Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Day 6, La Junta to McPherson

339.7 miles on the day, 1589.9 for the trip.  Tomorrow to home, about 240 miles. Nothing doing, just driving on roads with traffic. Looking forward to getting home. I'll catch up the C&T pictures eventually.

Monday, September 9, 2019

2019 Trip Southwest - A trip on the C&T

Up about 5, messed around until breakfast, and headed for Antonito about 8.  Picked up our tickes, bought a t-shirt and took a whole bunch of pictures - which I'll add tomorrow.  It's late, more stories when we get around to it.

After the bus ride back from Cumbres Pass, we left Antonito at 4 PM and got to La Junta at 7, 179 miles via US-285, CO-142, CO-159, US-160, CO-10 and US-50.  Tomorrow we're off to McPherson, KS.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

2019 trip southwest, Day 4. Santa Fe to Alamosa

We were up really early, which allowed Bill to again replan the last part of the trip.  We won't return to Santa Fe & will skip Albuquerque. So we'll be home Wednesday.

Left Santa Fe at 7:15, and took the bypass to miss all the congestion expected for the big Sunday parade. On our way out on Airport Rd, we saw a gold spire - a Buddhist Temple.  Once we hit the main road,  every concrete abutment & such had the stylized figure of an animal - frogs, deer, quail, lizards, crows, turkeys, roadrunner eating a rattler, etc.

Among other interesting sights: La Pistoleras Cultural Inst, Taos - took a moment to realize this is feminine. An old tanker truck with "RISE UP" painted on its sides,  The Crazy Beaver Bar & Grill in Costillos.

We cut off of NM-68 at Pilar and drove down along the river. It was muddy from rains the night before, which made the rapids look like foamy chocolate milk. 

We crossed the bridge and climbed the switchbacks to the west rim - boy that river looks small!  

We then followed the rim road to US-64 and crossed back into Taos itself.  A little walk around the Plaza, visits to I Love Taos t-shirt shop and op cit books, and it was time for lunch at El Taoseno. This is primarily a locals restaurant, with a sprinkling of  knowledgeable or lucky tourists.  Their 'green' is both tasty and hot.

We left Taos about 12:30 and headed for Alamosa via NM-522 & CO-159.  208 miles on the day, 10366 for the trip.  Tomorrow it's the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, then a 200-mile run to La Junta for the night. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

2019 Trip SW - Day 3, Las Vegas to Santa Fe

Pulled out of Las Vegas about 8 AM for the 60 scenic miles to Santa Fe.  Buttes, mesas, mountains, a canyon & a CW battlefield - we didn't stop at any, sine we wanted to spend some quiet early time at the Plaza.  We came in on Old Pecos Road to Paseo Peralta and wondered why so many people were walking toward the Plaza.  Oops - why didn't we know this was Fiesta Santa Fe weekend, a major regional event.  Regular streets & parking lots were closed off.  We found a $10 parking place that had the advantage of shade and the disadvantage of a long walk.

Now, about that walk: As we followed the crowd, we passed a statue. Sandra exclaimed "Old Drum!"  Judge for yourself:

That was an appropriate sculpture, as today was the annual Pet Parade.  We caught the tail end of it.

Found our way to the Plaza area. Talk about a crowd!  Vendors of all sorts all around the place; no relaxation there. 

We wandered around killing some time until The Shed opened at 11 for our traditional lunch - turns out they opened early for the big events.

After lunch we visited the IAIA museum and saw some very interesting exhibits, some relating to a theme of reconciliation.

We sprung for the Culture Pass, but visited only one museum, the NM Art Museum.  Great exhibit on Glen Canyon dam and Lake Powell.

Checked in at the Best Western Plus hotel, relaxed a bit, then went for dinner at Tortilla Flats- Sandra had Frito Pie and Bill voted for a bowl of green chile. Bought some local craft beer and just getting   cameras ready for tomorrow.

76.3 miles for the day, 828.6 for the trip.  Tomorrow we're off to Alamosa via Taos, Questa & San Luis. Monday will be a ride on the C&T.

