Grand Teton /Yellowstone trip September 2017

Tell any of your adventures and Le'Sharo road trips here.

Grand Teton /Yellowstone trip September 2017

Unread postby RV4BT » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:07 pm

This was our longest trip in our repowered 1986 Winnebago LeSharo since getting ours running back in 2015. To date we have put over 10,000 miles on our RV after repowering it with a 3.9 4BT Cummins diesel and setting it up for rear wheel drive. With only minor mechanical problems to date the RV has proven to be very reliable. This trip was a true test as we would be traveling over 2400 miles round trip. Our travels would bring us from east Nebraska to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Devils Tower, Wyoming, for a nearly ten day trip. Before our vacation we did three areas of updates and improvements to our LeSharo that I will cover before our trip report.

First improvement was done from January – March 2017, we rebuilt our dash, replaced all our tired carpet with good quality vinyl, redid our door upholstery with a military MARPAT pattern, and removed the overhead driver air conditioning system to give us more head room; we plan to have our AC unit behind our dash. All of these updates were part of our plan to make our trips more enjoyable and to ease cleaning the RV. Without a doubt the vinyl floor work and soundproofing proved to be the most wise investment and improvement.

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Dash Update Jan2017

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Dash and Seat Covers 2017

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Door recovered Feb 2017

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Foam below vinyl

ImageVinyl Floor Image

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AC Removed Ceiling Feb 2017

Second improvement was done around June 2017. We updated the back bedroom by setting up a headboard and even a small shelf with storage boxes at the foot of our bed. We put thin paneling over the back seats and then 4-5” of memory foam which proved to be very comfortable. We decided to setup our middle seating area to be our dining and primary eating space for this trip and we even use the front seating area to hold the coffee maker when overnighting.

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Bed Images1
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Bed Images2

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Storage area

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(TABLE RV)

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Coffee setup.

Third improvement was done around July 2017. We mounted a Motorcycle rack to our hitch and carried a nearly 500 lb 150CC scooter with it. Later in my report I will talk about how this was a big mistake but it made sense when we began planning for our trip We wanted the ability to drive around, separate from the RV, without towing our car which we have done before. With the massive hills and elevation of Wyoming being over 12,000 feet, I believe the weight would have been too much for our RV to handle towing a car so we opted for simpler transportation; a scooter.

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Image of Scooter on back of RV

Our big vacation trip for this year was a camping trip to see three great locations in Wyoming: The Grand Teton, Yellowstone National Parks, and Devils Tower.

This trip report summarizes what was to be a nine day trip that proved to be the most memorable experience we have had with our LeSharo.

Day 1. Thursday, 31 August 2017. Travel to Lake Ogallala State Recreation area, Nebraska. (329 miles driven). Address: 1475 hwy 61 N, Ogallala, NE 69153 Phone: (308) 284-8800
Lake Ogallala Nebraska is one of the last places you can camp at the far western areas of Nebraska. Situated just off of highway 80, it is nestled next to Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area. The area actually has sandy beaches that surround Martin Bay Campgrounds; you can tent camp right on the sand! The geological landscape of this region will cause you to take notice as it is called the Sandhills of Nebraska. This is a mixed-grass prairie with grass covered sand dunes that were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1984. Our overnight camping was for in route travel; focused on the mission of getting to Wyoming, but we took notice of the wonderful scenery. There is a distinct smell, “unpleasant septic smell”, coming from Kingsley Dam which is a hydroelectric plant. Water flows out of Lake McConaughy through what is called, “Morning Glory” tower into Lake Ogallala. We camped right along Lake Ogallala and traveled by motorcycle to see the beaches of Lake McConaughy.

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Camp Site

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Nebraska Beach view!

Day 2. Friday, 1 September 2017. Travel to Vedauwoo Campground, Vedauwoo, Wyoming (210 Miles driven). This was an easy day of driving. The wide open spaces allowed us to enjoy some music and gorgeous scenery of the wide open western frontier. The roads allow 80 MPH driving in many parts of Highway 80 and we kept our LeSharo just under that posted speed by driving between 70-75 mph.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lwit9mcdigo
Video driving down highway 80

We stopped at Cheyenne, WY to gas up, eat, and take a few photos. This was our first taste of a truly western town and it left us hungry to explore more than we could this day.

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Image of Cheyenne, WY

We settled for what we could see in our short stop and arrived at Vedauwoo early enough to drive about the camp sites. We discovered there were no camp sites and also no cellular service! Unless you stood on top of a nearby mountains there was no comms to speak of! “YEAH!”, I thought to myself, “Augggh!”, my wife Lynda expressed. This would not allow her to talk to family, to update our Facebook pages, to explore the internet, to shop, critical things of life, right? Well she said we would have to find another camp site with at least Cell service! I had assumed that due to the late season travel we would enjoy wide open first come, first serve camping opportunities….wrong! We were able to do some hiking around these amazing rocky outcrops that are within the Medicine Bow National Forest. Truly fascinating rock formations and warnings to the fact that very large critters roam these areas!

