Campsite Views

Some of our adult children and their children are coming this summer to visit Bill and I here in Buffalo Bill State Park. Our daughter, (little) Katie, her husband, Josh, and our two granddaughters, Alex, and Emma, will be here from July 28th through August 1st. Then, our son Pat, and his family will arrive the weekend of August 12th. They all live in Grand Junction Colorado and we are so excited for them to be making the trip to Wyoming to visit us… They will be tent camping, and we got permission for them to be in our location (where our motorhome is parked) …, but we are on a hill and there is no level spot for them to put up their tent… So Bill and I told them that we thought they would be more comfortable in the campground… The campground is so beautiful and for $17.00 cash, or check (no credit cards or debit) per night, they can stay in the beautiful campground and be close to restrooms and the showers…

So I thought I would make this blog post all about what they will see when they come here to camp..Katie and family, & Pat and family.. this is for you… Dad and I can’t hardly wait for you all to get here…

This is the view of one loop of the campgrounds from our home.

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This is the tent section of the campgrounds… Notice that they have wind breakers for tent campers…but it is first come, first serve, with all campsites except those with electric which have to be reserved…So you can be where ever you want as long as you let us know in advance so we can reserve it for you… Dad said you all know how the wind blows almost ALL the time in Wyoming… so if it were me… I would want the wind breaker tent sites… just saying…

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This is the view you will have from the campgrounds…

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I captured this picture of these ducks heading to shore from the river… notice the one white “odd man/woman out..” following up the rear.. That white duck stays with the group all the time…

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This is the view you will have as you look up the river… Just between those mountains is where the Buffalo Bill Dam’s Visitor Center is located.

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This is the view from the campground looking towards where Dad and I are parked, just behind the house on that hill…

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Believe it or not.. we actually have pelican’s protroling the river for fish…

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See that cut out square looking cave in the center of this picture…? We have been told a bald eagle nests in there every year..

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OK, this is our campsite, where we, and our new neighbors, and fellow site stewards, Bob and Becky reside along with our law enforcement officer, Sam, and fellow co-workers, maintenance crew, Paula, and Dale, reside… As you can see, no one has their awnings out to provide any shade.. because the wind almost NEVER stops blowing here in beautiful Wyoming… Notice our flag is flying high… So you just have to suck it up, and enjoy the beautiful scenery and forget about the wind…

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Speaking of Bob and Becky, they turned a really ugly site in front of the garage of the (long ago vacated) house we are parked behind into what we are sure to be a tomato producing patch… They took out all these weeds…

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And planted tomato vines with flowers that are supposed to repel the rabbits…

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This is the view we have from the front window of our motorhome.

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This is the view we have from our dining table window…

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Also wanted to share that one of our duties as site stewards is to collect drift wood from the beach when we have time and deposit it into the wood shed that the camp host have in front of their camp site and is offered to visitors for a donation… I saved this one for us because I loved the shape, and I knew Bill could carve our names on it and I could put my favorite incense, Nag Champa, sticks in the crevices of the wood as shown below…

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So in addition to our awning that is attached to our motorhome, which we can’t use when the wind is blowing really hard…. We also have an umbrella on a stand that we can rotate around so we have shade where we need it ..Notice it is laying down beside our picnic table because, did I mention that the wind almost NEVER stops blowing here in beautiful Wyoming…?

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All in all, we are having the time of our lives… and we just have to accept the good (beautiful sights) with the bad (almost constant high blowing winds..)

So counting the days until you and your family get here, then when Pat and his family come… Love you all so much…

Stay Tuned!

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Way Up High…

On the Beartooth Highway…

Saturday, my husband, Bill, and I took a beautiful drive to Red Lodge, Montana. The information we read about Red Lodge said “it is nestled against Montana’s highest mountain peaks, and that it is a place of extraordinary beauty, world-class outdoor recreation, romantic getaways, and family fun.” Some of the locals we work with around Buffalo Bill State Park told us that the drive from Red Lodge back to Cody via the Beartooth Highway, is as beautiful, if not more beautiful than Yellowstone National Park. Sounded like a big bill to fill so we thought we would find out for ourselves..

