Friday, July 30, 2010

wisconsin day one

My sister's house in Wisconsin-cute farm house.
I seem to be getting behind in blogging. Even my Hubby is ahead of me. I'm in Wisconsin, staying with my sister Christy. Don't know if it's the time change or all the stuff we are doing. but, I just get to bed really really late and haven't had time to blog.

   Wisconsin has been a pleasant surprise. very green. Lots of rolling hills, rivers and lakes.
I awoke my first morning and took an elevator down stairs . Yep, christy's husband Craig , built an elevator in his shop. Upstairs is his office and a sound proof movie viewing room and bed ( was a movie viewing room till the house got hit a few times with lighting a month ago and it toasted their TV. The one from the movie viewing room had to be moved) and you guessed it I have a private little apt to stay in. It's nice -very quiet. No windows. so I tend to get up late as no concept of time or light out side.

The Barn-shop. I sleep up stairs.
There is a ramp from the outside that leads up to the room above Craig's" Harley Shop". He is a private contractor for Harley Davidson's. But, in the middle of the night If I have to go... I'm taking the quaint little elevator down to the bathroom in the shop. It's really pretty fun. I should mention my first night here I got to experience my first Midwest storm. and it was a biggie. Started with lighting around midnight and then by 1am was a full blown thunder and lighting storm. ( the barn/shop I sleep in got a few hits during the big storm last month, but was told I was in the safest place and not to worry).  then not long after that the rain really started coming down. I wanted to experience it, so I kept going out on the little landing to watch, but I was getting really wet and since they had taken so many strikes not too long ago, questioned the safety of such a thing. In my sound proof room I really couldn't hear it all that well. bummer. guess it lasted till well past 4am. But, I sleep though a good part of it.

Linze- the bride a few days before the wedding
     After a slow morning,we headed into Richland Center to see my niece Linze and where she works. Christy and Shelley got a nose wax. I've never heard of such a thing.  it didn't look like to much fun!

Then we headed out to the Lake. Castle Rock Lake. It's a huge man-made lake. It's about half the size of courd-Alane in Idaho, but seems bigger. after fighting off mosquitoes for a while. We hopped in the back of Christy and Craig's boat . Once safely in the water, we went on a really fun boat ride.

Craig was our tour guide. It was fun. we ended up at a place called the "dirty turtle", where we had some dinner. Then it was back to the boat. the Lake had calmed down a lot by then. The first run was pretty bouncy.

fun chairs out side the dirty turtle.
We drove all over the lake with our tour guide and a very amazing setting sun.
  It was a very nice day. My sister Shelley had arrived that morning so was able to spend time with her and Christy and my mom.

Sun creating a beautiful sky as we left the Dirty Turtle.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Almost there

Wednesday July 28- Getting to the last part of the journey.  Again marveling at the country side that I am passing through.  Stopped at a little resturant and sat at the counter in the single seats for the first time.  I was sitting right by the pie case and was wondering if it is okay to order a slice of pie with breakfast.  Decided I had better not.  I have been very good on this vacation and have eaten almost no sweets the entire time.
Got to Spokane around 1:30 and hung out with my folks talking to them.  We always seem to stay up way to late talking so tried to cut the even short so they could get some sleep but still didn't get it done till after 11:00.
Left in the morning for the final leg home.  Wasn't feeling to well but made it home now will have to put in some work to get the property back into shape.  The vacation has been a blast and I picked up a lot of information and things to be sharing with my classes come Sept.  Having said that it is good to be back home.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Tuesday July 27- After dropping Dee Dee off at the Rapid City airport I headed out on my own to return the 1400 miles back to Ony.  I like to view myself as the frontier scout/explorer making my way through the country side free as bird, of course I don't think they had to call and check in to let someone know that they were still alive.
While on this solo adventure I got to spend a little time with Stupid and Stupider and possibly become stupidest. 
While enjoying my trip through the Wyoming country side I saw a historic site marker for Ft. Phil Kearny.  I remembered reading about the Fort but couldn't recall why I knew the name so I stopped in.  It was from this Fort that the Fetterman massacre.  Captain William Fetterman who arrogantly believed that he could destroy the entire Sioux nation with 90 men foolishly got his chance to make good on his statement.  Despite the warnings and advice from Jim Bridger that fighting Indians was different than fighting the Civil War and the deliberate disobeying of a direct command, Fetterman pursued the decoys that were led by Crazy Horse and got all of his men killed.
From there I zipped up to the Little Big Horn battlefield to go over the ground where someone (George Custer) managed to be even more stupid and get almost 3 times as many men all killed.  To a history buff like myself this was a great day.  It is not every day that I get to walk the ground and see the terrain very similiar to the way two of the dumbest commanders in U.S. history did.
I had stayed at the  battlefield site until it got to dark to take anymore pictures and they also announced that they were closing.  I wanted to get further down the road until stopping for the night so pushed on up to Billings but felt pretty good and not that hungry so headed for the next small town.  Originally I had hoped to get to Bozeman but the road sign said it was 103 miles away and I was so facinated with the landscape that I wanted to be able to see it during the day.  Well in the next town they didn't have any place good to eat so I keep driving. A couple of times I did actually stop and check on hotels but one I felt was to expensive for that hotel so on I went.  I had seen lighting and thunder showers way up ahead of me, now I was in to them.  I tried Livingston but it was the gateway to Yellowstone and the guy in front of me got the last room, so back to the car I went.  I finally made it to Bozeman and found a room then got to McDonalds 2 minutes before they closed.  I didn't get the food I wanted, nor a room with internet to post the days adventure so I too joined the ranks of the dumb.  I wonder if I will get something named after me now like the other two dummies did?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

