Posts Tagged With: Trailer Travel

Backroads Across America: Big Sky Country

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Today we wound our way out of the Black Hills of South Dakota, snuck through a corner of Wyoming and arrived in Montana – Big Sky Country.  The gently rolling hills of Montana’s eastern plains seem to stretch on forever…and so does the sky above them.

It seems like spring has been late arriving in the northern part on the United States.  Although landscapes have been green and lush, trees have continually been bare of leaves. That just made it all the more exciting to stumble upon these wildflowers blooming on the hillside behind our campground.

Montana is a new state for both of us, and we are eager to discover what adventures lie beneath this “Big Sky.”  Plenty of time for that tomorrow!

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Backroads Across America: Hunting Buffalo

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Custer State Park in South Dakota is home to a herd of approximately 1,300 buffalo. These magnificent animals can be seen roaming freely throughout the grasslands.  The best way to view them is from the safety of your vehicle while driving the 18 mile Wildlife Loop Road…which is what we did today.

Park grasslands can only support about 1,450 buffalo, so the herd is carefully managed. Every fall the annual Buffalo Roundup takes place, allowing the park to brand and vaccinate the calves, inventory the grasslands and to determine how many buffalo will be sold at auction.  The event is open to the public, and this year the roundup is scheduled for September 29…so you still have time to make your plans!

We saw a few other critters out today.  A pronghorn was oblivious to my photo attempt. A herd of wild burros begged snacks from a fellow motorist and we waited as wranglers led trail horses across the road to fresh grass.  All in all, I’d say we had a successful hunt!

 

 

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Backroads Across America: Good Times in the Badlands

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Badlands National Park appears rather suddenly among the grasslands of South Dakota.  These seemingly harsh lands are the result of millions of years of earth’s ever-changing climate.  This is a landscape of extremes.

We arrived yesterday to clear blue skies and warm temperatures, the first we’ve had in two and a half weeks.  Pulling into the first parking lot we came to, we set off on two short walks, eager to get a taste of such a foreign landscape.  Surprisingly, trail markers led us off the path to freely walk among the peaks and gullies.  We later learned that Badlands is a sort of “open range” park.  Visitors are allowed to walk anywhere as long as the environment is respected.

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Day two found us on the Castle Trail, a 10 or 12 mile (depending on which map or trail marker you believe) round trip that led us through some of the spectacular park formations and out onto the open grasslands.  We had hoped to see some of the wildlife that call the park home and were a little disappointed to only see a few deer  in the distance.  But, it was a gorgeous day and we were outside in an eerily beautiful national park…not a bad place to be!

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Backroads Across America: More Than Bad Weather Brewing For Us


We opted for a second night at our Dubuque, Iowa hotel as we waited for wind and snow flurries to blow through the western part of the state.  To fill our rainy day, we decided to follow the scenic Mississippi River drive outlined in our guidebook.  It seemed simple enough, but wouldn’t you know it…another wrong turn led us 30 miles off course.  At least there were no toll roads!

As I studied the atlas in an effort to get us back on course, I realized we were close to the National Brewery Museum in Potosi, Wisconsin.  Reg thought I was kidding.  

Curious, we decided to see if it was for real.  

We learned beer was first brewed in Potosi in 1852.  The Potosi Brewing Company was founded in 1906, ceasing operation in 1972.  The Potosi Brewery was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

In 2004, the American Breweriana Association chose the site as the home for its National Museum of Beer Advertising Memorabilia.  In 2008, after a $7.5 million renovation, the museum and brew pub opened. The 2015 addition of their $5 million brewery allowed Petosi to finally bring all its beer back home again.





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Backroads Across America: Going With the Flow

All of a sudden the ill winds are flowing all around us.  The threat of extreme weather has blocked much of our westward path…and northward and southward paths too!  We intended to take the better part of a week driving around the coast of Michigan and continuing into Wisconsin, taking in the sights along the banks of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.  


Predictions of snow to the north, flooding to the south and rainy, windy thunderstorms to the west had us rethinking our route.  Shifting our minds (and our truck) westward towards Chicago, we discovered a great little local lunch hangout in Ligonier, Indiana.  All was not lost!  Four and a half out of five stars on my Google map app.  The fish really was as good as advertised!

 But then, Google maps let me down, directing us to a “closed for the season” RV park over an hour from where we were supposed to be!  How could that happen?  Surely it couldn’t have been operator error?


But this trip is all about “going with the flow,” so after a few tense miles, we ended up at the Last Resort RV Park.  Really, that is the name (I wouldn’t make it up) and it was sort of our last resort today.


A staff member checked us in and told us we could take whichever site looked good…but warned us away from #72 where the male and female geese were nesting with their little ones. Apparently, he can be a tad bit aggressive.  No problem…we’ll go with the flow!

