John and Sandy's RV Adventure Journal

July 2011 Journal

Today is going to be a hot one.  We had coffee, read the paper and practice harmonica outside.  We headed over to Hickory Knoll Golf Course to meet Jim and Diane and golf 9 holes.  Afterwards, we were all hot and needed a cool one, so we headed to the PMO Club Bar for a couple cocktails.  We done so we headed home and grounded ourselves.

   30   This morning we headed over to help Jim pick up a new water heater.  Then we got ready to go and headed to Ada’s house for Ady our niece’s high school graduation party.  Of course the whole family was there and lots of others.  We had a great time and it was great to see some people we haven’t seen in a while.
 29   This morning we had coffee outside and Annie joined us.  I got my new smokey mini amp so I set up my stand, mic, amp, mp3 player for background music and dressed the part to practice on my harmonica.  Even if I need practice, at least I look the part.  It’s a hot day and we need some beach time.  We headed down to the pond for some, sand, sun and swimming.  Lot’s of people came to enjoy the same reasons we came for.  After we were refreshed and relaxed, we headed back to the cow to regroup.  We went over to our friends Jim and Diane’s house and our buddy Dennis was there too.  We all went out for a great Mongolian Buffett and Sushi dinner.  Afterwards, we sat outside at their house and had a few cocktails.

28   Happy B’Day John!!  John got up and opened his presents.  He finally redeemed himself and got a Junior Ranger Pin.  We had coffee outside until some rain showers pushed us in.  We headed out to Laurie and Johns house for lunch and visit with family.  When we got there, they had surprised us and had a houseful of family.  We had a cookout for lunch and family members came and went.  Things were winding down, we thought, and then more family came.  We had some cocktails outside, ordered pizzas, had cake and a great time!!
27   Today there are some big storms in the area.  We had to head to McHenry to have Red checked out.  His display module needs to be replaced.  We stopped to check on upgrading our phone.  We ended up doing the upgrade.  Of course, when we got home we had to check it out.  We got the HTC EVO with the wireless hotspot function.  Now we can both connect to the internet at the same time with a fast connection.  Keith and a friend from Florida is in visiting Kenny.  John, Annie and I headed to Captains Quarters to meet up with Keith, Laura, Kenny and Danny.  We also met one of their friends, John.  We had a good time, played some ship, captain, crew and had a few cocktails and burgers.

This morning we had coffee outside and visited with friends at the campground.  We headed out to get some much needed groceries and an oil change for Red.  There are some storms in the area, so we hung around the cow and I started to research new phone and internet options.  Ours worked well for a long time, but now with new technology won’t work with John’s new laptop.

We got to bed late and we got up early, but that’s ok.  We had coffee outside and visited with people.  Rich took the day off work.  It’s Steve’s birthday today so he stayed up here.  Rich, Sandy, Steve, John and I headed out around 11am to the port to do a boating day.  First we headed out and to Fast Freddie’s for lunch.  Of course we had to have a couple boat drinks.  It’s a beautiful day and warm, so we continued on to Dunn’s Lake for some swimming off the boat.  Steve was meeting family for dinner, so we dropped him off at the campground and then the four of us did the loop.  We were going right past El Puerto Mexican Restaurant and stopped for Margaritas.  We ended up getting dinner too.  We were all done.  We boated on back to the port, docked the boat, got to our campground, just in time for sunset.  We took the golf cart to the point and after the sunset we all grounded ourselves.  We had a really nice day.

We were up and on the road by 6am.  It’s 600 miles to Chicago and we thought about traveling about 350 miles today.  We were making great time, so we just traveled all the way there.  We took our time leveling and setting up since we will be here for around 6 weeks.  Lots of friends were still here so we ended up having cocktails by Mark and Heidi’s then moved down to Sam and Jackie’s.  We ordered some pizzas and had a great evening.  When everyone was winding down, Rich and Sandy took us on a golf cart ride out to the point.

We had some strong storms move in overnight and they are hanging around for a while this morning.  Today is our pre-departure day.  We gassed Red up, got some groceries, did laundry and packed up the cow.

