Tuesday, July 20, 2010

9th State Kayaked – Wyoming – Big Horn Canyon Recreation Area


7/20 - I finally got my map mounted on my side door yesterday and wanted to share it with you. I have coveted this map since I first saw Bob's... and now I have one. Tee hee. Vandwellers can view it at:


Or, on Facebook...

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I am toying with the idea of buying one to send my baby-grandkids.  Nice way for them to keep track of Grannie, and learn geography too.  I think their parents would be into that – learning the states that is.  I’ve also begun sending Zoey state magnets.

Deer Lodge, MT - OMG... just had the best rainbow.



The sun came out and there is this giant double rainbow over my van.  SwankieWheels IS the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.   I just can't believe this... EVERY time I hit the road, I get a rainbow but this one is the best ever.  It did GET better TODAY.

Yeap, I have reverted to childhood... get to have friends who play with slingshots, walk the railroad tracks, play with little trucks and vans, have all kinds of neat toys, dream of finding treasures and actively go looking for them, like to sleep under the stars, play with their little doggies and kitties... fly kites, make fires, collect rocks.   How can it get any better?

Nope, it doesn't get any better than this. Never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up... and now realize... tee hee... I don't have to grow up.

My eyes are still bothering me - eye doctor in Missoula said I had severe allergic conjunctivitis... and gave me a 4th eye drop.  Not doing PT on my shoulder was a bad thing... and I ended up seeing a physical therapist in Missoula also.  She helped me better understand the atrophy in my right arm, gave me exercises to do... and off I went again.  It's hard to work past the pain enough to do the right exercises... but I’m working hard at it.

Of course, I had to get delayed by Deer Lodge, Anaconda and Crystal Park.  All cool places.

Sidetracked by Anaconda, MT.


Anaconda, MT – great little mining town turned tourist trap.  I think I could spend a week or more here just exploring the town, old mines, historic buildings, etc.

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L: The town park.  The tree in the center is the town Christmas tree.  They used to cut a new one down each year, and then they decided to plant one instead.

R: The visitor center/museum.  Inside a cool doll house, other exhibits, a community center/camp program, etc.  The Museum was closed when I was there.

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7/23/10 - Sidetracked by Crystal Park in Beaverhead National Forest. I spent four hours today digging for crystals at Crystal Park.  That was fun.  I wish there had been fewer bugs and my tools were handier.  I could not get to my rock stuff without unloading a lot from the trailer... and there were just too many bugs for that.  When I do get to a place I can do that I will move all my rock tools, screens, trowels, etc. to the rear of my van.  I know I will never stop stopping for rocks... so I'd best be prepared.  Also need to repair my mosquito net for my head... so it stays on better.  Yesterday I got about four or five large bites, probably horse or deer flies.  I hate them.  I didn’t get any photos, but did find a few crystals.

Look at the Satellite image of that hill… all dug up by humans in search of crystals.


7/24/10 – Stopped in route to Big Horn Canyon to see the Grey Cliff Prairie Dog Town… a disappointment.  Save your money ($3).  It’s a very short loop drive with two interpretive signs.  You will see more dogs on the road as you leave there and there are plenty if you are going to Devil’s Tower.

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There it is again… my favorite view… no one in front of me and no one behind me, so I must be going the right way.

Arrived at the Big Horn Canyon Recreation Area for my WY paddle.  Nice swimming area and I slept in the parking lot at the boat launch. 

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Went in very early the next morning and did my paddle and was out before others began to go in.

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7/25/10 - I kayaked Horseshoe Bend Lake today... 3 hrs (6am-9am) then left there at 10... and my shoulder hurt when I started then after awhile, not so much.  It was sore by the time I got back to shore.  Pictures speak for themselves.


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Nap time.

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L: two Western Grebes.            R: Looking back toward the campground.

WY_to_SD 203It was a very good paddle.  Could spend days out there and might sometime.


It seems Big Horn Canyon is a little known secret.  Not over crowded.  You can go camp along the shoreline about anyplace and you can burn the wood for campfires. The campground is free if you don’t have hookups.  And there is a mix from just a picnic table and fire ring to very fancy RV spots with patios and roof top shelters and wind fences. I thought it nice and even a place Vandwellers would enjoy gathering, maybe for a group paddle?  Nice amphitheater with Naturalist programs.  I enjoyed the program under an almost full moon.

