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14 May

Government Canyon State Natural Area, Texas

Bob and I went our separate ways this morning. He ran 10 miles on the
Riverwalk, and I hiked five miles at Government Canyon State Natural Area
with Hill Country Hikers. Both of us enjoyed our respective forms of
exercise.

The hiking group started at 8:00 a.m. and we
did five miles in two hours. Quite a few new hikers joined in today. I
think we had about 15 people. Today’s hike was a walk in the park –
mostly level, easy trails with just a few rock and root trippers.

Hiking down into the canyon.
A portion of the canyon floor.

 

Brown-eyed Susans and blue-star
Bunny frozen in place.
Prairie larkspur and firewheels.
Government Canyon State Natural Area – A path we didn’t take.

Another 2.5 mile hike was next on a different trail in the park. We
could opt out of the shorter hike and three of us did. After 8.8 miles
yesterday, I felt five miles was enough for today. My feet thanked me
profusely for not adding blisters.

Travel Bug out.

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14 May

Colorado Bend State Park, Texas

It’s time to catch up on this week’s events, now that there’s time to
catch my breath…literally.

The
Hill Country Hikers group I joined on meetup.com is terrific. We have
met so many great people who love to walk, hike, and enjoy being in
nature.

Saturday morning Bob and I got up early to meet
Hill Country Hikers for a day trip to Colorado Bend State Park. The
drive each way was over two hours from San Antonio, Texas, but well worth it. We enjoy hikes in
the parks so much we bought an annual state park pass. But I digress.

We stopped to get a couple of photos on our way to the park…

The morning sun made these firewheel flowers look translucent.
We crossed this on the way into the park.

About 25 people showed up for the walk. Some made a
weekend of it and camped in tents in the group camp area. We met up at
the trailhead for Spicewood Canyon Trail and off we went.

 

Colorado River
Hill Country Hikers
Our trail environs.
Bob keeping an eye out for rocks.
Fields of brown-eyed Susans
Very rocky terrain
We crossed streams on stepping stones..carefully!
Paul, our leader, taking photos.

As you can see this area is lovely. Tinkling water
kept us company when we reached the bottom of the canyon. We did not see
Spicewood Spring, but we enjoyed the creek that is the result of the
spring. Downriver from where we entered the canyon we came upon a
popular local swimming hole.

Rock on – necessary to watch trail at all times!
Swimmin’ hole on a Saturday afternoon.

At the end of the Spicewood Canyon/Spicewood Springs
Trail, we joined the group campers at their site for lunch. The hikers
had brought their own lunches, but it was nice to share the large picnic
table for family-style conversation…although we were so hungry, it
was quiet while we ate.

When Paul was able to drag us
away from our after-lunch chats, we drove caravan-style in seven
vehicles to the Gorman Falls trailhead for the second part of our day
trip. Again, the trail was rock strewn or just plain rock.

 

What a day! 81 degrees.
Rock trails in many places.
Prickly pear cactus blooms.
Quite a climb down to the falls.

Even worse going back up!

From the Colorado Bend State Park map, copyright 2012 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:

“Gorman
Falls is a unique geologic formation that supports a sensitive
ecosystem. The mineral rich spring water deposits layers upon layers of
delicate calcite, slowly building up the travertine formations you see
here…”

This is the type of formation you would see
inside a cave, only it is outside; similar to the travertine terraces at
Mammoth in Yellowstone National Park. Seeing the amazing formations was
a highlight of today’s hikes.

Gorman Falls calcite in travertine formations.
Bob soaking in the negative ions from the waterfall.
This tree loves its location by the falls.

Hiking back up the rock wall required strong thighs,
ankles and legs. Our hearts were pumping hard and it helped to step to
the side of the trail and breathe deeply for a few minutes to recover,
then carry on. We were on our way to see Gorman Spring – the source of
Gorman Falls.

