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Glacier Park 2016

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The Gang of Eight, aka The Saltines, aka Crackers gathered once again with trailers in tow to convene in yet another national landmark! Traveling from varied parts of the western United States to gather together for friendship, carousing, and reconnecting with the beauty of Nature that surrounds us all! Our home camp was at North American RV Park in the small town of Coram, MT north of Kalispell. The RV park was very nice and very clean and the staff were friendly and helpful. They put us all together in the back of the campground (very strategic to other campers nearby, wink wink).

Our adventures started by visiting the city of Kalispell. Unfortunately, like many small towns we visit on a Sunday, most of the stores and shops were closed. That made the visit short and we headed up the road to Whitefish. It didn’t take us long to find a food and beverage establishment that was well suited to the gang. We headed over to Casey’s and went to their rooftop area. The food was great, but even better was their Mule drinks, oh my gawd!!! Those sent us on a quest to find the exact ginger beer they used for them. After our quest found the elixir, back to camp we went to concoct mules of our own!

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Ruger

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Ursie and Ruger

Yes we ate a lot and of course we drank a lot, but we did manage to get some hiking, sightseeing, and the obligatory shopping in while we were there. Glacier Park rivals Yellowstone in it’s beauty and we were very impressed. Our first foray into the backwoods territory was to travel up the Going-to-the-Sun-Road to Logan Pass. Bob, our travel advisor, had warned us before hand that the winds would be howling up top so we didn’t really prepare to do any serious hiking. We were enthralled with the scenery and a bit nervous with the narrow road. When we got to the pass, we stopped at the visitor center and had a look then decided to venture out into the wind and cold and hike a bit up the trail to Hidden Lake. Well, we just kept going all the way to the lake, wind and all. See, that’s just how we roll! During the week we did other hikes and saw other areas of the park. Another hike took us to Avalanche Lake along the Avalanche River. It was a magical place although very crowded. Had it not been for the car disabled passes our two old and decrepit men of the Saltines possess, we would not have found parking. There, in the parking lot, we tested our bear spray. It worked, especially when the breeze blew some of it back in our faces!!! Not so smart! We also took a trek around the park to the east and through the town of Browning in the heart of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, uhhhh ok, enough said. We entered the Many Glacier entrance to the trailhead of the Apikuni Falls and hiked that trail. There were some tough spots, but the reward was incredible!! Another hike was on the Lake Stanton Trail to Lake Stanton, a very quiet and secluded hike just as beautiful as any other. The Ruger dog came on that hike with us and just bounded with the youth of a pup. It was on this hike a few of us sustained minor injuries with Ursie taking a fall and getting cut up, and Debbie getting multiple sting bites from a crazed wasp. Luckily she is not allergic. Ruger gave us all a scare when he started acting lethargic at camp one day and refused to eat. He then threw up bile and started shaking. Rob and Ursie had to take him on an emergency vet visit. They found one that could take him in and he had an infection and fever. With some meds and rest, he was back too himself in no time!!

Glacier Park and Montana is abundant with wildlife, right??? Well it wasn’t on this trip for us. We hardly saw anything much in the way of animals. We caught glimpses of mountain goats, one was very close to us, a few deer in the far distance, many dead skunks on the roads, a couple of squirrels having a love moment, the sound of a moose or loons, and ONE bear. FB_IMG_1472342636646The bear was seen by Bob, Patti, Rob, and Ursie. We were in the second truck and when we pulled up, I opened the door to turn around to get a good picture or video perhaps, and Pam screamed as she does often, bear disappeared and photo is courtesy of Ursie……sigh!
The week sadly flew by and it was time to leave. We took a more scenic route back that just didn’t have us on I90 the whole time. We drove through never seen towns of Sand Point and Bonners Ferry, Idaho which we thought were gorgeous! I think they are both even prettier than Coeur D’Alene and that is saying quite a bit! Our last spot on the way home was at Sprague Lake Resort. It is just a tiny fishing campground on the lake run by a sweet German lady named Monica. It was crazy windy and the bugs were a bit overwhelming, but a quaint place for an overnight stop. We had our last hurrah and sadly returned to the reality of the working world!

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Our Last Night!

Thanks for reading our adventures and you can find all the photos in the photo gallery here! Until next time!!!

