Douglas, WY – Eclipse Day

21 08 2017

Eclipse Viewing Equipment

It’s eclipse day and all around final tweaks, tests and re-calibrations are being done to insure the best views and images of the 2 minutes and 22 seconds that we are all here to see.

Totality begins on the Oregon coast at 11:15AM (MDT). It takes only about 30 minutes for darkness to arrive in Douglas where we enter totality at 11:44AM (MDT). Just over 60 minutes later the shadow will have finished crossing the US when the South Carolina coast enters totality at 12:46PM (MDT).

Special thanks to Jim Matzger, a fellow camper at the Douglas KOA for these images:

Going Away!

Totality!

Light Returns!

The eclipse starts at around 10:30AM with no perceivable difference to this beautiful sunny day in Douglas.  Eclipse glasses are the only way to note the very small “bite” out of the upper corner of the sun.  By about 11AM, the lighting is different – different colored and different intensity. And the shadows of tree leaves and other objects take on a strange oval shape.  But still the only way to see the eclipse is through our glasses. However, just as totality occurs, a quiet hush falls over the campground followed by a roar of applause  – and everything changes.

Removing our glasses, it’s not completely dark, the hazy orange twilight sky is all around us, birds have quieted and it’s cooled nearly 15 degrees. The sun is a glowing halo in the sky.  A few of the campground lights twinkle on and headlights can be observed on the vehicles moving along the highway.  The 2:22 minutes of totality goes by very quickly and without warning, we begin to see and feel sunlight returning.  Again donning our glasses we see the sun beginning to peek out around the edge of the moon.   And, the event is over!  Under nearly perfect weather conditions, perhaps even enhanced by some of the smoke haze of western forest fires, we’ve all just experienced what is undoubtedly the best North American eclipse of our lifetimes.

Comments from friends outside of totality run from “non-event” to “kinda weird”.  Many around the campground talk about two completely different experiences from past eclipses – outside of totality is like seeing a mountain peak, totality is like being on the mountain peak.  Outside of totality you’ll wonder what the hype is all about, inside totality you’ll begin planning to be there for the next one!

 

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Douglas, WY – Tour Day

20 08 2017

KOA Kampground, Douglas, WY

The Douglas KOA has gone all out with food, entertainment and learning options for our eclipse weekend.  Starting Friday evening, they are hosting dinners and breakfasts through Monday morning. There’s evening entertainment, a beer garden and even a lecture on the science of an eclipse including NASA brochures, dark sky maps and eclipse glasses.

On Sunday they have chartered a school bus and arranged for private visits to some of the most significant sites in Douglas.  Our day starts at Ft. Fetterman, located a few miles north of Douglas. This 1867 fort helped protect those traveling the Bozeman Trail.  While most of the wooden structures were destroyed for fuel, two restored buildings representing the officers quarters and an ordnance warehouse provide some interesting insight of life on these northern Wyoming plains.

Ft. Fetterman, Douglas, WY

Our next stop is at Camp Douglas, a prisoner of war camp established during World War II.  Italian and German POWs were held here due to over crowding of prisons in Europe and Northern Africa. These camps were built in specific “safe” areas of the US.  Douglas qualified due to it’s remoteness, access to the rail line and the communities willingness to host military personal as well as the prisoners.

Leaving town, we travel about 15 miles west to Ayres Natural Bridge Park, a beautiful park on La Prele Creek and then on to the LaPrele Station Pony Express site.  Returning to town, we stop at the fairgrounds for a tour of the Pioneer Museum and then back to the KOA.  All in all an interesting and informative day!





The Great American Eclipse

19 08 2017

Douglas, WY KOA

Good Morning from Douglas, WY!  We’re parked at the KOA and within the 70 mile wide eclipse totality shadow that will streak across North America from Oregon to South Carolina on Monday.  The last eclipse of this magnitude was in 1918 when the totality shadow entered the US over Washington and exited over Florida.  The next on April 8, 2024 will enter over Texas and exit over New Hampshire.

Organization and planning has been in high gear since well over a year ago here in Central Wyoming.  Our reservations were made last May at the then current rates of $40/night for full hookup sites.  Online websites are now offering dry camping locations nearby for $250/night with a 2 night minimum.  The Casper KOA is rumored to have increased their pricing to $900/night!  We’re very happy to be here in Douglas with the very accommodating and friendly staff.

If all goes according to predictions, the Wyoming state population of around 585,000 could double this weekend through Monday. Neighboring states are also expecting to feel the impact on roadways and other traveler services.  Leaving the Denver area on midday on Friday, traffic seemed about normal all the way to Douglas, with a few more sightings than normal of Wyoming State Patrol. We’ll get settled here and report back as we enjoy Douglas…





Concerts, Cowboys and Carnival

22 07 2017

Cheyenne Frontier Nights

We’re back in Cheyenne for the 121st performance of Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, Frontier Nights and the Carnival Midway.  Unlike in the past, attending 1 or 2 concerts and making a long weekend of it, this year we’re all-in – arriving on Friday the 21st and staying all 10 days of Frontier Days until next Sunday the 30th.  We have tickets to 4 concerts, Little Big Town on Saturday evening, Luke Bryan on Wednesday, Thomas Rhett on Thursday and Jason Aldean to wrap things up next Saturday.  With more than a week in Cheyenne we hope to enjoy more of the events that we’ve missed in past years – Rodeo, Pancake Breakfast, Grand Parade, Indian Village, Chuckwagon Cookoff and the USAF Thunderbirds.

