Day Four – September 13, 2012

Another travel day today after getting a late start, but I made it to the KOA outside the gate of Glacier National Park. Cooked up some eggs and ham, and then it took a little time to take a shower in the closet in the camper they call a wet bath. It is basically just that… a closet with a toilet and a shower in it. Afterwards I had to wrap up the assorted cables and hoses for the camper. I think I am getting the hang of this.

Left last night’s KOA at Bozeman, drove a little more on the interstate, then took off north on some US and state highways. A nice drive through the middle of absolutely nowhere in Montana. It was actually quite beautiful in its own way. There’s a lot of smoke in the air from the fires that are burning in the West, and it made it very hazy in some parts. I could even smell it in some places as I zoomed down the highway.

I was up here many years back in the early 90s, but thought I might as well see it again since it was kind of on the way… especially since I am heading into Canada on my way to Washington. It is a nice place; different than Colorado, with the mountains being “blockier” since they are glacial in nature. To me, they are not as spectacular as the Rockies, but are special in their own right.

Pretty cool up here tonight. I may be having to give up on the shorts before long, but I ain’t going to put them away without a fight. I have been wearing shorts nearly all of the last 5 months. I did have to put pants on a time or two, but it has been shorts most of the time. Going to be a hard habit to break I can tell already.


Day Three – September 12, 2012

Today was a travel day… headed west. Got up early and got the trailer ready and hit the road about 7:30. A brisk, cool North Dakota morning it is. Heard a helicopter flying around and it was about treetop level right across the road from my campsite above the river. Found out later it was a fire helo so not sure what was going on but that place is definitely a tinderbox. Saw a herd of buffalo grazing as I was leaving. They have the run of the park and are everywhere.

Breakfast time!

A pretty uneventful drive into and across Montana to Bozeman, where I currently am “camping” in a KOA and am writing this from (first time the Mac has been fired up in a week). Not much going on today but high gas prices along the way.

Once I got here and settled in I discovered that there is a hot mineral spring rec center right next door to the KOA. I must be living right. Yes I did indulge after a bit of dinner, and yes… it was quite awesome, thank you very much. Indoor and outdoor pools, blazing hot sauna and a cold pool to slam your pores shut afterwards, a warm soaking pool, and a hot soaking pool. Quite a nice place and a pleasant surprise.

Now, I just have to figure out what is next for a destination.

Day Two – September 11, 2012

Glad there was a heater in the camper. Got a bit cool last night. A quick thunderstorm rolled through, adding a fireworks display before falling asleep.

Woke up today and stepped outside the camper to find a herd of buffalo wandering through the campground. Last time I had buffalo wandering around where I was sleeping was… Well, we won’t talk about that.

I guess he just scratched his neck since he could not reach around to scratch his… never mind.

I was going to take a stroll across a field over to the Little Missouri River here by the campground. I went along the edge of the campsite across from mine and found a buffalo skull on the way. Had to leave it since it is illegal to take things from a National Park. That was once in a lifetime probably. I went over and watched them grazing as they watchd me back.

The herd between me and the Little Missouri River

After a quick pastry breakfast, it was off to explore. Not much here in the town of Medora. A guy I was talking to said a friend of his was paying $800/mo. for rent…until oil came to call. same house now rents for $2700. Yikes!

Took off on a drive, and ended up doing three hikes and got a few miles under my boots. Felt good to strap them on again! Ate lunch in a meadow along a buffalo path in Painted Canyon. After I ate lunch I did something I usually do not do, but I just had to do. I got out my earbuds, plugged them into the iPhone, and listened to “Echoes” by Pink Floyd as I sat there looking at this beautiful place. It has been a great day, and I got some exercise along with some nature! On the way driving the loop around the park I saw a band of wild horses. They looked rather laid back and not so wild… I may need to go back and show them how it’s done for real.

Such a serene, stark, yet beautiful place
One of the wild horses

I return to camp and see buffalo are still by the river so I go over and watch them from a safe distance behind a large, fallen cottonwood tree. The people a few sites down from mine and next to me are setting up camp. Whilst looking for firewood, the lady stumbles across the aforementioned buffalo skull. She brings it back and he hides it behind the tent. Well, that just ain’t right so took a bike ride around the campground and I got a ranger on them. Not sure what the ranger did, but what is IN the National Park STAYS in the National Park.

