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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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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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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Sioux Falls… Park is a must see!

We left Dow City, Iowa. We truly enjoyed our time there. We know we want to return to that gem of a place in the heartland of America!

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Christopher was not driving today, as he is just wiped out. I feel ok so far. Ivan is still coughing up a storm. Oh, to be sick on the road. What fun!
We knew we were in South Dakota at the first sighting of a teepee.

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I noticed on our travels cross country that Sioux Falls was on our path. I googled it to see if there was anything to do there and Falls Park stood out. We are so glad we stopped! Such a beautiful park! I wish I could see this beauty every day of my life!

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After our stroll through the park to get all of these amazing photos… We went for dinner at the Pizza Ranch, which came highly recommended by our camp hosts. A buffet that costs 10.98/pp including drink and desert. Pizza, fried chicken, salad, macaroni and cheese… What more could one ask for? It was great. Chicken was delicious, so was the Pizza.
We drove back to the park to catch the trolley for $1/each.

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It took us around the city and showed us the sites. Lots of lovely building built with the quartzite that this area is known for and they are all so beautiful. Also, there are so many sculptures throughout downtown to look at, as well. It was raining… It gives us a reason to come back to visit again.

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These were just two in Falls Park.

A lovely visit here! We will remember this as a wonderful day!


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We will return to Iowa!

What a relaxing trip! Visiting with friends that seemed more like family! Christopher and I, unfortunately woke up feeling under the weather and this was the perfect stop at the perfect time. Veronica just cooked up a storm, letting Christopher take a nap on her couch and I ended up taking a few hour snooze on the other one myself. We woke up to lunch and then we visited and her children and grandchildren stopped by for an amazing dinner.
Her grandson, Tyson, took a shine to Christopher and just played with him all afternoon!

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After dinner, Marty took us to his workshop to show us his hit and miss engine he built and the firehouse he volunteers at and their Main Street. Such a step into the past for us.

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See how desolate hwy 30 was on a Monday night? I was able to stand right in the middle of the road for minutes for photos without getting hit.
I am so not used to that.

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Just a good ol’ town!

We will miss our time spent here.  It was peaceful, relaxing and spent with loving friends.

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We will definitely return!

As Tyson put it… “travel safe, Chrissy!” “Bye, Chrissy… Catch more pirates (they were playing pirates)” As he hopped in his Daddy’s car and drove off.


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We have hit the road!

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On the highway, a blue Prius and a ’98 Damon Intruder… Pennsylvania to California, with stops along the way to visit, laugh, enjoy the sites and just relax!
We are starting out our fifth full day on the road and we have already been too busy to post anything or put our feet up and this is our first morning we can actually breathe just a little.
Day one was spent driving 378 mi to Brunswick, Oh. Beautiful, sunny day driving. We stayed at a campground called Willow Lake ($40/night full hu, .50 showers). I had friends I wanted to see that I worked with at UPS-SCS. We met at Applebees and had a great time catching up!

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(Pic of Willow Creek)

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Day Two, off to Valparaiso, Indiana. Today was cloudy and the weather was turning to rain. 306 miles and we thought we’d save money and drycamp at the Wal-Mart near where my cousin’s were staying. When we pulled up, my cousin, Herman was there waiting for us. He drove up from Florida with his wife, Mickey. They were headed up to Michigan to visit family and wanted to see us and the new rig! We got settled a bit then they took us to dinner at Broadway Cafe, nice place with great food. Next day, we met up again and they took us to the Indiana Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan… We got to go to the beach! Very cool!

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Afterwards, Ivan, who has been fighting a cold all week, went back to the rig, and the four of us went to the University of Valparaiso (Valpo) where Herman’s father graduated in ’37 (My mother’s uncle) to see the gorgeous chapel and the Bull Pen, which he helped build in 1936… Google it. Pretty cool.

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We were able to meet my other cousin, Nancy, and her husband, Richard, for dinner. We enjoyed catching up with the family!

Day Three was spent leaving my cousin’s, and the rain in Valparaiso, In and heading west to Iowa. The sun was out all day for us. We drove to F.W. Kent County Park, which was 271.5 miles. $20 for electrical hookup. Free showers. Beautiful lake with trails to walk. Relaxed after a nice walk, Chris had a great run, Ivan still getting over his cold and then I made a nice salad for dinner. Threw some black beans and corn in it with some tomatoes and avocados. It was delicious! Dessert was sliced strawberries. Trying to get healthier on this journey of ours. Chris and I have made it a point to go out at least once a day. As soon as Ivan is feeling better, we are dragging him along.
This park has beautiful walking trails…

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And dinner

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After dinner entertainment… Game of Cribbage.

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This morning, we hear a light rain. We want to walk the lake, hit the showers and then head out for Dunlap, Ia to visit with a friend… 228 miles. Shouldn’t be too bad of a drive.

Toodles!