Washington update Sept. 26-28

When we left the beautiful state of Montana we questioned the best route to the state of Washington. We were hoping for less mountainous roads but alas we sought council

of Cousin Mike and he helped us through the MTS. and across to their lovely town of Sequim, WA (pronounced SQUIM). We were greeted by Mike, Jacquie, John and fluffy Sophie. They provided us with a great site to park our rig right next to their house with full hook-ups and protection. What a beautfiul part of Washington they live in.

Mike and Jacquie were the perfect hosts/hostesses and we enjoyed our first night at their home with a yummy Italian dinner and visiting. The next morning  we went to a wonderful breakfast place . We had apple pancakes that were more like apple mountains drenched in brown sugar and butter.   YUM! You had to split these.  Laden with calories, we proceeded to sight- see for the day and enjoy all that Sequim had to offer. M and J took us to former places they had lived and we got to enjoy the lovely sites of their town and meet some of Jacquie’s cousins who were delightful.   They were cleaning up debri from the previous day’s storm that had washed ashore complete with logs, fence posts, shells and seaweed.    It reminded us of our Cape Cod after a storm only we didn’t have to clean it up.

Thanks to their John for watching Babi for us while we did touring.

The third and last day we began a trek to Bellingham, WA taking 2 car ferries and much driving to get to Jacquie’s family for a wonderful fresh Sockeye Salmon luncheon prepared on the barbecue.  They were so nice and welcoming to us that we felt we had known  them forever.  Mike, Jacquie, and John–how nice for you all that you have such a great extended family to enjoy.

During our brief visit, my John used his computer knowledge to get help some bugs out of Mike’s ancestry programs online.  Mike is doing our family tree (our Mom’s were sisters from the Dunn side) and also my father’s side (Russell)  for me.  Family members–please share your info with him and he will share back with you.  He has worked diligently on this for years.   Mike and son, John, also have a old coin/money online business.  I brought some bills to have them evaluate for me but I promptly misplaced them in this RV.  I will find them when I unpack in Florida I am sure.  Thanks guys for a wonderful visit in Washington.

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More Vegas news

Just a quick note today from sunny (finally) Vegas.

We are cutting our trip down by one week. We think 5 weeks of travel is plenty. We eliminated stops in Texas, Nashville, New Orleans, and Biloxi, Miss. We will drive by car to the glass shelf on Grand Canyon tomorrow and then leave Vegas Sat. Morning. Then on to Sedona, AZ to see the red hills and then several days to get to Memphis and Elvis for me. Then on to our house in Florida. We hope to arrive on Friday, Oct. 14. We are anxious to get home and play some golf. Our little FL house will seem like a mansion after living in this small space for 5 weeks.

John has done a great job driving this big rig and towing his Honda Pilot in heavy wind, rain, and everything else that Mother Nature threw at us. We have had lots of laughs and adventures. Once, he pulled away from the gas station, thinking I was in the RV, but I was washing the back window of the Pilot. I had to run alongside and pound on the RV for him to stop for me. Then another time he didn’t see me with Babi in my arms walk in front of the RV and he almost ran over both of us. The third incident happened yesterday. We left CA with a full tank of gas in each vehicle but he forgot to turn off the car engine after attaching it to the rig and he used up 1/2 a tank before he realized he had left it on instead of off in neutral.

Today we went to the Cheesecake Factory at Caesar’s Palace for lunch and then to the casino for me to play the slots. I came away $100 ahead by playing the Wizard of OZ slots.  We are  going back tonight to see my nephew, Jay, when he gets off work for drinks and visit and hope to win more.   John is ahead 4 cents.  He is such a big gambler!

Tomorrow night we are having a late dinner at a new Italian place Jay has found so I can see his little girl, Dakota. She is about 10 now.

Protestors and demonstrators are downtown Vegas today–part of that stupid Wall ST. protest. Lots were wearing masks so they couldn’t be identified. Kinda scary. Many of the gambling areas are empty. The economy is truly hurting in Vegas. Lots of people walking down the street but few gambling.

I am going to rest awhile before we go back downtown later tonight. Keep traveling with us.

