Time to get back on the bikes! Jim found the Paul Bunyan and Heartland Trails in Minnesota and we headed for Pine River to check them out. We had called ahead to a campground right by the trail but never got hold of anybody. We also found out there is a city park where we could stay for $5 a night. No hookups but that works fine for us.
When we got to the campground Jim went in and finally roused somebody. There was one spot in a sort of permanent camp and it was $38 a night. We decided to head for the city park which turned out to be a really good spot. And except for a tent camper who came and went we had the place to ourselves. Another good spot for the kitties.
The first day we headed toward Bemidji. When we got to Backus, we decided to buy a soda to go with our sandwiches so Jim went into the Backus Locker to get change. We had forgotten to get something out of the freezer for dinner so when I saw that today’s special was Wild Rice brats, I went in and suggested those for dinner. What a place! They even do emergency butchering! Whatever that means… We ended up getting a couple kinds of brats and made a plan to come back through when we left and stock up on meat. They had over 50 different kinds of brats and all kinds of meat. We had seen a sign for blueberries on the way up but it turned out they were only open till noon. Corn Festival coming up…
A walk in the park for a boy and his cat…
Speaking of cats, they are pretty good at staying around the park and not getting into the weeds. More on that soon. Much more…
Around town in Pine River. I turned over 4000 official miles on my bike.
The next day we set off for Pequot Lakes on a cool and rainy/misty day. Geared up.
We actually made a plan for awhile ahead, which is unusual for us. A weekend at Avatan, then on to Waterloo, Iowa, bike trails and celebrating my birthday month. As Jim says, it’s good to have a plan…
Our goal with our last few stops was to find a good place for the cats to be ale to go out. Big aspirations, right?
A few more photos from Fort Peck Lake.
We set off for Williston, North Dakota for a weekend of provisioning and laundry and Walmart.
We moved on to Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota and another Corps of Engineers site. This time we were on the lake, not the river and it was a great stop. Jim was playing his uke outside the bus and a guy stopped by and mentioned that he played guitar. He left, came back with his guitar and some beer and we had a good session of music. He was an accomplished player and Jim always learns alot from those guys. The next day he was texting Jim chords all day long! Hey Kimo…
We moved sites after the first night and spent our time kitty walking, playing ukulele, doing iPad art and getting in 10,000 steps a day. It takes about an hour and a half and at least I was doing something. We haven’t hit as many bike trails this year and we are due for some. My bike computer quit working at Fort Peck so I may have already hit 4000 miles. Got a new battery and will try again.
A lady on my walk had beautiful flowers and we visited awhile.
The lake is the largest on the Missouri River system, 178 miles long and 14 miles across at its maximum. I read somewhere that the amount of water could cover all of North Dakota in six inches of water!
After four nights it was time to move on. A friend in a Facebook group saw that we were in North Dakota and messaged me to say we should meet up. I checked and there is even an Elks in her town, Jamestown. It is also the home of the world’s largest buffalo. We will see that on our way out of town.
She also said the Elks was closed. OOPS! While we were driving I called everybody on their website and found out that the lot in town was small, but they have a whole park outside town where we could park. I messsaged my friend, Stacey, and we made a plan to meet for happy hour. She brought along her little girl, who was charming and adorable. We had a lovely visit and took some pics for the group. I felt like I already knew her and we have some interests in common. She is a psychologist with her own practice. She described her interest in psychology in two words, “I’m nosy!” We got a good laugh out of that. Hopefully we can have a few more meetups as we travel around. Already thinking about one in Minnesota.
North Dakota has fabulous windbreaks, trees 100 feet tall and five rows deep. It turned out that the Elks Park had such a feature and we parked accordingly. The field was wet so we stayed on the driveway apron. We were right on the banks of the reservoir. Stacey said in the winter it gets to -30 degrees and everybody leaves their car running with keys in it at the grocery store! That’s some serious cold!
This turned out to be a great spot and extra good for the cats, they were far afield and they each caught a mouse. We got the bus door closed before they could get inside!
