Thursday, June 22, 2017

from Sheridan to Eugene, OR

Friday we left Sheridan to start the next leg of our adventure which brought us to Eugene, Oregon.

A quick stop was made at Murdoch's (per Shirlee's suggestion) to purchase bear spray. Murdoch's is like a Rural King for ranchers.

After a very windy drive, we stopped for the night at a Walmart in Idaho Falls, Iowa.

One can meet the most interesting people in a Walmart parking lot. Amongst the dozen or so RVs at this particular one we met Amy and Wade from Nashville. With their two young sons, they are full timers and home schoolers. The road will be their home for a couple of years; with all the online educational material, it is working well for them. They told us they were part of a network of 1400 home school families traveling around the U. S. Their next destination was the Tetons for about a week.

Saturday we continued on toward Boise, taking a detour to visit EBR-1 Museum and National Historical Site (world's first nuclear power plant.)

(Captain owes ABN about 1 1/2 hour visit to an art museum. I have to say, the "Sheldon" type tour guide was a bit entertaining.)

Another stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

At this point we were off the interstate and the drive was a bit boring.

We found the "Aggie" in Boise.

Like, Captain, Dennis is from College Station, TX, a graduate of A&M Consolidated High School and the nuclear engineering program at Texas A & M. We had a most delightful dinner with he and his wife, Donna. If you are a fan of competitive jump roping, you may have heard of their son, Justin, who is a world champion.

After another night in a Walmart parking lot and a sometime interesting,

and sometime boring (like mind numbing) drive,

we landed at Deschutes County Fair and Expo RV park in Redmond, OR.

Parked next to us was a 1984 Airstream motor home.

We hope The Wanderer is around for another 20 years and will still be creating adventures.

The drive to Eugene was spectacular!

This is what brought us to Eugene, Oregon; increasing our solar panels from 1
to 4, we are now able to boondock for longer periods of time.

We had to leave The Wanderer in the care of the fine folks at AM Solar while we stayed overnight in a Hilton Garden Inn. This process took a couple of days, so what is one to do in Eugene, OR for a couple of days? Wine tasting, of course!

But first, it is important we eat before wine tasting (ask ABN about that.)
Funky spot near University of Oregon Campus with to die for waffles.
Knowing we are in a premiere area for pinot noir, we set out to find one we love. So far, we have not found one to rival our friends, Mike and Valerie Thompson’s 31Fifty Pinot Noir  out of Russian River in California. (But we are still looking.)

We had Tipsy Tuesday at the lovely Pfeiffer Winery in Junction City, OR.

In a funky, artsy area of Eugene we found Tacovore and the best tacos that we have ever eaten.

Our choices.

We returned for lunch the next day before leaving town.

As we travel throughout the country, we are acutely aware of its vastness and diversity. Some observations we have made in Oregon that differ from home in the southeast: one cannot pump their own gas, you must wait for an attendant (we paid $2.70 per gal in Bend); all the restrooms we visited (so far) in restaurants and bars were non gender; the last day of school was June 21; bags are not automatically given out when shopping, the clerk will ask if you need one; and we see more U.S. flags flying at homes and businesses.  The differences make traveling incredibly interesting.

So far we have found Oregon to be beautiful and friendly. We will be exploring more of this state in a few weeks.

We are now fully charged and headed to Glacier National Park. Cell and internet service will probably be sketchy so be not concerned if we do not respond to messages for the next week or two. 

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Look who we found in the mountains of Montana!

Our friend, Shirlee!

For over 20 years, we have shared many adventures like travel, bicycling, hiking, camping and exploring (never let it be said that ABN and Shirlee were ever lost, they were always on an adventure.) A few years back, Shirlee, a medical lab tech, decided to be a travel tech and see the country. In 2015 she landed in Sheridan, Montana and found that she was home. We had to come out and see what was so special about Sheridan. Let us just say, words cannot describe or photos project the beauty of the valley surrounded by mountains.

Sheridan is a small town (population around 600) located in south western Montana.

To give you an idea of how small, Shirlee works at the 7-bed hospital. There is one grocery/hardware store, a post office, three restaurants, two bars (plus a new brewery) and a school (this year’s graduating class totaled about a dozen.) There are a few paved streets, but mostly the roads are gravel and dirt.  What you will not find in Sheridan is fast food, Walmart, high speed internet, big box stores, traffic lights; need I go on?
What is so special about small towns are the people; hard working, friendly and no pretense. These are the treasures visitors to our country rarely see.
The Wanderer was parked at Shirlee's friend's home in the country

Of course we had to have a little bit of adventure in the mountains.

