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Friday, September 26, 2014

Route 95 in Nevada from Reno to Tonopah!


Friday September 26, 2014 Best Western Room 115 Tonopah, Nevada

A few days ago, when speaking to Bill about the expense of gas and accommodations in the Pacific Northwest, he suggested that we cut over to northwestern Nevada and travel down to Joshua Tree that route. He said since there is very little there, the motels should be smaller and cheaper.  We had hoped to visit friends in Sacramento, but they were returning from Hawaii yesterday and the weather started to become iffy. So we followed Bill’s suggestion.

Well, one thing for sure, we aren’t spending any money—because he is right—there is nothing in Northwestern Nevada once one leaves Reno/Sparks. We passed through several ghost towns, that used to have small motels. Without windows and in some cases roofs, I just bet they’d be cheaper than some of the places we’ve stayed, if only we could find the proprietors. Then we passed through a couple that actually had small motels but, though we are not snobs, we do prefer places that at least look maintained on the outside.  Fallon, Nevada—home of a Naval Air Station—was the last town we passed through that looked inviting. Let us just say that the site of the Army Armament Depot town of Hawthorne had a couple of motels that looked as though they rented by the hour.

We did take a break along the shores of Walker Lake and after the desert sand and sage, it looked like a jewel of the brightest sapphire blue. So sad that it is gradually drying up like many of the lakes we passed. Nothing but the sandy scar of a once large lake. Yesterday’s Eagle Lake, in California appears to be drying up, too.

Our drive was nothing if not diverse so far as landscape and skyscape. Simply beautiful and for the most part, though at high elevation, flat. A couple of chain up areas but no drop offs—perfect. We covered 321 miles from Susanville, Ca to Tonopah, Nevada and are still 200 miles from Vegas where we will take I 15 to Barstow. Hopefully, we will be there tomorrow night, though again they are predicting severe thunderstorms in Vegas tomorrow. We are not stopping in Vegas and we did not stop in Reno. Been there, done that and once is enough. Barb has been to Vegas several times but doesn’t care about going back either. If it is really storming we will, because the hotels are cheap—they want you to spend your money in the casinos. I need to stop somewhere for a couple of days, it is time to pay bills!

At any rate, we are tired but ordered local hamburgers in and they sure tasted good. So once more, the Fatigued and Fed Sisters bid you Good Night

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Day in California


Thursday September 25, 2014 Motel 8  Room 134 Susanville, California

Left Klamath Falls after shopping for groceries at Fred Meyers—apparently part of the Kroger family of stores. It was still pretty cloudy and drizzly but sure enough within a few miles in California the sun came out and we had blue skies for most of the day. Navigation is getting pretty complex: forest fires, rain and wind and then last night there was talk of mudslides where the fires have devastated plant life and the soil has become sodden with rain.  So, out with the route through Weed, forest fire, to Redding and down I 5 to Sacramento. And out with the coast road with impending heavy rains and wind. Decided to take 139 to Tule and then on to Susanville continuing to Reno, Nevada.

We would have made Reno but after seeing about three roads to the Lava Fields National Monument we decided to head out across the plains and check it out. Lots of lava—we are, after all, in the vicinity of famous dormant volcanoes: Mt St Helens, Hood, Shasta, Lassen,Crater. The California section of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The lava of this area flowed in ropey streams and formed huge tubes –as the tubes cooled and eroded openings form and some are quite deep or long—they are caves. Here in Lava Fields there are many caves and this is the primary interest in exploration here. Neither Barb nor I are cavers and we certainly don’t have an interest in bats—well, they are nice and keep insect populations down but I’m happy to appreciate them from afar. With its proximity to Tule and its Japanese-American internment camp used during WW II there were several books about the camp.

Barb and I had stopped outside the large fenced in area in the middle of nowhere in 2000 to read the monument describing the camp, which also had a POW component and a large farm worked by the inmates. There was nothing around and it was so empty and desolate. Well, there is more around it now. There is a visitors’ center which is closed after Labor Day, although there is not much to see inside the smaller fenced in area.  Unfortunately, by building a school and other buildings around the area the sadness of the location is lost somehow. It doesn’t seem as remote and isolated as it must have felt when those poor people were crammed inside the barricades.

Now, at the Lava Fields Barb mentioned a book and author that she’d heard about on TV: George Tumaro and his Reflections. The young female ranger overheard her ask about it and was very excited since she has a great interest in the Tule story. She said that there is a Ranger station in Tule that has the book and gave us directions back into town through the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge. It was a lovely ride but the office was closed and so we still don’t have the book. As we left Tule, AGAIN, I happened to see a sign that said Klamath Falls was 32 miles away and we had already done 101 miles!!!!

No more stops before Reno!  We went over three passes over 5000 ft high through the Sierra Nevada, crossed at least four high mountain valleys, went in and out of Modoc National Forest. and dropped 1000’s of feet over twisting, narrow road into Susanville. By this time, it was 6pm and we were most tired. So here we are a few miles short of Reno but well fed on cucumbers, orange pepper, and liverwurst and cheddar pita sandwiches.

Watching season premier of Bones—kind of dark and sad. Well,it is time to get some rest. We are off to Nevada tomorrow. Don’t think we’ll return to California until we get farther south. Now they are talking about snow on the passes and more rain. Groan. Oh, well, for now, it is good night from the sort of California girls---Golden and Gay—Kathy and Barb

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

From Top to Bottom of Oregon


Wednesday September 24, 2014 Quality Inn Room 410  Klamath Falls, Oregon

The day began in a lovely room in Troutdale, Oregon—a corner room with two windows at right angles to each other.  If it hadn’t been so expensive or taken so many points, I think we would have remained there for another day. We took our time over breakfast and got talking to a gentleman on his way to Vegas to meet up with some group called the Memphis Mafia—something about Elvis Impersonaters etc. We got talking about all the places we’d been to in common—he is a inveterate traveler also. It is always fun to compare notes. He warned us that there had been a serious accident on I 5 just south of Portland and the Interstate was closed. Just heard on the 6 pm news that it was quite serious with about 6 vehicles involved including a semi and one death with the passenger of the fatality in serious condition. Seems there was another in the Medford area—hydroplaning truck. Fortunately, we avoid Interstates whenever possible so I 5 was not part of our plan.

He wished us safe travels and we wished him to keep dry—he’d kiddingly said his vehicle got wet inside and out –then added probably because it has only two wheels. Off he went on his cold, wet ride on the motorcycle while we got cozy in George and headed out rt 26 toward Sandy.  Had only one really hairy height area although three passes to go through to reach rt 97 south. The day was so gray, damp and cold, I was inspired to go a bit artsy and photograph in the same mode. The pictures look really old and we love them. Mt Hood was quite shrouded in mist though I was able to get a picture of the lower snow covered slopes.

In the National Forests we passed through the air was redolent with a cedar-y slightly menthol-like aroma. Very refreshing. The variety of conifers is remarkable. When we came to the plateau area of Oregon, which I didn’t know existed—north of Bend—I pulled out a pineapple-coconut-macadamia bar made by Liberty Orchards in Cashmere, Wa. While I was describing the flavor—strong pineapple with the crunch of nut and the aftertaste of toasted coconut—Barb told me I sounded like a Sonic commercial—lol  After sharing that bar and that critique, I dug out the Walker’s and inspired by its buttery gold and the gold of the surrounding grasses, I switched to color photography once more. Once we descended into Madras, the scene became drab once more and I reverted to black and white.

Somewhere along the line, Barb handed me a bag of mints to refill the round box we use when we need something to moisten our mouths. At some point, she asked if she hit me in the head, I looked at her blankly and said, I don’t know, did you?  We got hysterical laughing—how come I didn’t know if I was hit in the head?? We don’t get too hypnotized on these roads with the wipers going back and forth, back and forth, you’re getting sleepy, bonk, back and forth, back and forth, did I feel a bonk? back and forth…..Oh, what was I saying?

As we reached Upper Klamath Lake, which is huge, we could see between the mountains, the skies over California—blue with puffy clouds and a slight touch of sun. But, of course, as we all know: It never rains in California—but it pours, man ,it pours, in OREGON!

After covering almost 300 miles in awful weather we decided the time had come to rest—so here we are in Klamath Falls. Finishing up the day in yet another corner room, this one drab and dreary furnished in early 1950’s but not quaint!  Time for leftovers for dinner and some TV. Good night once more from California Bound Sisters, Kathy and Barb


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yakima Res, Columbia River Gorge, and Tad’s in Troutdale, Oregon


Tuesday September 23, 2014 Comfort Inn Room 201 Troutdale, Oregon Barb dictated today’s blog—had a great visit to Yakima Heritage Center and visited with Lisa. Saw wild horses, whose population is getting out of control and devastating the Res. It rained. Great ride down to the River. Beautiful waterfalls, got Katherine to stand near the wall above the river. Called Aunt Shirl for her 92nd birthday today. Checked in with Bill and with Charlie and his family. Great dinner at Tad’s—steak for Katherine, liver for Barb. Sat in our normal corner window. Checked in to the motel in Troutdale, Oregon. Great day, fun times, Showtime--

Goodnight---Stuffed and Tired Sisters, Kathy and Barb

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lunch Along the Yakima with a few Friends


Monday September 22,2014 Quality Inn Room 122 Yakima, Washington

There are times that our bodies simply take over when it is time to step back and go a little slower and rest. Today was such a day. I slept soundly until 7 but Barb was still sleeping deeply. I got out my computer and determined distances and locations and costs of motels and she woke around 9. We got ourselves ready and then went and caught the last 15 minutes of breakfast. The young woman running the breakfast room said that she saw on FB that they are going to charge $2+ a month to use it effective Nov. 1. I said well guess what account I will be closing on Oct 31. She agreed although she said she is from Louisiana and that she uses FB to stay in touch with family and friends. I said, well I’ve always loved writing letters.

Since the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees, it was raining and there was actually some parking spots we decided to check out the Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth. It doesn’t open until 1 pm!!!! So heck with that—and everything in the store that we admired, despite its very Alpine appearance was made in China.  Somehow it just didn’t appeal.  Besides so much of what is for sale here, including in the tea/ coffee shop is available at home.Went into the bakery and bought a huge salted pretzel to share on the road. Also Barb bought two Napoleons, while I bought a cream horn and a piece of cherry strudel. The taffy shop was closed and the girl in the nutcracker store said she didn’t know when they opened and sometimes they didn’t.  A very strange town. Took a picture of the sculpture in front of the Festhalle and then blew that popcorn stand.

