Badlands…better late then never ;)

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So here I am in the Cedar Pass Campground in the Badlands National Park.  South Dakota could easily power their entire state with the amount and sun and wind they have here. Too bad the people in power love money and oil.

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I went to see Mount Rushmore Monument and Crazy Horse Monument this morning. I think I was more impressed with the Crazy Horse Monument because it is not funded by the government and it’s really something the Native Americans are creating to maintain their place in history. I guess I have more respect for that one, they are using the money they collect to educate Native Americans as well as work on the carving.  In the book I’ve been reading by Zinn, the People’s History of the United States, I’ve been reading the chapter on what we as a government/people did to the native Americans. And yes I knew we weren’t kind, but seeing the numbers and how we broke treaties before the ink was dry was disgusting and very depressing. Mount Rushmore was impressive for the artistry of the carvings, but maybe I’ve seen it so often in pictures that it just doesn’t appear as grand as I thought it would.

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So here I am waiting til tomorrow to go into Badlands National Park, the campground is officially part of the park but we are on the prairies more than inside where the actual park begins.  I’m surrounded by huge greyhound bus RVs…running their stupid generators or whatever they do to keep charged up.  Let’s just say it is loud and ruining the feel 😉  Unfortunately they don’t have to shut them off for another hour and twenty minutes….OMG! Just as I wrote that they turned it off 😉 Bugger! Now I can hear the other ones still running…but at least it isn’t as loud!

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It is supposed to have a thunder storm tonight and I’m contemplating putting a heavier tarp over my tent, but seriously with the wind here it is hard to keep anything tied down. I didn’t unwrap my sleeping bag because how it is only supposed to be like 63 tonight….not worth trying to reroll it and fit it back into it’s tiny bag 😉

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It’s kind of funny on this trip…I’m basically homeless, so my last day at a place is spent searching for wi-fi to figure out where I’m going next 😉 I’ve slept in my car I think 3 nights so far…and I think with Yellowstone being so busy and a first come first serve I’ll probably end up doing it again 😉 It’s kind of surprising to realize I’ve been on the road over a month now. It hasn’t really seemed that long, well except that I really need to find a barber to shave my head! I do miss chatting with everyone, I’m guessing Tech Services is really quiet without me there 😉 Today I found myself talking to my body parts…I was walking to a store when my left toe started hurting…so I asked it what could be bothering it since I haven’t done anything to it…then my right toe started to hurt…so I asked it oh you too??  I guess that is to be expected 😉 Though arguing with my GPS might be going too far 😉  It really likes taking me on state routes while I prefer interstates…so if I’m not paying attention it will revert to the one it wants! Which is what it did to me today on my way here.

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So far there have been animals to be aware of at each park…we’ve had bears, alligators, and here are rattlesnakes and bison 🙂 But I rarely see any animals, though a couple really odd looking yellow breasted birds just flew around my camp a few minutes ago. I tried taking pictures of birds in Rocky Mountains and learned a whole new appreciation for the patience those photographers have. When I was cooking dinner last week in the Rocky Mountains I was thinking to myself…here I’m leaving tomorrow and I haven’t seen hardly any wildlife.  I heard a noise and looked to my right and there was a little deer eating the grass between my tent and my neighbors, he was only like 20 feet away. He didn’t seem to concerned so I just kept cooking.

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Well next day here now…I’m sitting in my tent after exploring all day. First off the storm was a doozy! By a bad decision on my part my tent opening was facing south…which put the larger sides facing east and west. The storm came in hard and heavy from the west…didn’t get much sleep because the tarp kept coming loose on one side and I’d have to go tighten it down so I wouldn’t loose it 🙂 Then because the wind was hitting the side of my tent direct on and I’d forgotten to put the corner stakes out…I kept getting woken up with that side of the tent pressing against me. And this is not a small tent so it was basically collapsing one side of the tent.  So between flapping tarps, side of the tent collapsing and rain, thunder and lightning…I didn’t get much sleep. Around 5am I remembered the corner stakes SMH and got up and put them up on that side of the tent, helped tremendously 🙂 So I came out of the storm unscathed but just tired.

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So when I finally got up, I decided to take a drive around the park…supposedly they have a ‘loop’ where you can see a good portion of the park…just not into the southern section which is run as part of an active Indian reservation, I believe the Lakota. So I did a couple small trails and was impressed with the scenery.  It was like a really big outdoor Carlsbad Caverns. Which is kind of exactly what it is…I had no idea there was huge swaths of water millions of years ago in this area, but that is what caused the starting of this area as well as the high winds which shifted ash from volcanos and sediment from surrounding areas to create this crazy landscape. I read somewhere that they have used this park in some movies to represent alien landscapes and I can really see that. Personally I was more impressed by the sheer magnitude of this park…the grasslands as far as the eye can see were gorgeous. Then these crazy buttes…can’t imagine what first settlers thought when they saw these things.