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Las Vegas Here we are Oct. 5-7

We traveled 11 hours today from Morgan Hill, CA in ominous skies, heavy rains, slippery roads, sharp curves, steep grades, gusty winds, darkness, and falling rocks. We finally arrived at a beautiful RV park in Vegas recommended by Jay. When we were approaching LV a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky. We took that as an omen that good weather is ahead and good luck will follow. Tomorrow we will look for a Wizard of OZ slot machine to see if our luck has improved from the other 3 casinos we have tried out in WA, OR or CA.

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California Dreaming Oct 3-4

We arrived in Morgan Hill, CA after a 3 hour drive from the beautiful countryside of Loomis, CA.  (more about that later.)

I cannot believe I am finally back where I started 30 years ago. I am back in the Santa Clara Valley in California. Much has changed in 30 years. There are fewer orchards, more houses, many more electronic plants in Silicon Valley and very bad road conditions. The shocks on our RV will need to be replaced when we finish this trek.

You can really see how the State of California is suffering financially when they let the roads and formerly beautiful roadside landscaping turn to dry weeds and trash. How sad it is to see this. What’s up Governator?

But some things never change. Good friends are still here to visit and enjoy and my old stomping grounds are still here to be seen and photographed.  Our workplace, good old KLA is still nearby but now called KLA-Tencor.

I realize that I fell behind on our blog after Montana but I will regroup and put it together so our full trip will be documented.   After this brief visit in The Valley, I will go back and catch up on the wonders of the State of Washington and those whom we visited and then fill in the details of Oregon and Loomis, CA.   We had so much fun at those stops that I fell behind in my blogs.  Life sometimes gets in the way of blogging.

More happy (if not bumpy) trails to come.

 

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Sept, 21 & 22 Yellowstone National Park

We left Billings, Montana early in the AM for our trek to W. Yellowstone, Montana. We traveled 234 miles and arrived in the afternoon at a beautiful campground called Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park. We took a tour of the town and had dinner out at a country style restaurant complete with Western/Indian motif.  They prepared cowboy sized entrees that we enjoyed for 2 days.

Next morning we got an early start and drove into Yellowstone using our free pass thanks to the Byrnes’.  We kept stopping at every site of buffalo, moose, antelope and geysers for photo ops. One man got a little too close to a buffalo we were all photographing and had to run for his vehicle. There were many signs warning of wild animals but that was the closest encounter we saw.

We finally made it to the site of Old Faithful and we took our spot to watch her erupt. Shortly before viewing it, a ranger came by and told us we were in for a special treat. Although Old Faithful erupts regularly every 62 minutes, another one called Beehive Geyser ( which erupts once daily ) was to erupt 5 minutes later. We moved a short distance in order to see the 2 geysers put on their shows for us. The two only  erupt close together like that a couple of times a year. We hit the jackpot that day. The Beehive Geyser was actually bigger and had the sound of a jet engine revving up.  It builds up steam longer underground–thus the size and sound of the eruption.

We took the long way out of the park and were treated to  beautiful falls, hot, bubbling mud geysers and herds and more herds of buffalo.   It was a lovely 3 hour drive out of  the park.  Yellowstone is a favorite of hikers, bikers and RVers and tent campers.

We would highly recommend a family vacation for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and nature.  There are tent campsites, cabins, hotels, motels, spas, dude ranches, and RV parks–something for everyone. The locals are very friendly.  I would definitely return for a longer visit if opportunity allows.

John did a great steak and veggie stir fry in his barbecue wok for our dinner–I love it when he cooks!   Early to bed so we can hit the road early for Idaho.

Love your comments friends.  More happy trails to come.

 

 

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September 19/20 Crazy Horse Memorial; Mt. Rushmore National Park

We reluctantly left family in N. Dakota and headed for the Black Hills of South Dakota. On Monday we drove 385 miles to our campsite called the Rafter J Bar Ranch in Hills City, SD. We arrived at 5 PM Mountain time. We set up camp, had dinner at our lovely site with the Black Hills in the background. John finally was able to get cable to watch his football. We rested up for our tourism stops the next day. It was very windy and chilly that night. Early the next morning 2 deer visited our campsite and reminded us that we were truly in the hill country.

CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL

We headed out first for Crazy Horse Memorial–17 miles from Mt. Rushmore. The carving on the mountain of Crazy Horse was commissioned to a Sculptor Korczak Kiolkowski, from Boston. He grew up an orphan and was completely self-taught and never took a formal lesson in art, sculpture, architecture or engineering.

