So we get to the Grand Tetons National Park area and of course we brought crappy weather with us, for mid June anyways. We actually got snowed on during our stay here! Our first views of the mountains were obscured by the heavy clouds and overcast. But it did eventually clear up so that we could see the mountains better. Jeanne got her wild critter fix, we had a Grizzly walk directly in front of the Jeep on the main road at Jackson Lake Junction. At Mormon Row, we saw a family of baby foxes living or exploring in one of the buildings. A moose also paid regular visits to us at the campground we stayed at, Gros Ventre Campground (pronounced “Grow Von” we found out after we had been shredding it to pieces). The campground also had colonies of what the local campground host called Whistle Pigs. They were like smaller versions of prairie dogs and they whistled to each other similar to prairie dogs. These drove our Chihuahua/Terrier mix crazy. This particular campground has 350 individual sites, a few with electric, most just a site with table and fire ring. They do have a dump station and fresh water to fill your tank with. We boondocked here for 7 days with no issues, running the generator a couple hours in the AM and another couple hours in the PM. Sure is nice with an onboard 10K generator… It helped to have the yearly access pass (1/2 off) for the National Parks, it cost us all of about $11 a night to stay here. The electric siteswere a bit high at I think it was $36.50 a night. The Grand Tetons was not as much driving as we had in Yellowstone, but there was some. Some of the old settlement buildings at Mormon Row were cool to see with the Tetons as a backdrop. We are not much for early early rising, the weather was not very cooperative, so we never made it to the Signal Hill overlook for a sunrise, they are supposed to be quite awesome. But we did make it to the Snake River Overlook for a sunset. A bit cloudy, but still scenic. One of our neighbors from our Yellowstone stay suggested we hit the Bar J Cowboy Cookout in Jackson, so we did. They cook up an authentic cowboy-out-on-the-range meal, then do a musical entertainment show. Very nice.
Our initial view of the Grand Tetons, great weather and all…
Quite an improvement on the view, toward the end of our stay anyways.
A shot across the lake.
Nighttime falls on the Grand Tetons, as seen across the Snake River.
A different angle on the Tetonic sunset.
Some of the old buildings on Mormon Row.
Oops, I think we intruded on someone who needed to use the facilities, “any port in the storm”, you know?
Nighttime from Mormon Row.
Bullwinkle strolled through the campground.
Me thinks this is a baby what they call Whistle Pig.
And Yogi, the Grizzly bear, would make a great traffic cop, he can stop traffic on a dime!
Next stop was Lander Wyoming and the Lander Mountain View Campground and Cafe. Wow, talk about Sticksville! A very nice older couple, the Maleks, operate this place, it used to be a KOA way back when, the building burnt down and was re-built, but the whole tiny campground area is in need of a little help. And the cafe is the owner, I think her name was Lu Ann Malek basically cooking out of her kitchen in the main building which is also the slash office slash dining area slash living quarters, you get the picture. Hubby, Joe Malek, is currently running for his State Senate District seat. Good Luck, Joe. While we were here, somehow we picked up an infestation of rather large and slow moths. We spent a couple of nights sucking up hundreds of the buggers into our vacuum until we finally got rid of them. After a couple of days here it was on to Fort Casper Campground, Casper, Wyoming.
Here it is, the world famous Mountain View Campground and Cafe. This is the cafe…
Our home, at Mountain View Campground in Lander. Luxurious, ain’t it?!
We stayed with the same crappy weather theme in Casper. The winds kicked up something awful, we actually pulled our slides in one night, I thought the wind was going to rip off our slide toppers. And the rain dumped BUCKETS on us. It rained so hard the sirens went off in the night, warning of impending flash flooding. Oh boy, what excitement! Well, we did not float away… We found a veterinarian who could squeeze us in at the last minute, Woody was due for shots, so we got that taken care of. When we got ready to pull up stakes, our steps to the bus went goofy on us and I could not get them to operate properly. I ended up getting them in the travel position, then disconnected the power to them and added them to my growing “laundry list” of fixes needed at Tiffin for when we get there. Luckily still, none of them are Earth shattering imperative to get done. Yet.
Into South Dakota, our “home” state. We opted to stay at the Elk Mountain Campground in the Wind Cave National Park outside of Hot Springs, SD. The campground is bare bones, community water spigots but otherwise dry camping sites, with nearby restrooms, no showers. With the Access Pass for the Nat’l Parks, it was all of $9 per night for staying here. The sites were nice, level and the grasses were kept mowed and neat. We checked out the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, an active archaeological dig for Mammoth fossils, very cool. A trip up the Needles Hwy found some interesting rock formations, particularly one appropriately named “Eye of the Needle”. We made the loop around Mt. Rushmore and found that the 3 big, low clearance tunnels blasted through the rocks were actually engineered to be done in that manner so that when you approach/look through the tunnel, you can see the President’s faces framed at the end. Wow.
The “Eye of the Needle”
Mammoth Site is an actual on-going archaeological dig.
“Oh look, another Tatanka!”
Suck in your gut while driving through this tunnel, think “skinny”!
Mammoth parts and pieces.
Off to Snake Creek State Recreation Area near Platte, SD. This was a very nice state park area on the Missouri River, an area called Lake Francis Case. Like most SD state parks, Snake Creek had electric only sites. The grounds were kept neat, lots of green grass, trees, and shrubs. They also had a nice groomed beach area. We only stayed a couple of nights here, but in the short time there, our neighbors thought they had celebrities in their midst, I guess they never saw a Phaeton motorhome before. Jeanne is still giggling about that one, she wanted to give out autographs…
A shot across Lake Francis Case from the campground
The Princess gets thirsty on a walk
Home at Snake Creek Campground. Autographs available upon request…
Moving on, we parked at Hills RV Park in Plankinton, SD for the next couple of nights. It was a small place but with full hookups for doing laundry and with a Passport America discount. Check in was self-service, the owners lived in a house on site but never made contact with us. Jeanne heard there was a tornado that ripped thru this area a few weeks ago, in Wessington Springs, so we had to do a road trip there. The damage was not extensive, but some of the local folk I’m sure would beg to differ. A few buildings, a few cars, a few signs, but I don’t think there were any fatalities.