Touring Arizona

Well as I mentioned in my last post, we have sold our San Juan Island cabin in what will be our first small step on the road to retirement. Now we need to investigate where we want to end up when we do, and it won’t be remaining in the Seattle area! The region has grown too large and continues to do so as people are just flocking to the area left and right. Along with this rampant growth comes a higher cost of living with a lower quality of life, in my own humble opinion and it is time to get the hell out! Our first destination on the list is Arizona. As a heat hating person, I had my sights set on Flagstaff where it’s elevation provides all four seasons, not scorching hot in the summer, and Debbie gets her sunshine! We used our timeshare at the Wyndham Flagstaff Resort as our base of operations and we enjoyed the comfy accommodations! Along with looking around the area and checking out housing, we also had the opportunity to hook up with friends, and old friends at that! Our first hook up was with Jeff and Jamie Simon. I have known Jeff for many years as we used to work together at S.E. Rykoff in my old restaurant supply sales career life back in the early 80’s. We have been friends ever since. They joined us on a drive down to Sedona to have a look-see. We LOVE Sedona, however, the home prices seem a bit steep for us there and are not exactly looking to retire in a tourist town. It is a beautiful place and we looked at many homes and walked the shops and enjoyed the scenery. Before it got too late we decided to make a trip down to Jerome since we were close. Now that town is a trip! Once a thriving copper mining town, it is now a tourist town and claims to be the largest ghost town in America. It has a weird vibe to it, but very cool nonetheless. We stopped in an old hotel, The Connor, for a drink in its old bar. The place was hopping for a Sunday afternoon and a very good band was playing. It was a good time and we jetted back to Flagstaff for dinner and a light snow was falling……loved it! They had to head back to So Cal the next day to face reality and we had the rest of the week for vacation and it was good seeing them again!

Our next visit with friends was with our good friends Bob and Patti McEvoy. They are close by down in Surprise and drove up to spend a couple of days with us doing some sight-seeing. Our first stop was up to the Grand Canyon’s south rim. In all her years of life, Debbie had never been or seen the Grand Canyon and as you can imagine, she was awestruck. I hadn’t been in years and had forgotten the majesty of the place. Let us hope that any proposed development of the area is stopped in its tracks. Must money ruin everything? We spent most of the day there and drove the south rim road and stopped at a few of the vantage spots. Some of the pictures are shown below.

Mostly Grand Canyon Pictures

 


We had another day with the McEvoys sightseeing. Bob is a great tour guide and does his research on things to do and places to see. He will find places that we would have never thought of checking out. The first place on the day’s tour was Two Guns Ghost Town. It was an old abandoned town along old Route 66 that I am sure had stories to tell. It was a very weird place that you could see had numerous attempts of being a viable place but failed. We love old stuff like this! We then jaunted out to the Meteor Crater, which looked like…….well…….a big crater! Being in Arizona with little rainfall, it is the best preserved meteorite impact on Earth and believe it or not, is not a National Park or landmark, but is family owned for many generations! Heading back towards Flagstaff, we took a short detour down to the Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings. These are old relics of an ancient Indian village built into the underside of cliffs very similar to Mesa Verde. Brought back memories of my life in New Mexico. It was a nice hike down into the “island” where many of the dwellings are located. Fun times with friends!!!

Two Guns Ghost Town


 

Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings


Now the time spent on our own was looking around Flagstaff at neighborhoods, different areas of town, and homes. Most of what we found just didn’t hit a home run with us. While I loved the beauty and all of the trees, Debbie just didn’t click with the housing options we saw for sale. Prices seemed high for what you got and many homes were a bit older for our liking. I was a bit depressed at that point. Then we drove down to Prescott!!! The minute we pulled into town, we knew we loved it there. As a matter of fact, we drove down twice in the week we were in AZ and looked all over the place and saw many homes. The town square was quaint and vibrant and everyone seemed nice and friendly. We were a little aghast of so many gated communities that had houses for sale that we couldn’t see unless we had a realtor get us in. It is a bit too early in our search to engage in services from a realtor just yet as we are still a few years out from anything. Still, it doesn’t hurt to start scouting out areas ahead of time. Also on our list of possible destinations are Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and also maybe Sequim if we decide to stay in Washington. Wherever, whatever, can’t wait!!!!!!!