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So I did climb a “moderate” listed trail at the Saddle Pass Trail, it was a straight up climb basically…took picture of my shoes on it so you guys know I actually climbed up that hill, look for the pictures before and after the pictures of my shoes to see the paths. After that I figured I’d done enough so just spent the rest of the day driving around looking at scenic overlooks and then over into the Sage Creek area where most of the wildlife was. Fell madly in love with the little Prairie Dogs…there must be a million of those little mounds where they dig their holes. And they would climb out of their hole and get on their back feet then chatter away at each other! They were really cute. I could have spent hours out there taking their pictures. The Bison weren’t real game to come near the road so I only got a couple pictures of them closer up…though I did see their huge prints in the mud where they wandered past the road a couple times. Maybe I’ll have better luck with bison at Yellowstone.  Remember more pictures are on my Facebook page…

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Yellowstone

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I found a love I didn’t know I had while at Yellowstone National Park, riding a horse 🙂  I did several 1 and 2 hour rides through the valley where Roosevelt Lodge is…and I learned my duck feet (where ones hips/legs are at an angle so your knees point outwards as well as your feet) are good for something…I sit on a horse very easily.  I loved it.  The first two trips they put me on a breed of horse called a Haflinger, they are short and stout as I told the horses and the wranglers just like me 😉  Then the last trip they put me on a pretty tall horse, which is the horse in this picture…

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His name was Highfalutin, or Flute for short.  The other two I rode was Porky and Jim.  Porky was a blast, anxious to get going…they were all well trained to follow the path and the horse in front of them.  But Porky was in a hurry and the horse in front of us wasn’t going fast enough for Porky so he bit the horse in front and that horse then kicked us 😉  The kick barely tapped my foot so all was well 🙂  Then I rode Jim, he was very relaxed and docile and cute when I would pull the reins to stop him he’d turn his head and look at me as if to question what was I thinking!  Then my last trip was the one on Flute, and boy was it tall compared to the other two!  He had quite an attitude, though he was probably my favorite horse.  Not only did I get to have fun on the ride, he also kicked the horse behind him and jumped out of line to try to attack one of the wrangler’s horses!  Seems he had an issue with that horse.  I definitely would like to take horse riding lessons I think on my journey, too bad it isn’t something one my age could turn into a vocation 🙂

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So Yellowstone was a pretty interesting place, rather more commercialized than I prefer but still a beautiful and HUGE place.  I was camped in Mammoth Campground which is in the North West of the park and barely explored the northern most parts of the park… some of the central but didn’t even get to explore the southern areas.  I would go out exploring in my car and then I’d have to take into consideration it would take almost 3 hours to get back to my camp…it was crazy!  My campsite was full of ground squirrels, they were almost as adorable as the prairie dogs 🙂  I repeat, I would never have given popcorn to a ground squirrel in a National Park…NEVER…

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I also got to see elks, deer, bear and bison.  Unfortunately my camera battery was dead when I saw the baby black bear 😦  The elk was in the campground and I was a little afraid it was going to charge my car as it was staring at me in the road and started shaking her head at me 😉  Luckily it didn’t.  I’d seen bison all over, but people would stop in the road to watch them blocking traffic for everyone else 😦   Wildlife stalking I guess….  Finally on my last day I ran into the experience of the bison walking along the road blocking traffic 🙂  They walked right by my car window…was pretty cool 🙂

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I had no idea that the park was basically created by volcanos underneath it…hence the thermal pools and geysers.  God did they stink!  But the blue of the water in the pools was the most amazing color.

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So now I’m in Utah…was a hell of a ride getting out of Yellowstone because the storm hit and sleet was coming down like crazy…followed me all the way into Idaho!  Here was a neat picture I took while driving 80 miles an hour down highway 15 🙂  Remember I post all the pictures on my Facebook site.  I’m off to Xion or Bryce Canyon National Park next…depending which one I can get a campsite in…they are all booked up so I’m hoping I can get in with the first come/first serve thing…

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Rocky Mountains and back into the snow!

