Extending Our Happily Ever After

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


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Our drive to Nevada… And break down.

We left Twin Falls on Sunday. The RV had run a bit warm heading into Idaho, so we checked our fluids before heading out and filled up with coolant before heading out.
We got one last visit from my girlfriend, Terrie and her daughter, Sami, and showed them our new home. They approved. 🙂
Then, we headed out. We don’t like to drive more than 300 miles per day, it just gets too exhausting, as we are driving separately.
Our first stop would be to gas up in Jackpot, Nv.
You know you hit Nevada state line when you immediately see the casinos line up.
Then we headed for Winnemucca, Nv and a Wal-Mart for our overnight stop.
It was a nice stop.
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We had a nice sunset in Winnemucca.
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We saw the Sierra mountains on this trip.
The next day, we drove straight through with our hope to be in Carson Valley campground in Minden, Nv near my cousin’s place.
Well, we got to Carson City, which was pretty close, actually, before the RV started popping and stalling out in traffic. Uggh!
We ended up having to pull off into a Lowe’s parking lot and calling around to see if anyone could fix it. Finally, we found an auto shop in Carson city that would look at it the next morning… We had less than an hour to secure the cats and pack up. My cousin said we all could come over to her place. We were so lucky to have that option!
Next to Lowe’s was a Petco, so we were able to get two cat carriers and then a portable litter box. Then quickly packed our clothes. A bit stressful, to say the least.
Tow truck showed up and took our home away. That is a helpless feeling.
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Our cats hated being boxed up. They aren’t quite warming up to my cousin’s place either. Nutter is hiding under a bed, Puddin’ is trying to take over the house and make it her own and hiss and swat and the other two kitties that lived here.
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We are hoping to get our home back soon so that they can get back to their safe space quickly.
We are much more adaptable to change than they are, it seems.
My cousins welcomed us with open hearts and arms and a nice home cooked meal with cherry pie for dessert. Wonderful feeling to have a family support system 🙂
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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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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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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!


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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!