Posts tagged ‘roadside attraction’

E-I-E-I-O

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One of the many attractions near Mt. Rushmore is Old MacDonald’s Petting Farm, a petting zoo just outside Rapid City.  We learned about it from brochures in the KOA park.  Sarah Michael wanted to check it out with one stipulation:  She did not want to go anywhere near the turkeys.

The farm is great for kids.  In addition to all the animals to see and pet they have a train ride, pig races, opportunities to bottle feed young animals, pony rides and lots more.  The goats are funny, they have a high bridge they can climb up to and walk across.

I want to go again!

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My friend Mike, who recommend the KOA RV park we’re at, also recommended that we make time to ride the Presidents Alpine Slide in Keystone.

When I saw pictures of the slide I was in.  I have vague memories of seeing a place like this when I was a kid and wanting to do it, but I never got to.  Now was my chance.

Sarah Michael didn’t share my enthusiasm.  She didn’t want to go down the slide, no way.  Jessie was also not-so interested but when she learned the little carts you ride have brakes so you can control your speed and go slow, she convinced SM to go.  They could go slow, I could go fast.

You ride a chair lift up to the top of this little mountain, then you sit on a cart in the track and down you go.  I got down first and watched SM and Jessie as they arrived at the bottom.  Sarah Michael announced as she got off “That was fun!  I want to do it again!”

How could I say no to that?  We paid for another run and went back up.  This time SM wanted to ride with me so she could go down the slide faster.  Jessie went first and Sarah Michael and I went in the next track and tried to catch up to her.  We just about did too.  SM loved it, I loved it and Jessie enjoyed it too (she probably didn’t love it).

Dinosaur Tracks

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Today we left Arizona, the Grand Canyon is now just a memory.

One thing that really struck me about the area surrounding the Grand Canyon was how green it was.  The area is hot but it must get a lot of precipitation because the hills and valleys are just covered with greenery.  There are some times when driving on the park roads where if I didn’t know I was at the Grand Canyon I could easily believe I was somewhere along the Oregon Coast.

The night we arrived into the park we did see lightning as we drove in, and yesterday we saw clouds dropping rain somewhere, but we never got wet ourselves.

We left early-ish, at 7:20 and started making our way towards a one-night stay in Moab, Utah on our way eventually to Mt. Rushmore.

Much of the drive once we left the National Park was through the Navajo Indian Reservation, and there were some interesting geological features that we didn’t think to photograph. There are these huge mounds, for example, that look like gravel piles, but there’s nothing to suggest they are actually piles of gravel moved from somewhere else. They stand in stark contrast to the pervasive red rock that is just about everywhere else.

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Just before Tuba City, AZ we came across signs advertising Dinosaur Tracks. We couldn’t pass it by without stopping.

We were guided by a local Navajo girl who explained the tracks were made by Raptors, Allosaurus, Pteradactyls and a fourth one I can’t remember.

There were also fossilized bones, a claw and lots of dino droppings.

In addition to offering tours of the footprints there were also women selling locally-made jewelry and other trinkets.  The place had the kind of grim sadness of a lot of the roadside Indian merchants.  The stands are rickety and quite spare, you can sense the desperation of the people.  We gave the tourguide a “donation” and also bought some bracelets.

It was a worthwhile stop, very fun to see dinosaur artifacts out in the wild.

Rockin’ Yosemite

This morning we left the Pickwick Hotel, returned to Pacifica to get the RV, then headed east for Yosemite National Park.  I felt a little weird getting back into the RV, as yesterday my mind had so disconnected from RVing and got into the family spirit at the wedding.  I had to reorient myself.

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The drive from out to Yosemite wasn’t very interesting, so I was glad to see a sign saying “Come and See how Cheese is Made” at the Oakdale Cheese company.  Unfortunately they only make cheese on Monday and Tuesday so we were only able to look through the window into the aging room.

Most of the cheese Oakdale makes is Gouda, and they had a lot of flavors.  Smoked, Jalepeno, Cumin, Garlic, Mustand, and lots more.

Eventually we arrived at Yosemite.

