Glacier.

Getting There

US Highway 2 leaves Whitefish, MT and winds through Columbia Falls (a cool tourist burb), Coram (home of Glacier Distilling and their tasty North Fork Rye) and past West Glacier (Gateway to the Park). And I went past the entrance to the park because vehicle combinations longer than 21 feet are prohibited on Going to the Sun Road. As the crow files, it’s 49 miles from my campground in Whitefish to my campground in St Mary, on the east side of the park. So I had to roll down the longer 122 mile route—which was just fine because the route was fine (mostly!).

Winding along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River and through a couple towns/outposts was awesome! I love how clear the rivers are! As you approach Marias Pass stunning views of Glacier National Park’s peaks appear. So hard to keep my eyes on the road.

On the east side of Marias Pass I passed by East Glacier (another route to the park) because the railroad bridge wouldn’t let Synko pass under (and because long loads aren’t permitted on MT 49 either). So I continued to Browning and then headed back westward to St Mary, the real eastside entrance to the Park.

US Highway 89 to St Mary
US Highway 89 to St Mary

That highway, US 89 was also under severe construction and I ended up shifting into four-wheel-drive to gain traction over the loose dirt and steep grade. I would not have wanted to drive that road in a half-ton truck or without 4WD. Anyway, I arrived at the nice KOA in the junction town of St. Mary and grilled up some wings for dinner, also mapping out my itinerary into the park on Saturday.

Glacier.

I bought the GNP t-shirt that just said “Glacier.” on a background of Montana because I though it was simple & solid. The national park is anything but simple & solid. It’s stunning & spectacular! I’ve wanted to visit here since high school (you know, for the past 20 years!) and my dream was coming true.

Jackson Glacier
Jackson Glacier

Going to the Sun Road is phenomenal. From the lower land meadows and large lakes on each side through craggy peaks and sheer cliff faces the road winds 52 miles across the Continental Divide and between the Park’s western and eastern portals. Exhibits in the visitor centers pique your interest in the incredible geology of the mountains. The power at work, through an awesome Creator’s hand never ceases to amaze and humble me. God, I love the mountains!

Crowds were fairly heavy but not overwhelming. I took advantage of the park’s shuttles a couple times to avoid parking hassles but I wanted the experience of driving Going to the Sun myself. It. Is. An. Experience. For the most part, the road is good and provides outstanding views of peaks, waterfalls, meadows, creeks, lakes, trees. The rivers simply amazed me in how the sparkling water rushes over colored rocks, so clear and pristine. In slower-moving pools, the glacier water reflects beautiful turquoise colors. It’s unreal beauty.

In other sections the road narrows considerably along the sheer cliff face and I knew I wasn’t being too cautious by folding my mirrors in when I saw other F250s with their ears tucked in too! There were a couple spots where I slowly snuck by oncoming traffic. On the east side of Logan Pass I passed an oncoming rig towing a 25-30 foot Airstream. What a fool. Back in camp later I was chatting with my neighbors who had advised the Park Service of this errant dude. The rangers said they’d intercept him but by that time, he’d have significant damage to his trailer. Yeah, the tunnels and cliff overhangs are real. I dunno how he missed the restriction signs, or if he was just “special.” Wasn’t my problem…

When I reached the west side (where I’d been with Synko in tow the day before) I fueled up to save $1.00 a gallon vs. the price in St. Mary and headed back across the Continental Divide. I enjoyed a quick stop at 1913-era Lake McDonald Lodge for a TwoSki Brewski Pilsner from Kalispell Brewing and then headed back up the hill. About three hours later I was back in St Mary and chatted with a cool lady from Hawaii by way of Calgary. We enjoyed a couple drinks at the local pub and then I headed back to camp (alas, alone, lol). My first visit to Glacier was so great; I’d be returning in a week to take in the “Many Glacier” section of the park.

