Extending Our Happily Ever After

"We do! Now let's live healthy and fit!"


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Not of this world… Craters of the Moon NP

When we tried leaving our campsite in Gallatin National Forest (Red Cliff campground) on Thursday morning (June 16th, 2015)… Our RV steps wouldn’t retract. We have been having issues with them this entire trip… Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t, but if we start the ignition, they always did. This time they did not… Although they sounded like they wanted to. Anyway, we had not had any Verizon signal or Wi-Fi for days, so we were kind of stuck. We, most certainly, are not mechanically minded, at all! We opted for heading the 41 miles into West Yellowstone, to get a signal and hope we could call someone to help us out.  We just got to the edge of town and made some calls and an RV repair guy came out to us, detached something, pulled the steps in, wired them up for us and we were on our way. We will get them fixed in California. We just wanted to get back on the road.
So, then, we were off. Headed west again. This time, to Arco, Idaho. That is where we were going to stay for the night while we explored Craters of the Moon National Monument. We passed an atomic museum… Quite an interesting place… This Arco, Idaho. If I had known this museum was out here, I definitely would have stopped… I think it was about 18 miles before you got to Arco.
We arrived around 1:30 and checked in. First off, what a super nice RV Park!

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We just left a nice park with electric hook up, only. This one was water and electric… But it also had showers and laundry! Something the three of us were very much looking forward to! We nearly jumped out of our skins for joy when we checked out the facilities and they were the best we had ever seen on our travels! Clean, private, roomy! Just so very nice! Wasn’t super expensive, can’t remember how much… Well edit this post or comment the cost when I look it up (Sorry)… I am a few days behind in posting, ever since Yellowstone. Anyway…
Arco… First city in US powered by atomic power. Also, there is a hill that has numbers all over it… You can ask anyone in town, they are all happy to tell you that since 1920, the graduating class of Butte High School goes up there to paint their graduating year up on that hill… It is known as Number Hill.

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We checked in… Decided to head to Craters before it got too late, then come back to shower and do laundry.
It was a great decision… Craters and Arco are situated in the middle of the desert and it can get extremely windy out there. So we ended up getting pretty dirty with dust blowing all around us.
We loved seeing all the sites that the park had to offer.

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The craters, the cinder cones (one huge one that Christopher and I could climb up to and get some incredible photos of the views around it)…

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We saw spatter cones and even got to walk through lava tubes and climb out of them! It was very amazing! What an amazing park! My family is quite geeky, and so this sort of thing is truly right up our alley!

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After hours spent here, we headed back for showers and laundry. Then, it was a drive to Twin Falls the following day to visit a friend I haven’t seen in about 16 years!

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Three and a half days in Yellowstone!

Wow! What a place Yellowstone is! Seriously, you have got to visit!
We left Townsend, Montana and our first stop before heading east to Bozeman, Mt was Wheat Montana bakery. My cousin told us about their cinnamon rolls and to get Ivan a coffee before a long drive is never a bad idea.

