Great American Smoke Out


Many of my friends have chastised me for starting a blog, and then not adding to it.  Two things caused that.  First, on the next leg of our trip after my first blog, we moved into a camping area that had no services.  To get phone service we had to drive up to the top of a mountain.  Second, and the worst part, is along the way FEMA notified Cheryl that she had to log in, cancel her approved leave, and activate herself.  At that point we went full speed to see what we  could do in our very limited remaining amount of time.  I am now home and out of excuses, so here goes.

After leaving Longmont, Colorado, we spent a few days in very nice, but isolated,  Wade Lake campground south of Ennis, Montana with two of Cheryl’s classmates.  After a few days, smoke from the many fires in Montana drove us out.  So we went to our next stop, Bozeman, Montana to visit our niece, Summer Ruane, who is attending Montana State University.  We found time to eat at one the best restaurants I have ever eaten at, Open Range Restaurant, in downtown Bozeman.  I ended up eating the best piece of red meat I have ever had in my life.  It was a bison tenderloin.  It was unbelievably tender and juicy.  The picture below is at our table at Open Range.  (BTW, Open Range is also the brand of our trailer).


The smoke drove us out of Bozeman too, so off we went to our primary destination for this trip, Teddy Roosevelt National Park near Medora, North Dakota.  There was no smoke when we arrived.  The park has two units.  A South Unit, and a North Unit.  They are about 70 miles from each other.

We started in the South Unit.  At mile one we saw a few wild horses.  At mile two a bison was blocking the road.  At mile 3 we found our first of many prairie dog towns.  After this the viewing became spectacular.  Herds of bison, herds of wild horses, and more prairie dogs than anyone could ever count.  The bison below are on the Little Missouri River.


The bison below are alongside the loop road through the South Unit of the park.  After seeing all these bison (several hundred for the day) I went into town that night to Theodore’s Dining Room to eat – bison tenderloin of course.  It was good, but no comparison to Open Range in Bozeman.


A bull telling one of his cows to get  back to the herd.


These wild horses seemed to be protecting the colt that is laying down, and trying very hard to get up.  It’s left hind leg seemed to crumble every time he tried to stand up.  After about 30 to 45 minutes, the colt finally stood on all fours, but was very shaky.  We spent nearly an hour watching the scene unfold.  I was able to take pictures with a telephoto lens from across the loop road.


And prairie dogs by the thousands.  We passed too many prairie dog towns to count.


One of the highlights of visiting Medora is to see the Medora Musical, and have a pitchfork steak fondue dinner before the show.  Pictured below is about a dozen pitchforks loaded with steaks getting ready to be cooked in very large, hot, pots of boiling oil.  They used dozens of pitchforks to feed everyone.  There was well over 500 people there for the one-seating dinner.


After dinner we walked over to the open air theatre to see the “greatest show in the west,” the Medora Musical.  They had nearly 2000 people attending the show that night.  It was the last night of the season, so it was a big deal, we were told.  The musical was a lot of fun.  They throw humor in throughout the show.  Each season the theme is similar, a dedication to Theodore Roosevelt, but all the music and songs are new.  The music ranged from western, to Beach Boys stuff, hip hop, and so on.  It was a true variety show.  All the singers and dancers were great.  They had a real stagecoach drawn by two beautiful horses riding into town, Teddy and his Rough Riders charging in on real horses to fight the battle of San Juan Hill, and other fun stuff.  The first singer to start the show off was our waiter at lunch the day before.  He was very good at singing (and waiting too).

Medora Musical

At this point we were about two days past when Cheryl, and everyone else on approved leave, had been ordered to cancel their leave and get ready to get deployed.  And, the smoke was starting to arrive from Montana.  So we started going west to Bryce Canyon, through the smoke of Montana and Idaho, waiting for the anticipated call, which so far has not happened.  Bryce was beautiful, and we made an effort to go all the way to the end of the park, where very few people go, to watch the sun rise on the hoodoos.  It was spectacular.  And best of all, no smoke.



So now we are home, and thanks to FEMA, cancelled the last 6+ weeks of our trip.  Still waiting for the phone to ring.  And no smoke here in Ventura.



My First Blog Post

Never thought I would be doing this!  My cousin Ed Mahoney, who lives in Longmont, Colorado, helped me start a blog to let friends see what Cheryl and I are doing in our favorite travel conveyance vehicle, Trigger.  For those who don’t know, Trigger is the name of our fifth wheel trailer.  Why Trigger, well that story will cost you a beer and about 15 minutes of your time.  Below is Trigger at sunrise on McPhee Lake in Colorado.


We are now on a roughly two month trip.  Left home August 19, and returning home sometime in October.  The goal of this trip is to visit the Teddy Roosevelt Memorial National Park in North Dakota.  Each year we go on a long range trip with a goal. But the fun is in the journey, not just the goal.

On this trip we started by visiting a friend in Prescott, Arizona; Chris Frank and his wife Pat.  I worked with Chris at the APCD.  As you can see below, Chris is looking good in retirement.


We moved on to Longmont Colorado to visit cousin Ed.  It was here that he forced me to create a blog.  After moaning and groaning about the blog, we went to brunch at the Boulder Tea House.  The house was actually built in Dushanbe, Tajikstan.  Then it was disassembled, shipped here, and reassembled.  Awesome.  Here we are with Ed’s wife Karen and daughter Ellie.


We will go North Easterly to TR Park, and southeast to Moline, Illinois when I get to visit with three more cousins, Kathy, Debbie, and Sandy Mahoney.  I had the pleasure of baby sitting Kathy and Debbie in their early days when I lived across the street from them in Davenport, Iowa, where we were all born.  Don’t think I will be baby sitting them this trip.  After the reunion with my cousins in Moline, we will turn westward and head for home.  Route to be determined.  Along the way I will post pictures and stories about the trip.  If I get lucky we will have pictures of bison in the TR National Park.