Just as the weatherman predicted, it began to rain yesterday and continues today as well. We had about ½ inch last night when we headed off to bed and at midmorning today we are up to 1 ½ inches. The year has not been severely dry but we have been below the norm for several years in a row so we do need it. They are saying that we could get another inch or so before it moves out tomorrow!
We are waiting to hear when Pam will be having hip surgery. Doctor said that the office would call on Monday and now it is Wednesday and nothing yet. Pam called an hour ago but of course you only get to leave a message so the wait continues.
I have been remiss in posting to the blog for some time now, but will try and get back to more frequent efforts. We had a good visit in Kansas with friends and family, arriving home once more at Bass Lake on September 28, one day less than five months after we departed for the summer on the road.
While we were traveling Pam developed an increasing amount of arthritis in her right hip and this became our priority concern once we arrived back in Texas. Of course, with five months away the doctors were all in line, waiting to pounce on her so we spent much of our first weeks back in making the visits expected and contributing to the financial wellbeing of the east Texas medical community. It has been determined that the next event for Pam is to be a complete hip replacement, which we should have a surgery date for early next week.
We have also returned to our volunteer work at the Texas Fresh Water Fisheries Center near Lake Athens. They were short on volunteer help so we have spent a great deal of time there assisting with their programs for school children and last Thursday we assisted with their annual Halloween Experience by working the entry of the hatchery haunted house. It has been very busy but enjoyable, although Pam has had to deal with hip pain so we look forward to the coming surgery. Once we have dates I'll get back to share when it will happen.
We had a very good visit to Cheyenne and got to see quite a few of our friends from our days living there. We spent an evening with “children” from our youth activities when there, but those kids are now parents and even grandparents! We were quite impressed with the changes in Cheyenne and especially in the downtown area to save the historic buildings while making it attractive.
On Sunday we traveled south to Loveland, CO to spend a little time and to visit friends and relatives in this area. We also wanted to go back to Rocky Mountain National Park and spend some time as we had not been there since we moved from Cheyenne in 1989.
The day could have been better with early rain but it did clear as the day progressed so we did enjoy the trip. We spent most of it returning to the various places that we visited when we were there in the past and did the mandatory trip up and over Trail Ridge Road. The visitor center at the top was already preparing for winter and snow was predicted for last night up there.
The signs of fall were starting to show in most areas with leaves beginning to turn and the starting of mating season for the elk herd there. The best part of that was that elk were fairly easily seen and at times there was much bugling in the air with bulls challenging each other for dominance and harem cows. It was great fun to watch and there is little so fascinating in nature as the sounds of bull elk sounding their warnings and challenges.
The day turned out to be a memorable one. We had a great time and refreshed our memories of visits to the park with our family so long ago. While Rocky Mountain NP is not nearly as large as some of the other parks, it clearly is worth the time required to visit.
There are campgrounds inside of the park, several in the Estes Park area and if you stay at the foot of the mountains it is only a short, scenic drive.
On September 3 we hitched up and moved away from our summer home at Shep’s Canyon. We traveled south on US18 to Orem Junction, where we took I-25 south to Cheyenne, WY and stopped in Restway Travel Park. The park is one of the less expensive here and does have reasonably good Wi-Fi and also cable TV which Pam was really looking forward to. At Shep’s we had no TV at all, and while that really didn’t bother me, she really missed that.
This park is one that I would only rate as OK since it is older and going to the seedy side. Streets are not paved and are rough and in need of attention. Sites are reasonable in size but in need of more gravel and general maintenance. Our site has shade and the location works so while it won’t be high on our list for the future, it will do fine for now. Tomorrow we leave to travel south to Loveland, CO.
Our final weekend at Shep’s Canyon is now beginning. It has been a great summer experience and with really great park management. We have managed to see pretty much all of the attractions in the Black Hills and the most interesting of them more than once.
In the past week we have managed to wrap up all of the projects that we took on as part of our host duties, including some that went beyond the park requirements. We love being able to leave with a feeling of accomplishment and this is another that will be long remembered. The largest project that I had on my agenda was that of removing brush and trimming trees as well as removing some of the excess ones. In the past two weeks this task has proceeded well beyond what park management believed we could do, thanks to some staff assistance and ready access to the park tractor. I could not leave without a few shots to remember this by, and especially of the “victory pile!”