Leaving There

But until then, in the morning I stowed my good wines and shotgun at the KOA since Canada is averse to such evils. Clearing customs 20 miles from St Mary was a breeze this time, quite different than last year when I tried to take my gun with me. The customs official asked if I had any firearms and when I said, “no” he replied, “you’re from Texas and don’t have a gun?!” I told him I’d left them at the campground in St. Mary and he waved me on through.

The drive through southern Alberta’s green and yellow farmland was easy and in a couple hours I arrived in Calgary and checked into the biggest hole of a campground I’ve found. But it was just for the one night to position me close to Banff and my next destination in Golden, BC. I was headed toward a couple more national parks (this time in Canada) that I’ve wanted to visit in the 20 years since high school!

People I’ve talked with tell of wonderful sights in Banff and Jasper. I can’t wait to get there!

Canadian Rockies

Banff & Yoho National Parks

I slogged through Calagary traffic, headed west toward the mountains. I’d seen dark outlines of them in my left window while driving up from Glacier in Montana, and I was ready to put the city behind me after just a quick overnight. Nothing bad to say about Calgary (other than the crappy campground); I just wanted to get back to the mountains.

As soon as I cleared the outskirts of town traffic slowed and stopped. The radio reported a bad wreck ahead on Trans-Canada Highway 1 and traffic crawled along at 5-10 MPH for 75 minutes. By the time I started moving again all signs of wreckage were gone and traffic flow returned to 100 KPH (60 MPH). Soon I began winding up into the foothills and into Banff National Park.

Absolutely gorgeous! Seems all the rivers and streams run turquoise from the glacier runoff. Pretty stunning views of rivers, meadows, and towering mountains. Much of TC-1 through the park is protected from wildlife by high fences that don’t obstruct the view at all but keep vehicle and large mammal encounters to a minimum. As you travel along, the road crosses 44 wildlife crossing structures—tunnels and bridges built to allow animals to migrate and not have to cross lanes of traffic to do so. Wildlife underpasses are there for black bears and cougars while the overpasses better serve grizzlies, elk and deer. It’s a great execution of a very cool idea that saves wildlife from execution!

I exited the highway to enter the town of Banff and squeezed through the touristy mountain town. With Synko in tow there really wasn’t anyplace to stop, as the RV lot at the visitor center was already jammed with Civic Day holiday tourists. So I continued through Bow Valley on toward Golden where I’d hang for three nights. Banff looked like it’d be a nice play to stay for a few days but it’s much like other mountains towns, so I wasn’t too disappointed at having to keep rolling.

The beautiful drive continued up to the Lake Louise exit and then turns west and through Yoho National Park. It’s a 76 kilometer (45 mile) roll downhill to where the Kicking Horse River joins the Columbia in the town of Golden. The highway through Yoho follows the Kicking Horse through a glacial valley, providing countless scenic views. I eventually passed through Golden and pulled into a fine campsite at Golden Eco Adventure Ranch a couple miles south of town. In a few days I’d backtrack and visit Lake Louise on my way to Jasper National Park. In the meantime there were a couple other parks in the Canadian Rockies I wanted to visit.

Glacier & Mt Revelstoke National Parks

There’s lots of construction on TC-1, widening to four lanes, upgrading brake-check pullouts and easing some curves. But the highway department does a good job to keep traffic flowing. Once entering Canada’s Glacier National Park the road passes through several snow sheds in the tight valley where avalanches are common. This busy, crucial road must cost a fortune to maintain.

Glacier NP (7404)
Glacier NP (7404)

Several trailheads originate near the visitor center atop Rogers Pass. I wasn’t hiking though. Even if a stabbing muscle pull in my chest (not my heart!) hadn’t been giving me grief I wouldn’t have headed down any trail in the area. They are serious about grizzly bears around here! Warning signs are everywhere; trail permits often require groups of at least four; and bear spray is sold at every store and kiosk. It’s implied, “if you head out you’ll likely encounter a black or grizzly bear.” Even in established RV campgrounds you’re required to store BBQ grills and any cooking gear inside when not in use. The owner of Whitetooth Brewing in Golden shared with me a video of a guy this week who was inside a tent while a grizzly was knocking on the tent’s door. Impressive.

