Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oct 9, 2009
Well, tomorrow never came until today…
We are back home. It is hard to close my eyes and not see the vistas and visions of the “so many places we visited”. Four “Type A” personality, diabetic, retiree, Air Force and Army Vets made it 12 days and did not kill each other. In fact, we had a Great Time!
The 5,975 mile trip included:
1. The Badlands National Park
2. Mt. Rushmore National Monument
3. Custer State Park
4. Yellowstone National Park (East Side, Fire in the center which was closed and West Side)
5. Jackson Hole WY, (which should be a Park…)
6. The Grand Tetons National Park
7. Zion National Park
8. Glen Canyon National Park
9. Grand Canyon (North Rim) National Park… This is the place Wayne said he saw a sign reading, FILL DIRT WANTED! We did laugh a lot!
10. Bryce Canyon National Park with its Hoodoos
11. Bridges National Park
12. Red Canyon and Dixie National Forest
13. Canyonland National Park was as the Grand Canyon… Terrible erosion area. It was as wild as the Grand Canyon, only more strange! Another WOW!
14. Arches National Park

The Arches National Park allowed some captivating images the evening we arrived. We entered and were blown away with some of the sights. We found we turn 365 degrees and see wonder with each view. The rocks and arches are enough, but there are many other things to see too. Wolfe Ranch reminded us just how hard this country must have been for people to scratch out an existence. We stayed overnight in order to return to Arches again the next morning to see the locations in the morning sun. WOW, it was amazing! I took off on a trail to see some of the Arches. I was following behind Russ and Wayne trying to catch them. All was going well until I found a fork in the trail. As Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” So I did… You guessed it, I took the left which was a 7 mile trail and they of course to the trail to the right, which was only a half mile. About an hour (or maybe a little more) later as I was returning to the truck parking area still greeting everyone I met on the trail, I met Frank Thomas from Pasadena, CA. As I started to greet him, he beat me to the draw with, “You are Russ Johnson from Atlanta and your buddies are waiting for you at the truck”, I was shocked, but thanked him after our laugh and caught up with my disgruntled companions.
OK, they were worried when they did not know where I was. I will admit, it was not the first time we had gotten separated. It had happened in the Grand Canyon and at Zion too. We got over it, but they did shortened my leash. I had to tell them when I was going to the trash can or to the potty… I had to carry my cell phone too.
We came home via I-70 from the Arches National Park which brought us over the Rocky Mountains through snow and ice in the passes around Vail, Breckenridge and on through Denver. I slept listening to my i-pod in my own world while the other three spent some very tense moments with the snow and ice passing through the high elevations and sub-freezing temps. We know it would have been another beautiful area to see had it not been dark… Wayne called to find us a place to stay in a classy lodging where we enjoyed crackers and water for a really fine supper before bed. The owner was kind enough to turn on the lights and the heat before we arrived. What it lacked if class was made up for by a great breakfast the next morning at the CafĂ©. We enjoyed the balance in beautiful clear weather and uneventful moments until we arrived home. We dropped Bob first. He was glad to be home. I was next. We arrived and both Russ and Wayne assisted me in getting my gear from the truck to the house. Time, about 12:30 AM. And all three of us were out of the truck. We have no idea how, but the door shut and the lock clicked. The keys, in the truck of course. Near 6,000 miles and I think about 14 states, we were locked out of the truck… Thanks to AAA, Russ and Wayne were on their way and we ended our official Wild West Tour.
We were again made aware God’s incredible handiwork with each visit to the National Parks. We look forward to hearing how South Africa will be for Russ and Wayne as Russ and Eagles Cry take a group for a photo safari leaving November 1, 2009.
We hope you have enjoyed our blog.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hello to all!
We were not able to get on line last night as we were in a no signal area. Saturday we did the North Rim of the Grand Canyon we went to Jacob Lake and to Vermillion Cliffs and across the Colorado River to Page, AZ came down through Kaibito and on to Kayenta where we had a real tuff time finding a place to stay. We came back to Anasiza Inn, owned and operated by Navjo Indians. This is one of the nicest places, but no internet, thus not blog.
We got an early start this morning heading through Mexican Hat for Natural Bridges and on to Moab, UT. This afternoon we went to Arches National Park. We will go back to Arches again in the morning because of the beauty! Russ said we need to get a dictionary as we have run out of adjectives like WOW, beautiful, unbelievable, stunning, awesome, totally awesome, and breathtaking and well you can tell, we have run out…
I am taking a beating from all three for introducing “Hello, my name is Russ Johnson, I am from Atlanta” to everyone I meet. Now all three of my fellow travelers are also introducing themselves as, “Hello I am Russ Johnson from Atlanta” to people they meet. They think they are so funny! I don’t see the humor…
We can’t wait to get home to show off the images we have captured. I called our pastor Terry Fleming last week to share with him how beautiful the Tetons were with the falling snow. That was before seeing some of the other sights. Zion was great until we found Canyonland and the Arches. We have enjoyed eating at small local places to get a taste of the area in the locations we have visited. We would strongly suggest to anyone to make this trip as a part of their “Bucket List” if not before! WOW!I am attaching a few more images tonight that again will not even begin to represent the trip! More tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2009

