Friday, July 4, 2014

Appendix B: Smokey Bear

On our way from Roswell, New Mexico to I25 on US 380 we stopped in Capitan, NM and noticed a number of signs and buildings that referenced Smokey Bear. Apparently this is where the Smokey Bear story started in the spring of 1950. A black bear cube was saved but injured in a wildfire at Capitan Gap. 

Appendix A: Signs, Signs everywhere a sign... and smartphones

Captain's afterthoughts: You see many signs as you drive around the country. Advertisements, Instructions, rules of various kinds, directions, warnings about what they will do or charge you with if you were handing candy to the middle row and didn't see or disregard other signs, Information, etc. Double fines in construction zones. Possible elk ahead. Possible deer jumping over road.  Riptides possible! $600 fine for littering. 6% grade. Crooked road. The prairie dogs have the plague! (my favorite from the Badlands).

However there are some places without signs that should have them. While traveling some rural roads in New Mexico (on our way to Carlsbad Caverns) we noticed what was obviously a government site with lots of odd looking buildings. There was a sign which said WIPP facility. MP looked up the facility and found that it is a nuclear waste storage facility in an abandoned salt mine. After further investigation there was a leak that emitted "unknown amounts of radiation" into the New Mexico air. 

I have read a number of the reports and news stories about the site and leak. I would like to propose a new sign for the area.

" Possible kitty litter enabled radiation leaks/explosions possible next unknown number of miles"

"Your inappropriately-cut tax dollars at work"

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Facts, Feelings, and Favorites: the wrap up

FACT: From driveway to driveway, we drove 7,054 miles. The Suburban served us well. No flat tires, no mechanical issues. A mysterious switch to warm air by the air conditioner in Utah was concerning, but after trying it again after our stop, it went back to working. It may have just been rebelling.

Captain: River Terrance Inn, Green River, Utah
LeMoN: Circus Circus, Las Vegas, Nevada
SJ: Hyatt Deerfield, north of Chicago
Hummingbird: Circus Circus

FEELING: In South Dakota's western mountains, and in Colorado's Rockies, and in northwestern Nevada's skiing twists and turns, they warn you about what's coming on the roads ahead. Steep declines? Multiple warnings. Switchbacks? Beware! Miles of slow curves? Heads-up! But if you turn north on Hwy 1 in California at Cambria, GOOD LUCK. No notice that you are now stuck on 130 miles of inescapable conditions like those listed. Not a drive to take when you have a destination, folks.

FACT: 0 people threw up on this vacation. Not once. That's a record.

Captain: California
MP: New Mexico
L: New Mexico
GPS: Wyoming
SJ: Nevada
H: Colorado

FACT: Our average was about 18.4 mpg. Lowest gas price was $3.21 (Arkansas) and highest was $4.23 (California).

FEELING: We're still thinking we've got it pretty good here with our four relatively-same-length seasons. It started to feel very groundhog-day-ish on the beach in CA after just a week - today, 67 and sunny. Tomorrow, 68 and sunny. I can't imagine that nearly same temp all year.

Captain: Mohave Desert, CA
MP: Edwards, CO (trail to a rushing creek, SUPER clean, friendly people)
L: Mohave
FF: still deciding
GPS: South Dakota
SJ: Salt Flats
H: the one when I really had to pee

FACT: Lost - one water bottle, one shampoo, one body scrub, countless pens, one pair of sunglasses which were later found after being replaced; Broken - 2 pair of sunglasses, the tablet charger, one cooler which we know now was probably fine but we gave up on.

FAVORITE: Park (choices - Carlsbad Caverns, NM; Grand Canyon; Henry Cowell State Redwoods Park, CA; Arches, Moab, UT; Mt. Rushmore, SD; Badlands, SD)
Captain: Grand Canyon
MP: Henry Cowell
L: Caverns
FF: Grand Canyon
GPS: Badlands
SJ: Caverns
H: Grand Canyon

FACT: 21 days, 17 states, and only 6 times at chain fast food/restaurant. Not too bad!

FEELING: We'll never forget the visits and conversations with familiar and new faces along the journey: the Wesbecher's and Schell's in Ark; the Kelbaugh's in TX; the friendly people of Lincoln, NM; the great-grandparents (of course he was an engineer!) in La Selva, CA; the Montoya's in CA; the people from Louisville/southern Ind. that were at the Salt flats with us; the Lookers in SD; Anthony from the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.

FAVORITE: Restaurant
C: Compagno's Market and Deli, Monterey, CA
MP: Chihuahua's, Winnemucca, NV
L: tie: the Deli/Davis Street Fishmarket, Evanston, IL/Las Vegas buffet
FF: The Tea Steakhouse, Tea, SD
GPS: Henrietta's, Albuquerque, NM
SJ: Randy's Diner, Palisade, CO
H: The Tea Steakhouse

FEELING: Blessed. What an experience - we will treasure this trip always! Thanks to the Captain for working so hard so we could do this.

One of our favorite pictures:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

MP: Scenes from the last day


 Managed the El, the bus and the trolley

 Future trader(s)?

 Navy Pier and Lake _ichigan

 Cooling off after a lot of walking

A fitting end

We arrived home at about 4 minutes to midnight! 3 weeks exactly.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kids: glimpse of the truck life

MP: where it all started

If Captain hadn't come to Chicago to pick me up from a summer internship 19 years ago, and taken me to meet his brother in Evanston at the fish market restaurant. ..

...then to the blues club for a little music...

