June 7, 2004
: For the first time I am starting my report BEFORE the trip starts.
I will be heading out on a long trip eight days from today – to
Ohio, with visits to friends in
Missouri. My six-year old grandson, Mikie, will join me.
the big trip there will be a short one, to Mariposa this weekend for
my father’s 90th birthday. My sister and her partner
will be there, as well as both my daughters and their families. We
are also including some very long-time family friends. The man’s
father and my dad’s father were boyhood pals in
in the early 1900s. We will go out to lunch, then have cake and ice
cream at home.
Only three days left to get ready other than Monday, when I will
return from Mariposa, finish last minute packing, do last minute
laundry, get gas, etc. I try to do as much in advance as possible,
but there are certain things that have to wait – can’t take the
ice cream to the trailer till the last day, for example.
decided to get a satellite dish for the trailer, so we will see how
that works out. I have set it up a couple of times just for
practice, and got it lined up OK. It is on a tripod for “easy”
transporting, although the dish/tripod combination is still big and
bulky. There are no local channels included, but I have an antenna
and there is not much good on now anyway. I mainly want to test it
out, and make sure it will work out for fall trips when the hockey
games start again.
13: Well, today is the big day. Tomorrow is a big day too, and so is
Tuesday. But first I had a big day on Thursday, doing as much of the
“final getting ready” as I could. I went grocery shopping, and
got most things put in the trailer. I had a doctor’s appointment,
which fortunately was very quick.
in the day I noticed an apparent gas leak around my propane tanks.
So, grumbling and cussing, I hitched up the trailer and drove it to
Suburban Propane south of town to get it looked at. Luckily it was
just a loose connection which was quickly fixed for free. The big
problem is my parking spot. We have lots of cars in the
neighborhood, and someone is always parked in front of my house. For
example, when I first brought the trailer home at the beginning of
June, there was a car that had been there a week. I found the owner,
and he agreed to move it when I went to get the trailer. As soon as
he moved out and while I was gone, two other cars parked there, so I
had to hunt down the owners, and ask them to move, at a time when
there weren’t many places to move to. Over the years, most people
have been cheerfully cooperative in moving their cars, and a couple
have been grudgingly cooperative. This time, when I went for the
propane repair, I asked my neighbor to park there in such a way as
to leave no room for another car, so that worked out well.
Friday I headed for Mariposa, and have been visiting with my parents
and my sister and her partner, going out to eat, cooking dinner at
home, going for walks, etc. Today is my father’s birthday, and we
will go out for lunch – a total of 14 people.
head home shortly after breakfast tomorrow, and I will probably have
a busy day, doing the things that just can’t be done till the last
day. I hope to get started at
on Tuesday, and go as far as Needles.
14: The party yesterday was a success. We had a great lunch at the
Red Fox, then went to the
to take pictures (of the people – lots of shade and benches to sit
on). After looking around and visiting there, we went to the house
and had ice cream and cake. No one needed supper. Dad was very
pleased with the company and the lunch.
16: Mikie and I have been on the road for two nights – one horribly hot and
one very comfortable. We got started around
Tuesday, and drove to Needles, about 380 miles (a longer day than I
like). It was over 100 there and never cooled off. It felt like the
gravel of the RV park was giving off heat all night. I turned on the
air conditioner a few times during the night, but did not like the
noise so turned it off after it cooled down a little. We had it on
this morning from when we got up until when we left.
rest stop on Highway 99 an auto carrier truck pulled up next to us,
filled with old Studebakers. The driver said that a man in
is buying over 100 of them to restore several different models –
Golden Hawk, etc. The driver was delivering seven of them.
RV park, we saw a mother quail with a bunch of babies. They were
exploring our camp site when we came back from swimming. Mikie met
three kids near his age in the pool, and they had a great time,
playing in the water for at least an hour and a half. I got a lot of
drive was very nice, through some varied country. We have been on
Interstate 40 since going through
Barstow, but the
part is fairly monotonous – mostly creosote bush and sage. Today
we got up into the piñon and juniper belt just past
AZ, and saw a lot of mountains and various types of plants –
mesquite, ocotillo, and others. As we approached
Flagstaff, we got up in the Ponderosa pine belt, at 7000 feet and above.
we dropped down to 5000 feet, and stopped at Meteor Crater RV Park,
five miles from the big crater. We checked in, then drove down to
see the crater. It is quite impressive – nearly a mile across and
500 feet deep. There is a very nice museum with displays on the
early exploration of the crater, as well as related topics.
Scientists have now determined that the meteor exploded on impact,
but one of the property owners in the early 20th century
spent 25 years trying to locate the big iron mass he thought was
there for mining purposes. The site has been used for astronaut
training, to show them how to recognize impact craters and where
material blasted from below the surface spreads out.
after we got back to the RV park, Mikie spotted a rabbit in the road
near us. It came within 20 feet of us, but took off when he tried to
approach it. We then saw a half dozen more in the field next to the
weather here is very nice – a good breeze, and probably about 85
before sunset, and high 70s now after dark. No daylight savings time
Arizona, so it was dark at .
