The 2018 “Where’s Waldo” Summer Tour (Part III . . . “The Rest of the Story”)

We left off with The 2018 “Where’s Waldo” Summer Tour (Part II) after attending our niece Abby’s wedding to Blake in Bozeman, MT so it was now time to turn this tour around and head east to Wyoming.  Back across Montana we headed with another overnight in Hardin, MT ( and nope didn’t do any ladder climbing that night).  Our destination in Wyoming was Devils Tower.  Neither Lisa or I had ever been there before so we figured as long as we were this close we’d stop and check it out.

Traveling through Colorado, parts of Wyoming and parts of Montana we encountered quite a few “steep grades”.  6 and 7% and even a few a bit steeper both going up and going down.  By now I figured we’d be about through with these but once off the freeway on the small road leading to Devils Tower Lo and Behold here we go again . . . up . . . down and even up and down around curves.  I don’t really have any problems driving these but I will say it’s not my favorite type of a drive day in Waldo.  Finally we reached Devils Tower where we’d be staying a week.  We were staying at the Devils Tower KOA at the base of the tower.  We got there late in the afternoon and by the time we got setup the sun was just reaching the summit of the tower.

Next morning I took this picture to show where we stayed in relation to Devils Tower.

There isn’t much around Devils Tower except the National Park, Devils Tower Trading Post and the Devils Tower KOA.

There is a town Hulett, WY about 10 miles to the north and another . . . Moorcroft, WY about 30 miles to the southwest.  Luckily we had stocked up on everything we would need so we didn’t have to venture far through the week.  Lisa was going to work through most the week and we would do exploring in the late afternoon.  I did my walks through the park which I found to be larger then expected so a few laps around gave me 6-7 miles.  Here are some pictures from around the KOA park . . . and naturally a few of “The Rock”.

One day I saw a fox skillfully making it’s way along the ledge under the rock overhangs.  Unfortunately I didn’t get it’s picture 🙁 .

At the far end of the park KOA has some tipis (teepees) you can stay in if you’re wanting to experience how the natives lived.

One evening we wandered over to the Devils Tower Trading Post hoping there may be a restaurant for dinner but pretty much a high end “Rubber Snake” store with an ice cream shop.  We did get a couple of items . . . Lisa, a Devils Tower charm and I a hat 🙂 .   Outside around the store there were all kinds of posters . . . here’s one of my favorite.


Another evening while sitting outside having a beer I heard this commotion from just a few sites away.  I walked out into our lane and here’s this Ass running straight for me . . . just before he got to me he swerved off into someone else’s site bellowing  . . . “I bet you can’t catch me”!!!!

Now that’s a real Asses ASS for ya!!!  🙂 .

Lisa took a half day off so we could go up to the National Park.  I have a  lifetime “Senior” Pass for national parks I got a few years ago for only $10 . . . as of 2017 the price is now $80.  Both Lisa and I get into national parks with it.

“Scientists debate how Devil’s Tower was formed, but agree that about 65 million years ago, molten lava was forced into existing hard rock formations, cooling and eroding over millions of years into this striking formation that stands 1,267 feet above the landscape. The site is sacred to the Lakota people and many other Plains Tribes, and President Theodore Roosevelt declared it the nation’s first national monument in 1906. The name Devil’s Tower originated in 1875 during an expedition led by Colonel Richard Irving Dodge, when his interpreter reportedly misinterpreted a native name to mean “Bad God’s Tower.  Native American names for the Tower include: “Bear’s House” or “Bear’s Lodge” (or “Bear’s Tipi”, “Home of the Bear”, “Bear’s Lair”, “Home of Bears”), “Aloft on a Rock”, “Tree Rock”, “Brown Buffalo Horn” to name a few.”

Our first stop was the visitor center and the Devils Tower Natural History  Bookstore.  Here is where we learned all the Tower facts related above and we also ran into something from out of this world . . .

From the Visitors Center we walked the trail up to the “Rock”.

One of the first things you notice are the vertical marks on the tower. “According to the Native American tribes of the Kiowa and Lakota, a group of girls went out to play and were spotted by several giant bears, who began to chase them.  In an effort to escape the bears, the girls climbed atop a rock, fell to their knees, and prayed to the Great Spirit to save them.  Hearing their prayers, the Great Spirit made the rock rise from the ground towards the heavens so that the bears could not reach the girls.  The bears, in an effort to climb the rock, left deep claw marks in the sides, which had become too steep to climb leaving the marks which appear today.  When the girls reached the sky, they were turned into the stars of the Pleiades.”  The Cheyenne and the Sioux have similar versions of the story.

