Buffalo, Wyoming

Hello my dear,

So, in Buffalo many things happened… First my parents went home on Sunday, we met for breakfast and the 4 days in which they were here went by in a flash.  Sad to see them go, I am so relaxed and still so happy to be here in this town.  My plan on Sunday morning was to go in a hike in the Big Horn National Forest and then maybe head over to Ten Steep (tiny town) for lunch.  It is a scenic byway which many recommended so I wanted to see for myself.

The trail head was kinda tough to find, I found plenty of boon dockers though.  It looks like fun and not much different then having a camp site.  Will see if I try it, I mean free is so much better then 48 bucks a day as it really adds up.  While looking for the trail head, I found all this amazing new aspen tree growth, just beautiful.  Then I turned a corner and found all the wild flowers.   With the flowers in the foreground and the snow capped mountains in the back, I barely was able to remember to breathe I was taking photos and taking it in so much.  We finally found one trail to go on, it was good, the elevation is higher and it seems that Sofie prefers it this way as she was finally in front of me, though on the way back there were a couple times she just slouched behind me. 🙂

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The views were unlike many I have seen, maybe it was the clean air, the readiness to see other beauty as the first half of my trip was mainly red rocks and coral sands then green prairie lands with rolling hills and now being in the pine trees, I feel refreshed and ready to see this beautiful land called Big Horn National Forest, hopefully I will see a big horn sheep.

After a fun filled day of hiking and driving through such amazing landscape, I could only take some pictures as they do not do it justice and I have to work on my words, as I can’t find the right ones to describe the way it made me feel.  Just content, happy, relaxed, those are just some of the simple feelings.

Sofie of course had fun on the running creek where we stayed (Buffalo KOA), she loved it.  This place was so clean and the shower house was so new and nice, it was like taking a shower back home,  I will miss this place though I will not miss the cost.

On Monday, I signed up to tour a local wool mill (Mountain Meadow Wool).  Another hidden gem, they are a family owned and operated mill, they get the sheep wool from local farmers and it was so cool to see how it was made.  They even had buffalo wool, which they sheered themselves in only like 50 seconds per buffalo so they get about 50-60 lbs of buffalo wool.  Of course, I had to buy some of that as well as some local wool to make a couple things for me and one baby blanket for Jill and Matthew.  I just loved this store and shop, I would highly recommend buying from there as they ship anywhere.

After the tour, we went on another “urban” heritage park hike, this town once was a main train station and so the tour was showing where everything once was and how it changed over the years.  While touring, there was a homestead house replica as this part of the country was all homestead land, it was really interesting to see how simply one can live, it really changes the way you view some things.  While talking to my sister, she laughed and said that if I didn’t buy a home in Washington to fast and if I came out to Wyoming, she would have thought I would have bought something out here.  I can see it, the vastness of land, the amazing landscape, the cowboys :)…   AND this is where they filmed parts of Longmire. I drove by the office – very cool.

Maybe one day, maybe not, all I know I am really loving it up here and I have another month to enjoy it.  Why do you ask??? LOL – I saw in the tourism magazines the Cody, WY rodeo is set for June 30 – July 4… This rodeo looks so cool, on Friday the 30th they will have Xtreme Bull riding.  How can I not stay.  I checked the tickets and they are about 20 bucks, the RV park is a little costly as I want to stay close to town, but I think it’ll be a once in a life time for me. 🙂 So yeah, I will be in the north of Big Horn NF for a week, then head to Wind River Reservation for about a week (4 days-ish) then to Great Teton for 4-5 days… I figured I can see Yellowstone while in Cody…

So now that my plans are sort of set, am trying to think about what is after Cody, and I get to enjoy Wyoming a bit longer.

It has been a good couple days…

Custer, South Dakota

Finally made it after that really long hour drive… 🙂 The drive up here through the Black Hills was… (this is where I need to look for more adjectives) beautiful and peaceful and just – sigh.