17: The lack of daylight savings time meant we woke up with bright
sun blazing through the windows at
We finally gave up and got up about , so we got a good start. As we were leaving, we saw one more
near Holbrook. In addition to a gift shop and museum, this place has
large dinosaur models spread out along a three-mile dirt road. Mikie
had a good time, getting his picture taken riding one of them, and
just generally admiring them. He could identify quite a few of them
before we saw the identifying sign.
been around 5000 feet or higher all day, so the temperature has been
pretty nice – under 90 degrees. East of Gallup NM we crossed the
Continental Divide at 7200 feet. It does not look anything like a
divide there; the highway runs east and west through a fairly level
valley with red sandstone mesas on the south, and a gentle piñon
and juniper covered slope to the north. Most of the drive through
offered nice scenery – lots of red, white and tan sandstone, and
quite a bit of green grass and other small plants west of
in a nice RV park at the western edge of
Albuquerque. We didn’t get here till after 5, but we had to add an hour when
we entered the Mountain Time Zone at the Arizona-New Mexico border.
18: Today was a nice, restful day. We rebelled against riding in the
truck for another day and just stayed here at the park in
Albuquerque. We didn’t go anywhere – I got caught up on my Email, did a lot
of reading, fixed a nice breakfast and dinner, and watched Mikie in
the pool for two or three long sessions. The weather was warm but
not unpleasant. Forecast for
Amarillo, Enid OK and
is for scattered thunderstorms, so our dry days may be over for a
while. Should be sunny most of the 150 miles yet to go in
19: Back on the road at
today, our final day for Interstate 40.
New Mexico east of
has a lot of almost flat, sometimes rolling country. The higher
sections are covered with piñon, juniper, and some light green bush
a little smaller than the junipers. There is a lot of green grass or
other green ground cover. Around Tucumcari near the eastern edge of
the state and the first few miles into
there were quite a few mesas, but it soon flattened out for the last
50 miles into
Amarillo. It’s very windy here, with scattered thunderstorms predicted
park has even more rabbits than Meteor Crater, and they are
obviously more used to being around people. They will let Mikie get
within about six feet of them, then they hop away about ten feet,
leading him on an endless chase throughout the park.
pretty much outside the city, just off US 60, and will follow that
Enid, where we will make our first stop to visit people.
and we knew her and her first husband and their two kids well –
visited and went camping with them, etc. The kids are now grown and
have kids of their own. Both girls also live in
we’re on the western edge of the time zone (having entered central
time at the
border), it should stay light fairly late. And in northwest
Ohio, much farther north and on the western edge of the eastern time
zone, daylight will last till well past
We are out of the dryness of
New Mexico, and into a lot of humidity – I just noticed a big puddle around
my drink glass.
21: We got a kind of late start yesterday; we’re not fully adapted
to the time change yet, and I did not get up until after 8. Mikie
slept till about 9 and got up reluctantly then.
US 60 more or less northwest directly toward Enid OK. This was a
much more relaxing drive than on the Interstates. On the Interstates I only go about 55 to 58
MPH, so although most of
the road today was two-lane, I could travel
at my usual speed. Of course, there are reduced speed zones in every
town and sometimes traffic lights, but it’s still a better way to
go. During much of today’s trip I went two or three miles before meeting
or being passed by another vehicle.
first part of the drive was through dry, flat country with cattle
grazing. Then we dropped down into the Canadian River
valley, which we followed for a long ways. It was very green here,
with lots of good size trees. There are eroded cliffs surrounding
the valley, similar to the Colorado Plateau, but soft, small and
crossed the river the road rose back up to the plains, with lots of
sage brush, but it soon turned green again. After entering
we went through mostly rolling country, with a lot of brush and
small evergreens. It had rained over much of the area from the
northern panhandle of
all the way to
Enid, but we did not have any rain.
night was a different story. Around
I woke up to thunder and lightning, and quickly closed the vents.
For the next hour or so there was almost constant lightning, loud
thunder and hard rain. It stopped for a while, then a smaller
thunder storm came through. The fireworks stopped, but the rain
continued, and is still falling lightly now at
I understand the same thing happened the previous night and morning.
got set up here, I called
Sandy, and we were invited over for barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs.
Present were Sandy and her husband Troy, Sandy’s daughters Angie
and Rachel, Angie’s sons Christian (age 6) and Gavin (2) and
Rachel’s daughter Rianna (also 2).
was very shy at first with so many new people, and had to be coaxed
out of the truck. However, within one minute he and Christian were
playing, and spent much of the time swimming in the backyard pool.
last time I saw Angie and Rachel they were about six and four, so
there have been a lot of changes and a lot of catching up to do.
