Category Archives: Idaho

Crater Lake National Park — July 13-July 23, 2018

On July 13 we (Tusen Takk & Dolce Vita) moved on to the Boise Riverside RV Park, where we spent a pleasant several days enjoying the surroundings.  The Park is adjacent to the Boise River and the 26-mile trail along its shore.  We crashed a baseball game featuring the minor league home team of the Hawks.

On the 16th we went on to the home, in McCall, ID, of Tom & Leslie Arnold, site of the Caribbean cruiser reunion the previous year.  There we helped Tom install solar panels on his fifth wheel camper and enjoyed once again the hospitality of the friendly couple.  Alas, Barb stubbed her toe on a piece of furniture in our RV; the resulting injury (later confirmed as a break) was destined to plague her for weeks and weeks and weeks into the future.

We departed on the 19th, overnighted in the Harney County Fairgrounds in Burns, OR, and arrived at the Diamond Lake RV Park on the 20th.  Roberta & Michael (Celilo) joined us the next day, turning our twosome into a threesome that would persist for over a month.

We had stopped at Diamond Lake not for its attractions, which were minimal, but because it was as close as we could get to RV lodging near Crater Lake.  We visited Crater Lake National Park on two consecutive days.  The first was quite smokey due to forest fires in the general area.  Indeed, we could see from a high point in the Park one fire raging in the not-very distance.  The second day was not better, but we continued our traversal around to the various overlooks on the Rim Drive.  We also  drove down the six mile Pinnacles Road that forks to the southeast off the Rim Drive and descends through thickly forested terrain, past a trailhead for Vidae Falls (to which we hiked, with Barb waiting in the car), ending at a parking area on the rim of Wheeler Creek canyon, known as Pinnacle Valley. The formations rise up in the ravine below, formed of conglomerate-type rocks – compressed pumice and ash from long ago volcanic eruptions. Originally, when this material formed a thick, unbroken not-yet-hard layer, hot gases escaping from below created long, narrow holes (called fumaroles) which,  surrounded by a heat-hardened lining, are now left exposed as the softer deposits have eroded away.

from Wikipedia: 

Crater Lake is a caldera lake in south-central Oregon in the western United States. It is the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot-deep caldera that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years. With a depth of 1,949 feet the lake is the deepest in the United States. Crater Lake features two small islands. Wizard Island, located near the western shore of the lake, is a cinder cone approximately 316 acres in size. Phantom Ship, a natural rock pillar, is located near the southern shore.

Mount Mazama, part of the Cascade Range volcanic arc, was built up over a period of at least 400,000 years. The caldera was created in a massive volcanic eruption between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago that led to the subsidence of Mount Mazama. Since that time, all eruptions on Mazama have been confined to the caldera. Sediments and landslide debris also covered the caldera floor. Eventually, the caldera cooled, allowing rain and snow to accumulate and form a lake. Landslides from the caldera rim thereafter formed debris fans and turbidite sediments on the lake bed. Fumaroles and hot springs remained common and active during this period. Also after some time, the slopes of the lake’s caldera rim more or less stabilized, streams restored a radial drainage pattern on the mountain, and dense forests began to revegetate the barren landscape. It is estimated that about 720 years was required to fill the lake to its present depth of 594 metres. Much of this occurred during a period when the prevailing climate was less moist than at present.  Some hydrothermal activity remains along the lake floor, suggesting that at some time in the future, Mazama may erupt once again.


Parks Galore; July 7-12, 2018

Golden Spike National Historic Site

The construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the railway network of the Eastern United States with California on the Pacific coast began in 1863 at the terminal points of Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California, and the two sections were merged and ceremonially completed on May 10, 1869, at the famous “golden spike” event at Promontory Summit, Utah.

We visited the Golden Spike National Historic Site on July 7, 2018, where we found an instructive visitor center and re-creations of the original steam engines that met at the summit.

