Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Happy to be Back in Yuma

I can't believe it's been over three weeks since we've been back in Yuma. Our home weathered the summer well. The new windows we had installed last year made a world of difference in how much dust and sand got into the park model. There was almost no dust on any of the furniture. The windows were definitely money well spent.

A few days after we returned the resort had an Octoberfest potluck party. They provided the brats and beer, and everyone else brought a dish to pass. In early October there aren't that many people back yet, so it was a nice gathering for a potluck. With over 1,200 sites here, there is no way a potluck would work once it gets busy. We enjoyed the food and catching up with friends.

We brought some bins back with us of treasures from our former house that were stored in Eric's basement. In 1982 I went to Germany with my mom and baby Eric to visit my grandparents. We were gone five weeks, so Kevin stayed home and worked. All he asked for was a coo coo clock. After almost ten years in storage, it is now hanging our our wall again. Amazingly, it still works great.

After my dad retired, he took up woodworking. He created many beautiful pieces. We hung a cabinet and shelf he made. The angel on the shelf was part of his casket, so has special meaning.

Last March Kevin had a hole in one on the fourth hole at the golf course here at the resort. The management gifted him a large beer mug with his name, the date and hole number engraved on it. On the other side is the name and logo of the resort. That was sure nice of them. He also gets free drinks in his mug for day. That could leave a mark!!!

Last Sunday we Skyped with Korey and Cathryn. It was the much anticipated day when the beer they brewed was ready to drink. Korey and Kevin opened a bottle and tasted together. Both said it was flat. Boo!! Korey had brewed some hard cider before, but neither had brewed beer. The recipe they had didn't say anything about adding priming sugar to the bottle when filling. They didn't know they were supposed to do that, so it didn't carbonate like it was supposed to.

I read online that if you place the bottles upside down for at least three days, the remaining yeast will get stirred up and create some carbonation. Kevin did this, and he is going to try it today. Otherwise, he will have 20 bottles of flat beer to drink. The good news is that the taste was good. A little hoppy for Kevin's tastes, but all in all drinkable. A decent outcome for the first try.

They learned a lot, and the next batch will be better. We plan on being back in Lincoln at the end of June next year. They plan to try again.

Since we've been back, the temperature has been pretty much in the 90s. Next week is predicted to cool off with highs in the 70s and 80s. That will be wonderful. We've golfed a few times. I had my best score ever for 9 holes. I finally broke the 50s and had a 49. Of course, we won't talk about the back nine. Much harder.

Our golf leagues start up again this week. The resort has hired a work camper whose job is to give free group golf lessons and clinics. I'm looking forward to learning something that may help my game a bit.

I went to the first woodcarving session. They have a couple of interesting projects planned for this season. I'm still working on finishing one I started last year.

So, we are looking forward to all the fun activities the resort offers each winter season. Plenty to keep us busy and entertained! We also have a few more projects on our park model to complete. Main ones are replacing the flooring on our front porch and repairing and painting the shed.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Great Visit with Family

We spent a month from mid August until mid September in Wisconsin visiting with family and friends. It was great to spend some time with our son Eric again. We hadn't seen him since last Christmas. He came and stayed a weekend with us at the RV park. We went golfing and had a great time.

Unfortunately, the weather was quite rainy the last week we were there. Once again, we had lakefront property. It seems to us that Wisconsin is having an unusual amount of rain and flooding over the last few years.

 As we took our morning walks around the park, we passed this tree. It sure looks like a Mastodon or Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street.

Over the Labor Day weekend, a group of us camped together at the Fountain Lake RV Park. This group has been friends for over 25 years, so it was fun to catch up and spend time together.

We stopped in Iowa for a few nights after leaving Wisconsin to visit more family and friends. I was quite remiss at taking pictures this year. Just enjoyed everyone's company.

Currently, we are in Lincoln, Nebraska visiting our son Korey and his wife Cathryn. We've had a great time seeing them again. We also hadn't seen them since last Christmas.

