Antelope Island – in the Great Salt Lake

While in the Salt Lake area we visited an island in the lake that is a state park – Antelope Island. It is home to lots of antelope and over 600 bison – 12 bison were brought to the island in 1893 and grew from that. Currently they hold a ’round-up’ every year to check the health of the bison and sell off any extra. There are also deer, coyotes, bobcats and several types of birds of prey as well as rabbits, squirrels etc. There are several natural springs on the island which provide fresh water for the vegetation and wildlife.

There are a couple of roads on the island and a few campsites. Most of the island is viewable from trails. We saw the damage from a large fire earlier this year, but as the island has very few trees or large bushes.

The island is also the location of the oldest Anglo-built structure in Utah still on it’s original foundation. It, along with several other outbuildings from the original ranch, are now a museum.

It was a very interesting visit. Here are some pictures:

Bird of Prey Center in Boise

We were in Boise, ID mainly to see family, but we learned about a Bird of Prey Center near Boise that had several types of raptors. We visited the center, and saw several types of eagles, hawks, owls and other birds of prey from all over the world. All are there because they could not survive in the wild, either because of an injury or from being raised by a breeder without learning to fend for themselves.

All but the Harpy Eagle picture included with this story are live birds. This center has a breeding and release program for California Condors, which had decreased to only 22 birds in the 70s. Now there are hundreds and the ones born and raised here are released at the Grand Canyon. When we were there a few years ago we saw several of them there. All the condors from this center have a large number on their wings; you can see one in the picture of a condor included with this story.

They also have a museum with many stuffed birds of prey from all over the world. They have many volunteers who will give you information on all the exhibits, and they have a presentation several times a day where they bring in a bird sitting on a gloved arm to show them and talk about them.

It was a very interesting and informative visit! Here are some pictures:

We drove through a real smoky area due to a nearby fire in Idaho

As we drove from Grangeville ID south to Boise ID we passed through a narrow canyon that was really smoky. A major wildfire, called the Pioneer Fire, was east of us. As of today (8/18/16) it’s burned over 80,000 acres and is now 50% contained.

We’ve encountered several wildfires this year as we’ve gone through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and now Idaho. It’s been a real bad year. In the very southern part of Wyoming, we got stuck on the road for a couple of hours when we had a flat and had to wait for AAA to send someone out to us. While we were waiting, we could see smoke to the south (in north Colorado) on the other side of a hill. By the time the towtruck arrived the fire had crested that hill and was rapidly coming down the other side. We were a few miles away so we weren’t scared, but the speed at which the fire was burning through the hillside was scary enough! And, there were no firefighters that we could see!

It was comical talking to AAA for that flat tire…they kept asking me what exit # we were near, and I kept saying “We’re not on an interstate or even a major highway. We’re on a small state road, there are no mile markers, I haven’t seen any road intersections for miles, and I’m guessing we’re about 8 miles into Wyoming. He then asked if I meant Wyoming, Iowa or Wyoming, Wisconsin? HUH?!?!?! I finally got him to transfer me to someone who knows Wyoming, and he knew exactly where I was at! I’ve called AAA several times while we’ve been on the road and usually they are very helpful. I think this time I may have gotten a new person or a ‘city-dweller’ who just didn’t understand rural areas.

Anyway, here are a couple pictures of the smoke we travelled through, and a link to more info about the fire (click here):

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Visiting Coeur D’Alene and Sandpoint ID

We’re visiting the Coeur D’Alene area and took a drive up to Sandpoint, on the Pend Oreille lake.  My mom and dad met in Sandpoint during WWII at the USO club in Sandpoint when my dad was stationed nearby at the Farragut Naval Training Center.  The Farragut Naval Training Center was closed after WWII and is now a state park with lots of camping and lakefront beaches.  It also includes a museum of the training center located at what used to be the brig.  It’s the only building left from the WWII days.

My parent had a framed photograph of the lake and while we were there we found what I believe is the location of that photograph.  It’s somewhat different now, but we took a picture and I’ve attached the original photograph and the one we took.

