Monday, May 20, 2013

Black Hills- South Dakota 2013

This was a driving day. I did not pay attention to the calendar and did not realize that this week is Memorial Day Weekend. My plan to take my time for going to Grand Rapids does not work. From Friday to Sunday I will not be able to get a site in any RV Park.
Now I have to push the pedal and get near Rapid City in a hurry. I drove 385 miles today. This is a hundred miles more than I like to drive in a day.
I left Eureka at 5:30 AM and arrived in Fernley, Nevada at 3:00 PM. Highway 299 from Arcata to Redding is a small winding road. I lost time at two road construction sites. At one area they were resurfacing the highway and at the other place they were straightening out the dangerous curves. This is a big project and a lot of soil has to be removed.
Highway 44 after Redding was a scenic drive. I had to climb over two 6,000 foot passes. The snow on top of the high peaks was a beautiful sight.
Desert Rose RV Park is a Passport America associated park and I have full hook-ups. I only plugged in for electricity and cable for television. WI-FI I get in the motorhome here.

I left Fernley at 5:30 AM. When I came near Lovelock I saw a big cloud of dust in the median between the Interstate Highway. As soon as I was near the area I saw an 18 wheeler in the ditch on the westbound side of the road. The truck must have been a few minutes ahead of me, crossed the median and the two lanes, and went off the road. There were already several trucks and cars stopped to help. I kept on going and an ambulance and highway police car came, with sirens and flashing lights, from Lovelock. I suppose the driver of the truck fell asleep.
I stopped in Elko at Walmart. They allow overnight parking for motorhomes. 263 miles was enough for me today. After some rest I went in the store, bought some groceries, and then walked to McDonalds and did my computer work.

Today I made it to Evanston, Wyoming. It was all driving on Interstate 80. The Coalville Summit, at about 7,000 feet, was the highest I had to climb today. The scenery past Salt Lake City was breathtaking.
I stopped at the outlook for the Bonneville Speedway. A couple in a German motorhome, with French license plates, arrived at the same time. I told the man that he is pretty far away from home. I mentioned to him that I came from Germany 56 years ago. He spoke back in German and told me that I must have forgotten how to speak German. I proved to him that I did not forget the language. I told him that I thought he came from France. He is Italian, worked in Germany, and now lives in France. His partner or wife spoke only French. A lot of people from Europe bring their motorhomes to the US.

West of Evanston I took a rest at a reservoir.

This morning I crossed another mountain range. As soon as I came to the east side I noticed the beautiful snow covered landscape behind me. The sun had no effect yet and melted all of the snow.

At the Rest Area I noticed this sign. I would have never imagined that any animal could digest sage. There is plenty of sage brush and antelopes in Wyoming.

There was also this sign. President Eisenhower was instrumental to get the Interstate Highway System built. The sign mentions that it was his dream since 1919 when he was coming with an Army convoy across the US.
It took the convoy 62 days. The sign does not mention that Eisenhower’s troops actually drove on a super highway in 1945.

Not far from Casper is the Alcova Reservoir. The dam was built during the depression and the reservoir changed the surroundings. Dry desert became fertile farmland.

The North Platte River is a good sized river and highway 220 follows it. It was wonderful drive. I treated myself with a site at the Fort Casper Campground in Casper. It is a full hook-up RV Park.

I tried to sleep longer this morning, but I could not break my routine. At 8:00 AM I went to the Fort Caspar Museum.

The museum is named after Lt. Caspar Collins, who died in a skirmish with Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe Indians.
While I was in the museum one of the rangers asked me whether I would like to come with him when he opens the doors of the buildings in the fort. I got a personal tour, and was able to go in the buildings.
Visitors have to stay behind glass.

The buildings are barracks for the soldiers, the store, blacksmith shop, hospital and officers quarters.

In Casper the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Pony Express Trail followed the North Plate River. All the trails met in Casper.The wagons, people on horses and walking had to cross the river in Casper. There were quite a few drowning. The Mormons build a ferry. Sometimes it took a week to get across because the line of wagons was so long. On the ferry was only room for one wagon.

Later a toll bridge was built. The river was wide and wild at the time, and the bridge was very long. Since the river has been damned at several places it is very narrow and not very deep.

When I was done with the museum and fort I asked the lady at the entrance what else I could do. She recommended the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. The center is part of the Bureau of Land Management.

From the building one has a good view of Casper.

All four trails have their own displays. The pony express did not last very long. The telegraph was faster and cheaper.

At the entrance hall is a large display of emigrants, their wagons, and animals. Above the exhibit is a giant circular screen where a film is shown.

This morning I moved the motorhome to Walmart. Then I decided to go down town. The city map did not tell me where it is. An elderly man, with his shopping bag, came along. I thought he was going to his car. I asked him where down town was. He looked at my map and gave me directions. When I got in my car he asked me whether I could give him a ride; he had missed his bus. I invited him in the car and asked him where to drop him off. He told me down town.
It took us only six minutes to go to the old part of Casper. I drove up and down several streets. Most of the structures are large office buildings, built in the 1920ties during the oil boom. Casper was the Wyoming oil boom town. All major oil companies were here. Before oil there was ranching which also brought wealth to the city.
When I came back to the motorhome I set up the TV and to my surprise there was a soccer game on. It was the European Championships from Wembley Stadium in London. The two teams were Dortmund and Bayern Muenchen, two German teams. Normally I do not watch sports, but there was nothing else to do. The Bavarian team won. I did not waste any time though. I cooked a pot of spaghetti and made a meat sauce with one pound of ground beef.
Part of it I ate and there are now two more meals in the refrigerator.
I also walked to the telephone store in the shopping mall across the street. This is not the first store I visited. My cell phone is no good in many areas. Verizon would be a good choice, but the company is not ideal for making international calls.

I left Casper at 7:00 AM and arrived at the Elks Lodge in Lusk at 9:00 AM. There was very little traffic on I-25 and highway 18/20. Tomorrow most people will be homebound from the long weekend.
Cattle ranching is all what the land in this area is good for. I stopped and watched riders rounding up cattle. It was not easy. Even the little ones went their own way.

Lusk is a small town. There is not much to do. The stage coach museum was closed today.

At the Fairgrounds was a circus. All morning it looked like it would rain any minute. I felt sorry for the circus because they had not put up their tent. By 1:00 PM the clouds had disappeared and the afternoon was just perfect.
I do not get any signal for my cell phone and television. I the evening I watched “Emma” a film based on Jane Austen’s book.


Barbara and Ron said...

Wow! that's about 300 miles more than we like to drive in a day.

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.