Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Fine Art of.......

How to pack 20 pounds of junk into a 5 pound box.

The day came to give back the Camper. We didn't want to, but keeping it would be a Felony and we didn't like the idea of turning into Bonnie & Clyde and living life on the run - so turn it in we did.

But first we had to empty all of the stuff that we packed into the Camper into the Van.

One of the laws of Nature is that the stuff you bring on vacation tends to expand in size. This expansion increases with time. I think the exact formula works out to be:

 EndJunk = OriginalJunk x (time x 1.5)

On the way down, we had our usual space behind the front seats reserved for the Doodle Playzone.

This photo - taken while packing for the return trip shows that the doodle Playzone has now expanded into Doodle Mountain.  Now they can look over my shoulder and be back seat drivers......  great!

Then came time to finesse the last articles in the back section.   Notice the fine technique.

There..  done. 

No wait a minute.  Do I see some space next to the cooler??

OK.  Done Now!

11 Short hours later we were back home dreaming & planning our next adventure.

Next Post....   A recap of the trip.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Closing the Loop & Disco Doodle

Yesterday, Sept 25th, at 2;12 pm we closed the loop on this trip.

What I mean by that is our outbound and inbound paths have now crossed.

From that point we are now backtracking our outbound path.  I've always said however that one needs to travel the roads in life in both directions....  The view is totally different each way.

In a few days, when I get home, I'm going to put together a clickable google map, where you will be able to click on specific points, see a picture of that point, and perhaps a bit of a story related to the point as well.    Isn't technology great!

Today we are going to spend the day here at Land between the Lakes  (Interlaken of sorts - just not as pretty) - we will start organizing our gear, packing up some stuff, and get ready to transfer all of our stuff to the van tomorrow night when we get to our hotel.

Now - a short video of Gracie bopping to the tunes as we head down the road.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oodles of Doodles

Today we traveled 9 hours from our camp in Iowa to tonights camp at Lake Barkley State Resort in Kentucky.  We will now stay here tonight and tomorrow before making the final push to Alabama in preparation of turning in the RV and sadly heading back home.

On the way, our travel plans took us within a few miles of the breeder where I acquired Lucy, our second Labradoodle, so we could not resist a side trip to stop in and say hello, and reacquaint Lucy with her mom.

Since I flew out to pick up Lucy, Kate had never been here so it was a special treat for her.

Our timing was perfect.   They had a litter of pups just last week, and then last night they had a second litter of 11 puppies.....  Yes I said 11!   That is a very large litter for a Mini Australian Labradoodle.

Anyway - here are  few shots of our visit

This is Lucy's Mom - Cimmaron

This is Cimmaron (L) and Lucy (R)

this is a bunch of 6 month old dogs for sale.

Kate wanted to take them all home, especially "Apollo" the dark one with the white stripe on the right.

Kate in the Pen for Playtime

The Breeders - LaNese & Ron Duncan of Quad City Labradoodles really love their dogs and do the most to make sure that they produce a healthy, socialized family pet.

If you are in the market for a great dog you should check them out.

I can honestly say that our Lucy is the best dog that we have ever had.

Thanks Ron & LaNese.  We enjoyed our visit.

We are now camped at Land Between the Lakes for our last 2 nights.

More to come tomorrow.

Palisades Kepler State Park Iowa

After Little House - we moved into road mode.   That is, we now started to make some miles and our stops were primarily planned as just overnight sleeping spots rather than destinations in and of themselves.

That said -  our Friday Sept 24th stop was Palisades Kepler State Park in Iowa.

When one thinks of Iowa, you usually picture endless plains, and fields of corn, but if you get off of the Interstate there is much more to the "CornPatch" as it is referred to by Truckers.

Our night spent as this great state park was short, but the variety of hardwoods, the friendliness of the people, and the beauty of this Location,  just outside of Cedar Rapids on the Cedar River made it a winner in our book and certainly worthy of a return visit when we have more time to walk the numerous hiking trails.

Hot showers,  Electric Hookups, and $16.00 per night - what's not to love?

Our site

The view from our site
Left and right

Good bye Little House

I realized that I did not have any decent photos of the outside of the Ingalls Cabin (yes the actual thing) so in the morning before we left, Kate and I fired up the golf cart ( did we tell you that the lady gave us the keys to the golf cart and told us to go explore the homestead) and off we went in the morning to take a few more shots....

