The economic climate sucked. Lynn took a leave of absence. Bill took a leave of his senses and QUIT. They bought a Jeep, and the rest is history. The history is in the telling, and the telling is here.
You may be amused to know that I wrote this entire journal on a Palm! In Graffiti! For piece of mind, I bought an MMC card and Backup Buddy to do nightly backups onto the card. Also, I've scanned a bunch of maps but haven't added them to the text yet. You can click on any image to get a larger version.
11:30: Hit the road with 42100 on the odo.
Stopped at the bank, Mollie Stones, and then we were on our way.
10:15: Departing Manzanita campground, Lassen National Park. Dusty, loud family, $14.
15:13: Lake Albert, emerald, volcanic bluffs. 395 wraps around it as 1 wraps around ocean north of Stinson. Only more desolate. Much more desolate. Water birds. Beautiful.
9:05: Depart Day's Inn, Burns. Shower much needed to ease into this camping thing.
13:06: Found: Papa Murphy's in Baker City.
13:21: Used NP pass at Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
9:14: Depart Lake Wallowa Campground.
13:56: Had a mushroom burger and chocolate shake in Lewiston. It's a blazing hot 99 degrees. The shake felt good.
We were going to spend the night in Spokane (although Lynn would rather drive forever more) but a flag man said that Spokane was boring and he should know--he lives there. So rather than plow through the wheat fields of eastern Washington, we hit the mountainous Idaho panhandle instead with Coeur d'Alene in our sights.
Speaking of flag men, road construction up here is a rather relaxed affair. Rather than work on a short stretch of a single side of the road with a flag man at each end, they have flag men (and women) miles apart with a pilot vehicle to take the line of cars through the construction. So, several times a day, you get out of the car and hang out with the flag ma-er-person for 15 minutes. And learn that Spokane is boring and wouldn't you rather go to the Coeur d'Alene? Well, yes.
But before we leave road construction, note that it occurs on both sides at once so cars are christened with fresh, sticky, gooey, tar for miles. Leave the BMW at home.
Twisty note for Hesh: Highway 3, 47 miles north of Enterprise, OR, going into Washington. The road wraps along the side of a steep, dry, rocky, canyon above the Grande Ronde river (which flows into the Snake).
Another recommendation is the bit of road between 86 and Joseph through the Hell's Canyon Recreation Area.
We spent the last couple of days at the Wallowa Lake State Park (SP). It has been said that this area is known as Little Switzerland. Our observation was that Joseph was the Jackson Hole and the Wallowa Mountains was the Tetons. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful region.
Took a drive up to Hat Point and climbed the fire observation tower. Not for the vertically challenged--the tower swayed in the wind. It certainly tickled my vertigo-bone. And the ranger has to descend whenever he has to take a pee.
Temp hit 105 on the drive back to the campsite.
17:44: Still blazing hot in Coeur d'Alene. Seek the refuge of AC at the Coeur d'Alene Resort--a posh palace of a hotel with Italian furniture at the water's edge. Hopping town. Everyone is 20. Everyone is wearing bathing suits. Will shower, shave, wait for it to cool off and take a walk downtown and catch dinner. Booked a room at the East Glacier Lodge for tomorrow night. It will be a 300-mile day and will probably set a trend across the plains.
10:50: We left the Glacier Park Lodge this morning and are now smack dab in the middle of the plains with the Rockies at our back. It's flat, really flat, without a single bush or tree in sight to provide welcome shade from the relentless heat. This is certainly a "sea of grain."
The Lodge is majestic, with a four story open lobby with Lodgepole pine trees as beams (with bark). The rooms are fine, but lack fans or AC (which one would expect at $160). The bathrooms are styled in plastic. A lot more imagination could have been used.
We stopped at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, just west of East Glacier. A cute little place in the trees. I would suggest a stop there instead of the Lodge.
I did get to take in my first mountain stream swim yesterday. The icy-cold water was an extremely refreshing break from the 96 degree heat.
Just passed through Cut Bank which sports a great big penguin, the first of many such large animals we are to encounter along US 2.
Back to the vastness of the Plains.
9:02: Flee the flies and mosquitoes from Shady Rest RV Park, Glasgow.
Had some pretty decent Chinese food last night before watching Minority Report. 5 stars.