Gorman Spring Trail – cool tree
Bob and Susan on Gorman Spring Trail.
Gorman Spring pool
Cottonmouth water moccasin hiding under brush in Gorman Spring pool.

Only its tail is visible.

Looking downriver from Gorman Spring.

From the spring we hiked back to a maintenance road
then on to our cars. That was the end of our group hikes. Bob and I said
our good-byes.

We made one stop at Dairy Queen in
Llano for Blizzards, then headed off to the Willow Wildflower Loop Drive
to see if wildflowers were blooming in May. We found some. In fact, it
looked like there was a new crop of bluebonnets coming up.

Verbena
Silver-leaf nightshade
Willow wildflower loop drive.
Roadrunner
Turtle
Firewheels

It was time to head for home – tired, but energized from 8.8 miles hiking.

Movie review:
“The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant,” starring Sam Neill and Alex
O’Laughlin (of Hawaii 5-0 fame). The movie came out in 2005. This is a
historic period piece, based on actual events, that takes place in 1788. A
young Englishwoman is accused of petty theft. Her punishment: to be
banished to Australia, on one of the first 11 ships, to start construction
of penal colonies to house criminals from England. The  movie is over
three hours, but is so interesting it doesn’t feel that long. The living
conditions on the ships and in Australia are deplorable. You wonder how
anyone could live that way. Escape plans are hatched and carried out. I
give this movie four out of five stars. We rented it from Netflix.

Travel Bug out.

 

 

 

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14 May

Walkabout Two-fer, Part 2

Part 2: Bob joined me for our San Antonio Hill Country Hikers Urban
Walk in the King William District and along the south Riverwalk to
Roosevelt Park. We started at 7:00 p.m. and headed south from the Blue
Star Brewery area along the south Riverwalk to Roosevelt Park. Eighteen people
walked this evening.

Crossing the San Antonio river.

You never know what you will see. I like the way the following homeowners think. See photo below.

 

San Antonio River

Most of the people walked past the heron below. He
was as still as a statue about
four feet from the path.

Yellow-crowned night heron.
San Antonio River Flood Control Tunnel outlet.
Snowy egret

 

Urban hikers crossing the San Antonio River.
Yellow-crowned night heron.
Where our walk went.
San Antonio River south.
Lighted gazebo in an estate’s backyard.
Snowy egret at night. Still fishing.

The Hill Country Hikers walked at a moderate pace
tonight, not the “fitness hike” pace of last Friday night. I still had
to run to catch up when I stopped to take a photo. Wait a minute! I
don’t want to be a runner, but I’ll sacrifice for a good photo. Jasmine
bloomed along the trail so we had pockets of sweet jasmine perfume as we
walked.

The temperature was just right at 72
degrees, but it was rather humid. The good news is there was a very nice
breeze blowing so we didn’t get too sticky. Total miles for this hike:
4.5.

Total miles I hiked today: 10.7.

Our
hike finished at 8:25 p.m. Bob and I walked across the street to La Tuna Grill where we had fish and chips for dinner.
I had a Corona with lime and Bob had a Modelo beer. The grill had the
Spurs play-off game on HDTV. Very good.

Travel Bug out.

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14 May

Walkabout Two-fer, Part 1

What a day I had! I was busy from sun up ’til sundown. Bob made sure I was up and at ’em at 6:00 a.m.

My
first event was a 10K (6.2 mi.) walk for American Volkssporting
Association’s (AVA’s) World Walking Day. The local volkssport club
staffed registration at Crownridge Canyon Natural Area starting at 7:30
a.m. Because of heavy rush hour traffic, I got there at 8:10 a.m.

The
first 5K of today’s walk followed the loop hike through Crownridge
Canyon and the second 5K went through The Heights residential area in
the hills northwest of San Antonio. I love walking through the woods.
You never know what you’re going to see. Today’s prize sighting was a
pair of painted buntings. I also saw four wild hen turkeys. Not bad.

Unusual flowers on this vine. Anyone know what it is?