Friday, September 6, 2019

2019 Southwest - Day 2, Friday 9/6

Highlights of the day: Green! and Family

We left Dodge City at 7:30 AM, headed for New Mexico on US-56, roughly following the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. This was mostly Llano Estacado country, without many natural landmarks. It's oil country, and center pivot irrigation, as well.  Near Moscow KS, a number of large stacks of alfalfa big bales were collapsing - lots of wasted production.  Elkhart, our last KS town, featured a family of oil pumps in 5 different sizes, all in desert pink.

Our first real landmark was seen from Oklahoma, Rabbit Ears Mountain, a promise of varied terrain.  Clayton NM is the home of this landmark, and also a nearby dino trackway, the latter celebrated by the local Chamber with three old, green taildragger statues. 

From here on, US-56 was mostly empty and parts lined by snow fences; the 60 mph speed limit is a joke.  Gladstone has a single store, a tractor crossing sign, and a sign about hte Goodnight-Loving trail crossing.  Further on we saw a couple  of pipe saguaros (not native to NM). Taylor Springs is where the dry route found a fairly level crossing of the Canadian River.

56 ends at Springer, NM, home of Elida's Cafe and some really great posole (green).  After lunch we headed south on I-25 at about 70 mph, under the speed limit. Got to Las Vegas about 1:30 MDT, checked in at the HIE, and called Sandra's Uncle Murray.  We had a nice visit with his son and extended family, exchanged email & FB info, had dinner at Pino's (big servings, posole disappointing).  Pictures to follow.

On the day: 365.4 miles, 752.2 for the trip.  Santa Fe tomorrow!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

2019 Trip Southwest - Day 1: Warrensburg to Dodge City

Damn - 3 pages of notes, and the laptop deleted them.  I'll edit this to start over later.  Let's say 386 miles, 8 1/2 hours on the road, at the HIE in Dodge City.  Tomorrow it's Las Vegas, NM, and a visit with Sandra's Uncle Murray.

Starting over - Left Warrensburg about 9 AM via BB, SW-200 and, MO-58 to Holden

MO-131: the  old schoolhouse has a new partial coat of paint

MO-2: Infinity Farm, just west of MO131. Wonder what they farm.
Interesting road names, but we know what Old Drum Road means. Blinker Light Rd has a....
Harrisonville has the Twice as Nice Thrift Store and the Burnt District Monument.
Was there a college on Brush College Road? If so, what did it teach?
Just west of Freeman, the Morristown site had a CW battle in Sep. 1861.
Good Times Classics (cars) are found at Westline.

KS-68: KDOT decided to do some maintenance in front of Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary (for BIG cats) - without posting it on their website.
Saw our first oil wells west of K-33, with a silo tree nearby.
A big silo tree resides about a mile east of the Ottawa WM distribution warehouse.

I-35: A good road, little traffic. Yay!
Emporia's Commercial Street Cafe is good and reasonably priced. Took a bit longer to eat, since the lady at the next table was a New Mexico native,  Had to talk a bit.

US-50, all 220+ miles of it:  Into the Flint Hills but no time to stop at Cottonwood Falls or the Prairie Preserve.
Clover Creek Ranch B&B looks prosperous - white fences and red roofs.
A mixed freight train must have derailed a bit east of Newton, based on the residue we saw, includinh scattered hcontainers.
Gas in Newton was $2.19 so we topped off - best price since leaving the Burg.
What is Pete's Puddle? If you guessed pay fishing lake, you're right.
We saw at least three of those big windmill blades, all heading east.
What is that Union Jack doing painted on the side of a barn near Stafford?
Meeksville has The Jerk Rope. Your guess is as good as mine (or better).
A lot of center pivot fields in the Lewis area, including All Star Alfalfa - that's a high-value crop.
Spearville bills itself as the "Home of Windmills and Royal Lancers," the former for the huge windfarm surrounding the town.  The latter? Most likely a team, but one could imagine people intent on tilting with the windmills.
As you come into Dodge City, you'll be greeted by a sign with a lot of steel cowboys on top.
The Bud distributor here has a mural with an old time engine and an "in without knocking" scene.
Wyatt Earp has a couple of statues, but a number of establishment names aremore "Gunsmoke" related.

Tomorow: US-56 to Springer, NM, I-25 to Las Vegas.  Estimated miles 357

Friday, July 19, 2019

Day 10 - Fargo to Warrensburg

That is NOT what was planned.  We left Fargo at 7:30, heading south on I-29 (speed limit 75). A bit less than an hour later, we crossed the South Dakota line (speed limit 80). After 3:15 hours and 204 miles, we turned off on 2-lane SD-34(speed limit 65)  headed for Pipestone.