We drove through Sandpoint as well and were told that the building that used to be the USO is now the Community Hall.  We couldn’t go in as it was locked, but we took a picture of the outside.  I also attached a picture of the USO building as it looked in 1943 – taken from this website: http://www.sandpoint.com/oldphotos/oldphotos49.asp

It was very interesting to visit the area where my parents met so long ago!

Our second visit to Glacier National Park

We decided to revisit the Glacier Natl Park while we are travelling through the northwest area. We were here in July of 2013 and now are visiting in early August 2016. We were not surprised to see that many of the glaciers have shrunk visibly…and it’s not just that we’re here a bit later in the season. One hundred years ago there were 130 glaciers within the bounds of the park, now there are 25 and it’s predicted that they will all be gone by 2030. The region is warming up!

The area is beautiful! Although there was a recent fire near the St. Mary’s Lake area that caused quite a bit of the forested area there to be completely burned, and there was a fire several years ago near another lake, the area is beautiful. Lots of forested areas, lakes, rivers and waterfalls from the snowmelt.

The mountains themselves are beautiful and quite different. Many of them are steep and the tops look like teeth because they are steep and ridged along the front and back. This is caused by the glaciers on these mountains, when the snow melts and moves, and then refreezes it ‘scrapes’ the mountain away.

We also saw some animals while in the park. We caught a bear just a little way from the road busy eating berries. A bighorn sheep actually stood at the roadside as if he was posing while cars jammed up in the road and people got out and one guy actually got within about 15 feet with his camera and tripod. And, we saw many butterflies, Jeff got a beautiful picture of one that I’ve included.

Here are some of the pictures we took:

We’re pretty far north for a while to escape the heat…boy are we!

We’re currently in Columbia Falls, MT which is very close to the Glacier Natl Park and also pretty close to the Canadian border.  It’s very pretty here in early August.

Being full-time RVers, we have the freedom to go where we want, when we want. We are choosing to spend a little time this far north is to escape the very hot weather in much of Utah in August.  But, we didn’t really expect it to get down into the high 30s/low 40s at night!!  We’ve had to dig out our cold weather pjs and got sweaters and socks out for the evening and morning.  During the days it gets to the high 70s or even low 80s which is very pleasant.  We’ll spend another week or so “up north” and then will start to head south; it’ll still be pretty hot in Utah but we’ll manage.

We toured a gold mine at Cripple Creek – 1,000 feet down!

After we took the train trip in Cripple Creek, we went to the Molly Kathleen gold mine. As we drove up, we saw the gallows(head) frame from which the elevator skips are lowered into the mine 1000 feet below. There are two skips, one over the other. They were made to lower 9 miners per skip. We were only able to load 6 of us in(very tightly) and once loaded we could not shift or move our hands.It takes approximately 1 min, 45 secs to descend. There is a bell system to let the operator know when and where to lower the skips. This mine was discovered in 1891.
When we arrived at the bottom, we started the tour. We saw how miners drilled holes in the walls for dynamite to remove large chunks of gold bearing rock. One miner knelt and held a star bit resting on his shoulder while his partner struck the end with a sledge. If you were the holder, you had to trust that the driver had good aim because if he missed you were dead. The miners worked 12 hour shifts. There were few breaks and lunch was while working.
Years later, pneumatic drills were used. They were very noisy. No wonder miners were deaf. There was also a pneumatic tram to scoop and load the ore into a tram.
We also saw different minerals that also are in the mine. Several copper outcroppings, some sulphur and iron as well as Fluorite. These veins are typically indicators of gold bearing rock.
Mining continues until 1961, when the local mill for ore processing closed. After a few years, the owners decided to give tours. No gold had been extracted since, except the samples given to visitors(you need a microscope to see if you have any actual gold).
Here is the website for the Molly Kathleen: http://www.goldminetours.com/goldminetours.com/History.html

And here are pictures we took:

Our Travels – Year 5 (August 2016 – July 2017)