 

Rain lily with pale green spider on the lower left petal.
Beautiful red seed pods.

Yes, the volksmarch took us on the Level 4 part of the natural area – the Upper Canyon Trail.

 

Upper Canyon Trail
Upper Canyon Trail

I’d like to mention that San Antonio is very focused
on putting in parks and greenways. It’s a good thing they provide
natural areas. You can see in the photo below how the new homes are
coming right up to the edge of the natural area. Many of the hill tops
have active home construction projects.

 

Painted bunting.
Painted bunting. I had to zoom in to get these shots.
Painted bunting’s back colors.

 

Fields of firewheels (Indian blankets).

That ended the first 5K of this morning’s walk. From
the natural area, the walk followed city streets up into a very nice
neighborhood (at the top of the hills).

Exiting the natural area on foot.
Hen turkeys.
Magnolias in bloom.
Cacti in bloom.
Beautiful snapdragons!
Coral bean plant.
The Heights neighborhood.
Beautiful pottery on the porch.
Honeysuckle in bloom all over!

 

 

This blog is long enough. I will continue my walk-about two-fer in another blog.

Travel Bug out.

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06 May

Walk with San Antonio Hill Country Hikers

Such an exciting day today! And it’s all good.

Yesterday
I joined four meetup.com groups and this evening Bob and I went on our
first walk with Hill Country Hikers. We met at Robert Tobin Park where
we started our four-mile round trip at a moderate-fast pace. We walked
15-minute miles, so we finished in one hour! Fourteen walkers showed up.
What a nice group of people. One lady, Vanessa, brought her Husky,
Amanda.

The park sign behind me is faux bois. See

explanation below.

At
exactly 6:45 p.m. we started south on the trail through the Salado
Creek Greenway. This is a beautiful trail with lots of trees and the
wildflowers are still blooming. Because of the recent rain, everything
was green and growing. Paul, our leader, told us the south trail from
the main parking area is excellent for summer hiking because the trail
is shaded…a very good thing when temperatures hover around 100 degrees
F.

Paul, our walk leader.

Before we started the walk we had time to
read the plaques. Robert L.B. Tobin, after whom the park is named, was
born in 1934, educated in the Alamo Heights (San Antonio) School
District and attended the University of Texas. His father died in an air
crash in 1954. Robert took over leadership of the family business,
Tobin Surveys, Inc. He built the business into the nation’s largest
mapmaker for the oil industry.

Also on the park entry signboard was information about faux bois
(false wood) or “trabejo rustico.” At the parking picnic area all the
tables, benches, the park entry sign, and support for the signs are faux bois. What is faux bois?
It is a craft that was popular in the late 19th century to the 1940s
which is experiencing a resurgence. Natural elements such as wood,
thatch, vines and branches are recreated in concrete. The faux bois pieces
in Tobin Park are the work of Carlos Cortes, a third-generation artisan
whose great uncle Domingo Rodriguez brought the skill to Texas from
Mexico in the 1920s. Other Cortes family creations around San Antonio
can be seen along the Riverwalk (especially The Grotto on the north
Riverwalk), at Brackenridge Park, and some bus stops.

Faux bois picnic table.
Faux bois bench.

Here are photos. I took only a few because if I stopped, I had to run to catch up. Some photos were taken while walking.

Salado Creek Greenway trail.
Mexican hat wildflowers.
Walkers on the trail.
Coming up to our turn-around point with Paul in the lead.
Great egret in Salado Creek.
Salado Creek Falls (ha ha)
Salado Creek
A very large, old pecan tree.
Honeysuckle growing along the trail. Smelled wonderful!
Rain lily. Only bloom for three to four days after rainstorms.
Bluebonnets – some going to seed.

The sun was out, birds were active, the air was fresh
and clean after our recent rains. The temperature this afternoon was
perfect at 72 and very low humidity. At the end of our walk we felt
great.

Travel Bug out.

