Finito!!

Home at 5 PM today.  You know how they say “it’s great t0 be home”?  Kay and I think it sucks to be home.   Fantastic trip. Some stats:

6800 Miles (less 5)

11 states, 1 Canadian Province:  Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta Canada, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma

Major catastrophes: none

Minor ones: nick in the windshield, screw in the tire

Favorite State: Montana

Top 3 things we saw: Black Canyon of the Gunnisson, Big Sky Montana, Glacier National Park, Waterton National Park in Canada, Cody Wyoming, Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood SD (ok, so it’s more than 3)

Things we got tired of:  Buffalo induced traffic jams in Yellowstone

Top 3 places we stayed: Condo in Big Sky, Old Faithful Inn, Prince of Whales Hotel in Alberta, Izaak Walton Inn at Glacier (ok, so it’s more than 3)

Top 3 things we did: Fished all the famous rivers of Montana, Drove the Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier, Visited the Cody Historical Center in Cody WY., toured Mesa Verde, seeing so many Mountain Goats,  going to Rushmore at night, visiting Deadwood

Top 3 most useless things we packed: Sportcoat, dressy tops (Kay), white pants (Kay), Size 18 Zebra Midges (never even got a bite on one), and yes it’s more than 3

Worst motel we stayed at: (Swiss Chalet in Ouray Colorado).  Sounds neat doesn’t it…………..forget it.

Best Hotel we stayed at: Old Faithful Inn

Motel that looked the worst on the outside but was the best on the inside: Elk Refuge Inn in Jackson Hole.

Biggest dissapointment:  the Santa Fe art scene.  We used to love Santa Fe for western art, it has now gone totally contemporary.  Best place is still Jackson Hole

Most surprising city visited: Omaha Nebraska

Most confusing city visited: Kansas City MO

Best unexpected surprise: Winning $433 bucks off the First People ‘s casino in Albuquerque

Second most surprising thing:   How fast you can get your laundry done in a Laundromat

Best View: from the Prince of Whales Hotel in Waterton in Alberta

Things we didn’t get to do that we thought we would:  Took a container of books we intended to get caught up on.  Never even cracked it open as we were so busy seeing things.  Downloaded a bunch of Podcasts to occupy ourselves while crossing vast expanses of nothing.  Never turned even one on.  In some 30 days, we turned on Serius Radio maybe twice.  There’s just too much to do out there.

Most surprising thing we discovered along the way:  The Mountain Man Museum in Pinedale WY and that mom has the ability to spot Pronghorns from exactly twice the distance and twice as fast as me.

So we are resting comfortably this evening and figuring out how to fix the minor disasters that happened while we were gone.  Broken glass in the back door, weeds because apparantly I was not too clear on exactly what Roundup is for, algae in the pool etc.

Least surprising thing:  That God blessed us every inch of the way, protected us and guided us.  We are thankful.  We are planning the next trip.

 

 

 

Kansas City MO to Denton TX

The following three  lines contain everything of interest between Kansas City Missouri and Denton Texas.

 

 

 

Yup that’s right.  Zip.  Nada.  Just miles and miles of Kansas and Oklahoma.  Feeling like we had not contributed enough to the First People’s cause, we did stop in Norman (with me wearing a UT shirt,  so I was looked upon with disdain by the OU crowd) at one of the mega hotel/casino complexes.  As usual, I walked out a winner and SWMBO walked out penniless.  I swear, I can’t keep up with her capacity to lose.  Now when I say I walked out the winner, that’s true, but it was a whopping positive $.70.  I probably could have found that much change in the between the car seats.   One sad comment is that both Texas and Oklahoma put things on the border that the other state doesn’t have to fill the ready made market.  When passing from TX to OK the first thing encountered is one of the biggest casinos we’ve ever seen with a NY NY Vegas theme only BIGGER.   When one comes from OK to Texas the very first thing you see is Daves Adult DVD rental.  And I’m talkin’ 50 feet from the state line.  Oh well.

We feel like we’re home being back on Texas soil.  We started this trip wanting to see things we’ve never seen before so we started way back when going to The Caves of Sonora right up the road from Boerne.  So tomorrow we will stop at the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco.  Passed it umpteenthousand times but we were always in need of getting someplace.  Now, without a reason one to hurry, It’ll finally be MY TURN!

