Judy's shot through the motorhome windshield has the bonus reflection of Lyle at the wheel
Jackson Lake and Tetons from Colter VIllage RV Park
8/1/16 Leaving Missoula, MT around 7 a.m. was chilly (welcome) and heading southeast to Gardiner, MT and the north entrance to Yellowstone. The towns along the way--Butte, Bozeman, Livingston--are surprisingly small. Or maybe its the massive landscape that dwarfs everything else. From Livingston, we traveled south through the Yellowstone River valley, seeing lots of reasons people choose to live and work (ranch) here. Gardiner is also on the beautiful Yellowstone River, but everything else here is hot and dry.
After the brutal midday sun, early evening and early morning in Gardiner is much more pleasant.
8/2/16 The Yellowstone Park gate is only a couple of blocks from Gardiner. Let's hear it for the Golden Age Pass from the National Park Service. It saved the $30 entrance fee.
Yellowstone was very busy, with some parking lots/pullovers too crowded for us to try in the motorhome. Roads in Yellowstone, as everywhere, are under construction. So the drive in the park was NOT a walk in the park. Judy captured some of the sights along the way, including a casual elk (left).. Immediately after Yellowstone Ntl Park we entered Grand Teton Ntl Park, which is our home for the night--right on the shores of Jackson Lake and across from the Tetons. Lyle used the panoramic setting on his camera to capture the magnificent vista.
8/3/16 The journey from Teton Village through Jackson and southeast on to less scenic wide open spaces of Wyoming was uneventful, but the up close and personal glimpse of Grand Teton was stellar. (left) Our stay tonight is in Rock Springs, Wyoming. More rocks than springs. We stopped to mail some postcards, but were told the post office is closed (permanently) in this town of 23,000. ??? Rock Springs KOA is not scenic, but roomy and well-run.
8/4/16 Heading east on I-80 to near Rawlins, then south on state highways of Wyoming and Colorado. Traffic very light. Roads pretty good, but lots of hills and one mountain pass (Willow Creek Pass). All 360 horses were pushing us! No overheating issues, but slow going. Judy noticed the abundance of sage brush over much of South Central Wyoming, but then we would come into lush valleys with cattle ranches and haying operations. Our stay tonight is in Grand Lake, CO. Tomorrow we will test the mountain capabilities again by going over Trail Ridge Road. Lyle remembers it being the highest U.S. highway in the country.
8/5/16 With online recommendations to travel Trail Ridge Road early, before midday traffic, we left Grand Lake shortly before 7 a.m. Traffic in our direction was mercifully light and we took it slow--making sure the engine temp stayed within range. It was not a relaxing drive, but without incident UNTIL we ascended into the clouds and the visibility dropped to about a hundred feet. Lyle had promised Judy a rest stop at the continental divide turnout, but the clouds were so thick we both missed the 12,000 ft continental divide sign and parking lot. On the descent, the engine retarder (jake brake) made it easy on the air brakes. We arrived in Estes Park earlier than scheduled, but the folks at Elk Meadows RV Park led us to our parking spot. We'll rent a car and go back to Trail Ridge when weather conditions improve so Judy can see the magnificent views from the top of the world.
8/8/16 We're based at Estes Park, Colorado for four days, giving us a chance to visit Lyle's son and family in Boulder. Great seeing them and enjoying their entertaining banter.
We plan to drive by car back over Trail Ridge Road tomorrow and on to Breckenridge to visit Lyle's brother Tom and sister in law Linda.
8/9/16 Great day for another drive over Trail Ridge road. Sunny and clear conditions allowed some great viewing from America's highest continuous highway. The panoramic photo below was taken at almost 12,000 feet above sea level. Other photos from Judy captured the majesty at various points along the way--points we missed Friday in the drizzle and fog. We journeyed 3 + hours to Breckenridge to have lunch with Tom and Linda Lebsack. Good time! Tomorrow the motorhome turns back toward Michigan.
8/10/16 Left Estes Park just before 7 a.m. having put up the jacks and other prep last night. The drive between Estes and Boulder tests larger motorhomes--lots of curves and hills (mountains). Judy drove behind the motorhome with the rental car to return it in Boulder. Then stopped to say goodbyes to Erik and Joanna at their store. We were on our way to Colorado without Mountains--Sterling, where Lyle grew up. Had lunch at the "historic" J & L Cafe where the cashier had fond memories of Lyle's father when she and her sisters would take the short walk to Lebsack's Feed and Seed store to buy ice cream bars. (Dad was never without dessert). After lunch, onward across the prairies (far left) to Big Springs, Nebraska for the night. The McGreer RV Park is on a working farm (left). That's great, except there are no trees and temperatures are mid-90s. Air conditioning in the motorhome is functioning well! We spent about an hour with farmer Mark McGreer, whose parents started the campground. By some standards, the park is primitive, but the electricity was plentiful and ran the air conditioners. Mark and his brother farm 10,000 acres, with 1,200 under irrigation. Those of us who grew up on the farm know that's big time farming! An interesting, hard working farm family.
8/11/16 Today we traveled several hundred miles across absolutely flat Nebraska interstate 80 from Big Springs to Grand Island. Sixty-five mph was a comfortable speed with a 75 mph speed limit. The KOA Campground is full service and pretty nice. We are surrounded by cornfields on three sides.
8/12/16 Despite weather advisories last night there was very little rain in Grand Island. However, when we arrived at the Amana Colonies RV Park in Iowa, signs of a lot of rain were confirmed by the staff--seven inches of rain! Flooding of buildings, roads and RV sites. The park is more than a mile from the nearest Amana village, so we opted not to walk for German food. Tomorrow on toward Michigan and "home".
8/13/16 Five thousand miles and almost a month later, we pulled in to home port in Berrien Springs, MI. Out of that five thousand miles the worst driving conditions were on Interstate 80 through the Chicago and northern Indiana suburbs--heaviest truck traffic, construction and worst road surfaces! Admittedly, it was a weekend when a lot of people were headed toward Michigan, but....Lyle has new resolve to make that journey early on a Sunday or detour the area.
That complaint aside, Judy and Lyle had a wonderful journey with amazing scenery--as the photos indicate. Thank you for traveling along with us on this website and allowing us to share our experiences!. Next trip is at the end of September to Southwestern Colorado, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.
Housekeeping stuff: Took the motorcoach to Pro Custom Inc. in Elkhart, IN for a couple of service items. The full width rock guards at the rear of the coach disintegrated someplace in Montana when Lyle tried to straddle a truck tire tread, forgetting about the full width guard. Second was one of the leveling hydraulic jacks very slow to go up...very slow. When I told the service manager at Pro Custom about it, he said, "we'll clean the hydraulic pistons first, then see." When I mentioned that I regularly cleaned and lubed them with WD40, he said NEVER use WD40! Rather a pure silicone spray. Sure enough, cleaning was all they needed. I thought WD40 was good for everything. We're scheduled for Cummins Coach Care in Elkhart in a couple of weeks for lube and filters.
View from Elk Meadows RV Park
Above: More scenes from Trail Ridge road.
Left: Green Mountain Reservoir along highway 9 between Kremmling and Breckenridge.
Motorhome Experiences of Lyle Dean and Judy Lebsack
Right: View of Yellowstone River from our RV park at Gardiner. Whitewater rafting is big here!
Right: Our road and Judy's view over the edge