We spent a short but restful night. We set out this morning early at Zion National Park (I think this is national park is too well a well kept secret…)
Zion is below Bryce Canyon in Utah. We were able to take the tour bus to all the locations… Tomorrow we will be at the Grand Canyon (North Rim) and who knows for how long we will stay!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hello to all from Zion National Park, Utha!
We pulled out from Logan, Utah this morning heading southbound through Salt Lake City under a clear sky and on to Penquach, Utah (I know I misspelled that location, but it means “Big Fish” in Indian) and visited Red Valley where the Hoodos are rocks standing hundreds of feet from the base of the canyon, It was unbelievable in beauty! We drove through the park and took more than a bunch of photos. There were two ravens sitting on one of the elevation signs, we were looking for a cup to drop change in for their show… They just sat there and let us run around close enough to touch them and take pictures. They were a scream to watch! The elevation here rose to more than 9,000+ feet. I can’t wait to tell my grandsons that today we spit more than near two miles! We found a super friendly place to stop for lunch where we spoke with many of the locals. They told us about the Red Canyon location that we passed through to get to Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon National Park is a breathtaking place to go through with tunnels carved through the mountains. They have windows carved through the walls of the tunnels. We wondered how they had any idea of where to cut curves to the left or right while carving through the mountains… We figured they would cut windows and stick their heads out to see where they were and carve some more. The switchbacks and roads were beyond belief. You could look below to see the roads winding below us to reach the base of the canyon. The beauty was beyond any words other than WOW! We arrived early enough to catch the late afternoon and evening sun in the canyon and on the areas that will take your breath away. We stopped early this evening to stay the night in Springdale, Utah where Bryce is located. We will go through the canyon in the morning via their tour bus system to catch the sunrise and see sights that you can’t see from your automobile. It is all part of the $25.00 per car pass price. We purchased lifetime senior passes for all the National Park system for $10.00 each while we were at Rushmore. We have saved about $200.00 already as we can visit any National Park for no additional charge… What a deal!
We enjoyed Tia food for supper and are turning in earlier tonight. We will continue on to Page, AZ tomorrow to the Grand Canyon and on from there. We have clicked about 3,500+ miles so far since last Friday.
More tomorrow! We will post more images tomorrow. We are tired tonight.

The threat of heavy snow in Yellowstone had us move out of the area and head south. Weather was calling for from 6 inches to 2 feet in the area. The snow was coming down as we pulled out from breakfast. When we came out from the restaurant the accumulation had begun. We headed west through Montana and south through Idaho to enter The Grand Tetons from Jackson Hole. We were delighted with the Grand Tetons! The views were amazing with the heavy cloud cover as the snows were still falling in the higher elevations. We are up this Thursday morning and ready to head further south for Zion and more new things to see. We will have new photos later this evening. Have a great day! The Wild West Bunch! (Note: The quality of the images are not always of the top nature as not all four of us are professional photographers like Russ and Bob... Rusty and Wayne are trying...)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Greetings to all you “Easterners”!

Yesterday we pulled out from Gillette, WY heading for Yellowstone with great expectations of beauty and grandeur… We traveled through some of the most beautiful country composed of rolling hills and the stunning Big Horn Mountains. It seemed every turn revealed another waterfall or canyon composed of craggy stone or painted stratas of earth. We went through Cody, WY where Buffalo Bill is still a major tourist attraction. The Cody National Park was a part of the mountains too.

As we approached Yellowstone from the east all seemed well until we began seeing smoke. The smoke became thicker with each mile. We arrived at the Yellowstone gate where the Ranger informed us that, “You can’t get there from here…” we could not go through the park to get to West Yellowstone as planned. This route would take us about 45 minutes. The fire forced road closings which caused us to have to take another route that took us about 6.5 hours.

The park ride yielded a wonderful journey viewing elk, buffalo, bubbling cauldrons of sulfuric acid and unmatched mountain elevations of Yellowstone beauty. Rather than arriving at 4 PM as planned, it was near midnight instead. Our presidential suite was not quite as impressive as the mountains, being so tired, but it was beautiful and we enjoyed the space and amenities.

