Thursday, October 15

Back in Colorado

After a lot of talking back and forth between visiting Dee in Illinois or Lisa in Green River, UT, we chose Utah for economic reasons. Not only was it less miles to drive but it’s still within close proximity to the gas fields in Wyoming and Colorado, and we wanted to be in a good position when they finally kick back off. Plus we spent April last year in Utah and absolutely fell in love with the Canyonlands so not only would we get to explore the areas we missed, but this time I get to see Lisa, too. Win, win.

So as we’re at the gas station, literally filling up to head east to Colorado, Joey got a call asking him to come to Colorado to help out with a couple drilling station moves, lasting probably a couple of weeks. yee haw…can’t ask for much better than that. A slow, easy start back to work after a whole year off with a broken arm and leg, plus no set schedule.

We pulled over at The Truck Stop and consulted with the cows

Consulting with the Cows


Of course we were going to go, we just couldn’t believe we got the call….right when we really needed it. We just had to pull over to convince ourselves it was real. But…are we really going to go back to the mountain that almost killed him?? Yep!

We took the same route down from Rawlins as we did last week, but this time we stopped and had a roadside lunch, this time stopping at Fortification Rocks instead of just cruising by.

Roadside picnic @ Fortification Rocks

I couldn’t believe it when I saw a FOR SALE SIGN! This gorgeous chunk of land with it’s volcanic uplift of rocks on it, that were used by several Indian tribes for fortification before battle…is for sale to the public! You’ll have to fight the rattlesnakes for it, but it could be yours.

We’ve stayed in three different RV Parks on the Western Slope of the Rockies in Colorado, so we decided to try out a fourth one. We cruised through it a couple years ago and I swore I would never stay here, but seeing as they’re the only one with a spot available we really had no choice. Luckily for us, it was under new management and had been much improved. We got an end spot, at the very back of the park, just yards from the Colorado River.

Heron's Nest RV park on the Colorado

We were just in time to watch the leaves change, and our site happened to be the only one that had flowers still in bloom. The flowers were on a weed, but a flowers a flower to me. I took it as a sign we were meant to be there. Then this amazing rainbow appeared. Colorado was welcoming us back! :)

double rainbow and bus

double rainbow

Another good sign was the on site chicken coop. The coop is nestled in the trees at the end of the rainbow, and houses eight chickens, three ducks and a huge white turkey. They belonged to another family but Jonas and Jewel visited them almost daily and Jewel caught this funny picture of the turkey!

chickens & ducks (5)

While we were still playing in Nebraska Joey expressed his concern about staying in the bus. He was tired of the cramped corners, of dealing with water pipe issues, having to dump the sewer, lack of privacy, and so on, so we agreed when he went back to work we would get a house to rent. But by the time we got to Colorado and we were happy enough with our RV park, instead of moving out we redesigned our bedroom in order to get more space and stretching room. When we first moved in it was a small full size half way walk around bed. We then made the entire space a platform and put a queen size bed on it, where we had to crawl in and out of it. The crawling got real old so now we turned the bed 180 degrees so our feet are pointing out the back door instead, and cut out the platform. Now we have lots of walking space, even room for Joey to do sit ups and push ups, and easy access to all the cupboards. We also moved the TV to under the rear cabinets, so now I can watch TV and watch the river flow by at the same time! What a difference a little shifting can make, and I’m thinking now maybe we can stay in the bus all winter.

Then two weeks later I get a call from Joey, “I found this great house……………..!”

Sunday, October 11

no matter how many times I say it I still can’t believe it…it’s been a year

It’s been a year since the accident. I remember the surgeon saying Joey’d be back to himself and back to work in about six months. I remember thinking, six months…we can handle that. It’s been a year since the accident. We’ve handled it, but it hasn’t been easy.

While we were in Wyoming we took a day to drop down into Colorado so Joey could see the surgeon and get reviewed for Maximum Medical Improvement for the insurance company. They would have flown him up here from Texas but the anally efficient person in me figured out that we could instead take a few weeks/months to travel up there in the bus and let them reimburse us for the gas instead. It was a tough decision at the time, but so glad we chose that route.

Fortification Rocks

It was just a few hour drive down from Rawlins and we passed some more gorgeous countryside. It was solid open country, with antelope, deer, geese, prairie dogs, mountain goats, sheep and elk interspersed with drilling stations and the always present Elk Mountain in the background. The drilling stations were painted to match the landscape so they blended right in and didn’t look obtrusive at all. Even the massive Craig Power Plant makes for a beautiful setting. To see it up close is jaw dropping.

