Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Back in Texas for the Winter

November 16, 2017 to May 2018:

We left the Treetops RV Resort in Arlington and made the drive south to my dad's ranch/farm in Rosanky Texas. We are spending the Thanksgiving holidays with him before heading to LaHacienda RV Resort in Austin for the months of December and January.

February and March 2018 will be spent at the Traveler's World RV Resort in San Antonio. We are planning an extended visit to Ireland, Scotland and England in April before starting our RV travels in May 2018.

This blog will go dormant for the months we are here in Texas and during our travels overseas. We hope to resume posting in May of next year.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Back in Texas

October 31 to November 9:

On Halloween we packed up the Duchess and left the campground in Oklahoma City for a short drive south to the WinStar Casino RV Park. The RV park in located between the casino and golf course with about 150 sites. We took advantage of being a first time visitor to the casino by signing up for a "Players Card". We got our first night of camping free and then $10 off per night for the rest of our stay. We ended up spending 7 nights here for $140, a bargain for full hook-ups in a nice park.

If you put $50 on the Players Card, the casino added another $25 for you to spend. Connie ended up gambling for a short while on three occasions to lose her $50 and we used the $25 to have a pizza dinner at one of the casino's restaurants. The casino itself is 1.5 miles long with 7,400 slot machines along with other types of gaming tables. There are also a number of restaurants located inside the casino but the reviews online for most of them were not very good There is a large auditorium/hall in the casino where Dennis Miller & David Spade were appearing on Friday night and Ringo Starr & His All Star Band on Saturday night (both were sold out).

I used the week here to wash the outside of the rig to get rid of the dirt and grime that accumulates during our travels. Connie cleaned the inside, rearranged some of our inside storage and polished the cabinets/woodwork. By the time we left the Duchess looked great again. We did a lot of walking around the grounds of the casino trying to get some exercise in during the nice days we had here.

On Tuesday (11/7) we left the WinStar Casino for another short drive to Lewisville, Texas. We have an appointment with National Indoor RV Sales & Service to have our annual engine/chassis maintenance done along with some repair work: seal/gasket replaced on tag axle wheel & replacement of a motor that controls a paddle on the front passenger side slide.

We crossed the Red River into Texas and proceeded on to Lewisville.

As we got closer to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex the traffic increased and we remember why we try and avoid large cities during our travels. We got checked into the campground at National Indoor RV, got set up for the night and then went to Taco Bell to have our "linner" .

The next morning they came and got our rig to start on the list of items we had for them to perform. We had breakfast at IHOP, did some shopping and then back to National RV. The motorhome was in the shop for the entire day and they did not finish all of the items on our list due to the rig in line ahead of us having major problems with their generator. So we ended up spending a second night in their campground.The next morning we went for breakfast at Mama's Daughter Restaurant. We came back to the shop and then walked through all of the new and used Class A motorhomes they had on the lot for sale. We didn't find anything we like better than the Duchess, so we will be keeping her for a while longer. The service manager told us that all of the sales personnel came by and looked at our rig and were impressed at how well the rig looked being 10 years old (build date of December 2007) and would have been "happy" to sell us a new one with the Duchess as a trade in. (:

Thursday afternoon at about 3:00 PM all of the work was finished on the rig.  We hooked up the Jeep and headed south to Arlington where we will spend a week at the Treetops RV Park.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Traveling south towards Texas

On Friday (10/20/17) we left Beaver Lake Campground and headed south to North Platte, Nebraska for a couple of nights stay. It was a drive of 325 miles which is much longer than we usually travel: we try to limit ourselves to about 200 miles a day. However there is not much between Custer, SD and North Platte, so we left as soon as the sun was up. The roads were OK and we quickly passed the state line into Nebraska.

There was very little traffic on the roads until we close to North Platte where we encountered a large number of cattle trucks. We arrived at the Holiday RV Park in North Platte and got set up for the 2 night stay.

We found out that North Platte is home to two of the nation's largest meat processing plants. There are a number of cattle feed lots in the area as well so we now know why so many cattle trucks. North Platte is where Buffalo Bill Cody built a ranch to stay at when he was not traveling with his Wild West Show. We drove by the ranch but the house was closed for the season.

The largest railroad yard in the USA is located in North Platte. They handle up to 15,000 railroad cars a day at the yard which can mean as many as 200 trains passing through the town on a busy day. During WWII it is estimated that up to 6 million men passed through North Platte on their way across the country as part of the military. We visited a nice memorial that celebrated those who have served in the military during the 20th century along with the USO ladies who handed out drinks and food to the soldiers who passed through the town during WWII.

Sunday morning we left North Platte for another long day's drive of 275 miles south to Dodge City, Kansas. We pulled into the Gunsmoke RV Park and got set up for our one night stay. We took a quick drive around the town (there was very little open since it was Sunday) but did not see Matt Dillon or Miss Kitty so we went back to the campground for the night.

Monday morning we continued our drive south for 200 miles to Enid, Oklahoma for another one night stay at the Ashley Lane RV Park. We again got set up for our one night stay and took another quick drive around the town.

The park has a working oil well on the premises and there was a Prevost motorhome parked next to it (maybe it how they afford the Prevost).

 On Tuesday we made the 100 mile drive south to Oklahoma City where we will be spending a week. We pulled into the Roadrunner RV Park and got set up for our 7 night stay. This park was hit by a tornado in 2015 which destroyed over 60 RV's and injured 18 people (luckily no one died). They have rebuilt and added on to the park. We were in the new part of the park with a nice pull through site.

