A Very Special Military Museum

We visited one last place in Nebraska before we left, and it was very special.  Lee loves military museums, so I call them out to him as we travel.  We don’t always have the time to see them as we travel, but the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles looked like a quick stop off off of I-80 and was completely free.  I will say the parking lot was a bit of a challenge, so proceed with caution, but if you can get in the museum was a hidden gem.  First of all, the museum was started by Vietnam vets and the gentlemen working there were all veterans.  Personally I love that, and whenever we run across museums that are manned by people with experience the place gets extra bonus points from me.  It also had an outstanding gift shop (another huge point in it’s favor), with lots of unique items.  This one had tons of models of military vehicles which are not something you see very often nowadays.  Sure you can buy them online, but it was nice to see them in person.

Finally, the place was massive.  It didn’t look so big when we entered, but it is a huge warehouse full of vehicles and the yard out front is covered with them as well.  It’s impossible to really convey the size and diversity with this post, but I will give it a try.  I am sure Lee will jump in and add to this which will help. I honestly didn’t think I would get him to leave 🙂

(The museum was started as a non profit in 1986 by four veterans, with the goal of preserving historic military vehicles. They began taking their vehicles to Veteran’s Day celebrations and parades and letting veterans ride in them and even drive them. The response was so gratifying and overwhelming that they continued to comb the midwest for vehicles to restore and preserve. Many of the vehicles were obtained from farmers who used them in the 40’s and 50’s when tractors were in short supply. They would drive and repair them until they couldn’t keep them going any longer and then park them as windbreaks and leave them to rust away. Heartland has given new life to these old machines, and today there are over 60! They have an incredibly extensive library of hundreds of technical manuals from manufacturers to achieve  accurate restorations. They also focus on getting the paint schemes correct and preserving original insignia and accessories. – Lee)

(This stop was originally supposed to be a visit to the “Fall of Saigon” memorial that they have, and is pictured below, but it turned out to not just be a quirky roadside statue, but an entire museum. The funny thing is we were so amazed by the museum that we somehow completely missed the Saigon memorial. We’ll have to stop by another time to see it in person. Here’s a picture of the event that inspired the memorial, and their memorial of it. – Lee)

The iconic image from the actual event.

The thing we set out to see, but never did!

(In the picture below you can see the museum is right off the interstate, so very easy to get to. – Lee)

The parking lot is to the side and the odd triangle shape. For us we could park along the side but it was tight turning around.

(In this picture you can get a better idea of the odd parking lot. If there aren’t many cars in the lot you can get turned around and park along the top line of the parking lot, or you can just do what I did, and pull straight in then back up along that top line. – Lee) 

When you walked around to the front you saw how big it was

 

With tons of vehicles lines up in the front facing the freeway.

 

We started inside with the gift shop and signed their register book.

 

One of many interesting models for sale

Once you walked through the doors there were so many vehicles.  I found it very interesting even though military vehicles isn’t really my thing.  Lee was really into it. Here is a sample of some of the ones that we found the most interesting.

This is an Airborne scooter, designed to be dropped by parachute along with paratroopers. It also had a rear pintle allowing it to pull a small trailer.

 

This snow wagon was designed to rescue downed fliers in the Arctic and more importantly, and Norden bomb sights in downed aircraft. The Norden was highly classified and its secrets were fiercely protected. Fewer than 300 of these were produced and fewer than 20 exist today. The front tires could be replaced with the skis you see mounted on the side.

 

This is a 1982 General Dynamics prototype, one of only three in existence. It would eventually become the HumVee.

 

A 1944 Kuebel Wagen, ambulance version. The Porsche designed German version of the Jeep.

 

1943 Schwimm Wagen, an amphibious vehicle. Very rare.

 

 

 

They even had several helicopters in the building which was amazing.  My favorite was a small MASH helicopter in the back and the beginning of a MASH area they were creating…still and all.

The still is to the right of the sign.

 

This was in beautiful condition.

 

The Huey, the most famous helicopter in the world.

The best vehicle was an M3 Bradley that you could crawl into.  Wow those spaces were tight, but it was very interesting.  I don’t know that I have even been inside a tank before. I was able to crawl through once but then clambered out in the front.  For me it was tough with the claustrophobia and I can’t even imagine being in there with 3 other people.

One of the seats.

 

Entrance

 

The driving was interesting. Pretty standard.

