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August 20, 2017

Wyoming - and a frosty morning

Altho we have a couple days to drive thru Wyoming.  We choose to scramble the eastern side of the state as we have passed thru a few times before including just a few weeks ago.  Instead of more museums the choice was to enjoy some of the high country in the National Forests for a couple days.  As the road climbs above the farmlands it has a hint of the landscapes of northern AZ and southern UT.
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Just outside of Grand Teton National Park we settle in at Turpin Meadow.  For $6 a night the campsite includes a nice picnic table, fire ring and pit toilets.
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And cool temperatures.  There’s frost on the picnic table as I head out on my morning walk.  And oh-the-embarassment as Fran wears socks with her sandals.  At least they match the rest of her outfit, but ….
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Altho enjoyed the walk on the dam at Jackson Lake, we did not have the picture-perfect reflections this morning.
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Last time we were in Grand Teton the trails at Jenny Lake had been washed out so we chose not to go, this trip it had to be the most popular stop in the park.  Hence again we did not stop, but were able to park at the Lake Taggart trailhead.
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This is an easy ~4mi loop or a ~3mi out-n-back.  The trail rises gently thru aspen
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There’s a young black bear along the the trail munching on berries.  This is a popular trail and soon a bear-jam forms and the young leaves.
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Shortly the trail opens into a meadow, with the lake just beyond
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From here most people go back the way the came in, but it is less than a mile more to make this a loop using the Beaver Creek Trail.  We choose to make it a loop and had the Beaver Creek trail very much to ourselves, so much so I was beginning to wonder if we missed a turn.
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There are alot of young tress that were crushed by the waight of snow.  The tress survive, but with a very noticeble bend in their trunk.  This one makes for a perfect rest stop.
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The Beaver Creek Trail is more exposed wondering down thru mostly meadows, but the lack of trees does offer some great views.
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And lots of wildflowers
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For our first night in Idaho we stay and another Forest Service campground at $6 a night on the Palisades River just below Palisades Dam.  The Palisades will meet up with the Snake River in a few miles.
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We’ll meet the family in Idaho Falls next.

August 19, 2017

Nebraska - chasing the eclipse

A bit of a detour in the last blog to a very worthwhile visit to Springfield IL and the Abraham Lincoln home.  Just do it!  In 1862 Honest Abe signed the Homestead Act giving away the prairie to any ‘freeman’ who could build a home and farm it, 160 acres at a time.
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So why is the Homestead National Monument in the middle of Nowhere, NE?  It is the site of the first issued homestead, and it’s right smack dab in the path of the Great American Eclipse.
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The first homestead deed was issued to Daniel Freeman, who prospered on this site.  Any coincidence that any ‘Free Man’ could apply for a homestead and ‘Freeman’ is the first? ….
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There is also an exhibit on the last homesteader, Kenneth Deardorff, a 29 year old California Vietnam vet who filed a claim in Alaska.
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In 1936 congress deemed it the duty of the Secretary of the Interior to perpetuate the history of the country developed under the homestead law.
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Daniel Freeman’s cabin has been recreated on the site as it was first built.  Just a single multipurpose room and an outhouse.
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This is a NASA destination for the eclipse with many programs offered.  The local farmers are offering up ‘Eclipse Parking’ in their yards and fields. 
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Below the Jackalop this farmer is preparing his parking lot, complete with porta-poties.
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We’ve driven under the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument a few times.  A nice museum, but pretty much a tourist trap…
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The Martin Brothers were attacked by local tribes and pinned to each other by four arrows.  Altho left for dead they both survived.
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On the opposite side of the Platte River are hiking and biking trails, something that suited our drive time better.
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Our last stop in Nebraska was at Scotts Bluff, a noted landmark on the Oregon and Mormom Trails.  This and other geological structures in the area of soft clay survive with their protective limestone caps.
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The RV will not fit thru the tunnels on the road to the top of the bluff, but there is a FREE shuttle to the top.  We opted to ride the shuttle up and follow the trail back down.
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A view of the limestone cap and a CACTUS!  Oh I miss the desert southwest ….
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A few views from the top some 800’ above the valley floor.
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The trail back down is via the Saddle Rock Trail, 1.6 mi back to the VC.
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William Henry Jackson is noted for his early photographs of the area, but is also a painter of renound.  The VC has a collection of his 50 original paintings. 
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The outside exhibits include several wagons and a Mormon push/pull cart.
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As it turns out following the Eclipse Trail is the same as following the Oregon Trail thru Nebraska and most of Wyoming.

A blast thru WY and we’ll be meeting with son Michael and grandson Jm along with kid-brother Marty in Idaho!