Earlier yesterday, we walked around Bear Paw Meadow, where Chief Joseph surrendered with the famous words, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
Met some folks from N. Dakota this morning. And we thought we were just going to race across N. Dakota.
15:54: Glenfield, ND. Stopped to switch drivers and to take a photo of the fire station. Lynn plans to make a collage of fire houses for her brother the fireman.
This morning, we left the campground at the Cross Ranch State Park on the banks of the Missouri River. After imagining the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery spending the winter of 1804 at this spot, we stopped at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and saw a reproduction of Fort Mandan where they did so.
This part of the plains is nearly perfectly flat. I imagine what the settlers saw: one expansive sea of grain. However, today clumps of trees interrupt these seas. And they are truly like seas as the wind creates waves. We stop and listen to the rustle as the waves break on the road.
It is hazy--most likely caused by burning fields as there aren't enough people or cars or humidity for that matter to account for it--so you can't see but for 5 miles or so. And the road--while quite straight--has yet to extend to the horizon as it frequently does in the Outback.
There are also a heck of a lot more cars here than in the Outback even though we are avoiding the interstates. As a result, cars aren't so much a novelty and folks don't wave to break up the tedium of the drive. Or so I thought: about 6 folks have waved in the past half hour.
12:17: Grand Forks, North Dakota. Best Western Town House.
Spent a layover day in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where we escaped the continuing heat in the University's library (to read email) and the movie theater (to watch Men in Black II--this won't be stuff for the academy, but it was good, light summer fare). We also took the opportunity to change the oil in the car and to do laundry.
During our drive through Minnesota this morning we saw 2 lakes: 9998 to go.
15:48: Minnesota is flat and thickly forested.
16:19: Cut through Fond du Lac on way to Duluth. Beautiful area: trees, lakes. Others agree as homes can be seen through trees on lakeside.
The sky continues to darken. No rain yet, but it has been threatening to do so since yesterday.
18:29: Bayview, Wisconsin.
On Wednesday, we had lunch in Bemidji, home of the statues of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe.
That night we spent the night at our first KOA, in Cloquet outside of Duluth. The mosquitoes were so bad despite the citronella and the DEET that we retired to the tent to read. It was hot. It was humid--a first on our trip. I had to suffer a soliliquoy about this guy's "rig" and how he got it. Other people call them "Bagos."
Thursday morning we split just as it started to rain. We spent the day in Duluth, a beautiful town nestled on a hill. Since some of the buildings were old and made from brownstone, it reminded me of Heidelberg. There was even a tower where the Konigstuhl should be.
We visited the aquarium, had a private tour (as it turned out), and learned about the history, geology, and wildlife of the region, including fish, of course.
While Lynn toured a freighter, I visited the Maritime Museum and learned about how the Aerial Bridge (Duluth's landmark) and the breakwater were built. There were also relics from the various shipwrecks in the region. I walked out onto the breakwater and was amazed to see ocean-like waves in Lake Superior which have been able to claim many ships when the weather turned nasty.
We also got to see the bridge operate several times and watched the freighters pass through while a couple of waverunners buzzed around like gnats.
We arrived at the Buffalo Bay Campground last night, and
will be staying here a few days more.
Today we took a walking tour of Bayfield, an old and cute little town that boasts Queen Anne Architecture (gingerbread houses).
Then we drove through the heart of the peninsula of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on dirt fire roads. I got the Jeep sideways a few times and Lynn even enjoyed it. We stopped to pick some sweet and delicious blueberries and to skinny-dip in Horseshoe Lake (Lynn passed, as expected).
17:37: Drove down to Hayward for the Lumberjack World Championship. Only one problem--it is next weekend. We went to the site where the championship is to be held and found that they have a daily lumberjack show, so all was not lost.
Then on to Ashland and the South Side Brewery where we had some fine brews.
17:03: Took a kayaking trip with the Adventures in Perspective outfitters. The trip explored the Sea Caves, which is a beautifully colored--mostly reds and browns--and sculptured sea wall. There are caves and arches you can paddle through.
An encroaching thunderstorm cut short our trip, so we headed back and had lunch. Once the threat of lightning had passed, we played around and practiced water exits and self-rescues.
This evening we had a classic "fish boil" at Gruenke's, where we met a nice group from Madison who invited us back to their campsite for a beer.
9:22: Departed Buffalo Bay Campground.