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Strange Rock formations

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Lynda leading the hike

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNk9XAYDJaw
View of our hike

We overnighted at the KOA in Laramie, Wyoming. Nothing to exciting but glorious internet for my wife.

Day 3, Saturday, 2 September 2017, Drive to camping location. (377 miles driven).
Address: 100 Gros Ventre Campground Rd, Kelly, WY 83011
Phone: (307) 543-3100 We planned to stay in Tetons 2 – 4 Sep (depart Tuesday 5 Sep)

The drive was long but enjoyable. It was amazing to see such wide open spaces of Wyoming where you cannot see a house for miles around.

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Wide open spaces!

Other than stopping for fill-ups and food we keep ourselves entertained with CDROM books and occasional Karaoke style singing as we went down the road:

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Gas Break

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDoYgFGxNsQ
Funny Video of Lynda singing a song.

The views of the Tetons can be seen just past Moran, Wyoming, coming from the east on US 36, well into Bridger-Teton National Forest. Upon arrival we picked up a few stuffed animals to keeps us company along our way. The Grand Tetons have a great visitors center and camping supply areas where we found our stuff bear, Moose, and later a wolf.

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Stuffed Bear

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Stuffed Moose

Before settling into our Camp Site at Gros Ventre we visited the scenic Moulton Barn with the Tetons in the backgrounds. This is a breathtaking view with so much untouched wilderness to take in.

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Our picture with Moulton Barn with Teton view

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Moulton Barn and Tetons

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RV Image at Tetons

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Gros Ventre Camp Site

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Unpacking at camp site

We took advantage of the warm days and hiked around Lake Phelps and I was able to do a rock dive into the cold water!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyOqySpVSg0
Me diving off rock on Phelps Lake

After such a busy day we finally settled into our camping location at Gros Ventre campground where we would explore further on our scooter the next day.

Day 4, Sunday, 3 September 2017.

Planning our day trip involved packing MREs and gear in a backpack to carry on our scooter. We explored the local area and found Lower Slide Lake a few miles away that offered breathtaking view and we enjoyed our lunch at the lake.

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MREs

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Scooter Rider ready

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View or LeSharo and Scooter

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Ready to roll!

We saw Schwabacher Teton view, Atherton Creek Lower Slide Lake, and went for a quick swim in a very cold mountain creek. We also rode to Signal Mountain for a recon trip. They had camping spaces opening up the next day! On this day we drove a total of 120 Miles on the scooter. We got back to the camper at 21:30!. I missed a turn and drove our scooter 15 miles off course :shock: . Lynda's prayers got us back safely. How can I describe the experience….Cold, dark, scary (Buffalo crossing warnings), but by the grace of God we make it to our RV!

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Lunch and alot of scooter riding

Day 5, Monday, 4 September 2017.
Signal Mountain, 1 Inner Park Road, Moran, WY 83013 (307) 543-2831

We move over to Signal Mountain camp ground and enjoy a wonderful breakfast at the Signal Mountain lodge. This camping area actually had weak WIFI but pretty good cellular service. We were able to rent a boat and go fishing

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Arrival Signal Mountain

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Settled in at the water

Signal mountain camp site with Lake Jackson views. We road a boat across Jenny Lake and climbed to Inspiration Point!. Our camp site was situated near the water and we enjoyed golden sunsets through Teton peaks to finish our day.

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Getting really setup with close line drying

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Inspiration Point

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Ken at the top

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Sunset between the peaks

Day 6, Tuesday, 5 September 2017.

We rented a fishing boat, bought day fishing license, and fished on Lake Jackson most of the day. We caught nothing but made wonderful memories. We took a hot shower and washed some cloths. Despite the smoke from northern forest fires we witnessed another gorgeous sunset over a camp fire steak dinner.

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Fishing but caught nothing but memories

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLU0uUsyDvg
Our fishing boat ride!

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Steak Dinner

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Glorious Sunset

Day 7 - 8, Wednesday – Thursday evening, 6-7 September 2017

We traveled up to Yellowstone National Park from the south entrance and drove along the east side of the park. This is a massive national park with expansive open spaces. There are valley plains as far as the eye can see, wild rivers, steep mountain roads, and enormous lakes. We saw large herds of bison; one crossing the road tried to hit our RV! We explored the lower Water Falls of Yellowstone, saw Old Faithful, and much wildlife around unimaginable expansive open land as far as you can see. This is truly the grandest National park in America where you could spend a week exploring and only see a portion of the wilderness and wildlife. We camped outside of Yellowstone near Cook, Wyoming in Gallatin National Forest at a US Forest Service camp site for $4.50! :P ; no hook ups for power. There were serious Grizzly Bear warnings here. I had a Fox cross right next to him as I was sitting quietly by the fire. Zero cell coverage. Breath taking sights and absolute quiet wilderness this night.