A few miles down the road we stopped at Prey’s Fruit Stand. They have never heard of Seckel pears!  I bought them here all those years ago and they were delicious. The ones sent East were awful, of course, having to be picked to ship and never really developing the sugar level they achieve on the tree. I bought a different variety—forget the name—they are a bit bigger and Pedro says they are very sweet. I so hope so—pears are my favorite fruit and they are so often disappointing at home. Picked up some taffy and some Rocky Mtn cherry licorice from Montana—lol. A bottle of Sweet Adelaide wine—a blend  of several white varieties, grown and bottled in Cashmere, the home of Aplets and Cotlets—no longer a novelty since I have been able to get them in Walgreens.

Then it was off through the beautiful Blewett Pass to Ellensburg. Bought some gas there—$3.759/gallon. Then headed into the Yakima Canyon. What an incredibly wonderful drive—even when high above the river and railroad –it was just so peaceful and lovely. Barb and I don’t talk much while we are driving—we just love the silence with the scenery. Our conversations happen in the motel, in towns, shopping, eating in restaurants—but except for exclamations or passing comments on our surroundings we ride in companionable silence. Not even our CD’s though we are on the 3rd compilation CD.

And so, as we sat alongside the Yakima, with the door and sunroof open so as to hear the babbling water and wind in the grasses, as we ate our picnic lunch it was with wonder that Barb said look at those animals over there, what are they. I brought them in with my telephoto and it was a mountain sheep Ram with his harem-some of which looked quite young. We sat watching them go up from the river, step over the fence and slowly graze their way up the slope. Occasionally, he seemed to herd them up a bit faster or have to turn back and call the stragglers to catch up. Soon, all they would show us was their white butts. So, having finished eating, we reluctantly packed up and moved out.

The fruit trucks, other cars, the railroad and we twisted and turned through the rest of the canyon until we arrived at the town of Yakima and the Interstate, which crossed it and the Naches River, too.  Arrived at the Quality Inn and gathered our laundry—out of undies once more—and sat outside the laundry room chatting for a couple of hours, interspersed with transfers from washer to dryer and bouts of folding. All is clean, once more.

We didn’t cover much ground today but it is always necessary to make the laundry stop once in awhile. Tomorrow the Columbia River Gorge with all its wonderful waterfalls on a road built in 1910. Then we will be out of Washington and into Oregon. How far into Oregon, not sure, but another State under our belt.

So,once more, the Indulgent, Industrious Sisters bid you goodnight. Kathy and Barb

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Here We Are Back in Lederhosen, oops, I Mean Leavenworth, Washington


Sunday September 21, 2014 Howard Johnson’s Room 210 Leavenworth, Washington

Left Mt Vernon this morning and took another scenic trail on the Cascades Loop—we have done most of the loop, missing just a small section north of Anacortes. This one took us over the bridge from Fidalgo Island onto Whidbey Island over Deception Pass—not a mountain pass but rather a maritime pass between two islands.


We passed the Whidbey Naval Air Station which may have been part of the Top Gun story though not sure. Loved the notation on the map: NOLF—guess it means Naval Out Lying Field—pretty grassy and unused looking.

At the Southern end we took yet another Washington State Ferry to the mainland and drove around the Boeing Plant in Everett to get back to Rte 2 and Stewart’s Pass once more. It is interesting to see the same mountains from the windward side and see what a bit of Pacific laden rain can do for the vegetation.

Went downtown, thinking we’d perhaps have a German dinner at one of the restaurants. Really disappointed with the town—it is primarily a movie set. We went into the sausage shop and there was nothing very Alpine on offer. Frankenmuth Michigan is much nicer—real German bakeries and butchers and German restaurants. This town is totally for show. We’d like to see the Nutcracker Museum but unless there is parking downtown in the morning we will move on. Not sorry we stopped here, though. It was a perfect distance for the day, the room is nice and the price is right. I picked up some freshly fried chicken wings and we ate a huge salad with it. Barb had a Marie Calendar’s pot pie. A hot meal and filling. Picked up a few Landerjaegers but don’t know how they’ll be. Love the ones from Oscar’s in Warrensburg.

Have a lot of googling to do tonight—checking out mileage—can you imagine the Washington map for which I paid $2 doesn’t have a mileage scale. By the Way, gas around Everett is $3.999/gal!!! Guess one must pay to breathe the air in Washington now, too. There are lots of electric car charging stations on the scenic roads, here. Prius ,anyone?

Good night from the Anticipatory Sisters—two episodes of Miss Marple tonight!!!!  Did the Broncos win?  They don’t tell you anything in Wa unless the Seahawks win. The Captain of the ferry yesterday said that there would be a broadcast of the game on the ferries today.  LOL

Kathy and Barb

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island and Back!


Saturday September 20,2014 Quality Inn Room 126 Mt Vernon, Washington

Up late today—slept like logs but still made the 1155am ferry to San Juan Island. An exhilarating hour ride—I stayed out on deck the whole time with my hair blowing wildly in the wind. I may never be able to get a comb or brush through it again! We arrived in Friday Harbor with all its gift shops and restaurants and immediately made a bee-line to the countryside.

One of our first stops was the alpaca farm where we made a couple of purchases of soft, soft items made from baby alpaca wool. In chatting with the man who owns the farm I learned much about these beautiful, soft looking creatures. They almost look like stuffed animals. It seems they are segregated in the fields—males in one pasture, females in the other. When the progesterone level is just right, he said, those girls just roll over and submit. It is easy to increase the herd’s size although the gestation period is 11-12 months and only one infant is born. Twins happen, but rarely. They cannot be artificially inseminated since ovulation only takes place with sexual activity. Also the female will not give birth at night. How they manage to hold off labor and delivery is a mystery. They are aloof , although curious. As cuddly as they look, they are not particularly affectionate—not nasty, just disinterested.

We continued our meanderings and stopped at the lavender farm, where I purchased a cup of vanilla, chocolate chip, lavender ice cream. Very yummy!

We went to the two National Parks but they weren’t very much and we didn’t get stamps in our passports.  We arrived at 1pm and the five hours we were on the island just flew. When we got to the ferry dock for the 630 return trip the young man who was directing cars to the proper lanes for boarding asked if we were really from New York or if our car was a rental. We said no, we’re from Vermont and New York. He said he was too, from Flushing, Queens. Asked what brought him here, he said the commute was a bitch. I said, oh, isn’t that big orange plane with the Q on the tail yours?  Oh, yeah, my name is Quentin—last name Tarantino!  Wonder if QT really flies to San Juan.

As they started to board us about a half hour later, he ran up to the car, said just wanted to say good-bye , wish you a safe trip and tell you if you ever get to Long Island, take the LIE to exit 5 and go to the Bagel Haven. It is where I used to work, my name is Greg!

Off we went back to the mainland and on board got talking to an Indian—Asian Indian—who used to live in Hackensack, NJ. He’s lived here since 1996—misses NYC pizza, real Irish pubs that aren’t hoity-toity and the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. He agreed with me, that the ride through the islands reminded me much of Lake George.  And then, with the summer haze almost obscuring Mt Baker, in the fading pinkish light of sunset, we arrived back in Anacortes and made the drive back to the motel, in time to watch the last of the Roosevelt saga.

Now, Cookie Kathy must prepare our tuna sandwiches for dinner. And so good night from Exhausted but Elated and Exhilarated Sisters, Kathy and Barb

Friday, September 19, 2014

Across the Cascades to the Washington Coast


Friday September 19,2014  Mt Vernon, Washington Room 126  Quality Inn

For some reason I did not sleep well last night. Awake at 3 and never really got back to sleep. Needless to say by the time we reached Mt Vernon at 1 pm I was almost catatonic. We had to kill two hours before checking in so we went next door and got an Arby’s roast beef sandwich and their new crème brulee shake. Didn’t go over on points but sure can only eat an apple while watching Roosevelt tonight. When we checked in and brought in the luggage, I literally fell on the bed and went out like a light. After an hour and a half I woke up, called Bill and have a second wind. Barb and I emptied the whole car and reorganized the pantry, china closet and trunk. We haven’t bought a great deal—neither of us needs anything but things could be consolidated and make more room. Plus, it gave us a chance to take an inventory.

But before we got to Mt Vernon, took our naps and did our housekeeping we left Leavenworth and the cute Howard Johnson’s where we stayed and headed out through a long mountain canyon along the Wenatchee River and then climbed Stewart’s Pass, just a bit over 4000 ft. When we approached the mountains, the water laden air from the Pacific poured between the peaks and over them in the form of thick, billowing clouds. So beautiful—it looked like a solid wall of white—I unconciously exclaimed, Oh, MY God!  As we descended the other side we entered the fog bank but fortunately went down fast enough that it was soon above us and never really impeded visibility.  Soon we were on flat ground continuing to the coast, through forests that felt and looked like dripping rainforest. Anything wooden or rocky is covered in thick moss. To say the Pacific Northwest is wet is putting it very mildly. It is damp, damp, damp and dripping.

It is funny how one’s perspective judges the comfort level of a mountain pass. As the passenger I liked this one—it never had really frightening drop offs although there were a couple of wide long curves whose arc overlooked open air. Found them a bit nerve wracking. Barb, on the other hand, was not fond of this pass or the canyon for that matter—too curvy and very short tight curves.

Well, we will return that way to Leavenworth in a couple of days and head south to follow the Columbia River Gorge. Hopefully, the 1930’s scenic byway we remember will be the same. I’m a bit worried though, route 30 is also shown as an Interstate. I fear it has been widened and modernized. Bill says things have undergone Californication and that is true. Barb and I have been a bit disappointed at the changes, although the scenery is still magnificent and narrow back roads ,like route 9, still retain the old character.

Good night from the Martha Stewart trained Sisters, Kathy and Barb

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Here We Are in Leavenworth—Washington, That Is!


Tonight’s first picture is of my Johnny Carino’s skilletini which I ate for dinner last night. Can you imagine how huge the portions are? No wonder the meal is 27 points—not a good plan when I only have 33 points per day!  Took it easy on food yesterday til last night—veggies and fruits are 0 points—that helps a lot!

We had a beautiful sunrise to begin our day in Moses Lake. Our first stop was the Chamber of Commerce to get a decent Washington map. Can you imagine they charge for it????? The only State that does!  The lady gave us all kinds of literature on the San Juan Islands etc. We asked for directions to the Gingko Petrified Forest—gingkoes are my favorite tree—a living fossil, just like horseshoe crabs. Well, we followed her directions to M street which took us through lots of agricultural lands-=-Grant County is the biggest potato growing area of Washington!

