of road and I noticed I had two bars on my gas tank left. I was not really worried because that should mean that I can go at least 120 miles. We started looking for a gas station and saw that the town of Ogden was about 70 miles away. Right after that my gas
The culprit!
gauge went to one bar. I was still not overly worried because I should still have over 80 miles left. Lyn was worried and asked me what the worse case scenario would be. I told her we would call someone and have gas brought to us. I cut my speed down a little bit to conserve fuel and we headed to Ogden. When I got about 2.5 miles from the exit that we needed the Prius sputtered and started to slow down. I pulled over to the side and was able to nurse it for a half a mile more. I made it right up to the exit but could not make it any further. I drifted as far as I could off the highway and parked the car with the flashers on.

Missed it by that much!
I told Lyn that I would have to walk the rest of the way. Even though we made it to the exit the gas station was still two miles away so I had a 4 mile roundtrip walk ahead of me. I had not walked more than 10 yards and their was a pickup truck backing up the exit to me. He was with his family on the way to San Antonio as well and was willing to help me get gas. His wife got in the back seat with his kid and off we went. When I got to the station the attendant did not have a can so I bought a gallon of water and emptied it out and filled it up with gas. My new friend took me back to the exit and I walked the 50 yards back to my car.

Two more gallons of gas!
I put the gallon in and waited a few minutes. The car would turn on but it would not go into gear as it thought it was still out of gas. I went online on my phone and tried to find a solution. Most of them said the dealer would have to reset the codes but I noticed a few that said you needed to put in at least 3 gallons of gas for the car to recognize it. The thought of another trip to the gas station was not the best thought to have right now but it looked like my only hope.

While I was thinking about what to do a Texas road repair service pulled up and asked what was wrong. His job is to help people get their cars going or get the people off the highway if possible. He put in two gallons of gas gave me the number of a towing service and was on his way. The car still would not run but at least I had
three gallons of gas. I went back on the Internet and found another solution. It said to disconnect the negative battery terminal for one minute and then put it back. The hope is that this would clear the codes and we could be on our way. The only problem is the battery is in the back underneath all of our stuff and I had no tools. 

I decided to call the tow truck and have it towed to the gas station and then work on the problem from there. Getting off the highway
The man!
was my number one concern. When I called the towing person he said that he could be their in about 10 minutes and that he could tow it for $78. This was a two gas station town but I asked him where the nearest Toyota dealership was and he said it was 100 miles away and would cost $500. While we were waiting Lyn had the idea to call the dealership to see what they suggested. I called Rices Toyota in Greensboro and they confirmed that disconnecting the battery might work. If not they would have to clear the codes. At least I was on the right path.

When the tow truck driver got there I explained the situation and he said he had some tools and I was welcome to try to fix it before he towed me. I took everything out of the back of the car and put it on the side of the road. After trying a few of his tools I finally got the terminal off and we waited a few minutes before connecting it back. I went to turn on the car and see if it would go into drive. I turned it on and nothing....... and then a few seconds later I heard three clicks and everything went back to normal.  We were good to go. The tow truck driver almost apologized that he still had to charge a $50 minimum for coming out. Are you kidding that was the best $50 I had spent on the entire trip. I thanked him and we were on our way.

Jasper at dinner.
We had dinner plans at 6PM with a friend that we had met in Paris over spring break. We had originally planned to set up camp and then meet her at the restaurant. We now put the restaurant address in the GPS and it said we could make it by 5:30. Wow back on track again!! Of course we did hit major traffic which slowed us down a bit. Finally after taking an alternate course we arrived at the restaurant at 6 on the nose! Beth knew we had Jasper so she picked a dog friendly place. It was mainly outside with a few covered patios and it was dog friendly for sure. They had dog bowls of water right by the tables. It was till slightly raining so we got a covered table and had dinner and enjoyed each others conversation.

"The Friendly Spot"
Lyn and I met Beth and her sister one night at dinner in Paris. We were seated beside each other and all struck up a conversation. We decided to friend each other on Facebook and that way we could look at the pictures from each others trips. I think we all said if you are ever in my hometown look me up. There is a lot wrong with new technology but this is one of the cool things that I like about being so connected.  Since it had been raining all day Beth took us to a hotel that was only $40 a night. It was perfect in every way but being stubborn I wanted to keep our camping streak alive (Lyn did to!) so we opted to go to the KOA campground and call it a night.

We arrived at the KOA about 8:30. This was a very nice resort style campground. They directed us to our site and we set up
Home Sweet Home
camp and went to bed. Wow what a day!!! I am so thankful for all of the blessings that came my way today. The ride to the gas station. The extra two gallons of gas and a tow truck driver that wanted to see us on our way instead of just towing us.

Day 19 July 16th 2013

San Antonio KOA
We got up about 6:30 and decide to try the KOA breakfast at the KOA Kafe. It was starting to look like rain but we thought we would have enough time to eat breakfast and come back and break the camp down. We started walking there and the bottom fell out. We ran back to the car and drove there realizing that our tent was getting soaked. Everything in it was fine but now the tent would be wet when we packed it.