This is the actual Charles Ingalls cabin.   Not quite the same as little house on the prairie, but Hollywood never was one to shy away from "artistic license"

This is the house (on left) with the Livestock Barn on the right

This is the front of the house.

The Kitchen and doors to both bedrooms were beyond the front door and the sitting room was the area to the right.

This is the back of the house.

Maw & Paws bedroom was the window on the right.  The wall between the Parents and the girls was just to the right of the window.

The family area was the window on the left

Friday, September 24, 2010

Is Anyone Out There?

Kate & I are wondering if anyone is reading the blog?

In 3 weeks there have been only two comments posted...

Do you like it?  Do you hate it?  Do you want more pictures of people, dogs, or less of me???

It's a lot of work doing this blog.  Reading it is not free.   You have to put some money in the meter.  And the currency to go in the meter is simply a comment once in a while.

That way we know that you are out there and our work does not fall on deaf ears.

When we were in Europe we were getting many comments each day.    Huh???

Lets hear something from the fans of Team ei' Lean.

The Editor

PS  In case you don't know - you post comments at the bottom of each blog where it currently says "0 Comments"  (maybe soon it will say "1 comment" or even "2 comments"

Click on that and a comment window opens.  You then tell us how much you love our blog and make our day.   Come on people - make my day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Little Motorhouse on the Prairie

Tonight Maw and I are camped on the Charles Ingall homestead.  This the the real homestead where most of the stories from the Little House on the Prairie series took place.

Its been a rainy windy travel day, and when we arrived we were the only ones here.  The lady running the place gave us the keys to a golf cart to tour the homestead and now we are camped here.  Its a windy evening and we have the place to ourselves.  It's really a hoot.

The windmill and pump outside of the Ingall House

Inside the Ingall house

Paw tasting some of Maws Possum Stew.

Kate mending on Maw Ingalls Sewing Machine

Maw & Paws Bedroom

The girls bedroom

Where we are parked for the night

The teacher heads into the old schoolhouse

The teacher lectures on US History

The class dummie raises his hand

Is that a custom paint job?

When we were camping in Grand Teton NP there was this Chevy Avalanche with a real distinctive paint job.  I went over to the man & woman and asked "is that a custom paint job?"

They answered yes, but then also mentioned "until the we hit the deer"  (there was a dent in the front from a tangle with a deer)

A couple of days later in Yellowstone what passes by....?   but that truck again!

Then a couple of days later we were sitting in our campground at Devils Tower talking with our new friends Marcel and Michaela and what drives by but that darn pickup again....

So I run over and ask him again (as a joke) "is that a custom paint job?" and when he says "yes" I then interrupted and said "I bet before you hit the deer"  

So he recognizes me from Grand Teton - we have a laugh - chat for a while and then off he goes.

Finally - we are walking back to our campsite the other afternoon in Custer State Park and we see that pickup parked by some horse stables.  It's backup lights are lit so we realize he is getting ready to leave.

Kate runs over and asks him - "is that a custom paint job?" and as he says yes.    I then yell from across the street:  "yes - before he hit the deer"

We've now bumped into each other at least 4 times over almost 500 miles so that must mean something.

They decided to spend the night in the campsite next to us.  We had a wonderful dinner at the local campground restaurant (yes Custer state park even has restaurants at the campground).

I had a great Bison Meatloaf made from Custer State Park Tatanka.

Just like that we make new friends Bob & Cathy from Cooperstown NY.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rush Hour in Bisonville

In Custer State Park there is a road called the Wildlife Loop.

Here are some of the beasts that we encountered today during our trip around the loop.

A Bison Traffic Jam

Marcel & Michaela - How did you miss them???

So we turned our RV into a herding machine and moved them off the road

No sooner than done - we run into these two Jokers
  (there where a whole bunch more on the side of the road)

Lastly a herd of Pronghorn (or Antelope)

Here is a great shot of one
Notice again how their coat blends into the background.

Well tomorrow - Sadly - we turn our backs on the Mountains for the rest of this trip and head east into the Great Plains once again.

Our remaining schedule is this:

Thursday - Laura Wilder Homestead (Little House on the Prairie)  we might camp there on the open plains as well.  I think time will dictate that we eliminate our stop in the Badlands, but Kate is a real Little House fanatic so it's a small price to pay.

Friday - Drive 8 hrs to Palisades-Kepler State Park in Iowa to spend the night.

Sat - Drive 8 hrs to Lake Barkely State Resort Park in the Land Between the Lakes Area in Kentucky  On the way - maybe we can squeeze in a trip to visit with Lucys Breeder.  I have to email her and see what's up.

