Saturday, June 30, 2007

Shower, No Shoes

Since Wednesday my showers seem to be getting better and better. It just may be that with each shower I have taken since Wednesday [night], it becomes more and more pleasurable to shower minus my Old Navy brown flip-flops. While the fear of some foot fungus that would require me to take doses and doses of Lamisil or have planters warts singed from bottoms of my feet are now eluding me; I am in a state of rhapsody. I wiggled my toes in the collecting water in the shower basin before it swirls down the drain--just because I can. I try to moon walk on the basin tiles, of course with little success or similarity to the move--I do it because I can, with no shoes.

I am sitting here typing away with my bath sheet wrapped tightly around me, feet dancing to the softly playing music I have going--just because I can. The idea that I must leave the house in 30 minutes, that I have to dress and end this moment of post-camping ecstasy is, well, kind of a bummer. Not that I'm looking to be a near nudist or anything close to it...but, showering in campground bathrooms for three weeks leaves little room to linger after a bathe.

I suppose I should go lather myself in melon lotion, dress and continue on with the Saturday chores.

Life is good with no shoes in the shower!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Simply Summing It Up

24 days
4 National Forests
3 National Parks
2 National Monuments
More mountain ranges than we can name
77 miles of hiking
3 collectable snow globes
8 souvenir t-shirts
1 souvenir hoodie
1 Christmas ornament
1 oil change
3 car washes
$40 in quarters for the laundry mat
3 Greatest Hits CD’s
2 Classic Rock CD’s
iPod tunes enough to choke a horse
15 DVD's
10 campgrounds
1 hotel
More dollars than I want to admit we spent--mostly on gas (most expensive $3.49 a gallon; cheapest $2.79 a gallon)
2000 plus snap shots
1 mountain that kicked my *^%
4251 miles traveled
Increasing our living space by more at least 3000%

Now I just have to…
Move the house back in from the camper
Do 15 loads of laundry
Restock the house with groceries
Take whirlpool baths three times a day while eating Advil like M & M candies
Sort through a pile of mail as tall as Pikes Peak
Pay bills
Watch King Ralph shave the beard
And life…well, it should resume to normal in no time at all!

(Uli was so darn happy to see us all she nearly wet the grass doing flips at the sight of us)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Almost Home

I am near cripple. It's okay to laugh, I cannot help but laugh at myself every time I exit the car. The girls laugh, take video to remember this moment, then we all laugh (at me) together. My hip muscles (which I didn't even know I possessed or possibly only used in the spawning of my offspring) are so stiff I walk like I am on the hunt for a a wheel chair...actually I walk like a duck with a stick up its butt. I am on a four hour cycle of popping 600mg of Motrin with a gas station soda pop chaser-- so I can exit the car at rest stops. I do not take steps without comments from strange said "traveling is hard on the body", another guy at a rest stop hung his head out his car window and said "I'm fifty and don't walk nearly like that". To both I replied, well I hiked Pikes Peak yesterday, so there! Regardless the crippled condition I am in, I am 100% glad I can say I took on the Pike. (I'm thinking in four days I should be back to normal).

King Ralph wanted to try to take on a straight through drive from Colorado Springs to St.Louis--crazy foolish idea. The girls devised a plan (while in the gas station rest room) to play Patsy Cline's greatest hits (not his favorite CD) and sing every word (which they do know) till he agreed to stop at a hotel for the night. They popped in the CD. King Ralph thought they were so funny that he danced to the tunes, even repeating a song or two. The plan either worked or the king finally admitted to himself (not us) that he was tired and crazy to try a 14 hour drive in one day. Here I (we) sit at the Days Inn -Topeka Kansas.

The Days Inn...aaaahhhhh! A hot tub...double aaaaahhhh! I took a shower without my flip flops on...triple aaaaahhhh! A TV with a screen larger than 14 inches in a room which more than quadrupled our recent living space...ah, ah, ah.

I'm so close to home I can almost smell home sweet home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Celebrating with an alcoholic beverage

Excuse me while I toss back a Smirnoff Ice and sing America the Beautiful-- in celebration of a marvelous feat...I climbed-- as did the spouse and our offspring-- Pikes Peak.

It was an early start, with a ride to the summit on the Cog Railway's 8am train. We snapped a quick photo at the summit sign and we were off.

The first 2 miles were the most difficult-- snowy. Maddi lost her footing on the snow and went for a body surf down the mountain for about, we guesstimated 50-100 ft. When she finally came to a stop we called out to make sure she was okay...she cried because her "hands were cold". Then we felt it okay to laugh a little. Honestly it was rather spooky!

