The Clay County Advocate - Press-Flora, IL
  • Yellowstone National Park: A Boy Scout Troop 282 Travel Log

  • Editors Note: Every year, the Boy Scouts of Clay County Troop 282 take a long trip or go to summer camp. This year was unique in that the Troop went to Yellowstone National Park. We presented excerpts from the travel log written by Troop Leader Tom Barbre in Thursday's paper. The full log is below; the photos ...
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  • Editors Note: Every year, the Boy Scouts of Clay County Troop 282 take a long trip or go to summer camp. This year was unique in that the Troop went to Yellowstone National Park. We presented excerpts from the travel log written by Troop Leader Tom Barbre in Thursday's paper. The full log is below; the photos are linked at the left-hand side of the page or here.
    Adults: George Dickinson, Tom Barbre, Mark Smith, Dennis Youngblood, Greg Dulaney, Tim Dickinson, Bruce Slover, Kevin Halsey and Pete Edmonson.
    Scouts: Lucas Bienke, Brenden Crays, Andrew Joiner, Charles Watson, Levi Henson, Mitchell Levi, Dalen Stopher, Colin Waller, Rick Davis, Ivan Patrick, Lucas Allen, Colten Dulaney, Dillon Evans, Austin Ludwig, James Payne, Nick Sturm and Matt Ritter.
    Saturday, July 16, 2011
    Met at Scout building. Got there at 11:30 am. Some people already there. As people showed up we put their carryon bags on the bus in the overhead rack. When everyone was there we took the required pictures of all of those who were going. Rick Slaughter of Pictures and more had made our shirts with a picture of Yellowstone on the front. It turned out great. In addition he had made hats with Troop 282, Flora, IL. And gave them to us to wear. Dennis was the first driver of the bus. We were going to take a Van for the other 4 adults and Lucas Bienke. Lucas had broken his foot the week before. He was on crutches and we were taking a wheel chair for him. We left a little after 12 pm. Good to get going finally. We had been working on this trip for 10 months. Now all we had to do was get there.
    The bus was driving well and we had a good breeze coming in the windows. Boys were in good spirits. At the first gas stop, it cost us almost 200 dollars for a fill up. This was expected. Mark started driving. It felt good just to set back and have someone else do the driving. Mark got to Kansas City and we stopped for more gas and food at MacDonald’s. George called his cousin in Colorado and found out Interstate 29 was closed just North of Kansas City. We got the maps out and started looking for an alternate route. Started driving again. Got back onto the interstate and headed North. When we got to the place that the interstate was closed down there were numerous signs telling us which way to go. It turned out to be a long straight road heading North. We would follow it until we were East of St. Joe, Mo. And then turn West and get back on the interstate. I was driving now.
    Page 2 of 8 - Sunday, July 17, 2011
    We pulled into St. Joe and started looking for a gas station. Gassed up and got back onto the interstate. George driving now. We could see water on both sides of the highway. The interstate at this point was 2 lanes. The Southbound lane was closed. We were making good time and the bus was running good. The detour had put us about 2 hrs. behind what I had planned. As it became daylight we were a little over half way across South Dakota. We were approaching The Badlands. I was figuring on going by them at dark. Since it was light we decided to stop. We stopped and started taking pictures. The boys went out and started climbing on the ravines that the erosion had formed. After about a half hour we loaded back into the bus and took off. We took the loop back to the Interstate. Took about an hour. We got to Rapid City, South Dakota about 10 am and stopped at MacDonald’s for Breakfast. We then took off to find Mt. Rushmore. Just had to follow the signs. We parked the bus and told everyone to meet back at the entrance in an hour. Me and Andrew took off to the faces on the mountain. You could walk right under the faces. We were taking pictures