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Backroads Across America:  A Good Day for a Walk in the Park


Just a few miles outside of Charleston, West Virginia lies Kanawha State Forest Park encompassing over 9,000 acres of recreational land and facilities.

Development of the park began in 1938 when the Civilian Conservation Corps established Camp Kanawha and began cleaning up and improving the area.  Work continued until 1942 when World War II began and the camp was closed.

Hiking trails, picnic sites and shelters, numerous playgrounds and 45 campsites are available for all who want to leave the city behind.



The area is also known as a wildflower haven, with 574 species sprinkled throughout the landscape. We saw quite a few in bloom today as we wandered along the nature trail.  As it turned out, today was a great day for a walk in the park.

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Backroads Across America: On the Banks of the Kanawha

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Another day of clouds and drizzle sent us to downtown Charleston to explore West Virginia’s capital city.  After a leisurely cup of coffee in a downtown coffee/bookstore, we wandered along a walkway that follows the Kanawha (Ka-naw) River, which flows through the city.

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Charleston’s present state capitol took eight years to complete, with work beginning in 1924.  The 23-karat gold leaf dome soars 293 feet, making it the tallest of any state capitol dome in the United States.  The capitol is open to the public and the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming.  After a quick security check, we were handed a lengthy history of the capitol and urged to “make ourselves at home.”

The governor’s mansion is also located on the Capitol Complex grounds, perched on a grassy rise with a view of the river below.  Not quite as welcoming, it sat behind locked gates, so we had to be content to peer through the fence.

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Backroads Across America: BBQ, Board Games and Breakfast

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been a whirlwind of a weekend since arriving in Charleston, West Virginia.  Chris and Gail enjoyed a mini vacation when they spent Saturday night in a cabin at our campground.  We enjoyed having them “right down the street,” if only for one night.  After a barbecued steak dinner at the cabin, followed by two highly competitive rounds of our dice game Yamslam, Reg and I headed back to our trailer to rest up for the Sunday breakfast we were hosting.

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Chris has been working at Gritt’s Midway Greenhouse for the last year, and today he gave us a tour of the company’s retail store and 20+ greenhouses.  We weren’t quite prepared for the scale and quality of this family operation.

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A kaleidoscope of colors and textures greeted us as we wandered through most of the six acres of production greenhouses.  We saw flowers, vegetable plants, house plants and potted blooming plants, all grown and nurtured to supply Gritt’s retail and wholesale operation.

 

 

 

As amazing as all of that was, the greenhouse where the tomatoes grow surprised us most of all.

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We were fascinated with the 1.5 acre hydroponic tomato operation.  These are vine ripened tomatoes and the plants produce continually except for the months of December and January.

We were tempted to sneak a couple for our dinner!

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Backroads Across America: Squeezing in Our Campground

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We’re spending the night in southern Virginia where spring is just beginning to show its colors.  Our campsite was surrounded by trees, but there was barely a leaf to be seen.  It looked quite winter-like.

A good night for what Reg calls “Comfort Food.”

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Although he rolled his eyes when I dropped this in our grocery cart the other day, we thoroughly enjoyed our Deluxe Kraft Macaroni & Cheese dinner, incredibly easy to make with the enclosed packet of squeeze cheese!

And what better way to dine on this gourmet delight than from good old fashioned TV trays!  Bon Appétit!

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Backroads Across America:  Blue Ridge Parkway Leads to Sierra Nevada

We awoke to gray skies and drizzle, so decided to take a sneak peek at the Blue Ridge Parkway this morning.  Our hope has been to drive a small part of the 469 mile scenic highway on our way to West Virginia.  Today was not the best day for views, but we definitely gained valuable perspective!

As we slowly crept around the twists and turns of the parkway, quickly climbing over 3,000 feet, we soon realized we had no business towing our trailer along this route, no matter how beautiful the scenery.  As we reached the 5,000 foot elevation, our scenery disappeared in the clouds, along with all signs of spring.   A side road took us back down to the lower elevations…for an afternoon in the Sierra Nevada (Brewery that is).

Sierra Nevada Brewery opened their Mills River, North Carolina facility in 2014.  As fans of the original Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California, where our son works, we were curious and couldn’t resist a visit and tour during our stay in Asheville.  

What we found was amazing.  We expected the brew house, restaurant and gift shop, but around back we discovered an outdoor play land.  A massive fire pit, games, a stage for music, an organic garden, a children’s play area and seating everywhere. Unfortunately, today was a little wet to enjoy all that was offered.

If you visit be sure to reserve a tour and tasting. Both Chico and Mills River offer them and they book up quickly.  Our tour guide Sean was friendly, knowledgeable and encouraged questions.  We watched hundreds of bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale traveling along a conveyer system towards packaging.  Fascinating!

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