New Year Catch Up

I guess I better write an update with the goings on in the Givens’ household. I am so used to posting on Facebook and Twitter, that I sometimes forget about the blog here. If you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter and are not following us there, you are missing quite a bit. It is 2016, get with the program! I am also assuming that you even care, how narcissistic of me!

Let’s see, where to begin, one of the things I forget to mention in earlier posts was my bout with shingles back in the summer! Wow that was painful and in encompassed the whole right side of my scalp and in the heat of the summer too! It sidelined me for three weeks and I hid in the house from the sun and heat as best I could. My hiatal hernia surgery in 2014 didn’t hurt as bad!!! A miserable ordeal it was, and I still have phantom itching on my scalp at times. I will definitely be getting a shingles shot when my doctor says it is okay!

My Aching Neck!

My Aching Neck!

The rest of the summer saw us taking a few camping trips locally in our trailer so we could scout out real estate and possible retirement locations that we could settle our work weary asses down. This brings up the next item of interest, we have put up our San Juan Island house aka Givens Grove up for sale. We have shifted gears on living there full-time and are going to decide on other places. Getting to and from an island is too much of a headache and the politics there suck! We still have a couple of years before Debbie can retire and as for me at that point, we will have to see where we stand financially! The one decision we have made is to get out of King County and the Seattle area. It has become too crowded and too expensive to enjoy life here in retirement…….period!

In October we went down to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary once again to volunteer with the animals. We fed pigs, groomed horses, and walked dogs. One dog really tugged at my heart and almost brought her home but resisted the temptation, barely! We just aren’t ready for two dogs in the house. Debbie wants another one badly so Cordell can teach it how to behave……ummm…….yeah! It is always such a spiritual reconnection when we visit there!

Joe's New Friend

Joe’s New Friend

Debbie and her Piggy Friends

Debbie and her Piggy Friends

After our stint there, we drove down to the Phoenix area to visit our friends the McEvoy’s who were joined by our other friends the Kelly’s! These are our trailer buddies if you didn’t already know! We visited Superstition Mountain and went over to Tortilla Flats for lunch. Another day we took in the sights of Sedona. Deb loved it there……. a possible retirement spot?!?! I love Arizona too, but don’t want to be in the heat, maybe Flagstaff is more to my liking, we are going back in March to have a look around!

The Six Finger Drunkards

The Six Finger Drunkards

The six of us were then to head to Las Vegas where we had a timeshare booked, but poor Patty Belle was sick which turned out to be pneumonia so it was just us and the Kelly’s. She is fine now! We drove up, stopping by the Hoover Dam to take a walk and have a look and be tourists! The water was very low and if it gets any lower, it won’t be enough to turn the turbines for the electricity Las Vegas needs to stay lit up! We had a great time with Rich and Pam and did lots of walking on the Strip! We saw Cirque du Soleil O and what a show, unbelievable!! We spent Halloween night walking Fremont Street and that was a show in itself……wild!!! It was a great time like always with old friends like these!

Debbie Photobombing!

Debbie Photobombing!

Vegas

Debbie and Pam Hitting The Slots!

Speaking of old friends, in early December, we hooked up with a very old friend of mine I used to work with in my restaurant sales life, Jeff Simon and wife Jamie! We met in Oakland for the Packer/Raider game. Since we were staying in Oakland near the airport and stadium, we took the BART into San Francisco on the Saturday and spent the afternoon walking around, hitting local watering holes and having dinner at John’s Grill. For the most part, Jeff and I spent a lot of time catching up since we hadn’t seen each other in years! Debbie and Jamie also get along just great too! The game was awesome and the Packers got a win and the Raider Fans were pretty cool too! It was a fun trip and look forward to hanging with them again!

Joe And Jeff

Joe and Jeff surrounded by Raider Gear!

Shots

The Boys Doing Shots!

Dinner

Dinner At John’s Grill

And there you have it, a catch up with the Givens’! A new year has begun and new adventures to have and let’s hope that we all stay happy and healthy and have a wonderful 2016!! Let the show begin!!!