Korey and Kevin brewed some amber ale beer while we were here. Sure hope it tastes good. Kevin will be taking some bottles back to Arizona, but has to wait three more weeks for it to ferment before he can try it. Here they are cooking the mash.

After a week of the mash fermenting, it was time for the bottling process. First, they transferred the brew from one container to another by siphoning it out to keep as much residue out of the final product.

Then it was time for bottling and capping. Korey and Cathryn handled the bottling. Kevin was sanitizing bottles and capping. I was a gopher helping out as needed and taking photos.

Korey and Cathryn got a puppy for Christmas. His name is Remy, and he is a goldendoodle. He is rather big, but such a sweetheart. He has a fantastic disposition, and is so loving and easy going. I have really enjoyed getting to know him.

We had such a good time visiting with the kids, enjoying meals together, playing games, brewing beer, helping with a few home improvement projects, and just hanging out! We're hoping all the kids can come to Arizona this winter for a visit and see our new place.

Lincoln, Nebraska has a series of statues throughout the city. An artist has sculpted hands with different themes painted on them. I enjoyed seeing the different art pieces. Here's one of them.

So, we are headed out today for the trip back to Yuma. We plan to be there on Friday if all goes well. We've been gone for about 4-1/2 months. I must say that I am missing the place. It really has become our home, and I'm looking forward to getting back!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Bismarck, North Dakota to Wisconsin

After leaving Medora, North Dakota, we headed to Bismarck for a few days. We toured the State Capitol building which was constructed in 1935 in the art deco design.  Only four states have this type of design. We've also toured the one in Nebraska. Florida and Louisiana are the other two. Apparently, this style was chosen over a rotunda because there is much less wasted space.

The hour long tour was led by a very knowledgeable guide, and was very interesting. North Dakota legislators are part time and only meet 80 days every other year. During that time, they take care of all the state's business, and are able to come up with a two year balanced budget. We need these guys in Washington, DC.

Next to the capitol grounds is the North Dakota Heritage Center. It is a very well done museum with many interesting displays. We wandered around in there for a good hour. They were featuring a display on horses. This one was beautifully painted.

As we drove from North Dakota to Minnesota, we saw some large sculptures along the road. It's amazing what you can see traveling down America's highways.

We spent 2 nights in Ashby, Minnesota. I often check a website called Roadside America for interesting or unusual attractions to see along our route. Ashby's claim to fame is an American Coot statue. It's about 10 feet tall, but could use a new paint job.

Our next stop was Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. This is where the Leinenkugel's Brewery is located. Kevin has been enjoying their beer for years, and has always wanted to visit. While living in Wisconsin, we never got around to it. Now, we have finally accomplished that mission. They have a fairly new, very nice, visitor center.

The brewery was begun by Jacob Leinenkugel in the late 1800s. Some of the original buildings are still being used. The tour was very interesting.

We couldn't resist sitting in the big chair!

We are now at Fountain Lake RV Park near Waupaca, Wisconsin until the middle of September. We've been visiting friends and family, and taking care of doctor and dentist visits. Summer is winding down. September is my favorite month as far as weather is concerned in the Midwest. We'll make a stop in Iowa and then 10 days in Lincoln, Nebraska to visit with Korey and Cathryn.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

We finally left Montana and headed to Medora, North Dakota. Our daughter-in-law Cathryn, who is from Moorhead, Minnesota, had told us of her memories of vacationing in Medora with her family.

The town is located at the entrance of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It appears it is a tourist town open in the summer. According to 2017 census records, only 130 people actually live there. I'm thinking its a ghost town in the winter. The history of this town is quite interesting. It's amazing how it has been able to reinvent itself several times to survive.

We wandered around and checked out the shops. There are a number of restaurants and some shows featuring gospel and cowboy music. The town has been around since the late 1800s and cowboys are a definite part of its history. There is even a cowboy museum.

