In the Shadows of Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and More. June 4-18

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We based our operations in Rapid City, South Dakota at the Shadows of Rushmore RV Park, $10/night with Coast to Coast. It was a nice resort and convenient to everything. While there we visited Mount Rushmore, where we met Nick Clifford, the last surviving sculptor of the monument.I bought his book and he autographed it. It was a nice visit and I understand that he recently celebrated his 98th birthday. We also visited Custer State Park, which I enjoyed enough that we went for a second day. The Badlands was also beautiful and breathtaking. Deadwood and Lead were also interesting places with so much western history. All in all this was a wonderful stop but it was cut short as I had to come home due to a family emergency on the 15th. More about that later.

I do recommend visiting this area. South Dakota is a beautiful state and the people are very friendly and inviting. There is a lot to see here. This blog is mostly pictures with descriptions. Please enjoy.

I flew out of Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota at 5 AM on June 15, headed to Raleigh Durham Airport (RDU) in North Carolina. The Rapid City Airport had two runways and seven gates. I flew a Delta small jet, capacity 50 people, to Minneapolis. I arrived in RDU around 8:30 PM and was so glad to see my son waiting for me. My mother’s condition had worsened so I had to cut my trip short. Travel is on hold for me for a bit and while it is, I’m going to blog about my family’s journey with Alzheimer Disease. I will be brutally honest, sharing insights, and I hope it helps someone. Please stay tuned.

It’s Baby Season in the Park…. Geothermal Features…. Yellowstone Day 2 – Part 2

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Day two in Yellowstone National Park took us on a route down Firehole Canyon Road, alongside the Firehole River and Falls. It was early in the morning and we were in for a big surprise. Down on a little peninsula in the Firehole River was an Elk who had just given birth to a beautiful calf. We parked and slowly exited the vehicle and sat quietly on a rock on the ledge above the river. We watched as the calf got up and nursed for the first time. It was a surreal and spiritual experience, a sacred part of nature. Please note that we used a telephoto lense and were well spaced away from the event out of respect for nature.

Once we could tear ourselves away from the miracle of birth, we completed the trek down Firehole Canyon Road. We stumbled upon a coyote hunting rodents in the meadow, bison, and many geothermal features, including geysers. We also saw Old Faithful and while it is a big attraction at Yellowstone, there are many other geysers that are more impressive and have fewer tourists vying for a good spot. I love exploring!

How in the world can one have a better day than day two at Yellowstone? Well, day three was bear day… Grizzlies and black bears. One with her yearling triplets. Stay tuned. It’s awesome! I love Yellowstone!

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks – Home of Giant Trees and Glacier formed Canyons (April 28-May 2nd)

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We had a one night stopover in Bakersfield, California at Shady Haven RV Resort ($29.50/night with Passport America) then headed to Three Rivers, California. Three Rivers Sequoia RV Park ($51/night with Good Sam’s) was our base camp to capers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. While spring had arrived and the flowers were blooming, there was still a lot of snow in higher elevations with many roads and trails closed. It was a great visit, with beautiful vistas so all is good. As I always say, get those national park passes as visiting the two parks will cost $70 per car. Those passes pay for themselves in 4 park visits. Well worth it.

84% of both parks are considered wilderness areas. Sequoia covers 404,064 acres and became a national park in 1890. Kings Canyon is 461,901 acres and became a national park in 1890 as General Grant National Park. The name was changed to Kings Canyon in 1940. Of the two I preferred Kings Canyon. It has an ethereal feeling about it and the vistas and waterfalls are spectacular. We spent one and a half days in Kings Canyon and it was well worth it as the pictures will show. Just know that the pictures don’t do it justice. Sequoia and Kings Canyon run contiguous to each other so that was a plus.

Sequoia contains most of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and has Mount Whitney which has the highest elevation in the United States of 14,505 feet above sea level. The giant sequoia trees are a marvel and the park contains 271 caves, some of which are open to the public. All caves were closed due to the late snows. It just means that I’ll have to go back! There is abundant wildlife and while I was resting on a steep climb up on one of the open trails I was visited by a friendly chickaree, a little squirrel like guy. He was interested in my camera pack. I didn’t see him until a couple of people stopped to take pictures. He was within an inch or two of my shoulder. Cute little bugger.

The first group of pictures are Sequoia National Park. The 2,200 year old General Sherman Sequoia was amazing. 275 feet tall, trunk diameter of 36.5 feet and weighs 1,385 tons. Wow!

Kings Canyon National park has great winding roads and steep cliffs so we had to drive with care. We met a few cars on curves who were on our side of the narrow road. Bless their hearts. I really enjoyed this park and would love to go back again. The pictures don’t do it justice.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Stay tuned for Yosemite and Crescent City, California. Thanks for visiting!

Terlingua, Texas at Big Bend National Park – Feb. 21-24

We arrived in Terlingua, Texas, population 80/household income $87,949, early afternoon on the 21st. We parked the RV at Big Bend Resort and Adventure RV – $35.10/night through Good Sams. Terlingua is just outside the boundaries of the Big Bend National Park. 800,000 acres of wilderness and desert. The park borders Mexico at the Rio Grande. It is awe inspiringly beautiful.

200 million years ago the area was under an inland sea, which has left a rich fossil record. 35 million years ago volcanoes formed the mountains of rock, limestone and ash. The current landscape was formed by wind and flash floods on the mountainous terrain. The area is rich in fossils and human record.

While there we averaged hiking 5.5 to 6.4 miles a day. Carrying water with you is a must. All areas are in a wilderness, desert area and the temperatures were from the mid 70s to 80s. The area averages 10 inches of rain a year. There are a lot of dry creek beds that are subject to flooding if it rains at all.

Luckily, Big Bend was beginning it’s spring bloom and colorful. The elevations ranged from 1800 to 8000 feet of breathtaking vistas. The different light during the day causes the mountains and valleys to take on different looks. No place ever looks the same based on clouds or the change in light from sunrise to sunset. I am not exaggerating when I say that some of the panoramas brought tears to my eyes due to the shear beauty of it all.

The area is also rich in wildlife: mountain lions, javelinas, coyotes, deer (darker than on the east coast), rattlesnakes,Mexican bears, and many species of birds. There were were multiple warnings about staying safe in an encounter. Heed these warnings.

Big Bend is one of my new favorite areas. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Please enjoy.

Each year, during day of the dead all graves are “remembered.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead

This is just a glimpse of the beauty. I’m now marking it from my bucket list. I do want to go again. Wonderful experience. Now on to our next adventure!