Day Nineteen, March 30th

Happy Birthday Ane!

We left Bozeman at 9:00 and travelled to Coeur d’Alene Idaho.  It was a much calmer day than yesterday.

The road was clear and although the sky was a little gray, visibility was good. 

Continental Divide MT

We crossed the continental divide.  That always amazes me.  Its hard to imagine that all the rivers drain now to the Pacific on this side of the divide. 

It started to rain a little, but at least its not snow!!

Idaho State Sign

We arrived in Coeur d’Alene at about 3:00 Pacific Time.  We like changing time zones this way…we get an extra hour! 

Lake Coeur D'Alene

The lake is huge and really beautiful.  I can imagine that in the summer its really popular.  Julie says that Patty Duke has a place here.  I can see why! 

Toni at Lake Coeur D'Alene

 

We splurged and are staying at a Bed and Breakfast. 

Roosevelt Inn Sign

Roosevelt Inn ID

 

It is called The Roosevelt Inn and it used to be an elementary school.  It even has a giant flagpole out front.  Our innkeeper was a student here.  That would be strange.  He is also a voice actor for books on tape.  None of the ones we are travelling with though. 

He recommended we go to The Wine Cellar for dinner.  It was literally in a cellar, but was really cozy and the food was yummy.  They had a guitar player who thought he was Cat Stevens.   Lets just let him have his fantasy.

Tomorrow we are visiting our cousins David and Nancy Corwin.  They live in Medina Washington,  near Seattle.

Our mileage is now at 6,072

Day Eighteen, March 29th

“On the road again…” 

We woke up to a sunny day and quickly got ready to take off.  It was about 8:30 . Then the fog rolled in again.  Thankfully, when we crossed into Montana the sun came out and it was beautiful for the rest of the day. Coincidentally, our route follows the Lewis and Clark expedition today. 

Montana State Line

 

Julie at Little Big Horn

Our first stop  was at Little Big Horn.  We saw where Custer made his last stand and there was lots of information about Sitting Bull too.  It was kind of surprising to us that Custer and his men had such a hard time shooting the Indians since they were on top of the hill.

Little Big Horn Sign

 

Toni at Little Big Horn Memorial

 

Montana Landscape

Montana

Montana is gorgeous and  Yellowstone National Park is even more amazing.  The admission was $25, but well worth it.  At this time of year, there are only 2 entrances that are open and only 1 road that you can drive on.  The Park is the size of Delaware and Rhode Island added together.  It also crosses into Wyoming.  So, we could only see a small portion of it, but it was spectacular.  Every turn brought a new and exciting sight. 

45th Parallel

Then we saw a sign that said we were at the 45th parallel, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. 

Bison at Visitor Center

Entrance to Yellowstone

The Albright Visitor Center is the only one that is open year round.  It is located in a little “village” near the north entrance.  They have a clinic, post office, hotel, office buildings, lodging for employees and much more.  We were leaving the parking lot and Julie saw a bison on the grassy area.  I said, no its a statue…then it moved.  The city girls had their first, but not last, encounter with wildlife.  We followed the road to the Mammoth Hot Springs.  It was steamy and smelled like sulphur.  It was pretty in a weird sort of way. 

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

They had signs all over the place to stay on the walkway or you could fall through and end up in boiling water.  It was really cold, and we gave it some thought.

Another stop led us to a waterfall shooting out from under a wall of snow. 

Waterfall in Yellowstone

Bison Grazing

Elk Grazing

We saw several bison in a field quietly grazing on the grass and  elk on the side of the road.  The rangers said to watch out for grizzlies, but we didn’t see any and are not complaining.  On our way out we rounded a bend in the road and saw a small herd of bison stampeding toward us.  I’m not kidding!  Julie said to stop the car and we stared in disbelief as our hearts were beating so loud we could hear them.  They were galloping like horses, but are so much bigger. 

Bison Charging

 At the last minute they veered around us.  Whew…

We said our farewells to Yellowstone and drove off toward Bozeman.  However, we didn’t get very far before we had another wildlife encounter.  I was traveling about 60 mph and a deer jumped in front of us to cross the highway.  I slammed on the brakes just in time.  Can we please get to the hotel safely??  We did.  We arrived in Bozeman at 6:30 after a very eventful day.

Our mileage is now 5,698.  Tomorrow we are going to Idaho.

Day 17 March 28

Well we hit our first delay.  We woke up in our hotel room and looked outside.  There was around 7-8 inches of snow.  We found out that Interstate 90 through Wyoming and Montana had weather advisories.  They cautioned against any “unnecessary travel”.  So we are chilling in our room.  After being on the road for 17 days you would think we would be happy but it seems strange to just sit here.  We will do our laundry instead. One good thing, we will be able to have dinner with our friends, Kathleen and Jerry tonight.  We went to the Sheridan Palace on Main St. and had a wonderful down home meal.  It was a comfortable and friendly place.  The food was fabulous.

