Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lions and Tigers and....No, That's Not It.....Horses and Eagles and Fox, Oh My!

Kaycee, Wyoming

Yep, we're in Wyoming! For those of you keeping count, that would be 6 cities in 3 states within the last 2 months! We were looking for variety when we took this job....and boy howdy, we are sure getting some.

We left Idaho last Saturday headed east towards Casper. From Casper we drove another 75 miles north to Kaycee, the adopted hometown of Chris LeDoux, World Champion Bareback Rodeo Rider, bronze sculptor and country music singer-song writer. This weekend is the annual Chris LeDoux Days Rodeo when the town's population will grow from 263 (2010) to about 9000.

Teton Mountains just outside of Jackson

On our drive from Idaho Falls we passed through an area known as Swan Valley as well as Jackson, Wyoming. This area has to be one of the most picturesque we've driven through in a long time.

As we were driving along US Hwy 26 east of Jackson we passed a sign for Luton's Teton Cabins. I called Joan on the radio and ask...."Isn't that where Al & Karen are working?" Yep!
Steve, Theresa, Joan, me, Karen & Al
We met Al & Karen Wish Upon an RV Star a couple of years ago just after we started full-timing. Joan had followed their blog for a while and we were still learning about the lifestyle. They were kind enough to let us pick their brains and learn what we could. So we just had to turn around to say Hello! And we got an additional bonus for stopping.....we got to see Steve & Teresa who we worked with in Colorado 2 years ago. They were working with Al & Karen this summer. We only got to visit for a few minutes as it was a workday for them, but it was good to see them again. And the surrounding scenery was really great.

Our home for the next few weeks will be KC RV Park & Horse Hotel. Yes, Horse Hotel. Says so right there on the sign. Nice park.

We left the park to head into town for supper one afternoon, but didn't get very far as the road was sheep! One of the local ranchers was moving his flock up the mountain to greener pastures.

And that wasn't the only road blockages we've experienced this week. Check it out.......

Sage Grouse & chicks

.....and more wildlife.....
Bald Eagles & Nest

Fox Kits

Pronghorn Antelope


...and the wildlife is not all....don't forget the scenery...

Joan keeps a sharp eye out while we're driving and it paid off big time Wednesday....she's accumulated 2 deer antler from folks we've met off-road, but now she has something she found all by elk antler

On two consecutive days we actually drove through a cattle drive. A couple of cowboys on horseback, some younger boys and men on ATVs driving a couple hundred head of cattle along the back roads. And we noticed a 5th wheel RV being being moved to different locations along the route. As we were finishing up one afternoon we saw one of the men's wife and 2 young children at the RV, so we stopped to chat. The drive was on day 5 of 12 as they were moving this herd over 100 miles to a grazing area near the middle fork of the Powder River. And once this drive was finished, they would take a few days off before moving another herd on a 9 day drive.

One downside to our new job....the jeep is a little bit dirtier than when we bought it...

...but it's all worth it!

Well, that's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Submarines In the Desert?

Arco, Idaho

The First City to be Lit by Atomic Power

There is quite a bit of history associated with this area. EBR1, Experimental Breeder Reactor #1 was built at the Idaho National Laboratory located just outside of town. Today the INL complex encompasses 900 square miles between Idaho Falls and Arco. This is where the first atomic reactors were built....a total of 52 altogether as they experimented with design. Today INL employs thousands of employees from local communities; even providing buses to transport them to their 'remote' location.

Conning Tower/Sail of
USS Hawkbill
This area was originally a Navy bombing range and chosen for development of nuclear reactors because of its remote location. Subsequently the 1st nuclear power plant for submarines was designed here. Work was started on a nuclear airplane, but it never got off the ground. There is a museum located on INL property and open to the public at the actual location where the 1st atomic reactor was built, EBR1. In the town of Arco there is a small museum and the 64-ton sail of a decommissioned nuclear sub. This sub was built to house the 1st nuclear power plant and made several trips under the polar ice caps. Joan's family research revealed she has a distant cousin that was a commander of this sub during one of its polar missions.

We've finished our 2nd week in Arco and it looks as though we have 1 week left in this area. The area between Idaho Falls and Arco is a large flat plain; with the exception of 3 large buttes. Last week we had opportunity to drive to the top of one of the buttes as part of our job. Big Southern Butte rises approximately 2500' above the plain. From some locations there are 360 degree views of the surrounding area.

Last weekend we took a short bike ride to the nearby town of Mackey for lunch. This weekend Joan wanted to drive back over to Mackey for their Farmer's Market. We took the jeep this time and while we were there we heard about a Mining Hill Tour. Mining began in this area back in the late 1800's when deposits of lead, zinc and copper were discovered near the top of an 8600' mountain peak. In 1902 a 36" railway line was built to transport ore 3 1/2 miles from the top of the mountain to a smelter/railway site located at the base of the mountain in Mackey.

Aerial Tramway Towers
32 towers were built to cover the 2600' descent
The railway started as an electric line, but a few years later a 30 ton coal fired engine was put into operation. The railway ran for 16 years before being replaced by an aerial tram line which reduced operational costs of moving ore to the base of the mountain by 80%. Production began to taper off in the 1920's and big time commercial operations ended during the depression.

This mine opening was on the Alberta level and extended over 4000' into the mountain connecting numerous shafts and levels within.

The drive up and around the mountain took us about
4 hours as we stopped to take pictures and view the various buildings, homes and mine sites, including the abandoned town of White Knob which had a population of over 1000 in the 1920's.

We decided to eat out at Pickle's Place one evening and just had to get a picture before we left.

The scenery up in the mountains west of Arco is spectacular. Enjoy the pics......

That's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come