Sunday, June 2, 2013

Photos Removed

I finally removed all the pictures from the blog.  I did make a photo book of the blog when it was complete.  If you are family and you would like a copy, just let me know.  We were so happy to share this adventure with you!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


We made it to Seattle on September 19th.  I wanted to wait until we did something touristy to update the blog.  The weekend before the movers came we did a tourist city day.  We went to Pike Place Market, a French Restaurant, and the New Ferris Wheel.  Later, we went to the Space Needle for dinner.  I definitely think that the restaurant is the way to do the Space Needle.  Andy made the earliest reservation time (5 pm).  Before your reservation you can go to the observation deck and walk around and because of our reservation time, we got to see the city during daylight and at night.  We also walked around after dinner too. Plus, they take your picture at the table.  It was a great evening and I highly recommend it.  Anne really liked how the floor rotates too, so you could see all around.

During the week, Anne and I also went to a farm about an hour away.  It was pretty neat and shaped like the state of Washington, so it was an interesting way to see the state.  They used roads as paths and there were landmarks and signs talking about all the cities. Pretty cool way to do a corn maze.  There was a play area, corn pit, and a hay maze too. We also picked a pumpkin.  Anne insisted on a small one, and they were all too big for her tastes. But, I picked one that was the smallest I could find.

Oh, we've already sold the camper too.... I guess the road trip is officially over.

Monday, September 17, 2012


We drove all the way to Yellowstone, only to find out that the campsites were all full (we thought it would be pretty empty so late in the season).  So, we turned around and found the closest campsite in the National Forest near the east entrance.  They have a bad case of the grizzles and most camp sites weren't allowing tents or soft sided campers (luckily we got the hard-sided A-liner!).  I was still a little shaken with my close encounter with a bear earlier in the trip, so we were extra pre-cautious, leaving pretty much everything with a smell in our cars.  We ate dinner at a lodge that was nearby and it was delicious.  We also tried the local (and touristy) beers.

In the morning we realized we needed to get to the camp site early to actually get a site, so we drove from the east entrance to the north west.  We got a site, and then started to explore.  The figure 8 in the park took the WHOLE day.  It was crazy to think that during our "off" day we were still stuck in the car driving all day.  At least all the people were in the same car.  We stopped at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake (where Andy taught Anne to skip rocks), Old Faithful, Norris, and Mammoth.  It was a full day.  A large portion of the day was rainy, and right after we saw Old Faithful, it really started to pour.

I asked Anne what we were watching during the Old Faithful eruption, and she said smoke and there was a fire.  Clearly, I needed to explain better.  During the day, we let Anne run around on the boardwalk paths and she picked up three splinters in her hand.  We went to the clinic, but they said as long as they don't look infected, then you can leave them in.  Later that night we did take one of the splinters out, thinking that it looked a little too red.

While trying to fall asleep in the camper Anne asked "Are there any monsters outside"?  "No, there are no real monsters".  Anne thought for a bit, then asks "Are there any buffalo outside"?  She must think buffalo look a lot like monsters.

Andy got up before sunrise to try and beat all the crowds at the Mammoth Terraces.  He did, but not by much.  The amount of people and cars at Yellowstone really surprised us.  Tons of people and cars.  Parking was bad, and even finding tables to eat was hard.  I can't imagine how busy it is during the summer!

We decided to forgo Glacier National Park.  We are really disappointed, but we are short on time and I am bit tired of driving.  Another time, I'm sure!