When I arrived at Echo Valley Campground and RV Park, I wasn’t too sure… Then the host Gary came up and greeted me, told me to walk through this road where there are 4 ponds and pastures, that I can run Sofie and not worry about a thing as it is all his land.  He was gifted it from an old man who had no family so Gary’s family became the old mans.  This area was an original homestead handed down and gifted through this old man’s family.  Unfortunately, he had no kids or real family to gift it to so Gary and his family was his new family.  Here are just a couple pictures of this place, the cabins and archery is there to use, there have been wedding and family reunions and everything else here and when I look at this area, I can see why. I would definitely have a wedding here, it’s amazing (not that I plan on getting married, or even have someone to marry)… Just saying.  Maybe we will just stick to family reunion. 🙂

The next day my parents came to visit and vacation with me, we had so much fun.  Arriving at dinner time, they picked me up and we went to the next town over to Hill City and ate at this really hometown good place.  Thinking we needed menu’s and the one on the table was the drink menu the waitress asked what we wanted, she said – we only have two things – bacon wrapped filet or pasta primavera… Bacon wrapped filet it was and they were really tasty.  The dessert menu was quite extensive, all homemade and about 34 options… Mom had the tiramisu and I had huckleberry ice cream.

The next morning we finally decided on going to Badlands National park, which was good cause I saw some pictures in a magazine and thought – holy crap, I gotta go there. With Sofie and I in the back of my truck we headed out.  Something must have been in the air cause when we got there, I put the strap in my wrist and started taking pictures with my camera, holding onto Sofie and taking pictures is always an effort and requires flexibility.  I went to grab her leash and looked at my wrist to make sure my camera was strapped, let go and watched in slooooooow motion my camera (my new camera with my new long lens) drop to the ground… Yep – I said it – the ground…  It snapped the lens off the camera and bam – there went taking pictures with my awesome camera for the day.  Thankfully it only cracked the lens connectors and not the camera or the whole lens so I think I might be able to order that… But sheesh, my iphone took all the pictures.

While we were there, we saw sheep – which Sofie barked at… and the beauty of what made Badlands Badlands.. It was weird – cause driving up all you saw were rolling hills of farms and prairie land, then you turn right on the exit, about 2 miles and BAM – the badlands…. Sorry – that was more funny in my head than on this paper.. One of these times, I will video record these…

The mounds or hills or whatever you call them (will look this one up) were so delicate looking, and the formations with the colors, we were there in the middle of the day so the sun was high and not forgiving.  I can imagine what it looks like at dusk when the shades start showing the different colors…

After that, we drove home through Rapid City, ate an early dinner or very late lunch and headed back.  With a swing by to see Mount Rushmore.  Again, holy cow – when I think I am amazed and in awe, I find more of it and so humbled by these monuments.  Because of them, I am able to have my first world problems.  I mean really, when Jefferson was writing the declaration, I knew he thought, in years beyond my life there will be a gentle soul searching for something greater than herself, wanting to make a mark in the world and therefore I must write this declaration carefully so that she might live the life she intends, and her name shall be Haydee… Clearly – all of them though living at different times thought of me and knew I would come and visit them one day.  Right? I knew it and so do you – deep down, cause we all feel the need for purpose and making your mark – big or small.

The second day, we wanted to drive through Custer State Park and I with a not so heavy heart had Sofie stay in her crate in the camper with the fan on and windows open.  Knowing we would encounter buffalo, I did not want her to feel so anxious again.  So while she was hanging out sleeping…

We had a great time driving the windy roads, going through small tunnels, being completely surrounded by 2 different herds of buffalo, seeing Mount Rushmore from so many different views, I’ll let the pictures make the impression.

And now the last day is here and I am so happy and thankful that my parents shared their vacation with me and allowed me to spend Fathers Day with my Papa.. Tomorrow we will go through Deadwood, SD (where Wild Bill was killed).. This cute little town was comprised of saloons and casinos – totally cute and lots of history.  Also, we saw Devil’s Tower and stay in Buffalo where they will head south to fly home and I will stay there a couple days. 🙂 or week… Want to check out Big Horn National Forest now….