Coming South With The Ducks

Well we headed south with the ducks today starting out in Souix Falls South Dakota.  Problem with this part of the country is that everything is Souix.  Souix Falls to Souix City to the Big Souix River to the Little Souix River to the Souix Cinemaplex to the Souix Country Restaurant…………and on and on and on.  Well now that I’ve got that off my chest, we went down to the falls in S….Falls and yes they wre very pretty but nothing like the pics the Chamber of Commerce publishes.   Seems that they photograph the falls in the spring when the snowmelt “enhances” the falls tremendously.  After that we headed down to S….City Iowa and the #1 attraction is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center so we plugged it into the Nav System but the Nav lady doesn’t understand that the whole area is torn up with construction and the road to the place is closed.  We improvised but were sidetracked by the riverboat casino a block away.  We were tired of navigating so we went in and I lost 9 bucks but mom only had a nickel left of the $20 I gave here.  She is a terrible investment when it comes to gambling.   So we came out to try again, smelling like smoke, of course, and we finally got to the parking lot only to discover that they are open every day of the week…………except MONDAY!  Gee only awake a couple of hours and so far the day was a total bust.   So we cranked up the white (more like dark gray from the trip) Tahoe and headed down Iowa paralleling the Missouri River (i.e. Lewis and Clark’s route) all the way down to Council Bluffs and then went across the river to Omaha.  A very pretty, nice and neat little city, very modern and crisp.  A quick lunch at the Bass Pro ’cause we couldn’t find anything else before continuing to head south on into Missouri and on to Kansas City to pick up I35.

Now you can’t go to Kansas City without eating………..what else………KC BBQ!  So we researched the best BBQ places in KC and we set the Nav system for choice #1 which sent us to the middle of downtown where it could not locate said establishment.  So we reprogrammed for choice #2, Arthur Bryant’s world famous establishment where President’s have dined.   It’s right in the middle of the less Caucasian part of town but we felt like we weren’t going to be there that long so what the heck.  Man are they slingin’ out the BBQ.  We had the brisket and ribs.  The verdict?   About like Rudy’s.  No better no worse but the potato salad was definitely the best we’ve had.

Tonight we have spent about an hour tying to convince the hotel to reboot their router since the wireless access connects alright but it isn’t talking to the internet.  The two girls up front don’t have enought skill to run thir dad’s old Atari but finally it’s running so someone must have showed them the on/off switch.   We are off early tomorrow to get through KC and onto 35 and hopefully make it down to somewhere around OKC.   We are about 40 mile short of 6000 miles so far so we’ll pass that early in the morning.  If anyone knows of the most exciting things to do in either Witchita Kansas or OKC, chime in and we’ll find ‘em.

Now reverting back to an earlier post you will recall that we spent a fun day in Deadwood SD.  Seems that Wynona was performing that night at one of the hotels (built like an old mine and the locals think it’s a monstrosity).  Well today we looked at the news and found out that her husband and her were riding motorcycles that day in Hill City about 5 miles away and he ran across the middle line and hit a car.  Hospitalized with serious but not fatal injuries.  The latest on the web has her cancelling her performances for now.   Interesting that we were there at the same time.

Well, so long for now.  We’ll continue to move south with the ducks, who BTW show no inclination to move as it’s already about as hot as Boerne right now.

Badlands….Yes They are Bad

Well the last thing on our agenda of possible things that we wanted to see were the Badlands of South Dakota.   Last night we went to see Mt. Rushmore lit up at night which was way cool along with all the ceremonies etc. in the amphitheatre honoring veterans etc.  Today we saw it from a completely different perspective with the sun lighting up the President’s faces early in the morning.  Outstanding.  We also went to Gutzon Borglum’s studio where his original models are.  They are 1/12 scale and from these, all the measurements were taken and transferred to the mountain face through a process called pointing.  How they did it at all, much less do it in 14 years amazes you.  Back to the Badlands (see pic).

Cannot imagine what it must have been like to come across the prairie in a wagon train and find yourself face to face with the Badlands of South Dakota.  Erosion by wind and water have created a moonscape the like of which you can’t imagine.  We stopped at one stretch where the Ogalala Souix lowered their wagons, horses, and people over the cliff edges and down below and made their run south to escape the Cavalry.  To no avail however.  Six days later,, and 60 miles south,  the Cavelry caught them.  The result was the massacre at Wounded Knee.

After looking at the map, we discovered that their is just no way to cut south to the Nebraska – SD border and cross Nebraska except on crummy 2 lane roads through town after town, and their isn’t anything worth lookin’ at along the way so we made the decision to hop on the Interstate (Yuck!) and head East for Souix Falls SD and then turn south on a route that will take us down through Souix City Iowa, Omaha, down to OKC and into Texas for the mad dash home so here we are in Souix Falls.  We’ve checked into a hotel just in time for the “Crop Tour” sponsored by every seed company in the country.  We went to the bar for a nightcap and found that the farmers are out in full force (reminds me of the movie “Cedar Rapids” one of my favorites).  After failing to engage anyone in a heated debate over which brand of sorghum seed gives the maximum yield, we are retiring to rest for the run south.

