Tag Archives: iPhoneography

Free Things to Do in Rapid City: Hiking to the Strato Bowl

Free Things to Do in Rapid City: Hiking to the Strato Bowl

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The Strato Bowl is the best of both worlds for us: Hiking for me, aviation for Mike. It was the such a fun Labor Day outing. We got some exercise, enjoyed incredible views and learned something new about aviation history.

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The Stratobowl is a small, flat valley completely surrounded by the Black Hills where some of the first early manned balloon flights were launched in the 1930s. In 1934 and 1935, the Army Air Corps and National Geographic Society launched manned balloon flights into the stratosphere from this location to a record 72,395 feet. The Explorer II flight proved man could survive the altitude in a pressurized capsule, an important part of the space program and our quest to walk on the moon. Since then, the Stratobowl has hosted aviation pioneers Ed Yost, Steve Fossett, Troy Bradley and others.

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The view is spectacular. There are few places where you will see such an interesting view including pine-covered hills, wide blue skies and the small stream that winds through that peculiar flat valley nestled between the Hills.

 

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Dogs are welcome on this  1.7-mile, moderately trafficked out-and-back trail. To get there, take Mount Rushmore Road into the Black Hills (16). Stay on 16 past Reptile Gardens and Bear Country USA. Just past the service station is a small parking area on the right-hand side (westbound), marked by powerlines.

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Free Things to Do in Rapid City: Storybook Island

Free Things to Do in Rapid City: Storybook Island

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We’ve been in Rapid City since the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Mike was doing some work at the Rally, and then we stayed to make repairs on our travel trailer. (More about that later!) Since our savings have been nearly exhausted with making repairs, we’ve been focused on fun, free things we can do in the area. And thankfully there’s a lot of that in Rapid City . . . especially if you ride the motorcycle to get there!

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Storybook Island is a super cool kids park that has a whole bunch of “sets” based on characters and locations found in children’s books. I was bummed to find out that we’d JUST missed their season when we got there (on September 17, 2016). The picnicking area is open all year long, but the theme park is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But I still managed to snap some pics through the chain link fence.

Check it out to get a flavor of this place that’s perfect for the young and the young-at-heart.

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Taco Tuesday at the Sail Inn

Taco Tuesday at the Sail Inn

TacoTuesday3SailInn

Havasu Landing doesn’t have a lot going on. Unless you count the small casino. (If you want serious action, take the ferry to Lake Havasu, Arizona.)

So Taco Tuesday at the Sail Inn is a big deal. In fact, the Sail Inn is a big deal. This local bar/restaurant is one of only two in the area, with the other one being in the casino.

Every Tuesday, the Sail Inn serves up $1 tacos, and it’s best to get there early because the tables fill up fast.

These are pretty basic tacos, but they’re not bad, especially for the price. And there’s unlimited chips and salsa. Which is ALWAYS a good thing. Plus, you can walk there from your campsite—which is good if you’ve had one too many $2 margaritas.

TacoTuesdaySailInn

Milwaukee to Cedar Key in Instagrams

Milwaukee to Cedar Key in Instagrams

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

Before we left Milwaukee, probably for the last time this “season”, we had dinner with our good friends Larry and Maribeth at Mo’s Irish Pub. The company was awesome; the steamed veggies were crisp; and I was digging the light fixtures.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

In the morning before we left town, we stocked up at the grocery store so that we’d have healthy stuff and save money by not shopping at the truck stops.  We also popped into Hobby Town, so Mike could pick up something airsoft-related. I can’t keep track of all those gizmos!  At the checkout counter, I spotted these freaky snacks. If these are what the early bird gets, I think I’ll sleep in from now on!

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

It’s amazing how impressive a city’s skyline can be as you motor by in the RV.  The Chicago skyline was enchanting.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

It’s not every day that you see a dinosaur as you roll down the interstate!