The merger in 1869 created a nationwide mechanized transportation network that revolutionized the population and economy of the American West. This network caused the wagon trains of previous decades to become obsolete, exchanging it for a modern transportation system. The building of the railway required enormous labor in the crossing of plains and high mountains by the Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad, the two privately chartered federally backed enterprises that built the line westward and eastward respectively. There was an acute labor shortage when the railroads were begun, due to the Civil War and to the gold rush.

In the East, the effort started in Omaha, Nebraska by the Union Pacific Railroad initially proceeded very quickly because of the open terrain of the Great Plains. This changed, however, as the work entered Indian-held lands. The Native Americans saw the railroad as a violation of their treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American Bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called “Iron Horse” threatened their existence. Security measures were further strengthened, and progress on the railroad continued.

In the west, the Central Pacific Railroad made great initial progress along the Sacramento Valley. However, construction then slowed, first by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, then by cutting a railroad bed up the mountains themselves. As they progressed higher in the mountains, winter snowstorms and a shortage of reliable labor compounded the problems. Consequently, after a trial crew of Chinese workers was hired and found to work successfully, the Central Pacific expanded its efforts to hire more emigrant laborers—mostly Chinese. Emigrants from poverty stricken regions of China, many of which suffered from the strife of the Taiping Rebellion, seemed to be more willing to tolerate the living and working conditions on the railroad construction, and progress on the railroad continued. The increasing necessity for tunneling as they proceeded up the mountains then began to slow progress of the line yet again. The first step of construction was to survey the route and determine the locations where large excavations, tunnels and bridges would be needed. Crews could then start work in advance of the railroad reaching these locations. Supplies and workers were brought up to the work locations by wagon teams and work on several different sections proceeded simultaneously. To carve a tunnel, one worker held a rock drill on the granite face while one to two other workers swung eighteen-pound sledgehammers to sequentially hit the drill which slowly advanced into the rock. Once the hole was about 10 inches deep, it would be filled with black powder, a fuse set and then ignited from a safe distance. Nitroglycerin, which had been invented less than two decades before the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, was used in relatively large quantities during its construction. This was especially true on the Central Pacific Railroad, which owned its own nitroglycerin plant to ensure it had a steady supply of the volatile explosive. This plant was operated by Chinese laborers as they were willing workers even under the most trying and dangerous of conditions.

Several miles from the historic site, we stopped briefly to look at a small “rocket garden” outside the buildings for the company ATK Thiokol. This is the company that used to make the rocket boosters for the space shuttle. There are many different displays of rockets including a shuttle booster and a Patriot missile. Each has an interpretive sign that explains what one is seeing and what it was used for. One won’t spend a lot of time here, but it is definitely worth the stop on the way in/out to/from the Golden Spike National Historic Site.

The Thiokol Chemical Company was founded in 1929. In the mid-1950s the company bought extensive lands in Utah for its rocket test range. In 1986 it was found at fault for the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the deaths of its astronauts.

City of Rocks National Reserve

City of Rocks National Reserve, also known as the Silent City of Rocks, is a United States National Reserve and state park lying 2 miles north of the south central Idaho border with Utah. It is widely known for its excellent rock climbing and rock formations.

The rock spires in the City of Rocks and adjacent Castle Rocks State Park are largely composed of granitic rock. We visited the area on July 9, hiking some of the winding trails at the base of the rocks, and also seeking out a shaded table for picnic lunch.

The City of Rocks is a popular rock climbing area, with over 1,000 traditional and bolt-protected routes. In the 1980s, it was home to some of the most difficult routes in the USA. Climbers in the region refer to the area as simply ‘The City’.

California Trail wagon trains of the 1840s and 1850s left the Raft River valley and traveled through the area and over Granite Pass into Nevada. Names or initials of emigrants written in axle grease are still visible on Register Rock. Ruts from wagon wheels also can be seen in some of the rocks.