That evening we were treated to an ever-changing sky and a good old fashioned midwestern thunderstorm. It cleaned the windshield off a little…
Once we finished up our sad business with Tikita in Dillon, we continued on our plan and headed toward the fairground in Helena. This was a few days of recovery and just hanging out with our two remaining kitties. They don’t seem to know what to think about Tikita being gone. I wonder if they think we will take them away for good? I do think they both knew she was sick though; they just seemed to.
On our way from Dillon to Butte for a night at Camp Walmart we saw eight Tesla recharging stations at a rest area. Eight? Really? In rural Montana?
We passed through Boulder, Montana where good friends from the Oldsmobile club live. Well, he still lives there but she died several years ago when they were returning home from a trip to Yellowstone in their 1927 Model T. They were struck from behind and she was killed instantly. He and their two dogs were seriously injured but survived. A very sad time for us.
I had written him a postcard to let him know we were passing through and when I went to the Post Office to mail it (he doesn’t have a phone and just a PO Box) the lady there couldn’t tell me where he lived but a guy in the parking lot who was taking a picture of the bus knew him and told us where to go to find his house. Cool! Except he wasn’t home. Boo. We left a card and went to lunch before heading to the Windsor Bar where the PO lady said we could find out where he lived. It turned out he didn’t go to the bar very often, once a month or so. We left him some cash for drinks on us when he comes in next. The diner we ate at.
And the bus in front of his house. I’m sure he will never see the picture. No phone, no computer…
We are finding that the Elks Lodges in the west are few and far between so we have switched over to county fairgrounds for now. We had the one in Helena to ourselves. And a nice view from the bus.
Big sky country indeed…
After Helena we detoured to Great Falls since there was a bike trail there and we hadn’t ridden since Colorado. Jim found an RV park and we squeezed in for a couple nights. The drive between Helena and Great Falls was spectacular with sweeping views of the Missouri River valley and mountains and water all around. I would have taken some pictures but I was driving. Worth the trip for the drive alone. The day we set to ride Jim wasn’t feeling great so I went out on my own. After about four miles I discovered that I hadn’t tightened up my handlebars when removing my bike from the rack. So it was a four mile walk back. OOPS!
When we moved on to Havre for the Fourth of July we were practically alone there too. Fairgrounds are good for walking, biking and there are lots of little interesting and colorful buildings. We did have neighbors for one night in Havre where we wanted to hide out for the Fourth. They came down from Canada “for the fireworks” but we weren’t sure what to expect. The kitties were on their own here and Carmella climbed a tree onto their neighboring RV. “Nothing to see here!”
Lo and Behold! They shot off the fireworks right at the fairgrounds and we had a front row seat with hardly anybody else there! It was also one of the very best fireworks displays we have ever seen. Sunset on one side, fireworks on the other.
The next morning we were alone again. We took some walks and found where they shot off the fireworks. LOTS of them!
When Jim put together this northern route we didn’t really know what to expect but sweet serendipity strikes again. The last piece of the puzzle was Fort Peck, a Corps of Engineers site that is first come first served. We knew we might have to dry camp but we’re good with that. We arrived to find no electric sites and took a temporary one right by the office. It seems like wherever we do have to stay in an RV Park we are crammed right in front. Which is actually good for people-watching. We don’t stay in them often.
The next morning they came to the bus and said we could move to another site with power. It turned out to be a stone’s throw from the Missouri River in a big, shady site. Cats on patrol.
Speaking of cats, Carmella was lounging on the picnic table and Jim said to come see the kitty on a leash! Turns out the people next door have a full time traveling kitty too. Linda and Buttercup came over to say hi and Carmella watched from a comfortable distance. Buttercup is a very friendly and pretty kitty, a tortoiseshell, tabby and calico all in one.
Hi Linda and Buttercup! They left the next morning so we didn’t get to visit more. Maybe down the road.
We’ll spend another couple of nights here during which time we will have to come up with another plan. Corps of Engineers are at the top of the list, especially as we follow the Missouri River. We know we are going to North Dakota since it is one of three we haven’t been to in the bus. In the lower 48. Rhode Island and Maine are the others.
It’s been a pretty depressing couple of weeks.