The wonderful road continues through the mountains to Mount Revelstoke National Park, home to a unique inland/mountain rainforest. Meadows in the Sky Parkway which departs from the town of Revelstoke is a twisty climb to the near-summit alive with wildflowers and views of so many mountain peaks. I like how the park guide puts it: Mount Revelstoke is rainforest, snowforest, no forest. Perfect!

I stopped into Mt Begbie Brewing in Revelstoke for a quick flight of their good beers before heading back 148 kilometers (89 miles) across Rogers Pass and home to Golden. Famished by the time I got back to camp I broke out the grill. I dry rubbed a sirloin with finely ground Columbian coffee, garlic powder and freshly cracked black pepper then grilled it Pittsburgh style, accompanied by spears of zucchini drizzled with olive oil and simply sprinkled with Himalayan sea salt & black pepper. It was excellent!

Domesticating

Originally I planned to drive back up to Banff for a day but decided I could incorporate a visit to Lake Louise on my way to Jasper. And since Synko had gotten pretty dang dusty the past couple weeks I spent the day mostly hanging at camp giving the rig a good inside cleaning and reordering of a jumbled pantry and cabinet contents. Road construction back in Montana had taken its toll on things… Enjoyed an incredible bison burger at The Bear’s Den for lunch then grilled some chicken, marinated in mesquite spices for din-din. The chicken would be lunch/dinner for a few days. It was kinda nice to have a lay day.

Jasper National Park

The drive back up the Kicking Horse Valley from Golden to Lake Louise takes about an hour. When I arrived at the Lake Louise overflow parking lot to gab the shuttle into town I learned the wait was two hours. While disappointed to not visit this iconic town I wasn’t hanging around for two hours. I had a long drive on Icefields Parkway ahead of me.

Jasper NP Icefield Parkway – Athabasca Glacier (7444)
Jasper NP Icefield Parkway – Athabasca Glacier (7444)

Icefields Parkway is an awesome 3-4 hour drive through forests, meadows, along rivers, over passes and, of course, by glaciers! There were a gazillion people at Icefields Discovery Center which made it virtually impossible to park my rig anywhere close to the making a glacier hike possible, especially since that stupid chest muscle was still a little sore. I’ve hiked across small glaciers before so I didn’t consider this a significant loss. After checking out the discovery center (and declining a >$100 glacier tour) I saddled up Synko again and headed down the pass into the Jasper region.

I had to continue about an hour east of Jasper to get a campsite (still too many people out here!) but enroute to the town of Hinton, Alberta I encountered at least 8-10 bighorn sheep on the road. So very cool to see these beautiful animals!

A quick overnight and then in the morning I was retracing the 144 miles across Icefields Parkway to TC-1. I followed TC-1 a short distance back east to Highway 93 which leads west and south through Kootenay National Park and down through congested Radium Hot Springs toward the town of Cranbrook and checked into a brand new KOA which, inarguably, has the best utility setups I’ve ever encountered. Sometimes it’s the simple things…

I’d reached the westernmost point of my trip in Spokane and in Hinton had gone as far north as I’d travel this time. I was looking forward to the last third of this trip, joining Julie & Brad in South Dakota and Wyoming. But first, I needed to revisit St Mary, MT to reclaim my shotgun and vino. I was also looking forward to taking in the Many Glaciers section of our Glacier National Park! More about that later. Cheers—and happy birthday, Julie!

Glaciers to Badlands

Glaciers

The drive from Cranbrook back toward Montana through the Kootenay mountains was very nice. Small towns, rivers, hills, and Fernie Brewing. I stopped in there to spend my remaining loonies, toonies and the rest of my Canadian money. A quick flight of tasters and then a 12-pack and a bomber of sour for Julie, to go.