...then to the lake -ichigan shore, where he asked me to be his wife...

...then we wouldn't have these 5 kids to take on a road trip, ending on memory lane. The kids enjoyed the story and the evening.  A perfect way to come full circle.

 Delicious seafood and gumbo. I got amazing tuna tacos.

 We didn't go down to the blues club but enjoyed Latin jazz in downtown evanston.

The twins are always willing to join in the dance.
Captain's Log: Trip Day 22. We have now traveled over 5750 miles. We are in Chicago today and will be home tonight.

C: Restaurant Review. The Tea Steakhouse in Tea, MN. I ordered a NY strip and it was excellent. They have a very strict aging process. Do not drink the Tea in Tea though (battery acid). SJ will describe the tea below. My favorite restaurant was a Deli on the mountain behind Monterrey, CA

SJ: The Tea in Tea: was like iced coffee with no sugar ,it din't even taste like coffee, it was bad.

FF: I had an AMAZING steak sandwich. I had it well done, and it was perfect!  

LMN: I ordered a small T-bone steak and in reality it was quite large. I ordered it medium well but it came medium. It was still very good.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Exclusive: Inside the cabin

This is what SJ does when she is bored: the alphabet made from pretzels

 This what Hummingbird looks like when she gets the front seat; at least for a few seconds before she moves again

Sometimes MP gives up the front seat and gets to cuddle with the middle/middle passenger.  Only on flat stretches.

Strangely,  the captain has not taken MP up on offers to drive very much. This would be perfectly fine except for the rubber-necking-induced-swerves.

This technically taken from inside the truck, so it counts: GPS just had to touch the cactus at the McDonald's parking lot.

MP: Let's see south dakota

Some of the kids went to downtown Deadwood with the dads to see the evening shootout,  but other than that we didn't get much time there. We left early Wed morning and headed east.

Scenes from the Badlands:

Cattle, grass, prairie dogs, cattle, hills, grass, green everywhere,  then - Wheat! Corn! Now we all can nap. ;)

No, of course not! We stopped at the corn palace in Mitchell.  They are doing a major renovation,  so a lot of the building was blocked off, but we still got to see the walls and shop a little. Very neat history!

We planned a steakhouse stop somewhere but it didn't work out in CO or WY. So in the very east corner of SD we stopped at the Tea Steak House in Tea. Will let the captain and others give thoughts on this dining experience.  We stayed in Worthington,  MN which is pretty much all we have to say about MN. (Dad: they've gotten lots of rain and the corn there and in sd is pretty short;  LOTS of rain).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MP: ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts

One day, 3 states.  Tuesday morning we were packed and gone from our mountain house by 7 am. We knew we had to get moving, because we had an important meeting.

After loving northern colorado and the high rolling hills framed by the rockies, we traveled through Wyoming (above). Wide open spaces! Beautiful green grasses! Incredible forever blue sky! Why shouldn't we move there?!? Hmmm...strange that nearly every mile of the interstate was lined with snow fence. Like, serious snow fence. And when we stopped for a gas station break, the door into the store had a big sign saying "due to wind, please hold door when entering". Ahem.

Once we crossed the border into south dakota (beautiful forests and green mountains...lakes every 20 miles...I did not know) we started playing the cell phone signal game as we made final plan to meet our dear friends who are starting their own road trip. Little did we know that they were calling/ texting from a hike they won't forget.  Amazingly,  we did find each other at horsetheif lake (above) near mt Rushmore and then headed to the famous mountain.

We ended up in Deadwood at the koa together.  Friends, road trips, camping,  mountains, summer, and of course, fire. What more could you want?!?

MP: Gold in dem der hills

On Monday we decided we had to come down our mountain and experience a little more of Colorado.  We chose nearby Idaho springs,  an area developed when a huge gold vein was discovered in the mid 1800s.

We toured the Argo gold mine and got a great lesson in rocks and minerals,  mining techniques and history.  Then we got to pan for some gold ourselves.

 Beautiful mountain water with lots of rafters.

 The funny thing is, we did actually see mountain sheep. Of course I didn't get a picture of them.

 Entrance to the more than 4 mile argo tunnel that enabled and prospered the mine for many years until an explosion in 1941.

 We got to tour the mill and see the actual equipment used.

 Panning for gold took patience and perseverance.  Some had that. Others enjoyed swishing water around and starting over.

 All vagrants will be arrested.

Our results!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

MP: mountain musings

* when captain and I first met, we asked each other if you could pick anywhere to live where would it be; without reading each other's answer, we both said in a cabin on the side of a mountain near Golden CO. No joke.

* Although we both knew a bit about the effects of high altitude,  it was still surprising to us and the kids living at 8400+ feet for several days. Thirsty and constant mild headaches.

* Good beds, great view, good weather,  no wifi as promised because router was taken out by lightening,  and the trip up and down the mountain was about more than we could take after weeks of driving.  It was 14 miles from golden, but took at least half an hour to get to it. 

* we loved Co and still do; we've decided our dream home should further down the mountain though. :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

MP: rock and roll

We decided not to do hiking in arches national park (100 degrees might have influenced us), but are so glad we drove through part of the park. Amazing formations like we had never seen.

Onward through utah to Colorado. We stopped for lunch at Randys diner in Palisade,  a long wait but worth it. As encouraged by MP's parents, we stopped to check out the valley because of advertised "perfect growing weather". We did find the beautiful orchards and produce farms and stopped for a chat.