Rachel does not remember much about their life in
we are planning to go to Leonardo’s, which has various kinds of
things for kids to enjoy. This includes a climbing castle that is
three stories high. Also there are apparently some things like we
have at the
Fresno. This is an outdoor attraction, so our plans are obviously subject
22: It turned out that Leonardo’s is closed on Monday, so the rain
made no difference. Instead we went to the Splash Zone, a local
water park. We traded the two 2-year olds to a friend of the family
for a 6-year old, so everyone was able to have a good time and not
be worried about watching little ones. The three six-year olds had a
great time, as did Angie and Rachel. Sandy and I formed the old
fuddy-duddy club and sat in the shade and watched.
swimming we went to an all you can eat buffet pizza place, which was
the perfect choice with so many different tastes in pizza.
we got back from the water park, the boys played in the backyard
pool and I showed pictures of the girls in their young
days on my laptop. We said our goodbyes and got gas and groceries,
and got things ready for leaving in the morning.
rained most of the night and I was afraid I would have to hitch up
and empty the holding tanks in the rain, but it stopped by
We got started at nine, continuing on US 60 into
Missouri. I think there is a song with the line “the green rolling hills
Oklahoma,” and that is where we were today. The countryside was also
covered with many trees, mostly oak of some kind.
stopped for the night in Monett, about 15 miles west of
Springfield. Tomorrow we will take US 60 into Springfield, then head for St.
Louis on Interstate 44, a drive of around 260 miles.
24: We had a nice drive yesterday, arriving in the
Most of our trip was through rolling, tree-covered country, with
lots of small towns along the way. All but the first 35 miles or so
was on freeways. We picked up I 44 in Springfield, and took I 260
and MO 360 to an RV park in St. Charles, a historic old town about
30 miles east of St. Louis. Our friends here had told us about a
park about two miles from their house, but it turned out to be
closed, and this one, 20 miles away, seems to be the closest
available except for a couple of junky parks where people live in
had set up and done laundry and fixed supper, I did not feel up to a
50 mile round trip, and our friends, Darryl and Eydie, just returned
yesterday from a week in
Mexico, so they did not need visitors. We called them, and made
arrangements to go over there this morning.
known Eydie since she and my daughter, Teri, were in YMCA Indian Maidens
together when they were eight or so, and they had
become reacquainted when Darryl and Teri were both in Indian Guides with their
sons a dozen years ago. (Their son Kenny is the same age as my older
grandson, about 20.) Darryl’s job took them to the Bay Area, and
two years ago. They have a grandson ten months younger than Mikie,
and the two have been friends since they were babies, so they had a
great time seeing each other again.
is a pond on the grounds of their apartment complex, and we went
down there to feed the fish and turtles. Mikie loved this, since we
never see turtles in the waters of central
California. He and Zack held their bug nets under the water and caught a few
of the fish, which they immediately released.
afternoon Darryl, Eydie, Mikie, Zack and I went into downtown
and went up in the Gateway Arch. It is very impressive – 620 feet
high with a nice view east into
and the Mississippi River, and west into downtown. We also drove by the Rams stadium, Bush
Stadium, and the
Center, where the St. Louis Blues hockey team plays. When we got home,
Zack’s mother Samantha and her boyfriend Vito came over and we had
pizza. I left about 8, but Mikie stayed there to spend the night
weather has been clear all the time in
Missouri, with the temperature in the high 80s today. Tonight where were
some thunderclouds to the east, and it is quite windy, with a slight
possibility of rain and thunderstorms.
last report I had trouble putting a 2 at the beginning of gas
prices, and erroneously told you that gas was $1.27 in Paso Robles.
The last gas I bought in
was $2.19, which is lower than it has been for a while, but once I
border, there was a big improvement. I did pay $2.02 at Meteor
Crater, but everywhere else it has been less than $2, and as low as
Oklahoma. It seems to be around $1.80 here.
27: We had a fantastic time in
St. Louis. On Friday Eydie, the kids and I went to Grant’s Farm, which is
owned by Anhauser-Busch; it’s where they breed and train the
Clydesdale horses. There is a tram ride through the property, which
has various animals in a 160 acre enclosure – a zebra, various
kinds of deer, ostriches and others. There is a petting zoo where
the kids fed goats from milk bottles; then we saw a bird show. We
finished up by looking at an iguana, elephants, Galapagos tortoises,
kangaroos, camels, and a few other animals.
night we went out to dinner at a great barbecue place. Luckily, I
have some leftovers, which will be tonight’s dinner.