After clearing US customs at the border of Canada’s Waterton National Park I again encountered wildlife on the road. Cows on the free range, lol. The day’s cloudy, rainy, cold drive ended back at familiar St. Mary KOA. My spirits were kinda sorta crushed when the NFL network, which I was so happy to receive on Dish, blacked out the Cowboys pre-season game. (Prolly a liberal made that stupid decision.)

After camp church Sunday morning I headed over to the Many Glacier region of the national park. Pretty area, pretty congested. I did sight a golden eagle soaring above the canyon probably on the hunt—or perhaps just enjoying the view God set before him. Back at camp I slow-smoked a rack in the afternoon (seasoned only with freshly ground pink Himalayan sea salt & coarse Malabar black pepper, also freshly ground), making sure to keep an eye open for any hungry bears enticed by the smoker. Paired the ribs with red skin potato salad and a Fernie IPA.

Plains

Monday brought a 10½ hour drive from St Mary, MT to Williston, ND. I took the campground’s suggestion and avoided US 89 south of St Mary, taking a state highway a few miles north to avoid the construction zone I’d tolerated a week or so before. Good call because it was a pretty drive to Browning.

There’s hellauvalotta Montana east of the Rockies! I breezed along US 2, dubbed the Lewis & Clark Trail, with a steady tail wind and occasional rain showers. I don’t know that it increased my fuel economy any but it didn’t impair it and wasn’t an annoying side wind. I’ll take tail winds any day, and I could see the heavy rain stayed a few miles north of me on the Canadian border. As I finally crossed into North Dakota, adding the 48th state I’ve visited to my resume, I decided to check into a nearby motel and avoid having to search for a campsite so late in the day. Good call, I was tired and went to sleep without dinner, even though I hadn’t been bad all day.

Badlands

I know why they call ’em badlands but from my vantage point they ain’t bad at all. These lands are extremely pretty in their own way. It’s easy to love mountains; they’re so impressive in their grandeur. But prairie lands and canyonlands offer their own style of beauty.

At Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s North Unit I dragged Synko up and down the scenic drive, impressed by the sights of the grasses, rocks, rivers, vistas and buffalo. While probably not as well know as the big-name parks, this refuge is absolutely stunning. I chatted with a couple about this and we all agreed our pictures don’t capture the immenseness, depth or scope of the scenery. For me, the pics will always remind me of just how grand, how intense, how intricate, how beautiful God’s creation is.  You cannot truly experience and appreciate this and not believe.

Next up: The Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota.

 

The Black Hills

Devils Tower

After leaving Teddy Roosevelt National Park I rolled south, following the North Dakota/Montana border into South Dakota and then Wyoming to arrive at Devils Tower. Pretty cool looking piece of rock! The trail around the dome is interesting and has great views of the tower. Sighted lots of climbers and one guy looking over the side from the top. Have never had any desire whatsoever to climb rocks but respect the skills and strength of those who do.

Deadwood & Lead

A quick 89 mile drive to Deadwood, SD wound through eastern Wyoming’s farmlands and through the Black Hills National Forest. I checked into the cool, cozy and cramped KOA. Nice place tucked into the side of the mountain but the terraced sites leave little room for maneuvering or parking. Regardless, I got one of the better sites and was good with that. Once settled I headed into the historic mining and brawling town.

Deadwood is cool, kinda touristy. I hit a couple of the historic saloons and left the cemetery and other historic sites until Brad & Julie arrived. Back at camp I grilled a pork loin and just chilled.

Friday was laundry day. I’d rather have my teeth drilled. It had been a couple weeks so I filled all four washers at the campground and at least killed the miserable chore in an hour or so. Rewarded myself with a visit to Dakota Shivers Brewery in Lead (leed). Ubercool place. Yes, it’s my latest favorite brewery! Bought their stainless mug and a t-shirt. I only get shirts from breweries I really like, and then the shirt needs to be cool. Theirs are.

Hill City & More

En route to Hill City to meet up with Julie and Brad I rolled through Rapid City and got a haircut and a much needed bath for Synko. Nearly an hour later I was set up in our adjoining campsites, put a hoodie on to battle this chill and waited for Julie & Brad to arrive. Kay & Dave came over and we all headed out for a brew at Miner Brewing Company in town, followed by pretty decent buffalo/elk burger at Slate Creek Grill.