City of Rocks was designated a National Reserve, a unit of the National Park Service, in recognition of the nationally significant geological and scenic values of its rock formations and the historical significance of the California Trail. Rock formations in the reserve developed through an erosion process called exfoliation, during which thin rock plates and scales sloughed off along joints in the rocks. The joints, or fractures, resulted from the contraction of the granite as it cooled, from an upward expansion of the granite as overlying materials were eroded away, and from regional tectonic stresses. The granite has eroded into a fascinating assortment of shapes as high as 600 feet.

Twin Falls/Shoshone Falls

On July 12, we drove to the Snyder Winery, near Buhl, ID. Bill & Colleen had been there before, and had contacted her to see if we could park there overnight.  Even though she would be gone when we arrived, she gave her permission.  We picked up a rock to the bus windshield on the way.  After calling to Boise to arrange for a repair the next day, we went to Twin Falls for dinner to celebrate Bill’s birthday.  

Shoshone Falls is a waterfall on the Snake River in southern Idaho, approximately 3 miles northeast of the city of Twin Falls. Sometimes called the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls is 212 feet high—45 feet higher than Niagara Falls—and flows over a rim nearly 1,000 feet wide.

Formed by catastrophic outburst flooding during the Pleistocene ice age about 14,000 years ago, Shoshone Falls marks the historical upper limit of fish migration (including salmon) in the Snake River, and was an important fishing and trading place for Native Americans. The falls became a tourist attraction starting in the 1860s. The City of Twin Falls now owns and operates a park overlooking the waterfall.

Due to its great height, Shoshone Falls is a total barrier to the upstream movement of fish. Anadromous fish (which live in the ocean as adults, but return to fresh water to lay eggs) such as salmon and steelhead/rainbow trout, and other migratory fish such as sturgeon, cannot pass the falls. Prior to the construction of many dams on the Snake River below Shoshone Falls, spawning fish would congregate in great numbers at the base of the falls, where they were a major food source for local Native Americans.

Currently, the Falls are subject to periodic drying. And that brings up the name of I.B. Perrine, who moved to Idaho Territory in 1884 and established a farm and ranch operation in the Snake River Canyon near present-day Jerome.

Although Perrine’s operation in the canyon received plenty of water, the surrounding area could not be easily irrigated and was therefore largely unproductive. Beginning in 1893, Perrine worked to convince private financiers to build a dam on the Snake River, along with a corresponding canal system to irrigate the area. This work culminated in the 1900 founding of the Twin Falls Land and Water Company and the subsequent completion of Milner Dam in 1905.

In 1900 the Twin Falls Land and Water Company was incorporated and filed claim for 3,000 cubic feet per second of water from the Snake River. Perrine’s ultimate goal was to irrigate 500,000 acres of land. Although this would have been impermissible in other parts of the western US, due to regulations, Perrine’s project fell under the boundaries of the 1894 Carey Act, which allowed private companies to construct large-scale irrigation systems in desert regions where the task would be far too great for individual settlers.

The reclamation of vast tracts of desert into productive farmland practically overnight led to the regional moniker of “Magic Valley”. Powered entirely by gravity, it was “a rare successful example” of private irrigation development under the Carey Act.

Twin Falls is near the site where Evel Knievel attempted to jump across the Snake River Canyon on September 8, 1974 on a rocket-powered motorcycle, after unsuccessfully petitioning the U.S. Government to let him attempt a jump over the Grand Canyon. Knievel and his team purchased land on both sides of the Snake River and built a large earthen ramp and launch structure. A crowd of 30,000 gathered to watch Knievel’s jump, which failed because his parachute opened too early, causing him to float down towards the river. Knievel likely would have drowned were it not for canyon winds that blew him to the river bank; he ultimately survived with a broken nose. In September 2016, professional stuntman Eddie Braun successfully jumped the Snake River Canyon in a replica of Knievel’s rocket.

Side Adventure with Zane — June 27-30, 2017

On June 27, we moved to Post Falls, a small town near Coeur d’Alene (CDA) , Idaho. CDA is a satellite city of Spokane, which is located about 30 miles to the west, in the state of Washington. We were in Post Falls to see Zane Cowles, son of Jeff Johnson, son of Barbara.  Which is a long way of saying that 16-yr-old Zane is our grandson. We proposed that he join us on a little camping side trip, and were pleased when he agreed. We were even more pleased when it developed that he seemed to enjoy the experience as much as we did.

