Wednesday, July 28, 2010

10th and 11th State Paddles – South and North Dakota. Both on the same day (July 28, 2010). Yahoo!

7/28/10 - I just paddled across the Missouri River on Lake Oahe, at Mobridge, SD, near the Drive-IN theater where I put in early this morning.  This is just after I launched into the river.  I’m debating if I can paddle all the way over there.

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What a challenge.  Here’s the message I posted to the Vandweller’s Yahoo Group:


I'm so thrilled I could scream, but no one is here to hear me!!!!


God, this feels good. And I'm tired but happy. It was almost 4 miles.

Geez.... does it really get any better???


minnesota_ 004 I’m getting closer.

I started across the lake… and my shoulder was hurting a lot.  About halfway across my shoulder stopped hurting.


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I made it over there, can I get back to the van?  I’ve got to go back over to where that square thing is (a drive-in movie screen).  Getting closer and very tired.

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Back to van and loaded by 11am and it was hard to load the kayak… the stuff in Trailer has shifted.  I spent the day by the river and watched a lovely sunset.

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Below is a message I sent to Vandweller friend, Mike:


I just freaking paddled across the Missouri River.  Found prehistoric fossils on the shoreline over there.   I am stoked.

I managed to transfer some funds to my checking account.  So, now if my kinfolk down here have written and want see me, I'll head toward Aberdeen.  If I haven't heard from them yet, I'll head up along the river to ND and find another paddle spot... Will play it by ear... the maps aren't telling me anything. 

I freaking just paddled across the dammed river/lake.

And back again.

Got to be an easier way to load this dammed kayak.  Stuff has shifted way to much in the trailer.  If I can see my family, I'll try to dump some junk on them.  Maybe even some rocks (who said that?)

I paddled across the freaking river!!!!!!



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7/28/10 – After that paddle I drove north on 1804 and crossed the SD/ND border and stopped at the first place on the Lake.  The guy there, directed me to the boat launch one mile farther north… Langlier’s Bay on Lake Oahe… the same lake/river I just paddled this morning.  I needed a softer paddle and this spot was perfect.

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OH, this is so awesome.  I just spend the afternoon paddling ND.   Smooth water, sweet quiet, fossils, petrified wood, agates, etc. in the shallow waters.  Two states in one day!  It did get better.

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The water was so clear and calm that I just pulled myself along with one had while I watched for chert, and other goodies.  What a great way to end a wonderful day of paddling.  Can you believe that water?

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I had not heard from any relatives regarding a visit to Aberdeen, so I'm on my way north on 1804 to I-94 and MN.  See you all next time around.  I really like the spot I found in North Dakota as I found petrified wood, fossils, agates, etc. so I'll be back to Langlier’s Bay.  I love that spot.  No bugs.  Beautiful water.  Fossils, petrified wood.  Few people.  Great great great, but not if you want to go to town daily.  Fantastic boondocking.  I've made a connection here.   Lewis and Clark camped here way back when.... and there was an Indian encampment across the bay on the north.   I want to go over there next time and look for artifacts.  I really love this place.  Wait til you see my stuff.

The drive from there to Bismarck, ND is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken.  My EVER is really big.  I hardly have words to describe the beauty I saw – pheasants, hawks with small birds chasing them, a redtail hawk, dragon flies, etc.   I think it might have been “You would have had to have been there” kinda thing… so judge for yourself.


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When I got to Bismarck, ND tried to do the "bragging' rights" thingy... when I discovered my inverter had bit the dust.  Boy oh boy.  First I checked all connections... nothing.  Then I checked all the outlets from the inverter, nothing.   Oh, shoot.  Just when I'm trying to tighten my belt... this.  Then, then... I realized my laptop was really low on power... not even enough time to ask questions of the tribe.  So I emailed Mike really quick and shut it down.  Now, breakfast for $1.68 (large coke and mcmuffin thingy).... at Subway in Wal-Mart, plugged into their power and charging.

What to do??? Find a Frye's??   Buy a what????   I think I need a bigger inverter.  Mine is 1200 or 1500????   I don't know, it's a number... and it's in the van????

