Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - Oswego, KS


The last few weeks we have been very busy getting ready to leave on our trip.  We are 5 days from departure date - Sunday, August 2.

Leaving for a few weeks (most of our past trips) is quite different than planning for 3 months on the road.  Trying to determine what clothes to take in case weather temps change is a big decision, but there is so much more to think about before leaving for this time period.  Such as having utilities shut off or put on vacation, making sure we get our car tags while we are on the road (they come due in September), determining how we will handle mail, ensuring we have enough of our daily medication with us, that we will receive all of our bills through email or they are set up to be paid by direct withdrawal from our account, letting the credit card companies know where we will be traveling.  We utilize two cards to track our travel expenses.  On one we are required to update our travel itinerary every two weeks and the second we must update once a month.  I had to add a reminder to my calendar to be sure I follow up on this.  I have made several notes of things to do before leaving, such as forward our home phone to our cell phone, shut the air conditioner off, etc. and I hope I don’t forget anything too important.  My sister Cindy, and/or our daughter Misti will be our eyes at home in case something is needed or I suddenly remember something I didn’t do.  They are really good to help us and we really appreciate them. 

But even with all of this, we are excited about the trip and look forward to it.  Dean may not be as much as I am but he is excited to see Matt, Megan and our youngest grandson Josh.   I am the eternal optimist and I know we are going to have a fantastic time.  And even if we get a lemon we are going to make lemonade from it!  And we love lemonade!

Dean’s been working himself silly, between giving Bentley a much needed bath, reorganizing his storage bin, power washing the house, keeping up the mowing, being Elmer’s (my brother-in-law) golf partner, oh, wait that isn’t work – but a guy has to have some fun, right?  He sure takes good care of me and Bentley.   Thanks honey! 

I have prepared our travel map and selected locations where we will overnight until we reach Matt’s.  I’ll work on the rest of the travels once we are in New York.  Our goal is to be on the road no later than 9 or 10 am and to arrive at our new daily location by 2 pm.  This gives us time to check out the campground and/or community where we stay before dinner.  One of our goals is to get back to our daily walking.  Hopefully we’ll be able to find parks, downtown walking tours, or hiking in the area to not only give us some exercise but might also provide an opportunity to learn more about the community where we stay.  We plan to follow US Highways as much as possible as we prefer the slower pace compared to Interstate traffic.  We are not in a hurry and want to enjoy the scenery as we pass through several states in this first leg of our journey.

I hope you have signed up to follow us on our journey.   I love to hear your comments so feel free to let us know what you think or if you have questions.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesday, June 2-4, 2015 - Johnson Lake SRA, Elwood, NE; Air Capital RV Park, Wichita, KS and HOME

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - Johnson Lake SRA, Elwood, NE

We left Broken Arrow Horse Campground about 9:00 this morning to begin making our way back to Oswego.  I think this is the earliest we have got up and around all week so I guess we are all ready to get back to our routines.  Our original plan was to stop three nights between Custer and home, but we were making such good time we decided we would try to get a little further down the road before stopping so we only needed to make one more stop in Wichita on our way back home.  If you remember we left our van for our son from New York to drive while he was in Wichita visiting.  He had left it at his older brother's house when he left a few days after we did, so we needed to go through Wichita to pick it up. 

We had a nice drive, beautiful weather and were enjoying the drive.  We were on I-80 going across Nebraska about 1 mile from Cozad, NE (west of Lexington) about 5:30 p.m. when we had a blow out on the outside back tire on the driver's side.  Fortunately Dean only drives about 60 and he was able to get over on the shoulder pretty quick.  The temperatures were not too bad with the windows down.  Good thing.  I called our roadside assistance company, Coach Net to report the problem and after taking our information, they advised they would get back with us as soon as they found a repair truck that could come out.  After about 45 minutes I called back thinking maybe she had tried to call and I either missed it or maybe there was a lapse in a cell signal.  No - not the case.  The first person they called said it would be 2 hours before they could be there and they were only 1 mile away.  While contacting several others, she had been unable to reach anyone else. Guess everyone turns their phones off at 5:00?  She apologized and said she was still trying to find someone.  About 15 minutes later she called back to say a truck was on its way from Lexington, but it would take about an hour because since we were on the Interstate, they would have to go pass us about 20 miles, and then drive back to us.  So close to 2 hours after the blow out occurred we were on our way again.  The wait was not really too bad.  It was not too hot as the sun was mostly behind us, and there was a nice breeze.  Both boys napped while  Dean and I visited and watched the traffic fly by.  Could have been much worse.

