July 2022: Western Vacation




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July 2022
Number 101

From the Desk of Bill

As you may or may not have noticed this is the 101st newsletter we have published. I am taking a small aside from the usual articles this issue. Kandy and I have just returned from two trips west (one to Yellowstone and one to the Grand Canyon) with grandchildren.
As I write this, we are still in the Springfield, Missouri area and plan to return to South Carolina the day after Independence Day. 

Long ago and far away (when I was in high school — the early 1960s), my science teacher worked as a ranger in Yellowstone in the summer months. That inspired me to get busy and plan a trip for us (my parents and brother). This was back in the days of paper atlases, mechanical adding machines and paper. I worked on it for days. I knew the routes, the stops and what we could see. The trip never happened and I pretty well forgot about it.
About 12 years ago (2010), our son and his wife sent Kandy and I on a trip to Yellowstone. We went and had a great time. In 2016, Kandy and I decided it would be fun to take grandchildren to see the West. We made a trip in 2016 with four, a trip in 2018 with four more and then the virus fiasco hit. Our 2020 trip was postponed to 2021 and then to 2022. 

To add to the complications Jessy and Mandy are now working at their boutique and for Willis Sinclair, so we lost our chaperones. Since we did not want grands to be in motel rooms without an adult, that meant we could only take two at a time. We decided to take two the first part of June and then two more the second part. The trip would be twice as long, with half as many meals and hotel rooms.
We have just returned from the second leg of the trip. The grandchildren got to see what a great country we have. They saw amazing animals, breath taking natural features, rode horses, rode in an actual stagecoach and got to pan for gold in Wyoming.
Our first leg was to Yellowstone and points between there and Springfield. The second was to the Grand Canyon and sites along the way.
Here are some photos. They are not necessarily in chronological order. 


When we take the grands, we don’t usually do many “amusement” activities. We try to introduce them to new ideas and give them an appreciation for their country.  This is the grave of Rebecca Burdick Winters near Scottsbluff, Nebraska. She died on the Oregon Trail. Rebecca was about 52. She came down with cholera about noon one day and by evening she was gone. A friend chiseled her name into a steel wagon wheel rim and used it for a marker. (You can see it near the marble headstone).  When the railroad was surveying for the transcontinental tracks, they came across her marker and rerouted the tracks slightly to miss her grave. Later, her remains were moved near Scottsbluff. Rebecca Winters is the grandchildren’s first cousin, 8 times removed. 

We got to see dozens — probably hundreds of bison wandering around in Yellowstone and several other places. This one was close to the truck and just ambling along. 


In Douglas, Wyoming, we stopped to look as a few rail cars (a Pullman, dining car and coach) as well as a rather large steam locomotive. It dwarfs the girls.  My brother and his wife met us at Chimney Rock and accompanied us for a day or so. 





As you leave Yellowstone via the north entrance, you pass the 45th parallel which is halfway between the north pole and the equator. Two days after we left the park, this road was washed out, a bridge was destroyed and staff houses were swept away by torrential rains (a once in 1,000 year rain). The park was closed and thousands were evacuated. 

Alice (left) and Hannah (right) tried their hand at panning for gold at South Pass City State Park in Wyoming. Alice managed to get a few flecks of gold. Have you ever panned for gold? 

This groove was made by thousands of covered wagons on the Oregon Trail. It is  in Southeastern Wyoming. 

There are two falls on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park. The falls in the distance is the lower falls which is about 300 feet high. The water levels were high due to melting snow. Alice is the grandchild who struggled with leukemia several years ago. We are very grateful she has been clear at her annual checks. 



On our southwest leg, we stopped by the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado. The tiny specs in the photo are people. The sand dunes are huge. 

The highest point on our southwestern leg was Wolf Creek Pass. On our northwest trip it was Togwotee Pass (south of Yellowstone). Elevation 9,544 feet.


We stopped at several cliff dwellings on our southwest trip with the boys. This one is in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. These homes were abandoned about 1300 AD. 

Josh (left) Benn and I are standing at the only intersection of four states: Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Unfortunately, the monument is not quite in the correct location, but we pretended. 


Ben spotted “Cinnamon”, a light brown black (as opposed to grizzly) bear who liked to hang out near the road in Mesa Verde National Park. 

We stopped by the Petrified Forest in Arizona and hiked around a bit. The number of petrified logs there is amazing. There is also a small building made of petrified logs. 


The Grand Canyon is an amazing place. We spent a night on the  North Rim and then drove around to the South Rim to spend another night. Ben (center) wanted to see the Grand Canyon, so he chose the second leg of our trips. 

We drove along sections of old Route 66. This is a bridge built over the Querino Canyon in Arizona. It was built in the 1930s for Route 66.  We also stopped at a Route 66 museum in Elk City, Oklahoma. If you are ever in the area, check it out. They have put together a number of buildings (16?) that you might have seen on Route 66. 


One of the buildings at the Elk City museum was a “drug store.” We got sodas there. The boys were fascinated with the toilet in the bathroom and with the juke box. They really liked to watch the juke box pick records and play them. (It was on free play.) Of course, they had appropriate 1960s songs on the juke box.

The television show, Longmire, was a popular modern western a few years ago. Although it was set in Wyoming, it was filmed in New Mexico (for tax reasons). We stopped in Las Vegas, New Mexico to see the entrance to Sheriff Longmire’s office. The door is still painted like it was when they were filming. Josh is with me. 


Tuesday, July 5, we will head back to South Carolina, after having driven close to 10,000 miles.
Next month, we will begin saving money for the next trip — hopefully in 2024.
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