Saturday we went to the Mills apartment around 11, and sat around
the pool while the boys went swimming. Then while Daryl assembled
his new barbecue and fixed hamburgers, Sam and Vito took Mikie to
the pond (Zack needed a rest). Mikie caught and released 17 fish.
took the boys to a roller skating birthday party, while I went back
to the RV park to get things ready to go for today. I did laundry,
emptied the holding tanks, vacuumed the trailer and truck, and took
a shower. Mikie was hesitant about roller skating, but it turned out
he only need a couple of turns around the rink with Eydie, then he
skated on his own the rest of the time.
brought him over to the park and we said our goodbyes, and got to
bed too late again.
started this morning about , taking I-70 east into
Indiana. We are camped at a KOA place in
Greenfield, a few miles off the freeway and about 20 miles east of
Indianapolis. Tomorrow we will arrive in
for a week, so tonight I called everyone there and got our calendar
partly arranged. The countryside in
is mostly rolling green hills with lots of trees, mixed with
farmland (mostly corn and soybeans).
28: We left
this morning and headed up
9, then picked up I-69 to US 24. We followed this road east into
and the area I am familiar with,
295 took us to
64, and the park we are in is just a half mile from the junction.
It’s the same place I stayed two years ago, Twin Acres, officially
in the town of
after we got to
we had a short, heavy rainstorm. We stopped at a little cafe and
nearly drowned going in. I went back out to get dry shirts for us,
and it had already stopped raining.
we got set up at the park, I saw and briefly talked to Jeff, who was my neighbor
here in 2002. Most of the people here are locals who leave their
trailers here the year around, and come out on weekends.
walked out to the pond, and Mikie spent an hour or so trying without
success to net the little fish, which he reports are much faster
30: Yesterday we went to the
Cemetery, where many of my grandparents and other relatives are buried. It
was Mikie’s first encounter with the idea of people being buried
in the ground, and he was interested in the fact that some of his
grandparents were right there where we were standing.
afternoon we went to Devil’s
to visit my cousin Nancy and husband Harry. Also present were her
grandchildren, Clara, age 8, and Lucas, age 5. After work their
arrived. We went out in their pontoon boat twice, and the kids went
swimming. Mikie had a great time playing with his 3rd
cousins, and we ended up spending the night, since it was getting
late by the time supper was over.
there around 10:30
this morning and made a stop at a Wal-Mart in Adrian MI, so that
Mikie could do something about the $20 bill burning a hole in his
pocket. I did some grocery shopping there also, and we returned to
Ohio, and went to see my mother’s cousin Emily Brown and her friend
Marilyn. Emily had a stroke a few months ago, but is able to get
around their large property on an electric cart. She said she is
feeling fairly good, but can’t raise her left arm.
have a pond on the property, and we made several trips to it and
around it. This meant great excitement for Mikie, since we saw frogs
on each visit. He also did some bug hunting.
stopped in Delta on our way back and ate at a Subway, then he tried
to catch fish with a net in the pond here at the park. No luck, but
he enjoyed it.
July 2, 2004
: Some of our activities yesterday were Mikie’s favorite of the
whole trip. More about that in a minute, but our first activity was
meeting my dad’s cousin,
Vaughan, for breakfast in Whitehouse (just a mile away). Afterward we went
to his house (also in Whitehouse), and had a very quick visit with
his wife Jeanne who was on her way to a doctor’s appointment. We
walked down to a lake that is open to residents of the development,
and Mikie again tried to catch fish without success.
Bill’s, we did our laundry at Whitehouse, dropped it off at the
trailer, and headed for the Butterfly House.
a double-size greenhouse with screening inside, all kinds of plants
and flowers that butterflies like, and 500 to 600 butterflies from
around the world. You can wander around and look, but not touch
(although the butterflies are allowed to land on you). Mikie enjoyed
it so much we have to go back. He wanted so bad to have a butterfly
land on him, and after a half hour or more it finally happened,
several times. It was really impressive to see so many butterflies
flitting around, and there were always several dozen sitting on
plants or brick planters that could be examined carefully.
evening we had dinner with Rob and Annette Snyder. She is a distant cousin. My dad and mother and I visited them in 2002. They have
since moved to a place in the country with a pond. Their son Jacob,
age 5, had already sent an Email invitation to Mikie to go frog
hunting, so he was pumped up about that. They managed to catch one
large frog, who was sentenced to spend the evening in the bottom of
a big garbage can where he could be watched. He actually managed to
jump out once, but was quickly recaptured (he was released when we
were ready to leave). They almost caught several others, including a
bigger one that was in Mikie’s net briefly but managed to slip
boys also enjoyed swimming along with Helena who is almost ten, and
3-year old Kate. Mark, who just turned one, had to watch from the
sidelines. We had a good dinner and really enjoyed renewing our
Friday we visited dad’s cousin Aletha Vaughan in Swanton and went
out to a nice Mexican restaurant in Swanton. It won Mikie’s
approval because it had corn dogs on the menu. In the afternoon we
visited another cousin, Alfreda Pfleghar, in
home, ate KFC, and Mikie spent a couple of hours swimming. About
nine we went into Swanton and went to the fireworks show. As soon as
the fireworks started Mikie wanted to leave because he hates the
loud noise, but we were able to sit in the truck and watch from the
parking lot with the noise minimized. We then drove north of town
and stopped by a corn field, where we could still see the fireworks
but hear almost no noise. We got there just in time for the grand
finale, and also made a quick escape, avoiding the traffic jam when
the show ended.