We blew off our plans to take an early boat out to the Stockton Island yesterday where we planned to hike, and swim and pack a picnic. The operative word here is "early."
Instead, we lounged around the campsite, had lunch, and then went back out to Meyer's Beach where we took a hike above the sea caves. Coincidentally, we bumped into the group from Madison in the parking lot. Afterwards, I rinsed off the sweat from our exertions by swimming in Lake Superior. Cold, but warmer than our ocean--at least on the surface.
Then it was back to the campsite for reading and a nap, dinner and a campfire while we watched the full moon rise, casting silvery reflections on the lake.
12:11: This is snowmobile country. Indeed, we just drove through Sayner, WI, home of the first snowmobile.
Along the road the are snowmobile tracks, complete with tiny traffic control signs.
12:14: The heat wave seems to have passed us by. It's now 68 at midday. This is quite a relief from the 100- and 90-degree heat (coupled with humidity in Minnesota and Wisconsin) that we have been suffering.
10:35: Took a walk along the shores of Lake Michigan this morning. It was rather curious for a coastie. This was a lake, but it had the feeling of an ocean: soft sand, seaweed, shells, waves, water all the way to the horizon. The only differences were the smell wasn't the same, and the water didn't taste of salt.
We spent the night at the campground in the Point Beach State Forest. Very pretty spot. Nice campground. Almost nobody on the beach. Compare to Outer Banks.
Now we're headed to Lynn's Uncle Terry's house in Racine.
18:33: Yesterday we started with a very leisurely morning. We then drove around Racine and then saw the animals and exhibits at the county fair. We did not pass on the bratwurst.
Today we had another leisurely morning. Then we drove to Milwaukee and visited the Milwaukee Art Museum. They had a pretty impressive collection including Rodin, Renoir, Monet, and even our own Arneson.
After lunch at Nola's, we took the Miller Brewery tour. That was a waste of time.
Then back to the ranch for drinks and dinner.
14:14: We got talked into staying another day. After going out to breakfast again, we had another relaxing morning hanging out and talking.
I then walked to the library to check on email. Unfortunately, the library closed shortly after I arrived but I found a cafe downtown with some terminals.
While walking home, I encountered the gang driving in the mini. They were headed for the local museum which showed the local industries in town such as In Sink Aerator, Case, Twin Disk, Mitchel (wagons and cars, bankrupt since 1923), Johnson Wax, and so on.
Picked up an ice cream on the way home. Then we putzed in the yard, read some more email, and then made dinner. Angie's son Jim and his wife Sherrie visited for a spell.
I cooked breakfast this morning. I'm not very good at omelettes-maybe I should flip them to cook the inside without burning the outside. The potatoes were fantastic of course.
We did manage to leave Uncle Terry and Angie's house this morning, however. Our first stop was the Kettle Moraine National Park. Here are many features of the retreat of the glaciers 18,000 years ago.
14:59: Just drove past Green Bay. What a surprise: all trees, no skyscrapers. Only the stadium and a few smokestacks mar the treeline. With a population of 96 thousand, this city isn't that big. We're making an exception to our rule--unfortunately--and am booking on the interstate so we could only view the city and the bay from the bridge.
19:24: Indian Lake Travel Resort on Indian Lake outside of Manistique, MI. Very nice campground in an idyllic spot.
17:59: We were awakened by thunder at 6:30 this morning. So, instead of sleeping until 9, we were breaking down the tent so we wouldn't have to pack a wet tent. It would have been nice to sleep in since we didn't get to bed until 12:30. We had chatted around the campfire with our neighbor who was camping for the first time with their two boys. We had also lost an hour driving into the eastern time zone.
The rain fell. And it fell. And it fell. It let up for a moment to give us a nice view when we drove over the Mackinac Bridge. We stopped for breakfast at Bob's Big Boy and my thonged feet sloshed through a lake in the parking lot. At least feet dry faster than shoes. We drove through several rivers this day. It rained so hard that you had to slow down by one half.
We arrived in Sudbury, Ontario, and decided we had had enough. A local said she had lived here for 30 years and she had never seen it so bad, and they had a hurricane in the 70's! Elsewhere, tornados touched down. A man waiting for a bus stood in water up to his knees. So we booked a room in the Howard Johnson's Conference Center and unwound.
