Friday, July 31, 2009

Rounding the Bend, Heading for Home

After two months on the road, I took off my Tour Director hat this past week and just took it easy. We've not had a plan laid out and just did whatever popped up. The weather has been too cool so far to take the float trip we had in mind but we're holding out hope for tomorrow. Either way, we've enjoyed Island Park, Yellowstone and the surrounding area. I'll be wishing I had some of this cooler weather once we get into Utah. Here are a couple photos of sunsets out our window.

Yesterday we drove to St. Anthony, ID to see the sand dunes. When Rick entered the Day Use parking, his Hyundai was up to its axle in sand. Luckily some ATVers and a couple from the Bureau of Land Management came along and with all their help he was able to back it out onto the shoulder of the road. We were hoping you could rent dune buggies or at least be taken on a ride but you have to bring your own. We climbed a bit and took some pictures. There is a BLM campground there and we drove through. It was filled with "toy hauler" RVs. Some of the buggies were pretty snazzy. It sure looks like fun but must be fairly dangerous. There is a big sign about safety and the phone contact for the helicopter airlift. Enough said!

Today we drove to Harriman State Park. These 11,000 acres were first purchased by E. H. Harriman in 1902 while he owned the Union Pacific Railroad. There were five partners in all. After his death, his wife Mary took a great interest in this investment which became The Island Park Cattle Company. It has always been known as the Railroad Ranch. The Harrimans were the parents of Averell Harriman, governor of NY and ambassador to the Soviet Union. However, his brother Roland and wife Grace took the most interest and used it as an investment as well as a retreat for their family and friends.

Eventually all other investors were bought out and in the early 1980's, Idaho accepted the area from the Harriman family as the first state park in Idaho. The buildings of the Railroad Ranch are all still there and we were able to take a tour. It's a beautiful area with two sparkling lakes where Trumpeter swans winter each year. Its backdrop is the Grand Tetons and Henry's Fork of the Snake River runs through it. The herd of elk was released from the ranch in 1937 and today, 90% of all elk in the region can be traced back to the ranch elk. There is a film and many old photos of life on the ranch in the early 1900s. We took a walk down to the barns and Ted got to visit with some of the horses. It was a very interesting place.

On our way back north we stopped at Big Springs. Last time the Johnny Sack cabin was not open to the public. This year it is, but we were too late in the day. Johnny was a German immigrant, 4'11", who built a cabin and a waterwheel (to produce electricity for himself) on the shores of Big Springs. This is the clearest water I have ever seen including water from a tap. I took a picture of three trout last time that look suspended in air because the water was so clear. Today they were all hiding under the bridge.

We leave Sunday for Moab, UT; Cortez and Pagosa Springs, CO; Albuquerque and Alamogordo, NM. From there things get fuzzy because Ted needs to make a business trip to Denver. We also plan to end up in Burleson, TX around August 31 for the Texas Boomers Labor Day Rally which is near Dallas/Fort Worth and enables Ted to handle a work visit there before the holiday weekend starts.

When we're out like this for extended periods, I try to have a blueprint of where we want to go, what we want to see, who we want to see and events we need/want to attend. When you plug in those factors you can start building a trip. Distance and campgrounds come into play and your route develops. This way Ted knows where we are headed, the route he is taking, the miles he will be driving and have directions to the campground we have selected. He tells everyone I am his personal GPS as well as his spell checker. Two noble professions!

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