Yesterday we had a semi-official Watkins family reunion at Brian OH.
We got together with several of my mother’s cousins on her
mother’s side, as well as their children and grandchildren, about
25 people in all. There were five boys age , and they got along well and had a good time playing together. I
gathered some new information to add to the family genealogy file,
and we had a great dinner.
we went to the
breakfast, which starts at
(They are my father’s cousins.) Due to the passing of time,
deaths, illness, and other obligations, only one true Vaughan
(Aletha) was there, and only five of us in all – old friends Chet
and Dorothy Sedowski, plus Mikie and I.
Park, an area where the original trees and shrubs have been preserved,
and went on a hike. There are many miles of well-marked trails,
divided into sections of various length. Our choice was a 1.7 mile
loop trail through the woods and past an area of sand dunes.
to make another visit to the Butterfly House, which I think is
Mikie’s favorite part of the trip. This time I took my camera and
got a lot of nice close-ups of the butterflies. We were there about
an hour and a half.
evening I was talking for the first time with the couple camped next
to us, and discovered that they are relatives – she is the
daughter of one of the
Vaughans. Their grandson and Mikie had already been catching frogs together
at the pond, and then did some bike riding.
we will hitch up and head west, but will only go a short distance,
IN, to visit
Jim & Meredyth Nott
(she’s mother’s cousin). We saw them at the reunion yesterday,
but they wanted to have us visit, and Mikie will be able to play
with their grandsons, age 7 and 9, again.
Monday’s trip was a record shorty, only 82 miles to
Fort Wayne. We got there a little before
central time, and had lunch with Jim and Meredyth. Then we went to
the home of their son Greg, wife Tami and their sons Graham and
Andy. Mikie had played with them at the gathering in
Saturday, and they had a good time together.
a delicious barbecued chicken dinner, with food furnished by
Meredyth and cooking by Greg. We got back about . Their street is narrow but there are no cars parked on the street,
and their driveway is long and wide, so I was able to back the
trailer in and we spent the night there.
breakfast with them, then Jim & Meredyth left for a doctor’s
appointment, and we got ready to leave. I was just finishing the
last few tasks before pulling out when I realized we had left
laundry in their dryer, and it was now locked in their house. We had
no choice but to wait for their return, and since they had two
appointments, we had a four hour delay. At least I got a lot of
reading done, and Mikie caught and played with a toad, which he
released before we left.
hoped to get to
IL, and in fact we got within 30 miles, but drove until nearly
RV parks on Highway 24 through
are scarce, so we kept going till we got to one at
(230 miles of driving, starting around 12:30 p.m.) Today I could find no parks listed in any of
the towns near the planned end of my journey, so we ended up heading
south on a state highway to I-70, and staying at a park in Odessa
only 30 miles or so from Kansas City. I drove 357 miles, the longest
since day one, and we did not get here till nearly
Tomorrow I plan to leave late and stop early.
than the apparent unwillingness to entertain traveling campers, this
stretch of the
was very enjoyable. We crossed the
today, and later crossed the
Missouri, and drove through miles of corn and soybeans (these, along with
some wheat, are also the major crops in the area of Ohio
we were in).
hard to believe there is a need for as much corn and soybeans as we
have seen (much of the corn is field corn, used for animal food). I
noticed that the sections of crop in
were much larger than those in
we went through some areas where hay was being harvested, but the
landscape soon returned to corn and beans. A lot of the country
through all these states consisted of rolling hills, with lots of
trees in some places. In the last part of
we drove through, the fields were broken by small creeks and
drainages in the hills.
prices everywhere are lower than when I left
California. My usual fate is to buy gas for $1.85 (wow “only” $1.85), then
drive down the road a half mile and see a station selling it for
$1.79. Today I had the record low price, $1.69 at Wal-Mart in Moberly
Another station in town had it for the same price. Overall, gas is
than any other state except
We had a short pleasant drive today, ending up in the hottest, most
humid location yet,
KS. We got a deliberately late start and only drove 214 miles,
arriving about . This park has strange hours,
to 8, so we found our spot and did laundry, while Mikie asked
several times why the pool wasn’t open. The manager wisely opened
the pool as soon as she arrived, even before opening the office, and
Mikie and I both cooled off for a while.
just getting dark at , as we get nearer to the western edge of the time zone. It makes it
hard for Mikie to go to sleep, although he has adjusted to the time
change pretty well now.
