Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island was much more than either of us expected. We took the 9:30 Ferry to the Island (takes about 17 minutes) and the ride was fun. Some background on the island, the only cars allowed on the island is a utility vehicle, ambulance and fire truck. Instead of the motorized vehicles there are over 600 horses on the Island. Golf carts are available on the golf course, but can not be taken off the course. As we arrived at the pier a local version of a limousine was at the dock to pick up passengers for the Grand Hotel (the most prestigious hotel on the island). We opted to take a three hour tour of the island on a horse drawn trolley and inspite of some light rain and looking into the rear end of our engine we absolutely enjoyed the trip around the island and the drivers of the trolleys we were on. Bicycles and horses were everywhere and you could rent either by the hour. After the trolley ride we walked around the quaint downtown and went into several stores looking for souvenirs’ which Judy finally found what she wanted. After taking the ferry back we headed for Frankenmuth. After a three hour drive we checked into our hotel and headed to the Bavarian Inn (a German restaurant) where we had their world famous fried chicken and we ate until we were stuffed. Well, this week we have had Swedish pancakes and German chicken, not sure what we will have next. Tomorrow we will explore the shops in Frankenmuth and then on to Dearborn and the Henry Ford Museum.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Well, today was another interesting day. We traveled from Door County along the shores of Lake Michigan on the upper peninsula of Michigan and stopped at some interesting places. First we stopped at Fayette Historic Townsite, an old abandoned iron mining town that was turned into a State Park and maintained in its original condition. It was fun to see the old buildings and walk around the grounds and through some of the buildings with the original furniture still in them. It reminded both Judy and I of the time we went to Bodie, California an abandoned mining town. We next stopped at the Seul Choix Point lighthouse. The point was named by a group of Native Americans and French Fur Traders after being caught in some tough waters off its coast and translates to “only choice”. We traveled from the upper peninsula to lower Michigan by crossing the Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world ( about 650 ft longer than the Golden Gate). Tomorrow we are going to take a ferry to Mackinaw Island and hope we don’t get rained on because the forecast calls for rain and cold.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Door County

Well today we went from lighthouses, to wineries and to a restaurant with goats on the roof. Door County has been an interesting adventure. We started out by heading to our first lighthouse on the south east coast; using Jill (our GPS) we were able to find it easily. It was inside a state park so a day fee was necessary and when I went to the office to get it I almost threw up from the smell. We later found out it was a combination of bird droppings and kelp and what a smell it was, it seemed to hang out in the nose all day long. Thank goodness the rest of the day found us without the smell. We visited several lighthouses and ran into a big detour because of a parade in one of the small towns. For lunch we stopped at Al Johnson's Restaurant because we were told it had goats on the roof and low and behold it did and inside was a good Swedish restaurant where we both had Swedish pancakes, mine with strawberries and Judy’s with Swedish Meatballs. We then visited a couple of wineries in the rain, neither of which we thought were especially good, I guess it is tough to get used to cherry wine, it has a definite different taste. We will leave Door County in the morning having had a good time but definitely missing the wonderful Brownies with Ice Cream and Hot fudge that we had at Jodi and Marks: We had a great time there and talked of them often today.

Jodi's to Door County

We left Jodi’s early yesterday morning and drove to Sturgeon Bay on the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin. When we passed thru Green Bay we stopped and took pictures of Lambeau Field in Green Bay (just for you Ken) and proceeded onto Sturgeon Bay. We drove Jill (our GPS) nuts by going on a new road that wasn’t in here database. We found these silly road signs along the way, and kept looking for them on the road but never did see any; they must not cross the road this time of the year. We have a big day planned for today with lots of light houses and wineries on our list and of course lots of shoreline.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Across the plains

Today was a long day; it is a little over nine hours from Rapid City to Mark & Jodi’s with not a lot of scenery along the way. After all the sights we have seen over he past weeks driving across the plains and seeing level flat surroundings with all types of grains and corn along the way and only an occasional antelope. About the only exciting things were areas of wind generators which are the new thing across the plains. The stimulus package is also working as about half the interstates we traveled were tore up with big signs indicating stimulus money being used. We arrived at Jodi’s and soon were taken over to Nicole (my granddaughter) and Shannon’s newly built home and it is a beautiful home. Christina, another granddaughter was there and later we all had dinner together and of course it is wonderful to see them all.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mt Rushmore and Custer State Park