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06 May

Hiking Fools

What do you call a group of people who love to hike, make silly puns,
sing a few bars of whatever song happens to pop into their heads, and
play pranks on each other? Hiking fools (AKA San Antonio Hill Country
Hikers).

Sunday morning I dragged myself out of bed to
make the 8:45 a.m. start time at O.P. Schnabel Park Trailhead in
northwest San Antonio. The park is part of the Leon Creek Greenway.

Meanwhile, Bob did a ten-mile run on the Riverwalk from our RV park into downtown San Antonio and back.

Once
again our hike leader, Paul, took us on a mostly shaded hike. Did he
stick to paved trails? Nooooo. He must know the park like a truck driver
knows interstates. He had us traipsing through the woods on deer
trails, gravel and rocky paths, over the “river” and through the mud.
But we didn’t end up at grandmother’s house. We ended up right back
where we started 5.7 miles later. Thankfully in the description of the
hike, Paul told us to wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes. Especially nice
to have on my boots for the steep rocky section of trail and for the
mucky mud.

The heavy rain we had last week created more
than mud. Wildflowers bloomed, grasses sprouted seeds, and the trees
were vibrant green.

The hike wasn’t the breakneck pace
of last Friday evening’s Tobin Park walk. Today we took time to smell
the blooming sage, look at deer who were looking back at us, and take
pictures. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, one guy broke out singing “La
Cucaracha.”

I am amazed by the variety of scenery in
San Antonio and that we keep learning about new places to be out in
nature. The locals on the hike talked about how much they like San
Antonio’s greenspace initiatives and vote for them whenever they are on
the ballot. The greenspaces are well used by animals, birds, and people
in the region. We saw many deer on our hike. The mud revealed tracks of
deer, raccoons, people and dogs.

Runners with marathon
numbers were on some of the paved trails. We were told they were running
a half marathon. It must have been very popular because when we
finished our hike the runners were leaving. Police had to direct
traffic; the start/finish of the half marathon was across the main
highway from the park we were in.

Surprise, surprise: I have photos from the hike today. Don’t I always? Here they are…

Wooded glen.
Most times there is no water here.
Rain lilies.
One of the many deer checking us out.
This huge rock wall reminded me of a hike we took at the Ledges

area in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.

Our hike leader, Paul, said there usually isn’t water here. All of us were impressed by this pretty, seasonal “lake.”

Instant lake, just add water.
Wildflowers on the rocks.
Isn’t this inviting?
Check out those roots!
Egyptian goose.
Paul talking to Kim, Carmen and Eduardo.

Paul capturing a moment.

Can you say “spring cleaning?” That’s what we did all
afternoon. It was way past time to clean our 5th wheel carpets so we
rented The Rug Doctor machine from WalMart and Bob, bless his heart,
made many passes of the carpet cleaner over all the interior carpet.
When he had done enough, I took over and made a couple more sweeps of
the living room carpet. It looks so much better!

Sunday night TV is 60 Minutes and Amazing Race.
We finally sat down and relaxed with dinner, then later with a bowl of
ice cream and cookies. Well deserved. Thank you, honey, for being the
“heavy lifter/ muscle” in the carpet cleaning. It’s so nice to walk on
the carpet now.

So ended our second busy weekend day in a row. Even the cats are exhausted!

“I wanna hold your hand paw.”
We love each other.
The end.

 

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29 Apr

Cascade Canyon, Grand Tetons, Wyoming

(From August 1, 2012)   Last
night I was re-reading my blog from Cascade Canyon above Jenny Lake in
the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. I was aghast. Where were my photos?
Something was amiss.

After
re-reading the blog, I went, “Oh, yeah, I remember, we didn’t have
internet connectivity for any length of time and I posted I would
complete the blog and add photos ‘in a week or so.'” Well, blogger
friends, this is “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.

Please refer to my blog dated August 1, 2012 — 9.3 Miles, 1,100 ft. Elevation Gain for the segue into this.