This is the first thing we saw as we approached the adorable little town of Red Lodge. Made me want to just go right in and make friends with the folks that live there and find out just how they all live…

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As we made our way into the actual, no red lights or stop signs, main street of Red Lodge, I was already falling in love with this little gem in the mountains…

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And it just kept getting better and better when I saw people riding around in horse-drawn buggies… I want to do that…

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We parked our car and walked both sides of the “main” street… The first store we came to was the Montana Candy Emporium. This place was so fantastic, and big, that we had to make two trips through it just to be sure we saw it all..

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I think they have every kind of candy that can be made..

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Rows, and rows, of baskets and boxes full of candy…

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And if that isn’t enough to get your sweet tooth fix… they also have counters full of fresh made fudge, and all sorts of other fresh made candy.

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Now, I don’t eat sweets, but for anyone that does, if you can’t get your sweet tooth on in this place…it just can’t be done…

They have it all… everything from grizzly bear eggs…

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To honeycomb old fashion peanuts…

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And everything you can imagine in between…

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They also sell every kind of jellies, syrups, and all kinds of pickled things…

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If none of that interests you, you can have a lot of fun just walking around looking at all the interesting decor in this adorable candy emporium…

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Now, it was time for lunch, so we wandered into Foster & Logan Bar and Grill.. Boy, were we glad we did… We both had  buffalo burgers. I had mine with blue cheese and sweet potato fires. What a treat… YUM, YUM!!!

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After lunch, we headed out to drive the Beartooth Highway.

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A very beautiful drive that takes you up, up, and up a VERY steep road.

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The information we have on the Beartooth Highway says “it climbs to an astounding 10,947 feet above sea level. I think some planes fly lower than that… Did I happen to mention I’m afraid of heights? YIKES!!

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It is so high that some of the snow stays on the ground all year round…, and you see beautiful glacial cirques and clear alpine lakes. P1050116

The Beartooth Highway is often referred to as “the most beautiful drive in America” I have to say it is beautiful…, a little scary…, but absolutely beautiful!

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At the summit, you are above the timberline because you are so high up, and the air is so thin, I don’t think trees can grow up here… I was having trouble breathing due to the altitude… but it was soooo worth it.

One of our co-workers told me that when his sisters took the Beartooth Highway drive one sister told the other she was having trouble breathing as they climbed higher and higher… then the other sister said “I think I see Jesus…!” Now that’s HIGH!!

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Of course we had to stop in and take a look at the “top of the world store”. Very cute little general store that was jam-packed with just about anything you might need way up there in the clouds…

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Then it was time to make our way back down the mountain and back to our Buffalo Bill Park neck of the woods.

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Such a beautiful drive, and fun-filled experience… Do I think it was as beautiful, or more beautiful than Yellowstone Park… I have to say, I think it is just a different kind of beautiful…

Stay Tuned!

The GRAND Tetons

Oh, my, I know I don’t have the words to give justice to the majestic beauty of the Grand Tetons. It took 29 years for my husband, Bill, and I to get there…, and he told me for 29 years that I would be absolutely amazed when I saw the Grand Tetons and the surround mountain range… He sure was right about that! Everything I’ve seen in Wyoming is stunningly beautiful, but the Grand Tetons just took my breath away when I first laid my eyes on them…

We set out about 7:30 in the morning with a picnic lunch to share at the Grand Tetons. I was excited, and full of anticipation of what I was going to see, and wondered if  I would think it was really as beautiful as Bill told me it would be for all the years we have been together…

Along our way we saw many beautiful and amazing sights. Like this beautiful lake surrounded by more forest trees than I’ve ever seen.