Farragut State Park

We were much more interested in camping than in driving, so Barb chose the nearby Farragut State Park as our destination, located at the southern tip of the Lake Pend Oreille in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains.

The 4,000-acre park is about 30 miles northeast of CDA. Publicized activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, cycling, fishing, boating, swimming, water sports, orienteering, disc golf, flying model aircraft, archery, and horseback riding.  We didn’t do all of these, but we did do some hiking, some bird-watching, some kayaking, some Ladder Balling, some Mexican Training, some museum visiting (see below) and S’mores Eating.

The Park formerly held the Farragut Naval Training Station, a major training base of the U.S. Navy during World War II.  Why northern Idaho for naval training?  To keep it well inland away from possible attack by the Japanese.  Ground for the base was broken 75 years ago in March 1942 and its first phase opened in early August; by September the base had a population of 55,000, making it the largest city in Idaho. It was the second-largest naval training center in the world at the time, and liberty trains ran three times daily to Spokane, Washington, about an hour away. Over 293,000 sailors received basic training at Farragut during its 30 months of existence. The last recruit graduated in March 1945 and the facility was decommissioned in June 1946. It was also used as a prisoner of war camp in 1945, run by the U.S. Army; nearly 900 Germans, most captured shortly after D-Day, worked as gardeners and maintenance men.   Reportedly, many former prisoners liked the area so much that they returned after the war.

After its use and closure as the Farragut Naval Training Station, the site housed “Farragut College and Technical Institute” for three years, beginning in 1946. It did not re-open in late 1949, because of financial difficulties.

A remaining park feature is the Museum at the Brig, located in the confinement facility of the naval training station. Its displays include boot camp, naval, and war memorabilia, as well as historic prison cells.

Lake Pend Oreille

We did our kayaking outside of the Park, renting kayaks in Bayview.  Lake Pend Oreille is huge.  It is not a reservoir, but is instead the creation of the melting of ancient glaciers.  It is the state’s largest (43 miles long, 111 miles of shoreline). It is the deepest (at 1,158 feet deep, there are only four deeper lakes in the nation).  We spent about 3 hours on the lake, with Barb and Zane in a double and Chuck in a single.

On June 30 we returned Zane to his home in Post Falls.  We had all decided it would be good to take him with us to see Barb’s three brothers in Wenatchee, WA (and take a train back later), but when we returned we learned that in our absence an employment opportunity had materialized, so we said our farewells. We look forward to our next visit with the fine young man.

Heading southward — Idaho & Utah, August 19-23, 2016

After returning to our RV, we caught up with Bill & Colleen at the Murdock Camp Ground near Sun Valley/Ketchum.  We spent August 20 being tourists in Ketchum/Sun Valley, including a ride up a ski lift to the top of one of the famous runs on Bald Mountain.  We also sought out the grave of Ernest Hemingway in the Ketchum Cemetery.  We had lunch at Gretchen’s in the Sun Valley Lodge, named in honor of Gretchen Kunigk Fraser, the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in skiing.   She later made Sun Valley her home.

On August 21 we stopped at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, a U.S. National Monument and national preserve in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho. It lies between the small towns of Arco and Carey, at an average elevation of 5,900 feet above sea level. The protected area’s features are volcanic and represent one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States.

The Monument and Preserve encompass three major lava fields and about 400 square miles  of sagebrush steppe grasslands to cover a total area of 1,117 square miles. All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at 800 feet (240 m). There are excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava, as well as tree molds (cavities left by lava-incinerated trees), lava tubes (a type of cave), and many other volcanic features. The 60 distinct solidified lava flows that form the Craters of the Moon Lava Field range in age from 15,000 to just 2,000 years. [Description adapted from Wikipedia.]

Our visit included a Ranger-guided walk through a lava tube, created when a mass of flowing lava congealed on the outside but continued to flow on the inside until the inside was evacuated.