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The roads through the park is narrow, windy and hilly.  I tried really hard to not abuse the brakes, because not only was I driving a large heavy vehicle, I was also towing the Jeep.  But nonetheless, after several miles the brakes became very soft, smelly and just a little smoky.  At a stop sign I had to say a tiny prayer (and clench my cheeks) in order to stop and not rear-end the vehicle ahead of us.

So I pulled us over at the first opportunity and while we let the brakes cool down we did the same for our feet as we waded into the river.

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Yosemite is pretty, and there are many great views from the road, however it seems that Yosemite is really a hiker’s paradise.  There are trails all over and lots of people park their vehicles to take off on foot.  We’re not really the hiking type, so we kept mostly to the roads.  There was a neat spot, however, with a great view of Half Dome and a short trail to an overlook, so we did get some exercise and walked out to take some family pictures.

This place is also custom-made for rock climbers.  One of the last domes we drove past had a couple of people at the top I could see from the road.  Look closely, they’re way up there.

We left ourselves unbooked from any RV parks or resorts, we knew we wanted to get close to Las Vegas, but we didn’t know how close we’d be able to get.  Upon leaving Yosemite, the GPS predicted a 2am arrival into Henderson, LV (where we were going to next stay), I decided to make a go for it and drive as long as I could.

The California Redwoods

I’ve always heard about how amazing the California Redwoods are, but I guess I wasn’t really prepared for how amazing it truly is.  Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I’ve seen plenty of trees and I’ve seen some large trees, but until you stand below these monsters and gaze up you just can’t appreciate their magnificence.

First thing we did when we got into the park area was find the Mystic Forest RV Park and get the RV settled so we could take the Jeep out and about.  Pretty close to where we were staying was the Trees of Mystery park, where they have huge statues of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe, trails through the woods to see amazing trees, plus a gondola that takes you high above it all.  Oh, and Paul Bunyon talks.

IMG_1062.JPGThe Brotherhood Tree is one of the most impressive trees in the park, it is 19 feet in diameter and 297 feet tall.  It is incredible to look up and see that its diameter remains nearly the same.  This isn’t just a tree trunk, this is the tree trunk.

The picture to the right is of just the tree, click here to see Jessie and Sarah Michael standing in front of it.

There were lots of other amazing trees to see as well, the Elephant Tree, the Cathedral Tree, the Candleabra Tree, the Lightning Tree, and many more.

The gondola ride was fun, but it was cloudy up above the trees so  we couldn’t see anything once we got up top.  If it were a clear sunny day the view would be amazing.

After the Trees of Mystery we went and drove through the Tour Thru Tree.  And it was only $4 to drive through it!  Compared to the other tours we’ve been doing, this is a steal.

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Next we went and found the Corkscrew Tree, south of our campsite.  We didn’t know what it was going to look like, though we figured twisting was involved, but it was cooler than I would have thought.  The tree is huge and it is very hard to capture in a photo what the thing is all about.  You need to see it to appreciate it.  In my opinion of course.

We keep seeing signs warning of Elk that could be on the road but to Jessie’s disappointment we also keep not seeing any Elk.  On the way out of the park Jessie finally got her Elk wish.  There were only two of them, but it was fun to see some wildlife.

The Redwoods were neat, better than I expected.  Thank you Mr. Bunyon!

The Prehistoric Gardens

Once our tail light wiring problems were sorted out we were on a mission to get to the Redwoods and get our touristing done down there.  But wait, what’s this on the side of the road?  The Prehistoric Gardens?  Oh, we’re going there.

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Located south of Port Orfard, it is definitely a blast from the past, but like from the 60s or 70s.  It is so not a modern place, I mean it is kept up, but the whole vibe is very retro.  I’m sure the guy who started it did it out of care and love, with honestly and hard work (all virtues from the magical past).

You can see in the image to the right how our caravan, Jessie and Sarah Michael are dwarfed by the T-rex that greets you to The Prehistoric Gardens.  This wasn’t the only large creature we were going to see.  So check out our pics on Flickr for more.

Sarah Michael was the leader, she held the map in her hands as we walked along the path and was quite excited as she anticipated the next dinosaur we’d see around the bend.

It was really a fun little stop along the way.  Three thumbs up!