We have a 10am tee off time for golfing at Detroit Lakes Country Club Lakeview Course.  There is a tournament going out at 11am so we don’t have any golfers behind us.  We had a nice round and were done early so we stopped at Bleachers Bar overlooking Detroit Lake for a cold one.  We met some people there that were originally from Des Plaines, IL.  Next we headed to Lakeside Bar and Grill for nachos.  They were the largest order of nachos we have ever seen.  We took some home for later. 

Beautiful morning.  We enjoyed our coffee outside then took a walk around our campground.  They are on a small lake so we checked that out.  We need some quality beach time and there is a nice one about 2 miles away.  We brought our music and lunch and headed out.  Detroit Lakes reminds us a lot about the chain o lakes in Antioch.  Lot’s of boating, beach, beach bars, and restaurants.  After our beach time, we made a few stops and headed back to the cow to regroup.
We got dressed in our tropical attire and headed to the Holiday Inn Beach Bar to meet up with Dave and Barb Herzog.  We met them down in the Florida Keys.  Dave was the Steel Drum player for Howard Livingston and Mile Marker 24 Band.  Dave and Barb moved back to Detroit Lakes and Dave has a band here called Island Time.  Sometimes he’s solo on the Steel Drums and sometimes he has a guitar player with him.  Today he was solo.  Barb came by and we had a great time catching up, listening to tropical tunes on the pans and having pizza and boat drinks.  They are going to be back in the keys over the winter so we will for sure see them there.
20   We were up and on the road by 530am.  The wind is just starting to blow and it’s supposed to be windy so we want to get ahead of the wind.  We are heading to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota today about 380 miles.  We made great time and we did stay ahead of the wind.  We got all set up at Country Campground.  We took a drive to explore the area and stopped at the Holiday Inn for a cocktail.  Our friend Dave Herzog plays the steel drums and tomorrow he’ll be at the HI so we needed to scope it out.  We stopped for some much needed groceries then back to the cow.

Today is our pre-departure day and it’s hot about 103 degrees.  We got all packed up then headed to the visitor’s center to go through the museum.  We stopped and picked up some supplies and then lounged around the cow.  Some storms moved through in the afternoon, but we still headed out for one last game drive in the park.  We’re glad we did.  It was still drizzling and lighting was still around us, but it made our drive even more beautiful.  Of course we saw prairie dogs.  They are so cute and comical.  On our way we saw a mama deer with 2 little baby fawns.  We stopped at the Coal Vein Nature Trail.  There was a buffalo there and for a long time he didn’t care that we were there.  Then he decided we were on his turf and he started grunting and moving toward us.  Only one thing to do.  Give him space and move.  Because of the rain, there was a beautiful double rainbow.  We past a mule deer and then more white tailed deer.  We stopped at Buck Hill which is one of the highest points in the park and you have a awesome view from up there.  With the storms in the area and the sun soon setting the sky has some great formations.  We continued on the loop drive and saw a herd of wild horses and then a couple more buffalo then a huge herd of buffalo up on the ridge.  In front of us there looked like something big in the road.  Yes, a buffalo decided to relax in the road.  You just better go around.  He did tell us thanks for visiting Theodore Roosevelt Natl Park.
Animal List:  Prairie Dogs, herds of Buffalo, Wild Horses, white tailed deer and babies, mule deer.
18   This morning I got our pictures and website updated.  I was way behind.  You know, just not enough time.  We headed to the Petrified Forest section of Theodore Roosevelt Natl Park.  We did the 2 mile hike in to where the Petrified Forest is.  The area was just loaded with petrified wood, logs, and tree trunks.  This area is very remote and not many people come to this section of the park.  On our hike back, you could see mountains in the distance and we knew that was Montana.  We got back and regrouped then walked in to Medora.  We stopped for ice cream then went to a play about Theodore Roosevelt, “Bully”.  The play is 45 minutes with just one actor as Teddy Roosevelt.  He basically tells the life story of Teddy Roosevelt in play format.  We really enjoyed it and glad we went.  We stopped for a cocktail then to Boots Bar and Grill for dinner.17   Today we are still visiting the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt Natl Park, but we are heading to a different area.  We hopped on the highway and drove to the Painted Canyon visitor’s center.  After reading about the area, we took the Painted Canyon 1 mile loop hike.  Now John is ready for a really long hike today.  He headed out on the Painted Canyon Trail which leads into the Paddock Creek Trail.  He had a 6 mile hike ahead of him and I had to drive about 35 miles to meet up with him on the loop road.  John hates creek crossings and had to do a couple of them on this hike.  We met at the rendezvous point and he was hot, wet and muddy.  He did about 8 miles total today. 
Animal List:  Prairie Dogs, Buffalo, Wild Horses.