Did I mention we had fun?
Since Butte was a mere hour and a half away, we drove over for a beer at Muddy Creek Brewery

and made a stop at Front Street Market (a really neat Italian market.)

Yellowstone National Park is only about 2 hours from Sheridan, so we did a little exploring over there. (Shirlee had experienced a recent stress fracture to her foot so we were not able to hike.)
Thousands of bison in the park.

After one last beer at The Sump we said good-bye to our good friend and her beautiful backyard.

We heard there is an Aggie over in Idaho, so we are headed that way to check it out.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Why North Dakota?

This past week we celebrated Captain’s mom’s 90th birthday with a trip to North Dakota.
Why North Dakota and not some exotic place like Hawaii? Because she had never been there; she had visited every state in the union except North Dakota. 

Crossed this off the "bucket list."
As we were driving from Rapid City, South Dakota on Hwy. 85, she remarked she “remembered why they (she and Captain’s dad) didn’t go to North Dakota.” (It was a very boring drive.) I think she changed her opinion as we drove the Enchanted Highway into Dickinson.

And she really enjoyed Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

Dickinson is a very small town without a lot of dining choices, but we did find Sanford’s. Probably worth the 3.5 rating. It certainly was entertaining.

Since we were so close to Montana, we thought we might as well wander on over to Billings and catch up with Cousin Chuck who surprised Mom with a birthday cake.

It just happened that Mom’s great-niece, Lindsey was also celebrating a birthday.

On Saturday, Chuck was our tour guide as we drove the Beartooth Highway through the Beartooth Mountains up to Beartooth Pass (unfortunately the pass was closed because of snow.) The Beartooth Mountains are amazingly beautiful.

And a bit chilly.
And very windy.
We got just enough taste to know we will return when we can spend more time and hike some of Chuck’s favorite trails.
Mom with Captain, Cousin Chuck and Rex

Chuck and Terri are wonderful hosts; we all enjoyed our visit. (They even turned on the College Baseball Super Regional Tournament so we could watch the Aggies win over Davidson and advance to the College World Series.)
Mom, Rex and Anna have returned to Texas. 

After a birthday brunch for ABN at The Fieldhouse,

we leave our camp site on the Yellowstone River

and point The Wanderer westward.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

We are in the Dakotas!

Leaving hot and humid Florida…………..
seven states, 1786 miles, three night’s boon docking in Walmart parking lots, we have arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota.

We took a break at Coralville Lake Campground near Iowa City, Iowa. 

Once again we were not disappointed in the Corps of Engineers campground (Great bargain at $13 a night with full hook-up!)

Located just east of Coralville Lake and Iowa City is West Branch, the home of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

where we spent a few hours on Friday. We both have to admit, we knew very little about President Hoover except he was an engineer and president when the stock market crashed in 1929. Having been president for less than a year, it is unlikely he was responsible for all that led up to the crash, but it happened on his watch, so he gets the credit. As often happens, the stock market crash and the Great Depression overshadow his humanitarian work during the Boxer Rebellion in China and his organization of relief for Americans stranded in Belgium during WWI. After WWII, President Truman requested his help for hunger relief for war torn Europe. President Hoover was also instrumental in the founding of Boys Clubs of America, CARE and UNICEF.

First Lady Lou Hoover appears to have been a bit unconventional for her time. The first woman to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in geology, she believed women could have a career while being a mother and wife. As first lady, she worked with Juliet Lowe in establishing Girl Scouts of America. She continued to be active in Girl Scouts the rest of her life.

This week’s craft brew treat was at Reunion Brewery in Coralville, IA. (Interestingly our waiter had seen the signs on I-80 but had no idea who Herbert Hoover was.)

Our choices

Currently we are at the Whispering Pines Campground in Rapid City, South Dakota 

waiting for Captain’s mom, brother and sister-in-law to arrive. Of course we couldn’t be so close and not venture out to see Mt. Rushmore.

 We are enjoying the cool (like in the upper 40's nights and the warm low 80's) temperatures. Tomorrow we will mosey on up to North Dakota and begin the big 90th birthday celebration. 

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