Hanover to Wyoming

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4/30/07

Who said we couldn't make it out of town before May? 
After a nice farewell visit with friends and family, dinner and mah jongg, we made an early start.  
Passing Killington and Pico we said good riddance to snow. 

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This year we have new navigation software, so we were glad to have an easy day to get trained on it.

We spent the night with our friends Joan and David in Bainbridge, NY, near Binghamton.  We are always so glad to see them, and don't do it nearly often enough.  Hope to stop on our way home this summer.

5/1

Spring was in full bloom with forsythia everywhere.  In Mercer, PA, we got settled in time to enjoy a thunderstorm.  Temps in the 80s. Campgrounds in this area were just opening up for the season.

5/2

Gorgeous countryside through the rest of PA and into OH.  Flowering fruit trees.   We started reading Moby Dick to while away some long interstate hours.  

The Inland Seas Maritime Museum in Vermilion, OH, was a treat.  We camped on the Huron River.  While shopping for food we were accosted by an old Airstreamer, Wilbur Ramsey.

5/3

This turned out to be a long busy day.  First we visited the Museum of Carousel Art and History in Sandusky.  It was pretty neat.  They'd turned the handsome old round Post Office into this museum and had a large entire working merry-go-round, which we got to ride as part of our admission.  Wow, did it crank!

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Since we were close to the Lake Erie, we went up to Marblehead, which looks across to Cedar Point amusement park.  We made a brief stop to visit the mother of our friend Rebecca.  She is doing well at age 91! 

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Alas, the Marblehead lighthouse was closed, but we were again stopped by Airstreamers, who turned out to know Wilbur.  This kind of "small world" stuff happens to us all the time.

After visiting Snook's Dream Cars in Bowling Green, we camped at Fire Lake SP.

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5/4

Breakfast in Grand Rapids, OH, on the Miami and Erie Canal.  Two mules pull barges with hordes of school children. 

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There's a well-kept mill in good working condition. 

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It was a pleasant stop. 

Onward into Indiana, where we headed for the Windmill Museum north of our evening's destination.  The windmills put on a great show for us, as did the bullfrogs in the pond.

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We were glad to pull into Pat and Jim's driveway, knowing we could rest up for a couple of days.

5/5

It's always nice to be in Huntertown, and especially to spend time with Pat and Jim and Stan's niece Barbara.  Pat fed us beef stew, hot dogs, a yummy chicken dish, and homemade apple butter (thank you, Pat!) and we just relaxed and got caught up.  Had a short visit with Stan's old friends Jim and Karen.

5/6

Did you know Indiana had dunes?  From Indiana Dunes SP on Lake Michigan we could see Chicago. We braced ourselves for the traffic to come.

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5/7

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.  After all the hype, it was worth the wait.  The museum occupies a beautiful building built for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. It made for a difficult day, especially exiting Chicago.

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Then it was drive drive drive to a horrid campground called Leisure Lake.  How leisurely do you suppose it is to be at the intersection of I-80 and I-55?  When people in the RV business have a choice to be nice or not,  if they are not nice, that's the last chance they get from us.

5/8

A beautiful Corp of Engineers park on the banks of the Mississippi smoothed our ruffled feathers nicely.  We loved the geezer rate of $8.  We checked out the John Deere Pavilion in downtown Moline, IL, to plan our tour for the next day. 

5/9

The Deere factory we toured makes gigantic combines.  Basically, it is an assembly plant.  The cutting and welding of pieces is followed by paint baths.  If you don't like green, avoid this place.  The tour took a couple of hours.

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John Deere was probably Stan's high point for the day, but for me it was seeing my old home in Iowa City, which I left in 1965.  It's always risky going back to places with old memories, but this turned out well.  The current owner invited me in and showed me around!

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By day's end we were in another COE park north of Iowa City, perhaps the nicest place we've been at yet.   The air was perfumed with the blooms of Russian olive bushes just like back in Etna.  

5/10

We are taking our time with Iowa (so far) and enjoying the lush farmland.  Corn has already been planted in many places, although many farmers are waiting for a good drying-out.  You can see tender shades of green here and there, and it grows SO fast!  