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We headed to a Wal-Mart first for supplies (food and water) before heading to a camp with only electric for the next four nights.
When we left there, we almost had a horrible emergency! Ivan and Chris noticed that the emergency brake said it was released when it wasn’t… The brakes were smoking and we thought the RV was on fire! Thankfully, emergency caught and rectified! Thank God!!!!
We arrived at Red Cliff campground on highway 191, about 41 miles north of West Yellowstone entrance. Beautiful campground, very near a beautiful river… Also, without making reservations till two nights before, just about the last we could get in peak, summer time at the oldest national park in the country.
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When we first arrived, Sunday night, the first place we drove to was Old Faithful. We just missed an eruption, so had to wait about an hour and a half for the next one. Got some postcards in the gift shop, saw a chipmunk, got our seats picked out for the “show” and waited. Then we walked over to look at the interior of the inn and then behind it for dinner at the general store… Awesome milkshakes!
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Then home for the night.
Next day, we took my cousin’s advice and checked out Jackson, Mt. We knew it would be a long day, so we packed lunches and drinks. Headed out early and hit traffic in the park. People are notorious for stopping to get pictures of every animal they see! It delayed us quite a bit. But, onward. We stopped at the edge of a lake with a view of the Tetons for lunch. It took us over four hours to get to the cute town of Jackson. We stopped at Starbucks, then walked around a bit. The town has these statues for photo ops that we had fun with… But, if we were ever to get back to camp, we needed to head back.
We got back to West Yellowstone and had dinner under a covered wagon. I had a buffalo burger. Didn’t taste very different from beef. The guys had fish and chips. Would we do Jackson again? Well, it was lovely and quaint… But, for the distance, we would have opted out of this excursion, had we known. If we were closer to it, definitely! For us… Being from Pennsylvania… We equated out to Jim Thorpe… A must see, but not after a four hour drive.
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Next day in Yellowstone was spent doing the thermal activity tour…Stop one… Upper geyser basin, where the world’s largest concentration of geysers are found, including Old Faithful. We saw it go off twice more. We also saw three more geysers erupt… Daisy, beehive and grotto. Other little ones, too. Lots of springs and pools. We were there for a couple of hours, walked a lot!
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Then we went to the biscuit basin to see the Sapphire pool… So blue! Gorgeous!
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Then, it was off to the Midway Geyser Basin to see the Grand Prismatic Spring… This area was breathtaking! Other worldly, in fact. A must see!
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Off northern route to see the Gibbons Falls.
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Then the Artist’s Paintpots.
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Then northward on a dirt road for over seven miles, major road construction… To the Mammoth Hot Springs. Beautiful terraces!
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Also, the scenery was lovely… Then the drive back to camp… Another long day for us!
Our last day in Yellowstone was spent with a huge delay because of a buffalo in the road on the way in… Uggh! Bumper to bumper traffic! Then it was over to the canyon and Falls area… And rain! We got lots of lovely photos anyway. Christopher and I walked down to the brink of the lower falls… Probably the steepest climb I have ever done. I think it trumped Neushwanstein… Unless that was so long ago, it pales in memory. This was pretty steep. But, I survived! Gorgeous view!
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Drove down to Fishing Bridge after for views of Lake Yellowstone before calling it a day, then headed back through Hayden Valley into West Yellowstone for dinner at an all you can eat spaghetti place for dinner.
That wraps up our visit to Yellowstone! We won’t soon forget it… Wonderful memories here!


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Leaving Townsend, Mt… on to Yellowstone!

We have loved our time here… I’ll continue from where I left off…

We had decided to check out our roof to see if we could find the leak… but to no avail.  Just could not see what was wrong up there… We’ll just have to hope and pray that we just don’t have many issues until we can get things looked at in California when we arrive.
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We were able to get back out on the Canyon Ferry Lake, but we weren’t sure how long for… because the rain clouds were all around us.  But, we headed out and it was great… able to catch a bit of sun, eat a bit of lunch and even Christopher and my cousins jumped in the lake for a bit until the water started to quickly turn choppy and then it was a rush to the dock.  That quick ride back was exhilarating!
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Cousins Anne Marie and Steve had us all over for a lovely dinner at their home and it was a great night spent talking and just enjoying family time… After dinner the “men folk” retired to the front porch for lovely views of the fields and mountains, while the women cleaned up and then talked in the living room… a lovely walk back to Kelly and Jeff’s and then it was game night til the wee hours.  Great fun!
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The following day, we went seperate ways… Jeff took Ivan and Christopher out to the countryside for some awesome views of the Missouri River and hills/mountains,
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while, Deedee, Kelly and I went to Kelsey’s baby shower in Helena.  Kelsey is Tommy’s wife (Tommy is Kelly and Jeff’s son).  I have been on facebook with her, but it as my first time meeting her and I also got to meet Jordyn (Trey’s wife)… another son of Kelly and Jeff’s.  I had the time of my life being with family that I haven’t met in person, but now that I’m moving to the West Coast, I hope to know more of.  🙂
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On our way home, Kelly drove us to the other side of the Canyon Ferry Lake and I got to see the Dam and the lovely views…
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The evening was spent going to a real hoedown, Montana style!  There is a local family who runs Watson Irrigation in Townsend.  Every summer for the Fourth, they throw a big party and it’s sort of a thank you to the community for their friendship and business… how awesome and just good ol’ American is that?  This shindig invited everyone… come one, come all!  Big country band playing live music… a bronco bull for the kids to ride… fire pit, free bar, huge buffet line of some real awesome food and even sundaes for desert!  The huge topper of the evening was a fireworks display unlike any I’ve seen… for a private display, it outshone many a public display!  It was fantastic!  More hanging out at the house afterwards… Ivan was showing Jeff his roman coins that he likes to tinker with…
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I made a promise to Kelly last night that I’d bring Ivan back for Jeff to play with… I’ll have to bring Christopher back for Nathan to play with and I’ll have to come back for Kelly to play with… all in all, our time here was fantastic and we can’t wait to return!  We’ll miss Townsend and our family time here.  It’s now goodbye time and off to Yellowstone!  Not sure of our wi-fi there, but I’ll post when we can!


