Cross country: Grand Lake, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park

August 26, 2013

We reached new heights today—11,800 ft. above sea level! We drove to the crest in the Rocky Mountain National Park, stopping to take pictures. We tried one small hike, and we both had altitude problem. So, we thought we’d let the truck do the hiking. We still had problems!

Richard couldn’t catch his breath, and I had a tightening in my chest and couldn’t catch my breath. I was also worried that he was overworking his knees. We’ve never had altitude problems before, and I’m guessing it’s age (and, in my case a repaired heart). Our campground is at 8300 ft. At first it was difficult for me to walk the dog up hill; now it’s a little easier.

I shot a lot of photos today and still have to sort through them. Tonight, I’m showing you scenery in and from our campground. You’ll see a great number of shots of mama moose and her two offspring. It was so wicked that they came to feed in our campground near the children’s playground.

I’ll give you my impressions of the Park in tomorrow’s post. No, we’re not going to try to hike it again. We thought we’d go into Grand Lake Village and just take it easy. No new heights for us; it’s easier to function at 8300 ft.


Cross Country: Grand Lake, Colorado and Strasburg, Colorado images

August 25, 2013

Mountains! It’s been a long time since we were in mountains. We could see them from Denver, but today we’re in them. You see, in California we have flat lands, deserts, hills and mountains. We haven’t seen true mountains since we left the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. Yes, there was Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain in Maine, but there is no comparison.

During our drive in, we crested at about 11,400 feet. Our campground is at 8,600 feet. So, I’m experiencing some altitude adjustment. It’s good that Denver is at 5,000+ feet so we had a chance to get used to the higher altitude or my adjustment would be worse.

I remember going through the Rockies 2 years ago. The drive was so beautiful. I didn’t have my camera yet and didn’t take photos because my little point and shoot couldn’t capture it like my memory can.

We will be here for three nights and will have two full days in the Rocky Mountain National Park. I hope to get some fantastic images for you. I’ve already started. When we came in, a mama moose and her two babies were feeding on some tree leaves. This campground has wildlife in it and we have been warned about not letting Gem off the leash.

I’m hoping the cooler weather up here will help us finally get rid of the fleas. Warning: don’t take your dog into the Midwest. The fleas are mean there! Today I’m showing you some of the treasures at the Strasburg Museum, a collection of history donated by public entities and private citizens. Buildings were moved and placed in the museum. I have many more images, but you may not be as enthusiastic as I am about history. I’ve chosen samples to show you.

Okay, time to get dinner on. Maybe after dinner and if the rain, yes it’s raining again, stops, we can go to the visitor’s center and plan our day in the mountains tomorrow.


Cross country: Denver and Strasburg, Colorado

Finally, someone shot Richard! Yes, he got his cortisone shots yesterday and is now walking normally and feeling a lot better.

I also had my lens prescription faxed to Kaiser and then took it to CostCo, picked out new frames and they will be waiting for me when I get home. Now that’s service! And, because I bought them through CostCo, I can take them in to get fitted to my local store. Lesson learned: when you get a new prescription, get new glasses!

After our Kaiser/CostCo adventure, we had time before we went to visit with Nicole and Alex Dorotik. I’ll talk more about Nicole in the next paragraph. We went to Cherry Creek State Park only to see that it was a lake, and had two main events happening in the park. The ranger at the guard station seemed relieved when we told her we were going to turn around. Then we went across the street to a regular park. I managed to get one decent image.

Denver and its suburbs are spread out and reminded me of San Jose. However, San Jose is small compared to Denver. There is an abundance of industry, shopping malls, etc. as you drive through the various towns. And, of course, there is an abundance of traffic.

On the way to the Dorotik’s home, the skies were active with thunder and lightning. Even though I said I wouldn’t do any more drive by shots, I just couldn’t help myself. This would be an experiment and fun to work on. So, I have a couple of those images for you too.

Now, back to Nicole. Her Mom and I go back before she was born. Judy is my soul sister in Los Angeles. We held each other up in tough times until I moved to San Jose. I don’t think she’s ever forgiven me for moving away. But even when things were dark in Sacramento, she was there. Nicole is Judy’s youngest, and is now a doctor, wife and mom of three. We last saw them when we came through Denver on our South Dakota trip two years ago.

We had a great time then and had a wicked time last night. The children (Lily, Savi and Brady) are great kids, and Alex does a mean barbecue. It’s wonderful to see children who meant a lot to you grow up, have their own families and live happy lives. Will we see them again in another two years? Maybe if they come to see Judy in California.

Tomorrow, we leave for Rock Mountain National Park. We reserved three nights at a campground. With his knees doing well, I think Richard will enjoy this Park the best. I’m so glad he got his cortisone shots.