almost every step of the way. We got to the platform right under the mountain. Of course there was a souvenir shop. Andrew went with some of the other boys. I went to the museum and the movie. Movie was only about 15 minutes long. Almost fell asleep. Went to the big souvenir shop by the front entrance. Saw almost everyone there. I bought a shirt for one of the grandkids. Met up with everyone at the main gate. When we had everybody we loaded up and took off the wrong way. We needed to go back to Keystone and get gas. Found a turnaround real quick and headed back up and over to Keystone. Saw a mountain goat going back up. Got gas and went back up the Mountain and down the other side. We were going to stop at Crazy Horse mountain but were told that there was not much work being done on it. We decided to skip it. This would gain us some time to get to Devils Tower, Wyoming, our campsite for the night. We could see Crazy Horse mountain from the highway and got some good pictures of his head. That’s all there was. As we went down it started to get hotter. As we got closer to Interstate 90, we saw Devils Tower in the distance. We were about 30 miles from it. When we got to the interstate we took a wrong turn and had to go about a mile down it and turn around. We got on the right road and headed for Devils Tower. It took us an hour and we started seeing better views of it. When we got to the park Bruce said there was something wrong with the steering on the Van. It was making a funny noise and hard to turn. We found that it had a slow leak. Wasn’t much we could do for now. We got to the campsite and began setting up tents. While we were doing this, Mark and Bruce went to the store at the entrance to see if we could find someone to help with the Van. The lady there gave them directions to a mechanic down the road. He wasn’t home so they left a note on his door. He would call when he got home we hoped. It was looking like rain so we put the dining fly up. Supper was BBQ left over from our fundraiser in March. This was a cheap meal. We had hotdog buns donated by the local Cub Scouts instead of hamburger buns, Scout BBQ and potato chips. Everyone had their fill. We got everything cleaned up and drove up to the top of the mountain. The museum was closed. Some of the boys started walking one of the trails. I went with them. The trail kept going down. I stopped the boys and went a little ahead and the trail kept going down. I told them it looked like the trail was heading down the mountain and we should go back and get on the right one. From a visit 30 years ago I knew the trail around the Tower was asphalted. We got back to the bus and the boys started up the correct trail. Dennis was there and I stayed with him and we just hung out. After a little bit the boys started coming back and hanging out with us. A little bit after that we were all together. We went back to the campsite. It had sprinkled on us just a little. It had been a long day and we all went to bed.
    Page 3 of 8 - Monday, July 18, 2011
    It had sprinkled on us during the night. We were up shortly after dawn. We were going to go almost 500 miles today. We broke camp and put everything away. We were having cereal for breakfast. This done, we loaded up and took off. We were going by the mechanic’s house to see if he could fix the Van. We had put more fluid in the steering and it was doing better. The mechanic still wasn’t home. We took the note off the door and headed for the interstate and more gas. We gassed up and got some ice for the chests of food and water. Mark bought a bottle of Stop Leak for the steering. It must have worked. We didn’t have any more problems the rest of the trip. It was already starting to get hot and it was only 8 in the morning. It only took us a couple of hours to get to Buffalo, Wy. This is where we would go West heading for the mountains. We had 2 mountain ranges to cross today. It seemed as soon as we got off the interstate we were going up. As we climbed the air turned cooler and the scenery got better. By the time we got to the top of the pass and started down it was a cool 60 degrees. Beautiful day.