Don't I have a 12v plug-in thingy for the laptop???  Where is it?  Exhausted from the two-state paddle today (boy was it good)... I tore the van up looking for it... nothing like that to be found... and now stuff is all over the place.  Shoot... go to sleep.  And I spotted the most amazing moonscape I’ve every seen… a totally black sky with the moon large and low in the sky and bright ORANGE.  To the left of the moon was a storm front coming in from the West… and the edges of the clouds were lit up by the moon.  A small sliver of the moon was shaded but hardly noticeably so.  Awesome.

So... figure the thing out and get back on the road, but first a shower and do my laundry.   Got back to the van and checked the inverter again... and it is working????  These mysteries drive me nuts (or is that a short putt?)

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SD and ND are done so it’s on to MN.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Missoula, MT to Wyoming

After a very anxious 10 days waiting of my next check (because I had to buy a new tire)… I AM finally leaving Missoula today.  I have severe allergic conjunctivitis in both eyes and I believe it is from something in the air in Missoula.  Came out of the doctor’s office yesterday (7/20/10), and was frightened by a bear.  I thought I was seeing things… as my eyes were so bad…

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All kidding aside, I ran to the van with an ice pack on my eye and grabbed my camera, because I think he is so wonderful.  The artist is Julie Pederson-Atkins of Billings, MT.  I like her other art too.

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My bargain of the month. $20 marked down to $10.  A twin cotton bedspread which I think will be very comfy on hot nights (that have a way of chilling down later, but not too much).  I love the bag too…  I got a twin size, though Wal-Mart still had queen and double.  I think the twin will fit the van better the the color will sure brighten things up.

7/21/10 - This morning my eyes were stuck shut… so am picking up the meds, seeing the Physical Therapist one more time for my shoulder and hitting the road.  I need fresh air.

I then headed toward Lovell, WY… and Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area at Horseshoe Bend.  Will probably take me a couple days to get there since I am leaving Missoula in late afternoon.  Will be going through Deer Lodge, near Anaconda, thru Butte, Bozeman, Livingston, Laurel and then south on Rt. 310 crossing into Wyoming.  I’m sure I’ll be stopping along the way to see stuff and most likely won’t get to Horseshoe Bend for at least two days.

BigHorn Canyon NRA, Horseshoe Bend

I left Missoula and only drove a couple hours before I began feeling sleepy.  The physical therapy was grueling… and I was in pain.  So much pain.  I had a very good physical therapist… and she took a lot of time to explain to me what was happening to my arm.  This situation I find myself in… evidentially, didn’t begin because of the last surgery or even the one before that.  She showed me that the muscles in my right shoulder and arm are rather seriously atrophied.  Long ago… maybe 18 years ago… I was sitting on one of those plastic lawn chairs, leaning back like one shouldn’t do… and a back leg broke off.  I landed mainly on my right elbow… and my tail bone.  The impact was so severe that it knocked me out.  It was really scary waking up after that. 

A Hard Lesson Learned: At the time I had no health insurance.  Then a number of years later, I was visiting my sister in Florida, sitting on another one of those dammed chairs, (no leaning back this time) when a back leg broke again and again, I landed on my right elbow.  Still no health insurance.  Well, what I learned today… it that it doesn’t take weeks of having your arm in a sling (like after surgery) for the muscles to begin to atrophy… only a day or so.  She showed me one exercise in the mirror… and I was shocked to see, even though my right arm is my dominant arm, my right shoulder it a whole lot smaller than my left.  Wow!  Who knew!  I was just totally flabbergasted.  So, the darned arm was already compromised before the van accident in 2006.  This wonderful therapist even told me today, to call her if I ever had any questions.  I have two sheets of exercises.  She showed me how to modify them for my van-living style and you betcha I’m going to stick to it with a vengeance.  It has been a very educational and rewarding day.  They were even kind enough to copy everything in my very new file there… so that I can carry it with me in case I need to see someone in another state along the way.  And the upshot of those two days of therapy and my one day of working out in-between is that I’m sore and tired.  Tonight’s rest out on the range where I can smell the ranch and the cattle nearby will be restorative.

The lesson???   NEVER turn down physical therapy if you doctors suggest you have it.  I thought my problems were from wearing a sling for a few weeks… but it only takes a couple days for muscles to begin to atrophy.  Keep moving folks.  Get out of that chair (you know who I am talking to!)

I put on a frozen lasagna in the RoadPro Oven… and headed East.  Got as far as Deer Lodge, saw a sign for the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, and decided to stop for the night.  One reason was, in another lifetime when I was a living history museum manager, I knew the then manager of the Grant-Kohrs Ranch. 