Wine, Women, and Smoke

Yep, that’s right, another camping vacation in the books and it was another fun one of course! This one took us to the wine country of Eastern Washington and into the foothills of the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon. Four couples and four trailers involved, us, Rich and Pam, Bob and Patty, and Rob and Ursie, otherwise known as “The Gang of Six”! The ride over was a white knuckled extravaganza due to high winds blowing and reduced visibility to to blowing dust and smokey skies. It was also a boys(Cordell and I) solo journey without Debbie. See got her calendars crossed and signed up for a half marathon in Vancouver, BC during the same weekend as the beginning of the vacation. It was all good and we arranged it so she could still go up, by herself, do the run and then fly into Walla Walla the second night and join in the vacation fun! So after the trailer blowing from side to side most of the way into Walla Walla, the boy and I made it to the first stop RV Resort Four Seasons safe and sound.

Now there is Bob McEvoy, one of the unluckiest and in the same note, luckiest guys we know! As I arrived and started backing in, there he stood blood all over his hands, arms, dripping down his clothes with his permanent grin plastered on his face. He looked like a scene from a horror movie. Seems their camping cat they rescued some time ago and may still be a bit feral, escaped from the truck when they pulled in. Afraid the cat might just take off for good, he and Patty made a mad rush after it. When Bob got his hands on the crazed feline, it went catnip crazy on his extremities. The result was a bloodied Bob but a captured cat! These injuries hampered him throughout the trip, requiring a trip to an urgent care then surgery back home as sever infection set it! It could only happen to him.

The second night, Debbie flew in from Vancouver, BC at the large international air hub that is Walla Walla Regional Airport and the following two days we spent indulging in the region’s many many wineries. Wine tasting all day, four women, many bottles purchased, well you might take an educated guess how the nights went. We found Walla Walla to be way more interesting than imagined. I don’t recall ever actually being in downtown Walla Walla although have driven by and near it many times. The downtown core is bustling with many cool shops, restaurants and many tasting rooms. One restaurant we stopped for lunch was the Red Monkey, a funky little place with some really good food, and you can see the tasting tour list we did at the end of the post. It was a very nice town, but would we live there…….naw!

The next half of the trip was just over the border into Oregon, taking a road from Milton-Freewater into a canyon along the south fork of the Walla Walla River to a campground called Harris Park. It was a nice clean place and we had it all to ourselves for the first two nights. They had a group camp section and that’s where we all gathered.

Camp Crazy!

Camp Crazy!

We really wanted to do some hiking and that we did. The only problem there was really only two good trails and one was closed due to the large number of rattlesnakes infesting the hillside around the trail. Debbie does NOT do snakes………of any kind! We ended up doing two days of hiking the same hike. That is kind of boring but on the second day we went a bit further and stumbled on a very cool cluster of cabins at the end of the trail. It probably could only be accessed on the other side of the range by ATVs or four wheelers. The place looked like an old homestead, but was being visited and kept up. We let our imaginations run wild. Our campground was totally off the grid, no cell or phone service was to be had. We actually had to look at and talk to each other the whole time we were there….imagine that! The closest town was Milton-Freewater about 12 miles back the way we came in. We had to go there to get ice and also had to hit their only laundromat to do some washing because our boy Cordell decided to blow bits into the bed one early morning. We have only one set of bedding in the trailer(make note to buy another). Now unlike Walla Walla, the town isn’t so….well…..bustling! It is actually kind of depressing, but one weird thing, there are statues of frogs all over town and Debbie was fascinated with them.

Debbie and the Frog!

Debbie and the Frog!

There are over 40 of them placed throughout the town and do you know why? Well you can read why here! The one gem we did discover was the El Sirloin Mexican Restaurant. They had a mexican food lunch buffet and it was very authentic and excellent. Do not pass it up if you ever find yourself in town. The only downside to the whole trip was the constant haze and smoke in the air. As you might have heard, Washington State has had one of it’s hottest and driest summers on record. That has not bode well for Eastern Washington and it’s fire season. It has been horrible with hundreds of thousands of acres burned and many homes lost! We were surrounded by fires while there and the hazy skies and the smell of smoke reminded us daily. As we slide into Fall please help us with your prayers for rain, we need it! There you have it, our fun vacation filled with wine, women, and smoke! I should add blood to the list! Happy trails until we write again!