First, it started raining in south Texas. And I mean raining. Like 14 inches of rain in two days. The area is very flat and has flooded before. We figured it would be a few days and things would go back to normal. Then all hell started breaking loose. A newly constructed drainage ditch behind the park burst and water came pouring under the fence into the park. Folks who have lived there many years said it was the worst it has ever been and it has flooded five times since 2005.
Long story short, the water sat for days. In the meantime, the county released a bunch of water from Lake Edinburg which is near the park and we took all that on too. They released the water because they didn’t want the dam to collapse but it had pretty much the same effect on the park. More water.
We have been getting photos from friends who are still there and the house is built up higher and OK (even underneath, we hope) but the garden sat for eight days with standing water. I am just hoping the small trees and large bushes are OK. A lot of the smaller stuff will provide new “planting opportunities” in the words of the current owner. We haven’t closed on the house yet but we have committed to buy and we will get everything worked out. Still, very disconcerting since we are not there. The water has gone down now. See “planting opportunities” in front.
And then there’s the world news, which is almost all depressing these days. Suffice it to say that some people hate everybody unlike themselves and they have been emboldened by rude and uncivil behavior by top government officials. And ratcheted up a notch by our country’s new zero tolerance policy highlighted by separating even very young children from their families at the border. Some people have been deported without their very young children who have been shipped to various states with little accountability. And don’t forget, we are the ones with the Statue of Liberty declaring “Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Now they are huddling in cages.
So that’s depressing. To me, anyway.
Days before five people were killed in a newspaper office, our president declared “The media is the enemy of the people.” Does he not realize that he is empowering people to be hateful and commit crimes? Again, ashamed and mortified. People are dying.
And then we come to the cat, Tikita.
Tikita is our 14 year old white kitty who never wanted to be a white kitty. Her whole life, she displayed a toughness and gentility that made her unique. She was cute and curious and a constant companion/mother to Carmella. She and Astrid got along OK but mostly kept at a distance.
She was clumsy too. Good thing she was a tough kitty. One day we watched her race across our acre back yard and run full tilt up a set of stone patio steps. Very cute. Later that day, I noticed she had what I thought was a claw stuck through her front cheek. It turned out to be her own tooth that she had hit on the stone step. Kind of a klutz.
But she never got sick and except for her shots, never had to go to the vet. Until here lately.
We noticed she was losing weight and behaving a little poorly before we left Texas so we took her to a vet there. They did bloodwork and determined that she was anemic which could be because she was suffering from fleas. Some liver health indicators were low and concerning. We fixed the flea problem and started to feed her up to get her fatter. Butter, half and half… A few days after the vet visit we discovered a patchy area on her leg that looked like an abscess that had healed and was scabbed up. Maybe this was another reason she was not doing well. But how many kitties heal an abscess on their own? Tough kitty.
We decided to forgo the X-ray and sonogram because if we weren’t prepared to do cat chemotherapy we didn’t need to know. The vet in Texas told me her gut feeling was that it was cancer but could progress slowly.
We hit the road and gave her endless treats and all kinds of super duper cat food. She had a great appetite and we thought she was getting better. Her patchy fur grew back in. By the time we got to Utah, her belly was distended and swollen so much that we figured we better take her to see a vet. I didn’t want her to pop!
The Utah vet listened to her history and did more bloodwork, which was more positive than the Texas bloodwork but still had some bad indicators. He warned us that even though this was an improvement, whatever was wrong with her was “not fixable.” He also drained 200 ml of fluid from her abdomen and explained that her red and white blood cells were not replicating like they should. The fluid in the abdomen was a sign that the nutrition was bypassing her digestive system. He said since her appetite was good and she had a fairly comfortable quality of life, we could probably get her abdomen drained once a month for about a year or “until it’s time to say goodbye.”
At the Utah vet after draining her belly.
She seemed revitalized and was as interested in her food and treats as ever, so we proceeded to Blackfoot, Idaho. We had a three day stay at the fairgrounds there and were planning to leave on Sunday.
By midweek we noticed that her belly was swollen up again and she seemed a little uncomfortable lying down or getting into a chair. Still eating and begging for treats. We created a treat monster.