It took us 7 hours (with a 30 minute lunch break at Barr Camp) to hike the 13 miles from Pikes Peak Summit down to Manitou by way of Barr Trail.

(here we are at the end, 13 miles and totally exhausted)

To be honest, as I sip my cocktail, I feel a bit crippled in the feet, legs, hips...hell I feel it from head to toe. I am without a doubt proud of our final adventure on this, Vacation 2007!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Row Row Row the Boat

Today was a day of white water rafting on the Arkansas River with Echo Canyon Rafting Co. Our river guide J.T. was great--very personable, as well as river knowledgable. He said the five of us were "awesome" in some of the tougher rapids (better than the Boy Scouts he had yesterday). We were a family in sync (at least with paddles).

So I'll leave you with a picture of our adventure.

Tomorrow is our last day in Colorado. We postponed our Pikes Peak hike for last Sunday till tomorrow... will let you all know how it goes when we complete the challenge.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dr. Phil Please Diagnose

So the conversation went like this...

Me: M you are totally crazy

M: I know I am

Me: you need to chill, calm're losing your mind

M: I am crazy... I have lost my mind... wouldn't you think I have reason after being in a camper this long and not talking to anyone but you four people...

Truth is M has a good point! We are all crazy--in a good way--from this trip, this experience. We have laughed so hard we have all wet our pants (well not the king, he laughs but has total bladder control, still). We have gotten on a few of our nerves but, still laugh and still love. Good memories are being made.

With that said trip continues...tomorrow's adventure Royal Gorge Bridge.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Estate on Wheels

I know you all have been wondering, chomping at the bit, dying to know what our lovely little eBay purchased collapsible estate on wheels looks's your lucky day because, I am giving free tours this morning of our luxurious June residence (before we pack up and head off for our final destination of the trip, Colorado Springs).

Camper Sweet Camper

(This photo was taken @ the Bridge Bay campground in Yellowstone National Park)

(The Kitchen--at work as you can see)

(A little more kitchen; when you turn your back. Wow a microwave--not used in Yellowstone or Grand Tetons, no electric there)

(The Pantry)

(The tri-feca of camping space--dining room, couch and D's bedroom)

(Behind the dining room is Princess A & M's bedroom)

(The master bedroom--on a cold night in Yellowstone can sleep three girls)

Final on the tour...

(The bathroom--complete with Tidy Bowl blue water when flushed)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

John Denver Sing to Us... I popped in his CD and he sang, Rocky Mountain High. Good gosh only I would have a John Denver CD. But it was a rather fitting song as we drove back to the camper after an afternoon of hiking in the mountains. I enjoyed the Rocky Mountain National Park hiking best of all. The nature that surrounds is spectacular.

You may (or may not) want to know (but you're going to hear anyway) the campground we are at was once land purchased to use as a set for the filming of Bonanza and The Virginian. Turns out after only 3 episodes of Bonanza and a few Virginians filmed the creators of the series decided the weather was to unpredictable and closed up shop; and sold the land off. Also in the lodge there is a bar (from the old Winston Hotel in Denver) that Calamity Jane once tried to belly up however, being a girl they would not serve her so she shot the place up. There you have it, a little history lesson. This campground is nice! The bathroom smells like cleaning product --which after the "Fountain of Death"-- puts a smile so huge on my face. The pool is heated so the girls swam after the hike yesterday.

I will leave you with a few pics from our hike...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Off to New Territory

At this present time (not posting time) we are cruising down I-25 heading south on our way to Estes Park, Colorado. I cannot be happier to say we are out of Thermopolis—even more so Fountain of Youth RV Park. Fountain of Youth, ha, Fountain of Death! The nastiest RV park ever; complete with a child-molesting father groping his teen daughter in the hot mineral pool (right in eye’s view)! I will spare you all other details. I do however continue to question why FDR felt the hot mineral springs had medicinal healing powers…I feel it is a warm pot of pee, germ breeding gross water. Never take me back here again. (This was King Ralph’s pick).

Little Camper on the Highway and the mini-van has now logged 2618 miles, reached elevation of over 9600 feet, on travel day 14 with 10 to go. I am happy to report we have not left [on purpose] any member of family behind. But have had a moment or two of constant togetherness--that is when vodka and rum comes in handy.

We have logged nearly 60 miles of hiking.

King Ralph has a beard, and I am not sure if being in 12 sq ft with 4 women is the cause for the gray coloring or if it is just due to his age. He also has been in the company of we women long enough that he makes statement/questions in stores like; “tampons, do you need any?” Which is a bit on the scary side.