Cross country: Strasburg, Colorado and Goodland, Kansas images

August 22, 2013

Beam me home Scotty! Wouldn’t that be great? It would make traveling so much easier. Imagine, you need medical attention; you beam home, go to your doctor and then beam back, resuming your vacation. Tomorrow is our medical day. I’m going to at least order new glasses to be sent to my home. I also hope they can do something with my broken glasses. Richard is going to finally get his cortisone shots.

Right now we are in Strasburg, Colorado which is about 30 miles outside of Denver. But, I want to talk about Goodland, Kansas. I don’t know why that town touched me so much. Maybe it was the owner of the KOA we stayed in. She is an extremely talented jewelry designer. While I shopped, we talked about how she sells her product.

She said the women in town do not buy her necklaces. They tell her that they don’t have any place to wear them. You see, this is a small farm town. Everything is pure simplicity. There are no large franchised restaurants and no fast food joints. The few eateries are mostly bar and grills. Life is simple here, but the weather isn’t. The summers are hot and dry; the winters, cold and dry. The KOA is only open in the spring and summer.

The KOA owner said the winters are too cold, sometimes getting down to 16F. They don’t get too much snow, but when they get flurries, I-70 is closed because it freezes over. Her business relies on RV overnighters. We were the first to arrive yesterday, and she nearly filled up the park. The next morning, we were almost the last to leave an almost empty park. I bought some jewelry, but I don’t know if anyone else did. I left thinking that the inhabitants live in a harsh climate, and their lives are not easy.

I tried to get some images of the city, but me and my lens weren’t cooperating. So, I don’t have too many to show you, but you may get some idea of life in Goodland.

I’m going to take a couple of days off from posting this blog, and I’ll resume as we leave Denver. Hopefully, I’ll have some Denver images to show you. I just don’t know how long we will be here. Our next goal is Rocky Mountain National Park. We missed seeing it the last time we were through here.

Yes, it would be wicked is we could beam from place to place!


Cross country: Goodland Kansas and the St. Louis, Missouri images

August 21, 2013

Against the wind, we drove against the wind. I know I skewed Bob Seger’s lyrics, but that’s what we did today. Kansas turned dry, flat, hot and windy—about 20 miles per hour. At every rest stop, there were wind warnings via a loud speaker. We lost about 4 miles per gallon on fuel. This drive wasn’t as pretty or relaxing as yesterday.

I guess part of the reason is that I really don’t like to drive stop and pick up the next day and continue on. It’s been three days of this. Tomorrow we will be in Denver where we will shop (the refrigerator is almost empty) and do laundry. Then on Friday, we will spend most of the day at Kaiser and then have dinner with friends. Good news: we entered the Mountain Time zone. We’re getting closer to home!

Right now, I’m writing this blog and, once again, hearing the locusts. I haven’t talked about the locusts. We’ve been hearing them for about three weeks now. It’s just a constant buzzing sound. They don’t do anything but make noise.

We did go into Goodland after dinner, and I took a few pictures. Goodland is a small farm town. I’ll tell you more about the town tomorrow and I’ll post images too. Tonight we are catching up with St. Louis, Missouri.

Remember we were there for just a few hours, but I did want to get close enough to shoot the arch. We didn’t have time to go to it, park and go up to the top. But, I did get the feeling of it. It is huge and wicked. I hope you enjoy what I did get.

So with that, I’ll close this post. Hopefully, as we climb in elevation to Denver, we won’t be fighting the wind, and we’ll have an easy drive.


Cross country: Salina, Kansas and the last of Springfield, Illinois images

August 20, 2013

On the road again! This was a beautiful and relaxing drive along I-70. The Kansas landscape was one of rolling hills and more cattle ranches than corn and bean farms. It reminded me of Tennessee, which was greener.

So here we are in a KOA campground in Salina, Kansas. We’ve opted to purchase a KOA membership which will pay for itself by the time we get home. Earlier in the trip KOA campgrounds gave us a AAA discount which equaled theirs or a military discount which is a little less.  However, going into Nevada on our way home we know we will rely on KOAs.

When traveling across country, campground membership helps. Passport America (PA) certainly more than paid for itself. We have found that some KOAs were very expensive along the east coast, but then most campgrounds were high. That’s where Passport America came in handy with their 50% discount. Some campgrounds had strict rules on the use of PA and others didn’t.

One more tip before I end this post. If you’re traveling on the east coast, purchase a Fast Pass before you leave home. It will save you time and money.

Tomorrow, we head to Oakley, Kansas, so we’ll be seeing more rolling hills. We’re almost to Denver and cortisone shots. Maybe I’ll get new glasses while I’m there. The spare pair I’m using influences how I see color when editing photos. If I take them off, I can’t tell what’s in focus!

Always on the road again, or so it seems!