We came to the four mile long O’ Sullivan Dam which is not only long but also serpentine!  It forms Potholes Reservoir—part of the reclamation project. Opposite the water is the Columbia River Wildlife Refuge. We started to enter the State Park but the fee is $10—forget that!  If we do go into any of the State Parks I think we’ll buy a pass—probably cheaper than paying a fee each time.

Soon we began to see apple orchards as far as the eye could see. Probably knew that the espalier method was used to grow the trees but I’d forgotten that.  Also lots of corn with a clean up crew in one of the harvested fields. They were so cute but can’t tell what kind of ducks they are—Pekinese? No, they are wild but not familiar. Some of the trees had really small fruits that looked almost like apricots but when I enlarged the photos on the computer they are just very small apples.

At the crossroad leading to Royal City we saw the first of the foothills of the Cascades. And some very elaborate rain coats to protect the hay bales. In places so many of them were arranged every which way that they looked like a trailer park. Rain was predicted for today and in places the sky sure didn’t look inviting but we only had a few drops from them and then continued with sort of partly cloudy skies and once in awhile toward the end of the day, bright ,hot sun. 81 degrees at one point. Better that the 20 degrees Bill says will be in Vermont tonight.

Our road intersected I90 once more at the foot of basalt pillars and the town of Vantage. It is here that we found the Wild Horse Monument—shown on the map as Wanatum Vista and on a more localized map—Grandfather Let the Ponies Loose! From the vista we looked down on the bridge that would take us across the Columbia and to the Forest. Looking at the bridge from that vantage point makes it look quite intimidating. In actuality, it was easy to cross and the river as beautiful as ever.  So we got to the Forest—the interpretive center is open Fri-Sun and today is Thursday—took a couple of pictures of the towering gingkoes in the parking lot, recrossed the bridge and headed north to George. Love George, Washington’s water tower!At this point, having made just one big circle we were three hours and only 27 miles from Moses Lake, where we'd spent last night!!

Proceeded to Quincy. Seems that town on the Second Saturday of September celebrates what it calls Farmer-Consumer Awareness Day and for ten miles there are signs indicating the crops planted along the way. A sign told us that label signs would be found in the fenceline. We got quite silly trying to guess the crops before seeing the labels. We were fond of the bare fields labeled beans, or potatoes , or the fields with stubble labeled wheat or spearmint. There were pasture, dairy heifer and nursery signs also. Not exactly crops. But anyway we saw Timothy and Timothy hay; grain corn and field corn; grapes and wine grapes;apples and crispins. Fun.

As we turned west we came to  a farm stand and I bought myself a big, juicy, sweet, white fleshed peach. My blouse was almost soaked with juice. Just delicious. I’m eating fruit almost all day. We also picked up a few Italian plums. The pears and tomatoes were a bit too ripe and were attracting swarms of fruit flies—past prime. A bit farther along the road took a dip down to the Rock Island Dam.

Checked the Miss Veedol reference on the East Wenatchee sign. I’d laughed and said WHY? would anyone choose this place to fly out of to cross the Pacific—well, no one did!  Here’s the story and it is amusing, interesting and sad.


When we arrived at Cashmere the home of Aplets and Cotlets, I remembered coming here in 2000 but wasn’t sure how we’d done that. Looking at the map, I realize that we took Rt 2 across Washington from Coeur d’Alene and then headed south to Yakima and the Columbia River Gorge. We may return this way when we head south toward Oregon and California.

Now we are headed toward Steven’s Pass and Everett ,Washington ( which I believe may have been the birthplace of the Crosby boys). It is about a two hour drive just to Everett and the towns along the way look pretty small. We decided to stop in Leavenworth which is prettied up to look like an Alpine village—even the Muffler Shop is a little chalet. Thought for sure it was going to be costly but we have a terrific large room with all the normal accoutrements ( Howard Johnson’s Lodge! ) and with out senior discount it only cost $71 + tax. Thank goodness for small breaks.

Tomorrow the mountain but also at some point, the sea. I’m just going to concentrate on the sea and not the mountain.

Time for some fruit, cheese and ham for dinner. Good night once more from the Happy Wanderers, yodel-ai-he-ai-o  Kathy and Barb

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We Are in Washington!!


Wednesday September 17, 2014 6:56 PM PST Room 319 Holiday Inn Express Moses Lake, Washington

Left the land of Initialed mountains and headed for the panhandle of Idaho. Not far from Missoula we went through a long, curving but gradual grade pass that took us through a portion of the Rockies but the horrible pass lay miles ahead. Lookout Pass is not really high in elevation as these things go—just a bit over 4000 feet.  We’ve been much higher but this pass is narrow and very, very steep. There are several places to lookout but I did not. I knew it was coming and so handled it better than I usually do. At the very top is the state line to Idaho as well as the place where we enter Pacific time zone. It was this pullout that we had to glide into when Barb’s car stalled out in 2000. We were in the passing lane and Nellie just died. Barb managed to get her over the inside lane and into the chain up pullout. After a few minutes rest we were able to start the car and never had the problem again. Nellie was brand new and had about 3000 miles on her—she was bought for the trip. Guess she had problems with thinly oxygenated air. We had her intake adjusted in Oregon with her first service checkup and she was fine. Scared the heck out of me—George had no problems today.

As we approached Wallace we were so amused by the historic area signs. We’d stopped there in 2000 because Bill had fought forest fires in the area and we wanted to see where he’d been. Wallace was a little old mining town with former bordellos looking old, sad and empty—needing paint and looking as used up as their former residents probably did, too.  Wonder if the houses have been refurbished and tours being given. We got label pins of a lady of the evening standing under a street lamp when we stopped at the Elk lodge back in 2000. Wallace’s claim to fame and source of pride—a celebration of some of the most important residents of the town in mining days. We didn’t stop to see the revitalization.

Appropriately,we finished the last of our Montana huckleberry licorice as we proceeded more deeply into the Idaho coniferous forest, leaving the Rockies in our rear view mirror.  As we continued we noticed that it was now about 1 pm and time to find a picnic area for our lunch. Saw the sign for a State Park, most of which are quite beautiful and usually peaceful. There really wasn’t a good spot to eat but the Church and the Parish house that went with it was interesting to tour. Much of the tinwork in the Church was done by Fr De Smets –he cut tin cans up with a pocket knife to create these pieces. He also painted several of the religious paintings on the walls. The blue ceiling panels were stained with huckleberry juice and several of the Native American parishioners carved much of the wood panels and statues. A broad axe was used to create the floor boards. I love the picture of the Jebbies on the porch of the Church. These guys are always so individualistic—look at the outfits and poses. As a group the Pope has disbanded the Society of Jesus twice in the course of its history—very independent souls and smart!

We continued to Coeur d’Alene, thinking maybe we could picnic on the Lakeshore—forget it. Gentrification and exclusiveness has arrived and boutiques and pubs and kitschy little cafes and restaurants abound. Why am I surprise—look at what has happened to Burlington in the last 14 years. After a drive through we returned to I 90 and used one of the tables in a rest area—worked out just as well.

Soon we entered Washington State—what a let down after the majesty of the mountains of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Hard to adjust to Nebraska flatness and, oh,my God, CORN!!! The sky seemed awfully hazy and strange. We had a Wyoming Fire fighter truck pass us in Idaho, a Montana based Forestry service truck pass us in Washington and a van from Indiana that had the unmistakable look of a fire fighter vehicle.  Huge fires burning in Northern California—it may be my imagination but I have thought I was smelling smoke for awhile and it has certainly been hazy.

We arrived at Moses Lake about an hour after going through Spokane. The map I have is terrible—cannot read the print without a strong magnifier and these States do not have welcome centers, can you believe? Have to ferret out an official map somewhere—will look for a dept of trans office as we go. When we arrived here, all rooms are rented again!  Lots of companies here, including Boeing and there is a major Federal reclamation project going on. We got the last room at the Holiday Inn—the family suite, the largest room they have. $152 + tax!!!!!!!! We used points! Thank goodness.

Where are we headed tomorrow? Seattle had an earthquake last night –a 4. Want to go up to the San Juans and would like to get off the Interstate—it is up in the air—I’ll figure it out tomorrow.  For now, it is leftover Pizza Hut Pizza for Barb and leftover Johnny Carino’s for me. Then the new installment of the Roosevelts.

Good night from the Oceanbound and Chanty singing Sisters, Kathy and Barb

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What a Busy But Beautiful Couple of Days !!!


Tuesday September 16, 2014 Room 113 Quality Inn Missoula, Montana

Tonight I will let the many photos I sent you pretty much speak for themselves. I tried to break the albums up so that you could take them in the segments in which we experienced them.  I believe I mentioned in the last blog that when Mark and I brought Betsy out to college in 2004 we toured these National Park and then followed the Wind River to Casper. Because Barb had not been this way and because I remembered its beauty we decided to come to the Parks from Casper through it. As we left Riverton the Riverton Bank had a huge metal cutout of the bronco riding cowboy who is the emblem of Wyoming and sits in the middle of its license plates. It seems to be the closest I’m ever going to get to a rodeo!

Everything out here is huge, including the golf balls. The  geological formations are incredible. We have our own pyramids but they are not MAN-made! The colors are just dazzling and for as beautiful as they are in some of these shots they are so much more beautiful in real time. The only real town between Riverton and Moran Jct. is Dubois and it is kind of stage set looking despite its long mining history. My photo was of the Jackalope but it also gives you an idea of the gas prices we are seeing.

At every turn it seems the landscape changes and not just moderately—you never know what is coming around the next bend—it is incredibly awe inspiring. Fall is arriving with the bit of color that occurs here—the golden aspens. Bets was pretty disappointed her first Fall in Bozeman, I recall. Love the story of the tiehacks and the tie drive down the Wind in Spring rush—just like the log runs in the NorthEast—get our your peevees guys and your spiked boots—there’s a tie jam ahead! As fro 300 inches of snow in winter—there is only ONE way I’d enjoy it—hibernated in front of a fire looking OUT at it. Actually, there is another way I’d enjoy it—hearing about it while sitting on the beach in Biloxi. As you can see the moon stays out most of the day around here. In time we rounded several wind turns in the road, reached a high point and off in the hazy distance we saw the Teton Range—glaciers and all. The mural in the lookout was just lovely, too. The mountains really do take on a blue tint at certain times of day and at certain distances. As we descended into the Snake Valley a mule deer ambled across the road, as though she owned it.