19:38: Ottawa, Ontario. Set up camp at Camp Hither Hille outside of Ottawa. On the drive, saw the first traces of mountains--more like hills--since we left the Rockies. But Ottawa is flat and woodsy again.
The weather has cleared up. It was hot (85) but not too humid.
18:29: Shared a campfire with some Quebecois last night. Proud of their culture and heritage,they had voted for separation.
Took the bus into Ottawa this morning and were jettisoned into Europe. Large, old, brown buildings dominated the Parliament Hill landscape.
We walked around the river, through Hull in Quebec, and stopped in a British Pub for fish and chips and to escape the relentless heat. It was over 32 C and humid.
We then visited the National Gallery and viewed the Canadian exhibit. Those Canadians are good artists!
The Notre Dame, next door, introduced us to the tin roofs of the cathedrals around here. This roof had been recently renovated in stainless for longevity, however. Indoors, intricate carved wood and columns painted to look like marble dominated.
Finally, we toured the center block of the parliament buildings. It was very similar to the parliament buildings I saw in Australia, and as I learned, to all of the Commonwealth countries.
We watched Austin Powers, Goldmember, at the theater at the bus stop near our campground in a continued effort to escape the heat.
By the way, the bus runs on dedicated roads. Wonder why they didn't lay rail and use electric cars? Cheaper? So the buses could run elsewhere?
10:02: We're taking the first short break in some time and putting aside the kitchen cleanup for a moment.
On Thursday, we made the short drive from Ottawa into Montreal and stayed at Camp Aloette to the east of the city which the Quebecois had recommended. Nice campground. Immaculate bathroom which was constantly maintained by dedicated, friendly, and helpful staff. But...
On Thursday night, a group of Germans partied until 3 so we couldn't sleep. No sooner had they gone to bed when the thunder, lightning, and heavy rain struck. It became apparent that the seals on my tent had gotten tired and water began to drop on the mosquito netting. No appreciable water came into the tent though. Fortunately, we had located the tent on a high spot so we did not get flooded. The next morning, another storm hit and we saw that we had been a meter from a puddle. This reinforced the importance of picking a good spot for the tent.
Friday morning, then, we found a Canadian Tire store (which sells everything, including tires) and bought a new tent. We then headed into Montreal and took a walk around the old city. It really felt like Europe: narrow cobblestone streets, store signs which have symbols that indicate the type of shop. The clock tower on the port provided a good view and the archeological museum was extremely well done, presenting the history of the city via an actual excavation. Subsequent periods of the city had literally set their foundations on top of the remains of previous periods.
Yesterday, we packed up and took the metro into town for petite dejeurner in the underground city of Montreal. Once again, our sleep was stymied by a group of partiers. This time though, they never went to bed. We then hiked up Mont Royal (from which the city is named) for a nice overview of the entire city.
Had lunch at a street cafe and then bid adieu to Quebec, made for the car and a quiet border crossing into Vermont. There was some sort of jamboree going on near Colchester (near Lake Champlain), and the natives were certainly restless, so we opted to continue on to Stowe to avoid 3 sleepless nights in a row.
We spent a cool, quiet night last night at the Gold Brook Campground, Stowe, VT. No partiers. No clouds. No rain. Just the sound of the river 10 meters away and stars overhead (we didn't add the rain fly).
18:46: Had lunch in Montpelier, the diminutive capital of Vermont.
At 8000 inhabitants, it is the smallest capital in the country. The firehouse was the nicest looking of all the ones we have seen, so I dragged the firemen (and firewoman) out for a group shot in front of their firehouse. They recommended the Barre firehouse too which was built in the mid 1800s and sports a wood floor.
The Hope Cemetery outside of Barre is the showcase of the Granite Center of the World. Every tombstone is a work of art.
Spent the night at the Kancamagus Motor Lodge in Lincoln, NH, since they have in-room steam baths.
18:46: Yesterday, we cruised around New Hampshire. We started by walking around the Flume, a magical primeval gorge.
Then a quick view of the Man in the Mountain which seems to be a pretty significant NH symbol-it serves the background of their highway markers..
We then drove up to the base of Mt. Washington, where the cog railroad started. We then crossed the pass via a dirt road and climbed Mt. Washington via the steep, narrow auto road. The road is pretty exciting (steep, narrow, with sharp cliffs off to the side), and the mountain provides spectacular views of the White Mountains. The highest spot in New England is subject to hurricane-force winds and other fantastic weather. In fact, it is only clear 100 days a year. Yesterday wasn't one of them. In fact, visibility was down to 5 meters, much like diving in Monterey.
