Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: Boyd Lake State Park (el. 5,020 ft); Loveland, Colorado

All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

The corn fields of Nebraska slowly gave way to the rugged high plains of eastern Colorado. Of all the corn fields I saw as I passed through Iowa and Nebraska, only one field was being harvested. The corn is beginning to brown so I guess harvest season must be getting close at hand. About 30% of the corn harvested will go to the production of ethanol to be used in gasoline blends to reduce the cost of our gasoline. In comparison, only about 12% is exported to other countries; I'm not sure what they do with it, but I would be surprised if it is used for fuel. It is a deep conversation, that is not talked about a lot, concerning the use of food for fuel when so many people in the world are literally starving to death. Nope, I won't get into that discussion here.
This picture and the following two are from western Nebraska and eastern Colorado. The sky put on a show with its clouds.

Eastern Colorado

The Rocky Mountains came into view about 20 miles from Loveland but I wasn't able to get a good picture of the event. If it had been a clearer day, I may have seen them earlier. I stayed at this state park last year but it was very early in the season and although I tried to see Rocky Mountain National Park at that time, the snowfall prevented me from seeing all of it. That is one of the reason I'm back again. If you want to see the National Park with snow flying and about this state park, see my post from May 19, 2015.
My campsite at Boyd Lake SP.
Level campsite and 50 amp service.

Sunset at the campground. This is from my campsite. I was leaning on Freedom while taking this one.

I arrived here late in the afternoon of Sunday, the 28th. After a long tow and having to empty tanks after getting here, I was kind of tired. But Monday morning came and I was ready to see the Rockies again. So I put on blue jeans (first time in months) because the temperature in the park was predicted to be 50 degrees. The lowest temperature on Freedoms thermometer was 48, but with a good breeze blowing it felt colder. I enjoyed it. 

The main highway through the park is U.S. 34 which I have been paralleling since passing through Chicago. To get to the park from Loveland, U.S. 34 goes through Big Thompson River Cut which is an impressive sight itself. It is hard to get pictures in the cut due to the curves and narrow road.
Big Thompson River Cut
I have a few more pictures in last years post 
Once you get to the tourist trap town of Estes Park, you are on the doorstep of the National Park. There are several things I want to see in the park but on the first day, yesterday, I just drove through on the main road with stops at most of the scenic overlooks. The road goes from mountain meadows, to tundra. Yeah, I said tundra. The same thing you will find in Alaska or Russia. You top out in elevation above 12,000 feet which puts you well above the treeline. The road is well built with very few problems. There were a couple of "butt-clinching" areas when I was in the drop-off-and-fall-thousands-of-feet-down-the-mountainside lane and some yahoo wanted to use part of my lane. I wished him/her a nice day as we passed. I'm sure I missed a lot of great views while keeping my eyes on the road which is one of the drawbacks of traveling alone.
A mountain meadow. I took a picture from this same location last year with snow everywhere. 

A panoramic picture taken with an app on my cell phone

The sky kept changing colors including the blue patch.

This view reminded me of the old song "One Tin Soldier"

Sometimes, looking out over it all, it seemed unreal, almost fake-looking.

You can see the road coming up the mountains on the right side of the picture.

Another panoramic picture. 

I found a bench!! In the background is the tale-tell sign of Glacier activity with the curved sides of the mountains

A nice view, uh?

Same bench as before, just looking another way.

Above the treeline as the road curves away

I was hoping the gas pedal wouldn't stick.

There are two things in this picture. A mountain pond being feed by the slowly melting snow, even in late August. On the left side is suppose to be some lava beds from a long ago volcanic eruption. I'm not sure about that part, but the pond is real. :)

Another pretty view

Another "valley far below"

That dark cloud dropped some rain and hail on me for about 5 minutes.

I liked this one as a combination of sky, road, mountain and valley. It sort of summed up the whole trip.

I'll be here until Saturday so I should be able to go back into the park at least twice more. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.  


Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Rockies In View Tomorrow

Location: Windmill State Recreation Area (el. 2050 ft); Gibbon, Nebraska

All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
Click pictures to enlarge

There isn't much to this campground. It appears the state of Nebraska built a park and campground around some small lakes, which appear to be old borrow pits used to build I-80. My campsite is a little tight and I used two rows of block under the right wheels. I could have used three, but this will be OK for the short time I will be here. 
Campsite at Windmill SRA. Not one of the best I've seen

The campground hosts does a little aluminum can magic

As I said in my last post, this stop is just a lay-over until there is a vacancy in a campground that I've stayed at before in Loveland, Colorado.

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be seeing the Rocky Mountains again. The last time I saw them was when I left Glacier National Park in May of last year. It will be good to see them. I have been traveling Interstate 80 since I left Indiana. 
Fields along I-80 with a lonely billboard

Nebraska corn along a country road as I rode around.

Grain elevators about every 20 to 30 miles. They are like mileposts along the highways and mark every town.

The Platte River. It is a shallow but wide river with a reliable water source which is why the pioneers followed it west.

When I entered Iowa a few days ago I-80 started roughly following parts of the old Mormon and Oregon Trails. As I've been driving across Iowa and now Nebraska, I often think of those adventurous people who packed everything they owned in a wagon or on a horse and headed west into the unknown. If they averaged 20 miles per day, it would have taken them a month to cross what is today Iowa and Nebraska. Today, Iowa is rolling hills of corn fields and Nebraska is flat with those same corn fields. But back then it was wide open prairie. Even from the top of a hill they would have only been able to see a few miles to the next hill. Everything would have looked the same, day after day, week after week. But then one day, someone would have shouted, "I see mountains ahead". Those mountains would have been the Rocky Mountains and those pioneers that continued across them would learn to love and hate them. Tomorrow, a little after noon, I'll see them and will say to myself, "I see mountains ahead". 
This picture is from June 25, 2015 when I put the Rockies in my side mirrors as I left Glacier National Park.
Tonight I sleep in the flat land of Nebraska but tomorrow I will sleep at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Communists in Iowa?? and Herbert Hoover

Location: West Overlook Campground at Coralville Lake; Iowa City, Iowa

All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

I saw a brochure titled, "The Amana Colonies" and that piqued my curiosity. I read enough to learn they are still in existence and only about a dozen miles from the campground so off I went. It's one of those serendipitous finds when traveling. 

I will try to be brief since you can read up on it yourself, but it is interesting. 

People in Germany were beginning to have trouble with the Lutheran Church around the 1700's. Basically, they believed they could talk directly to God and God could talk directly to them without having to go through the priests and church. A group of these people (they are NOT the Amish or Mennonites) had had a enough and in 1843 they packed up and came to America in search of religious freedom. About 1,200 of them settled near Buffalo, New York and pooled their money to buy 5,000 acres of land. They wrote a constitution outlining their communal (communist) way of life. Things were OK until the city of Buffalo started growing quickly and started crowding them. They sent scouts out to find new lands in the west. So, in 1855 they moved again, this time to Iowa. 

They bought 26,000 acres of land in what is now the Iowa River Valley. They built 6 villages separated by a couple of miles. They were named Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana, High Amana and Middle Amana. They chose the name Amana since it meant "remain true"/"remain faithful". When the railroad missed their villages, they realized they needed a railroad connection so they bought the entire existing village of Homestead which became the 7th colony. The communal (communist) way of life continued. Each village had communal kitchens that cooked 3 meal a day including morning and afternoon snacks. In the heyday, there were 50 communal kitchens in the 7 villages. The menus were the same in all the kitchens so that everyone received the same meal. The women did the cooking and gardening while the men worked in the fields, mills, shops, etc. Everything they needed was provided for them. The children went to school 6 days a week, year round, until the age of 14 when they were giving a job to do within the village. If they needed a specialist, they would choose a smart boy and send him off to school to become a doctor, teacher, dentist, etc. Their churches are very ordinary looking without any pomp and ceremony. The graves in their graveyard are placed in order of death so as not to be individualized. The villages thrived and prospered. Life was good on the prairie of America, for a while.

