North American Tour-Finale

We had a great visit with the family in Michigan. The children are all growing like weeds & Justin is now taller than both his mother & grandmother! This was the first we’d seen their present house & it’s lovely. Everyone has their own bedroom & are getting alot of use out of the backyard pool.

Our visit to Michigan lasted 2 days & it was nice to spend a whole day with the family. Tonya took Wednesday off work & we were also able to see Arya,Chris’ daughter.

Leaving Bloomfield Thursday morning,the original plan was to stop at a campground in Ohio for the night. Well, as we stopped for a food/bathroom break, we decided to go all the way to Hagerstown. It was agreed that we would stop at a motel if Steve got too tired to continue.

So,  that was what we did. Our last stop was at a McDonald’s in Breezewood, PA & we continued on to Hagerstown without any difficulty. At McDonald’s we had an interesting meeting with a husband & wife who had taken a cross-country trip by motorcycle last year. They each rode their own motorcycle & part of the trip was on the old Route 66. Unlike us,they stayed in motels along the way & went clear to California. (Originally, we had planned to go to California, but had amended that decision. At the end, we were glad we didn’t go that far.) We arrived at our home around 9:30PM & were glad to be home & sleeping in our own bed. And I think the cats were happy to see us, too!

We rode through 16 states over 52 days for 8800 miles. Quite an accomplishment,if I do say so myself! I had a fabulous time & ran out of adjectives to describe all that we saw. It was wonderful to meet Steve’s family that I hadn’t met before & to again see those that I had. Everyone was so hospitable & we appreciated the time they spent with us.

Riding a motorcycle apparently makes one approachable,because we had so many conversations with strangers. They wanted to know where we had been, where we were going next, & how we were doing. We compared notes with other riders, & alot of people were interested in the trailer & how it handled.  Local residents gave us suggestions on places to visit in their area-unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to see many of those. Places for another trip? Who knows?

It was the trip of a lifetime. I was so lucky to have the time, the opportunity, & the companion to accomplish it. All that time, all those decisions, & we’re still speaking!! And planning our next adventure…

 

 

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North American Tour-Day 52

We got a late start today. Steve had a tough time sleeping due to the intense itching, so he took a sleeping pill & slept in later than usual. Then, he called his doctor in Maryland, who called in a couple of prescriptions to the WalMart down the street a little from the motel. Luckily, we were in an area with a WalMart, so they would be sure to have the meds needed. We had to wait a little while, but not bad.

Once we were on our way, we rode from Des Moines, Iowa to Peru, Illinois, where we’re in another motel. Traveling through Iowa, there were gently rolling hills with field after field of soybeans & corn, mostly corn. Corn as far as I could see. And it’s very green here, much more green than the western states we just went through. No evidence of irrigation needed.

More road construction & alot of trucks traveling with us. Temperature was in the 90’s.

We treated ourselves & had supper @ Olive Garden here. Had a great meal with good wine. We’re both stuffed!!

Hopefully, Steve will sleep better tonight. Tomorrow, we’re headed to Bloomfield, Michigan. This is a suburb of Detroit where my daughter-in-law lives with her husband & my grandchildren. She said they have a pool, so hopefully, we’ll get some relaxing pool-time there. We plan to stay 2 nights with them & head to Ohio Thursday & Maryland Friday. No laundry duty necessary since we’ll be home soon!!!

North American Tour-Days 50 & 51

Yesterday we remained in Tyndall, SD, staying with Steve’s friend, Bill. That evening, Steve & Bill went fishing along the Missouri River. Steve caught a catfish & a raging case of chiggers! He’s really itching today!!! Plus, they got back late & in bed about 2AM, so it was a late sleep-in day.

Also while @ Bill’s, he & I sat @ the computer & he introduced me to several wonderful singers I had never heard of before. He has an enormous collection of records-45’s, LP’s, & even 75’s. He’s found he can find any song/singer he wants to listen to on YouTube. We even found some obscure songs I had liked back in the day!

Today, we rode from Tyndall to Des Moines, Iowa. It was a pleasant day to ride-the temperature is down & it was slightly overcast. There was a little rain to start, but it didn’t last, so we removed the rain jackets we started in @ the first break stop @ a McDonalds. We also discovered that we finally have a cell phone signal, so Steve was able to talk some with his daughter, Abby, & catch up a little with her. Later, I was able to call my daughter-in-law, Tonya, & make plans to stay with them @ their house outside Detroit, Michigan,this week.

Traveled past rolling hills & field after field of corn & soybeans. These fields looked alot better than those in SD, some were being irrigated. Farmers in SD are worried about their grain crops & associated jobs with the continued drought there. When we went through Arkansas & Texas we saw a crop called milo or sorghum-it’s about knee-high with an orange-red seed top & is used for animal feed. Learning all kinds of interesting things.