The Alamo!
We ate biscuits and gravy. I should have bought one to split but I bought two. Very good, but very filling. After breakfast the rain stopped and we went back and packed up camp and headed for a last minute shower before we went downtown to go to the Alamo and the famous river walk. We stopped at the KOA gift shop for a few pictures and a few magnets and we were on our way. The rain stopped and the sun started to come out. San Antonio is very dog friendly but the Alamo was not. Lyn went in and toured theGardens while Jasper and I waited outside. Jasper got very excited every time a horse drawn carriage went by which was about every 10 minutes. Once Lyn was done we decided to go to the river walk. It was only about a block away.

River walk
Everyone had told us how nice it was and I was afraid that I would build it up too much in my mind and then be disappointed. Boy was I wrong it was everything and more. We got there abut 10:30 and walked past all of the restaurants and stores. Jasper loved it! He was welcomed everywhere we went. Because it was morning it was not very crowded yet. ots of businesses had water set out for the dogs. Love it! After a lot of picture taking we decided to eat at Hard
Hard Rock Cafe
Rock Cafe at a table right by the river. The waiter took our drink order and of coursed asked if Jasper wanted water. How cool! Jasper laid under the table totally relaxed with the exception of a few ducks that would swim by from time to time.

After a great lunch and a leisurely walk we headed off to Corpus Christi to visit Lyn's cousin
Celia, Lyn and myself
Celia and her husband Steve. They lived there and Lyn had not seen her since high school. They had some catching up to do that was for sure! We arrived about 3:00PM. They have a beautiful house and we felt welcomed right away. They had a backyard so we took Jasper there right away. He loved it. He could run around and then lie in the shade on their porch. Steve had to work nights so he left for work and that Left Celia and Lyn time to catch up as I watched this thing called TV something that I had not seen in over two weeks. It was great to hear them having such a good time. They also skyped with
Myself, Lyn and Steve
Lyn's sister Dominga nad everyone visited for a while. We were all treated to a great steak dinner with several filipino dishes. It was all delicious! Finally we went to bed around 10. It felt great to sleep in a real bed with air conditioning and we fell asleep quickly.

Day 20 Wednesday, July 17th 2013

Lyn & Celia
We woke up about 7. I took my shower and made a quick run to Wal-mart while Lyn was getting up. When I got back we had a great breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. After packing up, saying our goodbyes and of course a few more pictures we were on our way. We decided to go to Galveston Island and camp at the State Park. It was about
Steve, Celia & Lyn
5 hours away. We really appreciated the the hospitality of Celia and Steve but now it was time to get back on the road.

A road less traveled!
The drive should only be about 5 hours but storms were predicted. We headed out into a light rain. During the drive we went past the Southern part of Houston Texas. About that time we hit some really heavy rains! All of the traffic slowed down from 75 mph to
The Rain

about 45 mph. It also seemed like the roads in Texas had a lot of standing water that made our traction control come on and give us a mini heart attack from time to time. Lyn did not like it one bit and was thankful when the heavy rain would break. It added about an hour to
 our trip.

When we finally went across the bridge to Galveston Island the sun came out. We given very beautiful views of the bay and of course that feeling you get right when you are about to head to the beach. I had called several RV parks and found out that the only Tent camping on the beach was at the Sate park. We were hoping that they would have a site open.


As we pulled into the park we were greeted with a no vacancy sign. I decided to go ahead and go in the station. I asked if they had any tent sites open and she said they had a few on the bay side but the ocean side was full. I knew Lyn would like that better and was glad to get a site so I took it. Before I left I asked her if there were any dangerous animals that we should be aware of. After traveling in the West this was a common question. She said that they had very crafty raccoons that
Great set up!
could get your food if you did not put it in the car. She also said they had a lot of mosquito's. We drove over to the bay and were greeted with a very large site with lots of grass!

We set up camp and really enjoyed the fact that it had a large table with awning. The sites also had water at every site. They also had a tall pole to hang your food on to keep it away from the raccoons. Perfect to tie Jasper to. We also had a strong breeze that kept the bugs away. The bathrooms were close by and had a sign that said sleeping was not allowed in the bathroom. Hmmmmm why would you want to do that?!?! Then I 
found out it was air conditioned! Lyn fixed pork chops corn on the cob and the free zuchini that we got back in Prescott Arizonia. Mmmmm Mmmmm good!

After going to McDonalds to update yesterdays blog and get an ice cream sundae we headed back  to our campsite and went to sleep. The wind stopped and it was about 77 and muggy. This was going to be a long night. Finally I could not take it anymore so I took the rain fly off and that really helped cool it down. Now remember every time you go out a few uninvited guests come in. Finally I fell asleep only to be awakened by rain drops. I quickly got up and started to put the fly back on. I
Jasper helping us set up camp!
got about half way done and the bottom fell out. By the time I got back in I was wet but also cool! I fell asleep quickly after that. Tomorrow we are are heading to New Orleans and on Friday we will meet our friends Dereatha and Larry for breakfast in the French Quarter.