I called the Utah vet and explained that she was distended again and he said he hoped that draining the fluid would last longer than a week. We said we had too. He gave us the name of a classmate of his in Blackfoot and we went there Monday morning. We explained the situation again and showed him the most recent bloodwork. They took Tikita off to be drained this time; we were with her in Utah. The vet came back in and said they had already drained 600 ml from her, over three times what they did a week ago. Situation worsening.
He also opened our eyes and explained she was not receiving sufficient nutrition from the food she was eating because her red and white blood cells were not replicating like they should and protein wasn’t reaching her bloodstream. The Texas and Utah vets had told us about the blood cell deficiency but not that she wasn’t receiving much nutrition from her food. No wonder she was so hungry! Good appetite, my ass. I felt terrible. All those treats for nothing. Poor cat.
The Idaho vet pointed out how skinny she was, which we already knew and he didn’t come out and say it but we knew that time was short. He was compassionate and said if it was his cat he would put her down. We were headed to Dillon, Montana to some BLM land and decided to continue on and contact a Montana vet, another classmate, after we had a couple days with her. We knew it was the end.
We got to Clark Canyon BLM land and found a free spot right by the lake. We all went outside and she ate grass and scratched on a tree, two of her favorite things. It was just one day since we had her drained and she was already starting to swell up again. It’s time. We decided not to wait another day. Knowing she was eating with little benefit was the last straw.
Not a bad spot to spend your final days in…
We contacted the classmate vet in Dillon but they are a mainly large animal practice and were out until afternoon. I wasn’t sure Jim and I could bear that.
We called Dillon Small Animal Clinic and they were very gracious. It is in a small house right in town and homey and nice. They were thoughtful and accommodating. When the vet gave her the sedative shot in her leg, she squeaked her last little feisty squeak. Then it was over. We were both a hot mess. As Jim said, “I hate this part of pet ownership.”
All the veterinarians we dealt with were knowledgeable, professional, compassionate and amenable to our last minute scheduling. We were grateful that we landed in the hands of kind people. Maybe there is hope for the world after all. I told Jim once that I knew I wasn’t going to have a huge impact on the world, cure cancer or be president. But if I can make a small creature’s life better and more comfortable and make them feel loved, that is enough for me. In the end, only kindness matters.
And I know; it’s a cat. I have friends and family who have lost their husbands, wives, partners and children lately. We have perspective. My heart truly goes out to every single one in their loss.
More random Tikita. I got a new camera the day after Carmella and Astrid came home so I practiced on them a lot. I’m glad I did. I still use the same camera.
Goodbye sweet Tikita.
Once we left Delta, we headed for Blackfoot, Idaho for a few days since we had been traveling almost every day. We had gotten Tikita treated in Utah and the vet there said we could probably do that once a month for a year and she should maintain. Her appetite was still good, constant actually, and she seems to have good quality of life. Loves her treats, going outside and cheek scratches.
We spent the first night in the Elks Lodge in Roy, Utah, where they drove the golden spike for the continental railroad. We didn’t see the spike since it is in California now but we got into the Elks and got situated. It’s a good thing we were a little early before the parking lot was packed for Bingo that night.
Before and After:
This was just a one night stop so the next day we proceeded to Blackfoot, Idaho for a few days at the fairgrounds. We had the place to ourselves and the kitties enjoyed their off leash time. Jim played ukulele. We were planning to leave on Sunday but decided to stay over another day in Blackfoot to take Tikita to the vet. Again.
I walked to town to get some ice. I walked and walked toward a Sinclair station but by the time I could see it, I could tell it was too far away to walk back and have any unmelted ice. So I walked back into town although we had been there the day before and didn’t see any likely spots but we did discover there was an Elks Lodge there that we didn’t know about. We have gotten ice at the Elks before so I gave it a shot. I rang the bell and a lady finally came to the door and said they weren’t open today. I explained that we were Elks and that I couldn’t find anyplace to buy ice. She agreed that everything was closed up and offered to give us some! I got two good sized Ziplocs and headed back to the bus. Gotta love the Elks! And I walked over five miles to get it!