Cross country: Stopping in Oak Grove and more Springfield, Illinois images

It’s Denver or bust! We know a Kaiser facility will give Richard his needed cortisone shots. The Missouri landscape is different from Illinois. It is hilly; just small hill, but driving is a little more interesting. In between the small cities, you’ll see corn and bean fields. We saw a couple of cattle ranches.

Right now we’re in a KOA and will take off tomorrow. It’s a nice campground. Even Gem likes the fact that they have a large dog run. We are slowly winning the war of the fleas. The vet said to keep vacuuming, and so I vacuum! Richard’s knee is doing better, and I’m hoping it’s doing well enough that the shots will help. I didn’t have to pull handles this morning!

Today, I’m posting some more of the Springfield exploration. Tomorrow, we move on, determined to get to Denver.


Cross country: St. Louis, Missouri

August 18, 2013

Well, no one wants to shoot Richard. We’ve tried twice to get him a cortisone shot and failed. So, we’re heading off to Denver, Colorado and a Kaiser facility. At least the Veteran’s hospital gave him some crutches. He says they help him more than the cane. My poor hubby is in pain and hobbling. I even learned how to pull handles (dump the trailer) this morning.

I did some shooting today, just a limited amount. St. Louis is a wicked city with a lot of parks. In just the small area we were in today, I counted three parks, mostly dedicated to families. And, there was a wicked sculpture park for dogs. Too bad we left Gem in the trailer, but I doubt the VA would have welcomed him with open arms.

Today’s images are of our exploration of Illinois State Park in Springfield. I’m only posting a few since we are short of data minutes and this campground doesn’t have WIFI.

Tomorrow, we start our Denver trek. I’ll be posting images of the remainder of Illinois State parks and St. Louis.  Hopefully Kaiser in Denver will shoot Richard with cortisone.


Cross country: Springfield, Illinois and Old State Capitol and State Capitol images

August 17, 2013

Have we really been on the road for 2 ½ months? Sometimes it feels like longer and sometimes I can’t believe how long we’ve been gone or where we’ve been. This blog helps me stay present and provides a log to show me the road we’ve traveled.

Today, we flea bombed the trailer again, and went exploring. We found a great State Park and lake. They have a campground, but with only electric. There were people fishing and enjoying the water. Most of all, it was peaceful—no tourists except for us.

Lunch was an experience. I’m guessing we weren’t in the best part of town, but we stopped at a barbecue place anyway. I’m glad we did. It was delicious and the restaurant had won many awards and was written up in a local magazine and newspaper for their food. I’m also glad that we asked for medium sauce!

Next, we found the Lincoln Memorial Gardens. Richard and Gem stayed in the truck while I took a short loop around the park.

It’s been a nice day. Tomorrow we leave for St. Louis, Missouri. We are taking Gem to the vet for a final check on his eye, so we will have a late start. We were going to be in Springfield for three days and have been here for six. Time to move on and cover some more road!


Cross country: Springfield, Illinois and the Old State Capitol

August 16, 2013

Today was a first! We were able to relax and do some sightseeing without taking care of anything first, Gem’s eye is almost open fully and the fleas are off Gem and now biting me. Don’t trust homeopathics or natural flea and tick preventive treatments to win in the battle when you’re in the Midwest! I haven’t even gotten to the chiggers! We were told not to walk on wet grass. So what do you do when your dog wants to do his business in the morning and the grass is wet from the morning dew?

All bug battles aside, the day was really it was nice. We went to the Old State Capitol. In 1877 the Illinois State Capitol held its first legislative session in new digs. They had outgrown the Old State Capitol that had served the State up until then. While the outside of the building remained, the interior had been changed into various offices. When the State finally bought the building back from a private party, they tried to restore the interior to its former state.

We toured the inside and it was impressive, not that it was decorated wonderfully, but for its history. I do have a confession; I truly do not remember what all the rooms were used for because they weren’t fully restored to their original state. For instance, I will show you the library, but it wasn’t set up the way the docent explained how the room used to look. I’ll do my best.

The docents were dressed and in character for the time of Lincoln, and they knew their information and were able to answer all questions. The rivalry between Lincoln and Douglas was a topic of long conversation. At tour’s end, we met President Ulysses S. Grant (another docent) who talked about his life. He was reluctant to enter the military, but at the insistence of his father went to West Point and the rest is history! (Sorry I just couldn’t help myself.)

After the Old State Capitol, we went to see the outside of the new State Capitol. It is a beautiful building, but we were not up for an additional tour. Richard’s knees can only last so long. We are still looking for a way to get him cortisone shots.

I have images of both to show you and I’ll break it up into two blog posts.  Meanwhile, our campground is filling up, the corn is cooking, and Richard is about to barbecue the steaks. Enjoy the images, and I hope tomorrow is another first for us. We’re planning to visit a State Park.