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July Travel Anthology—Part 2

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

travel stories with landscape photographic artist

kent j burkhardsmeier

9 more miles

Meditating with nature as morning sunrise spreads optimism - Flaming Gorge, Utah
Meditating with nature as morning sunrise spreads optimism

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—> Rest Stop

Journeys in July (Part 2)

Grand Design Momentum RV campsite at Walcott State Park, Idaho

As you'll recall from Part 1 posting, I had high hopes of regular and timely post of stories along the way.

But, traveling through internet 'dark' regions, and new travel logistics interrupted my intentions.

This is part 2 of my journeys during July 2021. I hope to play catch up during the next several blog postings with August and September anthologies.

Potatoes for Mountain Men

(July 11 - July 16)

Lake Walcott State Park (ID)

Flaming Gorge (UT)

Departing from US Highway 395 outside of Burns, I moved east and southeast on I-84 to arrive at my next stop—Lake Walcott State Park outside of Rupert, Idaho. As I crossed the border between Oregon and Idaho, I encountered the Snake River for the first time. Little would I realize how many times I would crisscross the Snake River before the middle of September. This Oregon / Idaho junction is known as the home of Tater Tots.

From Lake Walcott, I continued along I-84 into Utah skirting the Great Salt Lake before turning east onto I-80. Eventually, I turned off I-800, driving towards Manila (UT), past McKinnon (WY) and its historical marker to Flaming Gorge. Flaming Gorge is a beautiful recreation area created on the Green River and stretches across Utah and Wyoming. Note: For some reason I kept saying Flamingo George when I wanted to say Flaming Gorge – not sure why since there were no flamingos there and I didn’t meet anyone named George.

Ore-Ida Tater Tots Anyone?

ore-ida logo

According to Wikipedia, Tater Tots were invented in 1953 when F Nephi and Golden Grigg were trying to figure out what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes. Grigg’s are the founders of Ore-Ida. Ore-Ida was founded in 1949 at Ontario, Oregon by the Grigg brothers. Oregon Idaho, get it? Tater Tots are the brand’s most well-known product.


First Mountain Man Rendezvous, along tributary of Green River near McKinnon Wy

Near McKinnon (WY) runs Henry’s Fork tributary to the Green River. A historical marker alongside State Highway 414 commemorates the first rendezvous of trappers, mountain men, fur traders, Native American, women and children. It was held on July 2, 1825, “hosted” by General William Ashley and included legendary mountain men Jedediah smith and Jim Bridger as well as Jim Beckwourth, storyteller and son of a slave.

Eastern Wyoming

(July 16 - July 20)

Guernsey State Park (WY)

Sundance (WY)

Anyone traversing the Northwest (USA) is bound to encounter numerous white European migration trails (e.g., Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail). Departing Flaming Gorge to my next stop (Guernsey SP), I headed east across Wyoming where I crisscrossed the common path followed by these three trails—known as the Emigrant Trail, which spans 400 miles across Wyoming.

The state park is a manmade reservoir on the North Platte River, known for water recreation, ruts remnants of the Oregon Trail, and an expensive restroom.

Annual silt run at Guernsey State Park, Guernsey Wyoming

Unfortunately, during my stay the reservoir was drained as part of the annual silt run. Many boaters were disappointed as their boats remained on its trailer. I’m not sure why they didn’t “get the memo”, it occurs every year since 1959.

Million Dollar Biffy

The Castle at Guernsey State Park built by Civilian Conservation Corp

This ain’t your ordinary brick shithouse. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built several structures within Guernsey State Park.

The Castle, a stone structure with a giant fireplace, winding steps, and a second level observation area offers a spectacular view of the park and reservoir. A castle wouldn’t be complete without a bathroom. And the Guernsey Castle has a massive rock bathroom next to it, known as the “Million Dollar Biffy.”

Million Dollar Biffy historical marker at Guernsey State Park

Last Leg to Bismarck

(July 20)

Sundance (WY) to Bismarck (ND)

Long and straight stretch on US Hwy 85

The last leg (332 miles) of the trip from San Diego, CA to Bismarck, ND began on I-90 and ended on I-94. But most of the route (185 miles) is on US Highway 85. Normally, this drive is uneventful and often rather boring pass along flat, nearly straight stretches of highway. Rumor (or experience) has it that this stretch of highway makes a great place to drive for someone with their learner's permit.

However, this trip provoked some mindboggling moments: “What’s the difference, again?” and “OH, NO! Now what?”

What’s the Difference, Again?

US Hwy 85 sign for Buffalo SD and Bison SD [stock photo]

Do you know the difference between a buffalo and a bison? I don’t think this road sign along US Highway 85 offers any clarification—in fact, most people don’t know which way to go.

Bison are native to North America and Europe while buffalo live in Africa and Southeast Asia. The difference is really about the three H’s (Horns, Hump, Home).

OH, NO! Now what?

Awning damage along highway

40 mile per hour winds can really cause havoc, especially on a big rig like Whispers — she's 40 ft long and 13.5 ft high. Somehow, the wind caught hold of the 18 ft awning on the RV, destroying it and nearly ending the adventures.

Pulling alongside the two-lane highway, I had to climb up on the roof to retrieve the torn 18 ft x 10 ft awning while enduring the howling cross winds. Then, I had to detach the mangled metal support structure from the RV without causing injury or further damage to Whispers. (If you are curious what the extended awning should look like check out the photo at the top of the post). Thankfully, the trip could continue, less one awning. Hopefully, a replacement awning can be secured and installed during our October return to San Diego (CA).

UPDATED: No awning available to install during the short return trip to San Diego. But a new awning has been secured and will be installed in New Mexico during Thanksgiving week in November.

Travel adventures during August and September will be coming in the near future. Stay connected as I continue my photographic journey around America. My next stops take me from North Dakota to Montana and Washington while returning through Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming before ending up in Colorado.

Pausing Along the Way

Pause during life's journey,

embrace stillness in nature,

look around with an expanded vision,

listen with an open mind,

connect to nature with awareness.

Like connected pine needles

whose branch provides nutrients and insight,

our connection with nature

whispers wisdom and inspiration

through serenity, calmness, and peacefulness.

Step into the yard, walk to the park, touch a leaf,

peer deeply into an image of nature—

take time to pause—connect with nature,

notice the space within—embrace it

Simple moments when you pause to connect with nature
Pause — Connect with Nature — Embrace

Feel free to share a story from your journeys. in the comment section.

Or, add a comment on connecting with nature.

highway us-9 shield

how much longer?

are we there yet?

how far to the next rest area?

9 more miles

9 more miles segment is a place where I share random road tidbits along the way during my capturing whispers from nature adventures.


In case you are wondering "are we there yet?"


“just 9 more miles without an awning"


Looks amazing - so glad you guys are living the life

Replying to

thanks Miri! we'll be back to south florida from Jan thru April so we must get together. happy new years!

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