Let's Go RV'ing

Well most of you will remember the posts concerning the Rolling "Turd" a 1988 Southwind Fleetwood class A RV that we got from our friends the Shaw's in Rapid City South Dakota and restored to a condition that we used it for some really great RV adventures. The Southwind is now sold and in its place a brand new Rockwood 2503S, 25' travel trailer. This is something that can pull and then have our vehicle to move around once we are at the campsite. (it never seemed practical to pull our vehicle with the Southwind- one because it was old but two because then you had two vehicles to fill up!)
we spent the weekend at the RV dealers parking lot test ground and played like we were on an adventure in the asphalt jungle. We will be going west next week toward the Badlands of South Dakota and the Fall Black Hills Hammock Hang near Sheridan Lake, South Dakota. We will visit touristy things like Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument. We will do some hiking as I will want to go up Mt Harney Peak (7242 feet) again. Let's hope the good old Hummer H3 can pull this big thing half way across the country.

Objections to the Talladh-a-Bheithe power Station- Scotland

photo above from David Lintern blog of the proposed turbine site at Talladh a Bheithe

We don't make much of a fuss in the US about wind turbines as they are everywhere. But everywhere for us, is mostly farmers fields and acres of cattle grazing space with little to no scenic value. What if we put a wind farm in Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon, or the Badlands. I believe you would hear much complaining. Well that is exactly what Scotland is doing, putting giant wind turbine farms in their most scenic and beloved places. Those places that get the most tourist visitors and the most tourist dollars. Essentially shooting themselves in the foot. I don't pretend to know all the politics that are at work in their country over renewable energy vs the outdoors world, and I am not sure anyone there knows the whole story of how this can happen either (their Politicians seem to be just as corrupt and greedy as ours!). But I have been there and seen the destruction and eyesore these areas have become for no reason

Through a friend, Alan Sloman, I did write an objection letter to the appropriate Energy department to try and show that the continual building of these areas will not have a good result economically on the small communities that survive because of tourism and that tourism is from the scenic beauty of the area that is being destroyed.

Letter below:

Friday July 31, 2014

Karen Gallacher                                                                                      

Energy Consents & Deployment Unit

The Scottish Government

4th Floor - 5 Atlantic Quay

150 Broomielaw


G2 8LU

Dear Karen

Objection to Talladh-a-Bheithe Wind Farm Application

I write to object to the above application by Eventus Duurzaam BV for consent under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 to construct a windfarm on a site at Talladh-a-Bheithe, Rannoch.

I am sure you will be getting loads of emails objecting to these wind farms from local residents of Scotland and others from the UK. I thought I might give you a perspective as a foreign visitor and tourist to Scotland. My wife and I recently participated in the TGO challenge, an annual organized walk across Scotland that has been going on for more than 30 years. My wife and I had previously been to Scotland 22 years ago and relished the fact that we would be returning. The route we chose was through some of the country side that we remembered fondly as some of the best mountain views we have ever seen. Specifically the Corrieyairack Pass. We were quite frankly shocked to discover the damage the introduction of wind farms has caused to the scenery with the additions not only of the turbines themselves, but the haul roads to install them and the pylons to get electricity from them.

The United States is no stranger to wind farms and the need for new energy production. Within a few hours of my home in St. Louis, Missouri we have wind farms that exceed many dozen turbines. However all are situated in farm land that has no particular value to tourists or esthetics. In fact, the arrangement in some ways is actually beneficial to the farmers in some subsidies and the haul roads are quickly plowed under in next year’s fields. As energy mad as the US might be we would never consider putting wind farms or anything that could harm tourism in The Rocky Mountains, The Wind River Range, The Grand Canyon, The Smoky Mountains or Escalante National Staircase. These areas might provide perfect wind environments but the eyesore that they would cause, the communities they would destroy, is even here not acceptable.

I struggle to understand why with such a smaller land area in Scotland than the United States you would destroy some of the most beautiful scenery and the potential for so much tourist income by placing wind farms in your national scenic areas like the Cairngorms. I have no interest in returning to this area for tourism given the scenic destruction that has been caused to the landscape above Ft Augustus and Loch Ness.

I would urge you to reconsider this new installation and any future plans for such installations in protected and scenic areas and preserve the scenic beauty and earnings potential of the small communities that surround these area, which are filled with some of the most hospitable and lovely people we have ever had the privileged to meet.

Yours sincerely,

Craig Gulley

207 Tanner Dr., Wentzville, MO. 63385

P.S. I have attached example pictures of the damage we saw while walking across Scotland in this area

Feel free to write your own letter

It's Just 3 Miles- A Weekend Hike On Cedar Creek Trail Aug 1-3 '14

Who's idea was this? Oh ya, it was mine. Bob "Kerflop" and Eric "Hoot" wanted to do a hike this fall so we settled on 57 miles of the Ozark Highland Trail in Northern Arkansas for October, but I thought- Let's have a little get together test hike the first week of August.  I remembered again why I don't hike in Missouri in the summertime; it is hot and there are lots of bugs that bite.
In my defense, it was suppose to be cooler (high 80's), but I did somehow forget about the bugs and Missouri now has the new Tiger Mosquito that leaves a big welt when it bites.
Eric was smart and had better things come up so he couldn't make it, but Jeremy "RamenShamen" could and Bob brought his young nephew Garrett "Gman", who was a super companion.