Sunday - Chill at Lake Barkley & get our gear organized for transfer to our Honda Van.

Monday - Drive 6 hrs to Oxford Alabama, get the Van, Transfer our Gear and spend the night at the same hotel that we stayed at the night before we picked up the RV.   (Do I smell Barbeque in my future?)

Tuesday - Turn in the RV and drive 10 hrs back to the Beauzone.  (Beaufort)

We are definitely sad for the trip to be ending...  Still some adventure ahead but things are winding down.  Thank God we live in such a great place, and have such good friends there.  It makes coming home so soon a lot easier

Next I have to get some more sailboat time before it gets cool.

Next post - from somewhere on the Prairie.

Dances with Buffalo

This morning on the way to the Bathroom I had this blocking my path

I was tempted to get the Doodles to chase him away but judging from the way they were willing to leave us with Francesca & Isabella I feared they might join up with the Bison and chase me away.

This is a Buffalo Chip.  Now don't get grossed out - its just a big hunk of Buffalo Poop. 

 The reason that I show it (and my foot for size reference) is because this is what the pioneers used on the oregon trail to cook with when crossing the Great Prairie.

Remember Prairie Greg & Prairie Kate from the Trail? 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Devils Tower to Black Hills

Our campground at Devils Tower had many deer that wandered around - only slightly afraid of us.  Very Cool!

Such a pretty view of the tower from our campsite.

Just one more great thing about that place.

After leaving the Campground, we went up the hill to the visitors center to get a better view of the tower.

On the way we met one more friend...  Remember "Caddyshack"?

There were some climbers going up the rock.   Long way down.  Better hold on tight.  This shot was taken with my telephoto lens....  They were about 600 feet or so up the rock.  You could not even see them with your naked eye.

A little closer to Mother Earth...

And finally our last stop of the day

On the suggestion of our Swiss friends we stopped for an ice cream...  YUM!

Last - I guess this just about says it all:

We are now camped for the next 2 days in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

More tomorrow.  It's time for a Cocktail.

New Friends along the Trail

Last night after we arrived at the Devils Tower, as Kate and I were preparing dinner (abendessen) we smelled the most wonderful smells coming from the camper next to us.

Earlier we had heard them speaking German so we assumed that they were visiting the US.

Now let me tell you...  If there is one thing that Kate and I absolutely love - its German Cooking.  (by German I mean any version - Swiss, Austrian, you name it)  It's just Yum Yum!

Long story - short - Kate goes over to ask for the Recipe - one thing leads to another - and now we have met and made friends with the nicest family from Switzerland.

When it came time to leave today we really contemplated staying another day we were having so much fun and were really sad to leave so soon, but our schedule said it was time to move so here we are now in the Black Hills..... that that is another story.

The really interesting thing is that they are on a one-year sabbatical traveling around the world.  That is truly living life to the fullest.

Their 2 daughters Francesca & Isabella (sorry if I mis-spell) really took to the Doodles.  I think Gracie and Lucy would have been just as happy to stay with them.

Then it was time to say auf wiedersehen - hopefully to visit in Switzerland next time.

Such a small world, but so many great people.  bis bald meine freunde  Travel Safe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Devils Tower

Just got here, walked the dogs, then started blogging.  Kind of rushed at the moment, but I wanted to share with you the view out the back of the RV.

We are staying at a KOA.  I've never stayed in a private campground ever - so this is a first.

Very nice place, pool, showers, electric, and internet.  There are deer walking thru the campground as I write.

Tomorrow we visit the tower then off to the Black Hills, Mt Rushmore and all that.

If no new blogs arrive for a couple of days - it means no internet is available where we are camped.

Till then.

Custer Battlefield - Little Bighorn

Our next stop was Custer Battlefield.

Unfortunately we were not able to devote the time here that it requires, and it was rather crowded, but we still enjoyed our visit and did learn some interesting things.

The battle drew out along about a 5 mile stretch of ridge and river, culminating in the last soldiers and Gen Custers death on Last Stand Ridge.  Over 200 soldiers died that day, but about 40 died on last stand ridge with Gen Custer.

This plaque explains the monument and tombstones on last stand ridge.

The stone with the black face is Gen Custers.

A wider shot of the stones on Last Stand Hill and the valley below
The action that day played out from here down towards the trees which is where the Little Bighorn River is located, and off to the left (out of the picture) where the ridge extends about 5 miles further east.

A view looking up the hill