Craig Plant

So we stopped for a quick break and a little tutorial on how to turn coal into energy

Craig Plant tutorial

The doctor’s visit was quick, and then it was all over. It seemed like we were waiting for the last six months to get to this point and then it was over in a flash. We were in Texas because of the accident. We drove up north, and landed in WY to see the doctor, because of the accident. The last year has been as hard as it was, because of the accident. Now it’s all over. We’re free to do what we want, wherever we want. We hadn’t thought much past this point. What now?

We stayed in Wyoming another week because we have learned an important lesson for living on the road with today’s increasing gas prices………Stay put until you know where you want to go.

Saturday, October 10

Seminoe State Park

For a third straight day in a row we were heading out another excursion, which prompted Jake to say:

Every single day??

Apparently Jake forgot that road trippin is what we do. Who can blame him really, after taking a year off to help Dad heal from his accident on the mountain we became quite sedentary. Luckily those days are behind us.

We took a drive out to Seminoe State Park, in Sinclair, Wy. Passing by Sinclair with it’s GI-NOR-MOUS oil refinery would normally make one want to keep on going, but because there was a State Park out there somewhere behind it, we had to check it out. Along the way we were stopped by cows in the road, and antelope, deer and Elk in the prairies.

Best seat in the Truck

Jewel had the best viewing seat in the truck!

We drove straight to the reservoir which created this man made lake and had a tailgate picnic.

Seminoe Lake

Seminoe Lake

We meandered on the drive back and had to take dirt roads to actually get down to the lake, and then once we were down there Jewel was a little upset with us that we didn’t bring her bathing suit. At what point when we say we’re going to a lake will the kids think to bring their own swimsuits? At this point I’m thinking…never.

Seminoe Lake panoramic

As amazing as the landscapes were, and as many pictures as I took, it was really hard to get a good picture of the lake. I stitched a few photos together in order to get this panoramic.

Seminoe Lake

Jewel decided to take over the photo processing and came out with some colorful pictures of her own.

                 Seminoe Lake 023 Seminoe Lake 025

                 Seminoe Lake 027 Seminoe Lake 050

She showed me!

Wednesday, October 7

Scared Straight

Where do you take wild, unruly, out of control kids? On a prison tour, of course. Too bad ours aren’t any of those things but we took them anyway. Let’s pretend they’ve been bad…very bad.

prisoner cell

Enter the doors of the old Wyoming Prison in Rawlins, WY……..The Frontier Prison.

Frontier Prison (135)

Upon entering we were greeted by nice young women selling us tickets to take a tour, but as soon as the tour started and we were shut behind the large metal door that slammed so loud we almost jumped out of our skin, we knew there wouldn’t be anything else nice about this place. We started off with the check-in process, then led thru the full body cavity strip search area which included a “punishment pole” where prisoners were handcuffed to it and then whipped with rubber hoses. Oh yes, this was a prison of horrors.

Our guide wasted no time getting us into Cell Block A where the kids got their first feel of what it’d be like behind bars.

 Frontier Prison (17)

This cell block was so cold in the winters that men actually froze to death. It also had no electricity or running water.

Jewel behind bars

This prison even housed some women for a while, eleven to be exact. But not this little woman. She does wear stripes well, though.

They didn’t take us into the dungeon, but showed us the door that led to some very bad things.

The Dungeon

Then there was “The Gallows” that was used to hang the prisoners.

The Hanger

The prisoners would stand with a noose around their neck on a drop floor above this contraption and would be able to hear the water slowly trickle into the bucket, which when it got heavy enough, would pull the wood, causing the door to open and the men to fall to the ground. The worst part about this hanging was the men wouldn’t die from a quick snap of the neck, but they would die a slow strangulation instead. Nine men were executed this way.

Cell Block B

The prison was so popular that to relieve overcrowding they were continually expanding. Hello Cell Block B. We were told even Billy the Kid visited here for a bit.

Solitary Confinement

Cell Block B included solitary confinement, where the tour guide shoved us in and slammed the door on us. Okay she didn’t shove us in, but she did shut us inside so we could feel what it was like to be locked up in there. It was pitch black and eerily quiet.

Frontier Prison (109)

Some B blockers were lucky enough to get a cell with a view. Woo hoo.

Stairs to Death Row

My family on the stairs to death row. Death.Row. Don’t do it!

Death Row

There were six cells behind bars, behind more bars. And for some reason I was fascinated with them.

Death Row Inmate

I’m sure this guy wasn’t though. Even the shower looked like a bad scene.

Death Row Shower

Speaking of scene, they filmed a movie here in 1987 titled “The Prison”, and the production crew painted the outside of this cell block pink so it would show up on film better. Nothing like a pretty pink death house.

Just ten feet from these death row bars are the two death rooms. The first one is the hanging room.

The hanging room

The wooden drop floor was concreted over once they stopped hanging prisoners, in favor of the gas chamber, which was within sight of death row.