140. Treasure Island Casino and RV Park, Red Wing, MN (8/1/17)
139. Pine Harbor RV Campground, Chippewa Falls, WI (7/29/17)
138. Fireside RV Park, Lone Rock, WI (7/22/17)
137.  Country View RV Park, Mukwonago, WI (7/15/17) – with,..
travel stop…
at Summer Breeze RV Park, Iron Mtn, MI
136. Kritters North Country Campground, Newberry, MI (7/10/17)
135. Kalkaska RV Park, Kalkaska, MI (7/5/17)
134. Tawas River RV Park, Tawas City, MI (6/27/17)
133. Meinert Campground, Montague, MI (6/22/17)
and then Hollywood Casino RV Park, Joliet, IL (suburb of Chicago) (6/15/17)
132. Lehman’s Lakeside RV Park, Merango, IL (suburb of Chicago) (6/8/17)
131. Brookville Inn, Brookville, OH (6/5/17)  – with a travel stop…
at Lake Haven Retreat, Indianapolis, IN
130. Cahokia RV Parque, Cahokia, Il (5/31/17)
129. Country Gardens RV Park, Odessa, MO (5/28/17)
128. Turkey Creek RV Village, Branson, MO (5/21/17)
127. Cowhide Cove State Park, Murfreesboro, AR (5/18/17) – with travel stop…
at Rivertown Campground, VIcksburg, MS
126. visiting family
125. Rainbow’s End, Livingston, TX (3/27/17 ) – with travel stops…
at Rovers Roost, Casa Grande, AZ,
at Van Horn RV Park, Van Horn, TX,
at Junction North Llano RV Park, Junction, TX
124. Days Inn, Benson AZ (during travel to #125 while our trailer axle was being replaced)
123. Champagne Lakes RV Resort, Escondido, CA (11/20/16)
122. Yuma Lakes RV Resort, Yuma AZ (11/13/16)
121. Sunscape RV Park, Casa Grande, AZ (10/20/16)
120.  Pleasant Harbor RV Park, Peoria, AZ (10/17/16)
119. Cordes Junction RV Park, Mayer, AZ (10/14/16)
118. Trailer Village RV Park, Grand Canyon, AZ (10/7/16)
117. Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, AZ (10/5/16)
116. Gouldings RV Park, Monument Valley, UT (9/30/16)
115. Slickrock RV Park, Moab, UT (9/20/16)
114. Thousand Lakes RV Park, Torrey, UT (9/10/16)
113. Antelope Valley RV Park, Delta, UT (9/7/16)
112. Fossil Valley RV Park, Vernal, UT (8/31/16)
111. Cherry Hill Water and RV Park, Kaysville, UT (Salt Lake City area) (8/24/16)
110. Hi Valley RV Park, Boise, ID (8/17/16)
109. Bear Den RV Park, Grangeville, ID (8/11/16)
108. Wolf Lodge Campground, Coeur D’Alene, ID (8/6/16)
107. Glacier Peaks RV Park, Columbia Falls, MT (8/2/16) with travel stops…
at Mountain Range RV Park in Colubus, MT (7/31/16) and
at Jim and Mary’s RV Park in Missoula, MT (8/1/16)

Tate Geologic Museum – Dee the mammoth!

While heading north from Colorado to Glacier Natl Park, we were planning a one-night stop in Casper, WY.  But, we learned about a museum at the college in Casper that had some real good geologic and dinasaur exhibits, so we added a day to our stay in Casper to visit it.

It was a real good museum!  Small, but packed with good exhibits and fossils from every geologic age on the planet.  In addition, there was a mostly intact mamoth fossil that had been completed using casts and assembled in the middle of the museum room.  It was HUGE!!  The backhoe operator from an oil rig company hit something in the dirt while digging for an oil rig, and could tell that they were old bones.  So, he got his supervisor, who got the owner of the company and the owner of the land involved, and they contacted the museum.  They agreed to move the oil rig being assembled and a team came and dug out the fossil.

It’s called Dee because the backhoe operator was named Dee!

Sorry, no pictures, but if you go to their website you’ll see lots of good information. Here’s a link to the museum website: www.caspercollege.edu/tategeologicalmuseum.