Needles Highway (7539)
Needles Highway (7539)

In the morning we headed out, got a check in the box at Mount Rushmore and then drove through Custer State Park and onto the Needles Highway. Needles Highway is yet another wonderful road that winds through trees, across a couple ridges and through very narrow and low tunnels among outcroppings of wind chiseled rock. The Eye of the Needle had us folding in side mirrors and ducking low. Extremely cool! A couple videos of the tunnels: A Fairly Wide Tunnel and Eye of the Needle.

From Needles Highway we made the couple hour drive back over to Devils Tower so Julie & Brad and Dave & Kay could enjoy that pretty cool site. Then we headed back to camp but this time through Spearfish Canyon. Another wonderful road. This part of the country is full of ’em! Our day culminated around a campfire enjoying a couple cocktails in the chilly evening. ‘Twas a perfect way to wrap up a week in the beautiful Black Hills.

Next, on to Yellowstone!

 

Geyser Basin, YNP

Wednesday was a great geyser day! These active creatures—they certainly have moods and personalities—are hard to wrap your head around. I’m not gonna try, other than to spew a few adjectives…

  Stunning   Incredible   Awesome   Moody   Powerful   Stark   Subtle   Scary   Reflective   Deep   Clear   Murky   Bright   Dull   Colorful   Prismatic   Mind-blowing   Strong   Smelly   Creative   Old   Enduring   Refreshing   Renewing   Variable   Predictable   Unpredictable   Inspiring   Threatening   Solid   Humbling   Wellyougettheidea

My novice pics in the slideshow and the videos hopefully convey some sense of how wonderfully God created this place. Thursday we’re off to the Lamar River Valley and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone…

 Geyser Basin Videos

Flower Paint Pot Area Bubbling
Flower Paint Pot Area Steaming
Flower Paint Pot Area Erupting 
Biscuit Basin Seashell Comes Alive
Old Faithful #1
Old Faithful #2
Midway Geyser Area – 4,000 Gallons a Minute
Midway Geyser Area – Bacteria Mats
Firehole Lake Drive – The Spa Boils!

Lamar River Valley

We made an early morning departure (5:30) to head across the park to the Lamar River Valley for some wildlife viewing. And accomplished our goal! Almost immediately into the wide valley we encountered a few solitary bison and then a buffalo jam a few miles down the road. So cool to wait and watch as these majestic beasts graze and roll and chase each other alongside (and on) the road.

Several times the animals were within a couple feet so we just continued rolling slowly along, trying to not disturb them. Great picture opps, great videos and sounds. So fortunate to have experienced so many bison in one place. Truly great!

A ways down valley several groups were lining the road, reportedly spying a wolf across the meadow. While we didn’t see one it was still kinda cool to know one was likely out there, as professional guides were camped out watching.

After reaching the northeast entrance to the park we retraced our tracks in Lamar Valley to take in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mud Volcano Area, which I cover here.

Lamar Valley Videos

Lamar Valley Bison
Lamar Valley Bison – Ah, Love!
Lamar Valley Bison – Dustin’ it Up!
Lamar Valley Bison – Owning the Road
Lamar Valley Bison  – Crossing without a Guard

Don’t forget to read on about the day’s afternoon sights!

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone & Mud Volcano

After visiting wildlife-filled Lamar Valley in the morning and then a mediocre lunch at the unexpected yet friendly grill in  Canyon Village we covered the short distance to first the North then the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Beautiful canyon wall colors, lots of water in the Yellowstone River. More stunning beauty. Does not get old.

A short distance south from there is the Mud Volcano area. I’d also visited this area several years ago but it’s so cool (not literally!) I was excited to see it again. I’ll let the pics & vids speak for themselves. Very impressive area!