Gas Chamber

Gas Chamber

Gas Chamber

Five prisoners were executed here, which took about five minutes for them to die, and before each killing they had to replace all the seals to make sure there wouldn’t be any gas leaks. But to insure there weren’t any gas leaks they had to test it out on pigs first. So for every man that was killed there was also a pig killed, which was actually crueler according to the kids. Everybody but myself sat in that gas chamber.

Frontier Prison (110)

Everybody but myself was also a very attentive student. I wanted to listen to everything that the guide was telling us but then I wouldn’t have had a chance to take photos. She spoke very fast, and I was always the last one out the door when they moved on to the next area. I missed a lot of facts but I believe this was Cell Block C, the last block built and the most modern.

The Hole Door

Oh, here’s a fun one. The Hole. Men actually went crazy in here.

The Hole

No wonder when this was as big as it was, added to the fact that they’d be in there for weeks, sometimes months, at a time……and sometimes go days without water or food.


Of the 142 pictures I took this day, for some reason this is my favorite. I have no idea why. It’s surely not cause she’s my little mini me or anything.

Prisoner Photographer

Hope you enjoyed my tour of our tour and remember:

Frontier Prison (123)

Tuesday, October 6

Hobo Pool for Hobos Like Us

Since the power inverter worked so well for the XBOX Joey decided to use it to brew him some coffee the next morning. Do.Not.Recommend.That. It blew the inverter. We planned on boondocking the rest of the week but Joey didn’t feel that was fair to the kids so we ended up getting an RV spot in Rawlins. Since we were going to be parked for a week I looked online to see what day trips we could do by car, and yet again I was impressed with Wyoming! Now, our travels have taken us by many many hot springs, all over the country, but we had NEVER stopped at one. (Mostly because they just looked like giant swimming pools with tons of tourists). So when I came upon these free Hot Springs, called the Hobo Pool, no less, we just had to check them out.Hobo Pool

Hobo Pool and Bath house

We had the pleasure of meeting a local resident that claims to have come to the Hobo Pool almost every single day for the last thirty years, so we got the full dish on the springs…..including the actual temperature……which was, according to Jonas “Volcano Hot!” The big pool was about 109 degrees!

Hobo Pool

It was almost too hot to even stick your big toe in! If it weren’t for him we would have never known about the hot springs in the North Platte River which was right behind the pool.

North Platte River hot springs

He said the way to do it is to go in the rocked off area in the river which was about 89 degrees, then jump in the cold river, then get in the Hobo Pool. We’re game for anything…..well, except for the cold river part.

Hot Hot Hobo Pool

Joey, Jonas and I were eventually able to get fully in the Hobo Pool, and when we got out we looked like we had gotten sunburns. Strangely though, afterwards it felt like we had gotten a massage. It was just soo relaxing, and the effects of it lasted all day.

The Inferno at Hobo Pool (44)

The kids climbed around the rocks, soaked their feet, played in the river, but not once did anyone attempt the 122 DEGREE area. I couldn’t imagine anyone doing it either. I liken it to being boiled alive. No thanks.

Afterwards we went for lunch at Stumpy’s Eatery, which we all agree had the best pizza we’ve ever eaten.

A good day was had by all!

Monday, October 5

Rest Stops and Postponements

We had to get to Colorado for an appointment after leaving Nebraska so we allowed ourselves just enough time to visit one of Joey’s work buddies in Cheyenne. When we walk into his mobile home Jacob was a little bewildered. He said it looked like a tiny box from the outside and was shocked how big it was on the inside. I was shocked after all this time of going from place to place, visiting homes after homes, mixed with the wide diversity of friends we have, that the kids have never been in a mobile home! I spent quite a few years living in a double wide as a kid so I never thought much about them. Apparently to Jake (as he likes to be called now, opposed to Jacob), it was pretty darn fascinating. We’re here to show you the World, Kid.


The thought of driving through Wyoming was not very thrilling, but  I’m here to say that Wyoming is one gorgeous, highly underrated, overlooked state. Almost as soon as we crossed the border, I was scrambling for  photos. Wyoming 


Eventually we pulled into a rest stop where we learned our appointment had been canceled and postponed until the next week. Now what are we going to do?


I make lunch while we try to figure out where to spend the next week, and then I step outside to catch a shot of the storm rolling in. Then a little while later and we’re still just hanging in the rest stop, absolutely loving the views we decide to stay longer and watch the storm build some more.


Wyoming Landscape

Right around this time Jake is saying, “Okay, I’m cool with getting an RV spot now”. Only, we weren’t.

Wyoming Rest Area

What Jake really wanted was to play on the XBOX so Joey set it all up for them in his truck with a power inverter, since we have no generator and without XBOX and Wii, have no need for one, and let the kids play for a few hours. And we got to enjoy this big, peaceful, wide open country, with it’s view of Elk Mountain……..all from the comfort of our home.

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