We had to go to the Idaho Potato Museum, of course. It is the small town, kvetchy kind of place we love. Much more lighthearted than the Topaz Museum and just what we needed. Lots of potato mashers, peelers and spikes to distribute the heat through the potatoes. I don’t remember those but I bet my mom had them. I liked the potato themed postage stamps from around the world the best.
And then we ate Mexican food. Again. We got back to the bus right before a big storm. And a nice sunset.
There’s some kind of odd vibe about Delta, Utah… We learned from friends that we were within striking distance and made a plan. Delta’s claim to fame? This small town in the Utah desert was the site of the Topaz Japanese Internment Camp from 1942-1945. As we travel, I often cringe to see how inhumane Americans can be and have been throughout our history. I guess it started with us stealing the lands of the native inhabitants and “relocating” and slaughtering the natives. Think Dead Horse Point where they left the horses to die. Separating children from families when their parents are seeking asylum, which is not a crime. Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor. They don’t take your kids away for a traffic violation.
Anyway, the Japanese internment camps are considered the worst civil rights atrocity in American history. That’s saying something.
We often say that sometimes the last 10 miles of the day can be the most “interesting.” That has proven true many times so we try to pay close attention. We were about three miles out of Delta when we saw emergency vehicles and the road was blocked ahead. People in front of us started to turn around and go back the way they came. When the guy came to the window of the bus he said there had been a fatal accident and we could either turn around or wait for them to clear it. Then he looked at the bus and said “You can’t turn that around here.” And he was right. They went off to close the intersection and there was nobody behind us so Jim said we should just back up. It was a ways, but he jumped out and kept me on the road and we proceeded to Delta. That’s the longest stretch I’ve ever backed up, maybe a quarter mile. Fortunately the road was closed.
A couple days later I was googling and found out that the fatality was a guy on a bicycle hit by a pickup going 70 MPH. He and his wife were riding to Delta and back and she was there when it happened. I also found that there was another fatal accident that same night on the same highway, a two car accident that killed three people. The cars caught on fire after one rear ended the other; they had pictures. And a eighteen year old motorcyclist was killed during a race. Ugh.
We had to take Tikita to the vet here too. We were lucky enough to find a very knowledgeable guy who clarified her situation for us and helped us know what to expect and do. More on that later. Ugh again. At least everything is close together in Delta.
Back to the Japanese…
When FDR signed the Executive Order, all persons of Japanese descent along the coast of California had six days to sell their businesses and homes, store their stuff and report to the Government. They could take only what they could carry. And no pets. That really got me.
When we arrived we drove to the square mile site camp where the 8100 detainees were housed. The buildings were all torn down after the war but the mark on the land is still very clear. There were another 19,000 acres for raising livestock and growing food. Each camp was supposed to be self sufficient. They had schools, sports and activities. They could even get leave for different reasons, getting a job, a family takes you in. That didn’t make sense until you realize that if you tried to sneak away, guess what? You’re Japanese! You’re different. You can’t hide. And everybody hates you after Pearl Harbor. What a feeling.
The next day we walked to the Topaz Museum, dedicated to the camp. It covered everything from the upheaval of rushed relocation, life in the camps and art produced there to replications of the barracks and interviews with survivors. They even had one guy’s home movies, clandestinely shot inside the camp. It was thought provoking and very well laid out. The ladies working there were very helpful and knowledgeable. The museum is well worth a trip.
What an injustice! Most of them were American citizens, born in America. Not a single one of them were loyal to the Japanese or convicted of any crime. I felt ashamed and humiliated by their situation and treatment.
Even though they were rounded up and incarcerated, many of the men joined the military and some were killed defending the United States in World War II. Those who spoke Japanese were valued by the Military Intelligence Service.
Then we ate Mexican food. We didn’t see any Japanese restaurants…
We planned a stop in Salina on our way to the Japanese Internment Camp in Delta. We knew we had more mountains to cross so didn’t want another long day. We cruised across Utah on another hot but gorgeous day.
