Thursday, July 30, 2009

Here's Looking At You

The picture was taken at a motel in Canyon City, Co. It was taken not long before the big disappointment of the train ride cancellation but hey - sometimes you win - sometimes you lose and I still have the hat and the smile.

Thought I would review the trip with a few thoughts. Like high points, low points, etc.

For instance, the high expectation: see family and exciting places.
The big downer: Linda having to go home.
The big surprise: Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The big disappointment: Not getting to ride the Royal Gorge train
The dumbest thing: leaving stuff at motels
The most awesome: Grand Canyon
The most beautiful: Yellowstone Falls
The most laughs: with Greg and Michelle
The most worrisome: People that got caught up in significant illness
The hottest: Needles California to Albuquerque, NM
The stormiest: Bismarck, ND and driving into Albuquerque
The most peaceful: Redwood Forest, CA
The town I liked best: Ennis, MT
The town I liked least: Seattle (traffic)
The most heartwarming: family reunion in Arlington, WA
The best food: Mexican restaurant in Jamestown, ND
The worst restaurant: California restaurant in Lone Pine, California
The most challenging roads: Oregon and California coast (US-101)
The most impressive: The Spruce Goose at Evergreen Museum, Oregon
The most frustrating: highway construction. Now, if I can only get
The wealthiest area: Lake Tahoe
The poorest area: Along US-395 in California (desert areas)
The best motel chain: Days Inn
The most disappointing motels: Super 8
The most satisfying: Gas mileage with our Dodge Caliber

There may be more but my mind is slow this morning. It was a wonderful trip and great to be
with family a significant amount of time. But next time it will be by plane or train. Now, on
to video editing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Murphy's Law

As this is written we are Salina, Kansas well on the way home. It has been a grand trip not withstanding a few glitches here and there - including a few that were life threatening. No fatalities but really challenging. It just goes to prove that if something can go wrong, it will.

How about one of our first motels where a shower fitting blasted water everywhere except on the body. The motel said "sorry about that" - and that was all there was to that.

Just after we left our eldest son's house in Washington - we were on the road to Oregon when we heard about it - Jeff went to the emergency room with a kidney stone. Having endured one some years ago I really felt major pangs of sympathy because it is a horrible experience.

Another day or so I the three of us lost some lines of communication and left a small bag in a motel
in Florence, Oregon. Wouldn't be a major thing except it had all my medication and diabetes glucometer and some other stuff of some significance. I usually leave some money in that bag but thankfully, the money was in another bag. We contacted the motel and asked them to ship it to our home. We tried to get the prescriptions transferred from the pharmacy back home to a
similar chain store in South Lake Tahoe but the Tahoe store did not have a pharmacy. Solved the dilemma by going to an urgent care clinic where I got prescriptions to cover the rest of the trip.

Then we got word that Linda's husband ended up in the hospital with a serious blood pressure problem. But we got word after we left the Tahoe area for Needles, California. It was serious enough that Linda became convinced the needed to fly home. Were we to cut the trip short and drive back to Minnesota as quickly as possible? Then we figured it would be faster for her to fly.
But there were no connections out of Needles which meant another day on the road so she could fly out of Albuquerque which allowed her visit to Grand Canyon (a primary reason for her going on the trip in the first place). When we got to Albuquerque we fought a terrible rain storm in the dark and Joyce managed to get us to the hotel with not much help from me (I have now come to the conclusion that no matter what I said, the GPS lady never failed us and I better listen to her more closely).

Linda got a 4:45am transfer to the airport where her flight (I won't say what airline it was) was delayed because of a missing flight attendant) Once airborne, and about 15 minutes into the flight there was a bang and the pilot (not saying what had happened) announced that the flight was returning to Albuquerque. At any rate, Linda made it back to Minneapolis safely albeit a little late. Oh, and by the way, most of her souvenirs and other bags will be shipped back from Oscoda when we get home. Assuming all goes well between here and there.

Well, the latest was when we got to Canyon City, Colorado and experienced a major rain storm.
This morning we checked in for the Royal Gorge train ride. Half an hour so later a voice over the PA system announced that our train ride was canceled because of a storm-induced rock slide that blocked the tracks in the canyon. Couldn't wait to see if the tracks would be cleared for the 1230 departure so we got an earlier start back home than planned and a nice refund of the fare for the trip. Got pictures of the train -- and a commercial video so we'll be able to see what we might have seen.

I may have something but this was enough. Tomorrow it's on to Indianapolis - Murphy's Law
not withstanding.

Oh, about the picture - Joyce wanted to have some warm weather. The dashboard thermometer indicates an outside air temp of 108. But wait - a little bit later it went up
to 112. I'm ready for some cooler weather.