    As we started down we met lots of bicyclists coming up. There must be some kind of event going on to have this many people. We started down a canyon. The sights were awe inspiring. We could not decide which side of the bus to be on to take pictures. The road wound around and down. Soon it was traveling next to a stream. Lots of white water. It took us over an hour to get down. Didn’t seem like it. It was hot on the valley floor. We found a MacDonald’s. Me, Dennis and Greg stayed with the boys. The other adults went to Arby’s up the street. Seemed like it took a long time for us to get our food. The others got back before we had finished. When all were done we climbed back on the bus and started out again. First thing we stopped at a store to ice down our water. We headed south for about 4 miles and then turned north. We soon came to more Badlands. Took a lot of pictures. We soon got to Cody, Wy. Petty town. A lot of gift shops. Cody is the last big town before Yellowstone. We left Cody following the Shoshone river up a small canyon. The river was full with lots of White water. We went through the mountain. There were 2 tunnels. When we came out on the other side, we were presented with a large lake. This was the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. The road ran beside this for several miles. We had the lake on one side and mountains on the other. We had figured that we would start up and do a lot of climbing like this morning. Wrong. We started up, but at a gradual climb. You could not tell we were climbing except the air temperature was getting cooler. The road twisted and turned. The scenery was getting better and better. We finally turned a bend in the road and there was the entrance to Yellowstone. We had to stop and pay an entrance fee into the park. The boys got in free and the adults had to pay 12 dollars each. We only paid 12 dollars. Bruce and George had passes that were good for 4 people each getting in free. This was great. We took some pictures and started up the last few miles. We started climbing. As we climbed more and more scenic views were coming at us. We really didn’t know what to take pictures of. Thank goodness for digital cameras. We took pictures of everything and could sort them out at home on the computer. We came to the top of the pass and there was snow on both sides of the road. We couldn’t stop because of the traffic. This was our only chance to get pictures of the boys in the snow. We started down the other side into the Yellowstone Valley. About half way down we started seeing Yellowstone Lake. We would follow the road around it to the South end to Grants Village, where we had reservations for a campsite. We were still taking lots of pictures from the bus. As we got down level with the lake we started having more traffic. We soon came to a traffic jam. People were out of their cars and campers taking pictures of a Buffalo standing beside the road eating. One man was within ten feet taking pictures. As we got through this jam, we soon came upon another. This time it was an Elk. Soon after this it was another Elk. We finally got away from the animals and started moving good along the road. Off to the left was the lake and to the right was forest that had burnt. It was coming back, but it still looked bad. We finally got to the campgrounds. It was about 5 pm. George and I got off to check in. Everything was in order. We paid for 2 more nights and went to the campground. We unloaded the bus. The tents were put up and the kitchen was setup. We started cooking Spaghetti. While we were frying hamburger and cooking the spaghetti we finished getting our personnel belongings in our tents. There were a few mosquitoes, but not bad. When everything was done we sat down to eat. George said grace thanking God for getting us here without any trouble. It was dark by the time we got everything cleaned up and put away. We were going to have to keep everything on the bus and only take it off for breakfast and supper. This was to keep our campsite safe from Bears. The lady at the check in station said they have a couple of Grizzlies come through the camp every so often to check things out. We wanted to see bears, but not that close. We had just travelled 1500 miles and it was a relief to be here.
    Page 4 of 8 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011
    We got up early. Around 6 am. Today was our first big day. We would be going to Old Faithful. Then who knew what we would do. We had decided that the adults would do the cooking. This would be faster. The boys would help clean up. The Menu was Pancakes and Sausage Links. George and I had the boys make the batter and showed them how to do pancakes right. The rest of the adults went to get showers. Everyone had 3 or 4 pancakes each. The other adults had gone and gotten showers. When they got back George and I and the boys went and got our showers. Cost 2 dollars for 6 minutes of hot water. The other adults had to fix their own breakfast. When we had cooked the sausage links, we had put the grease in a plastic bowl. For some reason, 2 of the adults thought the bowl contained syrup. So they poured some on their pancakes. Big surprise. When we got back. We loaded everything onto the bus and headed for Old Faithful. Mark was driving and I had asked him if he would drive while we were in Yellowstone so that I could take pictures as we drove around. Since he had not brought a camera he thought that would be a good idea. This helped me get about twice as many pictures as I would have otherwise. At the entrance of the campgrounds traffic was stopped and there was a herd of Elk