We spent the night in the Arco RV Campground.

On August 22 we stopped at the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I, the worlds first nuclear power plant.

Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-I) is a decommissioned research reactor and U.S. National Historic Landmark located in the desert about 18 miles southeast of Arco, Idaho. At 1:50 pm on December 20, 1951, it became the world’s first electricity-generating nuclear power plant when it produced sufficient electricity to illuminate four 200-watt light bulbs.  It subsequently generated sufficient electricity to power its building, and continued to be used for experimental purposes until it was decommissioned in 1964. Besides generating the world’s first electricity from atomic energy, EBR-I was also the world’s first breeder reactor and the first to use plutonium fuel to generate electricity. EBR-1’s initial purpose was to prove Enrico Fermi’s fuel breeding principle, a principle that showed a nuclear reactor producing more fuel atoms than consumed. Along with generating electricity, EBR-1 would also prove this principle.  [Wikipedia]

Outside the plant were two enormous experimental nuclear “engines”  constructed to explore the possibility of powering a plane with nuclear energy.  The intended plane still exists, but is stored elsewhere.  As you might suppose from the size of the engines, the experiment was not a success.

We also stopped briefly in the town of Blackfoot, where we visited the Idaho Potato Museum.  Boy do we know how to have fun!

After the museum we continued on to Pocatello, where we camped in a County Fairgrounds.  The place looked familiar.  Here is why.

On August 23 we continued onward, stopping to overnight in a “dispersed” (and free) campground near Nephi, Utah.  That night, as on most nights, the four of us played Spades.  That night, as on most nights, the mighty men prevailed.

Our next stop was in Capitol Reef National Park.  But that marvelous destination deserves its own post.  Stay tuned.

VOMIT — August 10-18, 2016

Before I discuss the events that occurred during the time frame listed in the title of this post, I should give a little background.

Last Fall, while pursuing our annual visit to our doctors in Savannah, GA, Barb saw a cardiologist  to see whether she should be taking statins for her cholesterol. Among the tests he ordered was an ultrasound of her carotid arteries.  She had no alarming symptoms, but saw the doctor given the medical history of her family and because numerous doctors had recommended statins, an option about which she was skeptical.

The full report was not available by the time we left Savannah to return to the Caribbean, but the initial indication was that there was no significant blockage and that all was well.  Early this year when settling up medical bills from last year and paying the balance for the ultrasound, she decided to find out what the report said.  The only way she could  get it was to have it sent to our mailing service in Green Cove Springs, FL.  She eventually got the report and learned that a 1.3 cm nodule had been found on her right thyroid.

So this year during our extended visit to Bismarck, Barb decided to seek medical advice.  The ultrasound was repeated, with no change in size.  But the recommendation was to take a biopsy by needle to investigate the nature of the nodule.  That biopsy revealed a cell type that is consistent with follicular neoplasm.  We were told that cells of this type are suspicious and could be cancerous, but that the only way to be sure is to remove the entire affected wing and then examine it.  If it is cancerous, the other wing would also be removed (and additional treatment would probably be undertaken.)  So surgery was strongly recommended.  We decided to involve the medical facility currently ranked number one in the United States:  Mayo Clinic.  We were able to secure an appointment, but several weeks in the future.

Meanwhile, Mom was recovering from her own medical issues, so we decided to take our RV to the west and visit Yellowstone National Park and then join our friends in McCall, ID for an informal rendezvous at the home of Tom and Leslie Arnold.

And that brings us to the events of this post.  On August 10 Barb and I left our friends (still partying) and our RV in Tom & Leslie’s yard and drove our little Chevy Tracker to Boise to catch a flight to Minneapolis, where we rented an automobile to drive to Rochester, MN.

