On The Road Again – 2017 Westward Bound

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We started our three and one-half month journey on June 1, 2017.  This is our first “real” trip in our new Unity “LTV” Leisure Travel Van, that we have named Little Tiger Van,.  You can find details about the Little Tiger Van on our website. Although we have a very circuitous route planned for the summer, we have several must-sees along our route.

Anna with Langston and Griffin

Our first two stops were in Tennessee, one of which was to visit children and grandkids. It was a great stop, but since the first two weeks of this trip had us in the get out west mode, it was time to move on much sooner than we cared.

Our next stop was a one-nighter in Grand Rivers, KY for dinner at Patti’s 1880’s Settlement near Land Between the Lakes – a place everyone should experience.  Patti’s is much more than a restaurant!  We spent the next night in a roadside campground in Mountain View, MO, and then landed in Branson, MO to enjoy some shows.  Branson is a God loving, family oriented city, with pride and respect for those who have defended our country.  The shows in Branson are always enjoyable.  Our favorite show this trip was the brilliant performance of “Moses” at the Sight and Sound Theater which brought this epic biblical story from the Old Testament to spectacular, multi-dimensional life right before our eyes!  Buckets and Boards, and the Million Dollar Quartet shows were also memorable.

LTV at sunset – Sidney, NE

Weather began to be a factor in our travels starting on June 10th with a steady increase in winds on our way to another one-nighter in St. Joseph, MO. Winds became stronger as we traveled through Nebraska on June 11th with 35mph – 45-mph gusts on our way to Kearney, NE. When we passed by a massive wind turbine farm along the way, we realized the wind on that day was not an anomaly. We drove from Kearney to Sidney, NE on June 12th for an overnight stop at the Cabellas’ World Headquarters.

Camper in the LTV

Since we arrived in Sidney a bit early, we decided to take a short day trip in an attempt to finally get a little photography underway.  We drove to a location about 45 minutes northwest of Sidney where Scottsbluff and Chimney Rock are located.  As we were close to arriving, the weather app on our phones notified us that severe thunderstorms along with tornado warnings were just issued for Sidney where our dog, Camper, was alone inside of our RV. Before we took a single photo, we rushed back to Sidney. We prayed for safety during the approaching storms and the Lord certainly watched over us. We learned right after returning to Cabellas that the thunderstorms and tornados had taken a slight turn to the north, skirting our campground – and headed right to the location from where we had just turned back.  Three tornadoes along with three-inch hail ravaged several of the farms where we were located an hour earlier.   We departed the following morning, but we didn’t travel far because Interstate 80 was closed to light high-profile vehicles (us) near Laramie, WY due to wind gusts exceeding 60 mph. The crosswinds made it extremely difficult to drive. The KOA in Laramie (not a destination campground) became our home for the night, and then we headed out to Lander, WY for our last one-nighter on our way to Grand Teton National Park.

Approaching the Tetons

As we approached the Grand Teton National Park, the Teton range rose high in our windshield.  It was an awesome sight! The weather on the day we arrived at the park was beautiful with great visibility on our first and third days. Temperatures ranged from 39 degrees to 86 degrees depending on the location and the time of day.  It did rain out our second day in the Tetons, but were blessed with a beautiful double rainbow. The campgrounds inside the park were booked up 11 months in advance, so we stayed at Flagg Ranch between the Tetons and Yellowstone. A storm hit areas near the Tetons and Yellowstone in the week prior to our visit and evidence of the abundant precipitation was everywhere.  The mosquitoes weren’t B52 sized like they are in Alaska, but they were swarming everywhere like fighter jets. We visited both parks ten years ago, and knew when we returned we would want to explore the Tetons for its natural beauty and Yellowstone for the animals.  

Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons

We stayed three nights at each of the parks. This gave us adequate time to see many of the areas we hoped to explore. We did get to explore many of the backroads in the Tetons. I finally was able to view the cabins on Mormon Row, and the lupine meadow trail along the base of the mountains. We watched a herd of Elk near Oxbow Bend along with an eagle soaring over the Snake River. A trumpeter swan, beaver condo, and deer greeted us as we explored the Grassy Lake area near Polecat Creek. The natural beauty of the Tetons are amazing. Our heads were on a constant swivel, and the word “Wow” was spoken with great frequency. 

Yellowstone National Park is huge in comparison to the Grand Teton National Park. It has its own set of wonders.  We were not drawn to revisit the geo-thermal wonders in the park during this visit. We have seen Old Faithful, other geysers, and the paint pots in the past. While they do have unique features that everyone should see at least once, thirty minutes of smelling sulfur is more than enough for us. We arrived through the south end of the park, and established our base in West Yellowstone. This gave us plenty of drive time to view other areas of the park including Lamar Valley, in the northeast area of the park, where the majority of animals are usually found.  

Big Daddy Bison

We saw a gazillion bison. I already knew that you can’t roller skate through a buffalo herd, but on this trip I also learned that you can’t drive through one.  When forty bison decide to set up shop on the only road available, you can easily spend (and we did) two hours waiting for them to mosey the heck out of the way. We hoped to see a grizzly bear with cubs (from a distance). We were in the right places twice, but the park rangers forced onlookers away before we had a chance to even stop.  All in all, we had a great time in these two popular parks.  Yellowstone was definitely the more crowded of the two.  We met great people, ate good food, and saw beauty beyond description during out time in these parks.  We could have stayed forever, or at least until winter!  We have other fish to catch on this trip, and so it is time to head northwest to Glacier and beyond.  

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As always, we hope to see you down the road!