Friday, August 12, 2011

Photos of the Kids and Us

A few shots of the kids with us (or the dog) on our trip.
CrazyD with the older girls in the Black Hills on the Cathedral Spires trail.

K.D. with Sodo in a KOA in Dubois, WY.

Crazy Mom and Little Foot at the Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Crazy Mom and Buddy at the top of the Rockies near the Alpine Visitor Center.

Anna and Crazy Mom on a trail near Lily Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

CrazyD and Crazy Mom on the trail to the Calypso Cascades in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eye of the Needle

The Eye of the Needle

When we were in the Black Hills, we drove up the Needles Highway to the top where there was the Eye of the Needle. While it was fun for a minute to look at the Eye of the Needle, it was fun for hours to climb around on the rocks up there. Our plans for the day changed because we lingered so long enjoying the moment.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Near Blowout - Again

If you saw the post from a few days ago, you know we nearly had the right rear tire blowout on us. Well, the same thing happened again. This time we were headed off for a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park when Aunt K. saw a problem with our left rear tire when she was driving behind us.  Even though I now have two new tires on the back of my van, I am frequently checking the inside of my tires.  I am sure people at gas stations are wondering why I get down on my hands and knees to do such a thorough inspection of my tires.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Campsite Searching

It was late in the day, the kids were hungry, and we were at a gas station in the middle of Fort Collins trying to figure out what we were going to do. I was trying to avoid spending a night in the Wal-Mart parking lot when we were on the doorstep of the Rockies.

Planning on camping at a KOA in Laramie, we had arrived there mid-afternoon. But when we pulled into the place and saw that it resembled a gravel parking lot with the roar of I-80 50 yards away, we decided to move on to Fort Collins. There were KOA’s in the Fort Collins area, but they were firm on charging an extra $5 per child, which really adds up for a family like ours.

Fortunately, someone at the gas station was from the area and she told us to drive up Poudre Canyon just north of town. Part of the canyon is a national forest and they had campsites there, she told us. So we struck out and before the sun dipped below the horizon we ended up in a beautiful campsite. We even got to cook burgers over the fire while listening to the soothing roar of the mountain stream just yards away.


"Dad!" Miss Bookworm excitedly said as she came back down the trail towards me. "You have got to come over here and take a picture. It is the perfect spot." We were on a hike up from Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Well, here is the picture I took. The Rocky Mountains are simply stunning.

By the way, these posts about our trip are not in order. Sorry about that. I just post whatever I feel like either from that day or some day before.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Feeding the Family

While we may be bleeding at the gas pump, CrazyMom has been saving us a ton of money by feeding the family out of the RV. I am not exactly sure how the process works, but I know it involves a very small RV fridge that you only open if you are prepared to spend an hour repacking it. It also involves a sizable pantry located under our bed. While the inner workings are a mystery to me, the results are plain to see. From a sloppy joe dinner overlooking the Badlands to a creekside taco feast along a brook in the Black Hills, we have been eating well – and cheaply.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Near Blowout

“Why is that truck honking at us?” a kid asked from the back seat.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Probably because I am driving too slow.”

It was our only full day in the Badlands and we had just gotten on the road to see the sights when this Custer Gas truck started honking at us. I pulled over to let him pass, but instead he pulled up beside me.

“Something is wrong with your right rear tire,” the trucker yelled through his open window.

I hopped out and went to look at it. The tire looked perfectly fine to me and I was about to get back in the van when the guy showed up at my side.

“It’s something on the inside,” he said.

Getting down on our knees, we looked under the van and saw the problem. I was moments away from a blowout. I would have never noticed the bulge and nobody else could have seen it when I was pulling the travel trailer.

Feeling very fortunate indeed, we cautiously headed off to the nearest tire store, which we found out about from our favorite trucker.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Of Trust and Rattlesnakes

So a few days back we were hiking in the Bandlands when we saw a sign warning us of rattlesnakes. F.G. got really nervous.

“Trust me,” I said, “the rattlesnakes won’t get you.”

After some coaxing and reassuring, I finally got F.G. to take a picture with the sign acting like she was scared.

As you have probably already guessed, later that day we were hiking and saw a rattlesnake. Good thing the snake did not bite F.G. or she would probably never trust me again.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Unheeded Advice

“Get to the campsite early,” Mr. V was telling us. Mr. and Mrs. V had spent a year on the road camping and Crazy Mom and I were asking them what nuggets of wisdom they could pass along to us as we embarked on our own trip. The get-there-early advice was certainly sound.

Just three days later we experienced first hand the perils of ignoring this advice. With only 5 hours to travel that day, we felt like we had plenty of time. This led us to make a number of bad decisions.

Bad decision #1: Cook pancakes and sausage for breakfast after sleeping in for an extra hour.

Bad decision #2: Rather than take off for our new site (in the Badlands), go visit the Ingalls Homestead.

Bad decision #3: Get sucked into lingering at the Ingalls homestead because the kids are having so much fun.

Bad decision #4: Being nice to the guy from Australia who talked to us for a half-hour right as we were trying to pull out of the campsite.

After all of these bad decisions, we could have still made it to the campsite before nightfall if all had gone well. Unfortunately, I had to buy a new jack for the front of the RV and it did not fit into the old hole, leading to an additional delay at a car shop.

Then, as we crossed into the Badlands there was a nasty front passing through. The wind was blowing so hard we pulled over in a rest area and parked next to a semi to it could break the wind for us.

All of this resulted in arriving at the campsite well after dark. Visiting the dumping station and setting up camp in the dark with a tired and crabby crew meant we violated the quiet hours of the camp, I am sure. The one good thing is that the storm caused a spectacular sunset as we passed through the Badlands to get to our campsite.