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 > 11 Western National Parks, 7000 Miles, 14 Days

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Crazy Creek

Florida

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Posted: 07/17/12 05:49pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

3 1/2 years ago my Mom passed away. My wife and I have been speaking to Dad about taking him on a tour of the west. At age 87 he had never seen the west but always wanted to.

The following is photo documentation of that long awaited trip.

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Ready to roll...we left Central Florida on Thursday night after work.

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First stop, Badlands National Park in South Dakota

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If you look closely you can see Bighorn Sheep skylined on the ridge on the right

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Still in South Dakota, we visited Mt. Rushmore

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We stopped by the Crazy Horse Monument. The monument was started in 1948 and there is no timeline for its completion

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Our next stop was the site of "Custers Last Stand". After we left Florida we began listening to a 10 CD book on Custers Last Stand so that by the time we arrived there we had a pretty good background of that fateful day.

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The monument with the black face is where General George Armstrong Custer fell dead.

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From this hallowed ground....it is easy to picture and re-live that day in history.

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Most of the US Calvary that died that day is buried at the base of this monument.

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The Indians have a Memorial 50 yards from the Calvary memorial

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Dad was moved by the words of Crazy Horse and we all felt compassion for the plight of the Indians

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Custer's Deer Hide Clothing

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On our way to Red Lodge, Montana home of Jeremiah "liver eating" Johnson, we ran into Mater, so we had to stop for a quick pic for the grand kids.

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Our next stop was the Beartooth scenic highway. The late Charles Kuralt called it the most scenic highway in America. We agree. The road straddles the Montana/Wyoming border and tops out at nearly 11,000 feet. There is a ski area at the top of the pass that was still open on this day the last week of June

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The ski area...open in late June

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This is our favorite campsite in all of America. Site 14, Crazy Creek campground in the Beartooth Mountains of Wyoming. Surrounded by mountains, with a raging waterfall, Elk in the valley, deer all around, bighorn sheep on the cliffs across the valley, a working ranch in the valley, the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone river to fly fish in and the ever present danger of Grizzly Bear

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Our next stop was Cody, Wyoming. Our favorite western town. We have been there 4 times in the past 4 years and have made some wonderful friends that we enjoy visiting. Our first stop in town is the Buffalo Bill Dam. The highest dam when built in the early 1900's.

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No trip across the country is complete without some type of break down. The first year, the transmission blew in our other truck. The second year, we had electrical problems in the camper and fuel filter issues in the truck, the third year, the camper refrigerator died and we had a blow out in a tire. This year, the A/C took a dive. It's all part of the fun!!!!!

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We went back to the same RV mechanic in Cody, Joe McNeil and he recognized us from the year before. As before, he had a new A/C installed and had us on the way. We only lost 3 hours

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Our next stop in Cody was dinner at Buffalo Bill Cody's Irma Hotel. Buffalo Bill built this hotel in the late 1800's in honor of his only surviving child out of 4....Irma. Dad is standing in front of a long bar that was given to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria of England

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We sat in a booth and ate prime rib that no doubt Buffalo Bill sat in years before

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After dinner at the Irma, we went across the street and enjoyed Dan Miller and his group who sang Cowboy songs.

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We met Dan a year earlier and stayed after the show and introduced Dad to him.

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To say that Cody has a deer population problem is an understatement. This big guy was eating grass in the vacant lot next to the gas station while we were pumping fuel.

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Our next stop in Cody was the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum and Historical Complex. If you love the romance of the West you will love this place. In addition to sections on Indians, Cowboys of the west and an Western Art Museum. It houses one of the finest collections of guns in the world

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Buffalo Bill's saddle

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Buffalo Bill sat here putting his boots on many a day.

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Dad, admiring this amazing Bronze in Cody

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Next stop...Yellowstone. America's first and arguably the finest park in the National Park system.

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The lower falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Pictures do it no justice!

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Standing on Fishing Bridge at the origin of the Yellowstone River. It flows 692 miles from this point to the Missouri River in North Dakota.

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Dad was in awe of the architecture of the Old Faithful Inn. One of the largest log structures in the world.

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A picture of Grand Prismatic Spring that we took two years ago to provide some perspective. The pictures we took this year were taken from the boardwalk you see in this picture.

