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This page last updated : Fri May 04, 2012.

Traveling Morgans 2011 Destinations and Travel Highlights

Early Spring in Rockport Texas

January 2 found us saying good bye to our son after his Christmas visit. Pictures from that visit are on the 2010 page. The remainder of January and February found us battling sickness, working, and getting ready for a long trip. The only highlights were visits with other workampers and friends. We got to enjoy the area in the fall of 2010, but we did not get to enjoy the area in 2011. It happens that way sometimes.

Our Route to California

Click on map to see a larger version.


Our trip north from Rockport TX to Grass Valley California began March 12.

We stopped in San Marcos TX for a week to take care of medical issues and vet issues for our dogs, as well as visit friends. We stayed at Blind Salamander RV Park on the banks of the San Marcos River (left).

On March 19, we started through the Texas Hill Country. The first days drive was as beautiful as the Texas Hill Country can be. The second day took us through the Llano Estacado or "staked plain". This area of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico is quite featureless. The name Staked Plain was supposedly because the Spanish Conquistadors and explorers drove stakes in the ground so they could find their way back. The more likely story appears to be that Llano Estacado should be interpreted as "Palisaded Plain" as their are cliffs surrounded Llano Estacado. The second night was in New Mexico. The third day took us through two mountain ranges and the valley between them, including the wonder White Sand National Monument. The Pipe Organ Mountains in particular look to be worth exploring some day. Their were very few good place to stop and get pictures while towing a trailer up or down hill.

Our plan to stop at Las Cruces New Mexico to check for a possible winter stay and job in the area.
No Luck. We did not find an RV park we thought we would like to stay in for the winter.

From there, we went north, to Albuquerque, then West to Meteor Crater near Winslow Arizona. and continued past Hoover Dam to Parhump Nevada, where we also checked on job possibilities for next winter.

We drove through parts of Death Valley California and had brief stops at Sequoia National Park with a little bit of Kings Canyon, and stopped to briefly admire Yosemite, including some movies.

Grass Valley, in the beautiful Gold Country of California, was the location of our summer job.

Spring in California

Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks in California, here and lower left.

Visitor Center Kings Canyon  NP. Half Dome Rock Yosemite NP. Merced River, El Capitan, Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite NP.

Summer in California

Our summer in California was working plus day trips to the national forests and state parks in the Gold Country.
Lake Tahoe, Bridgeport, Donnor Pass, American River are shown here. See our California page for more.

Tahoe Vista NV looking into CA. Bridgeport Covered Bridge, Bridgeport, CA. Crest of Sierra Nevada range at Donnor Pass. Middle Fork of American River, Bridgeport, CA.

Fall and Heading East, then South

To get to our winter job in Schertz TX, not far from San Antonio. We took I-80 across California, Nevada, and Wyoming, made a short stop at our official home near Rapid City SD, then headed for Texas.

Crossing northern Nevada on I-80 gave us some small idea of the hardships of the California trail. For anyone not familiar, the emigrant's from the east to California followed the Oregon Trail and branched south in western Wyoming. The problems if you beat winter? Dust, high desert, mountain grades, and winds.

In northern Nevada today a modern "covered wagon" like our travel trailer needs something to stop the sway. Sometimes people do not bother and the trailer goes on its side. The one that stopped us for two hours apparently caused no serious injuries except for delays and property damage (see picture at right and movie above).

We crossed into Utah and traveled the "Great Salt Lake Desert" heading toward Salt Lake City. This is truly a natural scenic wonder. Unfortunately the only place to stop (with a travel trailer in tow) and take a picture was near the beginning. The mapping software showed another rest area about 80 miles beyond, but when we got there, the rest area did not exist. Apparently the mapping software had a mirage. We really enjoyed what we saw, including a distant view of the famous Bonneville Salt Flats raceway, but we unfortunately failed to get pictures.

The high cost of RV parks in the Salt Lake City area plus the lack of places to park safely in a quiet area (such as a small town WalMart) forced us to go from Nevada to Wyoming in one day.

In Wyoming, we stayed near historic Ft. Bridger. We used this base to explore Flaming Gorge and decided it was interesting, but not a place we would want to spend a full season. The city of Green River did look interesting and we thought we might explore it more fully another time. Exploring the Oregon Trail through Wyoming, including where the California Trail split off, would also be an interesting time. Also the route of Union Pacific, the original transcontinental railroad. Perhaps one day. We headed from Cheyenne toward the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The Black Hills of South Dakota are an amazing place, and it is the place we now call home. Larry needed some dental work from our dentist in Custer SD -- who also sponsors our Black Hills page -- and we needed to get our SD driver's licenses updated with our new address since our mailing service had moved to Box Elder SD.

The Black Hills are a great place to spend a few days or a whole season. We took advantage of the time to visit the large Bison herd in Custer State Park, look in on the progress on the Crazy Horse Monument and to take one of our favorite drives on Iron Mountain Road with its pigtail bridges (the one pictured is connected directly to the northern most tunnel), extreme scenery, and three tunnels that can be used to frame Mt Rushmore (northern most tunnel shown at right). The naturally carved rock in the Black Hills is every bit as beautiful as the rock carved by man. The rock pictured at right is very close to Mt Rushmore.

Leaving the Black Hills, we went to Badlands National Park to take short walks on the Door Trail and Window Trail.

As we traveled east on I80, we had the first blowout of our travels. A replacement tire and some impromptu repairs allowed us to head south to Nebraska, where Larry discovered a broken shackle for an axle. A kind welder visited us in the WalMart parking lot of Columbus NE and sent us on the way again.

We traveled through the a bit of preserved prairie in the Flint Hills of Kansas. This was good, but Custer State Park is better.

In Oklahoma, we stopped at a great NFS campsite at Cedar Lake. The rune stones at Heavener park have been a minor historical mystery. One conclusion from Heavener local historian Gloria Farley was Vikings in Oklahoma before 1000 AD. Another was the runestones were a different type carved by French explorers of the La Salle expedition of 1687. Some wonders like this one are not well known, but well worth traveling to explore and perhaps research further.

Our winter job was at Schertz, and Larry worked at WalMart to supplement income.

South Dakota to Texas

Firehouse Brewery in Rapid City (1 picture) -- Badlands Door (3 pix)& Window (2) Trails -- Flint Hills of Kansas (1) -- Oklahoma including Heavener Runestone(2)

Firehouse Brewing Company in Rapid City. Door Trail Badlands NP. Door Trail Badlands NP. Door Trail Badlands NP. Window Trail Badlands NP. Window Trail Badlands NP. Flint Hills of KS. One of the Best Campsites Ever, Cedar Lake NFS, OK. Heavener OK Runestone -- Historical Mystery.
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