We had an exciting night – hard winds, thunder and lightning, and
some pretty good rain. When I felt the trailer rocking, I got up and
took down the awning, and later put things I had left outside into
the truck. The bikes had already blown over, and one of Mikie’s
bug boxes was gone, so I did not want to leave anything out. After
the winds died down, the thunder and lightning and rain began. It
lasted an hour or so, then got quiet, then we had another session.
When we got up in the morning we found that a huge tree had fallen
across one of the roads in the camp. It was rotted inside and a
third of the way around the outside, and had no signs of burning, so
I am sure the wind took it down.
continued on across
to Hays, where we stopped at the Sternberg Museum of Natural
History. It has a nice dinosaur display, as well as historical
material relating to the region. Mikie especially liked the
Center, where the rule is, you can touch anything there, get it down from
the shelf, and play with it (live animals excepted). The items
available included a couple hundred plastic dinosaurs, lizards,
snakes, turtles, and other animals of all kinds, as well as mounted
butterflies, fossils, pelts, etc.
ended the day at Colby, and tomorrow will head into
Colorado. People say that
is flat, but the part we’ve been through is not. The first half or
so had rolling, tree-covered hills, while the western part is more
open and more “western” looking, but still pretty green. The
last few miles were kind of flat, but not as flat as the
10: We did not see corn in
until the last few miles yesterday, but went by a lot of it today.
The land is still not really flat, but it is more open, with fewer
trees, in the western part of the state. We entered
Colorado, which on the eastern side is just like
Kansas, but we soon saw some sagebrush, indicating we are truly in the
west. We drove through a lot of grassland with cattle grazing. At
Limon we found ourselves back on US 24, as we headed southwest to
Colorado Springs, then east to Manitou Springs. We’ll stay here tonight and
tomorrow, do some sight seeing tomorrow, then head for
on Monday. This area is right at the edge of the mountains, and very
scenic, although the RV park is the most difficult to get into I
have ever seen. They have managed to fit about 50% more spaces into
the available land than is reasonable.
can’t believe how much reading I’ve done. Usually with Mikie
around he demands a lot of attention, but he has spent so much time
swimming that I’ve been able to keep an eye on him and read to my
heart’s content. He is a very good swimmer, so he doesn’t need
re-reading all the Tony Hillerman books in chronological order, and
have finished all those I brought along. I don’t have the latest
one, but my plan is that by the time I finish the ones I have, it
will be out in paperback. I have also read two or three Elmore
Leonard books, and have now got a good start on Edmund Morris’
biography of Theodore Roosevelt, “Theodore Rex” (700 pages of
fine print). It is extremely interesting and very will written so it
holds my attention.
12: Zebulon Pike never made it to the top of the peak that bears his
name, but Mikie and I did yesterday. We took advantage of the idea
of a fellow from
who went to the top on a mule in the 1890s. He thought there must be
a better way, and established the cog railroad that takes visitors
to the top in an hour.
ride goes up a canyon with a lively stream running down, and past an
old trapper’s cabin and a power house.
view from the top is expansive, but not really as good as some of
the vista points in the Sierra, that let you see the high peaks a
bit closer. Most of the nearby mountains are not that spectacular,
although the Sangre de Christos in the far distance are dramatic.
The more spectacular peaks of
are seen from Denver, where we are right now.
quite a few marmots on the trip up and down and at the summit, which
was a first for Mikie.
afternoon we drove south on
115 then west on US 50 to Cañon City, and took the train ride into
Arkansas River). The train goes under the famous suspension bridge (highest in the
world) for a 24 mile round trip. I splurged on first class tickets,
which got us a nice table in an uncrowded dining car, a buffet
lunch, and champagne (sparkling cider for Mikie). It was a pleasant
and relaxing trip, although I would not call it spectacular. Perhaps
the view from the bridge fits that description, but that will have
to wait for another day.
we drove about 80 miles to
and are staying in a state park with full RV hookups. After we got
set up, we drove over to visit Judy Meadows Scarano, an old friend I
had not seen for over 25 years. She was an eligibility supervisor at
the welfare department when I started working there in 1976, but I
had known her for several years before that. We went out to eat,
then sat by the pool catching up on over two decades worth of news
while Mikie swam and played with another young boy.
go back tomorrow and go to downtown
(the holy grail for Mikie, where the Colorado Avalanche hockey team
plays), and also see some other sites.