As we were closing down the day’s sightseeing, headed down alongside the Madison River toward West Yellowstone we came upon a herd of elk, grazing and relaxing on  an island in the mid of the river. Such beautiful animals. (Tasty chops, too!) We’ve been treated to bison, elk, deer, trumpeter swans, and myriad birds & ground crawlers. Still got eyes out for bear and moose!

Videos of the Afternoon’s Sites

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – Lower Falls
Churning Caldron
Mud Volcano
Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Mammoth Springs, YNP

Rounding out our YNP experience we headed out late morning to Mammoth Springs at the northern edge of the park. On the way up we checked out Roaring Mountain. Lots of thermal vents of various kinds. Years ago when the mountain was more active the roar could be heard four miles away. That’s impressive.

Also impressive is Mammoth Hot Springs. The terracing created by flows of sulfuric stuff through the rhyolite is unusually pretty. It’s amazing how hot water and gas can create so many different variations. Extremely interesting and another glimpse into the handiwork of our creative, powerful God.

We had lunch—ice cream—at the grill in the village of MHS and then drove a backroad up to the north entrance of YNP. Good call because we saw elk and pronghorn grazing on the hillside. I think pronghorns are the coolest looking animals with their colorful markings and fluffy white butts. But that’s me…

Norris Geyser Basin (7758)
Norris Geyser Basin (7758)

On the return trip to West Yell we stopped into Norris Geyser Basin, which was slammed earlier in the day, and walked around the boardwalk to see its version of hot water coming up through the ground. I still wasn’t getting tired of the fumaroles, cauldrons and springs. But we forewent the loop around the back basin in favor of a beer back in camp.

The Madison River elk family greeted us again on the final leg into West Yell; this time they were just hanging on the far side of the river with the big boy looking over his harem. Yep, another great day in our great nation’s first and greatest national park! Next up: The Grand Tetons!

Mammoth Hot Springs & Norris Geyser Basin Videos

Roaring Mountain
Mammoth Hot Springs
Norris Geyser Basin – Little Bubblers
Norris Geyser Basin – Sizzling Ground
Norris Geyser Basin – Noisy Vents

Grand Tetons & Snake River

We set up base camp for a few days at Colter Bay in Grand Tetons National Park. The RV section is a cozy place among lodgepole pines with bear warning signs everywhere. After watching church on a weak and intermittent WiFi signal Sunday we checked out the town of Jackson, meeting up with my friend David for lunch at the Silver Dollar Saloon in the Wort Hotel. Good elk gyro!

Late afternoon brought on some rib smoking using my new A-MAZE-N smoke pellet device. Worked great on keeping a nice think line of blue smoke venting from my little portable smoker! I managed to overcook the ribs though, dammit. I kept the temp at about 220 and am now convinced the thermostat reads high. Maybe not having to open the smoker every twenty minutes to add wood chips contributed to higher overall cook temps. More trial and error!

Monday we had a blast white water rafting on the Snake River. The time flew by; we saw a river otter and mountain goat on the riverbank, and a huge osprey nest on a power line. Lots of wildlife here!

On the way back to camp we enjoyed pizza and a brew on Dornan’s deck looking out at the towering Tetons. Awesome place to hang for a while! Then we night-capped at the Blue Heron lounge at Jackson Lake Lodge, watching the sun set over the mountain peaks. WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE?

Julie flew home Tuesday to meet her new grandson; Brad left early Wednesday for the two long-days drive to Frisco; I left Thursday mid-morning, headed to Saratoga and then Beaver Creek to meet up with Shelley & Brett for a week. Was kinda sad leaving the Tetons, party because I recognized I was starting my slow roll back to Texas and partly because I can’t answer the question: WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE?

Tetons View from Jackson Lake Lodge Video

The Final Stretch

Wrapping up summer . . .

After a two-year hiatus I returned to Beaver Creek, my stomping grounds of several of the past nine summers. Met up with Shelley & Brett and just lazed around for a few days. We also met with our friend Dennis (from Puerto Rico days) and his bride in Breckenridge on Saturday. Sunday brought sailing on Lake Dillion. Or not.