Don’t expect any interersting blogs from here on out since it will be simple “movin’ on down the road” time for the next few days.

How to cram………….

Well we did about as much in one day as humanly possible.  We drove from Gillette WY to Devil’s Tower, our nation’s first National Monument in one day.  We had to compete with a bicycle race and a parade of classic cars to get to the entrance as it seems to be a destination for all kinds of races and events.  It gets more mammouth the closer you get to it and it is quite remarkable.  There are two climbers in the pic.  See if you can spot them.  At Bill’s suggestion I did ask the Park Ranger what time the aliens where scheduled to arrive.  He said: “Did Bill tell you to say that?”  Sounds like he’s been here before.   Seriously, one guy jokingly asked me if we’d seen any aliens on our way back from the base.  A Close Encounter Of the Goofy Kind.  Now I want to go back and see the movie again.  From there it was the mad dash to Deadwood.  Contrary to popular opinion, it was not named for erectile disfunction.

Deadwood is about as much fun as you can have with your pants on.  If you’re a fan of the HBO series, I can report to you that the portrayal of the characters are all factually accurate.  Wild Bill Hickock, Seth Bullock, Calamity Jane, Sol……….there all here.  We took the trolley tour of town which was a hoot and they took us up the mountain to the cemetary where Wild Bill and Calamity are buried side by side even though they were not an “item.”  If you saw what Calamity looked like in real life, the HBO version is pretty much spot on.  We ducked into the Old Saloon #10 for a reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill in the back of the head (see pic).  BTW he was holding Aces and Eights which has been known as The Deadman’s Hand ever since.   His killer was summarily hung and burried with the rope still around his neck and it was still there when he was dug up and reburied later.  Lots of fun.

Zipping south we got close enough to Rushmore to get a hotel room and get over there in the daylight but in time to see the nightime festivities and lighting of the momument.   The crowds are tremendous but managed very well.   This is truly a goal that every American should have, to see this thing in person in their lifetime.   Once there, you realize (and they do a great job of pointing it out to you) that it’s really not about the faces carved in stone up there………..it’s about the ideas carved in stone that each of these four had.   Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln.   I’ve always been a fan of Gutzon Borglum even though in real life he was a first class A**hole and an avowed racist but he was domineering, persistant, a talented sculpter and, in short, the perfect man for the job.  He also has ties to San Antonio if you care to research his life.

So tonight we are about as tired as we’ve been on this trip.  Up in the morning to see Rushmore with the sun ON it instead of BEHIND it and to pay more attention to the movies and displays of all the equipment, techniques, dynamite etc. that it took to produce this thing in 14 years.  Borglum died just before it was done and it was left to his son to put the finishing touches on it.   An amazing experience for every American.  Once in a lifetime.   If time permits, we want to zip over to the Badlands National Park, not far away before we face the inevitable and point the car South towards Texas.  We’ll see if it comes to pass.

Moving East…………….

Well today we did the trolley tour of Cody.   Cody is just an awefully cool place and the trolley ride was loads of fun.  Got a call from our friends the Braymans who started their treck home from Big Sky and they were coming through Cody on the first leg of their journey.  We waited for them to get there and had lunch at the Irma Hotel with them.  The Irma was Buffalo Bill’s hotel named after his daughter.  Sadly all 4 of his children died between the ages of 5 and a little over 30……….pretty tragic to watch all of your children die before you do.  The trolley ride is done very, very well and it was  lots of fun.   Said our goodbuyes and headed East across the vastness of Wyoming.   One obstacle we were not looking forward to was crossing the Bighorn Mountains.  Thought them to be just barren rocks in the middle of Wyoming.  Wow, were we surprised.  They were absolutely beautiful with lots of trout streams, waterfalls, and wildlife, and some of the most gorgeous forests we’ve seen so far.   It was a great unexpected treat.  Got down to Sheridan Wyoming and decided to keep going on to Gillette.  All the coal that’s in those long trains coming through San Antonio to the coal fired plants (Braunig and Calaveras) originate here in Gillette.   This one county, if it was it’s own country would be the 6th largest coal producing country in the world.  We drove out to the strip mines and the coal trains are taking so much out of there it’s incredible.

One thing I have to admit is that Mom is the champion Antelope spotter of the family.  Don’t know how she does it but she can spot a herd of Pronghorns from a  mile away and drive the car at the same time.  She has spotted everyone ‘cept a few before me as we’ve come across Wyoming.  Not sure how she’s doing it but I know she’s cheating.  Tomorrow we will head up to Devil’s Tower and across to Deadwood, Rushmore, Badlands area.  Sadly, that’s about the end of the sightseeing so we will begin the long trek back to Texas.