On the way from Devils Tower, Papa was great to let Mom drive with me to Buffalo.  It was so fun to talk to Mom while I drove.  We were almost there and mom was just commenting how we were able to avoid every rain storm, and BAM, gust of wind, monsoon rain came down, I slowed to about 43 mph with the window wipers on high and still it was hard to see.  She asked, are you in the middle of the road, I just commented, I am trying to stay on the road and in my lane hopefully.  While all of that was going on, Papa was driving behind us and took this (I assumed he was being responsible while taking this)… Amazing picture though – so I am not complaining.

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Love you and hope you enjoy,
me

Hot Springs, South Dakota

Hey there,

It’s hard to believe this little place exists.  With such a small population and with tourism as their main source of income, I see this place as a little gem which most would just drive through and not stop.  It would be a true miss in discovering the beauty of the Black Hills National Forest.  Known for it’s hot springs, the town has a walk along the creek/ spring where the water is warm and clear.  The town is small with a lot of charm, between the wonderful people at Big Time Pizza letting me sneak in Sofie on the patio so I could eat, the speakeasy where the place was chill and fun to the pet store lady who has aussies herself, the people in the town are just as helpful and nice as the KOA management team who helped me find Big Pizza, helped with getting me into the RV site and most importantly kept checking to make sure I was good.

When deciding to stay in Hot Springs for a couple days, I went to their visitor website to see what they had going on.  As a treat to myself, I signed up for a photo tour with wild mustangs.  A rare opportunity to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals.

So during the day, Sofie and I drove partially through Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park.  This is where I think to myself and say, I should have known better as Sofie is protective especially when in comes to – ummm – buffalo.  So of course, I am in Custer State Park and we come across some beautiful buffalo in the distance, no problem, Sofie is fine… Then we drive a bit more and the buffalo are closer, I of course am excited to get some pictures, Sofie – not so much.  I pretty much gave her a heart attack a couple times.  When I saw a pretty big herd and realized I couldn’t really turn around and Sofie was just barking like crazy, I did what any normal person would do, turn around in the middle of the road with about 50-80 buffalo around us watching us.  The buffalo were beautiful though, many new babies to see and protectant mothers, all slightly spoiled by the protection of Sofie.  She was either trying to protect me or herd them, I wasn’t sure I just know the windows were up and I hoped the buffalo didn’t hear how loud she was, I of course had ringing in my ears for a while.   Knowing this was probably causing anxiety for both of us, I went back to camp to relax before my photo tour.

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As I was there, two new RV campers came.  Two couples and a guy, the guy looked younger and of course pretty good looking.  He came to meet Sofie right away, and they played for a bit, of course I was the one just saying, her name and how old she is and what breed she was, the typical stuff, trying to not look at him too closely as he had beautiful blue eyes and a German accent.

Experiencing this rare opportunity to see wild horses, mustangs some of them, rescued horses and new foals in one place, was breathtaking.  Hopefully the pictures say enough.  If you wish to donate, as they survive by donations, the site is – wildmustangs.com

When I arrived back, I let Sofie out and the cute German came by to pet her and asked if he can give her some bones he saved for her.  Seriously, blue eyes, just the right height, cute, and saves treats for my dog.  I think Sofie would have gone home with him if I let her.  We ended up talking for a while and listened to his story.  It was a really nice evening sharing stories of Bielefeld, Germany, working, wine, a camp fire and a kiss at the end of the night.

Of course when I got into my camper, I totally did the happy dance and almost screamed in joy as that was the first kiss in… well… a long time, crazy long time… Like – its shameful to admit… So I won’t to protect you all.

