Friday, September 17, 2010

And on the 19th day she rested, and it was good.

Thanks for coming along with us on our cross-country adventure! It has been fun to read all of your comments and emails and FB notes along the way and to hear that many of you followed the trip from start to finish. It’s good to have friends.

We arrived home to fall in the Pacific Northwest. While it’s a bit sad to say farewell to a great summer, the change of season and shorter daylight hours means that new recipes, projects, and crafts will be coming soon.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 18: On the road home

We woke up on our last day of the road trip in Livingston, Montana, 11 1/2 hours from Seattle. It was sort of strange knowing we were heading home, and also exciting to think about sleeping in our own house.

We flew through Montana and Idaho and were back in Washington. Near Snoqualmie Pass we saw some traffic notices on the light boards. Evidently I-90 was closed due to blasting. So close, and yet so far... The road was closed for 45 minutes so Jasper and Justin went on a walk, and I read for a while. Finally the road was re-opened and we were on the home stretch.

A mile from home Jasper started howling. It's good to be home.

Final tripometer: 7,052 miles.

See pictures from Day 18 here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 17: They call it mellow Yellow...(stone)

We woke up early in Buffalo, Wyoming and headed straight for Yellowstone National Park. Neither Justin, nor I had been there so we were pretty excited that it worked out for this trip. We approached the park through the East gate, and passed through Cody. The roads leading to Cody were mostly open range so we had to be on the lookout for cows standing in the road, and they were on several occasions. I may have said it before, but Jasper is not fond of cows. She hates cows. The fact that they were inches from our car gave her no joy.

From Cody, the road winds through some beautiful canyons. I don’t think I was prepared for such an extreme change of scenery after the yellow fields along the interstate. We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Reservoir so that Jasper could take a swim before we entered the park. The reservoir is huge and it was really deep where she was swimming. She had a blast. Justin put her back on leash and we were walking up the beach when Miss Jasper had a run-in with her mortal enemy: a rattlesnake. Luckily Justin saw it in time and pulled her back, but the snake gave us a good rattle (hahaha).

Once in the park we passed through some burned forest and came upon Yellowstone Lake. The minute we were in sulfur range Jasper’s nose was going nuts, sniff sniff sniffing out the window like I’ve never seen. We saw our first herd of bison in a meadow (Jasper doesn’t like bison either, turns out) and then stopped at West Thumb Geyser Basin to walk around. Some amazing pools there. There is one called the Abyss pool and it was spectacular—clear blue water and it truly looks like an abyss.

Then we headed toward Old Faithful. We got there at 5:00pm and the next eruption was expected around 5:45 so we wandered around a bit. By 5:30 most of the seats around the geyser were taken. We too were in the ready with our cameras. By 5:50 the group of old people next to us were complaining about whether they were going to miss their dinner reservations. Also, I’m pretty sure I heard every possible geyser pun at least twice. At about 5:52 Old Faithful started blowing some heavy steam and spouted a little a couple feet up and then stopped. I think the entire crowd was worried that was it. At 6:00 the geyser started steaming heavily and sprayed up into the air. It was way higher than I was expecting and sprayed for a few minutes. I snapped quite a few pictures but it was way more impressive to sit and watch it with my own eyes. Such a beautiful cascade of water. Definitely worth the wait.

Since it was getting late we decided to check for accommodations to get another day in the park, but they were all sold out in the park and the nearby towns too. With the remaining light we headed toward the North exit hoping to see more wildlife. Just as we pulled out of the Old Faithful parking lot we were stopped by three bison crossing the road. A few miles up the way we saw a bison and a mule deer grazing across the river, and then up the road a few herds of deer and bison. It was amazing to see these huge animals in the wild. It was dark by the time we made it out of the park and crossed into Montana, but we were happy with what we had seen and definitely will plan another trip to the park in the future.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 16: Bad to the bone

Check out the World's Only Corn Palace!!

I know, amazing.

South Dakota has been another change in landscape to rolling yellow hills, with hay and sunflower farms off the interstate. From the minute we entered SD the Wall Drug billboards started showing up. Like crazy.

We made it to the Badlands, which is stunning. We sighted some prairie dogs, hawks, bighorn sheep(?), and deer. Then to Wall Drug for a quick stop, and on to Mt. Rushmore.

