Week One: May 16 - 22 ( TX, OK, KS, CO, NE, WY, MT )
May 22, 2012
Days 1 and 2, we spent at Lake Whitney area
and at the Midtown RV park in the center of Ft Worth. This gave us a chance to see La Verne and Kim, Tom and grandkids. Weather was in upper 80's but we knew it wouldn't be long before we would trade shorts and flip-flops for jeans, jackets and tennis shoes.
Day 3 found us in Salina KS. Winds in Kansas were most memorable, nearly 40 mph. We knew we might be in for it when three storm chaser weather vehicles passed us on the road. Then our RV park in Salina had a storm shelter right in the middle of the RV park. These folks are prepared. We were in an RV spot beside a small lake visited by very tame ducks. Terrain through OK and Kansas very similar to TX as was the warm weather in the 80's.
Day 4 started us along the highway from Kansas toward eastern CO. in hot windy weather at the start. Suddenly the temps dropped into 50's, rain came, and we knew summer clothes would be a thing of the past. But when we hit Visitor's Center in Burlington CO, it was sunny again & warming up nicely. We turned north and spent the night in Sidney Nebraska, home of Cabella's International office. The huge Cabella's near our park was a dangerous place for Todd to shop but he came away with only a water proof hat!
CO and Nebraska took us through hugs plains as far as the eye could see with alternating farms and ranches that stretched out to the horizon. Each town had huge grain cylos.
We truly saw those waving fields of grain...mostly wheat, and hay. Each spread was surrounded on the North & West sides with huge trees to provide windbreaks. Trees planted as saplings now gave protection to last for genereatios to come. Easy to see why this is called the nation's breadbasket.
Day 5 had us leaving Nebraska headed for Casper Wyoming. We passed by famous Chimney Rock,
a natural formation that was a welcome site for early wagon travelers on the Oregon Trail who had mostly word-of-mouth maps about what they should see ahead.
We saw many railroad cars paralleling our path, loaded with coal to the top. These trains eventually made travel by wagon and stagecoach no longer necessary. Followed by us folks in cars, I guess. What an incredbile evolution in transportation.
Soon we came to a landmark of the preserved Oregon Trail Ruts where wagons made trails right into the rock-hard sandstone.
Can you imagine what that travel must have been like?
Wyoming offered us vast landscapes with cattle and dainty gentle proghorn antelope. Todd said that in another life, he would be a land owner here with enough spare change to spend the winters in Rockport!
Day 6 saw us leave Wyoming for big sky Montana. North of Billings we stopped for lunch at the Custer Battlefield Trading Post. They sold buffalo burgers and Indian fry bread the size of a plate! Just delish with honey...a cross between a tortilla, sopapilla and fried donut.
Authentic teepees were on the grounds
as well as this neat bench with carved cowboy boots.
We drove on to the geographic center of Montana called Lewistown, named after Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame, where we spent the night in a neighborhood RV Park.
Day 6 we made it to Great Falls and stayed at the Malmstrom AFB Fam Cam RV Park.
We visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretation Center
and recreated the two-year expedition in the basement of that museum. The dioramas, maps, photos and complex exhibits showed just how enormous a task the expedition was.
We also drove along River Rd tracking the Missouri River that winds through this old city. The river's huge falls
were a most difficult natural obstacle for L&C Expedition.
They had to portage their bosts and belongings up the steep sandstone riverbanks to get around the five falls, a distance of about 18 miles. Today the falls are separated from each other by a series of damns. The city beautifully earns its name, Great Falls.
Tonight marks the end of our first week. What an appreciation we have for the beauty and vastness of this land...and for those who first explored it.
(We will send next blog update in a week. See you then! M & T in Therapy)