Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: California Pacific Coast Highway 2016_10_17

A one night stand at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, then we are just hours from the waters of the Pacific. We will head South for a few days of rest, at a familiar and favorite campground, before we turn and head East.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park wasn’t far enough from the cold or rain for us. We have already spent time in this beautiful park, so we only stayed one night. It was a great night.

Campsite at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, CA

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, CA

And off to the beach we go!

A quick lunch stop in Moss Landing. The Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant had a few cars, but we opted for the view and a couple of PB&J sandwiches. It always amazes me they use prime ocean front property, for farming! You don’t see that in Florida.

Floating things with sticks on top…them might be sailboats!

California Rt 1, best road view ever!

Views from California Route 1

California Rt 1, bridges, curves and views

When we arrived in Pfeiffer Big Sur, we found the State Park closed due to fire. The recent rain had finally squelched all the fire, but they still needed to verify the safety of the area. This wasn’t our camping destination, but we were hoping to do some hiking here.

We arrived at Kirk Creek Campground, to this! With a view like this we weren’t surprised.

FULL…of view

So we headed up the road to Plaskett Creek Campground. Both parks are within the Los Padres National Forest, which is awesome. Plaskett, unfortunately, is across the highway from the water and the view. We were fortunate to meet up with the “fill-in” ranger, who let us know he would be at Kirk Creek the following day.  And…if we arrived at just the right time, he would still have a site available for us. Thanks Alec! You’re the best!

Our first Pacific sunset!

Plaskett Creek Campground, Los Padres National Forest, CA

We moved to one of our most favorite campgrounds ever! Kirk Creek Campground. They are now on a reservation system, the last time we were this way, it was first come, first serve. We could only get two nights, but they were glorious.

Kirk Creek Campground, Los Padres National Forest, CA. The views from this campground are amazing!

Kirk Creek Campground, Los Padres National Forest, CA

As we are apt to do, we met some friendly neighbors. It’s a good thing, because Nyah scared their cat Fuzzy off. Fuzzy is apparently used to a little freedom, George and Cheryl set up camp, open the door and Fuzzy goes out exploring. He was very elusive when it came to pictures, but I understand he’s a pretty good mouser. George keeps a blog of Fuzzy’s adventures here.

Friends, wine, and sunsets…all is good in Paradise

We needed ice, so we unloaded the Harley, it was a good excuse  to go for a ride. Which, we have not been able to do for weeks!

Riding CA Rt 1

If you can find the trail head (on the South side of the campground,) you can hike down along the creek to this fabulous spot and just watch the waves roll in.

Kirk Creek trail, Los Padres National Forest, CA

Kirk Creek trail, Los Padres National Forest, CA

Kirk Creek trail, Los Padres National Forest, CA

Looking down from the top of Kirk Creek trail, to the goal! Los Padres National Park, CA

And this…

Beautiful. Kirk Creek Campground, Los Padres National Forest, CA

We needed to be on our way. If only we could stay at all the places we liked best, all the time, we would have it made.

Looking South from Kirk Creek Campground, Los Padres National Forest, CA

The shoreline at Kirk Creek was a bit rocky and craggy for Nyah to get her feet in the Pacific, so we pulled over at the first place we thought we could get to the beach. What a spot, well worth the short hike to get there.

Nyah’s beach day

Nyah’s beach day in the Pacific Ocean. This has nothing on the Bahamas…just sayin.

Let me test this water out. Yea…not for me! What temperature is that ice water? And did you see the iceberg!

Let’s go Mom, I’m done with this place!

Is this the best they can do for a turtle?

California turtle

It’s not too long a walk back to that short, short trailer.

Short, Short Trailer along California Route 1

After we got all our tootsies warm, we headed down to Piedras Blancas State Marine Preserve. Nyah said she’d seen enough of the Pacific, but we were welcome go take another look, while she took an all important nap. These are the guys too young for mating, they hang out on the beach in the fall instead.

Elephant seals at Piedras Blancas State Marine Preserve.

The Piedras Blancas Light Station was very impressive, would love to see it up close sometime.

Piedras Blancas Light Station, CA

When we got to Cambria, we started looking for sign to take us East on 46.

Got to go East when you run out of West

Here is our last glimpse of the Pacific from a lookout on Highway 46.

Last glimpse of Pacific from Highway 46

We are heading to Death Valley, so I guess they prepare you by making the route go through Bakersfield. They take ugly to a new level…I’m sorry, I’m sure there is some part of Bakersfield that isn’t coyote ugly, we just missed it!