Downtown Amana. Full of shops. I didn't need anything so I avoided these places.

This one nearly got me to go inside, but I resisted the call of chocolate

This is a place I had read about and did go inside. It is the Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse. I had read about some great smoked pork chops. I picked up several items and they were very, very reasonably priced. I would have expected to pay twice what I paid and everything has tasted great. 

We interrupt this post for a quote from our 31st President:

"Communism is an evil thing. It is contrary to the spiritual, moral and material aspirations of man. These very reasons give rise to my conviction that it will decay and die of its own poisons. But that may be many years away and, in the meantime, we must be prepared for a long journey".

Herbert Hoover--- January 27, 1952

Although President Hoover was talking about the Soviet Union, his words were applicable to the Amana Colonies. Incidentally, President Hoover was born in West Branch, Iowa which is about 20 miles from the Colonies. I couldn't find any reference to them in any of his quotes but it would be interesting to know if the Colonies help form his opinion on communism. 

Ok, back to the Colonies. Everything was going pretty good until the 1930's. The Great Despression did not skip the colonies and to compound the depression, one of their largest mills burned down and they were suffering from a drought. Instead of seeing the villages abandoned by the folks and young people moving off to find work, etc, they had a meeting and created the Amana Society, a profit sharing corporation. The Society would manage the ownership of the land and major properties, but Private Enterprise was encouraged. The religious side of the villages remained unchanged. The communal way of life ended and even today, it is referenced at the Great Change.

For those of you who are trying to remember where you heard the name Amana, think of Amana Radarange Microwaves. They were the first microwave ovens built in 1967 by the Amana Corporation. Whirlpool owns them now and has a plant in one of the villages. 

For the Colonies, their communal (communist) way of life lasted about 80 to 90 years. Coincidentally, the Soviet Union lasted about 70 years. Perhaps that is the lifespan of Communism? Although their communal way of life was necessary for a while so they could survive in the "wilderness", it did die from its "own poison" as President Hoover said. 

The reason I knew about Hoovers quote, was that I read it for the first time today when I visited the Herbert Hoover Museum in West Branch (about 10 miles from here). He was a great man that unjustly took the blame for the Great Depression. After learning more about him at the museum and online, I've come away very impressed with his accomplishments in life, not just his Presidency. In school, we were taught they he caused the Great Depression and it too FDR to come along to get us out of it. We were lied to by our history books and teachers. I won't go into it here, but if you are interested, read up on the man and you may be impressed too. As a tidbit to spark your interest, he is credited with feeding a billion people, mostly children, in 57 different countries and this was not while he was president.  
The Hoover Museum.
It is worth a stop if you're in the area.

Tomorrow is moving day. I plan to make a long haul of about 400 miles to a Nebraska State Park along Interstate 80 called Windmill State Recreation Area. There is nothing special that I know of in that area, so I'll be searching for something to see and do. I'll be there until Sunday morning before continuing into Colorado. I would go on into Colorado early but the place I plan to stay has no vacancies until Sunday. 
Last picture of the campground.
That is Liberty in the center.
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

Headed West and 375 Million Years Ago

Location: West Overlook Campground at Coralville Lake; Iowa City, Iowa

Note: All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
Click Pictures to enlarge

Well, I decided to head west. I have a hankering to see the Rocky Mountains again. Although I was there a year ago, there were a couple of places that were snowed in and I couldn't see what I wanted to see before leaving. So, I guess I'll see them in the next week or so. 