eating. Got some good pictures. On the way we saw Geysers right next to the lake. We crossed the Continental divide 2 times. The air was cooler at this altitude. We got to Old Faithful and parked the bus next to a wooded area on the far side of the parking lot. The parking lot was almost empty. Everyone headed for the attractions. We had to wait about a half hour and then Old Faithful went off. Water and steam shot about a hundred feet into the air for 5 minutes or more. We took several pictures of it and had everyone get in front of it for a group picture. We decided to let everyone go to the stores and meet back in front of Old Faithful in an hour and we would then take the pathway around the valley and look at the rest of the Geysers. There was a wooden and asphalt path through this area. Everyone then went their own way. Some of us went to the Old Faithful hotel. There is no way to describe this. As you enter into the main room and look up, there are no other floors. It is just one big open space to the ceiling. There is a restaurant and souvenir shop. I went through the souvenir shop. I then went out to the visitor center and looked around there. Saw George and some of the boys. Left there and went to the Yellowstone General Store. Found more boys there. I headed back to the meeting area. Some were sitting under the shade trees waiting on everyone. I spotted another store and headed for it. Found some more boys going through the shop. Met up with Andrew on the porch and had someone take our picture. Everyone else joined us there. We started down the path to walk the Geyser trail. This trail had several different Geysers and pools of water. As we walked the backside of Old Faithful, it went off again. More pictures. The trail we were on was about one and quarter miles long. The wind was beginning to blow and dark clouds were forming. None of us had brought raingear. We had finished seeing the last Geyser and was headed back to the parking lot when it sprinkled on us. When we were close to the hotel we saw some people taking pictures. When we got closer, there not 10 feet from the trail was a Buffalo laying in the grass watching everyone go by. Amazing. I went back through the hotel. I wanted to check something out in the souvenir shop. I told George I would meet everyone back at the bus for lunch. I found out what I needed and headed for the bus. When I got to the parking lot, it was jammed full of cars, trucks and campers. I could not see across the lot to where the bus was. As I made my way across the lot, I finally spotted the bus. When I got there, there was no one else. Couldn’t believe I beat everyone back. I decided to get everything ready for lunch. We were going to have sandwiches and chips. I had everything ready to get off the bus before anybody showed up. When they did get there they told me that they had stopped to watch Old Faithful for a third time. The boys got the food off the bus and took it to a picnic table. We got everything out. Said grace and proceeded to eat lunch. When we were done and had most of the food put up. The wind started blowing and it started getting colder. We decided to head back to the campsite. Some of the boys were wanting to go fishing. Tomorrow we would travel the great loop of Yellowstone. It started to rain on the way back. We came upon an overlook. It had quit raining by now. The overlook presented a giant waterfall. This was called Keplers Cascades. It was less than 100 ft. drop, but spectacular. We got back on the bus and headed out. The higher we went, the colder it got. We were wishing we had long sleeve shirts and long pants on by this time. Once we started down it started to warm up some. When we got back to the camping grounds we decided to get gas so we would not have to take time in the morning. While we were doing this it started to rain again. We decided to go to the store and get more ice and let the boys go into the souvenir shop. While we were in there it poured down raining. I got the ice and went back to the bus and iced everything down. It was warm in the bus. I started writing in my journal until everyone had come back. We then went to the campsite. Everyone put on warmer clothes. By this time it had quit raining again. We checked tents and several of them had leaked. Kevin’s sleeping bag had gotten wet and he went down to the laundry to dry it out. Everyone else seemed to come out better. We started cooking super. Tonight would be Tacos. As we started cooking the hamburger, some of the boys still wanted to go fishing. Bruce volunteered to take them down to the check in station to get a permit. This would not cost them anything. Bruce took 6 down to get the permits. By the time they got back it was time to eat. We had cooked 7 lbs. of hamburger. All of it was eaten. While everything was being cleaned up, Mark and I took those boys that wanted to go fishing on the bus to find a spot where we could get to the lake. At one of the campgrounds, we found several places that we could do this. It was cold by this time. I had put on a long sleeve shirt, fleece jacket and my rain coat. Charles was with us. He had developed a headache and was on the bus for quiet. I think he had a touch of altitude sickness. He was drinking lots of water and getting better. He was hungry and I fixed him a baloney sandwich. This seemed to help him some more. We let the boy’s fish until it started getting dark. No one caught anything. Some said they thought they had gotten some bites. By the time we got back to camp it was dark. We stayed up for a little while and then went to bed. The sleeping bag was going to feel good tonight.