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Elk on a sandbar in Yellowstone Lake

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Next Stop

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Colter Bay Marina

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Looking out our camper door while enjoying lunch. When we found ourselves in beautiful settings and enjoying one another's company Dad kept repeating an old Italian saying....chi come รจ me....which loosely translated means... who has a life better than me.

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The Chapel of the Transfiguration sits on the edge of Grand Teton National Park. It was built in 1925, the same year Dad was born. It is a log church in a breathtaking setting. We went inside, sat in the pews and just soaked in the presence of the Lord.

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At the alter and behind the pulpit is a huge glass window that overlooks the Grand Tetons. Few words are needed here as God's majesty speaks directly into your heart.

Dad was moved to kneel at the alter and reflect on his life with his wife of 63 years and his relationship with God. It was a very emotional time for him.

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An abandoned church somewhere in Idaho

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We brought our Dad...this couple brought their Gnome

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Next stop Zion National Park, Utah

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On to Arizona and the Grand Canyon

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On our way to the south rim of the Grand Canyon we pass through an area called the Cliffs of Vermillion and Marble Canyon. Here Dad is glassing the valley and the 50 miles of straight as an arrow road that we have ahead of us. The cars below looked like ants

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Over 30 years ago we drove down this road and took a picture at this exact spot. It hangs in our house today. As we were driving this day we both yelled at the same time....this is it!!! This is where we took that picture. And we stopped to capture another picture.

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We arrived at the Grand Canyon at night. Which was perfect for our plan as we did not want Dad to get a glimpse of the canyon until we brought him somewhat blindfolded to the edge of the canyon the next morning. We took a video of that moment. I will post a link if I can.

Link to Dad's reaction of seeing the Grand Canyon

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On to Monument Valley, Utah...setting for many Western movies....Dad's favorite

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Forest Gump ended his run across the country at this spot.

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Mexican Hat, Utah...I think the city fathers got it right when they named this town

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On to Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park

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This is an amazing place! Around 1200AD the ancient Pueblo Indians built homes in the cliffs of Mesa Verde. Behind Dad is Cliff Palace. There are over 140 rooms built into the cliff.

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Descending down to Cliff Palace

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Getting ready for the climb out of the cliff dwellings. This is a 100 foot climb up a series of rock steps and then 4 different ladders. We are at an altitude of 7,500 feet and this man did not even want to rest. 87 years young!

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At our last stop on this amazing journey. God did not disappoint. In the middle of the Colorado mountains surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks is the largest Sand Dunes in North America.

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I took this picture with my I Phone through my binoculars. If you look closely your can see a small group of people making their way to the top of the dunes. It takes 2 hours to reach the top of the dunes. The dune complex is 30 square miles and rises to over 750 feet high.

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Here are all the states we visited on our journey


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Back home! It was an amazing adventure. We were blessed with perfect weather, safety while traveling and saw and did everything we wanted to. Mom we wish you were physically with us but we know that you were watching over us smiling and proud and happy that your family is together.

We love you Mom!

* This post was last edited 07/21/12 06:36am by Crazy Creek *   View edit history

Bigfoot85

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Posted: 07/17/12 05:58pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow. Thanks for sharing an amazing trip. We just passed through many of the same areas ... maybe we passed each other. Again ... big time thanks!


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17oaks

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Posted: 07/17/12 06:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

7000 mi, 14 days, WOW, made me tired just thinking about that. You are drving 10 hrs a day, good on you...


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Acampingwewillgo

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Posted: 07/17/12 06:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow...what a trip! Glad you had the oppurtunity to have "Dad" along to see so much of this Country. I hope I look that good at 87...its doubtful but your Dad looks Great.


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RZAR66

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Posted: 07/17/12 06:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very cool trip. Would love to do this one day if I ever get enough time off work. Thanks for sharing.


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skipnchar

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Posted: 07/17/12 06:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

at 500 miles each day I hope he didn't blink [emoticon]


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352

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Posted: 07/17/12 06:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am glad you both had the time to make those memories.


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F350mule

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Posted: 07/17/12 06:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great pics ! Some of our favorite hangouts as well. A trip your dad will remember.


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qtla9111

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Posted: 07/17/12 06:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow, at 87 he looks great! I thought it was a typo. I wish him another 87 years and I hope he gets out even more. And you guys are great for taking him on such an adventure!


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SkipJ

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Posted: 07/17/12 06:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great thing to do for your dad.
SkipJ


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