As we rode through Iowa, we passed an area with alot of wind turbines. I think they look so graceful, like dancers. I do wonder why more areas don’t have them-so many are so windy, seems like they’re wasting the wind!

We’ve encountered the usual summer crop of orange cones (road work throughout the US!). No traffic back-up so far, though.

We’re luxuriating in another motel. (not really luxurious, but is to me compared to camping!!!) I really think Steve would have been miserable in the heat with the bites he has, so the air-conditioning is appreciated. We had a good supper of Chinese food @ a restaurant next door to the motel. We were worried about the restaurant, since there was no one else there when we arrived-you know, the usual rule is-eat @ the restaurant with the most cars in the parking lot. But, thankfully, it turned out to be an exception to the rule.

Seeing the trucks on the road today reminded me-in Utah, we saw a large number of triple-trailers. Semi’s with not 2, but 3 trailers! That’s the only state we’ve seen them.

Riding the motorcycle, I’m getting a strange tan lines. Since I wear my jacket almost all the time, my hands are real brown. Also, I bought a neat pair of sport shoes in Texas that I’ve been wearing-they’re low & real light & porous, so are very cool, but have thin straps along the top, causing a crisscross pattern on the top of my foot. Looks odd with flipflops!!

I think we should almost reach Indiana tomorrow, if all goes well. We’re @ the point in our trip that we’re ready to be home. Hopefully we’ll be in Hagerstown by the end of the week. And, we bought our return tickets for Costa Rica-August 9th. I’ll just be glad to be back in Hagerstown & spend some quality time with my cats!! This all has been a wonderful experience, but there’s no place like home…

North American Tour-Days 48 & 49

Yesterday, we left Kadoka @ a reasonable hour & proceeded across South Dakota to Tyndall. We met several motorcycle riders @ the motel where we stayed. 2 couples had ridden 12 hours from Illinois that day!!! Granted, they were on big bikes & the women had the seats with backrest & armrests, but that’s still way too long to ride, @ least for Steve & me. It’s still hot! They just wanted to be sure their rooms were air-conditioned!!!

Seeing dark clouds up ahead when we got gas, we covered the things on top the trailer with the tarp & put on out rainsuit jackets. (in case I haven’t mentioned it, bungeed on top the trailer are 2 bag-chairs, the tent, 2 sleeping bags, & the small cooler.) We did run into a little rain, but it didn’t amount to much. Afterward, it got really humid, as well as hot, so, off came the rainjackets.

On the way through South Dakota, we kept seeing signs about every half mile for “Wall Drugs”. They were advertising everything! Cold water free, free coffee & donuts for honeymooners & veterans, 5 cent coffee… Steve’s friend, Bill, had said we should stop just to see the place. So, when we got to Wall, SD, we did go there. We were looking for something & thought, of all places, this store should have what we were looking for. Steve had bought a cooling scarf @ WalMart before we left on our trip & had worn it everyday. Well, during that hellish ride through the desert in Utah, it blew off!!! So, here we were @ Wall Drug, on a mission. This place is huge & wandering! There are stores selling various things, all opening into each other-a souvenir shop (where you can buy a gen-u-ine coonskin cap for $20-made in China!!?), a camping supply shop, jewelry store, cafe, western art room, rock-hunting supplies, t-shirt shop…we didn’t go into every room. I just went & asked a clerk for what we wanted & sure enough, they had them!! And made right here in SD-more expensive than the first one, but nicer. (I had also gotten one originally, but the material was red & I couldn’t get the color to stop running. I have a white motorcycle jacket & figured it would be ruined by the red color, so I threw it out. I later regretted this when it got so hot. Leslie,the wife of Steve’s cousin, Sam,  had a cooling scarf made in Arizona that she had never worn, & gave it to me. What a blessing!!! And I like the colors, too. It feels wonderful when it’s so hot!)

So, we took our purchase & proceeded to Tyndall, where we’re staying with Steve’s friend, Bill.

Last evening for supper, we went to the corner bar downtown & had the best mushroom swiss hamburger I’ve ever had! And great french fries, too-done just right by our waitress/cook. While we were there, there was a downpour. People inside went outside, just to stand in the rain, it had been so dry for so long! It did cool it down some. Bill then took us around town a little & down to the Missouri River. There we met a man who was just sitting on a bench enjoying the evening. We got to talking, & he told us stories that were told to him by his grandparents-his great-grandparents had settled here before the Civil War (or, according to the Southern states-the War of Northern Aggression!) His great-grandmother had cared for Custer’s horse after Custer was killed & it’s buried on their land. He’s also seen fossils & other interesting things around this area. It’s so interesting to talk to people who have lived in an area for generations-not too many of us do that anymore (live in one area all our life, that is.)