 

Interspersed throughout the areas were other small exhibits.  They had one on military food for example.  It was all a bit haphazard, but obviously done with love.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

I thought this small ship model was interesting. Used to teach people the different ships.

 

And I very much appreciated this sign in one of the corners. If you have never looked up the cost of war I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with those numbers.  Not being political.  It’s important that we know what things cost, in money and lives.

 

When we were finished inside I stopped and talked to the volunteers and told them we went all over the country looking at museums and they should be really proud of what they had built here.  I meant it and if you are passing by I highly recommend a stop.  It is a donation fee and we left $10.  It was totally worth that and more.  After we finished the inside I went and got the dog and together we all checked out the outside.  Lots of huge vehicles including several tanks and Jack enjoyed the exercise.

1989 Hellfire Missile Launcher

 

Bradley M2

 

M60-A1 Battle Tank. 105mm Main gun.

 

Sherman tank

 

WWII Ambhibious “Duck” supply ferry.

 

 

(Jack was happy to be outside, but didn’t seem to care much about all the hardware of war. He’s a lover, not a fighter. – Lee)

Next up we see Kansas and we get that state sticker.  We are definitely on a roll!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

Getting our Nebraska State Sticker

Nebraska is one of the very few states that I have never been in.  I never visited it for work, and we haven’t even driven through it.  I was excited about visiting it, even though every time someone mentioned Nebraska the most common comment was a dismissive “corn,”  Well let me say I loved the state.  It has rolling hills, lots of farms, and yes there is corn, but there are cattle and other crops as well.  As a Midwesterner I love these “bread basket” states and I find the scenery soothing.

So what does it take for us to earn our state sticker??  We have higher standards than lots of folks we know, but for us it’s consistently been we need to stay one night and see at least one state specific thing.  State specific is where I get into trouble, because many things are in multiple states.   It’s a bit of a judgement call for sure and I’ll talk about that as we go along. I will say it doesn’t have to be anything grandiose, it just has to be unique to the state.

We got up early in the morning but I had another phone interview so we got a bit of a late start.  This interview was with a different company and it also went really well.  They told me it takes between 30-35 days to on board a person in the position I was applying for, and it was good to get a rough time frame for reference.  Lee’s been very patient with these interviews, especially since he likes to get an early start, but by keeping it to 300 mile days we are still getting into our campgrounds at a decent time.

As we were traveling I was checking Roadside America, but there wasn’t much worth stopping for.  Then we saw a sign that stated there was an historic Pony Express post.  It wasn’t in Roadside America so we didn’t have any information about it, but Lee decided to follow the signs and give it a try.  I really appreciate his willingness to explore while we have the rig attached, as this is not something we would have been comfortable doing even a couple of years ago.  Turns out this stop was fantastic.  The cabin was surrounded by a gorgeous park and Jack absolutely loved rolling in the lush, green grass.  Because dogs weren’t allowed inside the building we took turns, and Jack got twice the fun playing outside.  It was a small cabin, but really great, and we were both fascinated by the stop and the history.

Great little cabin, perfectly preserved

 

Loved the sign

 

This puppy was happy to stay outside and be good while his people went inside. One of us had to stay with Jack.

The grounds were beautiful and there was a very nice restroom in the park as well.

 

 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about the Pony Express, but I learned that it really was only in existence for 1-1/2 years.  The telegraph replaced the riders and the company went bankrupt.  That amazed me since the mythology looms so large.  The following sign sums up the story.

(In addition to being a fun and cool little stop, the entire town is very nice, and the streets are wide. There’s plenty of room all the way around the park to park your rig. – Lee)

The inside was basically half gift shop and a small exhibit area, but it was very cool.  We have been really good about not spending too much money as we travel, but we both went a little crazy here.  I got a shirt and Lee bought a super cool tote bag and a book.  It was just that kind of place and we were happy to support it. (I do not think that amounts to “going crazy”. – Lee)

Small corner of the cabin. Was well done.

 

Very cool saddle

 

Is it just me or does Jack Keeley (upper left) and Johnny Fry (bottom second from left) look like the same guy. Twins separated at birth?? And check out Buffalo Bill Cody (bottom far right) he was a handsome guy!

 

My t-shirt has the ad on the back stating orphans preferred.