    Page 5 of 8 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011
    We were up early again. It was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in sight. We were going to have Sausage gravy and bread this morning. It didn’t take long to fix breakfast. As soon as we had everything cleaned up and packed away we took off. We were going to start up the West side of the lake and follow the road around till we got back to the campgrounds. As we went up the road we were taking pictures everywhere. We pulled off several times to get pictures of the lake and mountains. We got to the northern end of the lake. There you could see it slowly narrow into the Yellowstone river. It looked like it was over flowing. There were live trees standing in the middle of the lake. We started seeing Buffalo. Not ones and twos but herds. There were several pull offs and we stopped several times to get pictures. The road was following the Yellowstone river. Our first scheduled stop was called the Mud Volcano. There were several mud holes. The park service had built a walkway around to each of the attractions. There were hot springs. Water gushing out of the ground. Hot mud holes, steam coming out of the ground and a smell of sulfur everywhere. From the top of the hill we could see across the Yellowstone river. There were herds of buffalo and we could see 2 steam clouds coming out of the ground. One on each side of the river. After a bathroom break, we climbed back onto the bus and headed out again. The road followed beautiful Hayden valley which was about a mile wide. The river ran down the middle of it . It had overflowed its bank, making it seem wider than it really was. We finally got to the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone. We parked and headed for an overlook. On the way one of the boys spotted an Elk laying about 20 ft. from the path. It had an enormous set of antlers and did not seem to mind all of the people watching it. We took lots of pictures and continued on to the overlook. The river dropped over a hundred ft. forming one spectacular sight. We could see people across the river at another overlook. We would be there a little later. We got everyone together and boarded the bus to go to Artist point. It was about a mile down the road. When we got there we could see up river to the lower falls and down river into the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. We took several more pictures before leaving. We got back to the main road. Travelled about a mile and went to the overlook we had seen from the Upper Falls overlook. This one was right on the edge of the falls. We were leaning over and taking pictures. I went back up to the path and walked down it. I thought it would make a circle back to the parking lot. When I realized it didn’t I turned around and went back. Everyone had gone back to the bus. When I got there, George wanted to know if I had seen some of the boys. I told him no. He said we were missing 3. He went to check the bathrooms. He came back and said they weren’t there. We walked back to the overlook and up to the spot where I had turned around to come back. Still no sign of them. We went back to the bus and they were sitting inside waiting on us. They said they were in the bathroom. Relieved to have everyone again we took off. We were going to Inspiration point. This took about 15 minutes.. When we got there we discovered an overlook of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. You could see the river far below us and several miles in both directions of the canyon. As we headed back to the bus we passed a couple of cars setting beside each other. One was from Alaska and the other from Florida. Who would have thought. The guys in the van had decided to go ahead and meet us at Tower Falls. Don’t know why. We started going up at this point. There is no way to describe what we were seeing except to say it was spectular. We were climbing all the time now. We came to the top of Dunraven pass. There was a parking place and a path to the very top of Mount Washburn. We decided to keep going. The road on the other side wound down the side of the mountain. There were a few hairpin curves. There was no guard rail on the side of the road all of the way to the bottom. When we got to Tower Falls there was a large parking lot. It was another souvenir store. The falls were about a quarter mile from the road. Not as big as what we had seen earlier, but still neat. The boys headed for the store and soda pop. We had only been giving them water for the last few days. So when the chance arrived they got soda pop. We asked about a picnic area to eat lunch. We were told there was one about 3 miles away. We loaded up the bus and took off. We saw the bottom of the canyon several times as we climbed a little more and then headed down. We found the picnic area and it was full. Some people left as we were sitting there trying to figure out what to do. This opened up a table. We unloaded the food and drinks and took the bus a little ways down the road to a parking place. We had the same as yesterday. Lunchmeats and chips. We