Big Sioux State Recreation Area was next on our dance card. This was a state park in Brandon, just outside of Sioux Falls along the Big Sioux river. This was electric only and the whole area felt like a mosquito breeding ground. We were PRISONERS(!) in the bus, afraid to go outside and ring the dinner bell for the mosquito smorgasbord to begin! It’s a shame, and HAS to be a hilarious sight, to see grown humans taking the dogs out for a walk, wearing long sleeved hoodies in 95 degree heat! But we did. We got a chance to actually pick up our mail in person at this stop, since Alternative Resources is here in Sioux Falls. Mosquitos were not bad in town, so we got a chance to take the Princess (Madison) to the groomers at PetSmart, took Woody for a walk around the actual Sioux Falls, and stopped by Billion Jeep Dealership where they were able to get me in for an appointment in a couple of days, bless their souls. The Jeep has been making a high pitched cricket type noise as we drive on down the road and it is similar to listening to fingernails on the chalkboard, been driving me NUTS! We had to escape the mosquitos, so we left for the Tower Campground in town for the one night to get us to the Jeep appointment. Tower is a fair sized park, we stayed here 2 years ago while establishing our residency here, but it is in the flight path of military jets that come and go at all hours. Jeep got our problem solved (quick adjustment to the passenger side manifold flap or something-or-other) and off we went.
Sioux Falls, SD
Sioux Falls, scene 2
We made our first foray into the state of Minnesota, “land of a thousand lakes”, and, as we quickly found out, “land of a bazillion mosquitos because of a land of a thousand lakes”!!!!!! We stopped at a podunk campground, Shady Acres Campground (Passport America), in Garden City, MN. This campground is the actual county fairgrounds (very small county) and the sites are all on the lawn area. I HATE MOSQUITOS! Give me rattlesnakes, copperheads, spiders, bears, wolves, mountain lions, ANYTHING but mosquitos! I look like a connect the dots puzzle…We snuck into Mankato last night for dinner and ate at Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant-very good food if you are ever in the area. Awesome Margaritas…
Because of the mosquitos we won’t be able to get out of here fast enough, but flee we shall as we continue eastbound toward Green Bay, Wisconsin.
We made our way to Apple Creek Campground in De Pere outside of Green Bay. There is a big shortage of RV campgrounds around Green Bay, so we settled here. Very quickly I thought we landed in the middle of a Jerry Springer show. Enough said, you get the picture. We took the tour of Lambeau Field, a very interesting and informative venture, learned a lot about the only publicly owned team in the NFL. Unfortunately they were just finishing up on a massive renovation to their Pro Shop and we missed the Grand Opening by a day. All in all, Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood is very nice, lots of brick and brings thoughts of Pac Bell Park to mind.
Field level from the GB players’ tunnel.
In line for opening day, no crowds, only a couple months early…
Mr. Green Bay Packers, Curly Lambeau.
Vince Lombardi standing guard over the stadium.
We also checked out a couple of the local cheese factories and got our fill of curds. You just can’t be in Wisconsin without sampling the cheese! One of the cheese factories were near Algoma, so we trekked over to see Lake Michigan. It is kinda weird to look out on the horizon and see nothing but water but to realize you are only looking at a lake, not an ocean.
After a couple of days it was off to the Chicago area of Illinois. We stayed at a very nice county park, the Paul Wolff Campground in Burnidge Forest Preserve in Kane County, near Elgin. From here we tripped into Chi-Town, against the warnings from the campground host not to drive anywhere near the city because of the so-called congestion. We braved it in the Jeep, drove to Wrigley Field then to the Magnificent Mile and on to Navy Pier. Yes it was congested a wee bit, but it was no different than driving in downtown San Francisco. The problem in Chicago is trying to find anywhere to park, the camp host said most parking garages were going to run about $40 to park. But we did find curbside metered parking near Wrigley. Magnificent Mile was pretty awe inspiring and JAM PACKED with pedestrian traffic.
While in Elgin, we were aimed at Giordano’s Pizza by the camp host. I don’t think I will be able to look at a Round Table pizza ever again! Giordano’s serves a stuffed pizza pie that is out of this world.
Me and Ernie hangin’ at Wrigley.
Tribute to Harry Caray.
Ron Santo out on the Sheffield side of the stadium, Sheffield seats on top of the residences in the backdrop.
In the limited amount of total time spent driving through the state of Illinois, I have now crowned Illinois drivers, truckers in particular, as the absolute worst drivers of all the states we have been in. Cell phones stuck in faces and ears, tailgating is their way of life. At 60 MPH on freeways a couple of times I had truckers race up from behind me to within 3’ of my bumper and stay there, with opportunity but no attempt to pass me. Where are the cops when you need ‘em? The toll road system in and around Chicago is a serious pain in the buttocks too.
Shipshewana, Indiana is where we are now for a few days. Amish/Mennonite country. Wow, they are everywhere, carts and bicycles. We went and ate at one of the Amish restaurants, the Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery. Food was OK, a bit salty, but they serve a lot of food. We walked the main drag, checking out the shops which included many furniture stores with good quality Amish furniture. It’s a whole other world here.
Jeanne overseeing an Amish traffic jam at the local bank…
Time to move on, still headed toward Red Bay Alabama. Not quite sure where our next stop will be…