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We stopped and took time to smell and enjoy fields of beautiful wild flowers like these.

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And who wouldn’t stop to capture a picture of this beauty grazing on the side of the road?

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It was a beautiful day, without a cloud in the sky, and Bill and I laughed and talked our way from the east entrance of Yellowstone Park, right through the south entrance of the Park, and on into the Grand Teton National Park area… Then, before I knew it, the Grand Teton mountain range was right in front of me, and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined…

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Until we got even closer and saw the Grand Teton mountain itself…

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A nice lady took this picture of Bill and I  together in front of our 29 year destination place.. This is the spot where we enjoyed our picnic lunch, and just took in all the beautiful scenery around us… Thank-you Bill for showing me why I just had to see the Grand Tetons… I will never forget this experience, and I love that we shared this beautiful experience together… I love you babe… 🙂 🙂

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After lunch we made our way to Jackson Wyoming. Bill told me about Jackson for the same amount of time he told me about the Tetons… But it had been about 40 years since he had been to Jackson, and unlike the Grand Tetons…, Jackson had changed. One of our co-workers told us that the billionaires ran the millionaires out of Jackson, and now instead of it being a quaint rustic western town… it’s all high-end and high-class… As an example…, we went into the little shops and everything was so high-priced we almost couldn’t even afford to look at what they were selling… Bill saw a cowboy hat that was over $600.oo, and it didn’t even say Stetson on it!!!  I was disappointed because I was expecting it to be more of a real rustic western town… But it is a pretty little town with flower lined sidewalks and a ski lift in the background… I didn’t even know cowboys/cowgirls went skiing. How would they get their boots into those ski’s?

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And, they sure like to collect antlers… This is just one of many antler arches we saw… WOW!!!

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I want to say to our daughter, Shantel, as you read this, I just don’t have the words to tell you what the Grand Tetons look like… and of course you can’t see the pictures, but just think about whatever comes to your mind when you think of what beautiful is, and what comes to your mind, and what you feel, when you think of one of your favorite experiences….. and you will have an idea of what seeing the Grand Tetons with Papa was like for me… I love you.

Once again, I want to give a big THANK-YOU to my loving husband, Bill, for making our dream of seeing the Grand Tetons together come true… It was everything you said it would be and so much MORE. I love you!

Stay Tuned!

So Beautiful, It Made Me Cry..

Being a mother who raised a child that lost both eyes to cancer before the age of two, leaving her blind for life, I’ve certainly seen my share of extreme lows, that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, as my husband and I helped Shantel establish herself in our sighted world.. I’ve also watched her soar to amazing heights as she accomplished each goal set for her throughout her schools years, and later, as an adult, I watched her accomplish the goals she set for herself i.e. earning two degrees at the same time in college, moving out of our home and establishing a life for herself in her own apartment, and now, the goal of landing a full-time job that will allow her to become fully financially independent, and a contributing member of society…

I didn’t have time when I was raising Shantel to feel sorry for her, or for myself, as her mother. I had to keep my mind on the goal, and commitment, I made to myself of making sure all of Shantel’s needs were met in school, and that she learned how to take care of herself since I knew I wouldn’t always be there for her to depend on… So, I kept my feeling and emotions in check as best I could, and tried always to keep our family moving in a positive, forward direction… With the help of my husband, Bill, we were able to accomplish what we set out to do…

Shantel has been living on her own for the past two years, and Bill and I are finally retired, and able to work/camp and travel around the country in our RV. I am, for the first time, realizing that as I am seeing things I’ve never seen before, I’m not trying to find ways to explain to Shantel the beauty that each new place holds like I did all throughout the years we were raising her in our sighted world… I never minded for a minute being Shantel’s sighted guide, but now that I’m no longer in that role, every time I visit a new place, or see something beautiful that I’ve never seen before…, I find myself still really taking in everything I see, and thinking to myself… how would I ever explain all this beauty to my precious Shantel…?