We
had a wet boat ride across Jenny Lake, luckily we snagged a seat under
the cover of the boat. By the time we arrived at the trailhead, the rain
had stopped. That was the last rain for the day!

This blog is going to be loaded
chock-full with pictures. Cascade Canyon is awesome and by far the most beautiful hike of all our Grand Teton/Yellowstone hikes.

The
first half mile took us uphill to Hidden Falls. Along the way,
novice rock climbers stopped to learn basics about climbing up
smaller rocks. Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, both on
this trail, are the most popular destinations in Grand Tetons. We
expected the crowds at the lower elevations of these two destinations.
We were able to get uncluttered photos and even had willing
photographers to take a photo of us, together for a change. I should
mention that wildflowers are at their peak in early August. Love!

Our last-minute campground–spent three nights. Mwah! Beautiful.

 

Early morning overlooking Jackson Lake and the Grand Tetons.

 

Grand Tetons, early morning, shot through the car window.

Click photo to enlarge photo to see rainbow to right of mountain.

Fireweed. Wildflowers in bloom everywhere.

Bob & Susan — Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls close-up.

My favorite picture of me from today.

Tall Jacob’s Ladder and some kind of berry.

An early preview of our scenery on today’s hike.

From Hidden Falls, the trail moved steeply upward, across a rock wall, to Inspiration Point. 

This
is as far as most people go, so it was crowded here with sightseers from the boat. Once we passed Inspiration Point, the crowds thinned
dramatically. The trail also leveled out and was a gradual grade for the
next 3.5 miles.

What a lovely day. No more threat of rain, although we
heard thunder one more time as the storm moved off to the east.

At this
point, pictures can do the “talking.” Just a few captions and notes
about what we saw. 

This is Cascade Canyon–words barely do it justice.

Majestic mountains.

[Note: If you want to see moose, come to Grand Teton National Park in
early August and hike the Cascade Canyon trail at 9:00 a.m. This first
moose (three photos) was about 10-20 feet from me right next to the
trail.]

 

 

Ummmm…just
when I decided to cross the trail in front of the moose, he decided he
wanted to cross the trail. Oops. You eyeballin’ me boy? Let me get out
of your way!

 

 

One gorgeous scene after another.

Bob took this fantastic photo. Great composition!

The following photo
was taken to show the scale of the mountains. You can barely see Bob
walking in the bottom center of the photo!

Can you find Bob?

This is called Cascade Canyon because of many waterfalls that come down off the cliffs into the canyon.

 

Reflecting, still pool in the river.

 

Craggy Grand Teton peaks.

Mountain splendor.

A waterfall coming off a glacier.

Butterflies love the wildflowers in the area.

Smooth (or showy?) fleabane.

Wyoming paintbrush, leafy aster, yarrow.

Woolly fleabane, smooth fleabane, Wyoming paintbrush, common harebell

Lewis’ monkeyflower (named for Meriwether Lewis!)

Lunchtime…good spot to eat our apples and trail mix!

Moose #2: Classic moose pose–standing in the river
while eating. (We saw a total of three moose on this hike. The last
moose was lying down in the shadows surrounded by six people. I opted
not to try for another photo.)

Someone on the trail said: “Go look over the side of that rock.” Moose #2!

Riders resting their horses allowed me to photograph them.

Another waterfall…this one on the main river through the canyon.

Our happy feet in comfy boots.

A pack train went by, made a stop at the cabin; our turn-around point.

It’s downhill and gorgeous from here.

Grand Tetons and an area of rockfall.

Bob at Inspiration Point, overlooking Jenny Lake.


As soon as Bob sat
down on a rock at Inspiration Point, the little beggar pictured below showed up at his
boot tip. I thought he was going to climb up Bob’s leg. We were going
to eat trail mix, but decided against it because of this guy. Obviously
people have been feeding all these chipmunks and squirrels.

Golden mantle ground squirrel, AKA beggar.

One last look as we made our way back across the lake on the boat.