had cookies and apples for dessert. We finished up and carried everything to the bus and started again. By now we were on the Northern leg of our trip heading West to Mammoth Hot springs. I found out later this was an Army post back in the early nineteen hundreds. This road was another winding one. We came around a bend in the road and there were cars parked everywhere. There were several Park Rangers with their lights flashing. We saw several cars on a side road and maybe 30 people looking out in the valley at something. I spotted what I thought was a bear, but we went behind a small hill about that time. On the other side of the hill we saw several people running towards the crest of the hill. The guys in the van said they had seen a bear. Don’t think anybody got a picture of it. As we continued the scenery was great. I took pictures whenever I could. When we were on the skirts of Mammoth Hot Springs, we got into a small traffic jam. There were some Elk on either side of the rode and people were stopping to take pictures. We were going slow enough to take pictures from the bus. We had to go through the town to get to the springs. Mammoth Hot Springs was at the Northern entrance of Yellowstone. The army post was put here to protect Yellowstone, when it was made a National park. We came to the springs. The hillside was covered with multicolored minerals that were brought up with the hot water. We could not find a parking spot for the bus, so decided to go on. We started up almost immediately. This was a long and winding road to the top of the pass. Don’t know what the name of the pass was. Bunson Peak was off to our left. When we were just a few feet from the top we came across a Fan shaped water fall. Needless to say we took pictures. Once across we went down a little ways and then we were in a valley with a flat straight road. Unusual. This was all grassland and we didn’t see a lot but grass. As we approached Monument Geyser, we were caught in another traffic jam. This time there were Buffalo crossing the highway. These animals can weigh over a thousand lbs. and no one would want to hit one. Besides we had to stop and take pictures. It wasn’t long before we came to another traffic jam. Cars were parked on both sides of the road with people crossing over. Never did see what they were looking at. Still a little later we were in a line of cars that stretched over a mile both ways. It took us a little bit to find what everyone was stopped for. There was one Coyote next to the road stalking something in the grass. Probably a mouse. We only saw the one Coyote. We had been following the Gibbons river as we made our way South on the Western loop. We now turned east and headed back towards Old Faithful. We were now following the Firehole River. Again the scenery was overpowering. There wasn’t a bad sight anywhere. When we got to Old Faithful, I put my camera on the charger. We had been over this part before and I was not expecting to take more pictures. When we got back to camp, we got everything off of the bus for supper. We were going to have Pork Steaks, boiled potato, baked beans and cole slaw, with Peach Cobbler for dessert. Unfortunately we forgot to buy the cabbage. We had the mix, but no cabbage. When we had first gotten up this morning, I had collected all of the Blue shirts we had travelled in. I was going to wash them tonight for the next day’s travel. While the rest started supper. I took the shirts down to the laundry mat to get them washed. Took about an hour and half to get them washed and dried. I got some ice and went back to camp. Supper was almost ready. Kevin had been cooking the steaks and was just about done. Bruce and I started handing out shirts. When we were done we had one small one left. We had everyone get their shirts and hold them up. Everyone had one. Still haven’t figured out where it came from. After Grace we started eating. The Pork Steaks were big enough to take their own plate. When we had set down to eat, we put the cobblers on to cook. With this many people we were making two. After everything was cleaned up, we got a fire going and set around it until the cobblers were done. We invited a small group of campers from across the road to help eat them. The boys had made friends with them early in the evening. When it started to get colder and the fire had died down we went to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a long travel day. We would camp tomorrow night in Northern Colorado. 500 miles away.
    Page 6 of 8 - Thursday, July 21, 2011
