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Day 1 – Chi to Mitchell SD – Home of the Corn Palace!! Musings from the Road……
First day of driving – pedal to the metal…..certain things came to mind as I am driving mindlessly on I-90:  


Minnesota is the cleanest state I have ever seen. Probably because their roads are all adopted. Every 2 miles a mile marker states who their proud parents are..lots of Scandanavian names, churchs and my favorite the Secular Franciscans…? 


Dogs get car sick just like kids – except there is no crying. 


The further west you go the faster the speed limit!  I am afraid by the time I reach Washington, it will be 150mph.  There is a Spam Museum in Minnesota – had I not had a dog with me, I would have stopped – I am intrigued. 


What happened to all the bumper stickers..when I was a kid I use to love to look at all the stickers on cars. Now..nothing. Except for those stupid kid/dog/car stick figures on every van that went by. No stickers saying I was at the water show or anything…sad.   


I have not seen any Buffalo yet..and I am technically in the west now.  Tomorrow – the Badlands, perhaps Mt Rushmore – destination – Sheridan Wyoming.   I think I am heading into a wall of heat………..


Day 2 – Mitchell to Sheridan Wyoming – Ponderings from the road. Travels with Harley.

South Dakota’s state flower HAS to be the Sunflower. I have never seen so many except in the South of France-Provance area. Rows and Rows as far as the eye can see. 


As soon as I was west of the Mississippi I started seeing Sinclair Gas stations – What? I thought they were extinct – Stopped at one, sorry no Dino soaps…


When you cross the Missouri River in SD, the terrain changes immediately, east it is all plains, grass, sunflowers etc, as soon as you cross it is mt ranges and buttes.  Wall Drug…Okay I have been seeing the billboards for this place EVERY MILE, seriously they must have 1000 billboards out there between Wisc and SD. Similar to Rock City on the way to Florida. So I pulled in and…it was like Branson met Dollywood. Tourist Trap city! However, if I did not have a very hot dog in my car I would of gone in just to peruse. Took a pic and got out of Dodge…I mean Wall as fast as possible.

Badlands….there is a reason for that name. I have never seen a more desolate area before. I would not want to be stuck here in any way but it does have a ghostly beauty to it.   Once you leave the Badlands and are headed to Rapid City Mt Rushmore it is NONSTOP billboards with all kinds of fun filled attractions. Including a Reptile City – are these at every family fun filled area?? And Bear Country drive through Park which I was very tempted to do -just to see Harley’s reaction.  


South Dakota country is beautiful..then Rapid City hits you like a train…motels..hotels..trailer parks..I assume for all the workers at these tourist attractions. Just keep driving…it is bad….if you do Mt Rushmore – stay 1 night only!! 


Finally you cruise into Wyoming. Wyoming roads are the best! Absolutely perfect. The state must get good funds from the feds. It reminds me of a women who marries well…she is well tended to…

About 30 miles west of the SD border in Wyoming you see it….a Mountain range that loams large – purple moutains majesty….the Tetons and they are spectacular!  Sheridan Wyoming – pure cowboy town home for the night.   And still NO BUFFALO…….where do they roam???  Tomorrow Montana…..destination Missoula……I .plan on meandering

Day 3 – Ponderings on the Road…Travels with Harley.  Sheridan Wy to Missoula Mt.
I traversed the whole freakin state of Montana today and let me tell you it is long…. Let me digress a moment..I am doing this Old School. No GPS. That’s right, my good friend offered me his GPS but I said no…don’t like being told where to go. So he bought me a wonderful Rand Mc Nally Atlas that I am using for my trip. That’s right kids I have an phone with APPS but am using a map. Get on I -90 and head west till you hit the ocean. It’s not rocket science. 


With that said I 90 must be a BEAR in the winter…I cant tell you how many signs I have seen since SD that state when lights are flashing I-90 is closed use alternate route…I cannot even imagine this road in Jan or Feb, an 8 wheel drive and chains wouldn’t even do it.  The welcome sign into Montana has bullet holes all over it….I am not sure if that is a welcome or a warning… Little Big Horn Natl Monument is awesome…would highly recommend it makes me want to read up on this era….Ken Burns hasn’t down a PBS show on this yet???

