Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Adventure Continues - Life is Great!

Sweet Solitude

My two days at Pony Soldier RV Park near Lingle, Wyoming, were set aside for some time of solitude. And interestingly, as I spent time in quiet and reading, I read two quotes – one by my fellow RV-traveler Pat Bean (check out her interesting blog at: and the other from Pastor Chuck Swindoll in his daily Internet devotion.

Travel has as much to do with internal discovery as it has with seeing the world. New places, new sights, new experiences wash away stereotypes. – Pat Bean

“…the value of quietness, slowing down, coming apart from the noise and speed of today's pace, and broadening our lives with a view of the eternal reach of time. It means saying no to more and more activities that increase the speed of our squirrel cage. Knowing God requires that we "be still" (Ps. 46:10). It is necessary for survival. Our minds must be liberated from the immediate, the necessary stuff in the mainstream of our world, so we can gain perspective.” - Pastor Chuck Swindoll

The drive from Beulah to Lingle

I had no idea how large the Black Hills are! They encompass an area that from north to south is 125 miles and from east to west is 65 miles! My drive from Beulah to Lingle, Wyoming, was mostly lush green pines and undergrowth until I came to the Salt Creek Overlook.

I rarely pass up an overlook since these stops allow me to see the country from a high point. Here, the valley floor was a mostly lighter green and tan with an abundance of oak trees growing along the Salt and Beaver creeks. As Jeremiah made the long descent to the valley, the lush green areas ended.

My 190-mile drive ended at Lingle, Wyoming, a small town at the intersection of highways 85 and 26. I was eager to get settled into the Pony Soldier RV Park. When I had called to check on availability for parking, I was struck by the sweet cheerfulness of the voice on the other end assuring me that they had space. When I met ‘the voice’ she was such a delight. Julie and her husband Tom own the RV park and do everything they can to make their guests’ visit a pleasant one.

After hooking up and settling in, I headed to the row of sunflowers alongside an adjacent field to cut a bouquet to enjoy. To do this, and to do any walking around the park, I was “accompanied” by millions of grasshoppers, and thankfully no mosquitoes or gnats.

I love trains! And I was in the right place to enjoy the whistle and clackety-clack as frequent freight trains passed just across the highway from where I was parked. They passed, day and night, carrying loads of coal eastward. I had sweet times remembering my many train adventures around the USA and Canada on Amtrak and Via Rail.

I finished reading “The Secret Lives of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd (thanks for the book, Barbara). I enjoyed the book immensely, keeping me intrigued with the twists and turns of the story that was set in South Carolina in 1964. Besides the story, it was fascinating to learn about honeybees. For instance, I was surprised to read that “It takes honeybee workers ten million foraging trips to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey.”

Fort Laramie

After two delicious days of solitude, it was time to move on toward Colorado. But first I made a side trip to Fort Laramie, a National Historic Site in Wyoming that sits along the Laramie River. The first fort on this site was built as a trading post by a fur trader in 1834 and originally named Fort William. In 1849 the army bought the fort and made it a military outpost along the Oregon, California and Mormon trails.

The brochure enticed me to spend time there by saying, “Walk in the footsteps of larger-than-life characters of the old west such as Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, Generals Crook, Sherman and Sheridan, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane.”

I wandered through some of the restored structures – the infantry barracks, guardhouse, captain’s quarters, and “Old Bedlam” (the name given to the building that housed bachelor officers). I also found the trail to the river and walked around the Commanding Officer’s Chicken Coop and one of several ‘privies’. The latter two intrigued me enough to take photos:

Next night’s stop is River View RV Park and Campground

Lingle, Wyoming, to Loveland, Colorado, was a leisurely 190 miles. After driving through the Black Hills, the landscape along the way was ordinary. I found myself more interested in the blue sky and the cloud formations.

I made stop to fill the tank with gas and another stop at the Colorado Welcome Center. Then once in Loveland, I again got “lost” – aka took the scenic route – thanks to the new Interstate exchange that was not well-marked. Again I’m grateful for my compass (continual thanks to you, Jesse). RV friend Carol Rayburn gave me her old Garmin GPS, but until new software is installed and I make time to learn it, the device sits on my console at least giving me my route as I drive.

Finally after a phone call to the RV park, I arrived to a lovely wooded area that sits along the tree-lined, fast-moving Big Thompson River. Jeremiah fit nicely into its assigned space. It was time to do laundry and make some phone calls. Sadly, the Internet is poor here so this won’t get posted until another day.