    Got up early. Started packing up our personnel belongings that would go on top of the bus. We had put some things on last night. I got everything we needed for breakfast off the bus and started rearranging. We had gained a lot of space and everything needed to be redistributed to take advantage of this. The boys started taking tents down and we packed them away as soon as they put them on the bus. All of this took about an hour. The boys are working really well. When everything was packed on the bus and tied down, we had breakfast. It was cereal. If it didn’t get eaten this time we were getting rid of it. We got done with breakfast. Cleaned everything up, loaded the bus and took off. We were low on gas but decided to buy the next tank outside of Yellowstone. It was only twenty miles to the South entrance. On the way we took several pictures of the scenery. When we got to the South Entrance, we stopped and had everyone stand in front of the Yellowstone National Park sign. Some friendly tourist came along and took our pictures so that everyone got in it. We loaded up and started out again. It didn’t take long and we were at a gas station. We filled up the bus and the van. Got coffee for ourselves and headed south. In a short time we entered the Grand Teton National Park. We saw some mountains ahead of us and we were going down towards Jacksons Lake. As we went along the road. The Grand Teton Mountain Range came into sight. Beautiful. We took pictures at every opening in the trees. This lasted for over an hour. When we thought we had seen the last good picture, another popped up. We finally got away from the mountains a little and stopped looking for pictures to take. We came to some construction and had to wait for a lead car. When we started moving again it was on a gravel road going up a mountain. The state of Wy. Was redoing this portion of the highway. About 5 miles. This was one of their scenic highways. When the lead car left us we were almost to the top. We started down the other side. When we had gotten up this morning it had been nippy and everyone had put warmer clothes. As the day went on and we started down it was becoming warmer. When we got to the little town of Dubois, everyone had to take a bathroom break. Of course there was only one bathroom. While everyone was waiting their turn, I changed into shorts. Felt a lot better. When we got everyone back onto the bus we headed out. We would eat lunch at Riverton. The road was good without many ups and downs and we started making good time. Every now and then something popped up and we would have a flurrie of picture taking. When we got to Riverton we found MacDonald’s and had lunch. I took over driving at this point. We would be heading for Interstate 25 at Casper, Wy. Then South. The road was long. I started getting low on gas. We kept going and going but no gas station. I was starting to get really worried when in the middle of nowhere a gas station popped up. Very good thing. Some of the boys had to use the bathroom. The lady that came to the pump said the boys would only be able to go one at a time since they would be going through the bar. At the time we didn’t see 2 port a potties at the side of the building. When I went in to pay there was a glass case full of stuffed rattlesnakes. They differed from babies to full grown. We loaded up again and got back on the road with a content feeling with a full tank of gas. It was mid afternoon now. When we got to Casper, we didn’t have any trouble getting onto the interstate. We started making really good time now. The people in the van had to pull off for a bathroom stop. We kept going, but slowed down to about 50 miles an hour. They caught back up to us in about an hour. We started running low on gas. It was now about 5 pm. As we neared Cheyenne I was really getting worried. At the first sign of a gas station I pulled off. We have a 60 gal. tank and we put 55 gals. In. This is the first time we had ever put that much in. George started driving now. When we got to Fort Collins, Colorado, we headed East. We had about 40 miles to go to our campsite. It was now about 7:30 pm. I was thinking it would be dark by the time we got there. I told George I would get supper ready while the tents were being set up. We were have BBQ, baked beans and chips. I went to the rear of the bus and got everything ready so we would only have to unload. We started to smell something. It turned out to be a Sheep farm. There were 2 big pens of sheep. Maybe a couple of thousand. Reminded me of the cattle pens we saw in Kansas around Dodge City. There were thousands of cows in those pens. We did not have any trouble getting to the campsite. There were no campers. We found the campsite. George had made a reservation and they had put a paper with his name on it on the pole. The camp host was not even here. As we unloaded the mosquitoes attacked us. The first order of business was to break out the bug spray. I started getting everything ready. Mark soon came over and started helping. We had arrived at 8:30 and everything was ready by 9:30. The boys got a fire started to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Supper was pretty good. After we cleaned everything up we had Thorns and Roses. This is where everybody tells what their worst thing, Thorns, and the best thing, Roses, about the week’s events was. When this was done the boys went to the other side of the bus and looked at the night sky. There were no lights on and the night sky was filled with stars. We could see the Milky Way and millions of stars. You cannot see this in Illinois. We soon went to bed after this. Tomorrow we would visit the Air Force Academy and eat giant hamburgers.
