2017-07-27 South Dakota: Wall and the Badlands

Exiting the East side of the Black Hills, we headed for a private campground in Wall, and pulled in after closing. Nice clean Showers, and just a block from downtown Wall.

Wall, South Dakota Started as drug store, and when tourists started visiting because of its convenient location between the black hills and the Badlands, the owners started buying up adjacent stores in the somewhat vacant town. It became a bigger and bigger tourist trap, and today shops spread up and down both sides of the street filled with all sorts of “gotta haves”.

We took the drive through the Badlands in South Dakota.

Yet another area that made you think you could have been on another planet..

And yet another area that kept making me think about how I would NOT want to be out here with out the security of my vehicle, food, and water..

In the parking lot on the way out of the park, we met yet another Travato owner.

Then we made the long trek across South Dakota (not worthy of pictures)

I napped towards the end of the day, while Jennifer drove and Aly co-piloted. When I awoke, we were parking to go “out to dinner”.

In this case, out to dinner really was “out” side.

A restaurant so classy, they even had their own pig.

Little did I know, the pig roams around the restaurant while your eating.. (along with 100+ pound rottweiler dog).  Not only that, but turns out the Gyros I ordered were the pigs favorite, so all through dinner he was rubbing up against my legs. Luckily, we sat at a high table… (well OK, a high wooden wire spool).

From there we headed on to Sioux Falls. We had tried several times, unsuccessfully, to find a stable to take Aly horseback riding, and she was pouting about it, and wanting to head straight home, so we figured we’d try out a kid friendly campground..

Yikes… though she had a good time (and they did have nice clean showers and facilities), the place was mobbed (with KIDS of all things). We swam in the pool, she met some friends and rode bikes around the “campground”. Appeared to me to be more of a “parking lot with trees”, but it was a fun experience just the same.

In the morning we headed South to Kansas City, and stopped at Jennifers Uncle Kenneths. As the scenery once became green and lush, it felt good to get back in the midwest. We ended the trip as we had begun, with some good fresh garden food, and family hospitality.

I Love you honey.

2017-07-23 Banff to Jasper, West side of Canadian Rockies BC

We had dinner in Banff, which is kind of a crowded hoity toity town with a lot of designer outdoor gear and clothing stores and expensive trendy bars and restaurants. It might be a fun place to explore, but not at this particular time of year – just too crowded for our liking. Jennifer was told by several friends that Lake Louise was a place not to be missed, but the locals advised against it, saying it would be overcrowded, and that we should try Morraine Lake instead. Sure enough, the little town of Lake Louise was a madhouse, there was no parking available at the lake, and we had to take a “shuttle” (school bus) up from town just to view the Lake. Though it was beautiful and remarkable, the mass of tourists (6 deep in places) standing along the shoreline in front of the regal hotel kind of destroyed the moment.

I guess my tolerance and patience for huge amounts of tourists diminishes the further I am in the “wilderness”.  The volunteers traffic patrol wouldn’t even let cars drive the road to Moraine Lake, so that was out.

The road through the “icefields” between Banff and Jasper is a different story though. Some of the most awesome scenery seen on the trip! It seemed to us there was lake after lake as spectacular as Lake Louise – but without the close and convenient proximity to Banff.

The icefields themselves were a bit of a sad disappointment to me.  What used to be “icefields” are now vast stretches of gravely bottomlands that can’t seem to decide whether they are a field, a creek, a river, a glacier, or a gravel wash.

We walked up a long trail to actually get to a glacier that was in sight of the road.. on the way up there were concrete pylons every few hundred feet marking where the glacier USED to reach in 1918, 1935, 1950, 1983, etc all the way up to today (the trail was more than a mile long). The glaciers have receded, disappeared and shrunk, to something like 5 or 10% of what they were a hundred years ago. One can’t help to wonder where the water resources will come from when this constant steady supply finally stops altogether.

The lakes (and there are many) below the Glaciers and snow covered peaks were fabulous.

Jasper would be the furthest North we would voyage on this trip. A cool little tourist town, and we managed to pick up our share of tourist tokens; t-shirts, and stickers for the Van.

Had a great dinner on the rooftop of Earls Kitchen and Bar.

On the way back down South, we stopped and walked a couple of the trails that looked interesting from the day before. I think it’s pretty safe to say, ANY trail in this area would be worth the hike. We stayed at “Honeymoon Campground” South of Jasper. While there, we met a man from Germany who just finished a 4 day back country hike in the Canadian Rockies with his new wife.. There trip ended there at “Honeymoon Campground”.

Not wanting to follow the same road all the way back South to the states, we veered out of the Park West a bit, and came down through the Kootenay National Forest. It was every bit as beautiful, and is a place we would both like to explore further someday.

Aly went for a dip (about a 2 second long one) in the glacial waters, and decided this is where Gatorade came up with the name “Glacial Freeze”..

We made our way back into the United States and got to Whitefish Montana, where we took a laundry break at a place that had a laundromat, a bowling alley, a casino, and a bar and restaurant all under one roof… Ingenious!
That most excellent technique and form produced a strike…

We had loved the Hungry Horse area so much, we overnighted there again, hoping to do some horse back riding in the morning at Glacier. No such luck; all booked.

But we did get to cut through the park and experience the place in the morning.

Thought we’d take a “scenic route” through Eastern Montana.. That was not such a good idea…

Lots of this through Montana to South Dakota… But we made it close to South Dakota by the end of the day, and found a great little State Park on a lake getting closer to the Black Hills.

2017-07-20 Holland Lake, Hungry Horse Reservoir & Glacier National Park

Between Yellowstone and Glacier, we saw a little smoke from the wildfires – but this is about as close as we ever got…

We stopped at Holland Lake to Camp between Yellowstone and Glacier.. Found a nice place to swim, and met two opera singers from Idaho… (how often does one get to say that?)

Chef Jennifer prepared a fine Italian meal, and Steve supplied some sausage and the authentic table cloth..

 

 

 

 

 

In the morning we hiked up to great waterfall.

As we continued North, we stopped for Pizza night and then ended up at Hungry Horse Reservoir, where we found a most excellent campsite (after about 10 miles of washboard dirt road)

I got started on a painting of this scene (which is also right where we camped)

And in the morning, we headed into Glacier National Park.

Glacier is a pretty phenomenal place, and that is evident just a couple miles into the park..

The Going to the Sun Road is an experience everyone should have – we were lucky enough to have two drivers; so one could view, and the other could drive and switch alternatively. If one was traveling alone, I would definitely suggest the Red Bus tours to see the sights, and then Driving through also just for the fun of the drive.

 

 

 

2017-07-14 Capitol Reef, Escalante, Petrified Forest

The scenery started to improve in Capitol Reef

And we found a nice little campground at Escalante Petrified Forest

We camped near the lake – Jennifer and Aly got try out some standing paddle boards while I was showering, and we hiked a little in the morning..

Saturday, the 15th, we headed through Bryce, and North on 89 to Panguitch – (Where we had a chubby).  Don’t go through Panguitch without getting a Chubby!

We continued on North on 89 up to Manti, where we took off East on Forest Road 45 to find the Manti Community Campground (FS), which was OK,but they seemed to be having some bear trouble, and we had seen some cool sites on the way, so we ventured on back down the dirt road to a nice private little spot where Aly went swimming again.. The awesome scenery is something to see, but the hanging out at the private little “undiscovered ” campsites always seems to be the highlights for me.

Happy Campers; after a gourmet meal of Hot Dogs on the fire.