Last Year, 2016, Cheyenne Hail

And, once again we’re parked at AB Camping, one of our favorite RV Parks.  We’re in sites S13 & S14, in the middle row of the southern section.  These two sites along with several others provide welcome shade during the warm July afternoons.  Last year for the Florida Georgia Line concert we were in sites S10 and S21 for the “Mother-of-all-Hailstorms” – that produced about $10,000 damage to every RV roof in the campground, tore down tree limbs, shattered auto glass and totaled tow vehicles.

After a great 10 (hail-free) days, we’ve already opted to return next year.  Thanks Marc and Jane for once again doing a great job of hosting all of these RVs during a VERY busy time.  From making sure we had shuttle services when the city cancelled just 3 days before CFD opened, to providing us early morning breakfast burritos and late night BBQ snacks and everything else you do – a very heart felt Thank You!

Oh, our success rate was fairly high.  We had dinner on the Midway, attended a Rodeo, saw the Indian Village and Frontier Town, listened to Micheal Martin Murphey at the Sidewinder Saloon and of course checked out the Buckin’A Saloon a few times.  The USAF Thunderbirds airshow was cancelled due to weather and we still haven’t had a Pancake Breakfast or watched the Grand Parade or tasted at the Chuckwagon Cookoff. More for next year!

S-1

 

A list of “southern section” sites with shade trees…

East Row: 1 (end), 2, 4, 5, 7, 8;

Center Row: 10 (end), 11,12, 13, 14

West Row: 19 (end), 21, 25, 26, 27 & 28 (end)

 





July 4th at Lake Pueblo

1 07 2017

Sunset over Lake Pueblo

Happy Independence Day!  We’re parked at sites #9 and #10 at Arkansas Point campground near the South Marina at Lake Pueblo.  Site #9 is a back-in site with great views over the lake to the north and the cliffs and hiking trails to the south.  It’s also very private since neighboring site #7 is blocked as an overflow site.  Site #10 is a pull-through site across the street and also shares the gorgeous views across the lake.

Arriving on Friday, we’ll spend 5 nights here since the 4th falls on a Tuesday. With temperatures approaching 100, we’ll plan on spending days on the beach and evenings around the campfire.  On Sunday we’ve rented a pontoon boat (thank Shawn!) and will get to play on the water just as we used to with the ski boat.  Pueblo was always one of our favorite boating lakes, plenty of open water for skiing and nice quiet coves for hanging out and enjoying the water.

Friday afternoon we take the short trip down to Walsenburg to meet a realtor from La Veta, CO and look at 5 parcels of land in the Navajo Ranch area.  Newly on the radar, this small southern Colorado town may become our next home!

Spanish Peaks from Comanche Drive

After viewing awesome firework displays all around the lake on Tuesday evening, on Wednesday we’ll back up and make the trip back to the Denver area.  It’ll be a short overnight at home, on Thursday we’ll jump on a flight bound for Quito, Ecuador for a 10-night Galapagos Islands cruise-tour. After returning from the Galapagos, we’re home for 4 days before heading to Cheyenne Frontier Days.  More from Cheyenne…

 

 





Frisco BBQ Fest

18 06 2017

After having enjoyed the Frisco BBQ challenge in 2014, we’re back this year to enjoy BBQ, beer and bands on Frisco’s Main Street.  And, once again we’re at Peak One campground on the shores of Lake Dillon in sites #16 & 17.  These are dry back-in sites with a fire ring and picnic table.  Sites #15 and #17 would be optimal.

Peak One, SIte #16

Peak One, Lake Dillon

Peak One, Site #15





Rifle Gap State Park

5 06 2017

Rifle Gap State Park Aerial

We’re parked in site #27 and #28 at Rifle Gap State Park.  These are beautiful full hookup sites on one of the upper terraces of the Lakeview campground.  Full concrete pads with asphalt roads through the campground, rock areas surrounding the water, sewer ports and electric connections, covered picnic tables, fire rings and meticulously raked gravel tent pads make these sites some of the cleanest, most appealing we’ve stayed in.

Along with great shower house facilities and the gorgeous lake views – this park has it all – except cellular signal. Located only 6 miles from the city limits of Rifle, but literally through “the gap”, no TV or cellular signals seem to make it to the campground.  Even with our booster and antenna, the return to town is required for any type of email or work access.

Tomorrow we’ll pack up and make the final leg of the 2017 Grand Canyon trip.  Indeed a grand trip!