Well, we vowed when we left Johnson Lake SRA we would probably not come back here, but tonight we were thankful we were close to it and there was a spot we could park.  It was 8:30 when we pulled in and boy were we glad we had a place to stop that was so close. The park roads were in much better shape this time even though it was apparent they had received more rain since our trip through about a week ago.  The river and creeks were way out of their banks.  After setting up, we ate dinner, had showers, watched a little TV then hit the sack.  We had to find some tires for the RV before we headed home and we weren't sure how long it might take if they were not in stock.  Dean and I will see what we can find out in the morning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - Air Capital RV Park, Wichita, KS

Dean and I got up and around pretty early so he could make calls to tire companies first thing.  We found a place that opened at 7:30 a.m. and they had some tires in stock.  We drove into town to take a look at them and talk to the owner.  He told us they would be able to put them on if we could bring the RV in at 1:00 today.  We stopped at Walmart for a couple of things and headed back to Bentley.  The boys were up and about when we got back.  We were able to take our time getting around this morning.  About 12:30 we were hitched up and pulled out.  We arrived at the tire company shortly before 1:00 and we were on our way in about 20 minutes or so.  No problems on the way home and we arrived in Wichita about 8:00 p.m.  We ate dinner and were in bed pretty early.

Thursday, June 4, 2015 - HOME Oswego, KS

Dean and I headed to Heath's around 8:30 or so to pick up the van.  We made a stop at Lamar's donuts (just around the corner from Heath's house) and took maple bars, apple fritters and donuts back for breakfast.  Yum, they sure were good.

We got around and were on the road by 10:30 to make the final trip home.   Logan drove the van back and I rode along with him.  We had a good time listening to some new and old music.  I was surprised at the number of older songs he knew - but he is just not a country music boy.  We pulled into our drive about 1:30.  After helping Dean get Bentley backed into his spot, I ran Logan home.  Tucker stayed with us until about 5:00 or so and then we took him home.  He had been pretty quiet all week but he came alive when he saw his dog, Piper and his mom.  He even gave his sister a hug and told her he had missed her.  Dad was out of town for a conference so he'll have to wait a couple of days to wrestle around with him - which I think is one of his favorite things to do.

We had a wonderful trip and really enjoyed spending time with the boys.  They were just fantastic and lots of fun.  Next year it's the granddaughters turn.  Where will we go?

Monday, June 1, 2015 – Broken Arrow Horse Campground, Custer, SD
 Dean has been dreaming of the large cinnamon rolls he saw at the restaurant where they had breakfast the other morning and has decided he cannot wait another day before having one of them.   The restaurant is called Baker’s Bakery & Café.  Their sign says “You’ll love our buns!”  So we headed into town to try them out.  Well, Dean and Tucker did love their buns.  Dean had the caramel and pecan roll and Tucker had the good old fashioned white icing cinnamon roll.  Logan chose biscuits and gravy and I opted for the traditional breakfast with homemade toast.  Oh my gosh, that bread was good, but I had to share it with Dean because I could not eat anymore.  They were huge, thick pieces.  Probably the best place we ate on our trip in my opinion.  The breakfast was good, the bread was excellent. 
 After breakfast we headed to the Custer County 1881 Historical Museum.  This was something Tucker really wanted to visit and I think we all enjoyed it.  One of the things I found the most interesting was they had an authentic uniform from every war in the US except the Spanish-American War.  I took a picture of the former Treasurer’s office for my sister who is Treasurer of Labette County, Kansas and her friend who is the former Treasurer of Allen County, Kansas.  Thinking of you ladies and all you have done for your counties!
Notice the sign on the left of the doorway.
Once we were back on the street we walked around while I took pictures of these buffalo that were on most every corner on Main Street.  Aren’t they amazing?  Tucker was trying to photo bomb these pictures and did a pretty good job on one of them.

After checking out the buffalo we headed on up the Hwy 16 to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  What an interesting visit.  The mountain where the Crazy Horse is located is 6,543 ft. high and is the 27th highest mountain in SD.  The site for the sculpture was chosen by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear.
All of the work to date has been done with private funds.  They will not accept funds from the Federal Government for this memorial.  They have formed a foundation “Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation” with the intent to preserve the heritage of the North American Indians.  The foundation is now overseeing the completion of the Crazy Horse sculpture.  There are many, many Indian artifacts on display and several artists displaying and making their products on site.  It is a beautiful facility and we thoroughly enjoyed our time here. 
After Korczak died his family picked up where he left off and are dedicated to seeing the project through to completion.  Maybe I enjoyed it more knowing of my own Indian heritage.  I felt a real connection to what it stands for.