After a great lunch at Lange's Cafe in Pipestone, Sandra had a sudden attack of heat and wanted to head home immediately.  So we pulled out without visiting the park, cancelled our reservation at Cherokee, and headed out on US-59 (speed limit 55, like even the best 2-lanes in Iowa). 

We passed through Cherokee about 3 PM, figuring we had about over 312 miles to go.  Turns out that a bit of a calculation mistake on the spreadsheet dropped about 80 miles.  We finally got in at 10:30, after 721 miles and 15 hours.  Bill's glad he can still do that kind of driving when needed, but doesn't want to practice it.

We saw lots of possible tidbits, such as Ida Grove, the town that has a castle theme in its architecture, but didn't have time to write much down. 

Route for the day was I-29, SD-34, MN-30, US-75, IA-3, US-59, IA-2, ES-71, I-29, US-36 and MO-13.  Whew.  Total miles on the trip was 2741.6

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Day 9, Gooseberry to Fargo

Well, here we are in Fargo, in our last of the contiguous 48 states to visit.  We got off to an early start, heading toward Duluth.  Breakfast this time was at McDonald's in Two Harbors, but gas was a dime higher than reported on Gas Buddy.  We needed an oil change, but were in the wrong lane in heavy traffic going thru Duluth. After we cleared the metro, travel was clean until we hit a real downpour; never heard the thunder but it had to be there.

As we neared Leech Lake (still in the rain), we ran into a real traffic jam - hundreds of campers, mostly trailers of all sizes, filled parking spots and the road coming in.  It turns out there's a big rock festival called the Moondance Jam.  We were lucky to get thru w/o much delay.

Lunch was a Perkins at Detroit Lakes.  It took 1-1/4 hour to be served and eat. No return there!  Then in Moorhead we hit a detour that wasn't well-marked.  Finally got in a bit after 2 PM.  After off-loading, we headed for a Valvoline oil change place; so did everyone else.  After a good wait in the heat, it was back to the motel.

Just a block away, we saw the Space Alien Bar & Grille. How could we resist, especially w/ Sandra's cow-abduction socks and Bill's Roswell T-shirt.

  • What's with the pink trash cans on MN-194 west of Duluth?
  • The Fond-du-Lac Indian Reservation sign, as well as all the lake and river signs are in English and Chippewa.
  • The Upper Mississippi River in northern Minnesota is already a stream to be reckoned with.
  • Akeley, MN, has a Paul Bunyan statue and a Blue Ox café (complete with mural).
  • Want to visit the Bullwinkle bar? Try Nevis, MN, also home of the Firefly Event Barn.
  • And then there's the pink bicycle about 20 miles east of Detroit Lakes.
  • Detroit Rapids has a Spaceman Storage unit.

287.5 miles for the day, 2021.5 miles for the trip.  Tomorrow we take I-29 south into South Dakota, then cut over to Pipestone, MN for a visit to the National Monument there.  Then it's US-75 south into Iowa, with RON at Cherokee.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Day 8 - Grand Portage and return

A hot day, a lot of hiking, and low bandwidth - you'll get a story today, but the pictures will come later.  We headed out at 6:55 AM, confident that we'd find a place for breakfast not far up the road, probably in Silver Bay.  No hurry, we stopped and took a few pictures at scenic spots along the way.  It turns out that Silver Bay is a Company Town, & we didn't see a café anyplace.  We bypassed Tettegouche State Park, since the walk would be a bit far (2 miles & not smooth). Couldn't find the turnoff to Illgen Falls, and we bypassed Caribou Falls since were getting hungry.  Finally Schroeder - the Cross River Falls easily photographed from the roadside stop!

Just past Schroeder we found Temperance Falls.  40+ years ago we took a nice hike up the gorge; this time we shot what we could from near the road.

No food in Lutsen, and we skipped Cascade Falls until later.  Finally, Grand Marais, a real touristy port town. We found a café, had a late breakfast - not bad but badly overpriced.  Now it's time to head north to Grand Portage.  This was the site of an early trading post and a portage trail that bypassed 8 miles of falls and rapids on the Pigeon River.  It's now on an Indian reservation, so it sports a casino near the rebuilt stockade on the National Monument. There's also a state park, with a 1/2 mile accessible trail to the 130 foot falls on the Canadian border.  Sandra stayed in the car, while Bill power-hiked the paved trail to take pictures, then power-hiked back - one Gatorade down.