At the foot of the winding hill we came into Moran Junction—since it is really midpoint in the Teton Range we turned to the South toward Jackson Hole. We do not go to Jackson Hole—too yuppy and expensive. Beautiful like Sedona but not our type of place; Tourist and monied haven . The road is being repaired and so we had a 15 minute wait for our pilot car. Across from the Park were many Bison so I played with the telephoto and took a few shots. Out of the north came a nice shiny silver plane who was flying right along the spine of the mountains—with the sun reflecting on him he was as beautiful as the blue mountains and arch below him.

We entered the Park at Moose and off we went. The crowds are astounding—so many more people than in 2000 or even 2004!  What was even more surprising—the number of younger people with school aged children. But then, home schooling is so very much more common than it was, so kids can be anywhere at anytime now. It was so wonderful to see Jenny Lake up again—there was such a drought here in 2004—it was sad to see the bare shoreline. And, if I could only give you a feel of the wonderful breeze gently blowing my hair and the smell of the conifers—no balsam pillow can ever reproduce the real thing. I could have stayed in this one place for days.

The markings on the rock faces are so much fun—some of them look to have been formed by rock masses falling out of them. We imagined one to look like the face of a clock. The Jackson River has been dammed to form the huge and beautiful Jackson Lake—isn’t the blue of the water amazing—like sapphires!  Such fun to see these Westerners battling to get a picture of one group of trees that had a variety of colors and not just the aspen gold.

And so our day ended at Flagg Ranch. This used to be a privately owned Resort but now it belongs to some corporation that has multiple resort holdings all over the place. Fortunately, they’ve retained the cabins as they’ve always been. Originally, the cabins were right down on the Snake. The huge forest fire of 1988, I think, or one of the fires burned most of them to the ground. The State would not allow them to rebuild on the flood plain and so the remaining cabins there are used for staff and the new ones back from the river are for guests.  Barb stayed down on the river with my parents in 1966 but I have only stayed in these. Although each cabin has four units in it—they are so well insulated and the doors arranged so well that you have absolutely no sense of any one else being around you. The cabins are close, too but at this time of year they are not filled and so they attempt to space guests. All in all, with no TV, no Wi/fi and no A/C it is a relaxing, peaceful place. I became the cook for the evening. So I served ham pitas with carrots and hummus with the remaining wine from Iowa. Notice I also was tasked with breakfast preparation. Grapefruit with honey, coffee and a Laughing Cow wedge for protein.

Yesterday we spent the entire day in Yellowstone. We entered from the South entrance and departed through the West entrance to West Yellowstone or as Betsy’s friend Crystal who was from there called it, simply West. There were lots of bison, absolutely no elk, for which we were terribly disappointed. In 2000 all along the Yellowstone River the bull elks were gathering their harems—everywhere you looked there were elk, in the road, on the banks of the river –Barb almost bumped into one getting out of the car to take a picture. Not this year. Why?

We are ten days earlier, the crowds have increased, there is an elk refuge outside the park down near Teton. Don’t know what the reason might be. There were no wild burros this time either.  Nevertheless, the park is still beautiful and we even found a place we’d not discovered before—Firestone Canyon and Falls—magnificent!!

We came across a group of three bison close to the road. One large bull was ahead of the other two. Then, one of the pair behind, mounted the other. We were VERY close—said to Barb, let’s get away from here NOW! These lacksidaisical animals can move at 37 miles an hour. We didn’t need to be so close if there was going to be a romantic melee.

We stopped at Old Faithful’s visitors’ center. The old Geyser spouted as I was stamping my passport. So, no photos!  Oh, well, there are tons on-line and that’s how it looks. Far more interesting was the antics of a flock of Ravens in the parking lot—scavengers , you know.  Well, they decided the unprotected bags in a pick up truck and the saddle bags on a couple of motorcycles were fair game. Another couple was also watching the performance and taking pictures. We got talking to them and found that they live in West Glacier. During the course of our conversation the man went into their camper and came out with two beautiful ink sketches. He gave them to us and said how happy he’d be to have his art in Vt and NY—he said New Yoork!  Told us to google him which we did later. I’m keeping the bison and Barb is keeping the Bobcat. If you’d like to check his work and story out—here are the links.




I also chatted with a couple from Ohio who had come down from Belgrade through the Gallatin River Valley. I asked about the road and found that it runs at the bottom of the Valley along the river with mountains on both sides. It was with much pleasure that we finished our day on such a pleasant road—with the sun painting the mountain tops as dusk seemed to fall in the valley. In about an hour we arrived, exhausted but exhilirated at the Comfort Inn in Bozeman. It felt so strange to be here and not have Betsy be in town. We saw places we’d been with her and places she frequented with friends and places she’d worked.  And, of course, her favorite mountain was right outside our motel window.

Which brings us to today—a travel day on Interstate 90 and through our first major pass—but another nice one—treed with little evidence of height. Homestake Pass.  We crossed the Continental Divide again at around 6000 ft. My perfect sister even wore purple to match our huckleberry licorice. After we passed through Butte the sky became very threatening and we had a very heavy rain for a few miles. We followed the Clark Fork for a bit and passed through high mountain valleys whose agricultural fields presented views that looked more like paintings than real places—the colors and compostion so perfect and pleasing.

We ended our day early in order to organize our brochures, etc. Also to have dinner out—Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant. Sausage skilletini and malbec wine for me, eggplant parmesan with a Belgian wheat beer for Barb. We brought dessert back to the room—I have turtle cheesecake mini and she has a mini tiramisu. I hear them calling us from the fridge. Heck with WW points tonight or Atkins. Tomorrow I think we are going to backtrack to Phillipsburg to sapphire mine and then on to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We might get farther but will be happy to go that far for the next day will be Washington and the San Juan Islands and maybe but not sure, Alaska.

Now, even though I did not keep my promise to be brief, I’m going to get off the computer, get cozy in bed and watch pt 3  of the Roosevelts.,most of which I already knew but interesting anyway. So, for now, it is good night from the Sated and Pleasantly Stuffed Sisters, Kathy and Barb

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moving Northwest on a Beautiful Wyoming Day


September 13,2014 Comfort Inn Room 117 Riverton, Wyoming The day dawned with an orange pink glow at 6:30 am across the interstate from our room.  After packing and eating breakfast we were on our way north around the Laramie Mountains to Casper. At Glenrock and Glendo we were surprised to see the two reservoirs ( actually one large body of water but labeled as two on the map) created by  damming the North Platte were rather low. Although I’ve been on this stretch of I 25 once before, this is really the first time I’m seeing the scenery. The last time was in a blinding snowstorm surrounded by semis. This was much nicer.

I’m going to have to try to figure out why this camera is developing the same strange round spot in the middle of my pictures. I’ve been much more careful about keeping the lens clean and smudge free since reading that a smudge can become permanent if not cleaned regularly. Well, that is what I’ll be doing while watching the PBS special on the National Anthem later tonight.

  At any rate, we had the moon as our companion almost the whole way to Casper, by which time it had faded into the rapidly whitening sky to be lost from sight until tonight. You can see it to the left of the rig in the picture before my map shot.

There are several silhouettes nicely placed on bluffs along the road—the jackalope is near Glenrock which is the home of the jackalope and the Triceratops is there to advertise the dinosaur museum in Thermopolis. The oil rigs of Muddy Basin are lovely red and green and look like huge bugs. In no time at all we reached Casper and the wonderful rigmen memorial. The Lower Powder Basin of Wyoming is part of what is called the Muddy formation—ancient sandstone and clay deposits rich in petroleum, much of which remains untapped. The topography is really interesting—strata of sedimentary materials that have been tilted at 90 degrees so that their layers are vertical rather than horizontal. The clay is so obvious, it is as though a giant hand just threw mounds of clay in a childish tantrum and they landed with a thud on the surrounding land.

At Casper we left the Interstate which continues north to Sheridan and on into Montana and took 20/26 west toward Shoshoni. Took one last look at the northern faces of the Laramies and the remaining snow from the last few days. We entered the desert area of Wyoming. It is through this large hot, dry area of badland like formations that Betsy and Gus hiked from Gunnerson, Co to Bozeman, Mt a few years back. It is necessary in this wide open land where distances are so deceptive to develop what I call Western eyes. You can see for so many miles that houses look like Monopoly hotels and cars and trucks look like toy models. It is so easy to miss seeing things because you expect them to be much larger—but everything is at such a distance it is all miniaturized.

For example in frame 1222 can you pick out the herd of antelope that sit just to the right of the mile marker?  Frame 1223 shows them using my telephoto lens. There were others closer to the road, of course and we could see them with greater detail. There were many lone males, youngsters looking to gather a harem, I imagine. Antelope cannot jump the fences so the ranchers leave a gap at the bottom through which they can crawl. We saw one male doing that –it was so strange to see this animal suddenly emerging from the grasses and ditch alongside the fence. We did come upon an elder, however, who had his harem all gathered. As we stopped, he quietly herded them together and farther from the road. Then he nonchalantly pawed something from the ground and ate it before lifting his head and telling us to move on—which we did, since we felt we’d unsettled the ladies and their master enough.

Finally we came to the Wind River—it comes down from Thermopolis through a wonderful canyon but we were following it toward Yellowstone so did not take the turn to the East entrance but continued on the way to the South entrance. Once we crossed the Boysen reservoir the land was irrigated and green. Like night and day from one side of the bridge to the other!

Arrived at our hotel just on the outskirts of Riverton and just loved the couple in the tree before us. We had driven exactly 300 miles and it was not yet 3 but since there really is nothing much between here and the Parks we chose it as our halfway point. Checked in and headed into Riverton for a steak dinner. Forget it—they want $21-25 for a steak—not paying that!  Had a decent hamburger and a Blue Moon draft for $15 including tip. Loved the fact that despite the snow up here for two days the delphiniums, pinks, bleeding hearts, calla lilies etc are still in perfect bloom. Love those brick wall microclimates.

This was one of the easiest and most beautiful of our driving days, even with strong winds. They were just nice roads, the scenery was beautiful, the traffic fine and the weather perfect. The time just flew—we were amazed how much distance we covered.