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Cousin’s Farm in Townsend, Montana…

We have arrived!

This was the main reason for my northern journey through the states!  My cousin, Kelly.  I have not seen her in about 26 years!  Nor have I much recollection of Montana in my travels when I was a child.  I wanted to see her and her home/state.
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We arrived on Wednesday and we will leave here on Sunday for Yellowstone (not sure about the Wi-Fi there, either, so please be patient with us).  I do try posting as soon as I can.

On Wednesday, it was a night of hugs and we’ve missed you type of conversations and oh-by-the-way, have you met my family?  As I haven’t met four of her children and she’s not met Christopher or Ivan in person.  I reunited with Anne Marie and Steve (my cousins, her mother and her father) and her husband, Jeff) and met her mother-in-law, Deedee.  We had a great dinner outside and just caught up after several years apart.
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Took a look at their fields of alfalfa.
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We also took a drive up to see the hunting cabin my cousins built on their land. It is gorgeous!
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Thursday, Kelly, Deedee, Nathan (Kelly’s son) and Ivan, Christopher and myself, went into Helena (Montana’s state capital) for some sightseeing.  We saw the state capital… Jeff had an office there working with the Secretary of State, so Nathan was raised there and felt quite capable of giving us a tour and was quite the excellent tour guide!
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We then drove over to the Helena Cathedral, which is such a gorgeous cathedral… Just so happened that they were in the middle of a tour when we got there, so we were able to jump right into that.
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Then it was back to the capital to take a ride on the Last Chance Gulch Train that is an hour plus train ride through the town and gives you history of everything in the town for $8.  Great info and it was a warm day, but with a great breeze, so it was nice to sit down under shade and let the tour guide lead us around and us just sit back and relax the entire time!
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My cousin took off during this time to do grandmother duties, while Nathan took the tour with us, so afterwards, we went to Taco del Sol for dinner down by the Walking part of town and just walked there for a while…

Then it was back home in time for Jeff and Kelly to take us on their boat on the Canyon Ferry Lake for a view of the sunset…
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What an amazing day!

We are on day three here!  Ivan and I started by driving the Toyota Prius into Helena this morning because it was revving a bit, but luckily, they told us everything was just fine!  Whew!  Seems to be a Hybrid gear thing… anyway, it’ll be just fine for the rest of the trip for us… Yellowstone is next, starting on Sunday, so we are very excited for that bit of news!

We are planning on more lake travel today!  Will post a second Townsend blog later…


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Wyoming and Billings, Montana…

Next couple of days were just simple stops on our way to my cousin’s ranch/farm in Townsend, Montana.  We stayed at Sheridan, Wyoming at a Wal-Mart there, where we proceeded to just go to bed early and rest up!  We have been not feeling well on our journey, even though we’ve been sight-seeing like crazy, so we just wanted to rest up and try to recuperate and get ourselves feeling better.

Our next day, we headed further west to Billings, Montana where we stayed at a Cracker Barrel.  We are definitely trying to make this trip not too costly and places like this really help us out.  We did stop for a lunch there, knowing it’d be less costly than dinner.  We asked our server if there was anything to do in his city and he suggested we go to Pompey’s Pillar for a great view of the area.  We hadn’t read up on the area, so we were game, and we jumped in the Prius and headed there.  We had no idea of the historical relevance of the site and were very excited to find out that William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition had carved his initials on a large rock there, making it a historical site.  It was the only known proof of the entire expedition.
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There was a visitor’s center there with paintings and things to show of their expedition that were quite interesting.  Then, we walked outside to the rock and climbed up many steps to the carving that has since been protected… you can climb higher for a spectacular view of the area and the Yellowstone River.  It ended up being a very nice visit!
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We headed back to the RV for a nap and to check on the cats, then headed back out to check out a movie “Inside Out” at the Carmike Shiloh 14 and then up to the Lookout Drive over Billings for some fantastic views of the city and to see the sunset before calling an end to our day in Billings.
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We headed to McDonalds to catch some free Wi-Fi to do an upload of photos to Facebook and then it was to the RV to rest up before our drive to Townsend the following day.
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Our last day in Custer State Park on Iron Mt Road…