A strange thing happened on Saturday before I left Goshen on Sunday. I went to eat at a nice Chinese Buffet and stopped at Dollar General around noontime. I got back to Liberty after being gone about 1 hour to find a guy on the roof and two women waxing her. Also, there were two kids playing on a blanket. Strange uh? I asked what was going on and the guy on the roof said they were waxing her up for me (I assumed he was talking about Liberty). I told him they washed the rig the other day and I had been trying to get in touch with the owner to pay her but she wasn't answering her phone. He said the wax job was $8.00 per foot, which would be $240.00 dollars. I said nope, I didn't order it. I was lucky they were just finishing up when I arrived or Liberty would have only been half waxed. One of the ladies that was doing the waxing finally got in touch with the owner who was out of town. She put me on the phone with her and I told her I didn't order a wax. She said she didn't have any of her paperwork with her so guessed I should enjoy the free wax job (she said that with a lot of sarcasm), so I sarcastically replied, "thanks" and gave the phone back to the woman. I still haven't figured out if it was a scam or not. If I hadn't have shown up when I did and paid the worker the money owed for the wash, they would have finished the wax and I would have gotten a phone call asking for payment with my credit card for both the wash and wax. I would have been out of state by the time I got that call. Oh well, being in the right place at the right time is always a good thing.
The Campsite at the West Overlook CG. Liberty is sporting her new free wax job.

I decided to make a long tow out of Indiana. It was interstate almost all of the way so it was easy traveling on me and Freedom. There were some bad "bridge ends" that needed work in Indiana and Illinois. Someone should tell those Highway Departments about that.
It's always good to see the Mississippi River. In this case, it is the Iowa/Illinois State Line.
Things got better once I crossed into Iowa. I know I said in the last post that I should avoid the big cities but I didn't have a choice about Chicago. I had to pass through South Chicago, which technically may not be considered as Chicago. I just cranked up the radio volume on the oldies channel so I couldn't hear all of the gun fire and cruised on through. While setting up camp, I checked Freedom and Liberty for gunshot wounds but didn't find any, so it was a good day. 

This campground is a Corp of Engineers campground located on Coralville Lake which was created by constructing a dam on the Iowa River. That's about all I knew about the area before getting here. I didn't have reservations but I did call to see if it was crowded. They said they were booked up on the weekends but had openings Sunday through Thursdays. Well, since I was scheduled to leave the Rally on Saturday, I had to extend my stay there one day so I could show up here on Sunday, plus a storm blew through Goshen on Saturday.
Coralville Lake still had a lot of boat traffic late Sunday evening.

Looking downstream from the top of the dam. That is the dam discharge channel on the left and a campground on the right. That is NOT the campground I'm staying in. There is no way I would sleep downstream of any dam. Anything build by man is subject to fail if the circumstances are right. Even with horns, alarms and whistles, you may not be able to get out in time.

View from the campground located downstream of the dam. That wall of stone is the dam with the red truck crossing it. 

I explored parts of the area today. I went to the Visitors Center and saw their typical displays. I was surprised by something they called the Devorian Fossil Gorge. The name alone sounded interesting so I dug a little deeper. The dam was completed in 1958 to provide for flood control and recreation. It's an earthen dam with stone faces. All was good with the dam complex until the Flood of 1993 hit the area. The water got so high that it started coming over the emergency spillway for the first time ever. In fact, it was 5 feet deep over the spillway and lasted for 28 days. After the water stopped rising, they were able to inspect the damage downstream from the spillway. There had been a small campground located there on flat ground. What they saw was bedrock. All of the soil had been washed away and a 22 foot gorge had been created in the limestone bedrock. But the really surprising thing they found was fossils were located everywhere in the limestone. Sea creature fossils as well as sea coral and other things. Apparently, these were from 375 million years ago when Iowa and the midsection of the U.S. was covered in a shallow inland sea. These fossils were from that period. This is where they talk about the Super-continent Pangea and the Continental Drift Theory. I'm not sure I believe all of that. It is hard for me to believe them when they say, the Drift caused all of the mountains to appear and disappear a couple of times while all the while, these fossils survived for 375 million years. Sometimes, it seems easier to believe in the Expanding Earth Theory. I try to keep an open mind but it is difficult to explain these sea creature fossils in the middle of Iowa. Even the Great Flood of Noah couldn't explain it since it didn't last long enough to have deposited so many creatures so as to have created the limestone layers. Unless, all of the sea creatures died at the same time during the Great Flood. Hmmmm, inquiring minds want to know. :) It's been a long day and my mind is wandering, but thinking is what separates us from the other animals God created. 