16   Back to TRNP today.  We took the loop road and headed to the Ridgeline Trail.  This is a mile loop with some elevation.  We climbed up to the ridge and the scenery was beautiful.  We continued on the loop road and John saw a wisp of a tail, so we stopped.  We hiked in to where he saw the tail; we found a herd of 9 wild horses including 3 babies.  They really didn’t care that we were there.  We were able to get pretty close, we got some pictures and watched them for a while, and then let them be.  Very Cool!  So John is doing another hike, I dropped him at the Talkington trailhead and he is hiking to the Jones Creek trail parking area where I will pick him up.  I found an overlook with a nice breeze, beautiful scenery and saw a herd of buffalo and multiple wild horses.  John got his 5 miles in and his junior ranger status for being in the right place. 
Animal List:  Prairie Dogs, Buffalo, Wild Horses.
15   This morning we were out by 10am heading to Theodore Roosevelt Natl Park (TRNP).  We headed to the Wind Canyon Trail.  This is about a mile long and overlooks some beautiful scenery.  John is ready for a hike so I dropped him off at the Jones Creek Trailhead.  While he made his way the 5 miles on Jones Creek to the Roundup Trail, I headed to the prairie dog town.  I enjoyed a nice breeze and time with my prairie dog friends while I did some reading.  I was at the designated meeting place at the right time; however John made a change in route and didn’t end up where he was supposed to.  For this he lost his intermediate hiker badge and was demoted.  Luckily, we had walkie talkies and I was able to finally find him.  After regrouping, we walked into town for a couple cocktails and pizza dinner.
Animal List:  Pronghorn Antelope, White Tailed Deer, Prairie Dogs.

14   On the Road Again”.  This morning we were on the road by 7am.  The sun rises really early here so we got up and out.  We had about 230 miles up to Medora North Dakota and Red Trail Campground.  On our way to Medora, we saw pronghorn antelope, deer and a herd of wild horses along the road.  We also saw multiple hawks and a pair of owls flew right in front of us.  We got to our campground and were all set up by noon.  So we regrouped and headed to the Medora visitors center and then to Theodore Roosevelt National Park visitors center.  We went on a ranger guided tour of the Maltese Cross Cabin.  This was the main house on Teddy Roosevelt’s first ranch and where he would stay at when hunting.  Then we watched a short movie on the park and area.  After talking to some rangers about the hiking trails in the park, we headed on into the park.  We stopped at the Medora Overlook and then the Sky Vista Overlook and did some short hikes along both of those.  Along the road we saw a huge bull buffalo.  We went past a few prairie dog towns and decided we were done for the day.  After getting back and having dinner, we took a nice walk around our campground.
Animal List:  Pronghorn Antelope, White Tailed Deer, Owls, Hawks, Wild Horses, Prairie Dogs, Buffalo, Western Tangier Bird.

13   Today is our pre-departure day.  So we had to get all packed up.  After we got everything done, we went across the street to Deadwood Gulch for a little more video poker and some blackjack.  We had an early evening since we are heading out tomorrow.

Today we had a Deadwood Casino Day.  We walked the Mickleson Trail and Main Street.  We played a lot of video poker, some blazing sevens and blackjack.  We had dinner at Tin Lizzie. 

John is almost out of salsa so he’s panicking.  He bought more supplies at the grocery store yesterday and this morning he’s in the kitchen making up a new batch.  Our friends, Denny and Lisa drove up from Rapid City and the four of us headed into Deadwood for some gambling and shopping for Lisa.  We had a good time, had lunch at the Tin Lizzie and took the trolley back to the campground. 