parting ways

 We had a slow morning. Doug got the car all arranged for his trip home. We drove around Rapid city taking pic's of the presidents on the corners. ( Doug has pic's with him). Then he took me to Rapid city Airport. I had two fairly uneventful trips. One from R.C. to Minneapolis, then switched planes and on to Madison WI. Spent a nice evening with my sister her family and my mom.
 Doug headed for "Custer's battlefield" and then for a hotel. I heard from him around 9pm his time and he still was in search of something and hoping to make it to Bozeman, MT. I sure hope he found something and is safe.
  hope to have more tomorrow and some pic's for you all.

How big is big

Lured in by the signs for  a 99 cents all you can eat cowboy pancake breakfast Fort Hays was the first stop of the morning.  True to its word there was sort of  a chuck wagon set up, be it indoors though, and all the pancakes one could eat. Unfortunately nothing else to go along with them.  However, much to our surprise the whole place was the Fort Hays set from the movie Dances with Wolves.

  We had to check the place out. Now I will have to watch  the movie when I get back home to see it on the screen.  The area has been the setting for a number of movies that I'm going to check out to see it all in action.

'Christmas village" caught our attention of course, an hour later we had managed to see all that they had, mostly in the way of ornaments, this of course led to more planning possibilities.

Today we saw the main goal of the trip, the Crazy Horse monument.  This thing is so big that all of the faces on Mount Rushmore -the entire carved area will fit into the area of Crazy Horses head.  Each blasting of rock takes 2-3 days to remove the rubble, but of course its 200 dump trucks loads.  We spent a few hours and a few dollars via the gift store at the sight.  The carving just dominates the area it is quite impressive.

Both of us are getting a bit tired from the constantly being on the go and took it a bit easier in the evening.  A word for the kids- are plans have changed due to car rentals being almost impossible to get and very expensive.  Dee Dee will be flying out of Rapid City Tuesday and I will be heading home with a stop over in Spokane to see the folks. I'm hoping to be home Thursday.  Mom will still fly back next Wed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Prostitution to Patriotism

Day 5 - It was supposed to be a fairly limited day of just doing some sights about Rapid City and Deadwood. but it turned into a WOW day rather quickly. 
Like most people's day- it began in studying about prostitutes and their impact on the development of cities in the west, a 15 year old one(prostitute) at that, and it ended with our singing the National Anthem with about 1500 other people.

Our travels today were to take us back in time to the old west period of "Wild" Bill Hickok and the town of Deadwood, South Dakota.  The town which was destroyed by fire a couple of times, finally re-did itself in brick and stone to prevent further damages. Now it tries to have the wild west flavor- but is really a mining town.  We toured around it and the neighboring town of Lead, which mostly involved looking into an 1800 foot deep, by 1/2 mile wide mining pit and learning all about gold mining. 

 A quick trip to the Chubby Chipmunk for some very good (so I'm told) hand dipped truffles brought us to the decision to go south to Mt. Rushmore.

On the trip down we stopped at the "Mistletoe Ranch"- all Christmas items and some very good ideas for the displaying of items in the house (check back at Christmas time to see if we follow through on them), and it was here that Dee Dee discovered the secret to children.  "There would be fewer spoiled children if you could spank the Grandparents."  Melia that's for you!!

 Then it was off to Keystone a town of 326 residents and 1000 tourists. Lots of shops.

 I got Dee Dee to take a chair lift to the top of a hill to View Mt. Rushmore and the valley town below. But more importantly to take the 2000 ft slide down the hill. 

This what it looks like coming down the slide-and no we don't know who this is.
The ride on the sleds was a twisting turning affair where you could control the speed you went.  We left at the same time and I had to wait for a couple of minutes at the bottom for Dee Dee to arrive.  She enjoyed it by the time she got down and wanted to go again, but one more stop was further up the road, Mt. Rushmore. We think of our children and how much they would have loved this slide!

View of the town of Keystone nestled in the Black Hills.
The four Presidents and the Mt. are quite impressive. We stayed late for the patriotic show that ends with the Mt. being lite up.  It was here we did the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.  All in all it was a great day on the- discover just a little bit more about America tour.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

another state ..another long day.