The next morning, we said goodbye to the German squad and I started to figure out how to back up – uphill on gravel perfectly to connect my camper within a centimeter of the hitch ball.  I was dreading that since I unhitched and was fully prepared to go to the KOA team and ask for help… I wanted to try first, and I did with only about 4 corrections, I was dead on… I am getting good at this. 🙂

Off to Custer (40ish mile drive) and meeting my parents.

Love you always,

me

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Hello my dear,

Best day in a while!!! First, no mosquitoes… Second, the RV Park (Cheyenne KOA) is one of the cleanest RV Parks I have been to on this trip.  It has been such a pleasure coming here and seeing how clean and new everything is.  I plan on staying at another KOA in Hot Springs, if that one is as clean, I will probably look to only staying at KOA’s unless I am camping.

Well what can I say, today was magical!!!  Being my relax and adventure day, we drove to Prairie Butte Grasslands near Grover, CO, I have been looking forward to seeing this for the longest time.  Since I changed my trip and wasn’t able to go to the Tennessee long grass national forest, I wasn’t completely bummed as I knew I would see these.  The drive was just beautiful, the long grass was flowing in the wind, the horses were just playing… It’s exactly how I dreamt the mid-west and these grasslands would be like.

The hike today was an easy 4.75 miles, full of wild flowers, clear blue sky, slight breeze, beautiful long grass swaying back and forth, buttes and just sigh – wonder.  Gladly, not getting the job was the last thing on my mind.  I was just so grateful to be at peace with this wonderful world and be in the moment and feel just content with my life, it was great.  Helped me to realize things are going to be fine as long as I believe they will.  My dear friend told me, just think of what you want to do or what you want your life to be like and send it to the universe everyday and it will happen.  I have heard that many times before and I always thought – wow it would be great if I knew what I wanted my life to be like.  And then I look out to these fields and sigh, I wanted to be right here for years and look where I was, I was right here feeling happy.

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After the hike, we drove through Cheyenne downtown, it was  small and pretty deserted.  There was a festival to celebrate Hispanics in Cheyenne and that is where I found most people.  We didn’t go, I decided I should probably head back to our camper, take a nap and redo my resume… My nap was awesome!

Tomorrow we leave to Hot Springs, South Dakota, a 4hr drive.

Love you,
Me

North Platte, Nebraska

Hello

Well tonight was interesting… I left Wichita today after a wonderful visit with my college mate from Pepperdine, after seven (7) long grueling hours, I made it here.  Sofie was a champ, seriously – it is like she knows driving days…

We arrived to this lovely RV Park right off the I-80.  It is surprisingly quiet right off the lake.  Since it took me a while to get here I was not paying too much attention to what was around me – like the bugs feasting on me until I smacked one and saw that there were 3 others on my legs – HOLY CRAP – this will not be as fun.  After almost tripping while setting up, I knew I needed a break, so I looked at my email and read from the interview hiring manager that they are passing on me and wished me luck on my career endeavors… As much as that really sucked to read, there were many emotions that I was going through, I just had to keep setting up camp!

As the bugs were still attacking me, I built a fire and looked at the trees, knowing that just that beautiful gesture of the leaves moving and the sun setting sparkling, I know it will be ok.

The next day I had hoped to fish and relax at the RV Park, however the mosquitoes had another plan for me.  It didn’t matter that I was putting on three different kinds of spray, they just kept coming.  Even Sofie was annoyed with them.

So in the morning we decided to check out what North Platte had to offer.  It was actually kinda cool, we went to Buffalo Bill Cody’s Historic State Park and took a walk through the grounds, saw the stables where carriages are now stored.

It was great to see the tall grass moving in the wind so peaceful and calming it was to see.