The campground is booked full for Labor Day weekend and the guests have begun to arrive. Weather has so far been a bit unsettled and that seems to be slowing things but it is expected to improve as the weekend progresses. After staying close to home for more than two years, it has been a wonderful relief to get back into the RV travel mode. We will be traveling for about the next month, anticipating an arrival back at base about Sept. 29. While Pam is somewhat anxious to get back, I’m really in no hurry as I still miss the full-time RV lifestyle.
One Thursday we made a trip once more to Rapid City to do a little shopping and to say goodbye to the Walmart store there. We also had the oil changed in the car to ready for our travels that begin once more next week. While we were in the area we also dropped by a wildlife park that is called Bear Country to see what it was like.
While animals in captivity are not as interesting as in the wild, the park does a pretty darned good job of creating natural settings and good habitats for the animals and you can see them much closer up than would be the case in the wild. While they have a wide range of animals, all from this part of the country, it becomes very apparent the reason for the name as bears make up by far the largest population of the park.
There is also a section where baby animals are the main feature. All animals are hand fed in order to have them be unaffected by human visitors and so that we could see them better. I would rate this as one of the best of this type facility that I have ever visited and is worth the time and cost to visit.
It has been a bit busier here as last Monday our college intern left to return to school, leaving a part-time employee and the two of us to keep things going. With summer on the wane the grass has slowed its growth rate so mowing is not as big a job and the campground is less busy, so we are helping with the maintenance side of things. I have been finishing up the tree trimming that needs done along the lake shore and also helping some with mowing and irrigation of trees.
We do still have our days off and so are getting in the last of the attractions that are in the "hills" which we haven't yet seen. On Monday we went off to Hill City to do some wine tasting. The Black Hills is one of the areas with a pretty new, but very successful wine business and we wanted to see what they had to offer that we had not previously tried. We visited the Prairie Berry Winery first and found that they have some really great products that are interesting, but by far my favorite was the best-selling of all their wines. It is made completely from rhubarb with a bit of sugar added and it is great! We also visited the Stone Faces Winery and the Naked Winery which are all just to the north of Hill City and on US385.
While we were there we also took time to have on last lunch at the Alpine Inn, which must be the best place to eat in all of the Black Hills!
One of the great things about spending the summer at this park has been the sunsets and sunrise too, if you get up early enough to see them! With sunrise at about 5 am, I have tried to avoid seeing too many of them but sunsets are a virtual light show. We do not get any TV and very little radio unless you have satellite TV, which we do not. Since I prefer the evening light show anyway, that really hasn’t been a big deal for me, somewhat so for Pam. We do have good Wifi and so can get news updates from the cell phone or laptop and that is good enough for me. Sometimes it is nice to not know what is happening on the news anyway!
One of the negative aspects of this area is the sudden and explosive weather changes that sometimes take place. We were advised when we arrived that we should never leave camp or go to bed leaving our awning down and that has been very sound advice. Thus far we have not had much hail but areas near us have and we have had brief but nasty wind and rain storms. At times it can come from a beautiful day and arrive with winds gusting to 50 mph or more and driving rains. We have had several storms that dropped an inch or more of rain in less than one hour and once we had 1 ¼ inches in under 30 minutes. We seem to be located on the edge of a weather pattern area where the worst storms touch us along the edges but the worst seems to pass us by.
Just as quickly as the storms arrive they move on the weather clears. Aftermath from the thunderstorms tends to be very showy, as our skies seem to be constantly. Rainbows are common. One thing I have never heard any local mention when discussing weather is boredom.
We are located about a mile to the west of the main park complex and across the lake. It is sometimes surprising how much difference there can be in the weather experienced on the opposite sides of the park. Shep’s Canyon area is somewhat sheltered from the main body of the lake by a high ridge and I suspect that this helps to protect us from some of the wind effects. We are thankful for that because our little, light weight trailer moves about more in wind gusts than did the motorhome we once lived and traveled in. I have discovered that keeping our water tank completely full and adding more leveling jacks has helped with that. Our trailer came with only the tongue jack and one on each rear corner. I added four of the screw type jacks, one on each front corner and one near each spring shackle attachment. The lifting of some weight from the suspension has made significant difference.