Dinner at the Sheridan Palace

Chef Steve and Kathleen

 

After dinner we rode by the home of Buffalo Bill and then went back to our hotel and took a picture of a horse in the lobby.

Home of Buffalo Bill

Sheridan Inn

 

Happy Trails to You

 

We got a Wyoming bottle of wine for Steve.  Its called Stampede Red and has horses on it.  Very cool. 

Our mileage is 5,265

Day Sixteen

Was today a great day?  You bet! (I’ve been wanting to say that since we got to this part of the country.  We hear it a lot).

We woke up and called the ranger station at Mt Rushmore to see if the fog had lifted.  The answer was no.  So, we packed up and headed toward Sheridan Wyoming at about 10:30.  It started to clear up so Julie called one last time and they said yes, you could see the monument.  We turned the car around and headed back toward Rapid City and Mt Rushmore.  We quickly walked to the viewing area and…it was fogged in.  We sat down on a bench and laughed at our misfortune.  Then we decided to walk down one of the trails to see if we could see anything.  We could see the vague outlines of the figures.  Then all of a sudden it started to clear up!  We could see the faces!  Yay!  Persistence paid off.

Mt. Rushmore (2)

 

Toni and Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore with State Flags

 

Snowy Drive Thru Dakotas

Now we really had to get going to make it to Sheridan by dinner time.   Kathleen and Jerry Thompson, friends of Julie and her family, moved there from Orlando.  They had invited us to dinner, so we started again toward Wyoming. 

We passed through Deadwood and saw a sign for Mt. Moriah cemetery.  We drove up a really steep hill, parked and walked up another really steep hill and saw the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

Deadwood Sign

Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Wild Bill Hickok Grave

Wild Bill Hickok Grave Marker

Calamity Jane Grave Marker

Dead Wood in Deadwood SD

 

Our route took us through many beautiful areas of the Black Hills. 

Big Horn Sheep

Pretty lakes and wooded areas around every turn.  We even saw Bighorn Sheep on the side of the road.  As we left the Black Hills, there was much less snow on the ground.  Then we crossed into Wyoming. 

Wyoming State Line

We arrived in Sheridan at 6:00 and went straight to Kathleen and Jerry’s.  They had deer in their backyard! We had a really yummy dinner and then said our good bye’s.

Deer in Kathleen's Yard

Wyoming Landscape

  It started to snow as we were arriving and when we left, a couple of inches had accumulated. We’ll have to see what the morning brings us.

Julie Kathleen and Jerry

 

Tomorrow we plan to go to Yellowstone on our way to Bozeman, Montana.  I forgot to check the mileage tonight so you will have to wait till tomorrow.

Some additional information:  I have been doing most of the writing on our blog and Julie has been doing the technical stuff.  She set this blog up (Lexi helped too) and downloads the pictures and makes everything look nice.  Julie also works on our map and updates our travels.  You probably know this, but you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Day Fifteen March 26th

2 weeks!  So much has happened and yet the time has gone by so quickly.

Snowy Drive Thru Dakotas

This morning we woke up to about 4 inches of snow.  We weren’t sure what to do or which way to go.  We called the Ranger station at Mt Rushmore, but they were still fogged in.  We checked the weather and road conditions in various towns and decided to head north and see if we could get to North Dakota.  At 10:30 we hit the road.  I won’t keep you in suspense, we made it to ND.

The main roads were fine.  The parking lots and entrance/exit ramps were slushy, but OK.  The big issue initially was fog.  We left the Rapid City area and saw a sign for Sturgis, SD.  Since we’re “looking for adventure”, we had to check it out.  No biker boys were in sight, so we got back on the highway…

Sturgis

 

Canam Highway 85

Now we got on route 85, the CANAM highway.  It goes from Canada to Mexico.  Our mother is convinced the road is filled with drug dealers peddling their wares from Mexico. 

We passed through many really small towns, had our peanut butter and jelly lunch, and decided we needed a bathroom.  We went through Buffalo SD and all they had was a Sinclair gas station.  Surely the next town would have a McDonalds or Burger King (our favorite bathroom choices).  No such luck.  The next town was Ludlow, SD and it was even smaller than Buffalo.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  We didn’t even see a gas station, but there was a small “cafe/casino” called The Crooked Creek.

Crooked Creek Ludlow SD

  We knew our mother would have a heart attack if she saw us entering such a sketchy place, but nothing was going to stop us.  There were Christmas lights hanging sort of around the door and building frame.  We had to shove the door open hard.  Did you see the movie “Winters Bone?”  This would have been the South Dakota version.  The first room had a broken down very old couch in it and thats all.  There was another door.  Inside was a small and dark sort of restaurant.  A bar counter was on the left with a TV blaring.  A couple of old men were sitting on stools.  Straight ahead was a young mother with a small baby girl on her lap.  Whew…we were going to be OK.  She pointed out the restroom.  Nearby there was an ancient upright piano with sheet music for “Amazing Grace”  Dolls sat on top that had knitted dresses on them.  They had been sitting there for a very long time.  The ceiling was covered with hanging decorations.  Streamers, St Patricks Day Shamrocks, all kinds of things.  My eyes were becoming adjusted to the light.  We thought we should order something and not just use their restroom, but what??  I asked for a diet coke and was handed a can.  We paid $1 and left. 

