The trip was great. Our group consisted of brother-in-law Chet, his wife Diane, and their grandson Brendon, brother-in-law Dan, his wife Sue, and their son Nathan, me, Doug, and our daughter Ruth. We took Tommy and Morgan too. It started out kind of tough, but got better as we went along. It seems our trailer decided it was gonna fall apart bit by bit as we went across the country. It started right away with getting a flat tire before we'd got 2 miles from home. So we spent a couple hours at the Les Schwab tire store getting it fixed.
Eventually, we got on the road and headed for Fairmont Hot Springs, Montana where we spent the evening soaking in the pools. The next morning we headed for Yellowstone, stopping in at Earthquake Lake on the way.
We also stopped in West Yellowstone to visit a bead shop that one of my friends highly recommended, New Pioneer Indian Trading Company. Oh wow! I went crazy and spent way too much money there. There were so many unusual and beautiful beads!
Yellowstone is gorgeous in June. It's green and the wildflowers are blooming like crazy.
Actually, they were blooming like crazy everywhere we went the whole trip. We got to see baby Bison. They're so cute! We also saw a couple bears (running into the woods), Elk, Antelope,
and assorted smaller animals and birds. (Surprisingly we only saw one moose the whole trip-and it wasn't in Yellowstone) We camped in Yellowstone Park itself and spent two days taking in all the sites. I was really struck by the colors of the hot springs, mud pots, and whatnot.
Such a variety of textures too.
I took a lot of pictures to reference later for beaded jewelry inspiration. I got quite sick of the smell of sulfur though. I also got very very tired because sis-in-law Sue, the planner of the first half of our trip, was a slave driver. She is one of those high energy people who can't sit still and she ran us ragged. So I got a lot of exercise, missed a few meals, and lost a bit of weight.
After Yellowstone we headed for South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore. We stopped in Cody, Wyoming to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. We could only spend a couple hours there, so we had to choose what we wanted to see the most-which was hard because there are 5 museums there. I took in the special exhibit they had on Native American bead work. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed and was wishing I'd taken some of my beads with me on the trip.
On our way through the town of Custer, Wyoming there were artfully painted Bison all over town.
When we arrived in Mt. Rushmore National Park we set up at one of the campgrounds just a couple miles from the monument of the Presidents. We saw the monument 3 times. Afternoon,
and again the next morning. I also saw a Mountain Goat while I was resting on a bench. It came right up to me.
We visited Jewel Cave. This particular event made me terribly nervous because of the gimpy leg. The tour required walking up and down over 700 steps. I didn't know if I could make it, but
decided to give it a try. I wore an elastic stocking on the gimpy leg, in hopes it would not start hurting and swell up like it usually does. Thankfully, I made it through the whole tour (which was amazing, btw). I was really tired and sore the next morning but I made it. The elastic stocking kept my leg from swelling so I ended up getting more (Did you know there are Walmarts all over this country?) and wearing them on the days I knew I wouldn't be able to put my leg up much.
We took a tour of the National Museum of Wood Carving in Custer, South Dakota which was pretty fascinating. All the parts were hand carved wood and animated with little machines.
We took in the Crazy Horse monument, which has grown quite a bit since the last time I saw it. They've built a beautiful museum of Native American artifacts, and made some real progress on Crazy Horse himself. One of the highlights of the museum for me was the beaded clothing and whatnot that had been made by Native Americans. I fell in love with a pair of moccasin boots made of moose skin
and there was the corner of bead heaven. They have jars of antique seed beads that were used
by the Indians to make bead work back in the 1800's. Needless to say, I stood there drooling for quite some time.
We also drove through Custer State Park where we saw more Bison,
Elk, and wild Burro's as well as fantastic views and landscapes. It's such a beautiful area.
Eventually it was time to continue on our trip so we split from Doug's brothers and headed for Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, where my Dad lives. Sweet Hubby would not let me plan the route for this part of the trip, which frustrated me. He has a Droid phone with a GPS application on it (with an incredibly annoying female voice) and insisted we let the Droid tell us how to get there. It chose a route I would not have chosen. We zigzagged our way from Mt. Rushmore to Daddy's house up little highways almost the whole way. However, the roads were good (better than the freeways!) and the drive was beautiful. We saw much more of the country than I would have otherwise.