We arrived in Salina pretty early and set up at Blackhawk Arena, a fairgrounds type affair. The RV parks were all full because of the Balloon Festival so we got to park here for half the price. There were several horse trailers the first few days since they were having a cutting horse event. Our parking spot, where all the cats got to go out off leash. The wind is good cat control and it was very windy.
We got up at 5:00 AM (!) because the balloon launch was at 6:00-6:30 AM. It was a short bike ride into town and the middle school where the 27 balloons were supposed to launch. Alas, they didn’t. Even though the wind speed was 7 MPH on the ground, they determined that it was 30 MPH higher up. As one of the balloonist said, “You’d rather be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.”
There was a little street carnival and vendors in town though, so we decided to eat breakfast and cruise around. We at at Mom’s Cafe. They had a cool sign but don’t eat there. Nuff said.
It was still early and nothing was going on so we went back to the bus before the FMX show began. When we were waiting for the show to begin, we saw a guy Jim met in Moab.
Tommy Bell is a guy about our age whose parents were both killed in a car accident when he was 13. He told Jim that when that happened, he just took his guitar and started walking. He walks all over the country and plays guitar. That’s all he does. He has never driven a car. In the winter he lives on BLM land at Lake Havasu, Arizona. He sat with Jim and played in Moab for awhile. When we took off for Salina we saw him walking along the road. He had told Jim he was going to Salina too. And while we were on the street there waiting for the FMX show, there he was! He had gotten a ride and was playing some at the festival. We had a chat and he moved on. Just one of the many interesting people we meet.
Then the FMX began. I think it means freestyle motocross and these three guys were amazing. One was from Green River right down the road and one from Grand Junction. He drove in that day. The other one was from Salt Lake City. They set up their takeoff ramp and landing pad right in the middle of the street and proceeded to warm up.
I got some slow motion video. It doesn’t play in Slo Mo on You Tube but this link should work. They high fived all the kids and signed autographs afterward. They were exceptional. The wind had some effect on their performance too but they pulled a lot of big moves. They had two more shows that day. Watch the video.
We walked around the vendors but it was mostly craftsy stuff like this. They did have young beauty queens and music though.
Sunday morning we got up at 5:00 AM again and headed for the balloon launch. Judging by the wind, we could tell they would not be flying that day. Sure enough they didn’t. They didn’t get to launch all weekend. This cute little car hauled the basket.
When we got back to the bus Jim was outside playing his ukulele and he said “Wendy! Come look at the clouds. So I did. Of course I did.
From Grand Junction we made our way to Moab, Utah to see Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Our senior pass is great! We got in both parks free and saved enough money for one day of the car rental.
Jim found us a spot at Slickrock RV Park after we discovered that the Moab Elks Lodge was no longer active. Just as well, since we had electric and the weather is HOT HOT HOT! Close to 100 degrees every day.
Thanks to Captain Ted, we got off the interstate and took the very scenic route 128 into Moab. The bus doesn’t seem quite so big in this vast country.
The first day we headed to Arches which was right down the road. We weren’t sure what to expect traffic-wise. Ted said that some days they are so busy you can’t even get in! We sailed through the ranger station, saving ourselves $30 with the senior pass. We climbed up into the park and began our tour in the heat.
We hiked to almost all of the Arches and some were quite a distance. And did I mention it was hot? We walked over 8 miles in the park. But look what we got to see!
As if it wasn’t enough like being on another planet…
This is a great place to fool around with panoramas, both iPhone and DSLR.
We had a long and hot day but so rewarding. The park didn’t seem crowded; it was pretty easy to get pictures without people in them.
When we headed down the mountain we saw smoke and wondered where the big fire was. As we got closer to town, it appeared it was right in town! Uh oh! The first thing we both thought was that we hoped it wasn’t the bus! It wasn’t but it burned six houses right in town. It not just hot here but plenty dry too.
The next day we took off for Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands National Park. We passed Arches on the way and there were about 200 cars backed up waiting to get it. We were thankful for good timing the day before.