And a look across to the other side of Jenny Lake.

Setting sun through a canyon.

And that was our
fantastic day of hiking 9.3 miles roundtrip in Cascade Canyon! I
recommend this hike for everyone. Once you get past Inspiration Point,
the trail is a breez

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29 Apr

Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Mt.
Washburn, Yellowstone National Park
:

Fog: thick and white
along the Yellowstone River. Socked in. When we left the 5er for our Volkswalk
up Mt. Washburn at 7:00 a.m., the first animal we spotted was a coyote about a
mile from our campground, followed in rapid succession by four elk and two white
pelicans.

A few miles farther, a
lone bull bison walked in the center of our lane. No one could pass by. The
brave driver of a smaller import car in front of us passed the bison. At that
point, the bison decided to walk the center line. We could not get by until he
moved to the other side of the road. Flashers flashing, we waited. In a few
minutes he moseyed into the other lane far enough over that we felt we could pass
him safely. We left our flashers on to warn oncoming traffic of the hazard in
the fog.

Upon climbing Dunraven
Pass away from the Canyon area, the fog stayed low along the river and we were
once again in the sun. We parked at the Dunraven Pass/Mt. Washburn parking lot,
put on our sunblock, used the outhouse and started up the trail.

This 6.2 mile
roundtrip walk is wonderful. The whole way up, the trail is an old stagecoach
road so it is easy to walk two to four abreast. The grade is moderate, no
really steep sections. We took our time. I took photos, enjoyed the wildflowers
and Bob spotted a yellow-bellied marmot family sunning on an old log. The two little
marmots were playing on the rocks and logs.

 

View at beginning of trail.

 

Nice wide trail.

 

Greater sage grouse.

 

Bob on trail.

 

Marmot sunning, probably momma marmot.

 

One of two marmot pups.

Higher up we go!

 
Up and up we hiked. The
main highway looked smaller and smaller below us. Bob thought a car on the road
was a motorcycle ‚¬Â¦until he looked at it with binoculars. Soon we were higher
than the surrounding hills and mountains. (Mt. Washburn is the highest mountain
inside Yellowstone National Park boundaries.)

At the top is a
working fire lookout–in summer only. (No need in winter when snow is 30’
deep.) Inside the bottom level of the fire tower are displays showing all the
mountains, lakes, canyons and rivers in the distance. 

Enjoying the view.

 

We made it and still have energy.

 

Today was not crystal
clear. Smoke from fires in Idaho cast a brownish pall over long-distance views.
Even so, we could see about 25 miles. On a really clear day, the Grand Tetons
are visible 75 miles away.

If you go up one level
in the fire lookout, there is an outside area for picture taking and a couple
of interpretive signs. We hung out downstairs on the benches to eat our trail
mix and relax while looking out the windows. Before heading back down the
trail, I made use of the restroom at the top.

No mountain goats or
sheep in our wildlife count today. We asked one lady who had gone up earlier
than us if she had seen any goats or sheep. She had seen some bighorn sheep, but they went down and she could
no longer see them. The ranger said the same thing, no bighorn sheep or
mountain goats up high.

Downhill was a piece
of cake. No shortness of breath at all. Beautiful views greeted us at each turn
of the trail. We could see the low-lying fog of morning had burned off.

Many more people were
coming up the trail than us early birds who were on the way down. We started
the trail at 8:00 a.m. It took us 2-1/2 hours to reach the summit and we were
down by 12:20 p.m. People were waiting for parking places. I told Bob it was
such a good hike I wouldn’t mind doing it again while we’re here. Maybe we
could start really early like 6:30 a.m. and see some bighorn sheep or mountain
goats! I’m game.

On the way back to the
5er we stopped at Canyon area General Store for deli sandwiches, carrots,
apples, bananas, and Grasshopper cookies. Good lunch. (Some is for more lunches
in the next few days.)

Next we went to Mary’s
Point on Lake Yellowstone for cell service so Bob could call in to work. I was
able to use his smartphone to moderate my blog comments and check my email.