Finally, we arrived at Camp Chewonki in Wiscasset, ME, and met up with Lynn's family (mom, Tammy and the boys, Betsy and Erin).
Today, we drove out to Bailey's Island and walked on the beaches and rocks, including the Giant Staircase, and tide-pooled. We also had a wonderful fresh lobster lunch at Cook's Lobster House. Lobster really isn't chewy!
Then back to the camp for swimming and dinner.
Finally, the weather has broken. It's comfortably cool.
11:20: Spent a relaxing morning drinking coffee and am now sitting by the pool.
While most of the gang did laundry yesterday, Andrew, Erin, and I went for a hike. There was a boy's camp at the end of the hike which included a cable bridge. The kids dug that.
14:52: We're now sitting at the ferry dock in Bar Harbor. We packed up our campsites this morning, said our goodbyes and hit the road. We had planned to go for a short kayak this morning, but the tide was way too low.
I read for hours by the pool yesterday and managed to swim 100 laps besides. When the gang returned from their shopping extravaganza, I taught Andrew how to ride a bike.
13:15: Roadkill count: 5 porcupines.
Spent the night at Loomer's Campers Haven in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (New Scotland). The manager, out of Pennsylvania, mentioned that the best way to meet locals was to walk around the campsite. Indeed, we did not have to walk far as our neighbors Kim and Raymond were from Yarmouth. Raymond repairs appliances.
Haddock and scallops are the local fish of choice (lobster was out of season here). Besides breading and frying, Kim suggested poaching the haddock in whole milk (half-way up the fillet), butter, onions, salt and pepper, and baking for half an hour (I think) at 350. Sounds yummy to me!
Note that this is the first time I've been on Atlantic time.
The drive up the south shore is very pretty. It's flat, flat, flat. From the rare knoll, it's short, stumpy evergreens as far as the eye can see. The trees are only between 5 and 10 meters high. The green is occasionally punctuated by the blue of pristine coves scattered with boulders.
Just passed Bridgewater, home of the DesBrisay Museum. I think Greg passed through here.
15:59: Had a great haddock lunch at Big Red's in Lunenburg. Then walked around this picturesque fishing village which now gets by with tourists' dollars. There's a tall ship moored there called Picton Castle which will sail around the world in 2003 and needs crew. Tempting. Very tempting.
Went to see St. John's Cathedral which, according to Lonely Planet, is "a real stunner." However, it had burned down in November, 2001, and was undergoing a restoration.
10:45: On Saturday afternoon, we arrived in Halifax, booked a night at the Shubie Campground in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
We then took the world's fastest historical walking tour of Halifax. Although it was founded 250 years ago, it feels very modern. Only a few old buildings down by the waterfront remain.
The waterfront was oh so crowded.
We checked into the campground and in keeping with the maritime theme, Lynn made an awesome seafood chowder. We met Ernie and his wife Karen from Dartmouth. Ernie manages a Burger King.
Yesterday, we drove back into Halifax, and visited the Maritime Museum and learned about the Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917 where a Swedish freighter collided with a French freighter full of explosives. Sparks ignited fuel. Twenty minutes later the explosives caused the largest man-made explosion until Hiroshima, leveling much of Halifax. The museum also had an exhibit on the Titanic since Halifax was the closest port to that disaster.
We then took the Harbour Hopper tour. Much of the tour covered the same route we had taken yesterday but then the Vietnam era amphibious vessel took to the water and offered a nice waterfront view.
We stopped at the Bay Gardens 2000 Campground in Five Islands, Nova Scotia. This is a beautiful place overlooking the five islands. Water, trees, red beaches. The tides here in the Bay of Fundy are extreme. Moored boats become high and dry, a land bridge to the kilometer-distant islands rises, and a half dozen clam diggers appear with their ATVs.
Just outside of Five Islands, in the oddly-named town of Economy, we came across a senior centre with a cemetery next door. We had a nice chuckle over that.
For the third night in a row we shared a campfire with a local. Jeremy makes license plates in Amherst. His wife, who stayed with the kids, has been working at MacDonald's for 17 years and is still making 7 dollars an hour. Wow.
