“The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” John Muir
“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” Janus Bahs Jacquet
After eight months on the road, we knew that we needed to upgrade to a truck that could haul our 7,000 pound trailer. Our Toyota Tacoma could pull 6,500 pounds max. We were pushing his limits, as he struggled up and over many passes at maybe 20 mph. In January of 2020, with a heavy heart, we traded in our beloved Tacoma for a 2018 Chevy 3500 HD Silverado.
After roughly 15 months on the road full time, I agreed to continue this journey for another two years. The only caveat was to find a bigger rig that would give us a little more living space. In January of 2020, we purchased a 2020 Columbus Compass Fifth Wheel.
We finally made it to Montana! This was a first for me, and Scott hadn’t been here since he was a kid. We took 90N all the way up until we reached the border of Wyoming. Little Big Horn National Monument is located in southern Montana.
This National Monument “memorializes one of the last armed efforts of the Northern Plains Indians to preserve their ancestral way of life. Here in the valley of the Little Bighorn River on two hot June days in 1876, more than 260 soldiers and attached personnel of the U.S. Army met defeat and death at the hands of several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. Although the Indians won the battle, they subsequently lost the war against the military’s efforts to end their independent, nomadic way of life.” This was just the beginning of the struggle. They eventually were granted, by treaty, a large area of eastern Wyoming as a permanent Indian reservation. That only lasted until gold was discovered in the Black Hills, and then they were told to get out of there, too. There are many Indian reservations all throughout the west, but they are not in areas where the Indians wanted to be. The white man kicked them out. Disgusting. We stood on a once battlefield and read about the historical events that occurred many years ago. You can almost picture the brutal scene with many dead bodies and horses strewn across the land. It almost doesn’t seem real.
Our half-way point to Glacier National Park brought us to Columbus, Mt. It is a small town of about 2,000 people. Itch-Kep-Pe Park, is a city park that runs the entire length of the town, nestled in between the railroad tracks and the downtown shops.
On the other side of the town is the Yellowstone River. The park is completely free-of-charge, however there is a five-day limit for campers. There is also a “donation box” to support the upkeep of the park. It was high in the mid-nineties when we got settled. Scott blew up our Lipton inner tubes and we walked about 1,000 steps from our campsite to the Yellowstone River. First we took a dip, and then we floated on the refreshing water. Then, we walked back on the rocky shore to our starting point.
There were brown and bright, green flogs and tons of grasshoppers frolicking around.
That evening, the temperature dropped to the low sixties, and it was even a bit chillier in the morning. Not a bad place to break up the driving. Next stop, Big Sky, Montana!
We arrived at the Fireside Resortin Jackson, WY, by late afternoon. It is the only “year-round” RV resort in Jackson, however they only provide electric (no water or dump stations). There are clean restrooms with showers and a laundry facility on site. There is also a hot tub area, however, it is only for use by the “Luxury Cabin” renters.
Shortly after we arrived, our neighbors (Peter and Jane from the UK) came over to see if we had come from Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City, Utah. They recognized our truck/trailer from that resort where they had also been staying. We became fast friends. At Jackson Hole Ski Mountain, they encourage carpooling and provide free daily parking with 3+ persons in a vehicle. So, we traveled the 5.4 mile, 10-minute ride together daily to the mountain.
On Day One, we had to stand on a long line to take the tram to the summit. Each car holds 100 people and runs about every ten minutes. We were on line for over an hour before we got on the tram. At the summit, the conditions were great with a few inches of fresh powder, but there was little to no visibility. As you skied down the mountain, the terrain was very icy and slick. I was experiencing a bit of mountain sickness, which made it difficult to enjoy the moment. We didn’t last very long.
Day Two was much better. We stopped a moment for a group photo mid-mountain. Who knows when we would get back up to the summit. Although the sun was shining, the summit was engulfed in clouds. Visibility would be compromised so we stayed down lower.
By Day Three, the weather was sunny and warm. The conditions were variable. There were sections of crust and then slush. Zoom in and see for yourself.
Some runs were great and others were quite challenging. I wasn’t having much fun. It required too much effort and my legs were tired. It was Jane and Peter’s last day to ski, but Scott and I had two more days. They weren’t enjoying the conditions either, so we all left together. Later that evening, Jane prepared a lasagna to share at our place. We ate and learned to play new card games that neither Scott nor I had ever heard of before.
The next day, I got caught up on laundry while Scott performed trailer maintenance. On Friday, I was able to get an appointment at a salon in Jackson. Afterwards, I took a walk around and was able to get a couple to take my picture atJackson Town Square. This is a big tourist spot.