When we returned to
the 5er, Bob decided to level it. Our heads were downhill when we slept and it
felt like the back end was in a hole. I pulled in the slides so he could put
down some leveling blocks under the tires on the right side. He said he didn’t
need help so I sat inside writing my blog.

SLAM! Uh-oh.

I went outside to see
what that noise was. Uh-oh is right. He forgot to lock the 5th wheel
into place. When he pulled the truck forward, the 5th wheel slammed
into the bed of the pickup truck, denting the sides of his pickup bed and the
tailgate. It could have been worse. He was able to elevate the supports and
stabilize the 5er enough to put the pick up with 5th wheel back
under the trailer. Looks like we’ll get a new tailgate when we return to San
Antone.

The trailer is more
level now than it was. It’s a big improvement.

Kitty play time. Bowie
attacked the throw rugs and dove underneath them. That must not have been
enough interaction because he went after Sunnie. The two of them are squaring
off in the living room, having a great old time playing. I’m glad they’re such
good buddies.

Sunnie “hunts” the
least chipmunks that run around outside our 5er(fifth wheel trailer, for short). He sits in the window, tail
twitching, following every little movement they make. Last night, I thought he
was going to go through the rear window to attack one. We call the windows of
the 5er “kitty big-screen entertainment system.”

Today’s wildlife
count: coyote, four elk, herds of bison, white pelicans, five or six
yellow-bellied marmots, two greater sage grouse, sandhill crane,
golden-mantle ground squirrels, and least chipmunks.

This evening Bob is
going to run. When he gets back we’ll have tostadas for dinner. Last night, Bob
cooked grilled tuna and cheese sandwiches. Very tasty.

We discussed our
return trip to San Antonio. At this point, the plan is Cody, Wyoming to
Thermopolis, Wyoming, northwest to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills. Then we
will head south to Scottsbluff, Nebraska and follow part of the Oregon Trail on
US 26 to I-80 across Nebraska to US 81 south.

We will meet our friends Jackye
and Dan in Wichita Falls, Texas, then drop south back to San Antone. One of the
sights we want to see is the railroad switching yard I read about in a blog.
But I forgot whose blog and where the large railroad switching yard is. Any
help?

Tomorrow we’re
planning another hiking day. One of the rangers in the Fishing Bridge Visitor
Center marked some of his favorite hikes for us on a day hike flyer. We want to
do the Shoshone Lake (6 miles) and Riddle Lake (5 miles) hikes in the Grant
Village/West Thumb area. At Riddle Lake there is a chance we may see Trumpeter
Swans.

Life is good. We hope
to see you down the road.

Travel Bug out.

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29 Apr

Transportation Stations, Nebraska

Today is about travel…train travel; in particular, the moving of products around our country.

Our
destination to learn about trains? The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor
Center, a must see for train aficionados. The eight-story tower
overlooks the Bailey Yards of Union Pacific railroad. 

The
yards comprise repair buildings, administrative offices, switching
yards, storage yards and hump tracks. Hump tracks are elevated tracks
where outgoing train cars are sorted electronically and sent down a hill
to the
outgoing train they will
be attached to. The whole set up is fascinating to watch from the tower.
It’s like looking down on a child’s toy train diorama, but it’s real.

Eastbound yards.

Repair facility.

Looking east at admin building and corn maze.

Stats

Map of Bailey Yard

 

Look at all those engines!

From North Platte we
had a long travel day (just kidding) of 82 miles to Elm Creek, Nebraska
where we stayed at Sunny Meadows Campground (a Passport America
park). No “it” factor, just gravel pull-through sites.

Two
different people who worked at the campground told us they had free
wi-fi and it worked best in the sites next to the laundry. We had the
site adjacent to the laundry building and no wi-fi at all. False
advertising in my opinion.