Today was another interesting day. Early this morning we headed to Mount Rushmore. It has been over twenty years since we have been to Mount Rushmore and the viewing area has received a lot of upgrades including an elevator (thank goodness) to the lower viewing area. There are now two theatre rooms and a new museum and we really enjoyed all the new features along with the wonderfully sunny day to do the viewing. After Mount Rushmore we headed to Custer Park and did the wildlife loop around the outside and seen mountain goats, antelope, deer and buffalo and of course at two locations the begging donkeys. I have no idea how it started but in a couple of locations in Custer State Park there are groups of donkeys that come up to cars and stick their heads into cars begging for something to eat, we kept our windows closed. The roads in the Black Hills are filled with switchbacks and one car tunnels; thank goodness Judy did all the driving today. Tomorrow we are off to Jodi’s and it will be a long day but we are looking forward to seeing Jodi, Mark, Nicole and Christina.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Deadwood and Rapid City

Today was Déjà vu all over again as Yogi would say. Both Judy and I spent the day thinking of past years. We started by driving through Spearfish Canyon and having breakfast at the Latchstring Inn, even though they have rebuilt it and is no longer as quaint as it once was. Then we drove into Deadwood and seen what gambling has done to the quaint old town in a very good way. I visited the building that dates back to the 1870’s where I managed a radio station back in the eighties. The building is now a gift shop, we talked to the owner and told him stories of ghosts and Chinese tunnels in the rear of the basement. We visited old Saloon # 10 where Wild Bill Hickok was shot that except for slot machines hasn’t changed since we were here twenty years ago. We went to Boot hill where Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried. There was a celebration in Deadwood and we would have liked to have stayed longer but more adventures called today. We made our way to Rapid City, checked into our hotel and started taking pictures of places that Judy had lived and schools that Paige had attended and then the highlight of the day, we went to the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park and see Neil Simons “Brighton Beach Memoirs”. The Black Hills Playhouse is a professional theatre that operates during the summer with actors coming from all over the country for the summer to perform. The play was excellent. Tomorrow, Mt Rushmore, Custer State Park and Crazy Horse.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yellowstone and Wyoming

Today was a fun and long day. We left West Yellowstone, Mt early and planned on getting to Old Faithful early in the morning. The morning was beautiful so we took several turnouts and saw some of the interesting caldrons and different places along the way. We got a great picture of an eagle in her nest on the way as well. By the time we arrived at Old Faithful and walked to the viewing area supposedly on time for the eruption, it was just ending, Old Faithful had gone off ten minutes earlier than they projected (they always say the projected time is plus or minus ten minutes) so we had to wait another 90 minutes another eruption, but it was worth the wait and because of the beautiful morning it was, it was extremely beautiful. We started toward the east exit of Yellowstone driving towards Cody, Wyoming and seen many wonderful sights along the way. Upon leaving the park we decided that we had time to drive all the way to Spearfish, SD and the drive was outstanding, even though we had taken the drive before years ago we didn’t remember just how beautiful it was. Along the way we seen hundreds of antelopes, went over extremely high passes (9000 ft.) laughed a lot and finally arrived in Spearfish about 8PM. Tomorrow, Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood and then into Rapid City.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park and one of the largest with over 2 million acres and we enjoyed a lot of those acres yesterday. We spent almost ten hours exploring different areas of the park from the beauty of Yellowstone Lake to the magnificent falls and geysers. We seen osprey, eagles, bison, elk, bear, deer, coyote and several small animals. We seen fisherman fishing for cutthroat trout (Eric you would have loved it). Judy had to swerve to keep from hitting a deer that jumped in front of us. Even though there were a lot of people around we never seemed like we were crowded and I am glad we are here now because this weekend is free to all comers, and will probably be very crowded. Tomorrow we are heading to Old Faithful and hopefully we will see the last of the animals that have avoided us, Moose and wolves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shoshone Falls and the Grand Tetons

Well, today was outstanding. We left Twin Falls early this morning and went just a few miles to Shoshone Falls. What a treat those were, the Snake River runs over these wonderful cliffs, in fact the fall further by 24 ft than Niagara Falls and are called the Niagara Falls of the West. We left there and headed for Jackson Hole, Wyoming, going thru wonderful different landscapes. Jill (our GPS) wanted to take us over Grand Teton Pass instead of where AAA had us going. We went Jill’s route and it couldn’t have better, the sights were outstanding and we went over the pass at nearly 9000 ft. During our drive up we passed what must have been a car club doing Grand Teton, because we ran into four of them along the way, all cars from the twenties and thirties. On arriving in Jackson we checked into our hotel and head to the Tetons. The views were outstanding and we seen deer, elk and buffalo. We did a large circle and returned to our hotel about six. I can’t imagine a day being any better, but tomorrow we head to Yellowstone and all it has to offer.