In the following days Barb met with an endocrinologist, had yet another ultrasound, and had another needle biopsy.  Same result:  surgery recommended.  We also got a more precise meaning of “for this type of cell, most turn out to be benign”.  “Most”, as in eighty-five percent.   Remarkably,  Barb was able to schedule the surgery for the day after we got the results of the biopsy.  The surgeon, a specialist who performs hundreds of these a year,  removed the right thyroid (and the small isthmus that separates the wings), waited for the removed tissue to be examined, and then closed up the incision, because, yes, the nodule was benign.

They call this situation a VOMIT – “Victim of Medical Imaging Technology”. If the nodule had not been discovered by the initial ultrasound in 2015, Barb would not have had the surgery. But of course if it had been cancerous, it would have been a good thing that it was detected.

The surgery was done in the morning and Barb walked back to our hotel room late in the afternoon. She had a sore throat for a few days — the after-effect of a tube they put in her throat for the surgery — but otherwise felt generally fine. Well, there were some early episodes of low energy, but we don’t know if that is the consequence of anesthesia or of having lost half of her thyroid.  Hopefully her left thyroid will make enough hormone to compensate for the missing right side.

We made it back to McCall, ID and our RV very late Wednesday.  Thursday morning I Installed a new charging relay on the RV — restoring the ability of the RV alternator to charge the house batteries when underway– and got underway after Leslie and Tom fed us a huckleberry pancake breakfast.  Our destination:  Sun Valley, where we would meet Bill & Colleen.  But that gathering deserves its own post.  Stay tuned.

Cruiser Rendezvous — August 5-10, 2016

On August 1  Barb and I departed Bismarck in our camper, heading out west to join friends in what we labeled a “Cruiser Rendezvous”, since we are all either current or former Caribbean cruisers.  We spent the first night in Miles City and the second night  at Rocky Mountain RV Park, just north of Yellowstone National Park.  We spent August 3rd from sunup to sundown within Yellowstone, and then returned to Rocky Mountain RV Park.  Next morning, we continued west, stopping for the night at Lolo, Montana, at a campground that doubled as a square-dance center.  Finally, on August 5th we arrived at the home of Tom and Leslie Arnold, near McCall Idaho, the site of our rendezvous.  Not everyone had arrived yet, but eventually the full complement was there:  Tom & Leslie, Mike & Roberta, Jack & Jo, Bill & Colleen, Bruce & Jan, Chris & Barbara, Dave & Helen and, of course, Barb and I.

Our gracious hosts, Tom & Leslie:



On August 6th, a number of us drove through McCall to the Ponderosa State Park to walk the Lily Marsh Trail near Payette Lake.

Barb and I owe Bill & Bruce an enormous debt of gratitude.  They helped us decide how to upgrade our camper by adding a solar panel and an inverter/charger and by expanding our house battery bank and by rewiring the master control panel.  They created the list of materials to accomplish these goals, and then took delivery at Flagstaff and then brought it all to McCall.  And then they spent DAYS of their Idaho vacation formulating the details and installing the upgrade.  And they did this not just for us, but for Mike & Roberta as well.  Incredible.  Thanks a billion, guys.

Each couple was in charge of creating a dinner for one night for all guests.  Barb and I did a Low Country Boil.  After the Boil our friends surprised us with a toast and a candle-topped dessert in celebration of our 34th anniversary.

And then we all gathered around a fire in Tom’s new bonfire burner.

On August 8 we had an after-dinner private concert featuring Rob Mehl.  Great songs, and what a story teller!

On August 9, most of us braved a chilly and blustery day to take a pontoon boat cruise on Payette Lake.  We stopped at a friend of Tom’s at one point, and took a short walk to “Charley’s Garden”, a private-but-open-to-the-public garden.

We thank Tom & Leslie for conceiving and realizing this event.  We thank them for opening up their home and their commodious guest house.  We thank them for organizing such enjoyable side activities.  We thank them for being such gracious hosts.