I was there on 7/21/10 for the night:,-112.7267&ll=46.412,-112.7267&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

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He no longer working there, still I thought I would enjoy the visit. Admission is free.  A horse-drawn wagon ride tour is only $5.00.  So, I’ll head over there first thing in the morning. 

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The second reason I stopped for the night is that the air seems clean and fresh here after a few rain showers, but looking ahead to the East, I can see the thick vale of smoke from the MT forest fires.  I don’t want to push on and then have to sleep in that air.  This is a good place to stop.  I’ve pulled over on a side street between McDonald’s and a restaurant.  The ranch was very near.  I heard thunder overhead and oh, my, how I can sleep with rain on my roof.

MT_WYO_2 022 Is it a bad sign when your tour wagon comes
complete with four cans of bug spray?

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The wife of the rancher had a screened in port built for her plants… and it was right off the dining room. The dining room was full of fresh plants.

MT_WYO_2 004As a former park interpreter, I always find it interesting to see new interpretive techniques.  There were uneven pavement in places and they were marked with animal foot prints… to draw peoples attention to the path. MT_WYO_2 002 Reproduction teepees

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And there are Rustic Rental Cabins that the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest rents out to the public under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.  They are historic representations of once-operating, fully staffed remote ranger stations, guard stations and mining camps.

While I was in the neighborhood, I also saw:

Old Prison Museum, 1106 Main St., 406-846-3111. Site of the Montana Territorial Prison. Kohrs served on the board of prison commissioners in the mid-1870's.

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Those are little bird houses that prisoners had made and mounted on the roof of the theater.

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The theater, built by prisoners.  A collection of weapons made by prisoners.  Our tour guide for the Prison Tour was actually a former guard at the prison.

Another interesting site there was the Automobile Museum which also had an automobile museum.  If you are really into old cars, this is a must see.  See next page.

So, enough site-seeing, on Eastward… for South Dakota and North Dakota Paddles.

Deer Lodge, MT Automobile Museum

If you love old automobiles, this is a MUST see.  I don’t know squat about them, but loved the old auto/camping photos there and the Burma Shave signs.

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Burma Shave signs preserved.

While the automobiles were interesting, I found the camping photos and displays even more interesting.  This is a 1933 Cozy Camp Pop-up Trailer… and you might be able to see the 1933 Ford wheels under the trailer.  “Quality and Comfort in one handy unit.”  The vehicle was on load from David S. Woodworth of Tehachapi, CA.

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Automobile Camping, circa 1923.  Automobile camping proliferated in 1he 1930s.  The photographs in this series were taken at a Deer Lodge “Tourist Camp” now occupied by a KOA Campground.

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Yellowstone National Park.  Not understanding the convenience of an automobile, an Army Captain complained, “What was the sense of whizzing past the beautiful scenery of the Yellowstone region when they could whiz about everywhere else?”  Courtesy Montana Historical Society.

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And some of the autos on exhibit:MT_WYO_2 071


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1974 Citi Car.  The most successful electric car from the standpoint of production quantity has been the Citi Car.  It was built in Florida.  The small two-passenger car had rather strange styling which now became typical of many small electrics.  Made of Cycolac Plastic, the Citi Car is quite boxy but with flat slope from the front bumper to the roof.  This car has a range of up to 50 miles between battery charges.  The batteries can be fully recharged 400 to 600 times.  Total production 608.  List price: $2,988.  This car is on loan to the Museum from the Robert Woodburn of Bozeman, MT.

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1968 Volkswagen Van.  The introduction of the van was an immediate hit with small businesses.  Variations soon evolved including a pickup, a double car camper, the Kombi, and the Microbus.  By the end of the first model production run in 1967, millions had been sold.  In 1968 the series 11 type 2 transporter was introduced with a full line of models from high top to double cab, to camper and Kombi.  With the all-round windows that made driving easier for viewing.  In the 1960s Americans, Australians, and New Zealanders discovered that touring Europe was fun and cheap.  The favorite mode of transportation was the VW Kombi van.  This car is on loan from Sherman Anderson of Deer Lodge, MT.

In 1965, my husband and I bought a VW van… and only had it one day when we totaled it.  I was one month pregnant with Chris, born April 1966.  I’ll have a photo and add it later.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.