This morning we enjoyed breakfast in West Yellowstone and were off to the park. We photographed some stunning views and beautiful areas that only Yellowstone offers. We did not see Old Faithful blow her cool, but we saw her steam just the same. We did see streams teaming with fly rod anglers and elk in the middle of the fast running waters. It seems the park is filled with new growth areas of trees rather than the magnificent vistas we had expected. Tomorrow we will head for the Tetons and Jackson Hole. More tomorrow from wherever we stop.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hello from Gillette WY! 1700+ mile so far... We feel like the dead end kids. We started off early… very early! Wayne was on wake-up detail this morning. He woke up about 0430 Atlanta time thinking we were on central time. We were up showered, dressed, gear loaded and ready to go at 0530 Atlanta time. It was then we came to the reality that we were in Mountain Time. This had us pulling out at 0330 rather than when we planned. We pulled into the Badlands at 0-Dark-thirty. We waited a while before the sun even thought about coming up. At least we were early… Real early! All worked our well as we really wanted to be early for the Badlands. OK, maybe not that early though! Wayne is not on wake-up detail for tomorrow morning.

The Badlands is a remarkable place! WOW! We captured some wonderful images. From there we went to Wall Drugs for breakfast and to tour this 76,000 location. WOW again! We had a great time misbehaving! You will see soon. Vets got free coffee and a donut. We took advantage of that too!

Rushmore is impressive! Great place to visit and tour. The presidents are a WOW! The location is beautiful. From there we went to Custer State Park. Took the “pigtail and tunnel” route through mountains (at 6,000+ feet) of true beauty. Buffalo are huge… and there are a bunch of them there with cowboys working a Buffalo roundup! Deer were all over the place too! From there we were off for Gillette, WY. We are very tired after a very long day. We have about 400 miles to click tomorrow to be in West Yellowstone tomorrow afternoon sometime after 1600 for our evening at the timeshare. Russ was working on images to post, but I don’t know where he is. I will post some others. We have a video to post soon too. More tomorrow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The image is of Wayne, Russ and Rusty in front of the almost TP as we crossed into Saouth Dakota. Bob was behind the camera. We will get him inot the shot tomorrow!
We made it to the Badlands! We are ready to pay our visit there in the morning. After the Badlands we will go to Mt Rushmore and Wall Drug Store.
We have never seen so many miles of acres of corn! Green corn, yellow corn, trimmed corn, old corn and corney corn, I mean to tell you we have seen CORN! Wayne is calculating the fact that there is more than enough corn to fead every man, woman and child enough corn that no one shoud ever want for food EVER! Corn flakes, corn mush, pop corn, cornbread, hominy, Grits, corn on the cob, corn tortillas, fritos, other inferior corn chips, corn oil, ethanoll and so much more. Did we mention we saw a bunch of corn? We even fulfilled Wayne's obligation to his mother-in-law to visit the corn palace. Lord knows we have seen a lot of corn!
We saw a beautiful view coming down though the Missori Valley at sunset on I-90 as the corn slowely faded from our view... More tomorrow! Time to get wome sleep before we visit the BADLAND

Friday, September 25, 2009

800+ miles later we find ourselves just out of Kansas City, MO. The "Arch" is still standing for all who had any doubt. We had to hold Bob in form hanging out the window taking pictures! He has never seen the Arch. The sunset was something special to see reflecting off of the silver structure.
Weather has been great! Little rain, but not bad.
We have laughed like kids all day at silly stuff, but we have not killed anyone yet... yet that is.
Time to crash, more tomorrow from Wall, SD with the first pictures.
From the "Wild West Bunch"...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tick- Tick- Tick... Tomorrow morning is going to be here in 17 hours. We will pull out heading to Kansas City, MO. Route is set, weather is checked, gear is packed and we are looking forward to the journey. Sweeping vistas, craggy cliffs, swaying grasslands and asure blue skys are awaiting! Tomorrow will be from on the road.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Necessary items are being carefully selected and camera gear is being tested and double checked. Weather reports are a regular patch from zip codes of the different locations we know we will be visiting or passing through. There has been an “all-points-bulletin” transmitted to all hotel, motel and rest stop locations to be on the lookout for four wide-eyed grandfathers and worse traveling in a silver colored Silverado traveling west… Don’t quite know what we have done yet, but they are prepared for the worst. Wall Drugstore in Wall, SD has nailed down all 76,000 square feet as they ready themselves for the onslaught. Rushmore has dawned sunglasses so they will not be overwhelmed with the flashes of new found fame. Walter Winchell is turning over in his grave missing the fanfare being stirred up by these despots from the southland!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Wild West Tour... Day 1

Plans and conversations have now become a thing of the past, e-mails have been sent and commitments have now been finalized, the date is set and we, J. Robert Russell, Dennis Wayne Walther, Robert Carney and Russell W. Johnson have made a pact… The Wild West Tour is about to become a reality.
Friday, September 25, 2009 we leave the Atlanta area for, first stop, Kansas City, MO. We will stay in or around Kansas City for our first night. Saturday morning we head north on 29 to 90 then it is due west to the Badlands, Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Tetons, the Canyon, the Bridges, the Arches and home. How long… til we are finished.
Head um up and move um out… We are on the move.