To get the feel for how large this “Rock” is here is a picture of a person in the boulder field (and if you look close in the above picture you can see a little white “speck” which is another person).

There is a trail that encircles the tower so off we went.  The tower has very different looks from each side . . . all are very impressive.

The view overlooking the valley below is quite awesome.

Along the trail walk we came upon some “tower climbers” . . . this gives another perspective of the size of the tower.

As we went along the trail we came across many colored cloths hanging or tied to trees and we wondered what these were for.  When we got back to the Visitors Center we inquired about them and were told many tribes still utilize the park for traditional ceremonies.  The cloths are prayer cloths and prayer bundles. These represent a tangible connection which native peoples still maintain with this area.

It was a very fun and informative afternoon and now we can say we’ve seen Devils Tower from all sides.

Finally our week here was up and now that we have “Rocked” out as much as we cared it was time to continue the tour.  Heading east again through the Black Hills we crossed into South Dakota where we had an overnight at the KOA in Kennebec, SD.  We were heading to Minnesota to see family and friends.  Next morning off we went . . . had expected some windy travel through SD but to my pleasant surprise smooth sailing . . . if any wind we had a tail wind – got to love that.  Hadn’t been back to Minnesota for almost two years so we were excited about getting there.   We had planned on staying an overnight in Jackson, MN before getting to Mystic Lake where we would base our MN stay.  We crossed the MN border before 1 pm and were only 40 miles from Jackson so we decided to call Mystic Lake campground to see if we could arrive a day early . . . no problem, so we drove straight through . . . the longest one day drive of the tour . . . over 400 miles (which is a long day for me).

We were to be in Minnesota for three weeks and stay at Dakotah Meadows RV Park which is part of the Mystic Lake Casino.

We stay here every time we come to MN and used to come here when we lived in MN for a long weekend getaway with our truck campers.  Here was also the first place we stayed in our first Class A motor home (Shorty) and where we stayed our first few weeks after selling the house and going Full-Time.  Here is a picture of Shorty at Mystic Lake during those first couple of weeks of “Livin’ the Dream”.  Shorty seemed plenty large enough for life on the road to us after having truck campers for many years . . . unfortunately Shorty lasted only four months before we upgraded and went larger.

We are now in our 3rd Class A motor home . . . #1 was “Shorty” a 26 ft. Winnebago . . . #2 was “Homey” a 33 ft. Itasca and now “Waldo” a 38 ft. Tiffin Open Road.  Here are pics of “Homey” and “Waldo” at Dakotah Meadows/Mystic Lake . . . “Homey” . . .

And now “Waldo” . . .

Well, I digress . . . back to “the Tour” now in MN.  Lisa would be working most of the time through the weeks we were here but we got out and about as much as we could on the weekends and had lots of visitors at the park.   Unfortunately, I didn’t take hardly any pictures while we were here . . . guess I have lots of pics from the same places from the past but I wish I wasn’t having so much fun when we visited with friends and family to remember to get pictures of everyone 🙁 .

After we settled in we gave a couple of old friends, Dick and Debbie a call after we were set-up and they wanted to come visit right away.  They arrived about an hour later.  We had a few beers and visited for a while then went up to the casino to the buffet for dinner and played a few slots.  It was great seeing them and had a fun time.  Another couple of early visitors were Lisa’s sister Rose and her boyfriend Rob.  Again we had a few beers and went up to the casino for something to eat and more slots.  Great seeing them too . . . we would be seeing them again later in our stay.

About a month before we arrived in MN my step-daughter Jessica made us grandparents again with a precious little girl . . . Ruby Marie.  So first chance I got I went to meet the little princess.  What a cutie!!!!

I would get to visit Jessica and Ruby a number of times while we were there . . . what a joy!!  Most of the times I saw her she had her eyes closed . . . but here’s one with the little Angel wide eyed.

During the first week after a visit with Jessica and Baby Ruby I took a drive over to the new Nestle office to see some former colleagues.  It’s been 6 years now since I’ve retired and I visit each time we come to MN but I hadn’t been back for two years.  I couldn’t believe the receptionist (who came after I retired) remembered me.  She called Kong and directed me back to IT ( I seem to remember something about IT 🙂 ).  I visited with Kong and Chris for a while and then went wandering around.  I met up with many of my old colleagues and friends, Sue, Lu, Carolyn, Bruce, Rhonda, Julie, Julie, Marilyn, Marilyn, Terri, Courtney, Jeff, Theresa, Deb, Cindy, Mike . . . not sure If I remember everyone I saw . . . sorry if I missed you.  I would come back for another visit before we left.  It was great seeing y’all!!