We spent our last day in Custer State Park, driving the Iron Mountain Road.  It was where we actually got to see most of the wildlife in the park.  The buffalo and the bison that we never saw on the wildlife loop, we saw here.  Unfortunately, we had a cloudy day and it didn’t make for great photos.  I was the brave one, who got out of the car and jumped off the path and tried to get a bit close to the herds, but not too close!

First, we saw the buffalo, however, there wasn’t a pull off… so while I sulked and sulked, we kept driving, but were lucky enough to find another herd and even a better view.  So, I practically jumped out of the car so I can take my photos.  I’m not too sure how much you can see and I’ll most likely be adding the photos to this post later (so drop back to see them, as they are on my Canon camera and I only have access to add photos from my cell on this trip til we get to California)… but then further up, we saw some bison and I was able to get pretty close as well… again, better photos on my Canon, but I can show you a few (dark) photos from the cell here.
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I’m currently typing this article from my cousin’s laptop in Montana, as we haven’t had the best wi-fi connections or time to post since my last post, so I’m taking the time to make several entries now and will upload first, then go in and edit to add photos next… then upload to my facebook page once completed… Canon photos edited in much later…

After our Iron Mountain drive, which also offered us spectacular views of Mt Rushmore, as seen below… we stopped in Keystone, South Dakota for a walk around.  It was our final thing to do in Custer State Park before we left the area.
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In Keystone, there was this great wood carving place… Fun sculptures/carvings to look at.

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We definitely enjoyed our time here… We got back to Jack’s Campers and unfortunately, had a pretty bad rain storm where we saw more leaking in our bedroom… Uggh!  We were going to head out of here early the next morning and head west and hope for dryer weather and sunnier skies.
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Three days in and around Custer State Park!

There is so much to do here! We have to come back to do it all! No complaints from us! When I was a kid, my dad took my brother and I on a cross country trip and I remember visiting Mt. Rushmore and thinking to myself, I would like to live here one day. Well, now that I am here again… I can see why I thought that. This area of the country is truly amazing. I honestly could picture myself living here. It is gorgeous! Clean air, hospitable people and the scenery is just breathtaking!
I haven’t done much planning on this trip, so when we were in the Badlands, I tried calling for a place to stay on the night of the 3rd and 4rth of July. What was I thinking??? It took us an hour to find something, and we finally found Jack’s Campers at exit 44 in Piedmont, SD on Hwy 90. They actually sell RVs, have a store and then have full hookups in the back for $17/night. So awesome! And we have an amazing view of the hills around us. We feel totally secure. We were able to get a third night as well.
Our first day, we drove to Sylvan Lake and did the one mile loop trail around it.

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Then, we drove to Crazy Horse… The head is finished… The museum is quite impressive with lots of Indian artifacts.

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Outside, on the viewing terrace, you can see the replica of what the carving is supposed to look like, then the actual mountain carving.

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Chris and I took a bus up to get a closer look at the mountain.

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Then, we saw some sculptures outside the park. The gate was done by the family and is a representation of every living thing in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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We then drove up to Mount Rushmore… Being the third of July, they were having a Fourth Celebration… A concert with an acapella group and then the Air Force Band. Also, they swore in about 34 new recruits into the armed forces… What a special ceremony for them… At the base of the monument!

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A lady sitting in front of us was using her binoculars to take photos with her cell phone and let me try, too… These were the results… It doesn’t take much to impress me!

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Then at night, they illuminated the faces!

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Driving through the park on day two… We tried to go to the Jewel Cave, but the tours were sold out… The wildlife loop was void of wildlife…  The Needles Hwy.  Was spectacular, however!

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That is all for now, we are sitting in a Starbucks posting this, getting ready to start our third day in the park… So enjoy the pics, more to follow…
Our next couple of days are not expecting to be much… We are feeling a bit better, but we are going to start to head west and we are told that there isn’t that much to see in the middle of Montana… So we are expecting to get to my cousin’s ranch on the 8th on the west side of Montana…
Thanks for following our journey!