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The Corvette is Mike’s favorite car, so we had to stop at The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. We didn’t buy the $10 per-person tix because we were meeting Stevi for lunch in Smyrna and didn’t have time to do the full tour. That meant that we didn’t get to see the sink hole either. The docent told us there was plexiglass around the hole so museum goers could see it, and apparently there’s a live webcam of the repairs.

 boondocking, Cedar Key, Chiefland, Florida, fresh-squeezed, Georgia, grapefruit juice, Instagram, iPhoneography, Milwaukee, orange juice, pecans, photography, Roadside America, roadside attraction, Sunset Isle, travel, Walmart, Wisconsin

One of the very best things about our RVing adventure is reconnecting with friends we haven’t seen in forever.  Mike worked with Brian at MMI; they were both instructors. But Mike hadn’t seen Brian and his wife Donna since 1997! So, after we had lunch with Stevi, we caught up with Brian, Donna and their grandson Bowe for a late dinner at the Montana Saloon & Grill in Talladega. I was delighted to meet them – such nice people! – and was sad when Donna had to take Bowe home since she had to be up early the next day. Thankfully, Brian was able to hang out for a while, and he and Mike visited over a couple of beers in the rig.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

No drive down I-75 in Georgia is complete without a stop at the World’s Largest Peanut. There’s a picnic table and plenty of grass to walk the bark babies. As a bonus, it’s right next to Carroll’s Sausage & Meats, which has an adjacent RV park.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

We knew we were outta the cold when we saw this orange-and-pecan stand in the parking lot of the Flying J at the Georgia/Florida border. We bought a bag of fresh oranges, a bag of homegrown raw pecans and a bag of pralines from Moses himself. $30 well spent!

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

Complimentary fresh-squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice at the Florida Welcome Center. We picked up a Sun Pass while we there to cover those pesky tolls that are so easy to miss when you’re driving.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

We arrived in Florida two days before our campground reservation. Sunset Isle in Cedar Key couldn’t squeeze us in, so we boondocked in the Walmart parking lot in Chiefland. We snagged a lovely spot next to the water. Practicing good boondocking etiquette, we asked management’s permission, didn’t put down our jacks or push out our slide. Feel free to send us a gold star!

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

Our boondocking parking lot not only had a Walmart but also a hair salon, a Radio Shack, a clothing boutique and a Mexican AND a Chinese restaurant. Viejo Amigo was a surprisingly charming eatery. It was the first time we’d been served a salsa carafe.

We’re super excited to move into our camp spot – with full hook-ups! – for a week. Bring on the famous Cedar Key sunsets!  But it sure has been a fun trip getting here.

Working at HDU

Working at HDU

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Mike has been a contract technical trainer at Harley-Davidson’s University for eight years, and he never tires of being on such hallowed ground. HDU is located at Harley’s corporate headquarters on Juneau Avenue. It’s the site where the first factory – a wooden shed – was built in 1903 in the backyard of the William C. Davidson family home. On a couple of occasions, when I’ve been traveling with Mike, he’s brought me there to see the classrooms where he teaches and meet the Harley staff he works with, many of whom he’s known for decades and are now good friends.

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I joined him there this past Friday. He had just finished up a four-day class the day before, and he was tidying things up. We brought our hotspot iPad, and Mike parked me in the third floor breakroom to do my work while he tied up loose ends.  With all the friends that stopped by, what should have taken just an hour or so ended up taking all day. It was a hoot! We ran into Becky in the Red Brick Cafe and saw the new Street bike all studded out for ice racing. Kathie, who handles admissions and scheduling for HDU, treated us to lunch at the cafe, and we chatted about social media and shared road stories. The Red Brick Cafe is awesome. Lots of great selections, including a salad bar and a pizza counter. The Margherita pizza I had was freshly made and only had 282 calories in the whole pie! Back in the breakroom on the third floor, longtime pal Anthony pulled up a chair, and he and Mike told stories of the bad old days. It might not have been the most productive day, but it sure was a good one!

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A walk through Memorial Park

A walk through Memorial Park

Memorial Park, Round Rock, Texas, dog walking, memorials, history, WWII, Vietnam, Brushy Creek, river walk, stairs, workout, outdoors, dogs, exercise,

We’re back in Milwaukee this week, in the middle of a snowstorm, so my jaunt through Memorial Park in Round Rock, Texas, a couple of weeks ago seems like a dream. Thank heavens for photographic evidence!

Memorial Park is home to the rock that gave Round Rock, Texas, its name.  The park is right off of I-35. Brushy Creek runs through the middle of it, and a pedestrian bridge under the highway connects both sides. There’s a playground on one side and the Sunset Strip apartment complex on the other. It’s a very pretty park although a little bit seedy.

Memorial Park, Round Rock, Texas, dog walking, memorials, history, WWII, Vietnam, Brushy Creek, river walk, stairs, workout, outdoors, dogs, exercise,

I stopped there with the dogs after I saw the park off the highway when I was dropping Mike off for work. I had no idea that the famous rock was there, so I missed it entirely. I guess I was close, though. From what I’ve read, if you want to see the rock, you need to walk over the low water crossing near the parking lot and go along the north side of the creek.

