June 29

I was not going to write another post today but just wanted to say that I got home safely before noon today. Stayed in Mitchell South Dakota last night and went to see the corn Palace this morning. I woke up early so the lights were still on. I did not realize it even had lights but it was pretty interesting to see you so I thought I would write one more post and share that. If you’re looking for somewhere free to visit enroute to the Blackhills you should definitely check out the corn palace in Mitchell South Dakota. I first visited it as a child and my dad pulled off the interstate saying there’s something here I want you to see they decorate this all with corn and other grain. I was so impressed that my dad knew about the secret place and that it was free and that it was all made out of corn. I’ve probably been here a dozen times since but never when the lights were on. It’s an impressive display with exhibits inside.

I never did find Rhode Island. Creative memories to be grateful for and lots of time to reflect. Yes, I will admit that it is good to be home. However it’s much easier to socially distance with strangers then with family and friends. I want to thank all of you for your comments and supports and likes. You really make me feel like I’m not traveling alone and it means the world to me!

June 28

Well I woke up in the tent this morning it took me a second to remember where I was so I guess that must mean I’ve been traveling a lot. I thought all of the wildlife sightings would be behind me but I was lucky to see plenty of pronghorns this morning and even saw a small fox run across the road.

My plan was to visit mount Rushmore and then to spend some time hiking around in the Badlands. I didn’t intend to spend much time in Rapid City because I’ve been trying to avoid crowds but I do enjoy driving through. I had also never been to Jackson Wyoming and Rapid City South Dakota in Jackson Wyoming have in common that they are sort of like going back in time for vintage tourism. I grew up by a tourist area that has change so much and evolved so much that it looks nothing like it did 50 years ago but Jackson and rapid city have some old signage and buildings that I’m quite sure where exactly the same as they were in the 50s and I love that. If you’ve never taken your children or grandchildren or a trip to the Black Hills you definitely should do that. You can spend a ton of money if you want but there’s also plenty of free things to do and every child should see Mount Rushmore.

As it turns out mount Rushmore national memorial visiting center was blocked off in preparation for some Fourth of July fireworks. I don’t know how long it’s been blocked off but it’s going to continue to be blocked off until July 7. The monument is so big of course that you could see it very well from the parking lot and from the visitor center outside the fencing. I unsuccessfully walk through the parking ramp in search of my last license plate to complete my list of 50 but was unable to find Rhode Island. I guess the license plate game will continue for future trips and maybe it will be my kids that will eventually get the full list. I have fun memories of playing the license plate game with road trips with my children and I hope they do as well.

The first time I saw the badlands I had never traveled that far west and had never seen mountains or interesting terrains and I felt like I was on Mars. I enjoy driving through whenever I am in South Dakota. This time I thought I would follow the GPS and come up through the Badlands from the south but will stop for a Covid check at the Red Shirt reservation. The young Native American woman was apologetic that I could not enter the reservation and had to drive back and take an alternate route. She said they are trying to minimize the number of Covid cases and had 15 new ones today alone. I told her I totally understood and no problem. I took a photo Of the sign as I was making the U-turn because I thought it was historic but it’s a little too blurry to read.

Well this is my last night of vacation and I’m heading home in the morning. It’s been a good one!

“Scrappy”

June 27

I couldn’t resist driving back into Yellowstone last night and I stayed until midnight. It’s incredibly dark in Yellowstone at midnight! Anyway needless to say I had a great day yesterday and just wanted to extend it and took some more pictures there last night. Then this morning I got up early and drove through Yellowstone on my way down to the Tetons and took a few more pictures. I am sure that you are tired of Yellowstone pictures by now but there’s just something about that place that if you’re feeling frustrated, or discouraged, or tormented, or just plain dissatisfied it’s a place that will rejuvenate your soul, at least temporarily, everything else seems so insignificant when I’m there.

I drove through the south gate and into the Tetons. Adding up the fees I would’ve paid at national parks I would’ve spent $150 if I didn’t have my national Park pass so that it has really been a wise purchase. I didn’t spend a lot of time in the Tetons but the scenery is breathtaking and if you’re bringing a boat that would definitely be the place to go. There is also a lot of wildlife. More than Yellowstone it appears. I also drove through parking lots looking for license plate says I was down to just three states that I hadn’t seen and I ticked off two more states so now I only need Rhode Island and I will have seen all 50. That will be a record for our family road trips.

June 26

Well this was an exciting day in Yellowstone!! I got up early and explored a lot. It was cool and foggy this morning so most of my photos of the geysers are a bit monochrome but it was still amazing.

The first time I came to Yellowstone (1977) I had expected to see lots of bears but didn’t see any and learned that they had been moved to the back country. Due to careless, curious and clueless tourists the bears had lost their fear of humans and so to protect the bears (and also the humans) measures were taken to reduce bear/human interactions. So although I’ve been here many times since and seen lots of different animals I’ve never seen any bears. Part of me is happy with that because I don’t think I am calm enough to respond appropriately to a bear encounter while hiking but I always wanted to at least see one from my car. Another thing I always wanted to see was the license plate from Hawaii. When I started taking my children on road trips we would play the license plate game and we were trying to see how many states we could get. Once in a while we would get Alaska but we never got Hawaii. When we finally went to Hawaii Tara bought a license plate so that she would always have that for the game. So, in addition to enjoying the scenery I have been writing down state license plates that I have seen (mostly in parking lots), and today I got Hawaii!! I had literally driven just a mile further thinking the day can’t get any better when I saw a bear! I saw the Rangers first just kind of hanging out by their vehicle and I thought I wonder what they are monitoring and then up on the hill I saw a bear. I thought it was a cub because it was little but as I got closer I saw that it was a medium size bear. It was awesome! It wandered around on the hill for a while and then came across the road, then swam the river, did it’s bear thing in the woods LOL and left. It definitely caused a “bear jam” but us tourists all stayed in our cars and were respectful to each other and the bear. My trip is complete!!