Directly across the street a famous pub, Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where the bar seats are real horse saddles. Been there, done that. It is worth checking out, however, if you come into the town of Jackson.
The hairdresser had suggested that a good place to get seafood was a place called Local. It is a steakhouse, but one of the few eateries in the area where the seafood is good. Not to mention their bourbon! It was conveniently located right next to the Cowboy Bar!
I wanted a glass of wine, and Scott got one of their special drinks. It was YUMMY!!! They ferment it on the premises. Below is a picture of the ingredients.
Scott tried hard to recreate the drink that he was served at Local, but it just didn’t make the cut. I highly recommend that you check it out while in Jackson.
The area had not received any new snowfall since we arrived and the temperatures kept rising. We decided to not ski and rather took a hike to Taggert Lake, the only option available in Grand Teton National Park during with winter season.
We were told that the trail was snow packed and that we probably didn’t need our snowshoes. So, we set off with our micro-spikes just in case.
Whoever said we didn’t need snowshoes obviously didn’t take the same trail that we did.
Tomorrow, we will leave Wyoming in route to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Scott and I look forward to another time when we can return to Jackson Hole to ski with better conditions. It is one heck of a mountain!
We drove for several hours IN THE RAIN on 1S, known as “The Scenic Highway” in Maine. We arrived at Blackwoods Campground, which is located on Mount Desert Island.
It is a large campground with two loops: A and B. Loop B was closed for the season, and Loop A had one of five restrooms still open. There were only about five other campers in the area. We parked in A43, and then took a stroll through the campground. It was close to dusk at about 5:31 p.m.
We walked on the trail from our campsite to Otter Cove, which can also be accessed by Route 3.
The next day we hiked to the summit of Cadillac Mountain from our campsite on South Ridge Cadillac Trail, 9.1 miles out and back.
All Trails rated this hike to be hard. We found it to be moderate, with some elevation gain, and mostly rocky terrain.
The view from the summit is accessible to all. Cadillac Summit Road will take you to the summit at 1,530’. Scott looks like a tourist below, but we just spent the last two hours hiking up to this point.
The views were spectacular. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, with 360 degree views of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the Cranberry Isles.
There were many more people who reached the summit by car than there were on the trail. I recommend the trail if you are able to do so.
There are several hikes to choose from at Acadia National Park. The park encompasses nearly half of Mount Desert Island, a scattering of smaller islands, and the Schoodic Penisula. Our visit was primarily on the eastern side of Mount Desert island. We only had time for one more hike. On Saturday, we chose Precipace Trail, a 3-mile round trip hike straight up rock with rungs and ladders, and a 984’ elevation gain.
It wasn’t long before we saw the warning.
Any visit to Maine would not be complete without walking around the town of Bar Harbor and feasting on their specialty.
On Monday, we took a four-hour drive north to Lubec, ME, so that we could stand on the easternmost point of land in the United States. Quoddy Head State Park features 5-1/2 miles of hiking trails, extensive forests, two bogs, diverse habitat for rare plants, and the striking red and white striped lighthouse tower of West Quoddy Head Light.
We walked along Coast Guard Trail, a one-mile easy walk to the view at Quoddy Narrows. It was a gorgeous day!
There wasn’t any signage to indicate which point was the farthest east. So, we took a few photos along the way.
It would be at this point (we think) that we were as far to the east on land as possible.
On our last day in Acadia, we took a short walk on the famous Carriage Roads. These 45 miles of rustic carriage roads, that weave around the mountains and valleys of Acadia National Park, were the gift of philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. A skilled horseman, Rockefeller wanted to travel on motor-free byways via horse and carriage into the heart of Mount Desert Island. It was quaint and magical.
It was time to head back to New Jersey. Part of our trip east would mirror our initial trip west back in June of 2018. We made an overnight stop in Rapid City, SD, so that we could change our address. It is common for full-timers who live on the road to pick up residency in South Dakota. Why pay state taxes when you are not living in the state and reaping the benefits?
It is a thriving business that was begun by full-timers, and it is an economical way to have a mailing address. America’s Mailbox offer various types of plans to suit your individual needs. While Scott handled the paperwork, I went in to town to be a tourist. Historic Downtown in Rapid City features a series of life-size bronze statues of our nation’s past presidents. Can you guess who this old fellow is?
I would have enjoyed seeing all of the statues, but I ran out of time.