Now, to grab a chocolate Silk and relax with some TV news and maybe Jeopardy. Have a terrific Saturday evening all—The Bedazzled Wyoming Rubbernecking Sisters, Kathy and Barb

PS—If you have an interest in the brutal and cowardly massacre of Arapaho and Cheyenne women and children commemorated in the Salt Creek Massacre Trail, go to this brochure. It is a sad but not uncommon story of white slaughter of innocent Native Americans ,motivated by greed. wyoshpo.state.wy.us/pdf/SandCreekBrochure.pdf

The Wind River Valley Reservation is home to the Shoshone and the descendants of survivors of the attack.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cheyenne Layover


September 12, 2014 Room 125 Quality Inn Cheyenne, Wyoming

As planned when we arrived on Wednesday we have remained here in Cheyenne and will leave tomorrow for Riverton.  My original plan was to head West on 80 to Rawlins and then cut up the mountains to the Wind River Valley but not sure how much snow may still be on those mountain roads so have changed the route. We will take 25 north to Casper and then take the  valley road to Riverton. Amazingly, though this is a bit of backtracking to the north, we are headed that far north anyway and this route is actually shorter than the more scenic mountain route I’d originally planned. We will have plenty of mountains as we move West—Tetons, Rockies and Cascades.  This time, since we know where we are headed I’ve reserved the rooms for the next several nights, Riverton, Flagg Ranch and Bozeman. The weather is supposed to be in the 70s- 60s and sunny for at least the next week so snow isn’t an issue for a little longer.

In actuality, the sojourn here in Cheyenne has been refreshing and rejuvenating. We opened our Amana Community wine and ordered Pizza Hut in on the first evening. Yesterday was an unbelievably cloudy day with fog and rain, sometimes hard enough to create a wet curtain on our windows and at other times mixed with icy rain. We watched trucks by the zillions zip along I 25 outside our windows—north toward Casper, south toward Denver—and the road spray they churned up at the few cars that fit between them. We remained warm and cozy and safe. It was nice to eat our breakfast leisurely and have a second cup of coffee while reading USA Today. We did our first laundry of the trip, having run out of undies, did our nails. Had a wonderful hour long chat with Betsy. I really love when we have those Mom-daughter moments. Watched some PBS while eating salads and cheese broccoli soup. Slept in late this morning.

Woke up today to snow on the ground—not a great deal but enough that we would not want to be driving on it, especially at elevation. The morning’s sunrise looked promising but soon the sky clouded over once more. It actually was colder today and so we ran the heat for a few hours to take the damp chill off. Another lovely breakfast using real glasses, cups, plates and silverware. Very unusual for Comfort Inns. The staff here is the best I’ve ever encountered. Heather our housekeeper is just a sweet young girl and the cook in the breakfast room is as sunny as the day was cloudy. She clears the table of our dishes and brings more coffee—it is more like a restaurant than a breakfast room. Lingered again with our papers and coffee then returned to the room . Washed yesterday’s clothes and read and caught up on Goodreads, FB, email etc on the computer. Made all our reservations for the next few days on the computer. Chatted with Bill. Around noontime the sky started to brighten and the clouds to part revealing patches of blue.  Went out to the car to bring in something for lunch—cheese and pineapple tidbits with green tea. I took a nap from about 1 to 3 and Barb continued to read Ghost Stories of Iowa. I’m next. I’ve been reading Isaac’s Storm about the devastating hurricane that destroyed Galveston in Sept of 1900. By 4 the sky had totally cleared, the snow and ice had totally melted and the day turned out to be a beautiful cloudless fall day. Perfect –tomorrow should be a terrific travel day. We are ready to hit the road once more.

Good night from the Refreshed, Rejuvenated and Ready to Roll Sisters, Kathy and Barb

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wyoming at Last, But Maybe Snow!


September 10, 2014 Room 125 Cheyenne, Wyoming

Left Ogallala and headed to Scott’s Bluff. The road was wide and winding, empty before us. We continued on the Lincoln Highway—no trucks and that is a huge plus. Barb got to see her fields of sunflowers, but just as in 2000, they are on their last legs, much to her dismay. Passed another couple of feed yards and traveled with their heady bouquet for quite a few miles. Wouldn’t want to live here, downwind of the lots.

The scenery is just beautiful, in some instances looking almost like landscape paintings. We stopped at a historical marker but soon discovered that if we stopped at everyone of them, it would take us as long as the wagon trains to get to the West. We heard the bawl of a calf and looked over to see the baby bull watching us with great curiosity—he was so cute. Little does he know he’s going to be someone’s dinner one of these days.

I kept looking for the first sign of jail rock and courthouse rock in an effort to see how far the emigrants were from them when they first saw them. With the rolling countryside the two rocks kept playing hide and seek with me, making it difficult to photograph them from a distance. Imagine the frustration of the walkers pushing wagons or walking beside their wagons. When we finally reached them we had traveled 22.6 miles and chimney rock was visible still farther west—about 11 or so miles. Of course, we weren’t travelling exactly along the path of the wagons, despite the many signs indicating that we were. Nevertheless, I’m sure my measurement is in the ballpark and there is no way I can imagine the heat and fatigue of those early pioneers as they pushed on to reach what had become landmarks along the way to Oregon or California. As we neared Chimney Rock, Scott’s Bluff rose as a shimmering white blob still more distant in the West.

We stopped at the Chimney Rock visitors’ center where I have stopped at least four times in the past, only to have it closed each time. This time we were able to watch the video speaking of these natural formations and the comments of those who strove so hard to reach them.  As the narrator indicated, the feelings were of relief to have come this far but apprehension because it was known that the terrain to come was more challenging than what had already been crossed.

I loved the imagery of a statement made by Red Cloud once the numbers of newcomers became a deluge. I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember his exact words but it was something like: Once all of this land was ours and now the white man has left me an island in the middle of what was ours. We “ fade as the melting snows, while you grow as the spring grass” So poetic and sad. Even as the Indians had been so helpful to these newcomers, the onslaught to come would almost wipe them from the face of the Earth.

In looking at a map of Scott’s Bluff at the visitors’ center I realized that the Agate Beds National Monument is not there though our National Parks Passport indicates that it is right outside town. In asking the docent we found that it is actually 35 miles north of Mitchell and that there is nothing out there but the museum. No motels, no towns. So Barb and I decided to get a room in Scott’s Bluff, go up to the Monument, return and have dinner out, which we haven’t done yet on this trip.  Guess what—not a room anywhere in Scott’s Bluff---and I mean, no where, including locally owned motels and lower priced chains such as Motel 6 ! No one could explain why this seems to have started about a year ago—all rooms booked every week throughout the year!

We decided to move on down to Cheyenne and forget about the Native American beadwork and agates. Along I 71 we found a neat recreation area and raided our travelling china closet, pantry and refrigerator to come up with a pate, hummus and cracker spread followed by Nonni’s almond raisin flatbreads for dessert. The wind was brisk and fast so we ate at our picture window looking onto the reservoir. Barb worked up a sweat trying to pump water from an antique, non-functioning well.

Over a few more hills and round a few more bends we entered Wyoming. When I called to book a room in Cheyenne, we found that the rooms are all booked once more, although I got the last room at the Quality Inn. Bill and I stayed here a few years back after a tortuous drive from Buffalo through Casper and towns in between none of which had any rooms because of high school tournaments, wrestling and girls’ basketball as I recall. We drove through a horrible snowstorm with NO visibility, got off at Cheyenne in a long line of tractor trailer trucks and got the last room here. It was a Comfort Inn then. The next day, the interstate outside the window was traffic free—it was closed down.  I cannnot remember how much the room right above us cost but this one is $115 tonight plus 10% tax and that is with my senior discount. We have been running into much higher room costs than Bill and I usually do. As a matter of fact, my half on this trip is the same Bill and I spend in winter. At this rate, my calculation of only needing half as much money for this trip than ours is not going to hold true.

As if that isn’t bad enough, snow is coming tonight and may continue for a couple of days. Considering the dearth of rooms, I’ve booked this one until Sat when it is supposed to warm up once more. Barb has no winter tires and we are headed toward the snow—don’t think it wise to move on—besides they may close the roads if it gets too icy.  My head is pounding like crazy and I’m tired. Maybe we’ll order in pizza and open our wine.  At any rate, I’m going to go change into my nightgown and watch TV no matter how awful. Good night from the Maybe Stranded for Awhile in Wyoming Sisters ( what’s new? I’ve been to Wyoming five times now and have been stranded at least one night every time! Why break a pattern?) Kathy and Barb

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Out West on the Lincoln Highway


September 9,2014 Comfort Inn Room 116 Ogallala, Nebraska ( The start of Week 2!)

Have not a clue what possessed us to stay up til 12:30 this morning watching Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore in Perfectly Modern Millie, but we did, got up early and are exhausted tonight.  Please excuse typos, not only because of fatigue, but  also because I’m typing on the bed, there being no desk in this room.

Back in June of 2000, an unusual museum was opened in Kearney, Nebraska. It is The Great Platte River Road Archway which literally straddles Interstate 80. Barb and I had heard of it and hoped to visit on our first trip in Sept of 2000. but we arrived in Kearney at 5pm on a Saturday evening and it was closed for the day. We hoped to visit the next morning but, unfortunately, it opened around 11 and we chose not to hang around.  I was able to visit it in 2004 on the way back from taking Bets to college in Montana.  Bill and I stopped once after that but they closed in the winter starting in October.  Finally, we are here on the right day, at the right time, in the right season and Barb has gotten to see this neat place.

The theme of the museum is Westward Expansion starting with the Mormon treks and other wagon train incursions. It continues through the development of the telegraph and the short lived Pony Express. Then the major development of the transcontinental railroad and eventually the opening of the Lincoln Highway such as it was in its early years.

Barb bought a Kearney Community cookbook,which she is now reading. I say reading because the first 25 pages or more are dedicated to the history of Kearney, Nebraska, which is where the Archway is located. I’ll have to borrow that on the trip.

As we left Kearney the skies opened with rumbling rolling thunder and great bolts of lightening, It is quite a show with no mountains or hills to obscure the sky. We were travelling I 80 and I suggested that we get onto Rte 30, which is the Lincoln Highway and tends not to have as much truck traffic. We also considered holing up in North Platte and making it an indoors reading day. But by the time we arrived at Buffalo Bill’s Ranch, which we’ve visited before, the rain had stopped.  I replaced the hat I’d bought Bill all those years ago and which he lost in a shop in Louisiana several years later. We did enjoy going through the house again and remembering our Grandmother telling us about the show Bill brought to the OLD Madison Square Garden –the Indians and the music and the horses and the soldiers and the excitement of it all. He was the PT Barnum of Western fantasy, in my mind. It must have been a real spectacle. We bought the CD of the original music and it is quite stirring—lots of Offenbach!!—and several pieces written by his band leader, Bill Sweeney—one of which he called The Two Bills Two Step.