We spent last night in Cody at a old days Inn ,now called "kings Inn" not sure if it was comforting or not to have lots of dead African animals all over in the lobby. But, hey, we'll never forget where we stayed.
 We slept good and headed out for along day of driving.   We did see our first ever antelope, but at 70+ miles an hour no pic's. We may also have seen some wild horses not sure. Bighorn national forest had some nice scenery, but the rest was mostly alot of sagebrush, rolling hills, a few homesteads, horses,cows, oil, coal, and gas mines. Then all the hay fields!

   We did go to "Devils Tower" which was a nice break in the day. On the way up we say a whole field full of prairie dogs. Like 100 or more of them all over.

The  monument was pretty cool. We saw a guy trying to climb it.
  Pulled into Rapid city, South Dakota( our 5th state) around 7ish. Found our hotel and then  headed to the 'Golden Corral" for some very good grub.

  Now for the room report. just in case you were wondering, It was the #2 rated hotel for Rapid city by "tripadvisor"  And so far so good. Actually better than I was expecting. Has an awesome view of Rapid city as it sits on a hill. Room was clean and not as dated as I expected. Really looks like an average hotel room. So far owners have been everything the reports said. I'll let you know how I sleep tomorrow.
Looking forward to tomorrow. we can take our time and really do what we want.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 2 Yellowstone

We left Butte fairly early after a wonderful breakfast in the WalMart parking lot and headed for Yellowstone via the north entrance by Gardiner MT. 
The Park and the entire days travel was filled with wonderful geographical and geological sites.  We stopped at the Mammoth hot springs which were quite spectacular to move around.  At first Dee Dee couldn't make the climb up the boardwalk but one very giant burp later and she was good to go.(we had just finished lunch in the parking lot.)  Dee Dee had a fast trigger finger today as she took almost 600  pictures (boy am I glad for digital and not the old film days).

Amongst the targets for her pictures were geysers, hot springs, bison (a half hour road backup for these bad boys) who happen to like to go out into the road so everyone has to stop for them then gawk at them, and a bear.

We enjoyed the travel through different kinds of rock formations on the canyon walls, burned out sections of the park for the 1988 fire some of which have recovered rather well and others that have virtually no tree growth in them.
We arrived in Cody Wyoming at about 7 and spent the next hour looking for a room to stay in.  Just our luck to show up in Cody on the weekend of the National Cowboy Day which is apparently a real big thing in Cody. Dee Dee thought she was going to have to wrestle another man for the last room in the hotel.  We got to pay a premium for the room because of this prestigous event.
The day ended at Granny's family resturant where Mr. social himself chatted up the waitress about Onalaska and the family she knew that had moved there.  One on them just happened to be my starting post player two years ago.  Small world. Also, some of the biggest and best pancakes we've ever had.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

3 states in one day ...WHEW!!!

Our journey began around 8:30am this morning and we ended it about 12 1/2 hrs later in Butte, MT.
We really wanted to push it today so we could spend the rest of the trip relaxing more, enjoying local sites etc.
  We did have a few small adventures today. First I forgot my bathing suit. I guess there are worse things I could have forgotten. we stopped at the Spokane Valley Mall to pick up another.( I was pretty sad. I ordered me a new one a month ago and had to wait 3 weeks for it to arrive.Then I let it behind)
We  shared a very delicious Cinnabon there.

 Idaho was kind of a blur. We flew through it in less than an hour. Not to far into Montana we stopped at gift shopped called the 50,000 dollars. They have over 50,000 silver dollars mounted to their walls. Actually fairly reasonably priced gift shop. Doug may stop back by on his way home.

  Then the travel in Montana slowed down as they appeared to be working on every single bridge we drove over. OK working might be too strong of a word. they did have the lanes down to one ALOT but no one working as far as we could see. It was really fun when we got behind a semi going up hill.
 But, all in all considering how long we were in the car it was a nice day. good company, nice scenery.
 hoping to get a good nights rest we are headed to Yellowstone in the morning.

finally ready to hit the road!!

Doug and I are headed out to South Dakota in the morning. We've been planning this trip for years. Seems like there was always a wedding, or babies being born, or something to cause us to push it back another year. Well, all the pieces have fallen into place this year.
  We plan to travel through Montana, see alittle Yellowstone, then western SD. Maybe dip down into Nebraska. So we can say we traveled in another state and then head to Sioux Falls. There Doug and I will part ways(sad!) as I drive to Wisconsin for my nieces wedding and Doug heads to Custer's battlefield and then home to finish preparing for his first year teaching AP history.
I will fly back home on Aug.4th. I've never been gone for two weeks straight. Working state basketball is close, but I always came home for a couple days then headed back out.
Doug and I have become such home bodies we keep thinking about this or that and should we really leave.
Since we have reservations at a very fine and highly rated mom and pop place(a 1 star rating) in Rapid falls we are now locked into going, so no looking back. ( we will let you all know how the motel works out).
  My hope is to post everyday about the trip. keep the kiddies informed.