See photos from day 16 here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 15

Admittedly, not much happened today. We woke up in Escanaba, Michigan, hit the road early, and were quickly in Wisconsin. Our route through Wisconsin zig-zagged us through many small towns and farmlands before we met up with the busy interstate once again. We crossed back over the Mississippi and were in Minnesota where it became much hillier and greener. We blew through Minnesota, and hello South Dakota. We made it to Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the world's only Corn Palace(!!!) and found ourselves a tasty Mexican restaurant, then crashed out at the Coachlight. Official trip mileage so far: 5,337 miles.

I promise, tomorrow's post is much more interesting. (I know because I am writing this from the future!)

Pictures from day 15 here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 14: Life is a highway

I can't believe that we're on Day 14 and we have so much left to see. We woke up refreshed in North Bay, Ontario on Lake Nipissing and hit the road toward Sault Ste Marie. Lots of little towns along route 17 so our speed varied from 90km-60km. We filled the gas tank for $104.9 p/liter. The landscape looked the same through most of Ontario: short tough trees and lots of wetlands. It looks like moose country, but no more moose sightings.

We made it to Sault Ste Marie at around 3:00pm and crossed back into the U.S.A. We paid a $3 toll and drove down route 75 toward the town of St. Ignace. Let me tell you, if you ever find yourself in St. Ignace, go eat at Chee Peng Chinese and Thai food. Yum. After eating more than we should, we drove down to the north side of Mackinac Bridge and looked across the strait. Great view from a little park just before the bridge (and skipped the toll of $3.50 in each direction). We hopped on good ol Highway 2 and drove along the shore of Lake Michigan. Beautiful drive. We stopped for the night at the cozy Hiawatha Motel in Escanaba. It's a total 70's style motor lodge, but they were pet friendly and the price was right.

Shameless picture of my cute dog. To see pictures from day 14 click here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 13: On the road again

We left the lovely Beehive, our home away from home, at around 9AM with Connie and Rob and crossed the border from Canaan, Vermont into Quebec, Canada. We stopped in Coaticook for some curd cheese (aka squeaky cheese) and delicious maple ice cream.

Connie and Rob drove north with us a ways, through intermittent rain showers, before we stopped for an early lunch and they decided to head on back to Colebrook. We said our farewells and see you soons and Justin, Jasper, and I continued on toward Montreal.

Montreal was crazy. Given it was a week day, that might explain the insane traffic, but still. It's similar to Seattle in that the downtown is situated along the water and there seems to be freeways and bridges every which way. We drove around a bit to get a look at the city, and headed the heck out of town. Maybe all of our small town driving the last week has gotten us out of practice, but next time we hit Montreal we'll definitely need a guide.

We drove toward Ottawa and into Ontario. We stopped for lunch at a bar and grill in some small town and spent the only Canadian money we had (thanks Rob!). Then onward toward Sault Ste. Marie via the Trans-Canada Highway, route 17. It got dark earlier than we would have liked, but we were able to make it all the way to North Bay. I was on moose patrol, but no such luck. Maybe that's a good thing.

See pictures from Day 13 here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 12: Live Free or Die

Last day in New Hampshire. Delicious breakfast with Connie and Rob at the Beehive (awesome eggs benedict). Got an oil change for the trusty Subaru, and took a quick trip down to Lancaster. Back to the Beehive for taco Tuesday and a movie. It's great to stay with people who love to eat as much as we do. We're packing up tonight and will be hitting the road early tomorrow morning, northbound to Montreal. Its a bummer to leave, but it's been a great trip so far. Every time we come out we try to scheme up ways we can stay. I'll be a potter and Justin will be the town glassblower. I'll stay home and preserve all of our garden's food, we'll live minimally and work only as much as we need to. I'll write the next great American novel by the light of the fire with snowdrifts outside, while a crisp nor'easter blows 40 below outside our cozy cabin...

We'll have to iron out the details of all that but it sounds entirely plausible, right?