14: Our trip to downtown
was all we could hope for. At the
Center, there were two shops open, selling jerseys, T-Shirts, etc, for the
Avalanche and other
sports teams. The rest of the building was closed and off limits,
but Judy has a special way of getting people to do what she wants
them to, and talked a security guard into letting us in. He took
Mikie and I into the hallway that goes to the locker room, then out
into the arena. There was no ice, but it was still impressive, and
Mikie was enthralled.
at a McDonalds in the downtown area, then took a free tram ride down
the 6th Street
Mall to the capitol; then went back to Judy’s for more swimming. Judy’s friend Fred was kind enough to drive us and be our tour
guide, which was really helpful, since driving around a strange
city, even with someone who knows the way around, is not a pleasant
two adult sons came by for a while, then we headed back to our camp
and got ready for another day of travel.
we drove west from
on Interstate 70. The road takes you up from
Denver’s mile high to just over 10,000 feet at the Eisenhower Tunnel,
about a half mile run under the mountain. There were some
spectacular views along the way – snow dotted peaks and trees
covered with green plants and evergreens.
as we dropped down in elevation, and by the time it joined the
Colorado, we were clearly in the southwest. We saw quite a few cliffs and
hills of red and white sandstone, and we have a good view of
mountains all around us here at
Grand Junction, 30 miles from the Utah Border.
16: We had a short drive yesterday to
Moab, UT (actually our RV park is about 10 miles north of town on US
191). After we got into
Utah, we took
highway 128 into
Moab, following a scenic route that mostly parallels the
Colorado River. My friend and former colleague Clayton Walker
took this route last year, and his description covers it well (keep
in mind that he was traveling the opposite direction, away from
The route follows the
in an E by NE direction for about 40 miles and then cuts N for about
30 miles where it joins I-70. For approximately the first 20 miles
Moab, there is nothing but the river and deep canyon walls. Then for the
next 20 miles the canyon widens to a river plain with several
working and/or guest ranches.
(geological formation as well as a working ranch) is located about
24 miles from
Moab. This area has been used for over 100 western movies and many
commercials. This small area of the river plain has monumental red
rock spires, desert floors, valley grasslands, and a panoramic view
of the La Sal Mountain Range (what more could a cowboy movie ask
About 40 miles from Moab, SR 128
turns north and leaves the Colorado River taking us through rolling
grass lands, most of it working ranches. As it was still morning, we
came across several deer from nearby mountains feeding in the
grasslands and the first of many prairie antelope or pronghorn that
we would see on the trip.
a good eye out, but did not see any antelope, but the canyon and
rock formations were indeed spectacular.
we got set up, we took state route 313 up to
State Park, then made a quick trip into
National Park. Since I had been to Canyonlands two years ago, I did not feel I
missed much by making the visit a quick one (especially as it was
late in the day). Clayton visited the state park last year, and
again I will call on his description:
towers 2,000 feet above the
providing breathtaking panoramas of sculptured pinnacles and buttes.
Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of
rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs. The peninsula is connected to the
mesa by a narrow strip of land called the neck. It got its name
around the turn of the century because the point was used as a
corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up
these horses, herded them across the neck of land and onto the
point. The neck, which is only 30 yards wide, was then fenced off
with branches and brush. This created a natural corral surrounded by
deep chasms, affording no escape. Cowboys chose the horses they
wanted, and let the others go free. One time, for reasons unknown,
horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of
thirst within view of the
Colorado River, 2000 feet below.
The only place to stop is at the
view point overlooking the river below, although there are hiking
trails around the edge of the mesa. There is also an interpretive
center located in the park.
we went to
National Park. I had been there also, so I chose areas that I thought would most
interest Mikie (meaning areas where we were most likely to see
the short hike to a view of Delicate Arch, but did not take the
longer hike to the arch itself. We then went to the Devil’s Garden
trail head and hiked in as far as Landscape Arch and Wall Arch,
about a two-mile round trip. A side trip to Pine Tree Arch and a
wrong fork added a good half mile to the total hike. Most of the
time it was sunny and hot, but a cloud covered the sun for a while
on the way out, and also encouraged lizards to come out in the open,
so Mikie saw four of them.
finished our Arches visit with the short half mile hike to Double
Arch, then came back to the RV park to shower and change for dinner.
We drove into
and ate at a nice Mexican restaurant. My dinner was served on a
plate about 14 inches in diameter, and needless to say, I have a box
of leftovers in the refrigerator.
we will start the home stretch of our journey, heading west on I-70
and then US 50. There is a fire near
NV, but the roads are currently open, and I have a phone number for
17: We had a fairly short drive today, less than 250 miles, and
stopped earlier than usual. We are in
UT, on US 50 west of I-15, and hope to take 50 all the way to
Sacramento. We stopped first at McDonalds and ate, then came to the RV park,
where we rested, read, rode bikes, ate ice cream and watched TV.
been fairly lucky with weather throughout the trip. We’ve had
short stretches of rain while driving, usually not over ten minutes.