That little black dot is the bear. He just swim across the lake. He’s quite a good swimmer!

June 25

Yellowstone is my favorite place on earth. So that was my destination today. This is at least my fifth visit to my favorite national park. It’s just such a magical place I feel like it’s not even something that belongs on this planet.

It was a nice drive north from the salt flats until a rock chipped my windshield. My son said I should go to a Safelite store and that they would fix it right away and that way the trip and spread into a crack. And it was just like the commercial, they fixed it in 15 minutes! I was back on my way I can’t even tell where the trip was.

I am staying at a campground about 20 miles from West Yellowstone which is just perfect and honestly about the only thing available. I had a lovely drive through Yellowstone right afternoon and stayed until after dark. I got to see Old Faithful erupt and watched several herd of bison. I walked around a bit but didn’t hike any trails this close to dark. There was a hiker by Old Faithful yesterday that had an encounter with a grizzly bear so I’m being extra cautious. Oh yeah… And sleeping in my car tonight! I look forward to a full day at Yellowstone again tomorrow.

June 24

It was hard saying goodbye to Utah and the lovely campground I stayed at. Got up and took a little walk at sunrise and then packed up and headed north. I had a flexible plan and thought about going to Zion but with Covid stuff it’s kind of hard to see a lot of it because their shuttles are so shut down (understandably) so I decided to head north to Salt Lake City where I have never been.

The drive was scenic and I explored a bit on BLM (bureau of land management) land. I would’ve loved to have camped there and enjoy the wilderness and the open sky with no one around but I opted for the conveniences of a campground instead.

June 23

Well it was an interesting day of hiking! I got up early to beat the heat, and when I left the campground it was only 67° and very pleasant but by the time I finished my morning hike it was 91° in eventually made it up to 101 in the afternoon again. My daughter had told me to work the Double 0 trail at Arches national Park and I did and it was incredibly exciting hike. Distance ways with the extra walking around I did an out to dark angel I think I walked about 7 miles so it wasn’t that bad but it was a bit treacherous. I have a problem with depth perception and there were a lot of rocks to climb up on and down and walking across a ridge that was plenty white but very high. I’m thinking I have a bit of a fear of heights. Anyway I was very glad that I had brought one of my hiking poles along. I couldn’t decide if I needed my polls or not and I compromised by just bringing one but I was certainly glad I did as it help me with climbing off the rocks and up on the rocks and it just made me feel a little bit more sure footed in general. I don’t know if you’ve been to Arches or not but there really are not very many arches that are visible from the road. You really do need to hike into the park to see them.

So I took a lot of pictures, of course, and posted many of them on Facebook but I’ll post a few here as well to help me remember the trip. in addition to the lengthy trail out of Devils Garden I did some shorter walks just an observation trails. I totaled about 10 miles today which wouldn’t be that bad back home on the flats of Iowa but here it really wore me out!

My daughter sent me a link for a restaurant that she liked while she was here and that sounded really appealing. I brought quite a bit of food from home and have been avoiding crowds and really not eating in many restaurants but this afternoon I was definitely in the mood for an air-conditioned restaurant and an iced beverage. In all the stores and restaurants in appears that everybody is wearing masks andMy daughter sent me a link for a restaurant that she liked while she was here and that sounded really appealing. I brought quite a bit of food from home and have been avoiding crowds and really not eating in many restaurants but this afternoon I was definitely in the mood for an air-conditioned restaurant and an iced beverage. You all the stores and restaurants in it peers that everybody is wearing masks.

Speaking of masks, I wear my buff around my neck and pull it up over my face when I have close encounters with other hikers. Many other hikers wear bandanas, buffs, or masks but not all. In addition of trying to avoid people I also have been using hand sanitizer every time I get back in my car, the same precautions I take at home.

I drove back to the national Park tonight to watch the sunset and to walk around a little bit more my last night here. I am camped right by the river and it’s lovely.

June 22

What a scenic day! Pictures cannot begin to capture the beauty that I experienced today.

I crawled out of my sleeping bag this morning to see the magnificent view of the morning light peaking over the mountains to highlight the snow covered peaks reflecting on the water.

I headed west on I70 past the ski resorts and enjoyed the mountains all around me. Pretty much felt like I coasted all the way down to Utah. I stopped lots to take pictures and just take in the view.

Took highway 128 down to Moab. Set up camp and headed to Canyonlands. Took a couple short hikes but mostly drove through as the temp was high (88-97 range depending on where I was in the park).

June 21

Well it was hard to say goodbye to my brother Mark and his wife Tami, they are amazing tour guides and hosts! We had such a nice visit and did so many things.

After leaving Pueblo I stopped in Colorado Springs and had an enjoyable time catching up with a Camino friend. Thanks for lunch, Bill!

So I did not drive too far today because I wanted to stop early to host a virtual meeting but driving through the mountains my cell service was not the best. I ended up texting my daughter and asking her to cancel the meeting on Facebook for me. Thanks Tara!

Heading west from Denver is very mountainous and beautiful and it was unfortunate that I was driving and not able to take pictures but I did stop at a couple of rest stop just for that purpose and the campground that I am at tonight is very nice. I think I’m going to go for a hike in the morning. I’m sleeping in the Outback tonight. Take a look at my pictures and see if you can figure out why.