WINERY TOUR LIST!

Woodward Canyon Winery
Lodmell Cellars
Three Rivers Winery
L’ Ecole No. 41
Sleight of Hands Cellars
Otis Kenyon
Cougar Crest Winery
Henry Earl Estates

Road Trip 2014 – Part II

Yellowstone……Yellowstone……….Yellowstone! Until you have been, you just can’t realize how beautiful this country we live in is, or how beautiful this planet is! The WOW factor was really big here! The five nights we spent weren’t nearly enough to see everything it had to offer! We rolled into camp at the Grant Village Campground. It is accessed from the south entrance of the park! It is a very nice campground with plenty of amenities: store, gas, propane, laundry, and showers. our site was situated right on the shore of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake! Each morning you could hear elk bugling and some nights coyotes and wolves were heard in the distance. It was here that we also experienced some of the coldest nights of the trip, one night dropped to a bone chilling 17 degrees! The first thing we wanted to see was Old Faithful, of course, but there was a problem, the direct route was closed due to a bridge replacement. The only way to it was a circuitous 86 mile one way route. Now you might see that as a draw back, but it made us see allot of the park just getting there! We saw sights like the Hayden Valley which was usually full of bison, the Norris Geyser Basin, Artists Paintpots, Monument Geyser Basin, Firehole Falls, Biscuit Basin, just to name a few!

This fantastic scenic tour of the park ended at Old Faithful. We got there just in time to see it blow! Timing couldn’t have been better! We checked out the Old Faithful Inn was built in 1903-1904 with local logs and stone, the Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world. It almost burned down in one of the parks many wildfires! Especially one of the park’s largest fire in it’s recorded history, the fires of 1988. We saw the evidence of that massive all throughout the park in acres of dead trees, which was unfortunate, but it’s Nature!

We discovered a good way to explore the park was in sections. One section we spent one of our days in was the canyon section. I never realized there was a “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone! My gawd it was beautiful!!!! The Yellowstone River runs through the canyon and provides visitors with multiple scenic falls to visit! We spent our time at the Brink of Lower Falls! We made hikes on both sides of the falls and saw them from different angles. One of the hikes was on Uncle Tom’s Trail. Prepare yourself if you ever take this hike because it is STEEP and you will get a helluva workout!

We heard talk from people we met looking for wildlife that a good place to go was the Lamar Valley. Apparently it is a hot spot for all kinds of creatures and there was a bison carcass that had been attracting wolves, coyotes, and even some bears! One morning we got up before daybreak and headed out! It was in the 20’s as we sat in the darkness waiting for sunrise. Thank you Richard for bringing the portable propane fire pit to keep us warm! So we hung out for awhile and saw plenty of bison and pronghorn but nothing else. The girls took off to make a coffee run and had the best of luck. They first got caught in a bison march right on the highway. They were walking right next to the truck. Then continuing back they saw a bear by the side of the road! The boys got ripped off!!!! We scouted a few other areas in search of four legged beasts, but came up empty. We explored more geothermal wonders on the way back to camp such as the Sulphur Caldron and the Mud Volcano. Both were amazing and extremely smelly. The stench of rotten eggs hung thick in the air. As hostile as an environment like this was, you could still notice animal tracks all over the place. Maybe they came to hang out for the heat on chilly nights!