The Amana Colonies are, as Stan puts it, a clever way to make a tourist trap out of a bunch of small towns.  But we were so close.  We had to go!  And there was an associated RV that was quite convenient.

5/11

We followed an Iowa scenic byway route into Grundy county to see quilt block designs painted on the sides of barns.

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Wound up at Pine Lake SP west of Grundy.

5/12

From there we put in a long day to Des Moines and beyond. While entering Des Moines we saw a bunch of guys having a great time sailing their RC boats.

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On the way out of Des Moines we visited the Living History Farms. A restoration of farms from three different times in history. (http://www.lhf.org/)

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Stayed at an awful place in Grimes, NOISY.  I-80 has a scored surface (we think for rain run-off) and it whines and "sings" at all speeds.  I-80, good when you need it, but it's always a relief to get off it.

The heat had fried our icebox and the half and half for morning coffee came out in chunks.  Not an auspicious start to the day.  We found a Casey's (the regional inconvenience store/gas station) and I got a tall kona blend with real sugar and fake cream.  No complaints!

5/13

Still very hot, 90s.  Drove through much hillier terrain to Omaha.  Right next to the SAC Museum in Ashland was a huge campground, more like a country club than anything else.

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Here we found the Peter Kiewit Lodge, where diners were celebrating Mother's Day with all day brunch.  Never have we seen so many hugely fat people.  Why are they so fat?  The menu featured a "Kids Buffet" with these items:  chicken strips, corn dogs, macaroni and cheese, potato fries, candy bowl.  You can just imagine the grown-up menu!  Nebraska.

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Still red-winged blackbirds predominated, but we started seeing the western meadowlark, a real beauty.

We chose route 6 over I-80 and worked our way down to the Kansas border to a COE park that had maybe two other campers.  Windy, big thunderheads, a heavy downpour.

5/14

The temps dropped into the 50s and gas prices rose to $3.25.

Wild blue flax on the roadsides.  

5/15

Into Colorado and a huge state park on Lake Sterling.  White pelicans bobbing on the choppy waters.

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5/16

Our adventure was trying to get from Colorado back into Nebraska and thence into Wyoming.  We drove on county roads (dirt/gravel) through miles of windmill farms.  There seemed to be something going on, a "wind farm event" and a tent set up, a school bus, some people standing around.  They waved and we drove merrily along.  When we got nearly to our final turn north, we were stopped by a worker who had a good laugh when he heard we were trying to get to I-80.  The road, said he, was closed for security reasons. So back we went towards the tent, grumbling a bit but mostly laughing.

We found out that there was indeed a big event and the governor was flying in for it!  A ground-breaking, we think. The windmill installation covered tens of miles at the least.  Some were not quite finished or turned on.

5/16

From the welcome center in Pine Bluffs, we were already in love with Wyoming.  At the imposing train depot in Cheyenne we did the museum and had a drink and snack.  If this sounds over the top, you'd better try it before saying poohpooh.  Fried sweet potatoes dusted with brown sugar and served with a honey and butter dipping sauce.  Goodness gracious, super delicious!

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Cheyenne is fun, easy to get around.  Our campground was off the beaten path but very convenient,  There was an irresistible on-site barbecue.  The weather had cooled some and was perfect!

5/17

Wyoming is a geologist's dream.  You've got your old rocks, your really really old rocks, and your very newest rocks all untidily packaged in one strictly rectangular state.  What's not to love?  I read John McPhee's "Rising From the Plains" some 15 years ago, and had to see for myself.

Cheyenne to Laramie to Medicine Bow to Casper.  We rose thousands of feet from Cheyenne to the tops of the Laramie range.  All day we could see the Snowy and Laramie ranges.  Casper is at the northern terminus of the Laramie Mts.

I-80 west from Cheyenne follows the path of the original railroad, the Lincoln Highway, and US 30. Along the way are monuments from those days: A tree in a rock, Railroad builders, and Lincoln.

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We are at an RV place associated with Fort Caspar, a state-operated reconstruction.  The North Platte river kind of curls around the spot where we're camped under a big shady tree.  Gentle breezes, about 80 degrees, not humid.

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