Hanover to Wyoming
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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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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
Breakfast in Grand Rapids, OH, on the Miami and Erie Canal. Two
barges with hordes of school children.
There's a well-kept
mill in good working condition.
It was a pleasant
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.
We were glad to pull into Pat and Jim's driveway, knowing we could rest
up for a couple of days.
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.
Did you know Indiana had dunes? From Indiana Dunes SP on Lake
Michigan we could see Chicago. We braced ourselves for the traffic to
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
We followed an Iowa scenic byway route into Grundy county to see quilt
block designs painted on the sides of barns.
Wound up at Pine
Lake SP west of Grundy.
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.
On the way out of Des Moines we visited the Living History Farms. A
restoration of farms from three different times in history.
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
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.
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.
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.
The temps dropped into the 50s and gas prices rose to $3.25.
Wild blue flax on the roadsides.
Into Colorado and a huge state park on Lake Sterling. White
pelicans bobbing on the choppy waters.
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
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.