We all really enjoyed the stop, especially because it was unexpected, and we continued on down the highway.  I wasn’t sure that it really qualified as a Nebraska specific thing though and was fretting a little when out of the corner of my eye I saw a fast food restaurant called Runza.  This caught my attention because in our travels I had never even heard of Runza, but it was clearly a chain.  Thank heavens for the internet, because after a quick search I discovered it was a Nebraska-centric restaurant known for their Runza sandwiches.  I asked Lee if he was up for trying one and he said sure so I found a location off the highway with a big parking lot.

Jack is sad in the truck! No worries it was plenty cool as it was an overcast day.

Once we got inside we learned more about the history which is a terrific story.  After WWII, there weren’t many jobs and Sally started a food cart selling sandwiches made from a family recipe.  Ground meat, onions, and cabbage in homemade buns were super popular and a big hit.  Over time she and her family expanded and now they are all over Nebraska and even have a couple in Kansas.

There were some really unique things about the menu.  First they had mini shakes for $1, which were delicious and the perfect size.  Next if you can’t decide between onion rings or fries you can order a combination for the same price called frings.  Loved that!!  Finally Lee got the sandwich and said it was delicious!!  It was like shepherds pie in a bun and he was a big fan!!

Frings…it has a couple more onion rings but I ate them lol

 

Haven’t seen that face in awhile 🙂

 

Look who was excited when we came out. Can you stand the cuteness!!

This was definitely a Nebraska specific moment and once we spent the night the thing that earned us our state sticker.  It may seem silly, but I can look at every sticker we have earned and tell you the memory that is associated with it.  Anyways, we spent the night in North Platte at the I-80 campground.  With a Good Sam discount the campground cost $32, and even though it was along the highway it was pretty nice.  The sites were long and has decent separation and the lake itself was pretty.  My only complaint was the dog park was really small, so Jack wasn’t interested in using it.

 

I love when there is enough room at our site that we can put him on a lead outside

The lake was nice. There are more lakes in Nebraska than I expected,.

There is lots of open space to expand the dog park, That would be my one suggestion.

The family running the campground was really nice. They had boats for rent for the lake and other water activities in season.

Next up we head towards Kansas and get off the highway a bit.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

I-80 Roadside Attractions

As boring as many people said the I-80 route is, I absolutely loved it.  It’s flat, the roads are in good condition, and it’s not super crowded.  There are also a surprising amount of things to see along the way on the Roadside America app, which kept us busy throughout our driving day.  The first couple of attractions were  in Wyoming.

Our first stop was a slight detour from I-80 on 80 service road.  A farmer, Mel Gould,  has spent several years building metal sculptures in his yard and the detail and whimsy was very impressive.  Added bonus it was dog friendly and although Jack wasn’t crazy about all statues he did enjoy getting out and walking awhile.  There is a nice, wide turnaround spot for the RV so it was easy to get in and out of, as you can see.

According to what I read his workshop is underground

This scorpion was really well done

 

I appreciated the visitors welcome sign. I felt a little uncomfortable before I saw that

 

The wind thing was huge

 

I loved how many of the sculptures were named

This little guy was super intricate

The top was spinning but unfortunately the robot wasn’t moving. Still cool

Love seeing this one close up. It is made of a turkey pan and a broom primarily. Inspired!

 

 

Jack really did not like this bear. He kept growling at it.

Next up and right on the border of Nebraska was a large statue of the Virgin Mary.  This was not really around anything else, but was obviously well cared for, Every time we get an opportunity to see something like this, I think of Lee’s Grandma Anna, who was extremely devout and went to mass frequently. If she was alive she would have loved these pictures. (This one is right off the interstate exit, but at the time we visited that exit was closed for construction. And again, as you can see, plenty of room for a big rig to get in and out. The giant letters are the border of Nebraska and Wyoming. – Lee)


(Also, right at the entrance there is an old closed gas station that sits on the border, and half the fuel pumps are in Nebraska, and half are in Wyoming, which is kind of fun. You can see the line in the picture. Plenty of room to getin and out to snap a quick picture. – Lee)

I had Lee position the truck so Mary could bless our travels.

 

Several smaller Mary statues were there as well

 

Very nicely done

Along the outside edge was a series of smaller statues showing the journey of Christ with the cross.  What I liked about these is you could drive to each of them, which is nice for people in wheelchairs.

