From the Great Plains to the Front Range in One Day
We left Wounded Knee with a desire to return on another day. Early morning on Sunday and a holiday weekend as well are not the best time to visit most any site. Driving on west we passed through the town of Pine Ridge the largest community of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Entering town it looks to be a pretty typical community. As we turned south and left town we saw the underbelly of the community. It was a sad site to see many older native Americans living in poverty, I have added a link for the American Indian Relief Council for those who would like to join us in holding out a helping hand to those in need.
A short distance south of town we entered Nebraska. This is a state which never held much interest for me until I discovered some of the interesting and amazing features of the state. Several years ago we took our grandsons on a tour through Nebraska and South Dakota. We visited the State Museum on the campus of Nebraska University in Lincoln, Nebraska. The state has numerous paleontology sites and this museum administers all of them. We visited several sites with the boys, Ashfall Fossil Beds with the most amazing collection of fossilized rhinoceroses you will ever see. The other site was the Trailside Museum of Natural History at Fort Robinson State Park. The latter has some amazing mammoth skeletons as well as some interesting history from the American Indian Wars.
We have driven US Hwy 20 across northern Nebraska and enjoyed the relaxed trip through the Great Plains. This time we would drive Nebraska Highway 87 and 71 to I-80 and then on to Cheyenne, Wyoming. One of the newly discovered surprises was the scenery of the Nebraska Sandhills around Scottsbluff. We made a pass through the area but will definitely return to see more of the scenery here on another trip. The weathered sandstone hills and cliffs are beautiful and deserve some additional scrutiny and photography.
This route connects to I-80 just a few miles east of Cheyenne which was our destination for the day. We stopped to fill the diesel tank before reaching the campground. I put 112 gallons of diesel in our 127 gallon tank, by my records the emptiest it has ever been! The RV park we had selected for the night was AB Camping and RV Park just south of I-80 and east of I-25. As we pulled into the park we could smell the barbeque. This wasn't just a fellow camper preparing a meal, this was real restaurant BBQ. We were parked by their restaurant. We registered, parked and returned to the restaurant for a fine BBQ meal. We enjoyed a quiet evening and then left mid-morning for the Denver area. I inquired about a place where I could wash the motor home as we had been driving for several days on wet roads. We had no luck so had to roll into the next park looking pretty ragged and dirty. The toad really looked terrible.
We arrived at South Park in Englewood, Colorado about 2:00 in the afternoon. The office was closed on Labor Day but our parking assignment was posted on the office door. We pulled the sheet and unhooked the toad. South Park wasn't our first choice, it is on the south side of Denver and everyone we know lives on the north side of town. Staying in this park meant that we would drive across town each time we visited family. For this reason we planned to stay here only six nights before moving to another park. When we made reservations this was the only park we could find with a site and then only for the six nights. Fortunately, our preferred park, Dakota Ridge, had space available starting on the seventh night through the remainder of the length of our stay. I found out later that we were not only looking for a site in a large city on the end of a holiday weekend but there was also a PGA Golf Tournament in town. It ended the day we were able to move to Dakota Ridge so I believe that the golf tournament may have played a roll in the scarcity of campsites available the first week of September.
One of the pluses that we didn't expect with South Park is that they allow washing vehicles. The toad went to a car wash but I spent Wednesday morning washing the motor home. It was a quick wash but made a huge difference in its appearance. So we left South Park on Sunday morning with a clean motor home and a clean toad. At Dakota Ridge we have additional elevation and a view of some of the hogback ridges that make up the Front Range of the Rockies. We also have a little more wind and we've had our first snowflakes of the fall. The furnace has had several nights of heavy duty work as temperatures hovered just above freezing. Today the temperature was in the low 80's. The forecast indicates that we will have fair weather and warm temperatures until our departure on Wednesday.
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