 We chose to attend the Medora Musical in the evening. It is located at the top of one of the hills. The amphitheater style seating is built into the side of a hill. They are celebrating their 55th anniversary this year. In the mid 1990s, the entire theater was redone. The setting is beautiful.

The show featured a band and singer/dancers. They did musical numbers based on the history of the area with an emphasis on Teddy Roosevelt. It was a very family friendly show, and I really enjoyed it.

A couple of times horses were even on stage. For the finale the stage opened up and the hills behind were illuminated to look like the American flag. Horse riders came down from behind the Medora sign on the hillside. Fireworks were an awesome finale. Very well done!

The next day we visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Teddy originally came to Medora in 1883 to hunt buffalo. He fell in love with the area and returned a year later to grieve the loss of his wife and mother. They both died on the same day due to illness. He eventually moved back to New York and remarried. He credited his Dakota experience as the basis for his groundbreaking preservation efforts and the shaping of his character.

As president he established the US Forest Service and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which he proclaimed 18 national monuments. With Congress he created 5 national parks, 150 national forests, and dozens of federal reserves, over 230 million acres of protected land. Teddy's original cabin in the Dakotas, the Maltese Cross Cabin, is on display at the park.

We drove along the loop road through the park. Part of it was closed due to a landslide, so it was a 24 mile drive in and drive out trip. We were actually at this park almost exactly 20 years ago on August 1, 1999. At that time we had seen wild horses and bison. This time the only wildlife we saw were lots of prairie dogs. They sure are cute and fun to watch.

 The scenery is beautiful. We have also been to the Badlands in South Dakota. I must say that area is a bit more impressive, but this park is still very nice. It was actually established in 1947 as a national memorial park to honor President Roosevelt and to provide a place for everyone to experience his beloved Badlands.

About 15 miles from the south unit of the park is the Painted Canyon Visitor Center. It is another beautiful view of the North Dakota Badlands.

Plans are underway to open the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota in 2020. His legacy is an important and beloved part of the history of this state.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Little Bighorn Battlefield and Pompeys Pillar National Monuments

Yesterday we took another road trip to two National Monuments within an hour's drive of Billings. Our first stop was the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. We started off by watching a very well done 20 minute video about the battle. At the end, the narrator summarized by saying both sides were fighting for what they believed in at the time, trying to protect their culture and people.

This battle took place on June 25, 1876, just a few days before our country celebrated its centennial. By the next day over 260 soldiers were dead. The park has a unique feature where you call a number on your cell phone, and then dial the different talking points along the way. By listening, we learned a great deal about the battle.

At the time of the battle a village of over 1,000 tepees was set up along the Little Bighorn River in this valley consisting of about 7,000 Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians including 1,500 to 2,000 warriors.

The war between the Army and these Indians began because the treaty of 1868 had been broken by the United States. That treaty included the land in the Black Hills in South Dakota. When gold was discovered, thousands of white gold seekers swarmed into the region in violation of the treaty. The Indians left the reservation and resumed raids on settlements and travelers. The Indians were ordered back to the reservation. When they didn't comply, the Army was called in to enforce the order.

After the battle, the soldiers bodies were buried in shallow graves and marked. In 1881 the remains were moved to a mass grave, and a monument was erected with their names engraved on all four sides. Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was the commander of the 7th Cavalry. I'm sure you've all heard of the famous Custer's Last Stand. This was the place.

In 1890 the Army erected 249 headstone markers across the battlefield to show where Custer's men had fallen. This is the only National Battlefield that has individual markers for all soldiers lost. It is an eerie feeling looking out over the grassy plains and seeing these markers scattered about.

On a hill that has become known as "Last Stand Hill", 210 of these men died with Custer. The markers are very close to each other. It must have been awful!!!

The Indians took their dead warriors away with them. There is no exact count, but in 1999 the National Park Service began erecting red granite markers at known Cheyenne and Lakota warrior casualty sites providing visitors with a balanced perspective of the fierce fighting that occurred.