Our first weekend we had made an appointment with Dr. Dan . . . our MN vet for pawdicures for “the Kids” and to have a short visit with Dr. Dan and MC.  Always fun talking with Dr. Dan, he is such a card and doing a bit of catch up with MC.  We had fun . . . maybe not “the Kids” . . . even though it was only for a pawdicure any vet isn’t their version of fun.  From there we headed to our old hometown of Rockford to visit with our old neighbors Jim and Deb.  It was an impromptu visit and unfortunately they were not at home.  Did get the chance to stop by “Jim’s Produce” (different Jim) to get some “Fresh” sweet corn. . . the best in the world.

The next day was a family get together for Lisa’s family at her niece Sarah’s house.  She lives only about 5 miles from where we were staying so we got there a bit early.  When we arrived there was Sarah and her husband Matt and their two girls Layla and Evie . . . my the girls have grown.  Rose and Rob were there too along with Rob’s Mom so we helped with setting up chairs and stuff.  Soon everybody starting showing up and in no time almost all the family were there.  There was lots of food and assortment of beverages . . . no horseshoes this time but many spent a lot of time playing cornhole.  We had a great time and it was wonderful to see everyone!

Lisa took a day off so we could go to “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” . . . the Minnesota State Fair.  It is the largest state fair in the United States by average daily attendance.  It is also the second-largest state fair in the United States by total attendance, trailing only the State Fair of Texas, which generally runs twice as long as the Minnesota State Fair.

Naturally our first stop was for Lisa’s “Pronto-Pups” and then one of my favorites “Big Fat Bacon”.

It was a pretty nice day for the fair . . . no rain, not too hot and a mild breeze.  So we wandered around through the Grandstand and down to West End Market, the International Bazaar and even through a few of the animal barns.

We had a pretty fun day but before we left I needed a “Pork Chop on a Stick”.

Well, being our feet were tired and we had had our share of “Fair Food” it was time to head back to Waldo and “the Kids”.  Thanks MN State Fair . . . maybe we’ll be back next year!?!

On another day we had our “Boat trip” with the Morkers . . . David, Stephanie and Benjamin.  Every year we visit MN we have our “Boat trip” around Lake Minnetonka and eats at Lord Fletcher’s on the Lake.  Here is a view of Lake Minnetonka from the CōV  Wayzata while we waited for the MS MÖRKER to arrive.

And another of us all at Lord Fletcher’s.

After lunch we boated around the lake this year with Benjamin as the Capt.  As usual we had a great time.  Thank you very much  . . . hope to see you here in Ft. Myers Beach this winter.

One evening our step kids Bill and Rachel and Jessica and grandkids Hailiey, Brayden and the newest Ruby came to visit.   I haven’t seen Hailiey and Brayden since the summer before and was just amazed how much they have grown . . . especially Hailiey . . . she is almost as tall as her dad.  Some other good friends came to visit that evening too . . . Tim and Mona, they had wanted to meet the newest member of the family . . . Baby Ruby.  Tim and Mona had brought some Rainbow trout they had caught while on vacation at Trout Lake Resort.  For numerous years we have all spent many a fun time at Trout Lake Resort on the Gunflint Trail.  After we all visited for a while all the kids went to the casino for the buffet while Tim and Mona fried up the trout for us.  It was a great meal . . . sure do miss those times at Trout Lake and those delicious little devils.  After the kids came back we visited for while and had a great time!  It was a work day for Bill and may have been 1st day of school for the kids so they had to leave a bit before Tim and Mona.  It was wonderful seeing them all again!!

One Sunday we had a visit from my sister Sue and her daughter Julie and her husband Pat.  They came in the morning since they had a previous engagement with Pat’s parents that afternoon.  They’d never seen Waldo before so they got the “30 second tour”.  They were all interested in our life on the road so we had fun explaining “how we roll” and where we’ve been and our winter life at Gulf Waters in Ft. Myers Beach.  Gave them the first hand scuttle on Abby and Blakes’s wedding and how Doug, Fred and family were doing.  Even though it was now only around noon Pat and I cracked open a beer and chugged a toast!   We had a great time catching up with them . . . come see us this winter 🙂 .

Another afternoon my cousins Pam and Kim stopped by for a visit.  They always make a point of coming to see us when we are in MN and I always look forward to their visit.  We had a fun time catching up and reminiscing.  Thanks for stopping by . . . it was great to see you two!!