Dead Horse State Park, what can I say? So named because early cowboys rounded up the wild horses and drove them across a very narrow necked rock formation to Dead Horse Point. The closed off the neck with branches, picked the horses they wanted and left the rest to die on the point, within sight of the Colorado River below. Special place in hell for those people…
Dead Horse Point is on the left. The canyon below and the Colorado River.
Our senior pass was good in Canyonlands too and we had more of a driving tour that day. We rented a car for both parks; Jim had scoped out the terrain and we knew the bus wouldn’t work. It would be hard to pull over for pictures too! This was also fun for panoramas.
There are hundreds of miles with off road four wheel drive routes. We happened to have a four wheel drive Jeep but Jim prudently observed that he had never really driven off road and wasn’t sure a rental car was the way to do it for the first time. When he started saying, “I’ve never really driven four wheel drive before…” I thought he wanted to. Whew. Smart man!
Besides, it was past time for Happy Hour.
From here we’re on our way to Delta to see the Japanese internment camp via Salina and a balloon fest Jim discovered while looking for places to stay enroute.
Once we left Pueblo, we headed north to Denver to hook up with our friend of many years, Ronnie. There is a good bike trail there and we took advantage of it. Ronnie Ubered on up to the bus where we were parked at the Elks in Westminister and we sat outside the bus and yakked before we enjoyed a meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant in the area, Guadalajara. The ceviche and the company were excellent and we enjoyed catching up since last year.
We stayed at the Westminister Elks for four nights, I think. The cats have a playground to explore, the bike trail is right there and we got in some down time.
We had decided to go over the mountain to visit our friends in Grand Junction, Ted and Ramona. Ted taught us to drive the bus and all four of us have been buds since . We pulled up from there, knowing we had to make a stop to dump, navigate Denver traffic and make the very long haul through the Eisenhower tunnel and over Vail Pass. We have done it twice before in the bus so we knew what to expect. Can you say S L O W ? We just didn’t want to overheat or get the temperature up or the air pressure down.
Both other times we went from west to east but not this time and not in summer. We knew it was going to be a long day and it was. But the bus just keeps on going. Temperature got a little elevated but it was also 95 degrees out. The last time we did the pass, it snowed. Not sure which is better. There was over seven miles of seven percent grades. Several times. Once we cleared Vail, it was better going.
Much later that day, upon our arrival in Grand Junction, I looked up at the hooks where we keep our bus keys. We each have a set. I said, “Where are your bus keys?” He thought a minute and said, “I left them at the dump.” OOPS. There was a pole there that he set them on because no pockets in his shorts. As soon as we got to Grand Junction, I called the Jefferson County Fairgrounds (where we paid $20 to dump!) and left a message. Good luck, I thought. Long story short, somebody called me back at 10:30 that night and said they had the keys. Somebody at the fairgrounds had retrieved them and they wanted to let me know. Called them back, they mailed to our friends in Grand Junction. We will get them back! YAY! Postage was $1.00. Well worth it! Moral of the story: Wear pants with pockets when doing bus stuff.
We had to take a detour from our iPad route since the police had the street blocked off.
Once we got settled, I witnessed an ominous sight and even told Jim about it. Of course I did.
Two tow trucks went by, one with a motorcycle and one with an SUV. Bad feeling. We found out later that the motorcyclist was killed in the crash. I hate that.
When we got to the lodge in Grand Junction, which is right downtown, we had to take on water because when we dumped, Jim also dumped most of the fresh tank to alleviate some weight. That involved a cigarette smoking veteran with a chip on his shoulder but helpful to a fault. We got it done.
We stayed in that night.
On to our friends in Grand Junction: Ted and Ramona. And their new family additions.
We didn’t waste any time catching up with them. The hours just slid away. We ate, we drank, we walked, we talked, we played with the cats and dog. We went to the Farmer’s Market. What can I say? It was perfect…
Grand Junction has an energetic downtown. The Main Street is adorned with sculpture on every corner. Lots of restaurants too. Bike shops (two!), art galleries and antiques.
After our final day of conversation and wine, we boarded our “limousine” and were magically transported to the bus. Ted is a driver, after all.
Some final selfies:
Great visit, great friends. We are BIG BIG lucky.