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When I left there, I went rock collecting... and then I drove on Rt. 14A from there over the mountains to Sheridan WYO. Will try to see Devils Tower tomorrow and then head for Dakotas. I was exhausted, in a good kind of way. Wish that there had been free showers at the campground. Guess I'll have to hit the next truck stop.  Got to Sheridan  about 8pm - pooped.   (SwankieWheels did not like that drive – though it might have been o.k. without that hulking trailer on his butt) but it was a fabulously amazing and beautiful drive.

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The view looking back down the road I just came up.  And reaching the higher elevations I find snow… and an observatory.

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With the sheep herd splitting up on both sides of the highway, the Hungarian Komondor with the temperament of a bold, devoted, independent, self-sufficient guard dog, complete with its characteristic imposing strength, unusual and serviceable corded coat, and its general soundness and dignified bearing, stood beside the road trying to watch both groups.  He had been shorn for the summer.

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I stopped to check out the medicine wheel, but couldn’t detect it through the tall grasses… all I found were bugs biting me so I hightailed it back to the van.  Was cool to be up there with the snow though.

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L: That is snow behind the trees.   R: The road kept going up and up.

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Finally at the highest point on the road, Observation Point, 9,430 feet, and it took forever as I kept having to stop and let SwankieWheels cool off. 

“What is now U.S. 14A was originally a wagon track notched into the side of the mountain in about 1880. It was used until the 1920s, when Lovell businessmen began a volunteer labor effort to build an automobile road up from the crossing of Five Springs Creek. This route connected to the original U.S. 420 and U.S. 310 in late 1926, but work continued by hand well into the 1930s. After becoming part of mainline U.S. 14 in the late 1930s and Wyoming 14 during the 1940s and 1950s, U.S. 14A underwent a 20-year, $24 million construction effort that lasted from 1963 until June 24, 1983. U.S. 14A was commissioned at roughly the same time that this massive construction project began.“ (http://www.aaroads.com/west/us-014alt_wy.html)

If you will look at a map, you will see that Rt. 14 out of Big Horn Canyon… is very short on the map… going east to the other side.  But with all the twists and turns and ups and downs… it is probably four times the distance shown on the map.  

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7/26/10 – My first glimpse of Devils Tower – something I’ve always wanted to see.

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OK... have had a fantastic (not all good) day and tried to turn in at the base of Devil's Tower.  Well, if you don't know it was our first National Park.  Devils Tower was the first declared United States National Monument, established on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt. Wildlife is teaming.  I didn’t know you could climb it, so I’ll have to go back and do that after I get a little more fit.

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L: Campground    R: Can you spot the wild turkey?

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Do you see the deer?

Well, this was also the first night since I left Port Angeles... that the night temps were decent.  It was cool and for some reason, NO skeeters.  So I got in bed... fell asleep, only to be awakened by critter noise.  I had one of the rear doors opened all the way so I could gaze out at the almost-full Moon.  I sat up, leaned out and saw two raccoons run off.  I thought that was the end of it... but being nervous now, I pulled the door almost shut.  Again I almost dozed off when I heard more noise... I thought surely they wouldn't try to get in that little crack... I made lots of noise... and then tried to go to sleep again.

Darn... the noise continued even after I closed the rear door altogether.  I decided I need to move the van.  I started it up... and it sounded like there were a dozen of them trying to tear the roof vent off...  So I shone the LED light back there and by golly if two beady little eyes didn't shine back at me, from right under my bed. 

Oh Crap!  That's all I could think... but leaving the front van door opened... I went to the rear and opened it again... and then banged on that side of the van.  Then I took my light and gradually looked under the bed from outside, then carefully went inside and looked.  He was gone.

Great, now you think I'm going to sleep? I decided to leave the park and go park on the highway.  You know, it is quieter out on the highway than it was in the park near the campground.  I am still a little jumpy each time SwankieWheels moans and groans... but now the wind is picking up... the air is fresh... and I'm right were I can get some photos at first light and then get going.

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If I could string those all together if would show you a panoramic view of the Devil’s Tower at first light.  I don’t know who named it that but I’d like to rename it God’s Tower… because I thought this view was divine.

Next, off the South Dakota, #10 state, driving from Buffalo WY to SD on 7/25/10.   My route is: 90E to Spearfish, SD, then North on 85  to Rt. 212, then to 83 North to Mobridge area to kayak there... someplace.  Then I will go across the border into ND and kayak the same water for my #11th state.


  1. What's been happening? I'm checking on you, trust you're having too much fun to post!

  2. Who are you??? LG61820. Yes, I've been having too much fun to post... but will try to catch up this winter.


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.