See you next time with the next exciting chapter.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hello Down there

Leave it to our youngest son to give us the thrill of the trip. Probably everything from here on will be a downhill experience. (Figuratively and literally)
We have had a lot of mountain driving on this thrip. The picture will give you an idea of a little of what what we have experienced. Narrow two lane roads winding, twisting roads often with construction in the worst locations. And I do not like heights which doesn't even approach what Joyce thinks. I think she cringed on the floor a couple of times when we were on some particularly challenging stretches. We thought there were some challenging roads on I-90m going to Washington. But it was even more challenging along the Oregon and California coasts.
The roads were challenging in the Redwood Parks of Northern California. The super wide
I-80 over Donner Pass was not so bad in itself but there was a lot of consthruction which was

The last couple of days we have been at Lake Tahoe - about 7,000 feet above sea level. We have had a great time visiting son Greg and family and it was Greg that gave us the greatest thrill of all. Yesterday he took us further up - MUCH further up - to an overlook where we could see Emerald Bay. It was all very beautiful until we came to a two lane stretch of road that went along a ridge way up -- way WAY WAY WAY up looking straight down on both sides of the road. No guard rails. And I throughly panicked.

Well, as I said, there's no where to go but down from here unless we take that road again and I'll never ever do that agon unless I'm blindfolded and nobody says "Hey, look down there!"

But I must thank Greg for the greatest thrill I can ever remember. He really presented us with the reatest thrill of the whole trip. And if I repeated myself it's because it was just that. Today it's off the mountain to see Virginia City.

Fortunately I have video of the entire trip so we will see yesterdays views layet. I'm not sure what I saw yesterday when I was cringing on the front seat floor.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2800 miles from Michigan

We made it safely to Arlington, Washington despite innumerable mountain passes -- twisty,

twisty mountain passes with 75 mph speed limits on the interstate highways. But the trip

has been worth every mile we've put behind us

In my last blog I mentioned the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I still marvel at that

park which we were not aware of. I had heard of the Badlands but it never really sank in just how bad. We were talking about how difficult it must have been to the pioneers as they

went through the badlands.

The next night we stayed in Jamestown, Montana from which we headed(the next day) to Yellowstone National Park. Wonderful -- but it exposed us to our first real narrow winding roads and significant climbs. At one point we crossed the Continental Divide at 8300 feet

altitude. Lots of big trees and it was not as scary as I expected. The high point of the day was Yellowstone Falls - Got beautiful pictures (see above) Did not see Old Faithful because of crowded parking lots. But there were a lot of other things that made up for it.
The weather was wonderful - but very cold at Yellowstone. I was glad for a heavy sweater
But the rains came as we left the park heading for Ennis, MT where we stayed at a really nice "mom and pop" motel. A really nice town.
However, we goofed the next morning, Took State highway 287 when we should have taken US Highway 287. It was a spectacular ride and worth every second of the mistake, Picked up
Interstate 90 again a little east of Butte and after Missoula is when we got into the mountain passes and twisty Interstate highways. I don't think the ladies in the car appreciated the
twisty roads at high speed but it was a spectacular ride just the same. Spent our next night
at Moses Lake, Washington. The next day we finally made it to Arlington and got our first taste of Seattle traffic. I hate it and hope we don't have to contend with too much more. But our visit to Jeff's has been great.
One last note - I love the Dodge Caliber gas mileage. The lowest was 28 in the heavy driving
at Yellowstone. All the other days averaged 31 to a max of 34 mpg in some of the really flat lands on cruise control. Much better than I expected.
As I said, we're enjoying our visit to Jeff and Wayne's. gonna leave on Tuesday morning if we can find a slot in the traffic pattern.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where in the World am I?

I've built a reputation. Nothing significant or scary - but a reputation just the same.

For years and years I have carefully planned itineraries for vacations. I've ordered
AAA maps and trip-tics by the dozens. Nowadays I use google maps and mapquest
but my reputation is that All the effort that goes into the planning more often than
not is ignored once we are on the road.

The past few weeks has been such an occasion. Only this time I sent copies of my
itineraries to five or six important family members - including any who might be
traveling with us - or would find us stopping somewhere at their front door. One of our
daughters responded by saying that the fourth final itinerary began to make her wonder just when we (I?) would come up with a FINAL final FINAL plan for a vacation. I removed the
word final and began to use the date of the day I did the last itinerary.

So we left on Sunday on a massive trip from Michigan, to northern Minnesota, to Yellowstone
National Park (and other parks on the way) to Seattle, to the Oregon Coast, to the Redwood
Forests, to Lake Tahoe, to Grand Canyon, to New Mexico to a train ride through Royal
Gorge, to Denver, to Mount Rushmore and then back to Michigan by whatever route
crops up. Thus far I've used 95 percent of my itinerary, 70 percent of the AAA Trip-Tic,
and it's only three days out of 21. By the way, we had a significant problem trying to
find our daughter's house and if we had listened to our GPS device we would have found
it easily. Using instructions she sent us got us totally lost and for a while we couldn't
contact here because our cell phone didn't work for a while in her isolated area.

The word we have come to expect is "recalculating" -- which has sounded off repeatedly
when we deviated from the directions they (that unidentified voice on the little black box)
insisted were correct. But their recalculations always seemed to catch up somewhere along
the way.

And so we are currently in a motel in Columbus, Montana where a shower fixture was
maladjusted and soaked everything in the bathroom - EVERYTHING - including my
beloved and all her fresh clothes for the morrow. It did get fixed but it was a tense moment.

Well, tomorrow is Yellowstone Day. Let's see how things go then.

By the way, if you ever make it to Montana, on Interstate 94, be sure to take a while to
visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Never heard of it - never expected it - but it
was a hidden jewel very close to the Interstate.

See you again soon.