Before we left the Ranch, I called ahead and made our reservations in Ogallala and here we are for tonight. Tomorrow we head up the Platte, which I’m sure is as dry as ever and go to Scott’s Bluff, which I’ve been to visit several times but also Agate National Monument. Let’s see if we can get in to see all that fine Indian beadwork they have hidden away!

For now, it is tuna fish time and a look at what might be interesting on TV. Good night from the Northeastern Western Emigrant Sisters, Kathy and Barb

Monday, September 8, 2014

And Here’s the Zag into Nebraska


September 8, 2014 Room 320 Comfort Inn Kearney, Nebraska

Today, we got up to beautiful cool breeze with a bit of a smell and feel of impending rain—it never came and the wonderful 60’s temperature quickly rose to an almost 90 degrees by the time we entered Nebraska around Lincoln. But before leaving Adair, we toured the town in which we had slept so deeply and comfortably. So many of these towns have red brick roads, at least in the town central. Some of them are in better shape than others, of course. As we crossed the bridge across the brook we noticed that the road was the old Rt 6, the White Pole Road. Drove into the City Park in which several motorcyclists had pitched tents and spent the night. There was also the monument mentioning the first train robbery in the West, carried out by Jesse James and his pals. How does one know this is the first train robbery in the West??? And, considering this is not the location labeled on the map, what is one to believe?

With a last glance at our resting spot we left town on County Road G 32 only to find that had we continued through town on old 6 rather than retracing our steps to the motel, we would have been on the same road. At any rate, finally noticing the lower part of the telephone poles we saw why this is called the White Pole Road—one of those DUH moments! And lo and behold there is the Jesse James park—what I call a pull off—and another monument. This one at least is alongside a railroad track which runs along with the road into Anita. The welcome sign’s significance escapes me—a bear holding a whale?

Outside town is a lovely lake and park but we weren’t ready for lunch so we drove to the beach/boat launch—enjoyed the breeze and the sight and moved along south once more to Corning. This is the birthplace of Johnny Carson—born on my birthday in 1925. We would not have known this but for a couple of the songs I’d included on my compilation set. They are both by a couple of women who sing a song called I Woke in Iowa,which is rather disparaging about the cultural and urban lack in the State. After some criticism they decided to write the Iowa Apology Song, in which they laud those things about Iowa which are noteworthy. Not only do they mention Carson’s birthplace but also that he’d build the town a cinema—I took its picture. May I say, in contrast to Winterset which celebrates the birth of a man who left at 3, Corning says nothing about a man who lived there until he was 12. Actually he lived among three towns clustered together—Corning,Red Oak and Avoca, which has a beautiful welcome sign but absolutely no other evidence of its existence. 34 as it goes through Corning is called Johnny Carson Blvd—with subtitles, lol. Apparently, wherever it is, the home is being restored and will open as a museum on his birthday next Oct—but for now, where is it? No One is saying!

So we continued on our way to the Missouri and the old narrow bridge that crosses it on Rte 34. We and the train crossed side by side with paired bridges. Don’t think the train engineer stopped to pay the $1.25 toll, however. Does everyone think the only thing in New York is NYC? The old toll keeper said, aha, New York City. I said we grew up there but live in the dairy farm countryside that makes up most of the State and that I now am in Vermont—oh, well, I shouldn’t feel badly, I guess. Vermont is only pretty fall colors!

The first town we entered in Nebraska was Plattesmouth and the first sign was directions to the confluence of the Missouri and Platte rivers, a historical Lewis and Clark site. Oh, well, another detour. Soon, going down a gravel road running along the railroad track and getting more and more narrow, we began to wonder if we cared enough to continue. The pick-up truck we were following pulled up to the train locomotive so we pulled up to ask where  this Lewis and Clark site was. The young engineer, with sparkling blue eyes and beautiful red hair said perfectly straight-faced, I haven’t seen those guys around for a long while—not missing a beat I said, nah, they passed right through and never returned and I was more interested in the confluence. We both laughed and I know we liked each other instantly. I wished I’d asked where he and his train were headed, just because. At any rate, he didn’t seem to know about the meeting place so we decided it wasn’t worth getting stuck out in the middle of no where so we turned about and scared a great blue heron off before returning to town.

About the only thing worth photographing in Union without being cruel was the banner claiming to be riding the rails of change. I hope so because there were about three broken down buildings at a railroad crossing. The rolling hills that had started in Iowa around Winterset, settled back into flatness once across the Missouri. We reunited with I 80 and passed through Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska with the statue of the Sower on the dome of the Capital building. Here is where Carson went to college joining the same fraternity to which Bill belongs. Carson used to give the frat sign on the Tonight Show and would wink and say for those who know. I never knew until I married Bill. It is interesting to note that while Carson’s major was radio broadcasting ect, his minor was physics—the guy was no schmuck.

Just around York we stopped and grabbed something to eat and drink. I tried to get a motel in Grand Island but every motel was filled. I began to get nervous—this is a big State and it was getting late. Apparently this week is CornHuskers’ Harvest Week!!! Wasn’t sure how far Kearney was but got a room there and found that it was only another 50 miles away. No senior discount since there is major event this week and furthermore this town’s motels are filled up, too.

Barb went down to the manager’s reception but I opted to stay in the room and relax a bit. She brought me a lovely glass of rose which I am now going to put up my feet and enjoy. Tomorrow we will go to the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument which spans I 80. I have been once when Mark and I returned from taking Betsy to college. Though we’ve stopped here again on various trips, it has not been open so Barb has not been able to enjoy it. Tomorrow is the day. and then we’ll continue westward toward North Platte and Scott’s Bluff. For now, it is wine and cheese time so good night to all.  The Sophisticated Sisters  Kathy and Barb

The Zig of the Zag in Iowa


September 8, 2014 Comfort Inn Rm 320 Kearney, Nebraska

Hello Everyone! This is the recap of our day yesterday with today’s adventures to follow in another blog.

Yes, indeed, GNG, the respite from the computer last night was quite nice though the TV offerings were a bit sparse. Although we had Iowa PBS, Barb was most disappointed to miss the last of the three parts to Breathless ( I was not sorry—poor quality soap opera, most unusual for Masterpiece. I didn’t even watch the second part. ). I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed the story of Roman Empire engineering feats.

Jane, that rocking chair surely was a hoot. Bets, do you remember Alice’s chair in Storytown that Aunt Barb made you climb the fence so that you could pose in it?

Yesterday was simply beautiful—70’s and breezy with no humidity. We headed south through Iowa countryside in which more barns than I wanted to photograph had quilt squares on the peaks. I was particularly amused by the Hog Haven ads that took that motif for its campaign. Of course, Purina’s red and white squares is nothing more than a simple quilt pattern.

The town of Fairfield was quite interesting—it and the land preceding the town limits appears to be owned by The Maharishi somebody or other. There are all kinds of large buildings including several that are the buildings of a Indian community college. Rather surprising, but I haven’t researched the community at all. As we left town, Barb exclaimed: I hate driving in all this terrible traffic. I tell you, that girl complains about everything—just no pleasing her!  LOL

Soon we arrived at the town of Eldon—quiet and deserted on a Sunday morning. It is here that Grant Wood found the house in front of which he chose to paint his sister and his dentist, neither of whom ever were at the house or even met each other. Some interesting boards giving all kinds of information about the artist and the painting. I’ll let those of you interested to read them for yourselves.

Barb and I  arrived to a totally empty place—even the visitors’ center was closed. Within seconds we were joined by another couple, followed closely by a very noisy group of motorcycles, ridden by a very noisy group of motorcyclists. Yet, despite first impressions, they were all local Iowans out for a Sunday ride and were funny and friendly. The couple had fancy cell phones and I agreed to take their picture. She had a pink one and it would not snap but his gray  matching one fired like a pro. She wanted me to take several to make sure they were good. Then, when she got the pink one going, it was take a few more. She took Barb and me, too. Then she did the group photo and several couple shots of the riders. After all this photography, we read the boards—oh, my, then she wanted me to take another couple of shots of them, not smiling and using the directions. He was a bit embarassed that she asked but I love taking pictures and assured him it was not a problem. I didn’t ask her to do the same however, so Barb and I are not aligned like the painting with the roof line, we are smiling, too. LOL  If we wanted to wait an hour when the center opened we could have borrowed a pitchfork and clothing but I like our version of the Masterpiece just fine. Meg and Sally, remember the postcard on the shelf in Montpelier? I think Fred sent it to Mom and Dad. What a hoot.

After waves and smiles and have a great day all around we were off once more to continue West on rte 34. Somewhere along the line we saw a picture for the Swedish Immigration Monument—what the heck?  That’s why we take back roads so off we went—a lovely sculpture grouping on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere—to the side of the Munterville Lutheran Church.

Back to 34 and an old car—no markings—looked like primer—the hood was louvered but couldn’t tell if it was hinged in the middle or the windshield end. Reminded Barb and me of the first Buick we can remember as kids. Bench seats in grey soft fabric. Lap robe ropes on the back of the front seat, straps on the side walls and a white bakelite  knob in the middle front roof to turn a short antenna – I even think the windshield may have been in two sections but not sure. Running boards. At about this time one of our hitch-hiking flies started pestering me. I said I need one of those electrified tennis racquets like I gave Bill. She laughed and said she was thinking EXACTLY the same thing.

As we continued in silence, which is how we usually travel, we watched the turkey vultures riding the thermals and having a blast. One rose gracefully among them and I said he almost looks like an airplane—a few seconds later, we saw that it WAS an airplane! On we went, stopping in Osceola for gas and then through Lorimor on our way north again to Winterset, the birthplace of John Wayne.to our amazement, the movie The Bridges of Madison County was also filmed here. I enjoyed the movie but aside from the fact that a few of these bridges have flat roofs, totally impractical in Vt, I doubt they’d be anything too exceptional.