We had a 18 footer rented for two hours at the Frisco Dillon Marina but by the time we crawled through ridiculous holiday weekend traffic at the marina and I dropped S&B off to check out the boat while I parked, we were 40 minutes into the rental period before I found a parking spot 3/4 mile away. I opted to just hang in Frisco and prep for the evening’s fantasy football draft. Didn’t make sense to delay them getting out on the water. I was fine with it.

Monday was recharge & refuel day. Synko was parked in the Elk lot at Beaver Creek Resort. Very cool benefit—free, pretty secure parking, albeit without power. I hung out in Synko for an hour or so to let the generator bring my house batteries up to 12.5 volts. The solar panel just wasn’t keeping up and I’m still not sure why. Anyway, that earned me a trip to Eagle to fuel up at Costco, saving 39 cents a gallon on diesel. Savings which I used at one of my favorite breweries: Bonfire. Great place, great always-changing brews, great people.

The final stretch—perhaps “slog” is a better term—back to north Texas took me first 20 miles outta the way to Gypsum, CO for wheel bearing repacks and suspension lubing on Synko. She already has more than 10,000 miles on her and I’m pretty diligent about trailer wheels & tires. Bearings, suspension and brakes were all in good shape; the wheel bearing grease was more than ready to be changed but I caught it in time. After the upcoming trip to Orlando later this month I’ll likely replace her tires, too.

The relatively short & easy drive Thursday to Leadville landed me at the RV park/parking lot in town. I really just wanted a place to watch the NFL kickoff game! So I pulled into the weary & weathered parking-lot-called-rv-park—but within walking distance to Periodic Brewing and with clear skies to the Dish satellites. Turned out to be a poorly played game.

Since it was only a couple hours out of the way home I visited Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado. Cool place. I like how the two creeks that run down each side of the dunes carry sand to the lower valley where predominant winds carry the sand grains back to the dunes. Interesting cycle of generating and regenerating the massive dunes.

A few hours later I arrived in Raton, New Mexico and debated just continuing toward home but decided to hang in the utility KOA for the night and set up a 500 mile drive to Brushy Creek Vineyards in Alvord, a Harvest Hosts location. Brushy Creek is a cool little Texas winery with, perhaps, the best Texas wines I’ve had. Turned out to be a great stopover with the Texas/LSU game playing on the outside TV.

And with that, my summer 2019 trip came to an end with an hour-long drive in the morning to arrive at 121 Community Church, just in time for the 9:15 service. Trip summary:

  • Racked up a total of 9897miles
  • Synko hung with me for 7864 miles (79%); lots of non-towing driving in Yellowstone, Ouray, British Columbia)
  • Drove a total of 286 hours
  • Traveled through 9 states and 2 Canadian provinces
  • Crossed the Continental Divide countless times
  • Visited 6 National Parks, 6 National Monuments and 5 Canadian National Parks
  • Lost track of which time zone I was in three times
  • Saw innumerable bison; lots of elk; a couple moose; several bighorn sheep, mountain  goats, pronghorns, eagles; and an otter. And wolves across the Lamar Valley, which were there but couldn’t be seen with the naked eye.
  • Stayed in 45 different campsites, one motel and one condo  over 97 days
  • Averaged 11.6 MPG in fuel consumption (I was averaging 11.8 until the last day of the trip when I had persistent cross winds from Raton, NM to Alvord, TX). Overall, happy with the fuel economy given all the mountain driving.
  • Got oil service and new tires for truck; repacked Synko’s wheel bearings.
  • Used about 50 pounds of propane for cooking & cooling.

I’m now back at the Vineyards in Grapevine, adjusting to the slow-to-end Texas summer. Turned on the air conditioners for the first time this summer!…

Thanks again for your prayers for safe travels and to the Good Lord for looking out for me and blessing me with incredible weather, sights and an always-renewed appreciation for His beautiful creation. I’m ridiculously blessed.

Early Summer Route
Late Summer Route
Initially Intended Route