Our next stop was a small thing that normally we wouldn’t have stopped for, but since it was at a Flying J we got fuel and saw it really quick.  The caterpillar made out of tires (ie: Alice in Wonderland) was actually well done and as a bonus the truck stop had a nice 50’s diner attached.  We had their buffet bar for $12.50 and I thought it was pretty good.  As an FYI we prefer to stop at Pilots and Flying J’s.  We have the Lifetime Good Sam membership and Flying J gas card and that give us 8 cents off the cash price of every gallon of fuel we buy.  Even with the discount their prices aren’t always the cheapest, but they are almost everywhere we travel and their services are pretty consistent.  We only fuel at trucks tops on travel days where we don’t unhitch though because smaller gas stations are waaaay cheaper than truck stops as a general rule.

The tire caterpillar

Very nice display in the diner

 

Loved the booths

 

The buffet was small but good.  Salad stuff and the roast beef was delicious!

Our last stop of the day prior to stopping for the night was at the Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, NE.  This was super kitschy and not very well done. although the stuffed two headed calf was a nice specimen.  They did have a nice miniature collection of Buffalo Bills Wild West show and an excellent bookstore with lots of historical western books which Lee loves.

Huge exhibit that took 12 years to make

 

I bought some Nebraska corn to see the difference

 

And I got a cowboy rubber ducky for Oliver. It’s fun looking for grandson things now but I need to watch my budget!

 

After checking out the trading post, we stayed overnight at the I-80 Lakeside Campground.  There were no Passport America parks in the area and the $5 municipal park had no hookups.  Since it was hot and muggy, Lee wanted electric so we paid $30 to stay.  It was surprisingly nice and the people who ran it were great.  Jack loved walking along the lake and my only complaint was the dog park was super tiny.  Fine for an overnight although I would have loved to have tried the municipal park.

 

Next up we finally get that Nebraska State Sticker!!!

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

First Time in Laramie WY

After getting settled in at the Albany County Fairgrounds, Lee disconnected the truck and we decided to head towards Cheyenne.  It was Friday around 3:30pm, but we decided to chance it and it turned out to be OK.  Cheyenne only has around 60,000 people in it and the traffic wasn’t that bad.  The main thing I wanted to see was the capital building and the historic downtown, but we had a couple of quick Roadside Attractions along the way.

The first was a statue of Lincoln on a rest area along the Lincoln highway.  This rest stop has a small viewing area/information center, picnic tables, restrooms, and is very RV friendly so I definitely recommend a stop if you are passing by. Here you can see how much parking there is!  The best part though was we had to turn on Happy Jack Road to get there.  Best road name ever!!

It was really much bigger than either of us expected.

 

The head was cast in metal (brass I think) and brought to Wyoming and used as a mold.

 

Once again we saw a really cool feature of America that only existed because of a small group of dedicated people. Love when we run across things like that.

 

 

Next we stopped at a pyramid which was built by the railroads to honor two brothers who were instrumental in the transcontinental railroad being built.  This was NOT RV friendly as we had to go down a dirt road and there was no good place to turn around.  Once again, much more impressive up close. (I disagree. The road is a dirt road, but we’ve been on much much worse. There is room to turn around a rig at the location. Here is a sat shot of the parking lot. – Lee)

Beautiful views although as you can see VERY windy

 

Next was the small town of Buford with a sign that says population of 1.  It claims to be the smallest town in America.  It was an easy on and off the freeway and there was a closed gas station a rig could turn around in.

 

Lastly there was a field with the old top of the capital building.  This was not big rig friendly at all and we were even a little nervous driving the truck.  It was full of weeds and Lee said watch out for snakes before we got out of the truck.  That definitely made it less fun for me.  It was cool though to see how big the topper was.  Turns out, not as big as you would think. (Here you can see that there is NO room for a rig, but there’s plenty of room at the new school next door. And there’s a brand new fire station across the street that didn’t exist when this sat photo was taken. If you really wanted to see this and didn’t want to take any chances, the road has no traffic to speak of, so you could just pull over to the side at the bottom of the exit ramp, walk over to the site and then just continue back onto the highway. The original school is the small building to the left, just above the “218” and the smaller shape below it is the outhouse, and the dome is the small circle to the left of the old school- Lee)

Even with all these stops we still made it to Cheyenne before 5pm.  It’s a very small town for a state capital and the historic area was a bit of a disappointment.  The capital building area was all torn up with construction so I could only take a couple of pictures from the truck. Lee went back on Saturday and got some other pictures.

I thought they were doing a nice job blending the old with the new

Here are the pics Lee took the next day.