We went through the bad lands in South Dakota. What a fascinating place. Very interesting visually with all it's pointed pillars colored in stripes of pink, red, beige, brown, and gray.
When we crossed into Minnesota we did have an excitement. A major thunderstorm broke over us. I've never seen 4 inch wide rain balls before (I'd call them drops, but they were definitely balls). There was a tornado warning, the wind and rain were so hard we couldn't keep driving. Fortunately, there was a rest area we were able to pull into. The caretaker was there and had us park our trailer beside the building so it blocked the wind some, and we hunkered down inside the building until the worst was over. We were given permission to spend the night there in that spot. I thought that was very kind of them to let us do that.
Seeing Daddy was a bit of a shock for me. It had been 11 years. He's 73 and has aged quite a bit. I knew he would look older, but actually seeing the faded hair (used to be bright red, now it's a pale apricot), and the wrinkles, and seeing how hard it is for him to walk now was hard. I'd also forgotten how redneck he and his family are. But I got used to the new look of my Dad and had a good time visiting him and my relatives that live in that area.
Ruth and I took one afternoon to visit what I have always called 'Souvenir Row'. It's a two block section of Portage Road full of little souvenir shops. I always want to go there. They are interesting shops. I always visit the Minnetonka Moccasin shop too, and buy new moccasins. This time I got black shoe moccasins made of the softest Moose hide I've ever felt. They're so comfortable. I also admit to a certain 'sick' satisfaction in being able to walk on a moose.
We also toured the Soo Locks while we were there, riding a tour boat through the locks. If you ever get the chance to take that in, please do. It's very interesting. They just happened to have the very first 1000 foot cargo ship there in the locks when we were there. It actually has the number 1 painted on it.
Eventually we had to say goodbye to Daddy and head for Kansas where we spent two nights at our niece and nephew Lynne and Wayne's house. They have a farm there where they grow corn, wheat, and soy beans.They also own the local grain elevator, which was interesting. They were very hospitable and spoiled us rotten. It was good to see them, and the kids-oh my, the boys have grown so big!
Sweet Hubby got to drive one of Wayne's huge tractors around the block. He was SO thrilled about that. He said it was the highlight of the whole trip for him. (What is it with guys and tractors, anyway?)
It took 3 days to get home. We experienced another nasty thunderstorm that was so loud the trailer shook.
We camped in an RV park in Wyoming that was surrounded by huge fields of wild yellow Sweet Clover which filled the air thick with it's sweet spicy smell. I love the smell of Sweet Clover.
We lost another trailer tire (it split apart) and had to buy a new one. Other parts of the trailer broke on the trip too. The front board over the bed fell off. It had 4 holes drilled in it, but only 2 bitty screws. Then the next day the bed pullout track broke, so we couldn't pull the bed out. Sweet Hubby fixed it with new brackets that were much sturdier than the originals. Stuff like this kept happening. I muttered something about it falling apart all over the place and Sweet Hubby cheerfully replied "no it's not! It's getting better!" Every repair he did he made better than the original construction. By the time everything has fallen off that can we'll have a pretty sturdy little trailer!
I managed to read 2 novels via my Nook. I read a Star Trek novel (natch) called Vulcans Heart and a mystery novel titled The Tenth Gift. I enjoyed both of them, but The Tenth Gift was a very pleasant surprise. I couldn't put it down it was so interesting. It's a historical mystery novel about a woman in the 1600's who lives on the coast of England. She is kidnapped (with a bunch of her fellow townspeople) by Muslim pirates, taken to Morocco, and made a slave. There is another theme in the book too of a modern girl who is looking for proof of this story. There's needlecraft involved too-which was a surprise I wasn't expecting. Anyway, if you get a chance to read it, I highly recommend it.
All in all it was a great trip. I did get a little bit of knitting done too which I'll write about later. For now, I just want to get this posted.
By the way, I may go missing for a few days. As I mentioned at the start, my laptop is having virus problems. We don't know where they're coming from or how they're getting on so it's been frustrating. As soon as we get them off my computer with a virus removal program they reinstall themselves all over again. One of the problems that is really annoying is my google searches are getting redirected to lame ad search sites. So it looks like Sweet Hubby and I are going to be F-disking my hard drive and reinstalling everything from scratch. Hopefully that will get rid of the problem because everything else we've tried hasn't worked.
Stupid hackers!!!! I hope all your hard drives fail!
Have a great day.