So we spent about 20 minutes in the four room home in which Marion Robert Morrison was born on May 26, 1907.  The town has a big celebration every year—John’s daughter comes and his granddaughter has come and sung at the three day festival. The family has donated all kinds of family pictures and there are lots of props ect from movies he was in. Maureen O’Hara, at 94 came in her wheelchair last year to break ground for the new museum being built and plans on returning for the grand opening this coming May. God Bless her! The docent said she’s in a wheelchair and old but she still has red hair—that’s my girl! The funny thing is that Wayne and his family left Winterset when he was 3 and he never returned. Love it.

Two quotes from him that I love are:

'Each of us is a mixture of some good and some not so good qualities. In considering one's fellow man it's important to remember the good things ... We should refrain from making judgments just because a fella happens to be a dirty, rotten SOB.'"

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."[

He had some strange attitudes toward the ability of Blacks and also the taking of the land from Native Americans but no one is perfect. He was a good entertainer and we liked him.

Before leaving town we drove around looking at the buildings, most of which predated his birth. The Bootery is the building which was his father’s drugstore/shoe store—fitting, I’d say. Then we continued north to De Soto and got on I80 since we weren’t sure where we were going to find a motel for the night—they are few and far between in this neck of the woods.

At the Stuart Exit several chain motels were  listed, but though there were several lovely buildings in town we could not find the motels—perhaps the exit number was another one and we were so happy to see the motel names we forgot to read the exit. Although the Hotel Stuart listed itself as strictly modern, we though it looked a bit tired ( and empty!). So back we went to the Interstate and at Adair, we found a Budget Inn. Of a different age, but clean and comfortable. An Indian lady came to check us in and when she opened her living quarter door, the smells of the Indian spices made my stomach growl in appreciation. I think she was pleased when I told her it smelled delicious. And so, another Iowa day came to an end, and we were tired and grateful for the place to rest.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Amana Colonies of Iowa


Hello friends and family!

Hope you are all having the glorious weather we have experienced for the last two days and are promised for the next two before the rains come on Tuesday. It may be though, that we will move right through them as they enter Iowa and we move on to Nebraska. At any rate, it was heavenly today—not a cloud in the sky, in the 70’s but no breeze. As a result it was a little warm in the sun but wonderful in the shade with no humidity.

Today we spent at the Amana Colonies, mostly in Amana itself since it is the largest of the 7 villages and has the most commercial activity. I would imagine it was the center of the community when the farms were actually part of an community in the true sense of being a commune or having a communal way of life. But I have gotten ahead of myself  about the history of the place. There is a picture that gives the history but I’ll summarize. A religious group developed in Germany in the 1700’s—one of many such groups at that time in history. As often happened to these groups they were considered to far out of the main stream and the members became persecuted and sought a more peaceful place in which to live and worship. The group first came to Buffalo, NY but in time found it too secular an atmosphere and so sent scouts to the Midwest to find an appropriate place to set up a forever home. Sounds like the Mormons to me—but different. Or the Amish, or the Mennonites—but different. Anyway, Iowa was the spot chosen, land was bought, seven farms were established and a town located in the center of each.  Each town had its own blacksmith shop, bakery, church, school etc. A couple of woolen mills were set up and some other communal enterprises to manufacture items to be sold out of the community to support it. When the Depression came and when the younger folk became dissatisfied with a communal system the Church abandoned the practice and a Amana Society was formed. Stocks were issued in the Society, Amana appliance company was established and life went on.

Today Amana has all kinds of shops, restaurants, art galleries, theatres etc in the old buildings. These are not a Shelburne Museum situation, though there are several museums spread around the villages. These are living communities—at the meat shop, and the bakery and the general store there were people who live in these houses and farming these fields who were shopping along with the tourists. There were no crowds, everything was very walkable, the items were quality goods, though I come from Vt so don’t need Iowa cheese. The meat shop and smokehouse in Warrensburg, NY ( Oscar’s , Karen!!!) is much nicer with more products than the one in Amana. Jams and jellies and honey and 6 wineries and fudge and much much more was available.—but again, Vt has it all and I don’t need to buy that stuff in Iowa. Saw some jewelry that was interesting but passed on it—though I did buy a lovely painting of a cat that looks like Misty. Got some postcards and a birthday card for my Aunt, who will be 92 on the 23rd. Small block of fudge to last a couple of days, two ginger snaps that needed a lot more ginger and a lot more time in the oven but tasty anyway. A piece of Danish to last two mornings and lunch. Didn’t spend much but had a great day rubbernecking and talking to other shoppers.

There were two ladies from Minnesota with a bus group here to see Lynette Jensen—apparently she is a prominent quilter. A gentleman who bought three bottles of wine at one winery ( all fruit wines—berries and apples etc ) and his daughter who bought hers at another winery. She tasted the wines at both places and told her Dad that hers were sweeter than his—good dessert wines. I was sharing the bench outside the Christmas Shoppe while Barb was shopping. I think I had more fun there.

Everyone was very friendly and there was absolutely no pressure anywhere to buy anything. While we ate lunch there was a tractor parade that appeared out of nowhere—we all waved to each other –very small town fun.

We tasted only one wine, though I was going to try three to chose one. Asked to taste pinot grigio, Edelweiss and riesling. Lady gave me the pinot—it was too sweet—told me if I thought that was too sweet then I wouldn’t like the Edelweiss or reisling, because they were sweeter! Bought a bottle of something with a French name but not a varietal name—much drier and a nice white. Since we aren’t drinking it tonight since we’d had a cookie at lunch and will probably try a bit of fudge  I cannot tell you what it is. Oh, well—it’s a dry white at any rate.

We visited the other villages and some of the businesses but each of them has only a museum, a business and a general store or art gallery. They are still primarily residential but the buildings are beautiful—and there are many barns and brick and stone buildings original to the establishment of the settlements as well as newer homes and barns built by the younger generation and the newcomers to town.

We finished up by revisiting the Fireman’s Memorial next door to our motel . Of course, there is a piece of World Trade Center I Beam in a copse of trees—they sure shipped the debris far and wide out of the old Burg!

So, now, it is time to eat and then start plotting tomorrow’s route—think we’ll hit Grant Wood’s American Gothic home and the birthplace of the Duke—or maybe not. Until tomorrow have a lovely Sat night. I’m going to put my feet up and rest these strolling tootsies. Nighty night—The Indulgent Splurgers  Kathy and Betsy

BTW, I caught my apostrophe gaffe last night and fixed it on my blog site but I’d already sent it to you virtual travellers and didn’t think it worth resending after correction. I KNOW you are watching Joyce and Joanne!

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Day at the Herbert Hoover Museum and Library


Friday Sept 5, 2014 Holiday Inn Coralville, Iowa

Hello All—today’s blog is fairly short since the pictures more than explain our day. First, though, want to share with Jane that I saw the Mighty Mississippi for the first time at St Louis as well and my reaction was exactly the same—once I got over the height of the bridge—narrow and sooooo muddy.  Guess this is why New Orleans folks call it the Big Muddy but when you realize all the major rivers draining our continent, that don’t empty into either ocean, dumps into this big watery trunk, it makes sense that it would be filled with tons of run-off. Delta folks are glad for the fertile contributions from the rest of the country—lol  Yes, that bug was awful but we shared our luncheon venue with a much cuter denizen today. I must say, I never once thought about the Iowa Primaries—thank goodness it is not an election year!  Smile

Just a few stories of our day’s exploration—the Ranger at the visitor center told us some good places to visit in Alaska should we go and gave us some pointers should we decide to drive the Al-Can—but we aren’t—don’t want to leave the States in Montana. She also told us of a semi-secret room at the Agate National Park in Nebraska should we go that way. In addition, after asking us if Hoover was the only Quaker president and our response, that no, Nixon was also a Quaker, she shared the fact that Nixon’s grandmother is buried in West Branch and Mrs. Milhouses’ home is still standing in town. Further, should we go to the cemetery to see her resting place, there is a house in which John  Brown resided when he was recruiting ( brutally, may I add, and don’t know if I’d call his action recruitment) in Nebraska. It was moved to West Branch for some reason. Both houses are privately owned and there is no marking to indicate what they are.  She also looked at the Iowa map with us and pointed out points of interest and roads to explore.  The best thing she did was to sneak activity books and pencils to Barb, as I was proclaiming how much I loved the Junior Ranger programs some Parks have for kids. When I turned back to them,, we all had a good chuckle as Barb said she was sticking me in the corner tonight to work on the activities.

After walking along the streets of the neighborhood of the homestead in which Bert was born, we stopped at the blacksmith shop which is a replica of Jesse Hoover’s and is on the lot next door to the original shop.  Having a father born in 1901 , Barb and I were pretty familiar with most of the tools—the shears for cutting metal, the cone form for making small circles and the adjustable tool for making larger circular pieces to use as tie-ers on the wooden wheels used on carts and wagons of the day. We no longer have those wooden wheels that needed being held together or tied but the term continues on as “ tires”.

Walking across the street we entered the miniscule two room cabin in which the Hoovers lived.  Parents in the rope bed, two boys in the trundle and the baby, Mary, in the cradle. Outside the door the sitting room/dining room –Heaven only knows how the wood cooking stove fit in there—but the hole is in the wall for the chimney. In summer, the stove was moved out into the summer kitchen—also quite small.  They better have been a close family ,emotionally, because they were more than close, physically! By the time Bert was 10, the family had moved up the street into a two story home which is now gone and both of his parents had died. The children were split up among family and Bert was sent to Oregon to live with an aunt and uncle who had lost their young son to an accident just about the same time. He was in the first graduating class from Stamford, which he entered at 17 and was the youngest  in the class. He became a mining engineer and so his adult life began.

The story of his life is one of great humanitarianism, though most of us know him as the President who was in the White House during the Depression. One of his notable acts was to get food to Belgians who were starving during WWI. In grateful, appreciation, Belgium sent the statue of Isis to Hoover and it is beautiful. It is also the only monumental structure on the property.

The current exhibit in the Library is of gowns of each of the First Ladies, along with a portrait and a short commentary on each woman’s personality and/or her personal contribution to the Country during her husband’s tenure as President. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed.  The exhibit also showed the fashion taste of these women, some of whom were quite savvy and others of whom had what taste they had strictly all in their mouths.

After touring that exhibit, we’d walked a great deal and were tired so we decided to skip the exhibit on Hoover’s life, which would have been quite redundant, since we’d watched two videos and a smaller exhibit in the visitors’ center.  As a matter of fact, much to my dismay, though I laughed about it and told the young male usher about it, I simply drifted off for about three minutes at the end of the second video. Fortunately, I didn’t snore and when I told him that, he laughed and said , well, you are quite courteous!

