Category Archives: Travels

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (nfs campgrounds)

We’ve stayed at quite a few National Forest Service campgrounds as we’ve wandered the country. There are several things that make them appealing.

Of course, the biggest one, they tend to be in forests! We’ve taken advantage of them in Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, South Dakota and now Arizona.

They’re rarely crowded. The campgrounds are usually remote enough that they aren’t often full, although, the closer you get to National Parks, the less that is true. They are well maintained and typically, are very clean.

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Our history isn’t what I thought it was:(

I’ve been meaning to blog more often this year. It’s my year three goal, but I have to go back a bit first.

We are back in the Black Hills of South Dakota as we begin our migration away from cold weather. It’s actually still pretty warm here, although, the furnace has been on at night. My perspective of the western US is changing as I learn more about it.

I have become aware of my ignorance of our history as a nation. I haven’t told the story here, but I had a rude awakening that has changed me. I’m not usually emotional, until this event, and it seems to have affected me when it comes to thinking about treatment of all people.

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We Moved and Our Philosophy On Campgrounds.

Well, we left what became one of our favorite static spots. We were boondocking (dry camping) on a friend’s farm outside of Waunakee, WI. For nomads, we haven’t been very nomadic lately, since we spent most of May and June here. We are spending the summer in the Madison area of Wisconsin. Usually we spend about two months here in the summer visiting family and catching up on maintenance, etc., but this summer, we had so much going on we are ending up spending almost the entire time here.

Looking back across the pasture to where we spent two months. This was a great spot for us!

Our friend, Tessa, sold her farm and so we packed up and headed off to a new location. It was so beautiful and quiet on the farm that it will take a little getting used to being somewhere else.

View across the road from Tessa’s

One of the things we don’t talk a lot about is what a pain it can be if you want to stay in one area for an extended period of time and you don’t have options like a friend’s farm. For example, in Dane County, Madison’s county, if you haven’t reserved a spot online in one of the four campgrounds that can accommodate RVs, you can plan on moving every few days. Even if you make reservations, assuming you can get a block of dates that long, you are limited to 14 days in any one campground, then you have to move for at least a week.

So, it gets to be a hassle, and we prefer smaller, off the beaten path places. Places like city parks, fairgrounds and smaller country parks have provided us with some of our best stays, and are often free or very inexpensive. I’m sure we aren’t alone when we prefer and search for the campgrounds with fewer amenities, instead of more!

Anyway, the problem I have with bigger, more formal campgrounds like the Dane County parks is that they aren’t anything super special, they are nice, but you end up spending about $30 a night, and still have to move, and some days, you simply aren’t going to have a spot, like over holidays and many weekends. So, we look for the hidden gems and other opportunities. It looks like I found one in Blanchardville, WI. It’s a little city campground, less than $15 a night, and right on a branch of the Pecatonica river. Downtown, well actually, anywhere in town, is within easy walking distance. Plus, we can stay here through August if we like. It’s about 45 minutes from Madison, but that isn’t too restrictive given the cost, the beauty and the fact that we have hookups. (Water and 30 Amp Electric). There is a dump station here too.

I’ll add some pictures and shoot some video, but it looks like a winner!

Hailey and Ketchum Idaho

Next stop was in northern Idaho to Hailey and Ketchum. I had read in my travel book, Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen, about the cemetery  where Ernest Hemingway was buried. The grave stones of Ernest Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary, are located in the small unassuming Ketchum cemetery. You would have never  known such a famous author was buried there. On his grave site people have left a fly fishing rod, Pabst Blue Ribbon , Coors can, Knob Creek Bourbon,  a wine glass and a writing pen. It is all just sitting atop Hemingway’s grave stone.

 

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Idaho

We made our way to a farm in Burley,Idaho to visit our nieces Alex and Libby. Alex lives on the farm with her boyfriend Zack. They actually had hook-ups for water and electric, how fantastic is that! We parked right at the edge of their lawn.  We were greeted warmly by a goat named Charlie and a dog named Blue.  Charlie the goat wanders around the yard just like the dog, they even know how to open the back door of the house and let themselves in if the door is left unlocked! How hilarious is that!!!

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Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is near the Elephant Butte State park, it has the largest lake in New Mexico.  Truth or Consequences used to be called Hot Springs. So there are several hot springs spas in town. We chose to go to River’s Bend Spa on the Rio Grand. It was a marvelous day; sunny blue skies, no wind, ducks, birds,  flying fish and on the river in a pool of perfect 102 degree temperature. I have never been so relaxed in my entire life. I held George up in the water first moving him around in a circling motion. The he did the same for me. George described the feeling best by saying, “It’s almost sensory deprivation!” Worth a visit.

Utah Night Sky

I started learning how to photograph the night sky so that I could try and capture the beauty of the sky in one of the few places left on Earth where it is actually dark at night. It is so dark here in Valley of the Gods, Utah, that when you step outside it takes a bit of adjustment to see at all, other than the stars above.

Anyway, after trying what seemed like a million different settings for my Canon Rebel T6i, I found a combination that worked really well. I got my info from an article on the web.  Astrophotography Tips

Basically, the most critical setting is the f-stop. It needs to be set so the aperture is as wide as possible, which means a low number. Then the ISO needs to be set low too. This seemed counter intuitive to me, but high ISO with long exposures creates a “noisy” image. Finally, the length of the exposure.

So, I set the ISO to 200, the F-stop to 2 and exposed the image for 30 seconds using the remote control. Here is the final product, with no retouching.