While we were in Oklahoma City we visited the Oklahoma City Memorial Site which honors those who were killed in the bombing of the federal building in April 1995. We walked around the memorial and learned some of the history from the rangers on site. The gate/wall at one end of the memorial has the time of 9:01 on it while the other end has 9:03. The bombing occurred at 9:02 in the morning and killed 168 individuals including several children who were at a day care facility located at the site

After visiting the memorial we walked about 1 mile to the Myriad Botanical Gardens and strolled through the plantings. Being the fall most of the plants were not in bloom, but it was still a nice place to see. We walked back to the memorial site and ate our lunch.

After lunch we drove up to the Oklahoma State Capitol buildings and took a tour of the facility. The state is in the middle of a 5 year restoration project on the capitol, so a lot of the building is "under construction". Much of the artwork usually located in the building has been put into storage to protect it from the dust and dirt of the restoration project. There are several working oil wells on the grounds of the capitol making it the only capitol facility in the country with this feature.

After our tour of the capitol, we visited the Anthem Brewing Company and sampled a few of their beers (we did like a couple of them).

Another day we drove to the Boathouse District and rode our bikes along the river for about 1.5 hours. The hike/bike trail is paved with a number of bridges along the way over drainage areas.

After finishing our bike ride we drove over to the Stonecloud Brewery where had one of their stout beers which we both enjoyed.

On Saturday we drove about 20 miles south to Norman, Oklahoma the home of the University of Oklahoma. We visited the Fred Jones Museum located on the campus which houses over 4,000 items dating from several hundred years BC to modern artists from the 20th century. After finishing up touring the museum, we walked around the campus and then over to the football stadium. It was homecoming weekend and there were a number of tents set up around the stadium welcoming returning graduates. Oklahoma played Texas Tech that evening (we did not stay for the game but watched a part of it on TV) and beat them 49 to 27. The campus was one of the prettiest one we have seen in our travels around the country.

Heisman Garden located outside the stadium

Reading room in campus library

On Sunday we visited the National Cowboy and Western Museum located in the norther part of the city. We spent about 4.5 hours touring the museum and did not get to see all of it. If you are in the Oklahoma City area this is one place we would recommend you stop and see.

On Monday we cleaned up the rig, did some grocery shopping and then attended a "chili dinner" at the park's event room. We met a couple, James and Melinda, who have been full-timing in a 24 foot Class C motorhome for over year now and love it. James is a retired air traffic controller and he is going to teach for the next several months at the Oklahoma City training facility.

Tuesday morning we packed up and made the 125 mile trip south to WinStar Casino RV Park where we will be spending a week.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A few days in Custer, South Dakota

Monday (10/16) to Friday (10/20):

On Monday we made the short drive south on Highway 385 from Spearfish to Custer, South Dakota. We pulled into our campground for the next few days, Beaver Lake Campground, and were assigned to Site O. This is a campground with about 100 spaces located 3 miles west of Custer.

After getting set up in the campground we drove into Custer and went to the Visitor's Center to gather information about the area. A very nice gentleman gave us lots of hints about what to see and how to see it during the three days we have here in the area. We walked the downtown area and then took a short hike up one of the hills that overlooks the town.

We also visited one of the local sports bars, the Bunglin Buck, and enjoyed a tasting of micro-brewed beers from Sheridan, Wyoming. The bar had a trophy size elk bust mounted to one of the walls behind the bartender area.

Tuesday morning we drove over to Custer State Park which is located a few miles east of town. We had a hike we wanted to do along with visiting the park.

We went to the Visitor's Center, visited with one of the volunteers about the park, purchased our pass and then watched a 22 minute movie about the park narrated by Kevin Costner. He had filmed the movie "Dancing with Wolves" in South Dakota and Wyoming (most of it around the Rapid City & Pierre area) and fell in love with this part of the country. From the Visitor's Center we drove about a mile to the trailhead for our walk, the Grace Coolidge Walk-In Fishing Area. From the trailhead we walked about 3.2 miles to Center Lake where we ate a picnic lunch we had packed in. After lunch we made the return hike along the trail back to the Jeep for a total of 6.4 miles.

After completing our hike we drove the Wildlife Loop Road in the park. The park is home to 1,300 bison which we saw all along the route. We also saw wild turkey, pronghorn, deer, prairie dogs and burros. The burros stand in the middle of the road and come right up to your car window. As we exited their area in the park we saw two open Jeep Wagon tour vehicles that the burros must have been waiting on. The tours probably pass by at the same time each day and the burros "know" their schedules.

Wednesday we drove two of the most scenic drives in America: the Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway. Both of these drives are located in the Black Hills a few miles apart. The Iron Mountain Road takes you north from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore. There are three one lane tunnels you have to pass through on the road. As you exit the last two of these tunnels you have views of the monuments at Mount Rushmore.

We stopped at Sylvan Lake and took a short hike around the lake after which we had our picnic lunch.

After finishing our lunch we drove the Needles Highway. The rock formations along this highway are some of the most spectacular we have ever seen. There are also several one lane tunnels located along this highway. The high point is an area called the Needles Center with the Needles Eye rock.

On Thursday we drove over to Hill City to see the town and visited a couple of breweries in the area. Hill City is the second oldest town in the Black Hills (after Deadwood). We walked around the downtown area and then headed out to visit the breweries which are located a few miles north of town.

We sampled beers at both the Sick-N-Twisted Brewing Company and Miner Brewing Company. At both breweries we like one of the beers but not the other ones we tried. We seemed to like the brews along the east coast a lot more than the ones west of the Mississippi.

We drove back to the campground, began the processing of packing up and got ready to head out early Friday to North Platte, Nebraska.

If you want to see more pictures, CLICK HERE.