I have this weird fascination with buffalo and there were two on the grounds, one was just eating away minding his own business and I was trying to get a close up of him, he was beautiful, about huge tall and really heavy and brown (I know, amazing description) – he was awesome.  After checking on Sofie she was just minding her own business not caring, eating grass.. So I inched a little closer to the fence and a little closer to where I was about 10 ft from the buffalo. He was watching me the whole time, knowing I was protected by a fence I thought I was good…

IMG_3031Until I looked down at part of the fence and it looked like it was “repaired”… At that point, the buffalo started walking towards me, slowly still eating the grass… That is when Sofie decided to look up and see that this huge buffalo was walking towards us.  I am of course, still trying to get a good photo when Sofie hunches down and starts barking, and barking… I am walking away at this point pulling Sofie as the buffalo looked annoyed… after finally getting about 50 feet from him, Sofie stops barking and sits and licks my legs like she was saying: “I showed him… he can’t mess with me”… LOL

 

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As she was a bit pumped up, I decided to head out.  Then while driving, I saw these beautiful horses just playing and rolling on their backs and living life.  I wanted a picture however couldn’t get Sofie to be quiet.  The good thing about that barking as that the horses stood completely still and looking at me. 🙂

After the joys of listening to Sofie bark, we went to the Union Pacific Bailey Yard, the largest railroad classification yard in the WORLD!!!  It was really impressive looking, they let me bring Sofie up the elevator into the look out, the elevator ride was funny to watch Sofie not know what was going on then she didn’t to get back in when it was time to go down.  Pulling her in, she was able to face her fears she never knew she had :)…

I love the industrial parts to trains and was able to hopefully get some good ones as I would like to add it as a collection to my hallway photos.

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Since that was about all you can do in North Platte, we headed back to the RV Park where we had the AC on and took naps.

Onto Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Always,
Me

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hey there,

I know it has been way too long and I have no real excuse… I am here now and though I will be writing in the past of how great Oklahoma City was, I am so glad I visited.  When I left Dallas with a heavy heart for leaving Shannon and Robert, I was ready to continue on this journey.  I used to think that it was a journey to see who I am, now I think back and I know who I am, that isn’t a huge mystery… I have been alive long enough that if I don’t know by now, I’d be in trouble.  So after realizing this isn’t a self discovery trip, I am trying tonight to figure out what is it I am trying to find… I’ll get back to that another day…

So, Oklahoma City… Wow, hot and humid… that was my first impression, then I met the owner of the place the next morning… He and his friend had quite a sense of humor – dry and sarcastic.  Those who know me, I am pretty slow… Well, really slow… Every blue moon, I actually get the jokes, most of the time it just goes over my head. This morning was the blue moon morning. When I told them I admired their buffalo head in the office area they asked if I need to go to the rest room… Of course, I said no and they said – no really – you need to go… I found the other (back half) of the poor buffalo….

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After chatting a while, they mentioned a couple places I would be able to bring Sofie with and I was off…

After finding this really cool walking path park for Sofie and meeting some great co-walkers, I made myself back to camp to make breakfast.  It was about 11 and it was already pushing 90 with 50% humidity.  I was determined to see this art festival they raved about on-line – Sofie was so hot, she pretty much went from tented area to tented area.. I tried to get her to drink water, she is way too spoiled cause unless it was bottled and from my hand, she wouldn’t drink it…  Therefore, she went thirsty… Kidding, she eventually started drinking from the provided water bowls provided by the vendors.  She was loved and in case you didn’t know, she is beautiful… One vendor actually thanked me cause until Sofie was there, no one was checking out their art… LOL

After that, I dragged Sofie to a couple more places, and she obliged as long as she was in the shade and people were adoring her… Dramatic – I have no idea where she gets that from.

The next day, I set off to another dog park which had access to a lake for the dogs… She loved it, she was soaking wet and happy.

After we went to the 45th Infantry Museum to see the planes and tanks, I loved it.

 

After, we went to the mural to commemorate the Longest Run. She loved it, the statues were 6ft tall and a horse was “fallen” she started barking at it… LOL

After that, we spent an hour in Bass Pro Shop to cool off, where I bought some tank tops as I was getting a serious farmer tan… Then we went to see the memorial from the bombing in Oklahoma City, that was very somber – you could feel the weight of what happened and how that area will never be the same.  Sofie was calm, not getting on the grass and just sat there when I said a prayer, like she knew.