We decided to take a bit of a break this afternoon.  Today was quite warm and it just wasn’t much fun being out in the heat of the day so we headed back to Bentley to just enjoy a little downtime before our last big event before packing up and heading home tomorrow. 
I took advantage of the time to begin getting some things in order for leaving tomorrow and the guys watched some TV.
Later in the evening, we drove the last of the scenic routes to reach Mount Rushmore.  We wanted to visit at night in order to see the lights and hear the program that is presented.  It was hard to believe it was so hot earlier today, as the temperatures really dropped and it was almost cold.  I was glad I grabbed my jacket or I never would have lasted until the program was over.  There was a trail that led behind the stage area where you could get a little closer look at Mt. Rushmore, but is began to lightning so we did not complete it, and besides I was so sore from climbing Harney Peak by now I could hardly get up and down the steps here. 
We did discover they had some wonderful ice cream on site and we all enjoyed that while waiting for the evening program to begin.  Since it was so windy which caused us to be cold, we stood near the ice cream shop out of the wind to stay somewhat warm.  The ice cream sure was good though.
 Here are several pictures I took, including one of the veteran’s that were in the audience that evening.  They call them up on stage and it was very moving how the group clapped and clapped for them to show our appreciation for their service to our country. 

It was sad to leave knowing it was the end of our last full day in Custer.  We’ve all had a great time and it was super to be able to spend the time with Logan and Tucker.  But we still have a few more days to spend with them before we get back home.  There’s more to come!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sunday – May 31, 2015 – Broken Arrow Horse Campground, Custer, SD


Sunday – May 31, 2015 – Broken Arrow Horse Campground, Custer, SD


Today is a big day for us.  We are going to hike Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota at 7,242 feet.   Our starting point was from Sylvan Lake near the trail head to Harney Peak.  The elevation here is 6,145 feet.  The trail is 3.8 miles to the top and at times it seemed as if it was straight up!  Oh my, this Nana did not do near enough walking in the weeks before starting up this trail. 

Here are some pictures of us near the bottom of the trail and Harney Peak in the distance.  First picture you can barely see the stone tower at the top of Harney Peak.  The next picture I zoomed in on the stone tower.  That’s where we are headed.  What was I thinking?
 Logan, Tucker & Papa Dean
 Tucker, Nana Cheri & Logan
Right in the center, do you see the little tip above the cascade of rocks?  That is Harney Peak from where we were at the bottom of the trail.
Here is the tower on Harney Peak when I zoomed in from the same spot.

Below are pictures taken on the way up.  You'll notice there are several dead trees.  The pine beetle have moved in and killed many of the pine trees. 

Looking back down the trail from about half way up.

I’m not sure how far we were into the hike, maybe ¼ of the way and I turned around to find a lady walking up the trail right behind us.  We began to visit and we thoroughly enjoyed her company as we discussed hiking and traveling stories on the nearly 5 hour hike.  The scenery as we climbed upwards was quite beautiful and I did not take nearly as many pictures as I should have.  It really took all I had to put one step in front of the other.  If it had not been for the boys I would not have done this but I'm glad we did.

It was a beautiful cool day with a nice breeze.  Much of the trail had shade from the nearby trees.  As we neared the top I am sure the steps became twice as high as at the start of the incline.  At times I felt I could barely get my leg up to the next step and then would have to rest my hand on my thigh to push myself up in order to make each step.  But – we made it and what a view there was for us to see. 
The view from the top.  It was beautiful.

The tower at the top.
I only have a few pictures, but I have to admit I was so winded all I really wanted to do was sit and rest for a spell, and eat a little lunch.  The boys climbed around on the rocks some while Dean and I rested and visited with our new friend Carla.
Logan in the middle and Tucker behind him.

If you enlarge this you can see Logan and Tucker resting on the rocks.
However, we did not want to spend the night here so I had no other option but to begin the climb down.  Now, here is the strange thing.  About half way down, we begin going back uphill,  then we would dip down a bit more, and then back up.  I sure do not remember the trail going downhill while we were on the way up.  Since it was Sunday there were quite a few people on the trail.  Everyone we met was very nice and willing to step aside and out of each other’s way as needed.  Many brought their small children and dogs with them.  We saw a few dads backpacking their really small children up the trail.  Sure, they were young, but I was still impressed how they did not seem to realize they were carrying an extra 20+ pounds on their back.  

I can’t tell you now glad I was to see the muddy pond of water we had to walk around on the trail at the trailhead because I knew we were within a hundred feet or so of the vehicle.  We made it!  We bid our goodbyes to Carla.  It felt so good to sit on that soft seat in the truck.  We drove down to the park store in order to make use of their nice restrooms.  By the way, there are no toilets of any kind on the Harney Peak trail!  Ugh!
A view on the way down of the aspens among the mountains.