Photos from Day 12 here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 10 & 11: Relaxing & Paddling the Connecticut

Packed up camp at Little Averill. Hurricane Earl finally showed his face and the lake was windy with rain storms blowing through quickly. Still that didn't stop Jasper from spending most of the morning in the lake. We went up to breakfast buffet at Jackson's Lodge--holy cow: pecan praline crepes, creme brulee french toast, seafood newberg, poached eggs, country potatoes, and plenty more for the carnivores. Again stuffed beyond capacity. The rain and wind continued outside so we spent a nice lazy day at the Beehive, and Justin had a visit with Nana. Homemade pizzas, wine, and a movie made for a relaxing evening at home.

Woke up to sunshine at the Beehive. Checked the weather and it looked like it would hold so we shuttled the canoe and kayaks to Canaan, VT (or is it West Stewartstown, NH...depends what side of the river you put in on). It was a nice smooth paddle down the CT river, with a little head wind and alternating sunshine and shade. We had a picnic stop on a sandbar, and then paddled the rest of the way. In all about 3 hours on the river. Home for dinner tonight, with Hylie and Mario joining us.

See photos from day 10 & 11 here.

Tomorrow is our last full day in New Hampshire before we hit the road again. Not sure yet how we'll spend it, but any day on vacation is a nice one.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 8 & 9: Family time in NH/VT

We got a good night's sleep at the Beehive and woke up late, barely making it for breakfast at the cafe up at Jackson's Lodge. Jackson's Lodge has been run by the family since Grandpa Elmont Jackson and Nana Audrey bought it back in the day. It was truly a family operation and all of the Jackson girls: Bonnie, Connie (Justin's mom), Donna, Fran, Gloria, and Hylie lived and worked there with the family. Now the camp is run by Gloria, and Donna with her husband Serge run the Lakeside Restaurant in the lodge.

On the morning we were there we were greeted at the cafe by a sweet 9-year-old blonde girl. She took our order and put it in to her Aunt Gloria, and we realized it was none other than little Veve...who we hadn't seen since she was 2 years old. We snuck back into the kitchen and said hello to Bonnie, Gloria, Donna, and Stephanie (Veve's mom) as well as little Bre on dishes. The Jackson tradition continues.

We played around at Lake Wallace for a while then headed up to the cabin at Little Averill. Justin's cousin Ryan and wife Stephanie, along with Veve, Gaege, and Bre joined us up at camp for a boat ride, campfire and s'mores, and a serious game of Jenga. Nothing like a nice evening at Little Averill.

See photos from day 8 and day 9 here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day 7: New Hampshire!

We got up early/late this morning. Early, if you consider that with Jasper's whining we probably never went to sleep, and late because sleep deprivation is not really a motivator to get up and at 'em. Sunrise was beautiful and quiet at the campground. We packed up the Subaru more bushy-tailed than bright-eyed and drove down to the beach to see where we ended up--coming in after dark we didn't really know what was there. The beach was totally empty and peaceful. We drove to the camp office and paid our dues--$22.75 for an out-of-stater. We took highway 104A/104/104B north to I-81 toward Watertown and then onto Highway 11. We passed by a surprising number of small colleges and universities this morning. There are still a lot of farm lands, mostly corn and hay. We passed some signs on farms that said "NO WIND TURBINES" and it seemed strange to be opposed to a wind farm. Until we came upon some, and realized the juxtaposition to the farm lands is significant. When we saw them crossing Wyoming they seemed to make sense, open land, lots of wind, and little anything else. But in a lovely agricultural area they jut out of the fields and take away from the natural calm.

Everything is very green along Highway 11 and the temperatures were in the mid 80s the whole way. We heard on the radio that Hurricane Earl is making its way to the coast but it hasn't given us any weather yet. We crossed the state line on the bridge from NY to Vermont around 3pm and were on the home stretch. We took 105 most of the way, winding through more tiny towns. Just outside of Island Pond we spotted our first moose! It was that moose time of day and he was just munching on the side of the road. We've finally made our way back into rolling hills. We continued on through farmlands and winding roads, crossed the Connecticut River and hooray, New Hampshire! We drove into Colebrook and up to the Beehive (Connie and Rob's house) around 6:30pm. End mileage: 3,386. Whew.

We unloaded the car, cleaned up for dinner and drove back to Vermont (luckily just across the river) to Hylie and Mario's for family dinner and lots to celebrate: Gloria's 50th birthday, Mindy leaving for her last year of college at Middlebury, Fran & Marc's wedding anniversary, and our arrival. We'll be spending the next few days in full relaxation mode up at the lake cabin on Little Averill so farewell for now!