Across Nevada

Well today was a long one and an interesting one. We traveled from Carson City, Nevada to Twin Falls, Idaho. Nevada has most unique scenery that seems to change every 100 miles or so. We saw rolling hills, sagebrush desert, rocky mounds and extremely high mountain ranges. We saw coyote and deer. Which reminds me, I forgot to mention that yesterday we seen a bear. Tomorrow we will be off to Jackson Hole and then Yellowstone over the next couple of days. We have rooms in Jackson tomorrow night and West Yellowstone on Thursday which gives us two good days in Yellowstone and we are really looking forward to them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yosemite National Park

What a fantastic day today was. We left Weston, Paige and Eric’s at 8 am this morning and headed to Yosemite. When we lived in California we used to visit Yosemite a lot, but this was our first visit in almost ten years but it was just as fantastic as we remembered. Even for a Monday, it was real busy and was very difficult to find a place to park in the Village. We finally gave up and had cookies for lunch that Paige had sent along. After all the beautiful waterfalls, we tried to remember where inspiration point was ( a place Judy said that we visited every time we went to Yosemite) and we finally found it and had to backtrack to get there, but it was even more breathtaking then we remembered. After passing thru Tioga pass (elevation 9555 ft.) we worked our way past Mono Lake and into Carson City where we are spending the night. Tomorrow we head towards Yellowstone.

Westons and Poppas Tree

Yesterday was a grand day. Paige and I got a tree and it quickly became Weston’s and Poppas tree. We watered it together, and he promised he would water it every day. Later that day, Paige got a plaque that both Weston and I put our handprints on and dated it. Paige will put it next to the tree when it sets. Not only what Paige did extremely touching but this morning when I said goodbye to Weston, he told me that he would water Weston’s and Poppas tree every day. It brought a big tear to my eye.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More Weston, Paige and Eric

We have spent the last couple of days having some great fun with Weston, Paige and Eric. We went to the Children’s Discovery Museum yesterday. It was a lot of fun and even interesting to an older guy like me, of course Weston loved it. We have been spending a lot of time on the new patio in the back yard, with the weather being perfect for being out there. Weston is always busy watering his mothers flowers with his own special watering can. We will be here until early Monday morning when we head for Modesto and Yosemite.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A day with Weston

Finally a day with Paige, Eric and WESTON. We arrived in San Jose and got to Weston’s and he was at Day care, so we had to wait for him to come home. It was great to see everyone but of course he was the light of our eye. We really enjoyed the new patio Paige and Eric installed in their backyard, it really looks nice. This morning we went to a farm and let Weston see lots of farm animals, play on the slides and drive a tractor.. Over the next couple of days Lots of visiting with Paige, Eric and Weston. By the way, Eric made martinis last night and they were even better than I remembered. He has mastered the art.

Monday, June 8, 2009

California here we come

Today was a lot of driving thru interesting terrains. We took the advice of our tour guide and took 89a north out of Sedona and what an interesting drive it was, lots of switchbacks which looked really strange on Jill (our GPS). We stopped in Los Angeles to see Judy’s sister in law Rose, her niece Renica and Bailey her two year old daughter. Bailey was precious and really reminded us that tomorrow we get to see Weston and we can’t wait to see him. So early tomorrow we will be on our way to San Jose and looking forward not only to seeing Weston, but Paige and Eric as well. Heck, I bet Eric will even make me one of his now famous (at least with me) martini’s.

Another Day in Sedona

We had another wonderful day in Sedona. We went on a two and one half hour tour with Redstone Tours and were thrilled with the tour and our tour guide (he was a trained European chef) and we toured some wonderful places. We went again to Oak Creek Canyon, Chapel of the Holy Cross, again to the Airport outlook, Discovered Bell rock and courthouse butte. We have like Sedona so much that we are going to look into trading our timeshare for here in the next couple of years. Lots more to see and it is only an hour from the Grand Canyon. We like the quaintness of the area and the restaurants as well. Tomorrow we head to Los Angeles to see Judy’s sister-in-law Rose and Rose’s new Granddaughter Bailey.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