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Two Lesharos!

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River view

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Buffalo!

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National Forest Camping

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Our Camp Site

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Stop for sights

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More Buffalo!

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LeSharo and Rialta side by side

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View of Water fall

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5UJw8Pbb9Y
Waterfall video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aohXkDkvtgA
Old Faithful video

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Dash view of all our stuffed critters.

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Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

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View of River

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phGAURImvm0
Video of RV with River

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Strange Military RV

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Geyser

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Leaving Yellowstone

Late evening Day 8, Thursday, 7 September 2017. Drive to Devils Tower, Wyoming. (409) miles.


We drove for about an hour outside of Yellowstone and stopped at a simple overnight location to RV and have good hot meal. Yellowstone Valley Inn, North Fork Highway, Cody, WY. A little pricey at $48.00 and the meal was a little more than that. We woke up early the next day and make it to Devils tower in time to get settled into our camping spot next to Devils Tower.

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Highway views

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-ghlzg-pHw
Highway break Native American music video

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The main driver

Day 9, Friday, 8 September 2017. Devils Tower Visit and overnight

What an amazing sight to see this massive stone structure pushing up in the middle of nowhere. This is sacred land to many Indian tribes. Walking around the Devils Tower you get the feeling that many native Americans look to this as a very spiritual place. It was so quiet and peaceful here as they require you to shut down generators 8 or 9 pm.

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Devils Tower

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LeSharo and Rialta together at Devils Tower

Day 10, Saturday 8 September 2017. Drive to Sioux Falls, SD (451 miles)
We decided to get head start and left around 8am. As we got on the highway we began to notice a groaning sound from our right rear axle. There also appeared to be oil leaking from around the brake drum. I thought we could make it home with this leak and checked the oil level in the axle which still showed it was level. Just outside of Sioux Falls, SD disaster happen, our right wheel and axle exited the axle and our rear end of the RV dropped to the ground. Moments before this happened, a car passing us on the left motioned for us to get off the road; they probably say our tire beginning to leave the axle! Just as I began to get off the road the tire and axle dropped out of our axle tube and I could see the tire and axle pass our RV on the right side off the road! The RV slowed quickly just as I was able to get off the road and on the paved shoulder. What a mess! Our rear axle brake backing plate was actually on fire! Exiting the RV, I grabbed the fire extinguisher and put out the small axle oil file, my wife Lynda was crying and shaking not believing what had just happen. We were so blessed to not have wrecked or been jerked across the highway in the opposite lanes of traffic. We were able to be towed by a wonderful tow company who brought out the big machine to tow us backward to Sioux Falls, SD.
The tow company, Jim and Ron’s comes from Sioux Falls, SD. Todd from this great company found a good repair shop to fix us up. It felt strange riding in a massive tow truck with our LeSharo being pulled backwards!

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RV with axle out

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Damaged Axle

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Image of RV and Tow truck.

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Busted Axle RV on wood block

We found a hotel and rented a rental car from the airport. It felt even more strange to empty our RV that we had to leave in Sioux Falls, SD repair shop. It turns out that extra weight on the rear end from the motorcycle beat our big bearing rear axle to death!.

It took two weeks for the repair shop to get a new 31 spline axle of the right length and a new 9” Ford big bearing and brake set for the right side. We finally brought our RV home at the end of September with the last official duty being to empty the tanks!

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Final tank dump near home.

The final miles driven was over 2400 and our MPG fluctuated between 18 when driving 75mph to 23 when traveling aboard the National Parks under 45mph. This trip was wonderful and at the same time felt unfinished. There is something about not getting the RV all the way home which makes the whole trip seem incomplete. We saw the most amazing sights and raw nature as we have rarely experienced. We stayed in National Forest, explore trails and mountains, steams and lakes, and countless miles of highway country side. There is something about the open road and exploring the unknown that gets in your blood and calls you to go further. We look forward to more adventures in the coming year. We will keep improving our LeSharo to make these future adventures even better. We do so because we know there are place to go, amazing things to see, and that this is the RV meant to bring us to these adventures.

I will never carry a motorcycle on our hitch again! I have no doubt we will keep using a motorcycle for our future RV trips. I have plans to update our tow trailer to carry a more powerful motorcycle we plan to buy this Spring for LeSharo RV adventures in the coming year!
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