Finally we headed back to the RV Park where they raised buffalo. We had been visiting them every morning, Sofie not caring and I am completely in awe of them.  I loved looking at them as they watched me, noticing something different, I noticed two new buffalo calfs… WOW – they were just hours old. How amazing the creation of life. I tried explaining this to Sofie, she looked at me and just started eating the grass… That is when I realized, I seriously need someone else to talk to… As our walk finished like every night I am in final awe of Oklahoma City as they provided me with fire fly entertainment every night.  Man, seeing them at Shannon’s was amazing and now seeing them here every night as I walk this puppy… I smile and thank God and feel blessed that I can see such easy thing like fire flies and be grateful to be here.

Tomorrow I visit Michael, friend from Pepperdine years, in Wichita, KS for a couple days.

Love you and am grateful I am still on this adventure, whatever this adventure is supposed to do.

me

Taos, New Mexico

Hey there

Note to self: when you are looking for a place to stay, read all the mumbo-jumbo the website says, then only believe about 1/2 of it.  Also, when a place says “rustic gem” – move on!

This RV park is nice, just not exactly what is really advertised.  This is what I have learned:  when they say: free WIFI = (then mean) WIFI only works in the front of the office, no service (WIFI or cell service) anywhere else; lake on premises = tiny pond; showers, restrooms and laundry = closed for the season; abundance of shade and trees = only on 7 of 41 sites (not my site); nature trail for many different hikes = one path behind peoples camping sites to the edge of the property and a big hill (maybe total of 150m); fire-pits on sites = one fire-pit for all to use on site 34 (I am at 35), helpful park host = old guy, in a chair scratching his belly through a dirty white shirt with maybe 3 teeth total in his mouth, telling me to look at the map where your site is and drive to it.  etc etc…  So when I say “this RV park is nice” = (I mean)  there is no way am I staying here two nights.  Even though I normally just go hiking around to see what beauty is around me, I just am not feeling this one.

Maybe I have stayed at so many nice ones that the less than par ones are not good enough, the funny part is, the nicer ones cost just as much as these not so nice ones… I think that is what irritates me, they can charge the same amount, list the amenities however the difference between them are like night and day.

After I parked, we drove into Taos, it’s definitely an art scene kind of place. If you love art and like going into galleries, this is a great place for you.  Not so much for me or Sofie, then I thought, maybe I can get some good Mexican food here, most places don’t accept dogs in their patio and the ones that do are closed.

All in all, I am just not giving enough justice to this place, so I am just going to pass through…

At first, when I was writing this, I thought this is my official first bad day on this trip. I mean just trying to sit here: I stubbed my toe; hit Sofie’s water bowl and dropped it all over the floor; the sun is beaming so hot that I put the AC on; noticed that part of the seat frame is coming off and have to figure out how to screw it back in (will do that at Shannon’s).  Now a couple hours later, I sit and watch Sofie laying on my bed looking so comfortable, I think this was just a day to stop and reflect.  I am can read my book that I keep getting interrupted with or maybe take a nap with Sofie.

I usually don’t try so hard to have everything go right, and yesterday was my panic day with the whole toilet debacle, so today just has to be a – just breathe and let the world be.  I don’t like wishing days away, I mean the drive up here was incredible,  I can see why people love driving through Carson National Forest, it was just beautiful. The farms and rolling hills – amazing.  So no, today isn’t my official bad day, I now think there are no bad days… What is bad, really? Bad is so subjective (and really every adjective I can think of is subjective – pretty, beautiful, ugly, enormous, etc…), its classifying a whole day in a box when really there is no box just experiences and opportunities.  Maybe those are just days where you have to recognize and say: “this is the kind of day to: let go, breathe and be thankful for what I have.  I am blessed and not everyone has my gumption!”

Night

me