Our next overnight stop was in Minnesota at the Rochester/Marion KOA. It was the Ladies US Open Final, so we found Wildwood Sports Bar & Grill to watch the match. I cannot believe that the 19-year old Canadian girl beat Serena. it was a great match.
The next day we continued east on 90 and then on 90/84 as it dipped southeast. At 12 noon, we stopped at Monk’s Bar & Grill in Wisconsin Dells to watch the JETS home-opener again Buffalo. The JETS were winning for the first three quarters with the score 16-3 most of the game. In the fourth quarter, Buffalo woke up and we fell asleep. Final score 16-17. After three ours of sitting in the bar, there was no way we could hang out another three to five hours for a tennis match. It was hard to choose between the football game or Nadal in the men’s US Open Final. Boy, did I make the wrong choice. They did, however, serve yummy food.
We left the bar and drove to Starved Rock State Park near Marseilles, IL, for the night. In the morning, we got as far as Genoa, Ohio, and spent the night in the Service Plaza. One more state to go before we are back in New Jersey again.
Our last stop was at Bald Eagle State Park, PA, which was coincidentally our first stop back on May 31, 2018. We will be in New Jersey soon.
We left the Grand Tetons and headed east towards Bighorn National Forest. We stopped in Shell Falls Interpretive Site and learned a little bit about how waterfalls form.
We experienced Shells Falls, a steep ledge that form falls when a river flows over it.
That evening, we stopped at Shell Creek Campground for the night.
The creek was about 50 feet from our trailer. The water was cold but crystal clear.
We hung out on our hammocks enjoying the sounds of nature.
The next morning, we packed up and headed towards Devil’s Tower National Monument, an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills. Our plan was to go to this National Monument for a few hours and then continue on to South Dakota. Sometimes the best laid plans need to be reworked.
We stopped here to fuel up, and this was where our plans went awry.
Scott started to put “fuel” in our Diesel truck, and then went to clean the windshield. It wasn’t long before he realized that it was NOT a green pump going into the gas tank. It was black and full of gasoline. The car was still running with the A/C on as it was in the mid-90’s. With it still running, he was able to back the trailer off to the side of the large parking lot and then turn it off. Then, we called AAA.
We weren’t the only ones leaving a vehicle behind.
It was Labor Day, and we were lucky to be able to get a tow from AAA. The truck was towed from Moorcroft to Gillette, about a 30 minute drive away. Scott went with the Tow Company and I found myself in a small motel a few blocks away, enjoying the a/c and TV. We were told that the truck my not be serviced on Tuesday, but perhaps on Wednesday. So, instead of going to Devil’s Tower, we spent the next two days hanging out in Moorcroft, WY enjoying inexpensive local food and ridiculous desserts.
If we didn’t experience this mishap, we would never have seen the cute little town. Devil’s Tower will have to wait.
We are happy to be back in the Grand Tetons! It is one of our favorite places to hike. We boon-docked here last August, and this time we are dry camping in Gros Ventre Campground, which is located right near the Gros Ventre River.
We got there around 6:00 p.m. After we set up, we took a walk down the path to the river just before sunset. We were pleasantly surprised by the first moose cow we came upon.
It wasn’t long before we saw another moose cow and two bulls across the river. I got a little nervous and wanted to head back to camp.
The next morning we got up early to begin an 11-mile hike to Surprise Lake. One of our first views on this beautiful morning was the Grand Tetons.
This was an impressive and challenging hike with an elevation gain of 3,143’. It was also the first hike that I encountered not one, not two, but four bears!!! Scott may be comfortable with the possibility of seeing bears on a hike, but I am still working on dealing with my adrenaline rush coupled with heavy breathing. We began our initial ascent on Lupine Meadow Trail.
One of the first signs we saw warned us of it being bear country, even though we already knew that. Last year we encountered one moose but no bears.
I was ready to go. I even wore my distance glasses so that I could spot wildlife more easily.
On our initial ascent, we encountered the first bear not six feet off the trail. I was in the lead and Scott said, “Sue. Stop. Bear.” I walked right past it without even seeing it. I quietly made my way behind Scott while he snapped this photo. I had my hand on the bear spray can as my breathing accelerated. Scott was in his glory.
Not too much farther up on the trail, we encountered our second bear. This time, I spotted a young cub. Again, my heart began to race as I made my way behind Scott. He instructed me to grab the bear spray as he snapped away. I couldn’t even think about taking out my phone to take a picture.
At this point, I was concerned about going up any farther. We were close to Surprise Lake, so I shook off my fears and we continued up. We finally made it to the first of two lakes. It was quite peaceful and beautiful.
