Monday, October 10, 2016

Alpen Rose RV Park, Durango, CO

We have traded Moab dust for Durango mud. Yes, we have made the turn, and are headed home.

It rained as we approached the town of Durango, and the road construction and dust from Moab have made a real mess of the coach. Glad I spent the money to have it washed in Spearfish!

Alpen Rose RV Park has been a favorite of ours here in Moab. It is in a very nice setting and has a huge dog park for Bella to run in. Once we set up the campsite we took her over and she managed to find the culverts full of water. She had a ball, but what a mess! This dog loves the water. Can’t keep her out. Revenge was ours, though, as we tool her to the onsite do-it-your-self dog wash. Ten dollars later she was spiffed up again, much to her chagrin.

The Durango-Silverton narrow gauge train came by. We have considered taking it tomorrow, but at $90 each we decided to pass. 
The Silverton train passes just in front of the partk

Not sure what we will do tomorrow, but taking Bella on the river walk is on the list, for sure.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Red Cliffs Inn, Moab, UT

We arrived in Moab a few days before the club rally was to begin so we got caught up on chores and did a little sight seeing and just relaxed in general.
We were met with gorgeous weather on arrival at Portals RV Resort.

A group of us had Sunday brunch at Red Cliffs Inn about twenty miles up the Colorado River. It was a great meal, and the facility is gorgeous. There is a winery adjacent to the inn, so we stopped by for a taste and bought a few bottles for friends.
Red Cliff Inn Reception

If you hope to visit Moab to see the beautiful national parks here this would be the high-end place to stay. Next would be the Marriott, I guess, but although it has nice river views it can not compete with the views and charm of the cabins at Red Cliffs Inn.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Black Hills National Forest, SD

We had several fun off-road rides in the jeep while in Spearfish, must were in the Black Hills National Forest surrounding the towns of Deadwood and Lead. The US Forest Service manages these areas and provides maps and guidance as to which trails area open for specific vehicles. While open, these trails are not necessarily maintained other than by local off-road clubs, and as such can be pretty rough and overgrown. We are familiar with forest trails from Florida, but this area provides steep hills and rocky terrain in addition to paint scratching foliage.

Barbara got a chance to drive some of the trails and, as luck would have it, she was at the wheel as we hit some of the most challenging terrain. She handled it very well, as those who know her would expect.

On our last ride we stopped at the remains of an old mining camp called Carbonate Camp. This was an ill fated attempt at mining in this area and the only remaining evidence of those who took the challenge so many years ago is an overgrown cemetery with nameless markers.
Lunch break overlooking the town of Deadwood.

Carbonate Camp Cemetery.

Carbonate Camp Cemetery grave site.

Carbonate Camp Cemetery.

Trail ride lunch break with the O'Daniels.

Happy Hour at each day's end, and planning the next day's adventure.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Homestake Mine, Lead, SD

We took a day off from off-roading to visit the town of Lead, SD. It is pronounced" Leed", by the way. Lead is the homoe of the Homestake Mine, on of the most productive gold and silver mines in the world. The mine was originally a traditional shaft and drift mine that by the time it was first closed covered about four square miles and reached a depth of nearly eight thousand feet. It became too costly to operate given the cost of gold at the time. There are 370 miles of tunnels referred to as drifts. In the photo below of the pit you can see where the pit intersected several of the tunnels. Click on it to enlarge the picture. The Homestake Mine is the source of the wealth inherited by publisher William Randolf Hearst. His parents developed the mine.

In the 1970s the mine reopened as a surface mine that operated until 2001. In all, forty-one million ounces of gold and nine million ounces of silver were recovered.

The mine is now the site of physics experiments seeking to unlock the mysteries of dark matter. Sanford Labs is developing the site at the 4850' level and plans to exchange atomic particles with the Fermi Lab in the Chicago area hundreds of miles away through the earths crust. The details are over my head, but it sure looks impressive to me.

If you are out this way, visit Lead and the mining museum there.
The now closed open pit of the Homestake Mine.

The town of lead has retained many of its old buildings.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort, SD

Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort has to be one of the finest RV resorts we have been to. It is a wonderful facility and kept spotless. Throughout the campground are bronze sculptures of western wildlife, and there is a huge dog park for the less-wild life to play. Besides RV campsites they offer two clusters of very nice cabins, a large pool, playground and tennis courts that also accommodate pickle ball.
One of two cabin groups

Sculptures of two legged wildlife, too. Pool area in background.

The large playground is probably popular during the summer season.

The park for bigger dogs. There is a similar one for smaller dogs.

Clear skies sunset as seen from our site.

The staff is fantastic and the town of Spearfish is just minutes away, so there is plenty of shopping and dinning to chose from. This area is definitely on our must return list.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Devil's Tower, SD

We arrived in Spearfish, SD early since we had planned an extra day to account for possible weather or mechanical problems and none had slowed us down. We took our extra day to drive over to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. This rock face featured prominently in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind back in the seventies. The drive out was beautiful since the aspen trees are turning a golden yellow and splashes of color dotted the hillsides.
Approach to Devil"s Tower

View from base trail

Although it was a cloudy Wednesday there were many visitors, and the parking lot was nearly full. We elected to hike the trail that winds along the base of the mountain. It is an easy hike of about 1.2 miles and the surface of the trail is paved. The level trail was a blessing because my knee is still a mess from my trip to Acadia National Park with my son Chris.

This mountain holds spiritual significance to some Native Americans and prayer bundles and prayer cloths could be seen throughout the trees along the path. It is also holds a strong attraction to rock climbers, and while we were there several could be seen hundreds of feet about the boulder field at the base of the mountain. Believe it out not, the record for climbing this mountain is sixteen minutes! That was done by a very talented, if not sane, free-climber. I understand that the average climber takes closer to six hours utilizing ropes and other aids.
Prayer bundles

We took a less direct path back to the campground and avoided the interstate. Highway 24 rolls through beautiful hill country and is a well-maintained two-lane highway. We saw some deer, but the highlight was the number of wild turkeys we encountered. In the three or four different meadows we saw at least fifty turkeys. The highway runs through the small community of Hullett, and we stopped in at the Red Rock Cafe for pattie melts and fries. Pretty darned good, so if you find yourself in this area stop in. The beef and wild rice soup was great, too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Al's Oasis, Oacoma, SD

Not as famous as Wall Drug, but similar, is Al’s Oasis in Oacoma, SD. Like Wall Drug, you see signs for Al’s Oasis along I-90 for miles before you arrive. You descend the bluff high above the Missouri River in anticipation of the grandeur of Al’s, the river is gorgeous as you cross and climb the opposite bluff. There it is! Built to look like a western town front, Al’s turns out to be a nice supermarket and shops featuring clothing, gifts and books that focus on South Dakota and Indian life. There is also a restaurant that looks like it can accommodate busloads.

All is within walking distance of the campground that is a part of all this enterprise. We needed some groceries so we made the walk, and got a burger at the restaurant while we were at it. Aside from being very convenient to the river and the activities it provides, this is not a distenation campground. It is a great stop along the rather sparsely populated I-90, however. The essentials of level sites and full hook-ups are here, and the staff is friendly. They offer a nice discount to campers if they purchase fuel across the street. The only downside is the proximity to the interstate, but that is true of most campgrounds accessible for easy overnight stops. We would stop here again. 

View towards river from campsite