 

Even though we had left the dog at the RV, I didn’t really want to get out and walk around.  Instead we went to Petco and bought a frisbee for Jack and stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond looking for a new dish rack.  Ours broke, but we didn’t see anything we really liked.  On the way back we drove through Laramie (pop 30,000) which I actually liked much better.  It’s a great little college town and has almost everything you could need.  We stopped at Walmart for some bread and Lee filled up with gas then we headed back to the campground.  Just in time too, because the rain that had been holding off all day decided to come down.

It absolutely poured that night, which made us a little nevous because the campsites were dirt and gravel.  It turned out to be just fine though and the water dried almost completely the next day which was again nice because Jo came to visit with her dogs Peyton and Sammy.

Everyone getting acquainted. Sammy is the ruby cavalier, Peyton is the beautiful Malamute, and Jack of course.

Finally someone who has more energy than Jack!!

Sammy is two and super energetic. He wore Jack out!

 

Everyone played nice and shared toys and water

Puppy time

Peyton is getting in on the act!!

The only thing that confused Jack was how much time I spent with Peyton.  I have known her for five years and even though it’s been more than a year she definitely remembered me.  Jack seemed a bit miffed by all the attention I was getting but since Peyton outweighs him by ALOT there wasn’t much he could do about it 🙂

Jo and I had a great lunch and a lovely time hanging out with the dogs.  Ben unfortunately was working a 12 hour shift, so Lee decided to take the time and go out and explore Cheyenne.  That was totally fine with us, because it gave us some alone time and Lee ended up visiting multiple locations that day.   He took a lot of pictures and I hope he write about that too, but if not we all had a good time.

Historical Governors Mansion. Totally free and Lee said it was expertly done

 

Train Depot museum

 

Missile silo museum. Remember the scene in War Games where the guys were in a missile silo and had to turn the key?? This was one of those. Fun Fact… Leo from West Wing was on of those guys in the silo

 

Frontier Days Museum. This is a big deal in Wyoming and they have a huge parade of historic vehicles. They are all stored in the museum for viewing. This early book mobile was one of Lee’s favorites.

 

Next up is Nebraska, but I will leave you with a video I managed to take of the dogs.  They were running around like crazy so this was the best I could do!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

First Time in Rawlins, WY

Even after spending so much time at the Fort Bridger area, we arrived a little past 4pm at the Red Desert Rose Campground.  Since the temps were in the 90’s in the evening full hookups were called for, but unfortunately there were no Passport America or state/county parks with electric in the area.  When faced with those circumstances, I use All Stays (Lee uses Good Sam) to try and find a decently priced private campground.  My number one criteria in those cases has become whether or not they have a fenced in pet area.  I figure since we are paying premium prices Jack should get something out of it.

This campground was older and the sites were waaaay to close together (couldn’t open our awning), but the park was pretty nice.  While Lee was checking us in I took Jack over to see and he ended up playing with two very nice dogs.  The owners were super friendly and the people who run the campground were as well.  A friendly attitude makes up for a lot in the lack of amenities in my book and we were happy to get settled in.

Campground…very tight

 

We took Jack a few times and Lee was working with him on getting him to jump the little pipe jumps they had

 

Jack’s not so sure

 

Doing just great!

 

My favorite park was they had a box full of dog toys anyone could play with and Jack fetched this Frisbee several times…ok we need a new toy

 

And he loved this little ramp!! So cute

 

Part of the reason we had decided to stop in Rawlins was Lee wanted to tour the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum.  We weren’t sure if it would be open (tours were rare after Labor Day), but he wanted to wait until 9am when they opened and see.  Turns out he got really lucky as they were doing a tour at 9:30am.  He jumped in the truck and off he went and I was happy he was able to do it.  I don’t really like touring prisons (they have bad juju), so I stayed home and worked on some job search stuff, and Lee had a great time.  It was only $10, there was a very small group, and he thought the tour guide was excellent. Really not my thing, but Lee loved it, and he promises to write a post about it in the next few days. Meanwhile, here are a few pics.

 

After Lee got back from the museum, we hitched up and got on the road by 11am.  We had a relatively short drive to Laramie, but unfortunately I had an interview scheduled at 12:30pm.  I say unfortunately because I am scheduling these interviews first thing in the morning, but this one was scheduled when we were still working at PGE.  And unfortunately the cell coverage was very spotty along this stretch of highway and the initial call went straight to my voice mail.  Thankfully I was able to call him back and the rest of the call I had strong signal, but it got off to a rough start.  It didn’t help that while we were on the call Lee was pulling into the Albany County Fairgrounds and was looking for the sites and it was hard for me not to be distracted.

