Saturday, September 29, 2012

About That Fall in Colorado (September 22 - 28)

Greetings from Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy,

Roger and I are into the second week at one of our very favorite places, The United States Air Force Academy. Fall is truly in the air in this part of Colorado and our day trip with friends, Pam and Butch, to Cripple Creek did not disappoint. Please indulge me while I show lots of pictures of golden Aspens that we saw along the way.

 Our first glimpse of the Aspens from the highway.

 Our RVing buddies, Pam and Butch.
My favorite time of year with my favorite person!

 The former gold mining town of Cripple Creek filled with people "leaf peeping."

This week has been filled with lots of cycling! Riding in the mountains at 7200 feet presents it's challenges, but my heart and lungs are getting use to it. The scenery is incredible with lots of wildlife (wild turkeys and other birds) along the way.

USAFA in the background.

At last, a flat part of road.

On Friday we took our friends Bonnie and Roger to USAFA's recreation area. Farish is located about an hour's drive from the Academy. We encountered even cooler temps at Farish, with vestiges of a recent hail storm on the ground. With golden aspens along the way, we enjoyed a great hike.

 Roger is standing in front of a lake that is reflecting the trees and clouds.

Wonderdog and extraordinary hiker, Bear!

Snow covered Pike's Peak in the background.

The two Rogers pose with Bear.

Roger and Bonnie made the hike lots of fun.

What a great week to experience Fall in Colorado. On Saturday, we watched USAFA defeat Colorado State. The pics below are from that football game.

 A static display of gliders before the game. I posed with a future Air Force pilot.

 The Cadet Wing marched onto the field.

 The Cadet Wing runs to their seating area for the start of the game.

 Cadets and grads entertained the crowd with parachute jumps.

 Perfect landing on the 50 yard line.

 The Stars and Stripes makes a fantastic entrance.

 The Falcons take the field.

 A four ship formation of A-10s. Roger led a four ship flight of A-10s over a game in the mid 80's.

 The Falcons are about to score their first goal.

 Half time entertainment includes a falcon (the mascot) flight around the stadium. You can see the falcon in the middle of the picture.

Our time at the Academy is going quickly. We look forward to our last week at USAFA with the Navy game scheduled for next Saturday. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

About That Colorado Springs (September 16 - 22)

Dear Family and Friends,

 We left Gillette, Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain FMCA Ramble on Sunday morning, seeing lots of antelope and deer along the way to our next destination. Our drive took us south on Wyoming 59 to Douglass, where we picked up I - 25 to Cheyenne. We spent the night at Terry Bison Ranch and  had plenty of time to see the sights in Cheyenne and F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

 The Wyoming capitol building is one of the most beautiful that we have seen.

 Decorated cowboy boots are located throughout the city.

 Antelope are everywhere in this part of the country. This buck's picture was taken at F.E.Warren Air Force Base.

 This old army post, now Warren AFB, is truly beautiful. It is home to Minute Man missiles and the 90th Missile Wing.

 Headquarters of the 90th Missile Wing.

 Three intercontinental ballistic missiles sit at the entrance to Warren AFB.

The Tour was parked at Terry Bison Ranch outside of Cheyenne, for one night.

 The bison herd at Terry Bison Ranch

We left Cheyenne, early Monday morning and continued south on I - 25 to Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy. We love our site among the pines and will remain at the Academy for three weeks. Our RVing friends, Butch and Pam, came over for drinks and we had fun catching up with them.

Our site for three weeks at the USAFA Famcamp. We are truly in the pines.

 Finally, lots of cycling on the great roads at USAFA.

 Happy Hour with new and old friends.

Roger and I were lucky to meet Randy, who educated us about a wonderful breed of dog, called the Karilan Bear dog. This breed is very well known in Russia and Finland for their ability to send bears running. Randy and Nikka (featured below) worked for Glacier National Park this year. They spent time in the back country trying to keep the bears (Grizzly and Black) from getting too close to people. Apparently Nikka, who is from Finland, produces no fear pheromones and therefore bears are reluctant to attack her. She barks at the bears (the only time she barks) with Randy holding on to her ten foot leash. Invariably the bear turns and runs. There is so much more to this story, but Randy and Nikka are a wonderful team. Roger and I were thrilled to meet both of them.

As I said earlier in the blog, we will be in Colorado Springs for three weeks before heading to Santa Fe.  We look forward to spending time with friends, USAFA football games, cycling and enjoying the beautiful Fall weather. Thank you for your interest in our travels. See you next week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

About Gillette, Wyoming (September 9 - 15)

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Gillette, Wyoming, the energy capital of the nation. The area produces over 93 million tons of coal annually. Gillette is also known for it's rodeos and cowboy history. Roger, Bear and I are here for ten days at the "Rendezvous In The Rockies" Ramble sponsored by the Family Motor Coach Association and the local chapter called the Rocky Mountain Motorhome Association. Although this is our first Ramble, the RMMA has sponsored this event for 29 years. This has been a great opportunity to meet other motorhome owners and learn more about the RVing way of life.

Roger and I arrived early for the Ramble on Saturday, and had fun saying hello to other early attendees. We are staying at the Gillette Camplex, an excellent facility that has plenty of spaces for motorhomes (complete with full hookups) and large meeting facilities for classes and vendors. The Ramble started on Wednesday. Tours in the nearby area were provided during the pre rally days.

On Monday, Roger agreed to take care of Bear in order that I might go on the Deadwood/Devil's Tower tour that lasted all day. Our bus drove us to Devil's Tower, which is actually the core of a volcano, exposed after millions of years of erosion by the Belle Fourche River and the weather.  The tower stands 865 feet tall and offers some of the best rock climbing around. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt designated it as the nation's first national monument.

 Devil's Tower from a distance.

 Notice two rock climbers in this picture.

 One rock climber in this picture, near the bottom.

 A picture of the land surrounding Devil's Tower.

Our second stop was at the town of Deadwood, South Dakota. This old western town is now known for it's casinos, but it was the place where Wild Bill Hickock was shot playing poker. 

 Saloon #10 where Wild Bill was shot.

 Deadwood Main Street

Wild Bill getting a hug from me.

Tuesday was a tour of the Eagle Butte coal mine in Gillette. Roger and I learned so much about coal mining. We stayed on the bus throughout the tour because of the security, safety precautions and grime associated with open pit coal mining.

 These storage towers mix coal to the specifications of various customers.

 Coal is loaded onto coal cars in this picture. Each train engine will carry between 100 - 125 coal cars.

 One car filled and many more to go.
 These machines move the coal from the seam to the cropper where it is crushed. The tires are 11 feet tall and cost $28,000 each.

 Coal is loaded into the cropper to be crushed.

 We are headed down into the open pit where coal is mined 7 days a week.
 After blasting the land (internal blasting), the drag line scoops up the coal and loads it into one of the coal moving machines.

The coal mines are required to reclaim the land and restore it to the grassland that it once was. This was a very interesting tour and we were so glad that we got to take it.

The rest of the week was spent at the Ramble. We were in classes during the day and entertained at night. One highlight was the Pet Parade! The pics below show Roger and Bear strutting their stuff.

 We will leave on Sunday for Cheyenne, Wyoming for two nights. The next blog will come from Colorado Springs where we will stay for almost three weeks.  Thank you for your interest in our blog.