We left the park at 1:15 to return.  The main stop was Cascades State Park. A wooded trail led to the upper cascades, and Sandra made the trip with Bill.  Bill took pictures, drove out of the park, and found another trail to the lower cascades.  More pictures.

Finally on our way back toward the motel, with a stop for food at a restaurant reputedly with prize-winning BBQ.  The meat tasted good (pulled pork), but the presentation of everything was weird (& prices, ok course, were high).  Bill took a couple of pictures around the motel and planned for tomorrow,

232 miles for the day, 1734 for the trip. Tomorrow, it's MN-61 back to Duluth, then MN-194, US-2, MN-200, MN-34 & US-10 to Fargo.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Day 7 - Calumet to Gooseberry Falls

Woke up quite early this morning, so we were on the road by 6:15 EDT. Naturally, the only place open for breakfast was McD's, so we went hungry for a while.  At Ontonagon, we finally found a café open, with 10 men drinking coffee and us eating.  This was a side trip via MI-38. After breakfast we took MI-60 back to MI-28, which ran into US-2 and relatively heavy traffic. Despite that, we got thru  Duluth before lunch.  Two older US Steel lakers were in port in Superior, and Sandra wanted me to stop (on the interstate) to take their picture.  No!

We stopped for lunch at Judy's Pies in Two Harbors, then drove down toward the port to see what was happening. En route, we captured the Lake County Courthouse.

At first look, the port didn't seem to have anything exciting going on. A large laker was taking on ore on the other side of the dock.

When, to our surprise, we had a visitor - one A of the new-fangled 1000 foot lakers coming in to port.
All we could say was "Wow!"  It's amazing how they maneuver such a massive boat/

Note the size of the boat compared to the people on the jetty. 

A tug gives the Edwin H. Gott some help

We headed northwest on MN-61, through a series of tunnels,  toward our night's destination, Gooseberry Park Cottages and Motel - and drove right past it to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  We (luckily) found a parking place, and headed up the trail marked "To Falls."  The park is features a series of falls, and a bit of recent rain had them running at a reasonable rate.  The upper falls are almost underneath the highway bridge.

Upper falls

 Upper falls close-up

Middle falls

Our next stop was the oft-photographed Split Rock Light, which was built in response to a wreck nearby.  There's a lot of iron ore in the rocks along the North Shore, so magnetic compasses are often in error. The light was made obsolete by radar.

A telephoto view of the lighthouse

Trying for fine art up by the lighthouse

Every light needs a foghorn

The coast that required a light

Back to the motel to register and move into the room - just in time before a thunderstorm delivered a roaring deluge. After the rain stopped we crossed the highway for supper.  The folks up here are awfully proud of their food!

295.4 miles on the day, 1501 for the trip. Tomorrow it's up to Grand Portage & back, looking at scenery, especially waterfalls.

Tidbits of the day:
  • The UP has a Sleepy Creek
  • Lake Gogebic sports a Hoop & Holler Bar
  • Wakefield features a very large wood Indian statue
  • Sign west of Hurley: "Watch for Blowing Snow and Drifting Sand"
  • There's a Bad River Casino - is it a  bad casino on a river or a  casino on the Bad River?.
  • East of Brule we saw a rocking chair with a fishing pole, an arrow, and a stump with an axe - all at least 10 feet long/high
  • Brule also sports the Kro Bar

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Day 6 - Laundry Day (plus)

It's time - we brought enough clothes for 6 days, including what we had on when we left.  Lake Linden has a nice little laundromat in the ground floor of an old wooden building, so that's where we headed.  But first, breakfast at Lindell's.  After breakfast we headed out to Bootjack again to see exactly where some important (to Bill) places were. The old store is long gone & you can't tell it was ever there. The cottage location -  well, not much left.

The remains of the breakwater 

The area you see was a hidden lot, perfect for play. To the left is the location of the cottage - Bill couldn't crawl thru the brush to look for foundation remnants.