We continued up for about a half a mile until we reached Amphitheater Lake, Elevation 9,698’.
We continued walking up beyond the lake and found some amazing views.
Soon, we began our descent. As we approached Surprise Lake again, I wanted to stop and sit for awhile. As we got closer to the water, I heard something making noise in the bushes not far from us. Scott was oblivious to the sound. I told him to stop and listen. All of a sudden, we could see the bushes by a tree moving. I saw dark black fur on top of the greenery. Scott turned towards me for a split second and missed the BIG BLACK BEAR that peered at me from behind the tree. It was a BIG bear! My heart started beating rapidly, but Scott didn’t see the bear and was not alarmed. I think that he knew by my actions that there had to have been a bear by the tree. Instead of hanging out by “Surprise” Lake, we headed down the trail. Scott was in the lead trying to talk me into calming down, to no avail. We had picked up our speed, and all of a sudden, I tripped and went flying into the air. I landed on my right forearm and I screamed for him to pick me back up. I was shaking with fear, expecting the big, black bear to catch us.
Eventually, I calmed down. It was the THIRD bear that we had seen on one hike. Soon after, we came to a switchback, where we saw about eight hikers waiting below us, calling to a bear. That is when we noticed it semi concealed by a tree.
The excitement was over and we continued making our way down the trail. I was very alert for furry wild animals lurking in the brush, but all we saw for the remainder of the hike was the beautiful landscape below us.
In the morning, we packed up and continued driving south of Route 75, the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.
We stopped at a popular overlook and took a picture of where we had just been.
We drove for a few more hours through the open Idaho landscape filled with wheat fields and farmland. All of a sudden, the common landscape completely changed before our eyes. We had arrived on another planet!
“In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge used the 1906 Antiquities Act to proclaim Craters of the Moon National Monument preserving, ‘a weird and scenic landscape, peculiar to itself’.”
All around us were rocky, dark grey globs of dried out lava from long ago. The temperature was in the low 90’s when we parked at the Visitor’s Center. We did our typical tour of the museum and asked a ranger to suggest which hike we should take since we were only passing through and didn’t have much time. She suggested two: Inferno Cone and Snow Cone.
You can explore Craters of the Moon via a seven-mile loop road that provides access to trails that take you over, under, and around the various volcanic features. Inferno and Snow Cones can both be reached via a short, steep 0.2 mile walk to see these miniature volcanoes. Below is our view as we made our way up the path to the cones.
As we peered into the cones, we could see snow, lost hats and glasses, and our shadows.
Next, we drove a little further to Tree Molds Trail. We parked and walked across the parking lot to begin a two mile hike to view the imprint of lava-charred trees.
We made it about ten steps down the black, hot path before we both looked at each other and realized it was just way too hot to be doing this. We got back into the air conditioned truck and headed back out of the park. Although this park seems barren, the park’s lava fields and arid sagebrush areas sustain a surprising diversity of plant and animal life. Annual wildflower blooms peak in mid-June. Below is a picture of an area that would be lavish with color during the previous season.
We got back in the truck and continued heading east towards Idaho Falls. In the distance, we saw what looked like homes built up on the hills.
As we got closer, we realized that they were numbers sprayed or carved into rock that represented graduation years. Odd. Before we knew it, we had arrived in Idaho Falls.
We stayed one night at Snake River Run RV Park in Idaho Falls. We would spend the time doing laundry, and I even took a short swim in their outdoor pool.
In the morning, we are heading to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. It will be our stop before we begin the long drive back east to New Jersey for a September wedding.
If you plan to visit any of the San Juan Islands during the summertime, it is smart to make a reservation ahead of time for the ferry, especially if you plan to travel with a vehicle. Our reservation was for Monday morning on the 7:25 a.m. ferry from Anacortes to Orcas. It was a beautiful day.
It was a wee bit chilly, but that didn’t stop Scott from capturing the beautiful sunrise coupled with a marine push that produced the spectacular fog this particular morning.
We arrived at Orcas Island in less than an hour. The island is shaped like a horseshoe. The ferry is located on the bottom left side. Once we got off the ferry, we traveled north on Orcas Road (#5) to Lover’s Lane, which is not only the center of the horseshoe, but also the town center of Eastsound (#4).
Our first stop was at my friend’s son and daughter-in-law’s store in Eastsound.
There is a wide assortment of really cool jewelry, most of which was hand designed by the owner. She also draws all of the artwork that is screen-printed onto the clothing by her husband. Their collection of items come from all over the world. Their “lust” for “wandering” around the globe allows for the broad scope of worldly novelties. The store did not open until 11:00 a.m., so we decided to take a ride around the island to kill some time.