    Page 7 of 8 - Friday, July 22, 2011
    Woke up at daybreak. Heard someone else up. Got out of the tent and started getting breakfast out of the bus. Bacon and Eggs this morning. As everyone got up they got the tents down and their stuff on the bus. Breakfast was ready and it tasted pretty good. We finished loading up the bus and headed out. We could smell the sheep already. George was still driving. It would take about 45 minutes to get back to the interstate. Once there we had about a 2 hr. drive to the Academy. We were getting low on gas again. We were starting to make a bad habit of this. George pulled off at the first gas station he saw. We filled up the van and the bus. While we were waiting to pay, I looked out the window of the store and saw another gas station with gas for a dime cheaper. Still better than gas prices at home. Dennis started driving and we did not have far to go to the Academy. As we came up to the entrance, the policeman at the gate got on the bus and asked us if we had any firearms. Told him no. He said to make sure everyone stayed sitting in their seats and to have a nice day. Dennis had to maneuver around concrete barricades made into the road. This was to stop terrorists from getting into the base. The first thing we saw was a B52 bomber. It had been placed on pillars. The boys got a kick out of that. We followed the road around to the visitor center and souvenir shop. The boys headed for the shop. The rest of us went into the museum. We also watched a short video about the Academy. When the video was over it was time to go to the souvenir shop. Found a nice necklace for my wife. When everyone was done, we met outside and went to the Air Force church. George and I had actually attended church service here one year on our way home from Philmont. The church was about a quarter of a mile from where we were. As we walked one of the boys thought he heard rattling. They decided to look for a rattlesnake. Didn’t find any, thank goodness. As we crested the top of the path there was the church. The spires were shining in the sunlight making a great picture. The church is set on the West side of the compound. Sleeping quarters and classrooms are situated around the square. On each corner of the square they have set an airplane. As we were looking at this, a helicopter landed on the grass. It was ferrying people somewhere on the post. We then went into the church. The church is a major tourist attraction, so we could take pictures on the inside. There are big stain class windows. There is an enormous pipe organ on the second level. We set down in the pews and rested for a little while before we left to go back to the bus. Lucas B. got a ride on a golf cart because of his injured foot. Our next stop was the arena where they had an Olympic size ice rink. Unfortunately we went to the wrong building. The building we ended up at was just being dedicated. We had missed the ceremony by minutes. The building was an indoor football and soccer field. Artificial grass and all. We were told that it had been built to play games when it was bad weather outside. The boys walked the field from one end to the other. I saw them talking to someone which turned out to be one of the benefactors of the building. He talked to them about 10 minutes. They listened and did not interrupt him. As we boarded the bus, he came out and shook mind and George’s hand, thanking us for bringing the boys to the Academy. We got on the bus and headed out. We tried to go out the south gate. At a checkpoint we were turned around to go out the North gate. We got back onto the interstate and headed to the big hamburger joint down the road. It took about a half hour to get there. When we got off the interstate, we made a wrong turn and had to go around the block to get there. It was about 1 pm. There were not many people, so we got to set together more or less. George ordered 26 specials. If they wanted anymore they would have to pay for it their selves. We ordered drinks and then waited. It didn’t take long before the meal started coming out. The meal consisted of one hamburger about 10 inches across with all the fixin’s and a good sized order of French Fries. To my surprise everyone ate what they had ordered. We had the boys leave tips at their tables. We then climbed back on the bus and started home. We only had to go about 3 blocks and we were back on the interstate. We went about a half mile and got on the road that would take us to interstate 70. It was about 70 miles northeast of Colorado Springs. Dennis was still driving. As we got closer to the interstate, we could see the sky getting darker with rain clouds. We knew we would be getting wet. When we got to the interstate we headed east. Now all we needed to do was keep going. The rain had missed us. Off to the south we could see dark areas where it was raining very hard. There were streaks coming from the clouds to the ground. Everyone settled down for the long ride.
    Page 8 of 8 - Saturday, July 23, 2011
    During the night we had stopped several times for gas. It had only sprinkled on us once. When it was my turn to drive we were only part way through Kansas. When we started running low on gas, there were none around. I was having the worst luck with finding gas stations. One finally came up and I missed the turnoff. I had to go a mile down the road and turn around and go back. Wasn’t taking a chance there might be one close down the road. George started driving here. He would drive through Kansas City. On the other side of Kansas City, we stopped and filled up the Van and Bus. Dennis started driving. I fell asleep and when I woke up it was daylight and Dennis was looking for a gas station. We found one with a Denny’s. We decided to go on farther down the road. It was 6 am and the boys were sleeping. Mark started driving. After talking it over we decided to keep going. We were only 150 miles from home. We were making very good time. By 8 am we were through St. Louis and across the river. We thought we would go through Effingham to get home. Ended up going to Carlyle and coming home on highway 50. We drove into the Scout building parking lot around 10:30 am. Everyone started unloading everything. Some of the parents that were there pitched in and we were done by 11 am.
    We had travelled 3495 miles. The only trouble was with the van. A bottle of stop leak fixed that. The bus had run like a dream. The only problem with it was the less than 4 miles to the gallon average. We had visited Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, the first national monument of the United States, Yellowstone National Park, the first national park of the United States. The Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Co. We brought everyone back with no injuries. After a short break, Scout meetings will start after school begins and we will start another year. At this time we have no idea where we are going.

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