8.19.2017

Bears and Bison

Today was all about animals. Our first stop was Bear Country USA, just a short distance from our hotel in Keystone. 




I handed my phone to Leia and let her take pictures (through the car windows)

 Photo by Leia 

while I sat back and enjoyed the view.

 Photo by Leia 

We drove through the first part of the park, 

 Photo by Leia 

where the larger animals are located,

 Photo by Leia 

then walked through another section where baby animals 

 Bear Country USA Photo by Leia 
and smaller species are housed.

 Photo by Rachel 

The 15 or so brown bear cubs were especially cute. 

 Photo by Leia 

They knew it was feeding time and kept falling over each other with excitement and getting up on their hind legs looking for their food. Super fun to watch.

 Photo by Rachel

After lunch and a nap, we headed out again at 6 for Custer State Park.

 Trying a fancy root beer at lunch.

 We'd been told that the animals were most active in the early morning and towards dusk.

 Deer At Dusk by Leia 

Since we aren't early morning people, dusk it was!

 Photo by Rachel 

At first it looked like we were going to get skunked (ha!), 

 Photo by Leia 

spotting just a few deer and antelope instead of the 1300 bison that roam the park.

 Photo by Rachel 

But shortly before dark we found part of the herd,

 Photo by Rachel 

spread out on both sides of a dirt road,

 Photo by Rachel 

crossing back and forth at will

 Photo by Rachel 

not really caring what the people or cars were doing. It was amazing to see them so close, literally within touching distance of the van.

 Photo by Rachel 

Tomorrow is Deadwood, Wall and the Badlands. Can't wait!

8.18.2017

Keystone Fun

Day 2 of eclipse weekend:




An excellent lunch at Ruby's on the Keystone boardwalk,



where another sarsaparilla fan was born. (Raise your hand if you knew sarsaparilla had 2 "r's". I didn't.)



A bit of panning for gold -



that's a hard way to get rich but the little girls enjoyed trying.



A visit to the Crazy Horse Monument



where the visitor's center has changed significantly since hubby and I visited in 2007.


The mountain? Not much change there. This is going to be a very long-term project.



The girls went for a swim in the hotel's second floor swimming pool



while we waited for evening 



and the lighting ceremony at Mt. Rushmore.



So glad we got to see this - very moving and patriotic with current and former military personnel on stage for the lowering of the flag. 



Tomorrow we're probably going to Custer State Park and Bear Country. And swimming, if the girls have anything to say about it. 

8.17.2017

Three State Tour

Today was another long travel day. We left Loveland about 9:30 this morning, drove across 3 states and pulled into our hotel at 9:30 tonight. 




Addy and Leia are good travelers and have pretty much entertained themselves with their combined collection of LPS (Littlest Pet Shop) toys, audible books, music and downloaded movies. As long as we feed them occasionally, they are pretty content. 

 One of the many mile-long coal trains we passed. They were huge!
I don't think any of us realized how BIG Wyoming is. It took 7 hours from the time we crossed into Wyoming to finally reach Devil's Tower, our first destination. That's a lot of driving!

 Leia and Addy were soooo happy to be out of the car.

Hubby and I have been here before 



but this was the first time for everyone else.






And it didn't disappoint.



We hiked a little way up the trail,



far enough to get a view out over the valley behind the Tower.



So beautiful.



We decided to take a different route when we left, rather than backtracking the same road we took into the park. 



So glad we did! The valley between Hulett and the South Dakota border was spectacular, with literally hundreds of mule and white-tailed deer everywhere we looked. None of us had ever seen anything like it. 



Tonight we are in Keystone SD, about 5 minutes from Mt. Rushmore. We'll be here until Monday, checking out various local attractions. 

 Refuse to smile for the camera? The tickling grandma will get you!
Animals we saw today: herds of bison, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, 5 camels (!) and more bison before we were even out of CO. Then there were prairie dogs, 



a flock of wild turkeys beside the road, and longhorned cattle and more bison at Devil's Tower. Add in all the deer and it was an amazing day for animal spotting. 







8.16.2017

Colorado

Yesterday was our long travel day - almost 800 miles in just over 11 hours.


 Thank goodness for igadgets and personal wifi hotspots. 

Leia and I were fairly comfy but poor PopPop could hardly walk by the time we reached Loveland. 

 A favorite landmark for us - the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnel runs under the Continental Divide for 1.7 miles. It's the longest mountain tunnel and the highest point on the Interstate Highway System at over 11,000 feet above sea level.

The last hour was enlivened by a brief rain storm with lots of lightning flashing in the distance. A great welcome to Denver!



Today we admired the chickens and rabbits



and took a delish lunch break

 The walrus and the unicorn

before heading into the mountains again 



to see the property Rachel and John bought last year.



It's beautiful!



At just over 3 acres, with access to at least three fishing lakes, 



it's going to make a great retirement retreat for them, eventually.

For now, it's a summer weekend retreat



with lots of work still to do 



clearing out the dead and fallen trees.

 The climbing tree

We didn't see them today, 



but the property is often visited by moose, deer and - yikes - a bear or two.



And just like everywhere else in Colorado,



if you don't like the weather (or even if you do)



just wait a few minutes and it will change.



We didn't get hit, but it sure looked like rain was on the way.



Tomorrow we load everyone back in the van



and head north for Devil's Tower and Mt. Rushmore. 


Eclipse weekend has begun!