Loveland to Monument, Colorado


Cat, Jeremiah and I have voted the ‘Mary RV Resort’ to be the very best! I was at the lovely mountain home of my friends Claud and Judy Mary. The Mary’s had been neighbors when I lived in Valley Center, California. Their 6,000 sq. ft. home sits on 3+ acres among tall pines at about 7,500 ft altitude. Jeremiah was indeed parked in a beautiful setting north of Colorado Springs.

This area is home to many wild creatures, but the ones I saw were the Stellar Jays, nuthatches, Abert’s Squirrels, and a ‘regular’ reddish brown squirrel. Claud and Mary have seen elk and bear. And of course there were other birds. From one of the back decks I had super views of the birds and squirrels. I had never seen Abert’s squirrel before and took a bunch of photos. This squirrel is a very dark brown/black, giving it the nickname of a 'black squirrel'. Unfortunately, the trees always cast at least one shadow on this interesting critter.

Cat watched the squirrels that romped on the boulder wall outside the motorhome.

Claud and Mary are super fun people to be with; we laughed a lot. Judy took me on a beautiful walk through the nearby Garden of the Gods.

Judy and I talked about driving up Pike's Peak, but I decided to save that outing for another visit - no need running ourselves ragged to try to see it all. I did have a view of the Peak from the Garden of the Gods - unfortunately the clouds had already started gathering.

As we were leaving the parking lot, masses of people on bicycles were passing by. According to the support vehicles that passed it was a Ride for Wounded Warriors, and they were headed in the same direction we wanted to go – to see Balance Rock. We followed them for a while until we saw that they were using the rocks near Balance Rock for their group photo. (See photo)

We decided to have lunch first rather than continue to creep behind the bikers as they wound through the hills. Judy took me to the Visitor Center/Gift Shop/Café where we enjoyed lunch out in the patio. Afterward we went back to Balance Rock and then drove through the historic towns of Manitou Springs and downtown Colorado Springs.

With time still left in the afternoon, Judy took me to do my stock-up shopping at Walmart and Sam’s. On the way to Sam’s the afternoon thunderstorm hit, the clouds dumped masses of rain and hail on us as we drove. At one point, a car in the other lane drove through a huge puddle and we briefly lost all visibility! Since Judy and I both love rainstorms (as long as the hail isn’t big enough to damage vehicles) and cheered with each flash of lightning and thunder clap. It is ‘monsoon’ season and the daily weather prediction is scattered thundershowers with rain capable of flooding low-lying areas. Whee!

My last day at the Mary’s was a day to sit back and enjoy their home and pine forest. We walked the property looking for signs of the screech owl that makes itself heard each night – no luck. And we laughed a lot, getting caught up with each other’s lives. It was an outstanding visit and besides many photographs, I have many memories to file away for future enjoyment.

Today’s drive from Monument to Antonito

I did not want to move on, but my date with Navajo Lake State Park is nearing. My drive took me south on I-25, west on highway 160, south on 159, west on 142 and south on 285 – about 233 miles. I made a stop in Pueblo to get a haircut at Walmart and to get gas at Sam’s.

It was a beautiful drive through much of the San Luis Valley! The sky and clouds were picturesque, and I managed to take a photo that shows the beauty as I drove west on highway 160. Once I turned onto 159 I practically had the two-lane road to myself – I could take my half out of the middle.

On highway 142, I crossed over and puny-looking Rio Grande! I had expected it to have much more water. I passed by the Old San Acacio Church (considered to be the oldest standing church in Colorado).

I’m at Mogote Meadow RV Park 5-miles west of Antonito, just five miles north of the New Mexico border. It is a nice park and a good Internet connection so I can get my blog updated. Tomorrow morning Sharon (park owner) will be serving pancakes in the recreation room.

I’ve again modified my route and tomorrow will drive on to Heron Lake State Park – just 80 miles from here. I’m partial to the New Mexico State Parks and have decided to visit this park again. The only drawback to this park is that I’ll be without Internet or Verizon phone service for two days. So, don’t panic if you don’t hear from me until Tuesday when I arrive at Navajo Lake State Park in northwest New Mexico. I’ll be there two months as a volunteer.

Thanks for traveling along with me. I’ll probably update my blog at least weekly while at Navajo. I’ve camped here before but never been a volunteer here. I have no idea what my jobs will be, but whatever they are, I’ll enjoy them. It’s all in the attitude – I make up my mind to find pleasure and goodness no matter what.