Alrighty, I went on vacation for two weeks with my family (brother, Mom and Dad) up to Yellowstone National Park, and we came back yesterday to a hot house. It was 95 inside and took 10 hours for the temp to get down to 79F with all three window AC units going.
First Day - July 23rd:
Left Wichita Falls, TX, turned north at Vernon, TX and on the way we went to see Jacob's Well south of Dodge City, KS and stayed at the La Quinta Inn in Dodge City, KS (following US-283). Still fairly Hot (upper 90's), but at least we got some rain. Didn't bother with Boot Hill Museum. Filled up in Minneola, KS (south of Dodge City, KS) and got 20.23MPG on my truck. At this time, my GPS kept trying to get me to go north via US-183 because I didn't know I could add a point to get it to where I wanted to go.
Second Day - July 24th:
Left Dodge City, KS and drove west to Garden City, KS then north on US-83 to get to North Platte, NE where I filled up with gas, my truck got 18.63MPG (I intended to get gas at Colby, KS, but didn't add the correct point in my GPS so I just followed my GPS, going where my Mom figured we were going to drive anyway), then we went west on I-80 to Ogallala, NE and then north on US-61 to get to Lake Ogallala State Recreation area to camp out for the night. It was warm during the day (low 90's) but got down to the mid 60s. The North Platte River was near flood stage here, and lake McConaughy was fuller than usual (a few trees were under water)
Third Day - July 25th
Left Ogallala and drove WNW along NE-92 and Lake McConaughy is a BIG lake, approx 20 miles long. At Lewelland, NE we had to take a detour onto some dirt roads because the railroad was working on the crossings there. (right on Rd 203 then left on Rd 48 and then left on Rd 198A back into Lewelland on NE-92/US-26. At Bridgeport, NE we continued north onto US-385 and filled up at Hot Springs, SD and my truck got 21.18MPG and continued on US-385 until we got to Wind Cave and took SD-87 to Blue Bell Campground in Custer State Park and set up camp there for the 25th and 26th. It rained heavily before we put the tent up for the night, but we sat in the truck for about 20 minutes waiting for it to stop. Luckily the ground sucked the water up fast.
Fourth Day - July 26th
While at Blue Bell Campground we went to go see Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse. While on the way to Mt Rushmore we got stopped by a herd of Buffalo, at least a 100 strong, we took US-16/16A to Mt Rushmore and then part of SD-244 then US-385/SD-16 to Crazy Horse. We went through Custer, SD (east on SD-16/16A) to get back to our campground. Crazy Horse was more impressive than Mt Rushmore because all four heads of Mt Rushmore can fit into the head of Crazy Horse. It has taken them 50 years to get as far as they have on Crazy Horse. At the campsite, we saw wild turkey and a white tail deer. The lows were in the mid 50's and highs were in the mid 70's here.
Fifth Day - July 27th
Left our campsite at Blue Bell in Custer State Park and drove west on US-16/16A through Custer, SD and US-16 west to New Castle, WY. Then north on US-85 to Four Corners, WY which we went north on WY-585 into Sundance, WY on I-90 for a few miles to take US-14 to WY-24 to get to Devil's Tower, WY. Devil's Tower was pretty impressive. After about half an hour or so, we left and took WY-24 back to US-14 to Moorcroft, WY back onto I-90 and filled up my truck in Gillette, WY and my truck got 17.89MPG on this leg of the trip. Between Gillette, WY and Sheridan, WY we stopped by and looked at the Fetterman Monument off of US-87 after leaving this we kept on US-87 and decided to get back on US-87 via WY-342 and we stayed the night at the Budget Host Inn on US-87/WY-14 in Sheridan, WY.
Sixth Day - July 28th
We left Sheridan, WY and drove north on I-90 to WY-14 at Ranchester, WY. I decided to take WY-14A through the Bighorn National Forest just outside Sheridan, WY The road before the Burgess Junction was redone, making it have less sharp turns in it. This road (and possibly the southern WY-14) through the mountains was fairly steep going up. Got a few pictures of left over snow on the mountains too, particularly at the observation point at 9430 feet. From here it was pretty much all downhill, and at 10% grade too. After a mile or two, I decided to put my truck into 1st gear and let it coast down the mountain at 20MPH. This steep grade (approx 10 miles of it) made it appear that I had used a whole 1/4 tank going though the mountains made me a bit nervous and made me worry that I would have to fill up earlier than expected. However, getting back on level ground, the need moved back to half a tank. Outside of this mountain range, we also drove over Big Horn Lake which was also at flood stage, touching the bottom of the bridge. The whole valley here between the Bighorn National Forest and Buffalo Bill Reservoir was quite dry. I filled the tank up in my truck at a gas station just outside Yellowstone National Park by the name of Red Barn on 2924 North Fork Hwy and got 16.51MPG on this leg of the trip. After this we visited the Buffalo Bill Reservoir Dam and took a few pictures there, we went through a couple short tunnels and a long one to get to it. From here we continued to Yellowstone National Park. We finally got to our campground at Grant Village and set up our tent. Low temperature for that night was 34F!
Seventh Day - July 29th
We went to West Thumb area of the Yellowstone Lake to see the geysers and thermal ponds and then Old Faithful and the geysers and took over 150 pictures of both. High was in the mid 70's and low was 43 for this night. Saw quite a few Canadian Geese and one female Moose.