One afternoon we took the casino bus to the MN Renaissance Fair.  We hadn’t been there for many years and thought it might be fun and something different.  It was a pretty warm day ( one of the few we had on this visit to MN 🙁 ) and the bus was late (very) so standing in line for about an hour and a half wasn’t much fun.  Finally it came and off we went.  Once we got there I remembered why we haven’t been back for so long . . . I am not much of a “Renaissance Man” 🙂  but off we went checking out all the shops and the weird get-ups.

Here’s me waiting in line for a Turkey Leg.

We managed to stick it out for 2-3 hours before we’d had our fill of the heat and the dust and went to catch the bus back to the casino . . . well it was something to do and I guess it was better than just sitting at home.

On the Thursday evening before we left our former neighbors from Rockford . . . Jim and Deb got a chance to come by.   Lisa hauled out her karaoke gear and Lisa, Jim and I (mostly Lisa and Jim) sang a bunch of songs much to the delight of some of our park neighbors who came over and joined the fun.  We cooked up some burgers and dogs and some wonderful sweetcorn they had brought from Jim’s Produce in Rockford (Home of the Best sweetcorn ever!!).  After we were all sung out it was time for Jim and Deb to leave.  Had a great time guys, can’t wait to do it again . . . maybe come visit in Ft. Myers Beach 🙂 .

Our last evening we had more visitors . . . my sister Deb (who we saw in MT the previous month) and our nephew Colin.  Also that evening another pair of old friends came by . . . Phil and Marla.  After a few beers and catching up we all went to the casino for dinner.  This time we went to The Meadows Bar and Grille in the casino.  It was great catching up with Colin and visiting with Deb and always great seeing Phil and Marla . . . Thanks for the good time guys!!

Well, that pretty much sums up our visit to Minnesota.  We got to see a lot of friends and family unfortunately there’s never enough time to see everyone we’d like to for one reason or another.  Sorry we missed anyone but maybe a visit to Ft. Myers Beach this winter is in the cards or we’ll see ya next visit.

So after three weeks in MN it was time to head south.  Thank you everyone for a wonderful visit!!  Usually it takes us a few weeks to get back to Florida being we generally travel on the weekends while Lisa works in one place during the week.  But this year Lisa was chompin’ at the bit to get “Home” and directed the chauffer (me) to make a bee line to Gulf Waters.  Well, a bee line for me is still about a week driving every day.  We had still been having problems with the rearview camera all the way here to MN but I thought I would try one last thing while here and ordered a new camera from Tiffin.  If this didn’t work we’d be stopping at the Tiffin factory in Red Bay, AL.  We left MN on the 8th of Sept. hoping to get to Ft. Myers Beach by the 15th depending on the camera and hurricane situations in FL.  All our stops to Florida would just be overnights.  First was in Des Moines, IA.  Next day we made Kansas City and stayed at Tessy’s favorite place “World of Fun Village” with the roller coaster.  From there we stopped in St. Charles, MO just west of St. Louis and next day on to West Memphis, AR where we stayed for a second time at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park right on the Mississippi.

Next morning (Wednesday) we were off again.  This day we would be going close by Red Bay, AL and Tiffin so we would have to make the decision on whether to stop or not.  Well since leaving MN we had no issues with the camera so that decision was an easy one and by that evening we made Birmingham, AL.  The hurricane situation was looking pretty good too except for a small disturbance off the Mexico coast so onward Ho and by Thursday evening we had made the FL panhandle.  With one more overnight in FL (Wildwood) before getting back to Gulf Waters in Ft. Myers Beach it was looking good to make it by Saturday the 15th and come Saturday afternoon the 2018 “Where’s Waldo” Summer Tour successfully came to an end . . . Home again, Home again 🙂 .

For a little over 3 1/2 months “The 2018 “Where’s Waldo” Summer Tour” took us through  14 states and just over 6500 miles.  We had a great time and saw some new places and got time to visit with many family and friends.  Here is our route from the tour . . .

Oh BTW . . . that “Little disturbance” off the Mexico coast turned into Hurricane Michael.  Thankfully it went by a  hundred or so miles to the west of us.

So now we are all settled in for our long “Winter Stay” back “Home” at Gulf Waters.

Already we have had a few parties . . . Halloween at the Tiki Bar with Lisa singing and the Welcome Back Dance.  Here are a few pics from the Halloween party (a few may be blurry . . . but a few of us may have been too) 🙂 .

Let the “Season” Begin!!!   Thanks for following us on our 2018 “Where’s Waldo” Summer Tour.  I think I have cashed in most everyone’s “Waldo Star” for guessing where we were through the summer but if I haven’t come see me at the Tiki Bar!