Sylvan Lake.

The park store sold Harney Peak hat and t-shirt sets.  We each had to purchase one of these as a memento of our day here.  Logan and Tucker went up Harney Peak like a couple of chipmunks and never slowed at all.  Oh, to be so young again.  But I am thankful for being able to not only walk, but to also do the climbing necessary to get me that far.  We are blessed! 

On our way back we drove the Needles Highway.  Here are pictures of the needle.  The scenery was stunning.  The stone walls along the highways were magnificent in size and beauty.  There is just no way to really describe what you see here.  We were fortunate to visit here in South Dakota at such a perfect time of the year.  The temperatures have been very mild and very comfortable.  While it did rain some it rarely impacted what we wanted to do.  While there are a lot of people visiting here I believe the numbers are still quite low compared to what there will be in the coming months.
See why it's called the Needles Highway?
That is one tall mountain!
Some lady offered to take our picture!  How nice.


Next stop:

 Cathedral Spires
Just down the road we came to the Hole in the Wall Rest Area:

Do you see the hole in the wall?

We headed back to Bentley to have some dinner, shower and rest up for tomorrow, our last day in Custer.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015 – Broken Arrow Horse Campground, Custer, SD

Saturday, May 30, 2015 – Broken Arrow Horse Campground, Custer, SD

 Our campground.

This morning we decided we would head to Wall, SD and the Badlands for the day.  When we left we decided it might be a good time to take the wildlife loop to the southeast of Custer.  It was a long drive and we saw practically no wildlife.  It was almost 1.5-2 hour drive, so it was a little disappointing, however the countryside was beautiful. 
The one thing we did see and LOTS of them were prairie dogs.  I found them quite interesting and could have watched them for quite a while, especially those with little babies running around but the guys quickly tired of them and were ready to move on.


After finishing the wildlife loop we headed to Wall, SD to visit the famous Wall Drug.  Everyone I’ve talked to has told me you must stop there.  It was a fun stop and we had a good time.  After walking through numerous shops in the building fronting main street, we exited into an open court area where there were several interesting things to see.  One of these included a very large jackalope that anyone could sit on to have their pictures taken.  Tucker wanted to climb up but he couldn’t reach the stirrup so Papa had to give him a hand.  Once he got up there he discovered there were stairs on the other side.  HAHA we all had a good laugh about that.  Here is a picture of him.

We also this covered wagon and Tucker climbed aboard to take the reins.

Logan and Tucker posed for this picture.

We also found a piano playing gorilla.  We dropped in a quarter to hear him but can’t remember the song he was singing and playing now.

On the back side of the courtyard was another large building full of other items for sale.  We enjoyed this stop.

Greetings from the BLACK HILLS, South Dakota!
You should visit - it is wonderful.
It was nearing lunchtime so we hit the local Dairy Queen for burgers and fries before heading on to the Badlands.

WOW!  The Badlands was one of our favorite places.  We spent the entire afternoon moving from one outlook to another looking at all of the many different rock formations in each of the various stops.  Each one was different and the colors changed from one to the next as well.  The boys had such a great time here and I have many pictures of the formations and the guys checking things out.  Twice Tucker spotted a rattlesnake.  They were both small and were at the edge of a raised boardwalk where they were getting a little sun.  The first one sounded his rattle but slithered under the boardwalk.  The second one we saw, was pretty intimidated by all of the people surrounding him and he posed to strike.  While he probably would not have reached us, none of us waited to find out and everyone scrambled backwards really quick.  Dean moved so fast he almost knocked poor Logan over.  Logan got the short end of the stick on these sightings.  On the first one he was on the opposite side of the boardwalk.  When Tucker found the first rattlesnake, Logan ran toward the boardwalk and tripped coming up on to it and fell.  Needless to say it was gone by the time he made it to the other side.

 I’ll let the pictures tell our story.

 First selfie in the Badlands!

 The boys!

 Logan and I had to have a selfie together too. 

 A mountain goat in the wild!  Woohoo!

 The two pictures above are in the area of the Badlands I enjoyed the most.  The colors are amazing.

 Here's the first rattler Tucker found.  It was pretty exciting to see this outside of a zoo environment.


 Love this picture.  Don't they look tough!


We stopped at Jimmie John’s for sandwiches before heading home.  It was pretty late and we were very tired.  But we were able to enjoy this pretty sunset on our way home. 
Tomorrow is another day!