I have been on the road for so long enough now that I have taken to having my daily constitution in public places (something I have swore to never do). I have perfected the art of sandwich making while flying down the highway at 65 mph—ham & cheddar or turkey & mozzarella.

Princess A is an artist at makeup application while bumping and bouncing down the highway.

M has taken near permanent residence in the “way back” to ease the discomfort of wearing “Helga” (the back brace)—except at moments like now, when she gets car sick from watching a movie in the car, taking place in the navigator's seat.

D has spotted all but 2 state license plates (Rhode Island and Hawaii).

We are also wondering if Uli has forgotten she has a family or if our friends will give her back to us upon our return home.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Little Camper in the National Park

A few Yellowstone highlights…

Hiking was incredible. We chose short and medium hikes with a level of difficulty that was moderately strenuous—although Princess A says they were “difficult in her book”. The trails were mostly switchbacks, right up the side of a mountain of course, so it was a good workout. The views, once we reached the top were undoubtedly incredible!

The wildlife. We had bison at the campground that just hung out in front of our camper--it was like a dog in the yard.

Here’s the big highlight for you…while touring the Mud Volcano area we were greeted by this sign,
then this bisonI noticed the bison had some lazy birds trying to rest upon his back (so I snapped a photo) when suddenly he was not pleased with his back company…and before I could put the put my camera to rest he took off running--BUFFALO STAMPEDE! The dam thing took off crossing right in front of me sending women running saying things like “I’m getting the hell out of here” or “if that didn’t make you crap your pants”. He then flopped to the ground rolled his back in the dirt, rose and stampeded up the hill were the rest of my family stood. Nevertheless exciting.

The weather. One word for the night…brrrrrr! On Tuesday night I awoke to look at our traveling thermometer (we refer to now as our thermostat) to see not only my breath puffing white clouds inside the camper but a temperature read of 48* (20 degrees warmer than outside). Obviously this little propane heater was cutting it! I immediately prepared hot chocolate for all. But the day weather was fantastic. We had moments where we were rather chilly and then moments when we removed our layers and acquired nice backpacker’s tans.

We managed to catch geysers at the moment of eruption, never having to linger like a typical Yellowstone tourist. We saw incredible waterfalls and breath taking views never to repeat themselves. (Fountain Geyser)

(Tower Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which I climbed Uncle Tom's trail, 328 steps down and then up again to see it from this view...exhausting!)

Next we took in a day at the Grand Tetons. Hiked and did gads of laundry.
We are now in Thermopolis enjoying the mineral hot springs. (The camper next to us has a delightful sign attached to the window that reads “if this camper is a rocking don’t come a knocking”,yuck…I want new camping neighbors!)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Little Camper in the Big Woods

Today the little camper took a ride through the Big Horn National Forest--beautiful, totally breath taking, awesome; as is most of God's vast open lands.

Elevation reached: 8743

We let little camper and the van's brakes take a much need rest (the front tires were so hot they were smoking) at Shell Falls. I am a lover of the water fall which made this rest stop worth the view.

We are resting this day in Cody, Wyoming; were we visited Buffalo Bill Dam.

Tomorrow morning I (we) will take my last "free" shower (for four days) as we enter Yellowstone. The girls have offered to skip meals, forgoing there meal allowance, in exchange for a $4 shower. I suggested dry shampoo and baby powder along with a hot far no takers over the age of twelve.

However it will be 32* at night for the entire Yellowstone hope is we will all be so tired after 20 miles of hiking that we will hardly tell how cold we are and that our newly acquired propane heater warms us to the core.

Go primitive tomorrow so until then...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

...the journey continues

Here's a few more of the weeks highlights:

There was Crazy Horse

There was Mt. Rushmore

Then this greatness of fun today, Devils Tower--of which we took to climbing the boulder field to the highest point allowed without a permit. (I should probably mention the campground we are at is where Steven Spielberg filmed Close Encounter of a Third Kind--it is the nightly outdoor movie, which is shown while you peer up at Devils cool is that?!)

A few other things I should has been rather cold at night lately, say in the 30's, prompting us to wear stocking caps to bed and also to seek out a sporting good store to purchase a propane fueled heater (preparing for our rather primitive digs when we get to Yellowstone with its 28* temperatures). Also today we saw a genuine cattle drive down the middle of US-24. Our camper's back end was sprayed with cow dung, as is the under side of our van...but you know we didn't care because, it was so awesome a sight-- complete with several handsome cowboys.