Bakersfield, CA

We did need to stock up on some ice and provisions, so we took advantage of a Casa Walmart stay, and since we didn’t really know when we would be near restaurants again, we had an early Anniversary dinner.

Noooo! I don’t care if they say you can. You don’t throw food on the floor!!!! Happy 18th Anniversary, I love you!

In the morning, its off to Death Valley. Tonight, I’m thinking of the Pacific Breezes.

Kirk Creek trail end. RELAX

Thanks for following along with our adventure.

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Grand Teton National Park 2016_10_01

We left Yellowstone on a rainy morning. Fortunately, by the time we arrived in the beautiful Grand Teton National Park, the rain was gone and only a few clouds remained.

Without a plan for camping, we stopped in Corter Bay Village. Their campground was closing for the season, and after a nice chat with the ranger, we redirected to a U.S. Forest Service Campground, on the Southern side of the park. The village would have been a nice place to stay for a couple of days, to catch up on laundry and take showers (we did take advantage of those, as long as we were here!) There was a small grocery and gift shop, if stocking up was necessary.

Here are a few of our favorite shots of Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

On the way to the U.S. Forest Service campground, we visited Mormon Row Historic District. Mormon families settled here near the turn of the 19th century. They clustered their farms to share labor and community. There were 33 homes surrounding the church and school at one time.

John Moulton Homestead, Mormon Row Historic District

Creek on the edge of the Mormon Row Historic District

We fell in love with this campground. It was quiet. It was beautiful beyond words. Along Gros Ventre Road, the Atherton Creek campground sits high, overlooking Lower Slide Lake. It belongs to the U.S. Forest Service and was closed for the season, which basically means they had come through and shut down the water. The gates remained open, however, and we along with a half dozen other campers, and a few deer, enjoyed the fall beauty.

Atherton Creek Campground, U.S. Forestry Service

Atherton Creek Campground, U.S. Forestry Service

Atherton Creek Campground, U.S. Forestry Service

Mama Deer. Atherton Creek Campground, U.S. Forestry Service

Baby, following mama’s hiding instructions. Atherton Creek Campground, U.S. Forestry Service

Sunset. Atherton Creek Campground, U.S. Forestry Service

We would have stayed longer had it not been for the forecast calling for snow!!! So we high-tailed in down the road, to warmer places…we hope! Thanks for following along with our adventure.

 

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Custer State Park and Black Hills, South Dakota 2016_09_22

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Needles Eye Tunnel

Our adventure is always a work in progress. We have made it home, but I have a bit of catching up to do on our blog, because when you are very busy having fun…it’s difficult to keep up!

Hopefully over the next couple of weeks, I’ll have regular entries of all the exciting places and adventures we had on our Short, Short Trailer Trip. Stay tuned…we will made some unexpected turns along the way!

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Custer State Park, Wildlife Loop Road

We left Badlands National Park and did a little provisioning in Rapid City on our way to Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota.

I know I say this too often, but we loved this park and the surrounding area. We spent four days exploring and didn’t even make a dent in it. We have elevated this place to a high return priority for both of us.

Without reservations, we arrived on a Friday night. Which meant we had to move camp sites in order to stay several days. The park made no site assignments. You are required to use their on-line reservation system or call center, even on the day of arrival. Most places we have been, close their online reservation within a day or two of the current day.  It was a small hurdle to jump over in exchange for an excellent and beautiful facility.

The wildlife at and around the campsite included turkeys (too early for Thanksgiving,) deer, rabbits, and beautiful birds.

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Stockade North (top left) Stockade South (bottom right)

We spent one night at the Stockade North campground on site #15. We relocated early Saturday morning to Stockade South campground site #16 for the remainder of our stay. It was a rainy night and morning, but fortunately it cleared and we were able to get on the motorcycle and go exploring.

The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway is 70 miles of beautiful, mountainous, curvy, switchback, tunnel filled roads, through Custer State park, the Black Hills and to Mt. Rushmore. We only managed two sections of this byway, but these roads were made for motorcycling.

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On our First day we rode the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop Road and Needles Highway. The Wildlife Loop is 18 miles through the East side of the park. We saw donkeys, goats, prairie dogs, and a couple of prong horn sheep. We had our fill of bison back at Badlands, so we didn’t feel too bad about missing them here. The rangers had already held the round-up and moved them to an area for vaccinating, and sorting in preparation of the coming quota hunt.

Needles Highway, was 14 miles of awesome, turns, tunnels and views.

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Custer State Park Wildlife Loop Road

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Custer State Park Wildlife Loop road

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Custer State Park Wildlife Loop, Long horn sheep and horses

From the Wildlife Loop Road, we headed onto Needles Highway, with the most amazing tunnels!