In the gift shop we met three women of our vintage. Two ladies were 72 and the other was 70 and all were widows. They are local Iowans and go off on trips together. They’ve been to NYC, took a cruise, went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Each one takes turns picking what she wants to do and off they go. We had fun comparing notes. They were off to the Pink Pony for ice cream and we were off to the Hoover graveside and then to the picnic area for late lunch.

By this time, leaving the Library, the sky had darkened and the wind had picked up. I offered a short prayer to Mary asking her to hold off on rain until we’d walked  to the graves of Bert and his wife, Lou, a fellow Iowan, a fellow Stamford graduate and a fellow engineer.  Then we cut back down to the car through the tall grass prairie that has been replanted to show us what the landscape was in the times of Westward Expansion.  She answered my prayer but when we drove over to the picnic area the sky opened up and, once more, we ate in the car. But today we had the windows open and were joined by an adorable bunny who played by jumping out into the rain and then leaping back to the shelter of an available bush.

After the last of our Joseph’s pitas and ham and cuke we drove out to the cemetery to find the Milhouse grave but though there were many old gravestones, most are more than half buried and many are totally unreadable.-We walked in the rain quietly in this quiet spot and for a brief moment all of these souls were thought about once more, if only by strangers. We then drove by the Brown house but the owners have surrounded it by obscuring vegetation.  We never found the Milhouse home.  And so, in rain and a cool breeze our day ended. We renewed our room for tomorrow night, too, for we will spend the day at the Amana Communities. We will splurge a bit, there are meat shops, fudge shops, woolen and basketry stores  as well as the homes and museums about these people who lived communally until the 1930’s when they decided to own property individually. It was then that the Amana brand of appliances was established by the Amana Society. I’m sure there was some communal booty to share when they sold out to Whirlpool but that’s tomorrow’s installment!

So, I will close now to finish watching Mysteries of the Museum which is talking about the Joseph Jefferson home in New Iberia , La. It is talking of a 1980 draining of a lake and refill all by nature I’ve been to New Iberia at least 10 times and have never heard about this event or the home and its gardens. Have added it to a list of things to check out—either on this trip or in winter with Bill.

It is time to eat and rest up for tomorrow. Until then, have a terrific week-end, we’ll see you later. Goodnight from the historically enlightened Sister Act! Kathy and Barb

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Illinois to Iowa = Corn, Corn,Corn—SOYBEANS,OH!!


Thursday Sept 4,2014 Holiday Inn Rm 233 Coralville, Iowa ( actually an Iowa City suburb)

Good evening all. It is 7 pm CST so we gained an hour today. Last night’s sunset in Rochester, Indiana was nice but Ashtabula had it beat.  Haven’t noticed tonight’s yet., but there is a nice three quarter moon not quite night-time bright yet. Couple of things I want to take care of first—glad you liked the little yellow car—I think it was a Pontiac, Gloria but not sure. The middle aged couple were having a blast—he with his balding head and she with her floppy hat. Gave a big grin between us as we passed. The fog is nice but not a great help driving though we seem to have lost it today. Wish I could say the same for the humidity.

Barb Rich, once the dog left with Charlie and Sheryl the odor was gone—so I guess he did get sprayed but I’m sure he has been bathed and smells like a rose now. As for the  A/C—I’m getting punished tonight—could not shut the darn thing off or get it to show the temp. Called the desk, guy looked at it and pushed buttons—nothing, then he hit his head and said—oh, they changed it to thermostat –and there you have it—comfort. But the wet rug—having trouble with them—would we like another room—no—too busy on project. Okay, will send someone in tomorrow to jack it up and put a humidifier and rug dryer in. I agreed but said if it isn’t corrected for tomorrow night—either a new room or a refund—may demand a reduction either way.

Jane, so glad you are enjoying the blog—yes, using WW and so far we are fine—Barb is doing Atkins—we have lots of food with us and haven’t eaten out yet. Free breakfast at the motel, picnic lunch and food from the pantry for dinner—so far we’ve not felt deprived but we have all kinds of acceptable goodies. Half a cantaloupe last night was delicious!

So what did today bring?  Well, at the outset, feeling quite insulted by my comment comparing her window cleaning to Bill’s, Barb got out her Miracle Glass spray can and roll of toweling ( WHO brings them on a trip???) and did all the windows this morning. Further, she informed me that I had to announce that in the blog. Done and Done!

On we went Westward through small towns with lots of corn along the way. The sky was quite ominous for most of the day and the humidity was suffocating—the A/C in the car was dripping from the vents—probably didn’t help that we had the sun roof open. I know, I know—not very good for gas mileage but we love the fresh air, but today it was really hot. At one point it was 91 !!!! 

Kewanna was such a neat little town we drove up and down the streets. Loved the morning glories growing up the corn but hated the empty buildings that were once so beautiful. Every store front was empty—I’m sure the people go to the big box stores in Rochester. Just love the descriptive terms used by the towns to describe themselves. Kewanna is The Little Town with a Big Heart and on the back of the sign when you are leaving they are so sorry they show a broken heart.  How cute is that?We then took off on Rte 14 West to check out Renssellaer. We had gone to the Little Cousin Jasper Festival there three years ago. We’d gotten tired of corn on both sides of the road and saw a gap in the fields. There was a sign to Renssellaer and since Barb was living in Renssallaer, New York at the time we decided to check it out. Lo and behold there was a parade of tractors etc and a toddler king and queen throwing candy to spectators from a bucket loader. A flatbed trailer was filled with model pigs decorated every which way and being judged for best pig prizes. The beautiful County Courthouse had a stage built on its front door and a high school band was playing the hits of 2000, while the lawns had tables and tents holding crafts for sale. We each bought an angel pin and a gourd painted with a crazy face and used for a bird house.  We are too early this year—and we knew we were—the festival starts tomorrow and the greens are all pegged out for the craftspeople and the stage is being erected. The corn fields that led to the town 14 years ago are much smaller—either businesses or homes have been built on some and many have been converted to soybean fields. I know they are legumes but also the interest in soy products by the new health crazes has made growing soybeans for tofu and soy milk much more profitable than corn for livestock—plus the soil isn’t depleted as much so there isn’t the same need for fertilizers and/or crop rotation. Anyway, we took a spin around the green a couple of times and then looked for the historical sign that tells about the town’s establishment by a Van Rensselaer from Albany, NY!! Sign isn’t where it was and we haven’t a clue where it went, The jewelry store in front of which is was is gone and a CVS pharmacy is there now. Also the cute little antique shop is gone. Oh, well, 14 years is a long time—it is still a cute town.

We continued out of town on In 114, on which we arrived and then headed south to pick up 24 West so that we’d enter Illinois at Decatur. This put us off on the Road to Morocco, which we both broke out spontaneously singing—though those are the only words we know—just call us Bing and Bob!  We got a bit excited when we saw what appeared to be a couple of hills—well, they are—Landfill—oh, well, at least there was some break in the monotonous terrain.

The ominous sky, the corn higher than the car roof, the wind and humidity and heat led us to wonder if the Northeast transplants who moved west and named their towns Middlebury, Rensselaer, Burlington, Montpelier etc ever wished they’d just stayed put. These beautiful fertile fields become seas of snow with an occasional tree forming a lonely island, in summer the sun and heat is unrelenting with no shade in sight, the wind is horrendous for much of the year and then tornadoes come roaring across the plains destroying everything in its path. Top that off with unremitting flatness. I don’t know—but despite its incredible beauty, I could not take living here.

Soon we reached Kentland, the home of George Ade—who?  My goodness, have you never heard of the turn of the century playwright and author? Well, apparently Perdue University knows who he is—for the fieldhouse is the Ross-Ade  fieldhouse and he is the ADE of the name.

From there we arrived at the buckle of the corn belt—lol—Iriquois County and on into Illinois. I did not notice the scrapbooking store in Watseca, I was so focused on getting a picture of one of the town’s banners. On we continued on Ill 24 through towns, some of which had nothing more than a water tower and a grain elevator, others of which were adorable house lined villages. I loved Chenoa, whose weather beaten sign, needing a paint job badly. called itself the Crossroads of Opportunities. At El Paso ( nothing like the one in Texas!) we grabbed an Interstate for 21 miles just to get to 17 which we primarily used to get across Illinois.  We had gained our hour back before Rensselaer and we were getting hungry so in Lacon we went looking for a park in which to have lunch.

Way out one of the streets we came to the pool and park—deserted on a school day—besides they have already drained the pool—boy I think I’d have used it today. It was so hot and humid we decided to eat in the car and watch our lawns man groom the grounds—lol! Actually, we did have the doors open at first while we assembled our meal, so we picked up a couple of small flies—but happily, we closed everything up while we ate because that black thing on the windshield is a huge fly like creature—didn’t seem to have a stinger and the probiscus was fairly small. The huge white eyes bulged sideways and it groomed itself like houseflies do—I think taste and smell are involved in that process. It flew around the car and looked in every one of those lovely clean windows trying to get in. After we finished eating we just drove off—did not take a walk or throw out the garbage.

After crossing the Illinois River—very high bridge and Barb looking over the side and driving in the direction in which she looks—God!!—we arrived in  Wyoming. A cute little park –Thomas Park provided a short walk, a garbage drop, a souvenir large acorn and a wave and smile to the local policeman. Barb also indulged her inner child for a few minutes but decided the swings were too low!

On through several more small towns and finally to Woodhull the terminus of our Rt 17 journey and the beginning of Interstate travel once more. The crossing of the mighty Mississippi was fairly easy—over to Le Claire and Bettendorf, Iowa!  Who exactly determines the world’s largest anything?  We stopped only to get the Iowa guide book and info on the Herbert Hoover Museum and Library as well as the Amana Communities. It was interesting to see four blades of one of my favorite windmills on four flatbeds—they are so huge!

Once we got our literature we headed into Coralville and the Holiday Inn.  We are staying for two nights, so we can visit both places leisurely—happily, the weather is breaking. Rain tonight and then fall like temps tomorrow and Sat. Thank goodness—I would have died walking around in 90+ degrees and humidity. Let us hope the meteorologists know what they are talking about.

So, a happy backroads day comes to an end and it is now 9 and I haven’t eaten yet—oh, golly—we stopped too late tonight. Have to make sure we stop at least an hour earlier from now on.  Until tomorrow—have a good evening and we’ll be back tomorrow.  The Zany Twosome—Kathy and Barb