We arrived in Sedona about noon and were able to get into our hotel room. We got something to eat and then spent some time with the concierge from the motel. She told us where we should go and see some fantastic sights. We took Red rock canyon road to Cathedral Rock and it was outstanding. The red rock that surrounds all of Sedona is breathtaking, no matter where you look, red rock mounds extend into the sky and will take your breath away with their beauty. After dinner we went to a place called airport road which circles over the city and we waited there until sundown for more great views and pictures. Tomorrow we are taking a tour that will take us to some more of the beautiful sights around Sedona. The city itself is extremely interesting as well, with lots of art galleries and specialty shops.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Well, Judy had added Tombstone, AZ to our trip right before we left, and are we happy she did. We found Tombstone to be interesting, historical fascinating, and very well presented. We bought tickets for $9 that got us into a half hour show about Tombstone, into the OK Corral museum, a couple of newspapers from the day of the shootout and the best part a re-creation of the shootout. The re-creation was a little campy and funny but we found it very interesting. A couple of the Actors were especially entertaining (Virgil Earp and Doc Holiday) and we enjoyed the presentation a lot. We had lunch in a cantina with waitresses falling out of the tops of their dresses as they portrayed ladies of the time. We had a wonderful day here and would surely recommend Tombstone to anyone traveling in the area, it was an inexpensive day (heck, we had $2 margaritas) and a lot of fun. And, oh yes, we seen a road runner, but the dang thing was so quick we couldn’t get a picture. Tomorrow, Sedonna.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

West Texas

Today was a long day; we left San Antonio about eight this morning and headed for El Paso about 540 miles away. When we left San Antonio everything was green and lush, along the way it changed first to rolling hills with foliage, then to flatlands with cactus and plants that survive with little rain. Finally we arrived in the mountainous area near El Paso and the Rio Grand River. Our trip was made much faster by the speed limit going up to 80 mph for most of the trip, I guess it is the fastest I have ever driven LEGALLY. Tomorrow we are heading for Tombstone, AZ where we will watch a reenactment of the fight at the OK Corral and look for the worlds largest rose bush.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Alamo and River Walk

What a nice day it was, first we visited the Alamo and I think the thing that both of us found interesting was just how small it was. Some of the original compound still stands in its original state. The church was a prime example of this. The barracks were rebuilt to the original but it is easy to tell they are basically much newer. We found the displays and the talks most interesting. Later today we again walked down to the River Walk and took a boat ride along the complete thing and listened to a commentary about it. Never knew that the original River Walk was a WPA project during the depression of the thirties and of course they have been updating it ever since. Along the walk are wonderful restaurants of all kinds, but we chose to go back to the same Mexican restaurant that we went to last night and again the food was wonderful. Of course maybe the margarita made it all taste good. We would sure recommend the River Walk to everyone if they are ever in this area. Tomorrow will be a long day because we will be driving all the way to El Paso.

LBJ Presidential Library

Well, today was an interesting day, Judy and I did something we have never done before, we visited a Presidential Library, in the case the Lyndon Johnson Presidential museum in Austin, Texas. What a great experience it turned out to be, there were lots of move clips and behind the scenes conversations that had been recorded and now listenable, as well as thousands of pictures of both LBJ and Lady Bird. We spend several hours there before we headed to San Antonio. We got a call from Charlie (one of the friends we visited in Houston) reminding us that we should go to the bridge in Austin where all the bats (hundreds of thousands) come out at night, after thanking her for the tip, we explained we were already on our way to San Antonio and would have to do that on another trip. We did get down to the River walk after we checked into the hotel and had some great Mexican food, but more about that tomorrow. Tomorrow, more River Walk and the Alamo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Texas, Day One

Well, today was our first day in Texas and we realized just how long it would take if we just went across on highway 10. When we entered Texas the mile marker said 881 miles to the next state line, whew, that’s a long way. We breezed thru the balance of Louisiana and headed towards the San Jacinto monument outside of Houston. The monument is the largest memorial monument in the world (571 ft) and is set at the area where Texas won its last battle with Mexico for its independence. We also stopped at the Battleship Texas that was at the same site. Then we took a small ferry that has been running for years to get back to the proper highway. The ferry carries only twelve cars and made Judy a little scared, I guess there will be no more small ferries on this trip. We then headed north of Houston to visit with some friends that we had met on a cruise this spring. It was nice to see Ben and Charlie again and to take a tour of their extremely lovely home on the lake there. After a good Mexican dinner we bid them goodbye and headed for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow, Austin.

Monday, June 1, 2009

French Quarter in New Orleans

After leaving Pensacola we arrived in New Orleans and arrived at our hotel about 11:30 and we knew that we would not be able to check in but we parked the car and got our luggage stored and we were off exploring the French Quarter. Our hotel was on Bourbon Street so the activity was going on all over. You will never see so many bars in such a small space as the French Quarter and all of the offering drinks to go. We made our way thru a large park and all of the painters and people who display there to one of favorite destinations, Café Du Monde, where we promptly ordered beignets for both Judy and I and as the pictures show, we finished them. A beignet is a French doughnut smothered in powdered sugar. After finally getting checked into the hotel and resting a bit, we went out and had some Cajun dinners, which were wonderful. The French Quarter is always a most interesting place and again we are glad that we scheduled it in our road trip.