8:12: Told Lynn to stop the car west of Port Greville yesterday and checked out an acre of big, blueberries. However, once we got down to Cape D'Or, we found hundreds of acres more. These couldn't be wild.
We stopped in Joggins and scavenged for fossils on the beach. We did manage to find one for a small fern.
We then left the rolling, green hills with Bay of Fundy seascapes, and returned to the flat road through the trees as we experienced in much of Nova Scotia.
Then over the bridge to P.E.I., or Prince Edward Island. This is a long bridge--13 km. And over the Atlantic Ocean too. Impressive.
We ended up at the remote Johnson Shore Inn overlooking the ocean on the northeast side in Hermanville, Prince Edward Island.
The coast here is red as at Five Islands, but it's rocky, not muddy. We even managed to find a sandy beach and swam amongst the jellyfish in the relatively warm and clear, blue water.
8:01: We decided to stay another day at the Inn and relax. We did laundry, walked to some sand dunes, and got stung by those jellies (but had some vinegar handy). I walked back those two miles in the water while Lynn observed from the cliffs above.
Arna, the innkeeper, prepared a scrumptious meal, served by her partner Julie.
15:39: Just popped into Quebec. The Chaleur Bay and the town of Campbellton at the end remind me a little of Geneva, although the mountains are not so high. The drive up the Matapédia River valley is also a pretty one.
11:34: This must be spring in the St. Lawrence region as all of the wildflowers are in spectacular bloom along 132 headed towards Quebec. This is also a very glacial region with erratics and drummlins along the shore. Unfortunately, it is still hazy so not much else can be seen.
We arrived in Rimouski last night in time for dinner because we gained an hour crossing into the Eastern time zone. At 450 miles from PEI to Quebec, this was our longest day so far.
We met Peter Galbraith, one of the mh-e developers, his wife Katia, and daughters Rebecca and Elisabeth. Elisabeth, a year old, screamed upon hearing English. And screamed.
Katia cooked a delicious meal and we visited late into the hot, humid evening. In the morning, Katia cooked another marvelous meal of blueberry crepes. It was great to meet another Internet correspondent face to face.
9:05: Ah, Quebec. Beautiful city. The most European of cities outside of Europe. The Chateau Frontenac dominates the skyline of the old city as it rises above the old walls.
We strolled through the Plains of Abraham where in 1759, the thin red line of the British army vanquished the French. The plains are now preserved as a park. The streets brought me back to my days in Heidelberg. Indeed, one of the pubs we visited was in an old munitions building from 1743 and had the arched ceilings reminiscent of The Cave.
And it was hot. And humid. We found we could survive by stopping in a pub every 10 minutes and having a pint.
Unfortunately, the "historic walking tour" was the worst yet. Not only was it veiled advertising, the buildings and route were not marked on the map which made it so cumbersome we put it away and simply followed our noses. The historic walking tours of Australia are second to none. Tourist bureaus of other countries take note.
We spent our two nights in Quebec at Camping Imperial in St. Nicolas, just outside of Quebec. Except for the bridge noise, it was a very nice campground with clean bathrooms. While it was the smallest camp site we've had, it was also the most private as it turns out due the strategic placement of trees. The owner was very nice and displayed his commendations from the Canadian Tourist Board proudly.
And now we're driving from Quebec to Lynn's mom's place in Washington, Connecticut where we'll stay for a few days before heading off to Stockholm for Yves' wedding. We'll return to our story when we head back west.
11:30: Odometer: 50786. We're on our way home.
12:30: Sitting in the AAA in Danbury, CT while they put a TripTik together for us. We've decided to make a compromise between meandering on highways and driving straight back on I-80: we are taking the southern route on interstates.
16:13: So far we've taken I-84 out of Connecticut, through New York and Pennsylvania and are now heading south on I-81. This region is still New England: rolling, wooded, unpopulated hills. Well, at least that's how it seems from the interstate. This is a much different trip in character.
Sweden was fun. I attended Yves' and Lena's wedding at a small castle in Bjärka Säby followed by a late-night party at another castle in the same town (which is so small it doesn't have a pay telephone). See www.newt.com / yves and www.stephenrawlings.com / photos / sweden_aug2002 / for photos (please don't complain about the lack of a link--they don't want their wedding on Google). The next day I joined Yves and Lena and several other guests at their country house in Opphem and relaxed, swam, and windsurfed. On the way out of the country, I spent the night in Stockholm with a friend of theirs.
