Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota.
Sunday, July 24th – Left Devils Tower. Bits of rain. Easy drive on I-90. Stopped in Deadwood, South Dakota at Family Dollar for bread and ice. They had neither. Arrived at the Mount Rushmore KOA – that place is like a circus. Dropped the trailer and headed to Mount Rushmore.
Was able to squeeze in a 3pm and 3:30pm ranger program. Helped us understand why the memorial was built and how. The girls finished their Junior Ranger books.
It was pretty emotional for me to complete our last “park” of the trip.
… what a Summer!
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming.
Friday, July 22nd – Toured Wind Cave. Once we entered the cave and started to descend, Emily was scared at first but then was ok. After the tour, the girls finished up their Junior Ranger books and received their badges for Wind Cave.
The day started getting hot. The expectation was temps into the upper 90s. I had gotten a prime parking spot in front of the Wind Cave Visitors Center which allowed me to connect to their wifi. I used the wifi connection to make reservations at the Devils Tower KOA. The heat made me want to camp at a location where we could make use of our air conditioner.
We left the Elk Mountain Campground around 1pm. Elk Mountain Campground is a good place to camp if the weather had been a bit more cooperative. I was disappointed in the lack of any substantial Ranger-led evening program.
It was a nice drive in a northeast direction through a national forest to I-90 where we were only on I-90 to go up one exit. Checked into Devils Tower KOA (located immediately outside the monument) and had some food across the street at the trading post. Ended up getting a pull-thru site next to another ham (KF5SA). He has an HF station mounted inside his trailer.
Quick trip up to the visitors center to get Junior Ranger books (from Ranger Erin Cahill). Attended evening program at the campground amphitheater which was blown out by bad weather into the picnic area.
Apgar Village/Fish Creek Campground, Glacier National Park, Montana.
Friday, June 24th – We got up early to attend the bird watching ranger program in the morning with Ranger Sarah from Wisconsin. The girls enjoyed the walk and so did I. We were able to use our binoculars to see several birds.
Rains came at about 11am. Ate a second breakfast at Eddie’s, the restaurant in Apgar Village. Went to the Visitors Center and the girls received their Junior Ranger badges for Glacier.
Went to the 11:30am Junior Ranger program at the Nature Center in Apgar Village. The focus was for younger children; Emily had a good time but Sarah was a bit bored. Ranger Teagan ran the program. After a brief presentation she did an activity with the children were they each were an animal or plant and then formed a food web connected with string. Once one item was eliminated from the web, the rest of the food wed could feel the impact.
We headed back to the trailer, hiding from the rain. After a brief lunch and a nap, we headed back to the Nature Center for a 3pm program discussing the “Peace Park” nature of Glacier being connected to Waterton. Also talked about other Peace Parks.
Next we headed to the Glacier Conservancy book store near the West Glacier train station and picked up a few items. Then to the restaurant in West Glacier for an early dinner where we ate too much. We followed the early dinner by a trip to a gift shop on the other side of the grocery store in West Glacier.
Then a drive to Lake McDonald Lodge where we are awaiting the 8pm Evening Program in the auditorium on Night Creatures. We staked out a corner in the lodge’s lobby, making use of the electrical outlets to charge our laptops. With the campsite’s location in heavy trees and the poor weather, it is difficult to use the solar panel to charge our electronics.
Ranger interpretative tour with Ranger Grace Lily. Sarah and Emily finished and received their Zion Junior Ranger badges. Interesting couple from Tennessee occupied the site adjacent to ours. The girls and I rode our bikes to the Zion Nature Center. Attempted to ride back towards the museum but went the wrong way and ended up at the Visitors Center. Line for the shuttle was LONG. I promised the girls ice cream at the lodge. Instead I ask Christa if she wants to go back to the Bumblebee restaurant/gift shop to get ice cream. We depart the park around 2:30pm and the line to get in extends well into Springdale. The streets are packed with parked cars of people in the park. We get ice cream. I decide to start driving towards Rockville and maybe Hurricane. A huge storm comes in with lots of lightning and huge rain fall. I decide to head to Cedar Breaks National Monument. I have no idea what Cedar Breaks National Monument is. I just know that the it is a National Monument run by the Park Service and that the GPS says it is about 30 miles away. Off we go north on I-15. I see a sign to turn off for Cedar Breaks at exit 57. The GPS says that I want exit 59. I follow the GPS and it takes me to a location that is not the Cedar Breaks National Monument. Back on I-15 heading south. I forget what exit it says to get off on and there is no southbound sign saying exit 57 for Cedar Breaks. Christa deploys her cellphone GPS. I have to go a further 3 miles down to get an exit and turn around once again on I-15. Christa’s cellphone says Cedar Breaks National Monument is another 30 miles away. I look at my gas gauge and it is in between 1/4 and 1/8 of a tank (3/16 of a tank?). Gas is relatively cheap in Cedar Pass (the major town off of I-15). I decide to wait for gas on the way back from Cedar Breaks. Ends up the route up to Cedar Breaks (Utah Hwy 14) is your standard two lane, narrow, steep mountain road. The Cedar Breaks National Monument is up at over 10,000 feet in elevation. As soon as I pulled in to the parking lot the fuel light came on! Cedar Breaks National Monument is like Bryce Canyon on steroids. A huge, massive amphitheater of rock. 2000 feet drop. Beautiful. Cold too…. snow still on the ground. As the ride back down was downhill, I made it to a gas station without running out of gas (although I was sweating it). Dinner at IHOP. Easy drive back to camp. Hopefully going to a Ranger amphitheater program tonight.