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I strolled in that direction but got sidetracked by the granite stadium stairs by the softball field. I just had to climb ’em! I did two sets with the dogs, but then Sadie refused to do any more. I wasn’t going to let our little diva hold me back, so I parked the bark babies in the Jeep and did another 13 sets for a total of 15.

Memorial Park, Round Rock, Texas, dog walking, memorials, history, WWII, Vietnam, Brushy Creek, river walk, stairs, workout, outdoors, dogs, exercise,

The rock isn’t the only cool piece of history in the park. There’s also a Vietnam War memorial and a commemorative WWII torpedo to honor Round Rock residents who fought on behalf of their town and country.

What a fun outing to remind me that there’s more to life than the deep freeze!

The Vineyards Campground (Grapevine, Texas)

The Vineyards Campground (Grapevine, Texas)

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

We stopped for a couple of days in Grapevine, Texas, to visit our friend Jim before heading to work in Waco.  The Vineyards Campground was lovely even in the bareness of winter. Our “gold” spot right on the lake was just $75 for a two-day stay, and it came with a complimentary wine tasting. A sweet perk! We had a spacious, circular pull-through site with full hook-ups and our own private deck overlooking the water.

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

We made good use of the complimentary Wi-Fi and cable, and our first day was warm enough that we gave the RV a much-needed bath.  Unfortunately, the temps dropped significantly after that so we didn’t get to enjoy the extensive amenities at the park:

  • Bicycle rentals
  • Boat ramp
  • Children’s playground
  • Courtesy docks
  • Regular activity programs
  • Family swim beach
  • Fishing pier
  • Golf cart rentals
  • Group pavilion
  • Horseshoe pit
  • Kayak rentals
  • Nature trail
  • Paddle boat rentals
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Disc Golf
  • Board games
  • Complimentary coffee/popcorn while supplies last each day

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

 campgrounds, full hook-ups, Grapevine, iPhoneography, photography, pull-throughs, rv parks, Texas, The Vineyards Campground, travel

A pack of geese roamed among the rigs every day, and I discovered that these birds can be aggressive!  As I was snapping pics of them with my iPhone, one came rushing toward me, necked extended, loud honks coming from it’s open beak.  I guess he wasn’t a fan of the paparazzi!

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Just another day at the office

Just another day at the office

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Harley-Davidson, penguin, statue, motorcycle, motorcycle gear, art, public art, biker

Mike’s technical training job takes us all over the country to a variety of Harley-Davidson dealerships.  He recently wrapped up a gig in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Myers-Duren.  It’s one of the oldest H-D dealerships, opened in 1914.

The custom-designed, art deco shop at 48th & Peoria has something unusual out front: a Biker Penguin.  The penguin sculptures scattered around town were a part of a 2002 fundraiser by the Tulsa Zoo, designed to draw attention to its Black-Footed Penguin exhibit.  The giant penguins were purchased for $3,500 or adopted for $2,500.  The original 100+ penguins have dwindled to around 50, and some are hidden away inside local shops to avoid vandalism.  So it’s a special treat to able to enjoy the Biker Penguin up close and personal.

Hanging with a one-of-a-kind, seven-foot Biker Penguin: just another day at the office for Mike!

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Donkey Tails

Donkey Tails

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If you’re ever in Historic Downtown Grapevine, Texas, be sure to stop for lunch at Tolbert’s on Main Street and have an order of Donkey Tails: two all-beef hot dogs, stuffed with cheddar cheese, wrapped in flour tortillas, lightly fried and served with Tolbert’s salsa and mustard sauce.  Yum-o!

Getting an early start

Getting an early start

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, RVing, boondocking, sunrise, sun coming up, early start, New Mexico

Although we try to take things at a fairly leisurely pace, some trips require long days of driving.  They can be exhausting.  We break things up by sharing the driving, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and stopping frequently to walk the bark babies and ourselves.  I also work on the laptop while we’re motoring along.

When the alarm goes off well before dawn, we often groan and grumble, especially if we haven’t had our caffeine yet.  🙂  But then, once we get rolling, we’re rewarded with glorious views as the sun rises in front of us.  It makes getting an early start worth it.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, RVing, boondocking, sunrise, sun coming up, early start, New Mexico