On the way out, we'd passed a lady walking with two walking sticks in her left hand, while her right one held a phone to her ear.  Half an hour later we saw her again - same configuration.  Back at Lake Linden we got gas at the lowest price we'd seen ($2.79), bought ice and a Yooper candy bar, and ate lunch at Beakers.  Then it was back to the motel to fold clothes and watch the Royals debacle on the Tigers' feed.  The Trailside Lodge was a very satisfactory place, which caters to people running ATV trails - it even rents ATVs.

We went back to Calumet to look for the old depot where Bill & his mother arrived & departed via the Copper Country Limited.  In the early years it was a steam train, clearly visible across Portage Lake when it passed by morning & evening.  

The Calumet Depot, end of the line and its line ended. RIP

We tried a "southwestern cuisine" restaurant for supper.  Food was OK, nothing special, but they were proud of it.  Back to the motel & start loading for an early departure tomorrow.

62.1 miles for the day, 1201 for the trip.  Tomorrow we head east on MI-26, MI-28, US-2 & MN-61 to Gooseberry Falls, MN

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Day 5, Copper Harbor and back

Up and at 'em by 7:30, breakfast at Miners Café in Laurium, then off on MI-26 north.  At Kearsarge, we had to take picture of the stone USS Kearsarge (a WWI destroyer, not the Alabama's bane) - didn't climb on it like Bill did as a kid during Copper Harbor trips.

The stone Kearsarge

We took the cutoff on Cliff Road, past the site of the Cliff Mine, first of many economically successful mines in Copper Country. Our first view of  Lake Superior and our first waterfall came at Eagle River. We also picked up our first rocks here.

The rock beach at Eagle River 

Eagle River falls

The day started out cloudy and cool, giving the lake a dark cast instead of that scenic blue, so we concentrated on the next waterfall, Jacob's Falls (on Jacob's Creek - Bill remembered associating it  with the hymn about Jacob's ladder).

Jacob's Falls 

Did you know this stretch of Lake Superior coast has sand dunes?  Bill didn't remember this section, but it provides good views and access to the beach.

 View from the dunes

Another type of ladder - a long way down

Eagle Harbor is the Keewenaw County Seat and is notable for its lighthouse.  Tours are available - for a price.  We opted for photos from a view tower.

Now it's time for Brockway Mountain Drive, known for the long views it provides.  On the way up the mountain's wooded side, Bill saw a black bear cross the road and disappear into the woods. Up on top, we were disappointed that no lakers were in sight, but Bill used his longest lens to capture a yacht/fishing boat running parallel to the shore.

The cloud cover remained, along with a slight haze from far-away fires, so we couldn't test whether Isle Royale could be seen from here.  The clouds did add some interest to this shot of Copper Harbor.

One of the main attractions of Copper Harbor is Fort Wilkins State Historic Site. The fort, placed to protect/keep the peace during the copper boom, was active from 1842 to 1870 and was manned by a small infantry detachment.  The buildings in the pictures are original, with restoration of buildings and stockades by the WPA.  Two first-person interpreters did a nice job staying in character, but I tried to ask questions that would allow them to answer w/o causing them difficulty.

 Private's wife waiting for some water to start the washing

Private in the 1st U .S. Infantry, ca 1870, on fatigue duty

 Parade ground and post buildings

Sandra is her own character

Copper Harbor itself hasn't changed all that much - a few more motels, only a few restaurants, and minimum access to the waterfront.  We noticed that most waterfront property on these natural lakes is privately owned, limiting our chances for good scenic views.  Our lunch was a mediocre pasty at Tamarack Inn, so we started back toward Calumet via Lakeshore Drive and Lac la Belle.

 A rock beach in a cove along Lake Shore Drive/MI-26

Haven Falls at Lac la Belle

It's 22 miles from Lac la Belle to Gay, an old mill town. The route features sand beaches, and a great place for rock picking - so we picked a bunch.  Then it was on to Gay for a beer. Want proof?


Back to Calumet for supper at Connie's, the last of the pasty houses we wanted to try. Guess what! It's closed Saturday & Sunday, so no Connie's for us.  We ended up in Lake Linden, where Lindell's was also closed for the afternoon, so we had an excellent hamburger & superb onion rings at Beakers at Dairyland.

118.7 miles for the day, 1144 for the trip.  Tomorrow we do the laundry and do a little additional gallivanting.