Day 21 Thursday, July 18th 2013

We woke up with a few free of charge bug bites. The few mosquitos that managed to get in the tent really had a feast last night. It was finally my turn to fix breakfast. I fixed my famous French Toast and bacon. It was delicious if I do say so myself. Love cooking on a coleman stove! After breakfast it started to get
Galveston Island
warm so we decided to pack up and grab a shower before we left the site. 

We hit the road about 9 and had about a 6 hour drive to the KOA in New Orleans. This KOA was located just 5 miles from the French Quarter. We left the beach and headed back toward Houston and then east towards New Orleans! This was not very scenic driving, it was just bumper to bumper driving which was no fun at all.

After a long drive we started getting close to the KOA. About a mile from our destination we drove through some very bad neighborhoods. All of the houses had bars on the doors and windows and lots of people just hanging out. Surely our GPS was could a KOA be located here. Finally we made our final turn and there it was right in the middle of the neighborhood. There were actually some houses with bars in the campsite.
Lunch Stop
We drove through and saw only two tents. The rest of the customers had RV which could be locked. We decided to go to plan B which was to go about an hour north of town and stay with Yogi Bear at Jelly Stone campground. After about an hour and twenty minutes we arrived. It was in the middle of nowhere but it looked pretty good. I went to check in and she wanted $61 just for our two person tent. They had a lot of stuff for kids but no added value for us so we moved on. 

I used the around me program and it showed one more
Heading Home
campground about 30 minutes more north. Now we were almost two hours north of New Orleans. I decided we would have to miss New Orleans. I was looking forward to meeting our friends but sometimes life on the road has its own way and our way appeared to be heading home. Just for fun I told Lyn to put our home address into the GPS and see how far we were away. To my surprise we were only about 12 hours away. This was actually close considering where we had been. We decided to drive on for a couple more hours and find a campground for the night.

Run Forest Run
Finding a campground proved to be harder than we thought. They either were RV arks that did not allow tents or they were campgrounds that had permanent residents that felt kind of creepy. Finally in Mobile Alabama we broke down and got a room at the LaQuinta Inn. It was 8 and we were just plain tired. This was only our third night not in the tent. We were
Goodnight Jasper!
glad to have a place and grabbed some fast food and went to bed. Of course we had to get a room with two beds so Jasper could have one. (Dereatha and Larry already spoiled him!)

Tomorrow we will head for home and either stop along the way or maybe just maybe drive all the way. Either way the real Home Sweet Home is on the horizion and in the GPS. Getting excited!!!

Day 22 Friday July 19th 2013

We got up about 7:30  and started getting ready for our drive home. Japer loved having his own bed and made good use of it. After feeding him breakfast and taking him for a short walk we went to breakfast in the hotel lobby. It had about everything you might want and we really took our time there talking, watching the news and the people come and go. 

A beautiful rest stop along the way!
We packed the car and headed for home. The plan was to make it as far as Atlanta and then decide wether to camp one more night or try to drive all the way home. We had about 12 hours to go. We headed out and had a nice sunny day greet us so at least we were not going to have to fight the rain. Basically this was one of those days where you just have to get it done.

When we got to Atlanta we decided to press on. The GPS said we would be home about 9:30. I was still feeling good so we just kept going. We stopped at a gas station and made sandwiches for lunch. Atlanta is always crowded with traffic and today was no different. After some stop and go for about an hour we were finally back up to speed. My main goal was to get us home safely and without getting a speeding ticket. 

Warning Ticket
I forgot to mention this in my earlier blogs but when we left the Grand Tetons we were driving through some very desolate country in Wyoming. I decided I would cruise at 75 in a 65. After about 30 minutes I saw blue lights in my rear view mirror.  The policeman said he had clocked me at 75 in a 65. I responded "that seems very accurate to me!" Stupid things always come out of my mouth but remember I am the one with a cool dog so hopefully that makes up for it. The officer just laughed and asked for my license and registration. Then he went back to his car. He was gone for a very long time. I told Lyn that he might let us go with a warning but that now I feared he was writing a ticket. We said a quick prayer and he finally came back to the car and said that I was not in the system. I did not show up on his computer. He said that if I was not in the system he could not write me a ticket he would have to just write me a warning. He told me to enjoy my vacation but please enjoy it at a slower pace. I told him that I would and thanked him and we were on our way.

Anyway luckily no more run ins with the law for us on this day. We arrived home about 10 PM and just collapsed in the living room. We were home!!!!!
Finally our Home Sweet Home!

I have had a lot of people say that they are going to do a trip like this someday maybe when they retire. Well I think you should do it now and again when you retire. You can scale the trip to fit your time frame and your budget but I would encourage you to do it. We met so many happy, helpful people along the way. Hopefully we contributed along the way as well but I do know that what we took away was priceless. A special thank you to my wife Lyn for going along and making the very best of every situation! You are the best traveling companion I could ask to Jasper of course! :) Already getting ideas for next year.........hmmmmmm we shall see!!! Thanks again for reading!