Steve & Bill were going to go fishing this evening, but it was just too hot today. They’re hoping it’ll be cooler tomorrow. I think we’re leaving here Sunday morning & heading East.

North American Tour-Day 47

Today, we left Wyoming, land of cattle, horses, pick-up trucks, & boots. Had a pleasant ride into South Dakota, past the Black Hills & Badlands.

We stopped in a park in Rapid City, South Dakota, for lunch. In this park, they had a memorial to the Berlin Wall, with alot of interesting information & photos. They also had 2 actual pieces of the Wall.

While we were there, we realized we were only about 30 miles from Mount Rushmore & decided to take a slight detour to see it. We passed some really tacky stores, souvenir shops, miniature golf places, petting zoos, etc. Luckily, we had a really clear view of the carvings & didn’t have to enter the park. I was glad I was able to see that.

We’re staying in a motel in Kadoka, South Dakota. Quite a small town. I think there’s a main street somewhere, but we weren’t able to find it when we took a little ride after supper. It’s a simple, clean motel with breakfast in the morning.

Tomorrow, we’ll proceed to Tyndale, where Steve’s friend, Bill, lives. Steve met Bill in Costa Rica when he (Steve) was there by himself, looking for a place for us to live.

There are still so many fires burning in these western states, most towns have cancelled their firework displays. Believe it or not, fireworks are still being sold, though they’re not supposed to be used here. Right!!

And, I almost forgot to mention-I added photos to several older entries if anyone wants to check, starting with the “Canyon” blog.

The first photo here is of the 2 pieces of the Berlin Wall in Rapid City-for some reason I couldn’t add captions.

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North American Tour-Day 46

Today we’ve traveled 7,500 miles-1000 by truck in Canada & 6500 miles on the motorcycle.

We left Yellowstone in chilly weather this morning. The drive out the east entrance & down through the mountains was one of the most beautiful of the whole trip. Outside Yellowstone is the Shoshone National Forest. Right alongside the road is unmelted snow! Lots of running water cascading down the rocks beside the road-little waterfalls. The road follows several rivers that sparkle in the sunlight.

As we continued through Wyoming, it got warmer & warmer, then downright HOT!!! Just like that drive through Utah! It reached 106 degrees! Yikes, & we started in cold weather!

Went through Cody, Wyoming, which is celebrating Cody Stampede Days & a rodeo. We followed a parade through town before we found a McDonald’s where we could finally check our email. Steve also wanted to find a motel for the night & to plot the address into the GPS. Later, we stopped @ a gas station, where we filled up on cold liquids, & I wet-down my cooling scarf (it was too cold this morning to soak it!) Further on, we stopped for a beer & chatted with a man & woman each on their own Harley who were headed in the opposite direction. We exchanged road information & commiserated about the heat!

Here we are in a Motel 6, in Buffalo, Wyoming. We both enjoyed a good tub soak, then had supper @ Pizza Hut. Ah, to sleep in a real bed!! Luxury! And looking forward to a shower tomorrow. I think we head into Montana tomorrow.

Other than the heat, the mountains here are different from any of the others. Older, with caves & formations. It did get cooler as we traveled through the mountains & it was greener than earlier in the ride. We passed fields of fragrant clover with what looked like beehives along the edges. And we startled 2 young pronghorn antelope along the side of the road.

Hopefully we’ll get to see fireworks tomorrow night somewhere.

Great American Tour-Days 44 & 45

Old Faithful geyser

On Day 44, we rode the short distance to Yellowstone National Park. There was along line of people @ the entrance to the park.  An electronic board indicating which campgrounds had openings & they were filling-up fast! So, we hustled to the first available campground & did find a nice space. This had a pit toilet nearby, but no showers. We stayed here 2 days, also.

The rangers here are very, very strict about what is left out in the camp when unattended. Bears are here-black & grizzly. A grizzly bear was seen walking through the campground where we stayed a couple days earlier. One cannot leave out food, coolers, or luggage with cosmetics or perfume. Your belongings can be confiscated & you can be fined if this stuff is found @ your camp. Our camping neighbor had several things confiscated & they would’ve had to pay a fine if the rangers hadn’t been too busy to come out! Luckily, they got their things back the next day.

Here, we saw bison, moose, elk, mule deer, & antelope. Didn’t see any bear, which was alright with me!

The first day, we went to see Old Faithful & were not disappointed. In the same area, there are a bunch of other geysers. The visitors center has a list of times they’re all supposed to do their thing, but we didn’t go there, & just wandered around. There’s a huge crowd when Old Faithful is due, so that’s easy to figure out. Some of the other ones are just as impressive. It’s just an interesting place to walk around.