Yesterday, Bill and I visited the upper and lower falls of Yellowstone Park. We took the same route from Buffalo Bill State Park into the east entrance of Yellowstone, and saw many of the same things we saw when we went to visit Old Faithful last week…, but this time, we saw even more…

Like this buffalo walking right down the middle of the road..

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And, a little further down the road, this one was walking right along side of the road, and I got this picture through my rolled up window, as we passed it within just a couple of feet of our car… Wow, they are BIG, and AMAZING creatures to see…

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Then we came up upon this beautiful Elk grazing on the side of the road. Just as we got right in front of it, it raised its head as if to pose for this picture I captured.. Love it!

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Finally, we arrived at the upper falls of Yellowstone, shown in the next three pictures below. OMG, I was not prepared for the absolute beauty of this place…

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Next, we made our way to the lower falls area… The next two pictures are at the beginning of the lower falls. Again, so, so, beautiful.

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This area is called the “Grand Canyon” of the Yellowstone…

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Bill and I hiked the 1/4 mile to the lookout point… That is Bill, just ahead of me… I know…, he always says he has to “drag” me out on the hiking trails… Well, some of us know better than that… 🙂

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But, every step of the way of this little hike is absolutely, amazingly, beautiful..

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We ended our trip with a picnic lunch right there in the middle of all this beauty… As I was eating, and just taking in all the beautiful scenery around me… I felt my eyes starting to sting…and I found myself fighting back tears… Like so many of us that think we always have to keep our emotions and feelings in check so as not to put a damper on a beautiful, joyful, experience…I tried hard to not let my emotions show…

 In my younger years… I would have continued to do just that… but, instead, I looked at my loving husband, Bill, and said.. ” All of this is just so beautiful, and amazing to me, and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to even be here to experience this… But, it also is making me sad right now as I ponder that our precious Shantel will never see any of this… and, if she were here… how would I ever explain just how beautiful all of this really is…? At that moment… I gave myself permission to just give into my emotions, and just cry…

When our precious, Shantel, lost her sight, both Bill and I asked, and offered, to give up our own eyes if they could be transplanted to allow her to see.. But that was not, and still is not, an option for Shantel..

So, as we continue to move forward with our lives… And every now and then, when I see something  “so beautiful, it makes  me cry…” I allow myself that “minute” as I revert back to my sighted guide days with Shantel, and wonder just how would I explain this kind of beautiful to her… ?

It was an amazing and beautiful day. I allowed myself the rare opportunity to have a good cry…,

I’m good now…, so ..Upper & lower falls 15

Stay Tuned!

Safe Landing Zone Training

Yesterday Bill and I participated in a training session with a life-flight crew here in Buffalo Bill State Park. Anyone that works here in the park could potentially find themselves in a position to be the point of contact person that might need to create a “safe landing zone” for the life-flight crew to land a helicopter, pick-up a patient, and take off again within seconds…

As part of our on-site training, we were instructed on how to create a safe landing zone for an incoming life-flight helicopter. We were told that even though a helicopter can, and will, land on top of a mountain, or cliff, if necessary.., if at all possible, they want us to try to find as flat of a surface as possible (making sure there are no ditches within the safe landing zone we are trying to establish). Because, if the helicopter lands with part of the landing feet in a ditch… of course, that could cause the helicopter to tip. Safety of the life-flight crew, and anyone assisting, as well as the patient, is always the number one concern.

We were told that if we have orange, yellow, or red cones, we are to place one cone across from each other, 60 ft apart. To establish this, we were told to pace off 25 paces, by walking the distance, between each cone. This will establish a circle big enough to land the life-flight helicopter safely. In addition, if we have a large orange, yellow, or red, triangle landing material (several of these will be supplied by the life-flight crew at after training so we have them throughout the park for emergencies use), we are to place that where we want the nose of the helicopter to be…

How do we know where we want the nose to be you might ask…? Well, we were instructed (if there is wind, and there is almost always wind here in Cody Wyoming), we are to stand with the wind at OUR backs, and place the triangle landing material at the place in the landing circle that is directly in front of us when the wind (if any) is at OUR backs.