We headed out to the Eagle Cliff Trails.  There are over 27miles of trails.  John and I did a nice 4 mile hike along the Bratwurst and the Loop Trails.  Then he headed out on the Sunny Meadow to the Hidden Basin and then to Bratwurst to Lily Park.  This hike was about 6 miles.  I picked him up at a different trailhead.  So I ended up with about 4 miles and John about 10 miles.  When we got back we had dinner and regrouped and then went across the street to the Deadwood Gulch Casino.  We played some video poker and some 2.00 blackjack. 
 9   Nice sunny morning.  We updated our pics then walked into Deadwood.  We walked up and down Main Street and did the casino thing but got interrupted by a gunfight in the center of town.  We walked back along the Mickleson Trail and grounded ourselves tonight.

8   The other day we got a replacement bathroom vent for the one that got damaged in the hail storm.  John got that replaced then we headed out.  Today we are exploring the surrounding area.  First we headed through Lead.  Nice little town, then continued on to Spearfish Canyon.  We stopped at a little roadside park with a small lake that has Spearfish Creek running through it.  It was a beautiful area.  The river and lake was just loaded with trout.  Hundreds of them.  After a short hike along the river bank we continued on.  Next in Savoy we stopped at Roughlock Falls Nature area and took a short hike around the area and to view the falls.  Then we stopped at Spearfish Canyon Falls and took the 1.5 mile hike down to the falls.  Along the way we had a small snake cross our path.  These were really nice falls.  A blackjack dealer told us about them.  Were glad she did.  There really wasn’t any signage for the falls or the hike.  After our hike we continued driving through Spearfish Canyon.  This is a scenic byway and we can see why.  It’s just beautiful.  We stopped at the north side of Deadwood for a little gambling and dinner.  We played at the First Gold and Cadillac Jacks casinos.  We had a nice prime rib buffet at First Gold and then we were done.  We headed back to the cow.

7   “On the Road Again”.  Today is a travel day, but not too far.  We are heading to Deadwood which is about 80 miles.  We got to Whistler Gulch campground and checked in.  Our original site was way too small so we switched.  Our new site is still small but it will fit the cow and red.  For Deadwood this is a good campground.  The sites are small and no cable with only 1 antenna station, but they have wifi and a pool.  Also they are right along the Mickleson Trail which you can walk the 1.5 miles to downtown.  The trolley also stops right at the campground so you don’t have to drive to town.  After we got set up, we headed out.  First right across the street is a hotel and casino so we stopped there.  We played some video poker and then some blackjack.  They have 2.00 tables.  After a bit we continued on the Mickleson Trail to town.  It’s a pretty little trail right along a running creek.  We investigate some of the casinos and town did some gambling and then walked home back along the trail. 

Today is our pre-departure day.  So that means laundry and packing up.  We don’t have far to go tomorrow.  We have been here at Wheels West for a month.  We really liked this campground.  The view is great.  We see deer almost every morning and evening.  The wifi works great, the bathrooms are clean and Kathie, Andy and Shirley are very nice.  We will definitely stay at this park when we visit this area. 

Today we had a lazy cow day.  John took Red for a bath and I practiced my harmonica.  We got some sun and then some rain.  We did some reading and just had a time-out day.

Happy 4th of July!  After soaking up some rays at the campground, our friends Denny and Lisa came by.  We visited outside and then headed to Custer.  The afternoon rain showers came, but that was ok.  After showing them the city we headed back to the cow and they headed home.  We were going to go up to the fireworks, but the storms came in so we grounded ourselves.

   3   Nice sunny and warm morning.  After coffee and some computer research on vents, we headed to the hardware store and stopped to pick up a couple items.  When we got back, John worked on repairing the hole in the AC and vent.  We have to wait to replace the bathroom roof vent until we get near a RV center.  After we finished our projects, we enjoyed the warm sunshine and soaked up some rays and did some reading.

We headed over to Wind Cave Natl Park for a 4 mile hike on the Wind Cave Canyon Trail.  We got home and the storm clouds were forming.  We finished grilling our chicken and then the storms came.  Thunder, lighting, rain and then hail.  Pea sized to marble to ping pong ball size.  Then the wind came.  We were lucky to be in our cow.  Some people in our park were in tents.  Overall we survived fine.  We did have a hole in one vent and the AC frame.
1   We have a few rain showers moving through Custer today.  We hung around the cow for most of the day and then headed into Custer.  We went to the Dark Horse for happy hour then over to the VFW.  The VFW has a steak dinner tonight and live bluegrass music.