North Dakota State Line

Eight miles later and we made it safely to the North Dakota border.

We promptly turned around and headed south back towards Rapid City.  We stopped at Spearfish SD and called the Ranger station at Mt Rushmore.  Still fogged in.  We’re spending the night here and will check again tomorrow. 

Our next stop is Sheridan Wyoming.  We will be visiting relatives of Julie’s.

We arrived in Spearfish at 4:00 and our mileage is at 4,932.

Day Fourteen

What a day!  We woke up to cold, snow and fog.   While Julie was brushing the snow off the back of the car, I thought I would be smart and turn the wipers on to clear the front. 

Waking Up to Snow in Nebraska

 Wrong…I had the door open and it all flew inside and all over me and the floor.  Thankfully, the roads were clear so we left Ord and headed towards Mt Rushmore near Rapid City, South Dakota.

We left at 8:45 central time and arrived at Mt Rushmore at 3:30 mountain time.  The roads were 2 lanes for most of the way, but were fine.  The only problem was fog.  Visibility improved and we rolled along through the sand hills. 

NE Ranch Rd

 

South Dakota State Line

Shortly after passing through Valentine, Nebraska we crossed into South Dakota.  We knew we were in Indian territory because there was a huge casino right at the border.  It was the Rosebud Reservation.  That doesn’t sound too scary does it!

  A piece of trivia…Bob Barker was born there. 

We made it to interstate 90 and headed west.  Before we got to Rapid City, we detoured to the Badlands.  Totally amazing.  We were truly awestruck.  At the visitor center we found out that it got its name not from bad guys hiding out there (my interpretation), but because the French traders in the 1840’s called it …bad  land…because there wasn’t water and it was hard to travel through.  There is a loop road that goes through the Badlands and thats what we took. 

Badlands Sign

 

Badlands 7

Toni at the Badlands

 

Badlands 4

 

Blue Bird at Badlands

 

At the end, there is a small town called Wall and they have a well known store called Wall Drug. 

Wall Drug SD

 It reminded us of South of the Border, that crazy tourist spot south of North Carolina on highway 95.  Of course we had to stop and see it!

Getting closer and closer to Mt Rushmore.  We entered the park area, paid our $11 and went to the impressive viewing area.  Take a close look at the picture.  Can you see the faces?  Neither could we!!  The fog had rolled in and that was that.  We are going to see if it clears up in the morning. 

Mt. Rushmore Sign

 

Mt. Rushmore

Julie and Mt. Rushmore

We’re not sure how our plans will turn out tomorrow.  North Dakota was our goal, but they are calling for snow here so we’ll  have to see how bad it gets.

Our mileage is 4,592.

Day Thirteen

From the big city to a little town…
We left Omaha at 11:00 this morning and before long we were out in the country.  Our route followed the Platte river for quite awhile. 

Platte River NE

Steve always says ” it’s a mile wide and an inch deep.”  The landscape started to change from the flat farmlands as far as we could see, to rolling hills dotted with small trees.  Nebraska looks a lot different than the other states we have been in lately.

Nebraska Road

Nebraska Countryside

Nebraska

Nebraska Landscape

More Nebraska

Nebraska Grain Factory

We arrived in Ord at 3:00. 

Ord Nebraska Sign

It is a small town of about 2,000 but is really pretty and special since it is Steve’s hometown.  I gave Julie a tour and we saw Steve’s boyhood home, the high school, the town square and a few other sights. 

Steve's Boyhood Home

Ord High School

Ord Airport

Then we went out route 70 to farm areas near town. 

Blizzard of 1888

I showed Julie the historical marker that honors Minnie Freeman and her heroism during the blizzard of 1888.  She was a young school teacher in the rural school when the storm hit.  The roof blew off and she guided the students safely through the snow to the Kellison farm.

 
The best part of today though was getting together with Steve’s family for dinner.  Our group included Laureen and Duane Krajnik and Jennifer, Guy and LillyAnne Lewis. 

Ord Family Relatives

 

We went to an even smaller town, Ericson, and ate at the Hungry Horse. 

The Hungry Horse

 

Jennifer said we needed a true cowboy dining experience as part of our adventure.  She also said they had the best steaks around.  Yum, no argument here!

Our mileage is now 4,189.  Tomorrow we head to Rapid City, South Dakota and Mt Rushmore.  We are going to have to carefully monitor the weather over the next few days.  Our route now goes through more remote areas and smaller roads.  Snow is predicted.  We have 4 bonus days built into our trip that we can use for bad weather.  Our preference though is to use them for extra days at places along the way further down the road.  We’ll see…