First actual skyscrapers I have seen since I left Chicago are in downtown Billings…I think they are hotels and banks. Shocked me a little.  If you live in Bozeman you MUST have money – big houses/ranches this is where the CEO’S go to relax.

Okay so I always thought when you passed the Continental Divide that was like a BIG THING…it would be marked and flags would be out etc etc. NO. You cross it just west of Butte at about 6700 ft and all there is – is a small sign. What? At Mt Kenya Safari club – they make a big deal about north/south hemisphere – you can stand with 1 foot in the north and 1 in south. You would think they would do the same for Cont Divide. Apparently not.  As soon as you cross the divide and head down the air is different – smells different even Harley noticed as she had her head out for about 5 miles. Whats with that??

Western Montana is so much prettier than the east- Green pines, national forests and rivers running through it.  I have decided after a long days drive all I want is a steak and a couple of cocktails – good lord I am turning into my father!!

And STILL NO BUFFALO…I have a call into Ted Turner…he has not returned it yet.   Tomorrow – Missoula to Yakima and my love Lauren and her wonderful David. Stay tuned……..


Day four – Missoula to Yakima – Travels with Harley….
I am in Love!!….with Idaho….Idaho is what I thought Montana would be.   Although like all loves there are twists and turns. The drive between Missoula and west of Coeur d’ Alene is awesome. Now I have driven the Rockies and the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Parkway…I have even driven on the road to Hana in Maui BUT this drive is the best I have ever seen. Perhaps my perspective is jaded by my love for Idaho but this drive is the best…green pines towering up on both sides and it goes on forever..when you reach Couer d’ Alene it is pristine lake and the mountains. If Northern Wisc and Colorado had a love child it would be Idaho…Now I want to go to SunValley – Idaho Falls etc. But perhaps I am blinded by love.  And the smell…well they don’t make a Yankee Candle that smells like this!  


Coming down from this, you hit Spokane – wow skyscrapers which I have not seen since Billings – again Banks and hotels – Wells Fargo is tallest building in Billings..hmmm what does that say?  Then you hit the eastern part of Wash which looks just like South Dakota – to quote Yogi Berra – Its like Deja Vu all over again.  Finally you get into the Yakima valley- you cross the Columbia River – magnificent – lets think Lewis and Clark….next is the Wild Horses Momument scenic view….I wish I would of stopped.

And now twice I have seen the Apple Maggot quarantine… apparently Washington takes its Apples seriously!! No foreign specimans!!!  And still NO BUFFALOS!!!! 4 days and not one.   I have ended the journey in Washington with Lauren and David – so now it is private time.  The journey – part 2 – Yakima to Seattle begins in 2 days – stay tuned……



Travels with Harley…the last leg – Yakima to Seattle….
My backseat is empty and my heart is heavy.  I have a lump in my throat the size of a Yakima watermelon. I have left Lauren and David’s for Seattle. And I am alone. Harley is now in her new home with her sister where she will be a mountain dog at their new home in the foothills of Mt Rainer on 3 acres. I know she will be happy with Lauren who found her in the beginning but I will miss her.

The ride is only 2 hours and, of course, for the first time in 5 days I am driving in rain. Well, I am close to Seattle after all…..I can smell the Starbucks.  I leave my car at National rental station the young man who took it in could NOT believe I drove all the way from Chicago…he was in awe.


I take the Lite Link train from Sea/Tac into the city – it is so easy and fast – reminds me of the Express trains from London Heathrow into London town. Cheap, fast and easy. No need for a 50.00 taxi. 2.75 and I am dropped off at Nordstroms.

 I have come to realize that as I am watching all the people on this train….on their phones…pads..pods etc that we have become a nation of people who don’t look up and around and see their surroundings. We stare at screens all day of all kinds and don’t see whats really in front of us.  When I was a kid I had a viewfinder with pics of all the places I wanted to see..click..the pyraminds…click the Taj Mahal..click…the Grand Canyon. I remember thinking that I want to see ALL these things some day.

I will fly home in a couple of days…what took Lewis and Clark 2 years..and me 4 days I will cover in 4 hours…..that is something to ponder.  I think next pic from my viewfinder I want to see is Niagara Falls…Maiden of the Mist anyone?

And always remember my friends it is NOT the destination but the Journey along the way…so look up…… take it in and Happy Trails……
First clouds In 5 days …you know I am close to Seattle ……Julie