Saturday, July 25, 2015

Landing in Lander

Lander, WY
We've finished our 3rd week here in Lander and have 1 more left to go. By this time next Saturday we'll be on our way to our next destination. Want to know where we're going next? Well you'll just have to read the next blog to find out!

We've had a great time here in Lander with a few more amenities than our last location. Lander has a population of over 7000, so there are a few more restaurants and shopping venues.

The first weekend Joan & I decided to ride the motorcycles to nearby Sink Canyon. Great biking road close to town, great pavement and spectacular scenery with some switchbacks up to the top of the mountains. We stopped at 2 overlooks on the way to the top, but ran into a small problem. When we got ready to leave the 2nd overlook Joan's bike wouldn't nothin! After trying several different things to see if I could identify the problem we determined that I would need to get the trailer to bring the bike home. Since we were up the mountain a couple miles Joan road my bike down to the base while I coasted down on hers. That's a pretty cool experience, just rolling down the mountain with no motor noise, just the wind in your face....don't worry, the brakes still work even without the motor. We parked her bike and rode double back to the campground, picked up a trailer with the jeep and returned to the bike. Dropped the bike off at a motorcycle shop and it was ready the next day.....bad battery. Usually I would replace the battery when it started acting up, or jumped it off; but the no lights, no ignition, no clicks, no nuthin' thing threw me off when I was trying to figure it out.

We took a day trip over to Teton National Park near Jackson, WY to see our friends and potential co-workers Dan & Jonelle of Liv2RV. They're working near Yellowstone this summer and considering trying out our job next year. Dave & Maxine went with us and we got to see Steve & Teresa  (co workers from our summer in Colorado 2013) and Al & Karen of Wish Upon an RV Star. We had a great time catching up and driving through Teton NP.

The nearby city of Riverton held their 35th Annual Balloon Fest the next weekend and Dave & Maxine joined us at 5:30am Saturday morning as we drove to see the 6:30am launch. About 13 different balloons were on hand, but strong winds and forecasted storms prevented the balloons from launching.

We continue to see many unusual things as we drive the BLM roads throughout our work areas.....

We think this was originally a dually truck; re-engineered into a hay bale forklift???

One of our teams utilize offroad motorbikes to access roads too narrow or challenging for our jeeps. At one stop in the middle of nowhere they stumbled across these unusual pliers....anyone have any idea exactly what kind of pliers they are? Or what they were used for?

Notice anything unusual about this picture?
I've driven cars, RVs and motorcycles for 44 years. The 1st 41 years driving in Florida and the southeastern US without a single windshield chip or crack. The last 3 years driving out west we've had 6 rock chips, including this one that required a windshield replacement.

And there are always the everyday challenges of driving off road...never saw this one coming, but we were almost at a dead stop when the front tire slipped off into this little washout...startled Joan when she looked out her window and said "It's 10 feet deep!" A little adrenaline there as it was only a couple feet deep.

Never fear, even with the right front and left rear tires off the ground, once we engaged the lockers Joan backed out of the hole as if we were on level pavement.

But these kind of problems are no big deal
considering the benefits of our job.....

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

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin', Keep Those Wheels a'Rollin!

Lander, Wyoming

That's right, we're no longer in Kaycee; rather we're in Lander, Wyoming after completing the Kaycee area last Saturday and relocating on Sunday. Only about a 3 hour drive and we expect to be here several weeks.

Kaycee had lots of adventure during the last few days...

....including a flat tire....and the culprit.....a drill bit....only about 1/2" of it stuck in between some treads, but it was enough to leak. After changing the tire and finishing the day, I experimented with my tire repair kit. I removed the drill bit from the tread; cleared/cleaned the damaged area with the tire awl/probe; and plugged the tire with the plug strips. Easier than I thought, and the plugged tire is back on the ground working without any leakage. Who knew....another skill to add to my resume.

We continued to route into higher elevations which provided us with great vistas...

We saw lots of wildlife while we were there....

a baby antelope trying to stay hidden
along one of our routes

Sage Grouse

We met several of the local ranchers including Troy. The first time we met Troy he was a little upset with us "Florida tourists that were opening gates, tearing up the roads and acting like we could go anywhere we wanted, including private property!" But after we explained who we were and what we were doing, he turned out to be real nice!

We found several abandoned vehicles...

..including this one. No bullet holes; seat springs still inside the frame; engine and transmission still in place!

And the rear differential was about 10' away, complete with wood spoke wheels!

I may have mentioned that Kaycee is a small town with a population of 263. The closest towns of any size were Buffalo (45 miles away) and Casper (75 miles away). So we did have occasion to visit the small general store located in Kaycee. While browsing the shelves on my first visit I realized just how different things are out here.....not everyone keeps their hand lotions on the shelf above the ammunition!

The next to the last weekend we were there we took a short trip over to South Dakota. Along our route we visited Devils Tower..

We stopped in at Crazy Horse to see some of the folks we worked with last year. While I was there one of my co-workers showed me the new informational sign board telling guests about the bus tour. What do you know.....they chose a picture of little ol' me at the base of Crazy Horse Mountain regaling my bus riders with tales about the carving! Check it out next time you're there.

Things were rolling along quite well our last week in Kaycee when all of a sudden, everything came to a stop....and Joan and I were stuck. Not in the mud, but in a washout on one of our routes. I never saw the deep rut in my track. I guess it just kind'a gave way when we drove over it.

My folding shovel came in real handy. And unlike the last time I used it in Canyonlands, I had gloves this time, so no blisters.

No damage to the jeep even though we were only inches off of the sidewall of the track.  About 30 minutes of digging to remove dirt from under both front and rear differentials, axels and the frame. But all's well that ends well, it's just part of the adventure!

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