Heading East — Island Park, Idaho to Glendive, Montana, August 20-27, 2015

On August 20 we moved on down the road to the Buffalo Campground in the Targhee National Forest. Buffalo Campground is located 26 miles south of West Yellowstone, Montana in beautiful Island Park, Idaho along the banks of the Buffalo River at an elevation of 6,200 feet.  There are no hookups, but the campground is huge and we found a nice pull-through site for our one-night stay.  Next day, we continued east to Bozeman, Montana, where we turned north and motored through lovely country some 10 miles to the ranch of Roxanne Linderman, nestled some 5 or so miles below the Bridger Mountains.  There we visited Roxanne and her sister Monica, who lives on a plot cut from the ranch.  Monica is a long-time friend of Barb – they were in school together as girls, and Monica has visited us on Tusen Takk II several times.  The ranch was homesteaded in the 1860s and still has log-cabin structures, including a barn, a chicken coop, and a portion of the main residence.  Roxanne has an interesting array of animals on the ranch, including llamas, alpacas, unusual breeds of sheep and cattle, and many types of poultry.  She was busy doing some haying while we were there, and I got a chance to do a tiny bit of tractor and truck driving.  Monica, silly goose, is still working as a computer consultant in hospital software, so she is only home from her job in Florida on weekends.  She had to fly out on Sunday afternoon, but we were enjoying our visit on the ranch with Roxanne so much that we delayed leaving until Monday morning.  Roxanne took me out on a dune buggy so that I could find and photograph a magpie, but instead we found a large herd of elk.  On a different walk, I found and photographed sandhill cranes in the grass.  Earlier, I had popped off a whole series of two in flight.  Processing later revealed the incredible extent to which they fly in synchronization — I illustrate the fact below with but two of a dozen photos.

On our way back toward Bozeman, we noticed that we had a chip in the camper windshield, so we made an appointment to have that fixed before leaving the area.   We deposited the camper at Sunrise Campground in Bozeman and spent the afternoon at the Museum of the Rocky Mountains, where we enjoyed the many exhibits about the dinosaur fossils displayed there, and also attended three (!) different programs in the planetarium.  Next morning (8/25) we got the windshield taken care of and then moved on down the road a bit to the little town of Roundup, Montana, where we spent the night in the nearly-deserted campground at their county fairgrounds.  We spent the night of 8/26 at the Big Sky Campground in Miles City, and the next night in Makoshika State Park campground near Glendive, Montana, the largest of the State Parks in Montana.  The name of the park comes from the Lakota Indian mako sica, which translates to “bad land” or “bad earth”, an apt description for the geology of the area, a fertile source of dinosaur fossils, including many that are now exhibited at the Museum of Rocky Mountains.

Camping in Fairgrounds — Bannock County, Pocatello, Idaho; August 19, 2015

August 19 we  camped in county fairgrounds in Pocatello, Idaho. Barb had used an app to discover the campground. Cheap, and in very good condition, with water and electricity at each site. A commodious WC with clean showers. Single pumpout. Marvelous facility. But what made the site special were the evening activities. Almost every night there is something going on. Wednesdays, as we soon discovered, is set aside for barrel racing and team roping. An adjacent large parking lot began filling up with a gazillion trucks and horse trailers. By the time we walked over, the team roping was underway in a covered arena and the barrel racing in an outdoor arena. This was a family affair, with moms and dads on horses and kids too. Other families lined the fences as spectators.Perhaps a few words of explanation would be advisable for the benefit of the city slickers among our readers.When a large calf (upon whose head a set of horns have been affixed) is released on one end of the arena, it makes a mad dash toward the gate on the other end. Two mounted riders pursue the calf. One attempts to rope the horns or neck, and the other attempts to rope the rear legs. When this is successful, the calf is immobilized on the two taut ropes stretched between the two riders. Success is rare but timed, with the winner being the team with the least time.In barrel racing, the rider enters the arena at a full gallop and must circle each of three barrels arranged as the apexes of an equilateral triangle, and then dash back out of the arena. Circuits accomplished without knocking over a barrel are timed and the shortest time wins.The contests were undertaken with friendly efficiency, in an atmosphere that reminded me of the evening softball games held in communities all over America. Each contest had a cordial announcer voicing the times over a PA system. What fun!