Well we hated to leave, but it was time to head to our next destination, Cody. Yellowstone, we will return to continue to explore your beauty! We traveled through the Sylvan Pass and out the east entrance to the park and dropped into the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming and entered the wild west town of Cody! My first impression was that it reminded me of my hometown of Alamogordo, NM but not as dry. While we loved Jackson Hole, it seemed a bit touristy and Cody was a working town but nice on it’s own! It is named after William Frederick Cody, primarily known as Buffalo Bill, from William Cody’s part in the creation of the original town. Everywhere you look, you see the old west, cowboys, cattle ranching and by looking at the surrounding landscape, you can tell the weather is harsh! Our living spots for the next couple days were located at the Ponderosa Campground. It was near the center of town and everything was within walking distance for the most part. Just down the street was the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a fascinating museum that contained four to five other museums. Days can be spent there in the Plains Indian museum, natural history museum, the Buffalo Bill Museum, gun museum, and much more. There just wasn’t enough time to see it all. We had to explore the rest of the town of course. We spent an evening walking downtown and checking out all the cool western shops and had drinks at the Irma Hotel,  built by William Cody in 1902 and named it for his daughter, Irma. We watched the fun, but slightly cheesy nightly gunfight in the street outside the hotel and then ambled over to the Silver Dollar Bar. Another half a day was spent looking over the Old Trail Town museum! ‘On this site in 1895, Western scout and showman William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody laid out the original townsite of Cody, Wyoming, which was named in his honor. Today Old Trail Town preserves the lifestyle and history of the Frontier West through a rare collection of authentic structures and furnishings. From remote locations in Wyoming and Montana these historic buildings were carefully disassembled, moved and reassembled here at Old Trail Town by Western historian Bob Edgar and friends. Located here also are thousands of historic artifacts from the Old West and grave sites of several notable Western figures. Among the is the grave of mountain man John Johnson, who was portrayed by the actor Robert Redford in the 1972 motion picture “Jeremiah Johnson”. Here too are original cabins used by Old West outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a Wyoming saloon frequented by Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang”. Also on this site is the log cabin home of “Curley” a Crow Indian army scout who helped guide Lt Col. George A. Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry to the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. Old Trail Town exists today as a memorial to the uniquely American experience known throughout the world as “the Old West”.’ I LOVE THE OLD WEST!

Now for some reminiscing. There was a town just a few miles away called Lovell. When Debbie was a child and first came to America from Wales, she and her family landed here. She spent about five years here and went to primary school. Well being so close and she hadn’t been back in decades, we took a drive to see her old stomping grounds. We found the house she lived in, the school she went to, and drove by the Western Sugar Factory where her Dad worked. As for the town itself……well it is a little rough around the edges and time hasn’t been very kind to the place. She enjoyed going back as we did too. As for the uneventful drive back home that, my friends, was our vacation and it was one that will never be forgotten. Debbie has uploaded the photos to One Drive and here is the link to the album! Thanks for reading and can’t wait for the next adventure!

Road Trip 2014 – Part I

The month of September started off with one of the funniest vacations ever spent with great friends! Two weeks of road tripping through Northern Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming in a three truck/trailer convoy began at the North Bend Safeway parking lot on the morning of September 5th! Destinations included Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Cody, Wyoming! The first two days basically consisted of covering miles just making overnight stops. The first stop was the Wolf Creek Lodge Campground, located just east of beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene in North Idaho. It was a beautiful setting and the drive along the lake was awesome. We never really knew how big and gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene is! We made note that it would be a future destination to hang out and explore! The second night was spent in Dillon, Montana at the Countryside RV Park. We had our first snafu as one of our trailer mates, Bob, noticed one of his trailer tires failing. Since we were kind of in the middle of nowhere, he decided to put on the spare and ride into our next destination to get it fixed.

The first place we stopped and actually spent some time in was in Jackson, Wy. We camped just north of the town at the Gros Ventre Campground. Our drive to there took us through northern Idaho which was full of scenery, small towns, and plenty of potato fields. We then headed over Teton Pass which was stunning and a bit scary as the highway grades were very steep at 10% grade. The truck brakes got a little heated and Debbie a lot scared! The campground was nice and set along the Gros Ventre River. We heard from other campers that if you were up early enough, moose would wander into the grounds and graze. We did just that and saw plenty of them!

We also saw lots of bison, pronghorn, and deer! It was too bad other humans we encountered were so aggressively trying to get so close to the wildlife to grab a camera shot, that they actually scared them off….idiots! We also encountered some wild weather while we were there as on two afternoons, lightning and thunder rolled right over the campground and did some serious booming!!! Once again Bob had trailer problems as his batteries failed. We went into Jackson and had his tired and batteries replaced. While we were there we toured the town. I loved it, even though it was a bit touristy! We shopped, took pictures, explored, and had to make a stop at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar! Other days were spent driving around Grand Teton Park and hiking near Jenny Lake and going to the top of Signal Mountain Summit were we saw great views of the Jackson Valley! What a beautiful place this country is! Our final night, with a not to be missed recommendation from a fellow camper, we went to the Bar J Ranch Chuckwagon for a cowboy chuckwagon meal and show! It was wonderful! Great food and fun entertainment and stories of the wild west cowboy days and how they ate, and worked on the cattle drives, and songs they sung around the campfire!  If you are ever in Jackson Hole during the summer, head over to Wilson and check it out. Go hungry and ready to have a great time! With batteries replaced, new tire, and great memories, we were ready to head for our next destination…..Yellowstone, coming in part II!!!