 As some might remember this was this hike that Brian "Hairbear" and I did last year (when it was cooler) but we only made it around to the road walk on Y and never did the southern 7 miles of trail. This was the biggest reason I thought of redoing this trail, along with it was close for the other guys as they are coming from Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas.

I got there before everyone and set up the hammock and just hung out.
 Bob, Jeremy and Garrett arrived later and brought BBQ from KC- what a treat!

 We had a nice evening around the fire and the quarter moon and the stars later were excellent.

We started early the next morning (Saturday) this trail is very diverse. It starts in forest of pine and soft woods around the campsite and goes for about 1/2 mile. then breaks into the first of many pastures we will walk through over the next day and half.

There are several old homesteads that have long been abandoned but are marked for historic reasons. The wild Blackeyed Susan's have taken over around the ruins.

 Wild Bluebells

The trail then goes back into forest again along a creek bed
 It comes out along a road (for the first longer road walk) by a horse camp. We stopped for a break
(Garrett, Bob- from behind)

  I didn't look like this at the end as I lost 7 pounds in the heat by 10 am the next day

More wildflowers

Moving from road to forest
 Wildflowers and trail walking

The trail heads down for its first of two meetings with its name sake Cedar Creek

 more wildflowers

 How much further till the end of the first day " Only 3 more miles" - the theme of this trip as the map for the area is so poor that you really can't make out any particular details you can only count grids and each one on the map is 1 mile, hence "3 more miles to go"

It did get so hot later in the afternoon we spied a well pump in a yard along the road, I had actually spoken to this very kind husband and wife last year because Brian and I were unsure of where we were suppose to be going on this road section because the maps are so poor, He had actually directed us and let us know he hadn't seen anyone actually backpacking this trail in years!  We stopped and asked if we could pump some water out of his well and rest under his shade trees. They were very kind, and had a great dog "Buddy"
 If we are so welcome in Missouri National Forest land, why does the official trail go on the road right next to the Forest Land?  We did too long road walks on this section with National Forest Land on both sides of the road.
The trail had been very rough through this last couple of 3 miles sections!  Road and then woods. the woods section hadn't been used at all and was overgrown and in one section by a dry creek, it was full of waist high stinging nettles. This was the longest, shortest day I have ever walked.

After about 14 miles we made it back to where Brian and I had reached Hwy Y and started our road walk back to the campground. We decided to try and find a place to swim at Ashland Lake, a small lake owned by the University of Missouri- Columbia and open to the public from 4 am to 10 pm and used for Nature and Agriculture research.
 We really couldn't get to the lake proper just the boat ramp, so we decided to just find "stealth" places to hang for the night and call it a day. The mileage was only 14 but all of us felt like we had hiked 30 from the heat.

It was a very pretty night as we were tucked up the hill and hidden from the parking area. Not a cloud in the sky but no wind either so it was humid as we all just collapsed for a few hours and then stirred later to eat and chat.
 The next morning, with 7 miles left, we had another 3 MILE walk on the road to get back into the woods, again walking next too Missouri National Forest on both sides.... but the air was cooler and the road didn't reflect the heat of the day yet.

 Along the road we walked past lots of history in the form of an old school house and a few cemeteries.

 The last of our road walk was across an old bridge crossing Cedar Creek for the second time.

 Then it was back to the meadows and pastures for the rest of the day. I really enjoyed the meadows, even though the grass was high, the wildflowers were out and you could see a long way.

 Each meadow and pasture seemed to be about 100 acres with a gate to enter and leave each

Meadow Pond (above) looking back across the last meadow (Below)

Bob and Garrett follow the faint and sometimes missing path through the fields. The map calls this a jeep trail, but there hasn't been a tractor or a hiker in here in a long time.
 Most of the land is National Forest leased to ranchers for cows grassing or Hay growing.
check out our bovine encounter at the end of the post.

 fortunately after some route finding (not because of the terrain, but the map) the last field had been plowed and was easier walking.

The sun was up again and even at 10 am on a Sunday morning it was hot and humid in the exposed pastures
 Through the gate and back into the woods to drop to a creek for the last time.

Missouri Trillium- fairly rare flower for Missouri growing alone by the last creek bed near the end of our hike

21 miles hiked 11 hours total
Animals seen or heard:
Owl, Deer, Turkey, Woodpecker, Black Snake, Cows, Hawks, Coyotes, Dogs, Cicadas, Butterflies, Grasshoppers and Mosquitoes!

Bovine Encounter:
So why did I care if we disturbed them? I have always believed that if you are close enough to an animal to change its behavior, you are too close, so I don't like to cause any animal stress, especially since I am the guest.
Support Our National Parks - Preserve - Protect - Enjoy