Pictures from day 7 here

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 6

Woke up in Sandusky, Ohio. I've found I need to keep reminding myself what town we are in. We slept in late, even though we had planned to get on the road early. I checked my email and found out that Kelly and Yann are officially engaged! And not a moment too soon.

We hit the road and it was already 86 degrees just outside of Cleveland at 10:45am. We crossed into Pennsylvania and stopped for lunch in Erie and then came upon another toll road which was our welcome into New York. Thanks, New York. We took I-90 into Buffalo, and then north to Niagara.

Niagara Falls was definitely different than I pictured, but now that I have seen it I can't explain how. Maybe more commercial. Coming from Yosemite I think I expect all glorious waterfalls to be within the context of nature. This one is a block from Hard Rock Cafe. We didn't cross into the Canada side, though I have heard it's a better view from there. We did go to the observation deck and it's worth the $1. Then we were back in the car, heading toward Rochester. I got it in my head that we should camp for the night, so I mapped us to Fair Haven State Park. We decided to stop for dinner around Webster and found a delicious Italian restaurant. And I really do mean delicious, not I-am-desperate-and-will-eat-anything. Justin had smoked mozzarella and asparagus ravioli in alfredo sauce, and I had eggplant, olive, portobello, and artichoke heart linguine and a half carafe of white wine. Awesome.

We got back on the road around 9:30/10PM and had an hour drive til the campground. We hit some fog, but nothing too sketchy. We had a hard time finding the campground, but finally did and it was a really nice place. Manicured lawns, clean bathrooms, and super quiet. However, Jasper gave us little or no sleep, growling at the shadows, crickets, etc. It was also quite warm and bright out with the moonlight. At least we got to use our tent...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 5

We got up a little earlier today in consideration of a long driving day ahead and another time zone change. On the road and out of Des Moines by 7:30am. We filled the tank for $2.50/gallon, the cheapest so far. We've noticed that the mid-grade fuel costs less than regular unleaded. Interesting. There were several downpours, but nothing too serious. We stopped on the west side of the Mississippi River before crossing into Illinois. The landscape began to change a great deal from farmland to rural as we headed northeast on I-80 toward Chicago, Illinois/Gary, Indiana. We paid our first toll of the trip ($0.60) and then upon entering Indiana went through a toll booth where we had to pull a ticket. Evidently you pay based on how long you stay on the toll road--the most would be $7.30.

It's been about 90 degrees out so the AC is cranked to the max. We stopped for a quick bite at Hardee's which is the same as Carl's Jr on the West Coast and crossed into the Eastern time zone, kissing one more daylight driving hour goodbye. We decided to detour off the interstate into Amish country (Shipshewana). Immediately we passed several horse drawn carriages and bikes, driven by folks in traditional Amish (or Mennonite?) attire. Cute kids. Beautiful farms. Highway 20 took us back to the interstate and crossed into Ohio. We drove until dark and stopped for the night in Sandusky around 9pm. Luckily we found a delicious/I-will-eat-anything-at-this-point Mexican restaurant, and were thankful they served us 20 minutes before closing. In summary: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in one day! I'm learning my geography. We'll head for Niagara Falls in the morning.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 4

We left Big Springs at 8:30am. Sunny, but windy on the road. We crossed into the Central time zone at 9:30am and blew past the Buffalo Bill Ranch, and a Pony Express station. There is lots of corn, and lots of hay in the middle of our country. Nebraska is also surprisingly green considering that it's the end of August. We made it to Omaha around 3pm and took Jasper to the Omaha off-leash dog park. She got her crazies out, then we drove to Old Market in downtown Omaha and had dinner and beers at Upstream Brewing Company. Our waitress was from Bellingham. Small country. We got back on the road and out of the heat. We crossed into Iowa and checked the weather to see if we could camp for the night, but the weather report was calling for rain and thunderstorms so we agreed on a motel yet again. Jasper is not fond of high winds, or thunder. In situations of danger, she feels the safest sleeping on top of our heads. In other words, no one will sleep well. I'm beginning to realize that the camping stuff we packed may prove useless on this journey. Mileage at the end of the day: 1,946.

See the photos of Day 4 here