A Family Affair

In early October we took our last vacation of 2013. It was a combination of family get togethers on both sides. The first part of it involved Debbie’s side of the family and the wedding of her niece Jennifer. It took place in Texas near Dallas, so we flew into the Dallas-Ft Worth airport. I had driven through the area years ago mainly speeding by on the interstate, but had never spent any time in Dallas. This time was no different as the wedding was held in a town called Whitewright which was north. What did strike us was the size of the airport. It was huge and we got lost just trying to leave, driving in circles for a while before we finally managed to escape the madness. Then as we drove toward the location of the ranch, the sprawl that is the DFW metro area was just crazy. The place is way too big for me and Texans drive insanely! The wedding and reception were held at a beautiful place called the Bethel Ranch. Most of the wedding party, family, and many guests stayed right there as the place was huge. Debbie’s sister, Donna(mother of the bride) and her husband Chris did a lot to make all of who stayed comfortable. Austin’s, the groom, Mom and sisters did a lot of cooking and feeding of the guests. There was quite a bit of organized chaos, but the event went off without a hitch and even the weather held off until the outdoor ceremony was over. Much fun!!!

After the wedding fun, we departed the Dallas area and flew to the glorious city of El Paso. We got our rental and drove up to my hometown of Alamogordo, NM! The closer I got, memories of childhood and growing up came streaming in. It seems like such a long time ago that I roamed these streets and many loved ones who were part of my young life are now long departed. It is bittersweet returning here sometimes. What helped was our somewhat mini reunion of my brothers Scott and his wife Dana and Garth, sister Monica, and seeing my aunt Sharon and Uncle Butch and cousin Lorie. Due to my half assed organizational skills, we had forgotten to let my other cousin, JoAnn know we were coming and she wasn’t able to be around. Next time I will do better! Boy did we have fun! Along with running around town looking at old homes we haunted and schools we went to, we did road trips around the State together! We took a drive up to Santa Fe where Debbie had always wanted to go and I hadn’t been in years. We had a great time going to the plaza and eating tamales and visiting the shops and old churches. On the way back we stopped in a very small town called Duran and parked in front of this building! It was dark by then and very spooky and no matter how we tried, we could not get a decent photo of it at night! We also stopped on the highway near Carrizozo where, when were young,  we saw a woman in a wedding dress come walking out of an arroyo and tried waving us down. We later heard the story of her ghost!!!! We weren’t sure of the exact location though, and didn’t see her again!

Other journeys took us to the ghost town of White Oaks, the old Fort Stanton, Lincoln, and Ruidoso. Deb and I love Ruidoso and here we go again thinking we might like to live here when we retire. It is a very cool town and we saw some very nice homes nestled up in the hills. There is the yearly worry of fires when the season hits and the last one saw some pretty intense fires come very close to the town. We have thought about New Mexico before, but we have thoughts about going to many different places to live once we have removed the shackles of employment. We may just get an RV and just drive and hang out in all these places. We took a drive to Las Cruces and went to the old town of Mesilla. The town has a lot of history and home of one hell of a Mexican restaurant called La Posta where we had an awesome lunch! Our final trip was up the hill with my Aunt to Cloudcroft. It is an old lumber town which is just up from my hometown. It was a cool place to go in the heat of the New Mexico summers. We visited the Lodge at Cloudcroft and looked around at the old hotel. We went into the tower and the Governor’s Suite. The place is supposed to be haunted by many different ghosts and one in particular, a girl called Rebecca! My Aunt had a strange experience coming down the stairs from the tower. One of her earrings was knocked out of her ear! She just took it in stride and put it back in. Then it got knocked out a second time. I was walking behind her at that point watching it and saw it just fly out of her ear. Was it Rebecca???? It was a great time and for once, time did not fly by! It was great seeing all of both families and sharing some great memories!! Check out our the New Mexico pictures here!

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