I am calling it a night early, King Ralph is entertaining the girls at the feature film...a bit of hard to find peace in our "close encounters".

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Nomads to Trail Blazers to Storm Watchers

Wednesday. We set out to daypack Badlands National Park. King Ralph favored a nomadic style of hiking to start with and so, we set out across the rocky terrain and prairies.
Crossed land like five pioneers till we caught the Castle Trail.

Then we picked up on the Medicine Loop to finish 11 miles of a day hike. Oh something I learned on the hike...I am still allergic to grass, even prairie grass...I got hives wickedly on both outer calves...thankfully King Ralph brought some Preparation H with him (yes the butt hole cream has many magical powers). It so soothed my legs I could not refrain from saying out loud "this is what a butt hole feels like when it gets an application, it feel good"

Then we did Notch Trail. This experience made me breathe hard and take hold of my fear of heights with out security boundaries; for when you got to the top you were at cliff edge.

we ended the night with a terrible storm, complete with tornado warnings. Folks in grond tents sought shelter in the laundry room. I made use of the storm and did laundry...yes even on the road chores can not elude me.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Little Camper on the Prairie

Early morning and I sit a gaze at the South Dakota prairie--so I will leave you with a few pics and a story of yesterday's adventure.

Tuesday. What happened to the days of road trips that had mom in the passenger seat with her road map stretched across the dash board, the kids in the back seat playing I Spy and license plate games, while dad sang corny vacation songs? No, in 2007 this family rolled down the road with the voice of "sexy lady" alerting us to merge on I-29 and I-90, a feature film on the small screen--RV starring Robin Williams and Fleetwood Mac's The Dance boomed on the mini-vans surround sound. All the while D kept true to one road trip caviar of the past; the license plate game. We bought her sticker book of all 51 license plates to spot; without warning you can hear her 12 year old gasp at the thrill of finding a California plate on I-29 while the wheels roll through South Dakota.

South Dakota. I can understand why people want to live here. The rolling hills that change colors of greens casted by the blue sky and sunshine above. The grass plant that blows across the prairie in a domino effect, yet popping up straight again to repeat. The rock formations of the Badlands. All breath takenly beautiful.
But to understand what chased our pioneers from this Badlands was to feel the light breeze of the daytime to turn to a roaring wind of the night. The camper's tent end bounced about--not quite sure if I should sweat fear or let it lull me to sleep like a baby in a cradle.
I suppose I took the lull of a cradle.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

From the Road

I am sitting here with my eyes affixed to the Lewis and Clark Lake, which grace me even from the camper's end window. The light cool breeze, the sweetness of the bird songs and my still sleeping family make the ease into this Iowa morning rather peaceful.

Yesterday's highway highlights were... the trucker with the mid-rif shirt, so wrong on many levels (not to mention a horrifying sight) that I will refrain from posting the picture Princess A snapped for a keepsake...or the homemade camper-- a pop-up camper base build with plywood walls, painted white with a black spray paint announce "goen fishing"; fear was an emotion we possessed as we passed the wobbling wood, wondering who would scrap his remains from road when he toppled over...there was the sour cream chives french fries at the local hole in the wall, and the broasted chicken was tasty too.

Shortly I will awake my family and will hit highway once again-- for the Badlands.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Road Trip Preperations

The transfer has begun. Transferring everything in the house into the camper; we leave on Monday morning--excitement and panic all mixed together.

Yesterday King Ralph and I went to Uncle Sam's, this hideous military/camp store, to get some clips to add to our backpacks. The store definitely could use a woman's touch--for organizational purposes. It is the kind of place that is so packed to the gills and disorganized beyond description that it almost makes you nervous to be in there. However, the thing that creeped me out more than the discombobulated nature of the inside was the sign on the front door, it read "please unload guns and remove your face mask before entering the store." That was such a promising welcome...not!

Today I began what equivalents to moving the house into 12 square feet. I can not refrain from singing this line sung by Beyonce... to the left to the left everything you own in the box to the left. Imagine everything you will need to survive for a month on the road and then packing it all in a box (for five). My head is spinning, my list is growing longer with each passing minute-- before I can get it checked off another addition has been how about Tampons...and Ben Gay (after a long hike I may need the noxious rub cream). I am sure in the next 30 seconds I will think of another item I believe this family can't live without.

I promise to post along the way (as we chose several WiFi friendly campgrounds), I wouldn't want for you to wonder about us for to long. I shall not let you down in the humor department as I report from the road.

Until later...heading west.