The next thing we need to do is quickly look over the landing zone, and remove anything that could fly up and get into the helicopter blades… Things like tin cans, plastic bags, loose ropes, etc. All of these things, if swept up into the helicopter blades, will damage the blades, and put the helicopter out of commission, thus causing the life-saving rescue to be aborted on the spot…We also need to be mindful to stay away of power lines when establishing the safe landing zone..  The life-flight pilot told us that they have military grade night vision goggles, so if they have to land at night, and we don’t have any of the reflective cones, or triangle landing gear.. the best thing the military used was reflective glow sticks, but not green or blue, because that would interfere with the pilots instrument panel.

The life-flight crew we trained with consisted of the helicopter pilot, who obviously is in charge of the flight from take-off to landing, a flight nurse (my late brother, Tommy, was a flight nurse at one point in his military service, but I think he operated an ICU in an airplane instead of a helicopter…, so this training so touched my heart…), and a flight paramedic, that take care of the patient on site, in flight, and until they hand off the patient to the hospital staff..

Once the safe landing zone has been established, and cleared of anything that could fly up and damage the helicopter, we are to get all bystanders out of the safe landing zone, with the exception of the one point of contact person that will stand by the triangle landing material. When that person sees the approaching life-flight helicopter, they are to put both arms in the air over their head, and begin moving their arms back and forth indicating the direction the helicopter will land… The helicopter pilot told us that he/she will be looking for that one person that is making the appropriate hand/arm movements to direct his/her landing… They don’t want to see bystanders waving hi, or giving the thumbs-up gestures, or trying to take pictures… etc.,  as that is distractful when every second counts.

This is a picture of the life-flight crew landing, and coming over to direct our park staff on how to secure the patient for loading him/her into the life-flight helicopter…

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Once the flight crew had the patient stabilized, and were satisfied that the patient was secure for transport…,they gave us step by step instructions on how to keep out heads low while transporting the patient into the life-flight helicopter… Special note… the patient was a real, live, woman, and had been strapped to the lift cage for a total of 3 hours during the training period… what a trooper she was..

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When the patient had been securely placed into the life-flight helicopter, the flight nurse, and paramedic, joined the pilot in the helicopter, and they were ready to transport the patient to the nearest hospital…

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If all goes well with the landing etc..,. The patient is assessed, and loaded into the life-flight helicopter within minutes…, which really brought home to me, how important it is to establish a safe landing zone, if at all possible, for the life-flight crew to land…

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It was amazing to watch just how fast the life-flight helicopter crew landed, assessed the patient, guided us through how to help them ensure the patient was loaded safely into the life-flight helicopter…, And within minutes, they were up, up, and on their way to the nearest hospital, all while taking care of the patient in flight… What HERO’s they are!!

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We also learned the difference between a “hot and cold” landing… A hot landing is when the helicopter lands with the blades still operating, and the patient is loaded with special precautions to “keep your heads low”, at all times, when loading the patient. We were told that when every second counts… this is the best approach if it is safe for the patient, crew, and anyone assisting in the rescue…

A cold landing is when the helicopter comes in, lands, and turns off the blades… Still, everyone involved in transporting the patient, needs to be well aware of the helicopter blades, because the wind, if strong enough, could still move the blades and cause severe damage…

This was one of the most amazing training sessions I ever participated in. I am just in awe at how well the flight crew works together to make these remote rescue’s happen within minutes, and as efficiently as possible .

When I asked Bill what he thought was the most interesting thing for him about our training session… he said “getting to talk to the pilot about how fast the helicopter goes (134 miles per hour), how they come in for a landing and take off again… ”

Amazing day for sure…

Stay Tuned!!

 

Wheeling It

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

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