Like I said, it just didn’t go that well, but I definitely won’t be doing that again.  All the calls I will do first thing in the morning so I don’t have to take them while we are traveling.  The good news is I am getting some interviews, and although the process goes slow, at least there is movement.

Speaking of good news the fairgrounds is just fine.  Because it was the weekend almost every place we checked was booked and the ones that weren’t full had sites for $50 and up.  We just didn’t want to spend that much money so opted for full hookups for $25 a night self pay at the fairground.  Although this fairground was a little more beat up once again there were horses and lots of room for Jack to run around.  That is a good thing because Peyton and Sammy are coming to visit tomorrow and I want to make sure we have room for them.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Getting our Wyoming State Sticker

While we were traveling, Lee and I started talking about how things were when we first started full timing.  In the beginning we would take the time to stop and see things along our route, but in the last couple of years our trips seemed to be just getting from A to B as quickly as possible.  The only exceptions to this were when we had our two months off in the year, but the pace of all other trips is a bit punishing.

This time we decided we were not going to rush and Lee wanted me to try and find interesting things to do along the way.  My favorite app for finding the weird and unusual is Roadside America so I opened the app and took a look.  There was a time when I was constantly looking at this but I am sorry to say I stopped doing it awhile back.  It was waiting for me though and I quickly found a statue of Jim Bridger who is a famous mountain man.

Part of the problem with Roadside America is you don’t know if there is parking for an RV, so I had to look the address up in google maps and do a satellite view to see if there was a place to park.  It looked like there was a big parking lot close by, so we pulled off the highway and drove a few miles into Fort Bridger to see the statue.  Now that’s a lot of work just to see a statue, but if you don’t ever get off the interstate you never see anything.  And sometimes it turns into an amazing surprise which is exactly what happened to us.

Biiiig Parking Lot

As we were pulling into the parking lot and finding a spot we noticed there were tons of building all around.  There was also a picnic area and restrooms and we were both confused by what we were looking at.  Turns out the statue is in front of the Fort Bridger Historic site which is a huge historical park.  It cost $5 per person to get in but the park was packed full of buildings (36 in all) and was well worth the fee.  It was also dog friendly, and we spent well over two hours walking through the park and looking at all the buildings.  But first of course we saw the statue.

Outside of the fee area was an old set of cabins the Lincoln Highway.

 

Really cool and showed where people stayed overnight on road trips in the 30’s

 

Once we entered the fort itself we saw that it had been many things.  It was a trading post, a fort, and a Mormon settlement. Some of the buildings were re-creations, and others had survived the fires that had torched the settlement.  It had a really interesting history and was extremely well done.  ‘

The first building had a store full of cool antiques and a young woman in costume. I especially liked the old ledgers on the counter. They were originals and you rarely see those.

 

When we entered we learned that this was on the pony express route for a year. That made it even more special.

 

 

 

 


They had the first schoolhouse built in Wyoming

 

School house to the right then the buttery and finally a dedicated room for laundry and bathing. The last was pretty cool and something I had never seen before.

 

Washroom…there was a bathtub to the left. All the rooms were glassed in so pictures were a little hard to get.

 

This was another item I have never seen before…a bear trap! Crazy.

 

We also loved this dog grave. It was dedicated to a dog in the area who did several heroic deeds. Jack was suitably impressed.

The property is really large and was an interesting mix of recreations, original buildings, and layouts where buildings used to be.  A strong stream runs through the property and its easy to imagine people living there. The insides of the buildings were expertly done and in many cases it really looked like someone had just got up from the table.  I really liked that.

They marked out areas where buildings used to stand which was helpful

 

And then had examples of some of the buildings

 

I loved the old fire extinguisher

 

Commissary.  The mannequins were also pretty well done.

In the far right corner of the property there was a recreation of the original fort.  I almost missed it because the signage wasn’t that great, but Lee walked down and that was one of my favorite areas.

Original trading post/fort had just a few buildings.

 

They had a cute little store

 

And a blacksmith area.

They also had a museum in the back of the fort area with a shop as well.  This was the only place we weren’t allowed to take Jack so we took turns. Again very well done for a small town museum. Behind the museum was the foundation of the Mormon settlement.  The Mormon’s burned the fort and fled when the Army approached.

