From mid-june to end of trip was over 7 weeks, so we don't want this final trip report to be too brief.
loved Montana, particularly the final 4 days we spent with our friends
Chuck. But first, there was
Missoula, where we visited museums in the rain: smokejumpers, mountain
historical. Also another carousel
and an iris garden.
Next stop Helena, where we took a city tour. Imposing Victorian homes built by the gold-seeking founders. We found the Atlas building (you may recognize the gargoyles from a poster at our home) and toured into Last Chance Gulch. Good campground with hot tub, another carousel (yes, another), and on deeper into Montana.
White Sulphur Springs was a bit out of our direct path, but very rewarding. Another killdeer laid eggs in the rocks. I watched the mountain bluebirds and basked in the surrounding scenery.
A long (for us) day's drive descended into Billings, where we stayed at the first (ever) KOA. Weather had heated up into the low 90s, and we enjoyed the pool and tub. At least it was breezy, blowing cottonwood fluff through the air like a constant snow flurry.
Headed down the interstate with a brief visit to the Custer Monument, which was choked with people milling about in the rising heat of the day. Then out into the REAL country southwest of Lodge Grass. Our friends Jane and Chuck (whom we'd first met on Stan's birthday in 2001 in Big Bend) welcomed us to the ranch, where we spent the next 4 days. It was like having a vacation within a vacation! We had a wonderful time riding around the property and running the many dogs in "Ranger Doug" the 4-wheeler. We could have stayed and stayed. There were sheep for the dogs to herd, pheasants, sandhill cranes, and we saw a bear and two foxes.
is far too much description we could go into, but will let the pictures
suffice. Thank you for SO much!
On departing we made some distance and did not stop in Sheridan. Next time, Sheridan and the Big Horn Mts. In Gillette we had a wild hailstorm and in South Dakota another with tornado warnings.
Tower was packed with people, but free to us geezers.
Mt. Rushmore, on the other hand, was obliged to charge each
vehicle $8 to park. Seeing
these places, zooming by the Crazy Horse Monument, and winding through
Badlands was enough South Dakota for us.
So drove up through Wall, SD, and into North Dakota.
In the tiny town of Regent, ND, we arrived the Enchanted Highway's southern terminus. For 32 miles, an enterprising sculptor has created several wonderful huge sculptures ending on I-94. See enchantedhighway.net for the pictures and story. We met the artist, a delightful friendly guy.
North Dakota, which is very "wild west" (somehow this surprised us),
we went to a fun rodeo. The crowd
was entertained by people with names like Troy Boone, Wace Snook, Cody
Jhett Johnson, and Dakota
Shipp. Loved the bull riding.
along I-94 heading east: Salem
Sue, a giant sandhill crane at the Lone Steer RV, a giant buffalo
final stop before entering Minnesota was a COE park on Lake Ashtabula. Our major destination in MN was Madison
Lake in the south and our friends Mary and Clell. On
our way there we saw the world's largest (so they say)
ball of twine.
Clell and Mary entertained us royally. We had a ride on the lake in their boat. We ate out in New Ulm, a very interesting town nearby and also the home of their daughter Kim, who spent the afternoon with us. We climbed a local tower (Hermann the German) and visited the gardens at a brewery. Our stay was far too brief, and next time we meet we will take them out for an adventure and food of some sort! That might happen in Brownsville, TX.
Egad, this is already getting so long, but I will press on to the end.
The Spam Museum was just a big advertisement and we skipped the Mall of America.
Violent storms blew us into Hibbing, home of Kevin McHale, Vincent Bugliosi, Roger Maris, and Bob Dylan.
Greyhound started in Hibbing so we visited the Museum
we tried to visit the Hull-Rust-Mahoning open pit iron mine, but all we
see was fog and rain. The
following day dawned bright and clear and we arrived at the mine in
the weekly blast. Quite a crowd
In Hibbing I discovered the delicacy known as "porketta" and had a butcher cut me a small chunk to roast. Look it up, it's nicely seasoned and a very tender juicy cut of meat.
Drove north to Chisholm, the town at the other end of this giant hole in the ground. There we took the taconite mine tour, which was great. It was very dirty, loud, strenuous, and educational. Here low grade iron is extracted from crushed rocks and turned into powder, which is formed into small balls with a bentonite binder.
to Lake Superior. First we stayed
a couple of nights at Two Harbors.
Then moved south along the lake to Duluth. Here we camped at a marina and had a wonderful view of the city across the harbor. Near us was a lift bridge that started its life as a ferry bridge.
Much boat traffic, a big dog show in town, and a reggae festival all one afternoon and well into the evening. Third World was the closing act, for you reggae fans out there.
While Liz enjoyed the reggae music Stan visited a maritime museum, railroad museum, ore boat, Coast Guard boat, replica of the Nina.
We spent only one night in Wisconsin, as we were already pretty far north and eager to get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our one errand was to purchase Bakon Yeast in Rhinelander and get a stuffed hodag.
Not knowing anything in particular about Michigan in its entirety, I cannot say whether or how the UP is different from the LP. We immediately liked the UP, it was good to get away from cities. The Keweenaw peninsula is divided from the UP by Portage Lake. A bridge connects Houghton to Hancock on the north side.
camped on the lake the local fire department gave us a show while
UP is definitely different: there
is an accent and a friendly manner.
We toured Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, took a scenic road over Mt
to Copper Harbor and toured an inactive copper mine.
I didn't want to leave the area until I had experienced the UP delicacy, the pasty (rhymes with nasty). A small supermarket had some in a heat tray so I succumbed. Two days later I was still finishing it off. Think of a meat pie that doesn't have much meat, but lots of potatoes, rutabagas, onions, and carrots. "Hearty" is not too strong a word to use. Google "pasty" for more of its fascinating history. Wish I'd taken a picture.
Superior had big surfable waves as we drove along toward Sault Ste
Marie. We spent a couple of days there and
exhaustively. The town was very
interesting and seeing the giant ore tankers go through the locks was
fun. Also toured a boat,
a history museum, and a tower.
through Michigan, over the Mackinac bridge, down the west coast and
into Indiana. On the way toured an LST, a
and a Coast Guard boat.
The Gilmore Car Museum in southern Michigan was one we'd both recommend highly!
As well as the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana.
At Lake Wawasee we stopped with Katie (Stan's sister) and Harry. Got a nice boat ride around the big lake and had some great meals and visiting in general.
Then to Huntertown and Pat (Stan's other sister) and Jim. We were picked up by Stan's cousin Barbara and taken to Auburn to see the life-sized cast bronze street sculptures by J. Seward Johnson. On our final night the three siblings talked Dunten genealogy and old times over a wonderful meal and special dessert.
On our last morning in Huntertown, Stan woke up and looked at the weather. Decided we should move along quickly to avoid van-threatening heat. We were home in two days, stopping in Conneaut (connie-ut) OH and just on the western edge of the Adirondacks. Our last trip picture was our first trip picture (pico ski area) in a different season.
On this trip we slept in 19 states. With the winter trips we have slept in all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
are so many reasons to be glad we're home. You
know who you are!
Just don't get me started........oops, too late!