Eighth Day - July 30th
This day we went to the Mud Volcano area at 44.62477N, -110.433424W Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, then Dad gave me an extra $20 for gas since I wasn't really expecting to go here (gas was $4.09 at the Grant Campground gas station). High was upper 70's and low was about 47 this night. As for Yellowstone and the fire 20 years ago: You can still see old dead trees from that long ago still standing, but there is lots of new tree growth in the entire area of the fire. There was also a recent fire up there as the forest floor growth hadn't come back yet. We did see a small scattered herd of Buffalo here past the Mud Volcano and before you get to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in a large meadow.
Ninth Day - July 31st.
We broke camp here and left, intended on going to camp at Flagg Ranch. We drove down US-287/US-26 down to Moran where we went right onto US-26/US-191/US-89 to Jackson get some groceries and gas from the Albertson's there. We stopped a picnic area by Jackson Lake and then by the Cunningham Cabin Historical Site and an overlook for the Grand Tetons (which also has snow on them). Along the way, we decided to stay in Jackson for the night instead because we were tired of being quite cold at night (It doesn't help when my Mom has Rheumatoid Arthritis). Filled up at Jackson, WY and my truck got 21MPG for this part of the trip. Here, we decided to stay the night at the Motel 6. I would suggest avoiding this Motel 6. The rooms are maybe 12x12 with two double beds and the bathroom is half the size of the room.
Tenth day - August 1st
We left Jackson, WY on US-191/US-189 where we turned east at the US-191 turnoff to Pinedale, WY where we turned south again. We stopped at the Sublett Trail Cutoff and took a picture of the monument there (just past Big Sandy Reservoir) at 42.221397N -109.469389W. From there we continued to Rock Springs, WY where we went down Elk Street and right onto US-30 Business to get to the Wal-Mart there to get some food stuff. After that, we got back onto I-80 and continued east until we got the Rawlins, WY where we stayed the night at the Microtel Inn and Suites for the night. It rained from Jackson, WY until a little after Boulder, WY (temps were in the upper 70's, lower 50's)
Eleventh Day - August 2nd
We left Rawlins, WY and continued east on I-80, where I filled up in Laramie, WY at the Pilot gas station, my truck got 20.89MPG, and at Laramie, went south on US-287 and at the Wyoming/Colorado border, we stopped and looked at where the Overland Stage lines path was and then continued down US-287 to Fort Collins, CO where we went down CR-19 (Taft Hill Rd in Fort Collins and Wilson Ave in Loveland, CO) where we turned right on US-34 to Estes Park, CO to get to Rocky Mountain National Park where our campground was, which was Moraine Campground (on US-36). We stayed here for one night, highs was in the mid 80's and lows were in the upper 50's (much nicer). We saw one two prong white tail deer buck who walked right through the camp, eating grass. The little chipmunks weren't at all afraid of humans and neither were the magpies. The highest mountain peaks here also had snow on them.
Twelfth and thirteenth day - August 3-4th
We left our campsite and went on US-36 south, through Boulder, CO, where we took CO-93 south. CO-93 took us through Golden, CO where we got on the CO-470 around the Denver metro area to US-85 southeast to Silver Heights, CO onto I-25. Before we got to I-25, we had to take a lunch break, so we took W Titan Rd to right on N Roxborough Park Rd where ate lunch and took a bathroom break (at 39.529527N, -105.053764W). After lunch, we got back on US-85 to I-25 and continued south on I-25 to Colorado Springs, CO where we decided to stay two days, instead of one at the Stagecoach Motel in Colorado Springs, CO at the intersection of E Ramona Ave and S Nevada Avenue. On the 4th, we decided to go to the Rock Ledge Ranch in Garden of the Gods to take a look around. After this, we tried to find a spot to eat but couldn't in Garden of the Gods, so we made one ourselves. Later, we drove to Palmer Park, where you can see just about all of Colorado Springs, CO. It was in the mid 80's for the highs and upper 50's for the lows for both days and rained in the evening as well.
Fourteenth Day - August 5th
Before leaving Colorado Springs, we went to Wal-Mart to get more groceries to put in our cooler, then I filled up with gas, my truck got 17.08MPG for this part of the trip. We got on I-25 and continued south to Raton, NM where we turned east on US-64/US-87 and then once we got to Clayton, NM we stopped at the cemetery there to see our ancestors. After that we got back on US-87/US-64 back to Amarillo, TX. Right after the Boys Ranch, we turned left onto Ranch Road 1061 to get to Amarillo, TX. Once in Amarillo, TX we stopped at Wal-Mart to get some food then went to the Motel 6 West to stay for the night. It was 105 that day and the low was at least in the lower 70's. Went to eat supper at Calico Country and then after that got gas for the truck and got 20.41MPG for this leg of the trip.
Fifteenth Day - August 6th
Left Amarillo, TX on I-40 and then took the exit to get to US-287 to get back to Wichita Falls, TX, which was 107 for the high. Parents and brother stayed the night and then left the next day. Overall it was an awesome trip, nice to stay out of the heat for the majority of the trip.
Yes, Long journal is long.