21:04: From Pennsylvania, we drove through Maryland, W. Virginia and Virginia. We stayed at the Best Western next to the freeway in Mt. Jackson.
22:10: Virginia, Tennessee. Drove through the Shenandoah Valley, past the Great Smoky Mountains, but unfortunately it was too hazy to see much. Not too populated, except around the cities. Rolling hills, some mountains. Lots of trees. Towards Memphis it flattened out.
We're staying at the Day's Inn across from Graceland.
21:03: We flew out of the cheesy strip around Graceland, Memphis, and crossed the Mississippi River into Bill Clintonland--Arkansas.
What surprised me was how beautiful Arkansas was, at least around I-40. I expected plains but got wooded rolling hills and several rivers and lakes. After passing through a few rice and cotton fields--finally--we drove through Little Rock, but didn't see any of the city from the bypass.
We then moved into Oklahoma which also surprised me with the green, rolling hills, but the hills flattened out, the soil turned red, and the forests gave way to fields of grain and oil grasshoppers around Oklahoma City. We were then treated to some lightning displays and then a brief monsoon.
We finally set down in Shamrock, Texas with a steak. Spent the night in the Best Western.
10:35: Flat. Texas is flat. Throw in a massive cattle farm and an oil derrick for good measure. The plains stretch as far as the eye can see, unbroken by strips of trees as they were in the Dakotas.
And then Amarillo, another San Jose sprawl.
And then a butte appeared and the plains abruptly metamorphosed into desert as we crossed into New Mexico.
14:45: The entire valley including Grants is one big lava flow. How long ago? Seems relatively recent, but it appears it gushed forth in several episodes as plant growth ranges from profuse to non-existent.
17:52: I love the desert. It is wonderful to look at with the mountains, the canyons, arroyos, bluffs and washouts. The whites. The reds. Perhaps the east can match the superlatives if you could only see it! Most roads are swaths cut through the trees so you can't see the forest for the trees.
About 100 miles east of Flagstaff, the desert pulled one of its splendors. We drove through a thunderstorm, dust storm, and high winds all at the same time. The sun cut through the clouds looking like the Aurora Borealis. The sun spotlighted the red cliffs.
18:16: And then suddenly, at milepost 204, forest!
18:19: And then a suburb!
10:08: Spent the night at the Country Inn, a nice bed and breakfast in Williams.
This morning we approached the Grand Canyon as the sun rose and cast oranges on the gathering clouds. We parked at Mather Point and walked along the rim trail to glimpse patches of bright red rock. After breakfast at the Bright Angel Lodge, we hiked the 2.5 miles back to the car with the sound of thunder behind us. To the west, dark clouds filled the canyon, changing the reds to sublime shadows, as if we had been teleported to the Monterey trench.
21:24: Our timing was excellent--it started raining when we reached the car. And it rained. And it rained, rained, rained, rained. We saw the Imax Grand Canyon presentation. Then we drove on through the driving rain and fog. We pitied the poor bastards who had just arrived and clustered in the scenic overlooks huddled under umbrellas, vanishing in the fog.
Then the lightning began. It gave us a great show the rest of the day.
We drove through another lava flow tucked in among the aspen in the Dixie National Forest in Utah..
We pushed on, drove into Nevada, and watched the sun set as we had watched the sun rise--behind the wheel.
And then we finally arrived in Ely, Nevada and stayed at the Best Western.
11:24: Fallon, Nevada. Very green. Lots of agriculture. Feels like the valley (San Joaquin). Otherwise, Nevada is almost as one imagines (from photos, flying overhead). However, it is more mountainous and there is more life than I had imagined. There are shrubs and birds.
14:38: We climbed into the Sierras and the trees and granite said Home! Unless there is some problem, we will reach Burlingame this evening.
16:50: Odometer read 54620. That means we drove 12520 miles on this trip!
16:51: Trip computer, which was reset when we left CT, read 3842 miles, 19.1 MPG, 58:15 elapsed time. Which means that we averaged 66 MPH on the trip west when the engine was running.
Copyright © 2002 Bill Wohler
Last modified: 2006-02-09 19:14:02 -0800