The next day, we took a ride to a different part of the park-the place is huge!! A couple million acres. Forests, burned-out forests (they had a devastating fire in the 90’s that eliminated alot of animal environment just now coming back), rivers with cut-throat trout (visible in some places when they jump out of the water), lakes, grassy fields, marshes, lots of animals. There are alot of thermal pools, steaming places, steaming bubbling smelly places, bubbling mud pits, weird stuff! A really enjoyable relaxing day.

For as many people that are probably visiting the park, you don’t feel crowded in any of the areas, the place is just so big! There are alot of camping areas, lodges, stores, & gas stations.

One person we met was a woman from Alaska, driving a 3-wheeler, who made an annual ride alone from Alaska to Texas to visit her daughter.

elk

the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

It was sunny & comfortable during the day, but got down in the high 40’s @ night! I had to dig out the flannel pj’s & sweatshirt!

Great American Tour-Days 42 & 43

Grand Tetons

moose

mother moose & her 2 calves

On Day 42, we left the Wasatch mountains & rode to the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming,where we stayed  for 2 days. Yes, the mountains were impressive, but I was more thrilled seeing a female moose & her 2 calves!

At this park, we saw bison (not buffaloes-those are in Asia & Africa only!), moose, antelope, mule deer, & lots of smaller critters. We took a hike of about 2 miles & later met 2 Brits who were BICYCLING across the US!

We’ve starting cooking in the camp-coffee & donuts or oatmeal for breakfast & supper heat-up things. The little propane stove has been in the trailer & we decided to use it.

I still have difficulty sleeping in the sleeping bag. After turning over a few times, I’m all tangled-up. Plus the sleeping bag slides off the air mattress & I find myself on the lumpy ground! And I lose track of the zipper-if I need to exit in a hurry, I’ll have to climb out the top!

Great American Tour-Day 41

This day we left Ivins, Utah & rode to Wasatch Mountain State Park. Poor Colorado & Utah-so many fires still burning. Not far outside St. George, we saw a fairly large burned area still smoldering, including a telephone pole completely burned & still smoking! A few pieces of fire equipment were still in the area. The closer we got to Provo, the more smoke was in the air. Sometimes the mountains on either side of the road were obscured by the smoky haze.

Nice campground there & we were close to the bathrooms (can be important @ a certain age!!). And they had showers-we ask for so little!

The park is close to a charming small town called Midway. Lovely homes decorated in alpine themes. We ate @ a great small restaurant-had really good pizza & tried the local beers, which were also really good. The restaurant had a singer playing during the evening-he sang alot of the songs from the 60’s & 70’s-loud enough to hear, soft enough to be unobtrusive.

We’ve seen alot of rental RV’s on this trip. I don’t know what they cost, but alot of people are using them.

Great American Tour-Canyons

the Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Zion Canyon

We visited 3 canyons in Utah-the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon. The Grand Canyon is, well, grand! It’s so large, you can’t see the other side. We went to the north rim & did walk around quite a bit. Bryce Canyon is viewed from the top down, like the Grand Canyon. But Bryce is filled with fantastic stone formations, caused by the erosion of water & wind. Some look like standing people, which was a Native American legend. Zion is viewed from the bottom, looking up. Steep canyon walls of varied shape & color, some seeping water with plants growing on the sides & birds nesting in them. Zion has a really nice shuttle bus system, & explaining about different features of the park along the way. The shuttles frequently come by every stop, so it’s easy to get off whenever you want & just catch another one when you’re ready to move on. I think Bryce was my favorite, while Steve liked Zion more. He said he would’ve liked to have stayed longer & gone on some of the trails. Personally, I think that idea is a bit ambitious-alot of the trails are labeled strenuous or difficult-I’m not into difficult these days!!!

We saw bison @ the Grand Canyon, ravens & chipmunks @ Bryce, & @ Zion, we saw mule deer, squirrels & chipmunks, & a really annoyed prairie dog who was loudly chirping @ all the humans around him/her!

A word or 2 about the park rangers. All we encountered have been so nice!! Unlike border guards, who tend to be surly, these men & women seem to have endless patience. No matter how long the line is behind us, they are willing to explain whatever asked, show you the map, highlight the areas of interest. They have alot of knowledge about their area. They were wearing a black band on their badge when we were there-it was in honor of a ranger in Washington state who was killed while attempting a rescue. And you do see people doing stupid things that put themselves & others @ risk.

The national parks are such a treasure. And so big! And a bargain-I’m not sure of the other prices, but Steve purchased a senior pass for $10-this entitles him to enter any national park free of charge FOR LIFE!! (they charge by the vehicle, not each person in it, so only one person needs a pass.) As crowded as the parks are @ times, I wish everyone could have some of the experiences we’ve had.