We had a hard rain today (windshield wipers on full), but it was
over quickly. We had a few drops of rain while in camp at
Moab, and again here today, and lots of evenings when it rained for a
short time. It’s pretty cloudy now, but it seems wherever we go,
the forecast is scattered thunderstorms, so we miss them as often as
we get them. We had a little thunder and lightning and a few drops
of rain in camp today.
prices are moving back up, starting in western
Colorado. Some of the places I’ve been are remote, so prices would be high
anyway, but under $2 gas seems to be a thing of the past.
18: Today was by far the worst travel day of my life. A ten-minute
pounding rain with thunder and lightening was bad enough. This was
followed by a dust storm during which visibility got down to half a
painted dash in the road for a few hundred feet (like the worst
fog). These would probably not have seemed so bad if we had not
started off the day by hitting a cow about 40 miles west of Delta.
the cow heading for the road and started slowing down and blowing my
horn. The cow turned back, then at the last minute went in front of
me. Fortunately I had slowed to about 20 MPH by this time, but even
so my hood was crumpled up and the grill was broken. However, there
was no damage to the radiator, no leaking, and we were able to drive
away (the cow walked away, but has to have sore ribs at the very
least). As we continued our drive, my temperature gauge stayed where
it has been for 50,000 miles, and there were no problems, so I will
at least be able to deal with the aftermath from home. Things could
have been much worse. (Click here for photos of
rain and dust came during the last hour of our record long 410 mile
day, but we made it safely to Fallon NV, and will be home tomorrow,
a final day’s drive of about 325 miles.
events cannot overshadow the great times we have had, and having
Mikie as a traveling companion made the journey twice as much fun. I
will end this report here, anticipating nothing out of the ordinary
for our final day.
10: I have a few more things to say after all. We had planned to
come over the Sierra from Fallon on US 50, but after the accident I wanted to make the
trip as fast as possible, so we took a short jog up to Interstate
80. Like all the highways over these mountains, it’s a beautiful
scenic drive. From
we took I-5 south to Stockton, then moved over to state 99. Although I have made the trip across
from I-5 to 99 a number of times, I managed to take the wrong off
ramp, and drove around in a couple of big circles in the industrial
area before getting across town to find 99.
got closer to home, Mikie’s excitement level reached new
heights, and he was virtually bouncing up and down as we approached
my house, where his mother was waiting. I was glad to be home too,
but I knew I still had a lot of work ahead – unloading and
cleaning the trailer, and taking care of the truck.
son-in-law came over after work and we ordered pizza while we caught
up on things we hadn’t discussed on the phone. Then they gathered
up plastic dinosaurs and other stuff and headed home, and I started going
through five weeks of mail.
the estimate for the truck the next day, and it’s in the shop now.
It costs about $3500 to hit a cow, fortunately mostly covered by
insurance. I’m driving a 2004 Dodge 4-door pickup (yeah, it’s
got a hemi), which is costing me only $5 a day above what insurance
pays, but I don’t really like it as well as my Ford.
truck in the shop, I am facing a camping trip this weekend without
the trailer, probably at
Lake. It will be like a journey into the past, and I know I’ll forget
something since I’m used to packing for trailer camping.
the troubles at the end, we had a great trip, and Mikie still talks
about it, thinking of something new to tell his mother every day or
two. Although several times during the trip he said "let's turn
around and go home," about half way through he asked me,
"Where are we going next year?" I knew then that the plan
to take him along was a success.
(Photos open in a new window)
Mother & Dad at his 90th
Mikie at Meteor Crater, AZ
A dinosaur attack?
Battle of the dinosaurs
Angie, Sandy & Rachel
Mikie & Zack at the top of the
Bush Stadium & downtown St.
Louis from the arch
Mikie, Edie & Zack at the
4th of July Parade in Swanton OH
Soy beans next to old barn in Ohio
Pond at Twin Acres RV Park
Mikie, Jacob, and the frog
Jacob, Mikie & Helena -
Breakfast with Mikie, Lucas
Family Reunion at Bryan OH
Liddle, Graham Nott, Levi & Josiah Makula, Andy Nott
Mikie & cousin Justin
Andy, Mikie & Graham, enjoying
Tree knocked down by storm in
Kansas RV Park
View from the top of Pike's Peak
State capitol in Denver
Dick & Mikie at the top of
Denver & Rockies from our RV
Park in Colorado
Mikie in front of the Pepsi
Center in Denver (home of the Colorado Avalanche)
Standing where his hero,
Roy, won a Stanley Cup
Colorado River along Highway 128
In Canyonlands National Park
The Monitor & the Merrimac,
At Dead Horse Point, overlooking
The Three Gossips, Arches National
Courthouse Rock in Arches
Landscape Arch, world's longest
Sand & sandstone & Mikie
Mikie in pursuit of lizards
In the Butterfly House
black line is our 2009 journey; red is 2004; green is a trip my