 

They did a great job of talking abut the native american contribution throughout the exhibits.

 

In the far left corner of the property there were two huge houses.  One of them was actually disassembled and moved, served as a hotel, bought by an architect, disassembled again and stored, and then finally brought back to it’s original location as part of this park.  Amazing.  Both houses were open and had some of the rooms decorated again with extraordinary detail.  We just don’t see this level of commitment in most small town museums.

Family graveyard

 

This house served as the commanders quarters

 

This house was the ranch owners

I was trying to picture Oliver in this cradle…yikes

Lee liked the bear skin rug

Definitely worth the five dollars and a cool thing to see to get our Wyoming state sticker. Also, what a wonderful surprise.  We thought it would be a quick stop to see a statue and we got all of this instead.  Definitely reminded us of the importance of making time to see a few things along the way.


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  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Traveling is Good for the Soul

Thankfully our leaving Timothy Lake was drama free, and we rolled out relatively early on Tuesday morning.  It was good to be on the road again, better to be away from a place that no longer needed us, and terrific to be facing some new places to see.  I scheduled our route to go across southern Wyoming, because it brought us close to Jo and Ben, and in all our trips cross country we have never been on that section of 80.  I was excited to collect a few new state stickers and looking forward to staying at new places.

Since we started this year we have been trying to travel no more than 300 miles a day, and are not booking campgrounds in advance.  The way I handled this is to use my iPpad while Lee is driving to find a site for us to overnight.  First I need to establish what is roughly 300 miles from where we started and I use Google maps directions to find what is close.  It is a bit hit and miss but after a few times you can usually tell on the map and for our first day the closest place was roughly Ontario, OR.  Once I have the place selected I started looking for campgrounds or boondocking spots.  Since we prefer full hookups the first night out, I started with Passport America and then I look at Ultimate Campgrounds.  I will use All Stays as a last resort but much prefer the campgrounds I find in one of the first two.  They are cheaper for one thing and in the case of Ultimate Campgrounds usually have more nature.

There isn’t much in this corner of Oregon, so I talked Lee into trying Malheur County Fairground campground.  It was only $15 with Passport America and had water and electric with a dump station onsite. We haven’t had much luck in the past with fairgrounds, but our friends  Deb and Steve stay in them frequently, so we decided to give it another try.  Although it was a little hard to find the entrance, we eventually did, and there were several sites in a grass field.  It was self pay and there was only one other camper there so we got settled into a very nice site.  Turned out to be absolutely terrific.  It was in the nineties well into the evening but the 50 amp was great and allowed us to run both air conditioners.   Large grassy spot for Jack to play, and there was a barn with horses nearby.  Although we were in town, it felt like we were in the country, and the cell signal was really strong. Loved it and definitely trying more fairgrounds in the future.

We took the spot on the outside. The grass was beautifully maintained…Jack loved it.

 

Our site had a very nice 911 memorial rock on it.

 

Great barn with stalls for rent. Lee walked over a couple times with Jack to see the horses. This is the view from our door of the back of the grandstand.

The next morning I had a Google Hangout interview scheduled (went really well) and after that was finished we headed back down the road.  Once again 300 miles was in a pretty barren section of Utah and this time Passport America didn’t have anything.  So I looked at Ultimate Campground and found the Willard Bay State Park.  We had stayed in Cottonwood campground once before but when we pulled in we realized they only had 30 amp and it was still in the high nineties, so they sent us next door to the marina campground.  The price was a little steep at $35 a night, but it was nearly 100 degrees and we needed 50 amps.  I would never have done it if we had a second vehicle (that would have been another $25 a night), but since we don’t we splurged a little.  We got a really nice little spot with full hookups.  The surroundings were also gorgeous.  Let me just show you.

Our site had a nice view

 

You can’t see the bay from the campsite but a little walk up some stairs across from us is a really great view.

 

Jack loved the waterline. We walked all along it.

 

Beautiful flowers all along the water

 

We walked down to the end and saw past the inlet.

 

Really pretty views walking both ways.

 

Just me and Jack

 

 

Later we walked to the other side of the campground and saw the entire bay

Wonderful stream

Nice view of the campground

 

Jack enjoyed the view

 

So good for the soul!

We head into Wyoming tomorrow and the we will get to see Jo and Ben. Stay tuned!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.