We needed to do a couple loads of laundry so
at least we were close to that. If any of you plan on staying in Elm
Creek, we do not recommend Sunny Meadows. If you plan to use the showers
on site, I’d recommend making another plan. There is one shower in the
women’s room and one shower in the men’s room. You get to the restrooms
through the laundry room. The
restrooms/showers are old and dirty. To be specific, the bathrooms had
no soap, no paper towels, the sink had old toothpaste and soap bits in
it, the showers had cement floors, and the shower heads looked like they
had never been replaced. Yuck.
The laundry room was neat and clean, however. (See below for a campground in the area we DO recommend.)

Since
we had a short travel day today, we had daylight left. We decided to
make use of it. We took the truck and drove to
Kearney, Nebraska, to see The Great Platte River Road Monument which
spans both lanes of I-80. I thought it was only a pretty bridge, but
come to find out it’s an attraction with two stories of history of the
Great Platte River Road. We arrived at 6:10 p.m. It had closed for the
day at 6:00 p.m., so we walked across the suspension bridge to view the
outdoor exhibits of an earthen house and a sod house. I was able to take
some pretty pictures in the light of the late afternoon sun.

The Great Platte River Road Monument.

 

Artwork on top of the monument.

 

Suspension bridge.

 

Earthen house.

 

Inside the earthen house–it’s a lot bigger than it looked from the outside.

Bob at the sod house.

 

When
we finished our walk around the grounds, we took a drive into the town
of Kearney and were amazed by how big it is. We drove and drove. At a
Booggarts grocery store, we stopped for a couple of items.

We
headed south to Ft. Kearny (pronounced Car-knee) State Historical Park.
It, too, was closed. We walked around the park in the faltering light.

After
our walk around the old fort parade grounds, we drove two miles down
the road and checked out Ft. Kearny State Park Campground. This is a
very nice campground with electrical hook-ups, water at the site, but no
sewer hook-ups. The park has about six small lakes and lots of trees. If we stayed in the area again, we would choose this campground.

So,
our day devoted to transportation came to an end as we transported
ourselves back to our campground. We started our laundry, then made
tostados for dinner, finished up the laundry and read for a bit before
snoozing.

Tomorrow will be another big travel day. We expect to be in San Antonio by Friday or Saturday.

Good night.

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29 Apr

Thou Mangled Motley-Minded Flapdragon

Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes. 

~ From Richard III

Tonight, while passing time, I found this website of Shakespearean insults. (Thank you A.Word.A.Day).
Go to the site below, read the insult, click “Insult Me Again,” and you
keep getting a new insult. Priceless. (Maybe I’m just easily
entertained. I hope you are too.)

Gate guarding update:
Tonight I am busy on the gate. Flow-back tankers are lined up down the
road. It takes approximately 30-45 minutes for each tanker, plus other
trucks with trailers are coming in to take out equipment.

Being
a night owl my whole life, taking the 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift is a piece
of cake. Work comes first. Blogging gets done, games on Facebook get
played AND I work. Can’t beat that.

Today’s wildlife scenario: Two roadrunners
(I’d venture to guess a pair), are out collecting bugs, going back and
forth outside our rear picture window. A pair of mockingbirds are
dive-bombing and attacking the roadrunners. It is very apparent that the
mockingbirds feel their nest is in danger from the roadrunners.
The roadrunner was on the move. I tried to get a good picture. Here’s my best effort. 

One of the two roadrunners living by us.

South Texas sunset.

We keep hearing
stories from the truck drivers that they have been running over
rattlesnakes in the road. One driver told me he has run over 10
rattlesnakes. Maybe that’s why we haven’t seen one yet. (Or maybe it’s
the constant replenishment of mothballs under all our vehicles.)

All for today. Short and sweet. Be sure to comment if you’re so inclined. Bloggers love feedback!

“If you spend word for word with me, I shall make your wit
bankrupt.”

~ The Two Gentlemen of Verona

“Such bugs and goblins in my life!”

~ Hamlet

  Travel Bug out.

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