In 2013 an Indian Monument was erected across the road from the Army monument. It is built in a circle which is a sacred symbol. The inside walls display the names and words of those who fought here. I thought this quote by Crazy Horse made a lot of sense.

A Spirit Warrior sculpture is also part of the memorial.

In 1991 President George H. W. Bush signed an order changing the name of this site from Custer Battlefield National Monument to Little Bighorn National Battlefield Monument.

Our second stop was at Pompeys Pillar National Monument. It is the only site along the Lewis and Clark trail where the public can see visible evidence of the expedition.

Since we left Seattle, we have been seeing many markers along our route referring to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On their return journey, they split up for part of the trip. Clark's group stopped along the Yellowstone River near what is now Billings, Montana. At this 150 foot sandstone pillar, William Clark carved his name and the date into the rock on July 25, 1806. Years later when the railroad came through, the carving was covered to preserve it. Thank you railroad!!

Clark named the pillar Pompy's Tower in honor of Sacagawea's son, nicknamed Pomp. It was later changed to Pompeys Pillar.

We climbed over 200 steps in 96 degree temperatures to see the carving. Sometimes, it's just worth it. The view from the top was beautiful. Here is the Yellowstone River.

Clark's group carved two canoes out of cottonwood trees while they were here. Up to this point they had been on horseback to cross the Rocky Mountains. These replicas are on display.

President Jefferson organized the expedition to explore the lands purchased in the Louisiana Purchase. In a two year period, Lewis and Clark covered 8,000 miles from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast and back. They kept detailed journals and maps. Amazing!!!

So, I had conflicted feelings about our visits. In 1806 our country was excited to be exploring this vast country. In 1876 the same country was fighting wars with Indians. I know there are two sides to every story, but this just made me sad.

Today we did a little exploring of downtown Billings. We didn't find much of interest. The Moss Mansion which was built in 1903 for the Moss family who made their fortune in banking, utilities and other ventures. It's a beautiful building which is now a museum. We didn't go inside.

We also visited Thirsty Street Brewery and Montana Brewing Company breweries. I had a huckleberry ice cream cone instead. Much better than beer.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Beartooth Highway

We're in Billings, Montana for several days. Yesterday we did a six hour, 240 mile road trip to experience the Beartooth Highway. It is a 68 mile road completed in 1936 to connect the town of Red Lodge in Montana to the northern side of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

The road climbs through the Beartooth Mountain Range with lots of switchbacks. The views were incredible.

We walked out to the Rock Creek Vista Point at 8,000 feet.

Although there was supposed to be all kinds of wildlife visible on the drive, all we saw were some very tame chipmunks at the overlook. They were eating sunflower seeds right from the palms of some kids.

We continued on to the highest point on the road. It looked like we were at the top of the world, even with the tops of the mountains. At times it was a little scary!

We made it to the Beartooth Pass Summit.

You can see for miles and miles. You can also see some of the winding road heading down.

I was surprised at the alpine meadows at the top. Lots of pretty wildflowers were growing, with colors of white, blue, pink, yellow and purple.

As we headed down, we saw lots of lakes created by the snow melt. The summit gets over 200 inches of annual snowfall.

This is Beartooth Lake.

We cut off at the bottom onto Chief Joseph Scenic Highway in Wyoming to head back to Billings. The Clark Fork Yellowstone River has carved a 1,200 foot gorge.

Dead Indian Pass is at the summit at 8,000 feet.

In 1877, 600 Nez Perce Indians fled from the US Cavalry who wanted to put them on a reservation. They came through these mountains and passes to escape. They left a wounded warrior on this mountain. He was found by Army scouts and killed, thus this spot become known as Dead Indian Pass. The Nez Perce were led by Chief Joseph. They were fleeing to Canada, but were captured just 10 miles south of the border in Montana. So many sad stories in our American history.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!