After taking 1st prize at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, he was discovered by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear and was commissioned to carve a memorial mountain of Chief Crazy Horse of the Lakota Indians of the Black Hills of South Dakota. When he started the project in 1948, he was almost 40 and had only $174 left to his name. Over the years he battled financial hardship, racial prejudice, injuries and advancing age.

A strong believer in the free enterprise system, he felt Crazy Horse should be built by interested public and not the taxpayer. 2X he turned down offers of federal funding. He also knew that the project was larger than any one person’s lifetime and left detailed plans to be used with his scale models to continue the project.

Since his death in 1982, his wife Ruth, and seven of their 10 children continue to work in  concert with the Crazy Horse Memorial Fdn. and continues to direct the work which sees progress being made each passing year.

It was an incredible site so watch the video of how they dynamited the mountain, inch by inch, to carve this wonderful site. May you all get a chance to see this great tourist attraction if not in person, at least research it online.

 

MT.  RUSHMORE

Next stop was Mt. Rushmore.  Almost everyone knows that Mt. Rushmore is a carving of four great Americans Presidents.   But did you know how they were chosen to be featured and who actually designed and carved them in the beautiful Black Hills?   I have to admit I didn’t know all those answers until visiting this wonderful site.

It started as an idea to attract sightseers to the Black Hills.  State Historian, Doane Robinson suggested giant  Stone Mountain carvings and after much discussion the memorial backers called in a Master Sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, born in Idaho in 1867, to a family of Danish Mormons.  He was noted for remodeling the torch  of the Statue of Liberty.  He scouted out the site of 5,725 ft. Mt Rushmore and began his work.  He encountered funding problems also but after 14 years of engineering and (only 6 years of carving,  it was finished.

Now the Presidents and the reasons they were chosen.  They were chosen as four leaders who brought the nation  from colonial times into the 1900’s.

1.  First President George Washington  – Commander of the Revolutionary War who was entrusted with the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of government for the American people.

2. Third President  Thomas Jefferson, –  author of the Declaration of Independence and mastermind of the Louisiana Purchase.

3. Sixteenth President Abraham Lincoln- whose leadership restored the Union and ended slavery on U.S. soil.

4. Twenty-Sixth President Theodore Roosevelt-promoted construction of the  Panama Canal and ignited progressive causes like conservation and economic reform.

PERSONAL NOTES:

John and I tried buffalo burgers, hot dogs and chili for lunch.  After those gourmet offerings, we weren’t really hungry for anything that night except TUMS.  The campsite shut off our water at 8PM due to expected frost.  It indeed did get chilly with frost on the windshields and grassy areas the next morning.  But our house on wheels was comfy and warm.

NEXT STOP:  YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

More happy trails over very mountainous roads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 17, 18 and 19 Bismarck, ND

After shopping till we dropped at Mall of America, ( a must see for all midwest travelers) we rested up to depart on Saturday for ND .

We traveled 456 from Minneapolis, MN to Bismarck, ND going by many corn fields and some sunflower fields. The dry corn stalks will be harvested for animal feed and the sunflowers have to dry on the plant and then will be harvested for seeds in October. We also saw some of the flooded areas that affected ND recently–pumpkins floating in fields were a sad sight. Many residents of ND are still displaced from recent flooding.

Bismarck, ND was our destination to reconnect with family from the Russell side of the family tree. And connect we did. We had a wonderful visit with my brother’s wife and daughter and their families. I haven’t seen them in over 30 years and we were able to take up where we left off all those years ago. In addition, we were able to meet the extended family and enjoy some special time with them. They shared highlights of their lives (including times spent sand-bagging to help the flood victims) with us and we will look forward to future visits. We hope they come to the East Coast so we can roll out the welcome for them and show them “the other side of the USA”. We will also be sharing some ancestry information with the Russell/Dunn side of the family.

Today (Monday) we head out for South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore for 2 days. We have gotten lots of ideas from family where to go to see the best sights including a must stop at Deadwood. John is protesting that suggestion (a casino owned by Kevin Costner). From Mt. Rushmore we will head to Yellowstone National Park, all places that will be new to me but a revisit for John from his 60’s motorcycle/bus trip.

Thanks to all for your good travel wishes to us. More happy trails!

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