So now, at 5:00 P.M. as I am sitting outside at the picnic table putting more of the day into words, three lowly wild turkeys wander through my campsite. I watch them, then I resume typing and thinking of Thanksgiving dinner. Fully attentive to what I am doing I fail to see the herd of buffalo inching my way. When I finally see them they are crossing the road near my campsite. I keep an eye on them then I have to hurry to the “safety” of the camper as they walk right behind my picnic table. They run off grunting and snorting and doing a drive-by grazing.

Let’s see, got the dressing, the cranberries, the taters and gravy…
This is the table I was writing this at just moments before.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring quite yet…

Day One – September 10, 2012

Sorry it has taken so long to start this blog. I have had no good WiFi connection on the road until now to get this set up plus some nights I had no amenities – I was in a steel tent “roughing it” as it were. I will post each day that I already have done as I go through and edit them, then I plan to get current… and hopefully stay caught up.

Well, today is the first real day of my new adventure… my new life… my new journey. I write this as I am sitting in the camper for the first night in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is exciting, yet a bit strange, to be doing this.

I no longer have a house, nor do I have many personal possessions any more. I went from having enough stuff to fill a 2200 sf house, to what I am able to fit into a small camper and the back of my Ford Explorer. It is actually quite a feeling to be so free – kinda like that first time you go commando to someplace like the grocery store. As I told Meghan the other day, “…no, I am not dying so that is not why I am getting rid of stuff!”. This all probably sounds rather pathetic or horrible to some, but it is a re-birth.

I say that this is the first “real day” because everything up until this was in preparation for this big life change. The last six months have been, shall we say, trying and tedious to say the least. So many decisions, and not able to plan anything out to any degree since there were so many variables for each thing I had to take care of in a deliberate and careful order (and those who know me know what I feel about planning much). Thanks to good friends and family I was able to keep my sanity (debatable, I know), and staying focused and resolute is how I was able to get to the point I am now at. It has not been easy to say the least, but I made it.

As I left my house for the final time Friday morning I really did not think much about what was actually happening… leaving the place I spent the last 16 years of my life… a place I have always loved from as far back as I can remember. Colorado will always be a special place to me and be in my heart forever. Many good memories happened there, and they greatly outnumber a few I do my best to forget. I made many new friends there and many will always stay with me no matter the distance.

Today I left my daughter Meghan’s house in Spearfish, SD after a great visit. I got to her new apartment (a very nice, brand new place) on Friday and we got to hang for a few days and do some things. One of those things was I bought a new bike and we went for a ride. It was a lot of fun, but my body is in less than ideal shape so I will be riding and exercising quite a bit more. Yesterday we went to Badlands National Park, then got to see the exterior of the Minuteman Missile Silo National Monument. A real “man” moment.

The launch door is partially opened and a glass cover is over it so you can see into the silo
Staring down the barrel of a loaded gun…

Pretty cool place

I went north up US 85 through western South Dakota into North Dakota. I arrived here at TRNP at sunset. From what I could see in the waning light was quite beautiful and spectacular. I hope to be up early in the morning to get out and do a hike before it gets too hot. Drove right past a herd of buffalo as I was going into the campground. At the house in Bailey I just left the sun would dip denied the mountain around 5pm or so; seeing a sunset around 7:30 or 8:00 was awesome and I have not seen that in quite a while. My new gig is on the Washington coast so I will get to see it every night now.

I would be an even bigger slacker if I did not thank those who have supported and been there for me the last few months:

My daughters Angie, Chelsea, and Meghan, and granddaughters Alexis, Abby, and Emery for being the wonderful people that they are. They live their lives on their own terms, and of that I am extremely proud and happy.

All of my family and friends for always being supportive, even when I did dumb shit that I probably should not have done. This goes double for my parents. I know I have been a pain in the ass at times, and I apologize for those times, but hey… I turned out okay because of you!

Thanks also go to my parents for letting me borrow the Scotty camper to undertake this adventure. This has made things much easier and gives me a chance to test the waters before I buy a trailer or RV of my own. I just wish people would quit asking me about the camper all the damn time. It is getting old!

A quick note concerning the maps I have inserted into the blog… please click on “View larger Map” if you want more details on the routes I have taken. Most of the maps I had to shrink so much the details are lost.

If you want to read more of my adventures getting to Washington, I have dated and numbered each post so you can read in order the blogs of my travels.

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