Standing in the Gorge created by the Flood of 1993. The rock is mostly limestone with fossils. I saw several but they are hard to get a good pictured because most have been worn down over the decades. That horizontal structure in the distance is the Spillway. Water 5 feet deep came over that spillway for 28 days to create this gorge.

This is a fossil that was cut out of the bedrock and is on display in the visitor's center. They don't look like that in the gorge any longer. It was good they saved it.

Another fossil on display in the visitor's center.
I end the post with a picture of very nice swing located outside of the Visitor's Center. It was a great view on a day where the temperature was in the mid to upper 70's and a cool breeze blowing up the hill. It was nice and I enjoyed it for about 20 minutes before moving on. 
Tomorrow I plan to explore what sounds like a set of communist towns dating back to the mid 1800's. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trying To Decide Where to Go

Location: Elkhart County Fairgrounds; Goshen, Indiana

The rally is winding down and I need to decide where to go from here. The wheels on Liberty needs to be rolling on Saturday, which is only two days from now. Heck, I'm been thinking about it for several days and don't even know which direction to go. The way I usually travel is to pick a destination that is quite a ways away, then find stops along the way that have interesting things to see or do. I call it having a a destination with some journeys along the way. I'm having a hard time picking that long distance destination this time. By long distance, I don't mean cross country, it could be as short as 500 miles or less. The point is to find something interesting to head towards so I have a general direction of travel. 

I could head east with D.C. as my destination. It is a place I want to go back too since I didn't see everything I wanted to see when I was there a couple years ago. The question is "do I want to put up with those big cities and all those people". The way things are in the country right now, I think I need to steer clear of big cities for a while. I have a feeling things are going to get real crazy before the election in November. I would hate to be passing through a town and get stopped by some protest shutting down the interstate. One of these times, things are going turn bad and I don't want to be there. I think the odds of something turning bad are higher in the east right now. 

I could head south, with the destination being my family. It sure would be nice to see them, but it is still very hot and humid down there. Maybe I will be able to hold out until November for Thanksgiving. 

If I head north, I could use the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior as a destination. I was given that recommendation a year or so ago. Some of the journeys up there could be campgrounds on the banks of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Maybe the west is the direction I need to head. It has the wide open spaces, big skies and the Rocky Mountains. I don't think I have the time to make it all the way to the Pacific Ocean but I could make it to Colorado and the Rockies, then hang a left into New Mexico before heading back to Louisiana for November. 

Decisions, decisions. Any suggestions are appreciated. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, around the Goshen area:

Concrete pill box style police box, including machine gun slits on the top. It is in downtown Goshen near the city square. It was built in the 30's to protect the banks which were located at this corner from the gangsters of that time such as Machine Gun Kelly, Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger, etc. U.S. 33 was the major highway back then between Chicago and the east coast. 

Olympia Candy Kitchen in downtown Goshen. It's been there since 1912. I resisted buying any of the candy.

 I couldn't resist the hot fudge sundae. I came back the next day and enjoyed their double cheeseburger with side order of  excellent conversation with the cook and waitresses. 

Most people think of Indiana as something other than farming but it is the major business in the state.

Combination of old and new. Wind power and an old barn. :)

They sure like yard sales here in Indiana and Ohio. There seems to be one every mile or so on the smaller U.S. Highways. Nope, didn't stop at any one them. 
Well, I'm still not sure which direction I will be heading when I leave here, but the weather forecast is predicting storms for Saturday. They will be approaching Goshen from the northwest. We have been having afternoon "popcorn" storms "popping" up at random around here all week. Right now, it looks like I will have a travel window Saturday morning before the storms hit. If I head west or north, I'll probably have to drive through them. If I head east, I may be able to stay in front of them. Oh well,,,,,hopefully, I'll be able to decide which direction tomorrow. If not, I'll flip a coin Saturday morning. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road