First, we headed east and then south on Olga Road until we reached Moran State Park (#14). I loved the welcome arch as we entered the park. We parked the truck and walked around, checking the place out. We thought about coming back to kayak on Cascade Lake, which was off to the right, if it warmed up.
Next, we continued on Olga Road to Pt. Lawrence Road to Doe Bay Resort (#14). It was mostly private roads, so we turned around and headed west to Obstruction Pass Road. There was ample parking here, and we took a short hike to see the views.
Obstruction Pass Beach is said to be the largest “public” beach on the island. The picture below shows most of it.
Then, we headed north again to Rosario Resort and Spa (#2). There was a lot of parking at this beautiful resort, but not one spot was open for us to park. Scott dropped me off so that I could take a walk around and take a few pictures. I would love to stay in this condo overlooking the water. It reminded me of the condos at The Sagamore, Lake George, NY.
In the opposite direction was the resort. My next picture shows part of the restaurant/pool area.
For some reason, I didn’t take a picture of the hotel. So, here is their website picture, which gives a much better view than I could have gotten from land.
Below if one more shot from the parking lot.
Later that afternoon, we stopped for a late lunch at The Madrona Bar & Grill which was located right on the East Sound. It featured steaks, seafood, and other American fare served in a rustic cottage with deck seating & water views.
Afterward, we drove to the hostel where we would be staying overnight. It was also located in the center of town, about one block from the water. Actually, everything on this island is pretty close to the water.
Below are some pictures taken from the backyard. There are a few options for sleeping to choose from…a private bedroom or a shared bedroom in the house, or outside in a tent, tepee, or bus. Not kidding.
The owners sleep in the little brown building with the red windows and door.
We checked into our private room on the second floor in the house and took a nap. When we woke up, we drove to Crescent Beach Public Beach (#10) with the idea of taking the kayaks out to catch the sunset. This was as far as we got.
The next morning, we checked out of the hostel and went to breakfast at Rosies. They are known on the island for the BEST breakfast. We arrived shortly after two large parties, and were asked by our server if we had to catch a ferry. We didn’t know then that it would be 45 minutes before we would see our food. I never had “baked” eggs before, so it was worth the wait.
We headed west to Enchanted Valley Road (#3) to see my friend’s son’s home. They had purchased some land about five years ago and are slowly building “little houses” to allow for their growing business and family. It was so wonderful to see this handsome, young man again. He is the son of my very dear friends that I grew up with. They must be so proud of the life their children have created for themselves on such a gem of an island.
We had time for a hike and “Murf” suggested we check out Turtleback Mt. Nature Hike (#7). It was an easy to moderate hike with some long uphills to some spectacular views.
We parked by South Trail and headed north to Lost Oak Trail.
Parts of the trail were shady and wide while others were sunny and grassy.
Some were narrow…
…and lead to a magnificent views.
It was time to head south to the ferry for our reserved 7:25 p.m. ride back to Anacortes. When we pulled up to the station, the attendant seemed entertained by our arrival time. He said that the 5:15 ferry had just left and the next one was not until 8:50 p.m. I told him that we had made a reservation over a week ago. Upon checking my text messages, I realized the mistake I had made. Instead of booking a round trip fare, I booked two one-way fares from Anacortes to Orcas. Since their return trip is free, we just had to wait another three hours for the next ferry. I’d rather be hiking.
We finally were on our way back to Whidbey Island, hoping to return to Orcas Island again some day.
We left Glenwood Springs and headed west on 70 to Fruita. Scott had read that that there are some good mountain biking trails in this area. We found a site at Monument RV Resort.
Hurricane Rosa had begun to make her mark in western Colorado. It was early afternoon with more rain in the forecast, so we decided to take a drive to Colorado National Monument, knowing that we would be in and out of the car.
It it was only a short hike to see some incredible views. It was drizzling on and off but with relatively mild temperatures.
These photos don’t really reveal the actual depth of the canyon. You have to stand there to see for yourself.
I took a moment to collect my thoughts. Then, I followed my favorite photographer to catch him in action. He loves standing close to the edge.
Time for a selfie!
I also am amazed at the beauty of the unusual desert plants and flowers.
The following day we took our chances with the weather and went for a bike ride at Kokopelli’s Trailhead in Fruita.
Molly had told us that there were some good beginner trails where I could have fun perfecting my riding. She was right!