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OK I’ve been on the road a little over a month.  The purpose was to see beautiful scenery, meet up with friends, look for opportunities to protest, and last but not least look for anything that would make this all worthwhile.  I have seen beautiful scenery, met up with friends…no opportunities so far with any activism.  So what about the final one?  No idea yet.  So far I’ve run over a dead deer’s head or feet…no clue which because it was really late, really dark, and he was already dead lying in the middle of the road in New Mexico and I was going 75 miles an hour!  I’ve seen someone’s back tire blow up while they were passing me going over 75 miles per hour, that was kind of scary but they handled it well.  I experienced my first dust devil, it was a tiny bit freaky cuz it was dust so you couldn’t really see but I could sure hear the pebbles hitting my car!  I met some people teaching their child at what is sure to be a church school that god created everything in 7 days…I saw her quiz… ;(  I had a couple younger folks say they liked my Bernie Sanders t-shirt, and someone my age also.  I overheard a 20 something talking about how the dollar is trading better overseas because of Trump.  And I’ve seen lots of white middle class Americans coming to National Parks, dragging their kids with them, walking fast so as to keep themselves in shape…not really sure if they actually looked at the beauty around them.  I’ve seen older white middle class RV’s travelling across the country, I imagine it could be an enjoyable retirement.  Though I doubt there will be many more of those with the middle class shrinkage.  So yah I’ve talked to some people, did a lot of people and nature watching…and since I didn’t have TV at home when I stayed in hotels I watched TV.  And that right there scares me the most about the future of our country.  When I stayed with a friend, his friends invited us to come down and watch the finale of Survivor.  I’ve never watched that show before and I was shocked these really religious folks would love a show that basically glorifies lying and manipulation.  So no the last question has no answer at this time.
So I’m sitting here in the Rocky Mountains National Park, no internet to be found 😉  Big mountains and pine trees are my view as I write this…the mountains even have snow on the tops.  I slipped and slid through melting snow to see Bear Lake and Alberta Falls.
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The idea of step in someone else’s footprints only works on the trail.  I went off trail a little to get a picture of the lake when the foot print I stepped in had melted below and my leg went in and I was standing crotch high in snow.  Luckily a tree was nearby so I could use it for leverage.  Eighth of a mile never seems that bad…until you are walking back and the easy downhill climb suddenly becomes a horrific uphill climb!
Rocky Mountains recently got hit with an invasive species of a mountain beetle that caused them to have to cut down and burn lots of trees…such a shame.  Not that the place still isn’t beautiful, just sad that the trees around look so young…probably happened recently by the size of them.  They just opened the Trail Road because of weather…it was closed all of winter and they just opened it.  They have a picture of the campground from May 23rd showing how the entire campground was covered in snow.  So tomorrow I plan on making at least part if not all of that 48 mile road, supposed to have some great views.  At it’s highest point it is almost 13,000 feet.  It is the longest, highest paved road in the United States.  Please see my Facebook to see the great pictures of the Rocky Mountains.
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The views during the drive were fantastic…as you know if you looked at them over on my Facebook account 😉  The trail I wanted to hike unfortunately was snowed over and I’ve never been on skis in my life 😉  But I did climb this little hill called Rock Cut…snow was up to about the knees…boy was I out of breath at the top!  It was funny seeing all the folks wearing big heavy coats and dressed like we were crossing the Andes or something!  I was wearing a t-shirt and sweats with running shoes.  Only time I got cold was at the top of Rock Cut because that wind was blowing pretty good there and there was a storm on the horizon.
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I’m writing a “rant” blog about things I’ve seen along my journey that drive me nuts 😉  Well more nuts!  I’m still working on it but I’ll try to post it soon.
Next stop is Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

Where have I been…

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So after Pensacola Florida I drove through Alabama and Mississippi then down to New Orleans Louisiana.  That was a total wash out…it rained almost the entire time 😦  So I decided to head up and visit David Daghita who used to work with me at the library.  He was nice enough to let me crash on his cot/couch 😉 in Texarkana, Texas.  Thanks David!  So during that time I decided to take a few hour drive down south to see a town in Texas named Hemphill, that was kind of funny seeing all these buildings with my name on it 😉  Then I hit the road for Guadalupe Mountains on the west side of Texas…it was like a 12 hour drive 😦  Damn Texas is big and boring!  I ended up sleeping in my car because the campgrounds were full.

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From there I went to go see Carlsbad Caverns which was fun but I didn’t realize when I said sure I’ll walk down I was agreeing to walk 800 feet down!  But I saw the whole caverns, unfortunately I took the wrong lens for my camera so the pictures weren’t great 😦

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It was too early in the afternoon to stick around for the nightly bat flight….which is a shame because I’ve heard it is pretty great.  Instead I drove on across New Mexico to White Sands National Monument.  I’ve been there before and loved the feel of the cool sand on my feet so since I got there kind of late I took the sunset stroll across the sands the Park Rangers provide.  It was beautiful as well as interesting.  I learned that the white sand is cool to the touch because it is gypsum and it holds the water from below it.

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After that I figured I’d head over to Las Cruces to get a hotel or something…but the pricing was too much so I figured I’d drive on up to Albuquerque.  So I ended up sleeping in my car again 😉  Had my first border check on the southern border, I don’t think they appreciated me asking “Border Patrol”?” then kind of laughing 😉  The dog sniffed my car and away I went 🙂  Albuquerque was nice, had a fantastic lunch while waiting to check into the hotel.  It was at a place called Claim Jumpers, fantastic! 🙂
I was originally going to go to the Sand Dunes in Colorado, but the campgrounds were full also, so I went on up to Rocky Mountains…boy that was one long drive!  Now let me say comparing a couple of the big cities I drove through….Dallas Texas is insane, those guys drive entitled and majorly aggressive…they will just cut in front of you with no notice!  But then I got to Denver Colorado…first off avoid interstate 25 during the week 😉  But now these drivers are entitled as well…but they must all be stoned there because they will turn on their signal to cut in front of you…then take forever to finally do it!

This was a late blog post, so I’ll be posting two tonight…next one is about my trip to the Rocky Mountains!