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Needles Highway

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Iron Creek Tunnel

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Iron Creek Tunnel

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Needles Eye Tunnel

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I want to do that tunnel again!!!

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Needles Eye Tunnel, round two

We circled back through the small town of Custer and made it home before the rain moved in on us again.

Sunday we chose the Iron Mountain Road, which also had amazing tunnels, to take us to Mt. Rushmore, Hill City and Crazy Horse Monument.

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CC Gideon Tunnel

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CC Gideon Tunnel, spectacular view of Mt. Rushmore as you exit.

From Iron Mountain Road, we headed to Mt. Rushmore. It was a crazy busy day in the park on Sunday, so we opted for a few pics and to head on, and see what else we could find. We know we will be back to do the tour.

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Views of Mt. Rushmore from Iron Mountain Road

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Views of Mt. Rushmore from Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway

Hill City is what we found next…and it was time for some lunch.

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Bumpin Buffalo, Hill City, SD. Bison Burgers were fabulous!

 

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Hill City Harley Davidson didn’t wait for us! Closed for the Season. What’s up with that????

We were just going to drive by Crazy Horse too, but the weather was looking a bit grey and we decided to stroll around and check it out. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski was asked by Henry Standing Bear to carve a memorial honoring North American Indians. Work began on the mountain in 1947 and is continued today by Ziolkowski’s children. The museum has excellent chronology of the work to date and models of what the final carving will look like. The museum is also filled with Indian art and historical information, which we found interesting. Although this was definitely a worthwhile visit, there seems to be a bit of controversy on the internet, with various opinion on the authenticity of the depiction. There is always two sides to the story.

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Crazy Horse, a work in progress

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Indian art at Crazy Horse Memorial Museum

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Crazy Horse Memorial, a work in progress

We enjoyed our time in Custer, South Dakota and we only had one other necessary stop to make, as long as we were this close…Sturgis!

Absolutely quiet, compared to what August was like, for this very small town. I’m not sure I could even imagine this place packed out with almost 450,000 attendees for 2016! Maybe one day we will get to see it in person, but for now, being able to cruise through town and browse the HD shop and be on our way to Yellowstone…with no traffic jams…was good enough for us.

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Sturgis, South Dakota

We snapped a few pics along the way, just in case we need a truck, camper, or ATV…we can remember which ones we liked best!

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Thanks for sharing our adventure with us. Next stop is Yellowstone, we hope you can join us.

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Get North 2016_09_14 to 2016_09_18

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We had one goal.

Get North.

Get there before the cold sets in, and our Florida blood wouldn’t want to be there!

We did nine states in five days. The places we passed through so quickly are wonderful, but will have to wait for better exploration on a future trip. Here’s a quick overview of our travels North.

2016_09_14 Left Jensen Beach, FL 

Spent one night at our place in Umatilla, to mow the grass, and stretch our legs.

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2016_09_15 Marianna, FL, Florida Caverns State Park.

Florida

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2016_09_16 Tupelo Mississippi, Tombigbee State Park

Alabama, Mississippi

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Don’t see this at home! City folk aren’t sure just what it does, but it looks like fun!

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We’re not in Florida any more Toto!

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I got flowers, aren’t they pretty!

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The Captain has grown up to be just like Captain Jack! Beer-thirty will never be the same!

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Nyah is the best navigator ever, always on watch to keep us on course.

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We saw this sign on our way out of town, we didn’t stop, but we loved this area and hope to come back and spend more time.

2016_09_17 Kansas City, MO, Casa Walmart #4553

Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri,

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Yes, there is an app for that and we use it on long travel days. We pick a place a gazillion miles up the road, search for a Walmart that allows over-night parking on the app. Read the reviews. Pull into the parking lot very late…argue a bit about the best place to park…because by now we are very tired…lighted area…not next to that car or trailer (they look dangerous.) And once the spot is picked, move the dog’s bed and lock ourselves in the trailer and go to sleep. I must stress this is a 24 hour parking lot, not a camp ground, so there is usually a bit of movement and commotion around and about, not for the faint of heart! But it’s a working relationship because we can get ice and any forgetten groceries and be on our way early in the morning without having to pack up.

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2016_09_18 Canistota, South Dakota, Vermillion State Park.

Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota

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Here are a few other pics along the way.

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Sorry for the bug splat, but the open road is awesome here!

We made it! Next stop, Badlands National Park. Thanks for following along with us, we can’t wait to show you how beautiful South Dakota is. And as always, we hope you are inspired to plan your get-away.