One thing I gotta tell ya.  We’ve met some interesting people on this trip but one of the most interesting was back in Cody.  We stayed in a Dalton motel for two nights and a continental breakfast was provided next door in an old diner.  The man in charge both mornings entertained us with accordian music to start the day.   Seems he had a double anurism and stroke awhile back and he had learned to play the accordian as a 14 year old.  The doctors prescribed a lot of accordian playing  to help his brain get things organized again.   So for breakfast he has his book of 90 songs he knows and everyone gets to pick  whatever song they like out of the book and he plays it for you at breakfast.  Not many people can start their day with Beatles music played on an accordian.   It was hard for us to keep from laughing but the guy was so darned good he made you appreciate it.  Now that’s camp! (does anybody still use that word?)

Sad to report that our friend Tom Turturro, from Currey Creek,  passed away about 6:30 this morning.   Tom has been sick for quite awhile and our prayers go out to his family especially Becky who has done a lot for us and for Phil that was in my Bible Study before moving farther out of town.   Rough news for our Church.

Lastly, got news tonight that our grandson Hudson, age 5, cut himself with his pocketknife he acquired in Big Bend.  Congratulations.  Way to go buddy!  You have achieved a true right of passage in the world of kidknifedom!

Buffalo Bill Awesome!

Kay’s comment at lunch sums it all up.  “This is the Smithsonian of the West.”  How right she is.  We were simply not prepared for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.   Probably the best done museum we’ve ever been too.  We started out at 8AM as the place opened and we went through the Buffalo Bill Museum first of course.  We had no idea.  BB was the first real rock star.  Known all over the world in his time.  What impresses the most is the maps of the US and Europe showing all the places that he took his show.  Now we’re talking a cast of several hundred plus all the horses, buffalo etc.  I think 4 seperate trips to Europe performing before all the English royalty, German royalty, and French royalty.  In all, he took the show, distance wise, more than the distance to the moon and back in his lifetime.  It is really rather incredible to think about it.  Annie Oakley was along for most of it as well.   Still quite a tragic life in many ways.  More about that when we get home.  Next we went to the Plains Indian Museum (all these are seperate wings in the complex).  Have never seen anything done finer.   You will leave there with tears in your eyes.  Next we went to the Whitney Gallery of Fine Art.  Has it all.  Remington, Russel, Caitlin, Rungius, Wyeth are all there plus many, many more.   Every famous American painter of the West is represented.   Bronzes and paintings that will take your breath away.  The Draper Museum of Natural History was next.    Three stories high starting witht he Alpine zone at the top and you descend all the way down to the Wyoming desert floor.  Each level a whole tour in itself.  You leave there with a whole new appreciation for Yellowstone for sure, along with the rest of Wyoming.   Kay said she thought she’d skip the Firearms Museum so we split up.  I took one step in and put the brakes on and went to get Kay.   If you’re thinking rows of guns, yes, it’s got that, but that’s just a drop in the bucket.  A fully recreated log room with the best Boone & Crockett heads of all time, recreations of all the famous factory floors in Amercian and British gun making, Teddy Roosevelt’s weaponry that he took to Africa on his Safari after leaving the White House and more and more historical artifacts.   You can’t swing a dead cat in there without hitting something famous.   So we went very briskly yet it took us 7 hours to get through it all.  No wonder everybody told us that you just can’t miss this place.   It will just blow you away.  I now have a goal of bringing my grandchildren here some day.  They will get a priceless education that they will never get anyplace else.

The historical society of Wyoming has taken the original Cody townsight and acquired many, many of the most famous Wyoming log structures and re-assembled them at that location just to the west of current day Cody.  Not just that, they have taken some of the most famous BODIES burried in Wyoming and reinterred them there.  So off we went to visit Jeremiah Johnson (one of my personal heroes) gravesight, Butch Cassidy’s cabin, the cabin that the Sundance Kid used to hole up in before robbing the train at Red Rock, and on and on.   Really neat stuff.  Robert Redford who played Jeremiah in the movies was a pallbearer for the reinterrment and lots of pics of that day.

So what do you do after all that?  A beer at the Irma Hotel of course.  Now we’re resting up and icing down our leg muscles in preperation of fighting the crowds for dinner at the Irma (named after one of Buffalo Bill’s daughters).   Should we not fall face down in our plates, we are on for the 11AM guided tour of Cody tomorrow morning.  We may sleep till 10:45.

PS:  The much anticipated snow flurries predicted for last night failed to materialize, proving that Wyoming weathermen are just as inept as Texas weathermen.  It only got down to 54.  How’s it supposed to snow at 54?  We’re lovin’ it though as we hear of the high temps in Boerne everyday.   We may have to build ourselves our own cabin up here and wait till winter sets in before headin’ south.