Most of our time camping, we haven't been allowed to have fires because of fire ratings.  My favorite warning/order was at the lodge where we ate dinner.  "If you must smoke, smoke in your car.  Extreme Fire Danger."  We've been more than happy to abide by the order, the less our clothes smell of camp fires, the better!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wind Caves, Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, and Deadwood

We drove through a lot of South Dakota and arrived after dark at Wind Caves National Forest to camp.  It's a cool campground; we saw bison, elk (and we could hear their trumpeting in the middle of the night), plenty of deer, and quail (Anne has never seen one but it seems to be the go to "Q" word).  We woke up and did the first tour of the caves in the morning.  It was amazing!  We did the only tour that was offered, the Natural Entrance Tour.  We assumed that it meant we would just see a little bit into the cave, but we were very wrong.  We spent over an hour inside the cave and everything was amazing and beautiful.  Most of the tour was downhill (the floor is surprisingly concrete paths with stairs) and we ended up taking the elevator back.  It was awesome!

Next, we drove to Crazy Horse.  My research online told me that dogs were just not allowed in the buildings, but they could walk around.  Same at Mt. Rushmore.  My source was wrong.  Dogs were not allowed.  It was a hot day so we just did a quick tour of Crazy Horse.  We opted not to go on the bus ride to the base.  Anne had just as much fun, if not more playing on the stage where they do dance shows and playing in the tee-pees.

Then, on to Mt. Rushmore.  We did the Presidential Trail.  We had to leave Lady in the car, which we felt bad about, but my car was able to go in the covered parking garage (much cooler) so we moved her to my car.  We did the tour counter clockwise, which I saw recommended on some review and we had a view of all 4 presidents as opposed to two for the majority of the walk.  Anne was pretty tired on the walk and tried to fall asleep everywhere (except for when we got ice cream).

We ended our day at a place that I thought was going to be an wild-west town, Deadwood, but it turns out that it is a casino town.  Every store front (restaurant, store, even regular hotels) had a casino in it.  We ate at the only place that didn't have a casino.  On top of that, the scheduled staged shootouts that were late in the evening were cancelled.  Bummer.  At least dinner was good. We stayed the night at an independent campground with wifi and laundry.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Pretty much a full day of driving.  We did drive through Badlands National Park.  Beautiful!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mall of America, more old home stuff

After what felt like forever driving, we made it to the Mall of America.  We had a list of items that we needed after a couple cold days.  Plus, we were excited to take Anne on a couple rides.  The mall wasn't really what Andy and I expected.  It was more like a mall and a small indoor theme park.  We thought you would be able to see the rides from stores, but there were walls around the theme park area.  Andy took Anne on three rides.  She choose the carousel, hot air balloon ride, and some Swiper car ride.  She had a blast on them all.  We ate lunch at American Girl.  They allow you to use one of their dolls if you don't bring your own, so she had fun picking one out and playing with it during lunch.  Andy and Anne also made some women engineer Lego people at the Lego store.  We did find most of what we needed too.

While we were at the mall, we got an email saying what we needed to do for the Power of Attorney paperwork for our home sale.  We tried stopping at a UPS store before we picked Lady up at the doggy day care, but they didn't have the notary, or a manager that would be able to print for at least an hour.  They did "think" that some bank might have a notary, but they wouldn't print for us. We were nervous about leaving the city without getting the paperwork done, but I tracked down a UPS store with a notary on our way out of Minnesota (thank God for smart phones!).  They were terrific at the UPS Store; the owners were both there working the desk, and they convinced another customer to be an additional witness for our paperwork.  It took us an hour, but it was nice having everything done.

We drove until late at night and camped at Blue Mounds State Park near the border between Minnesota and South Dakota.

Monday, September 10, 2012

(Water) Sliding through Wisconsin (by Andy)

When we woke up Monday morning I started to call welding shops to see if they could fix up (and improve!) the camping trailer's bumper.  Pretty lucky that I was an engineer on a ship in Northern Michigan so I had a few places in mind :)  We found a place in Cheboygan that could weld it up to my specifications.  (For my engineer friends:  the failure mechanism was ductle tearing of the old weld seam where the longitudinal frames meet the bumper.  In my opinion, the tearing was both from poor initial weld quality/corrosion at the weld and some overloading from the weight of the generator--I should have used a higher safety factor!  I added two brackets, a square tube "transverse," and a stringer in addition to having the old welds repaired.)  While the trailer work was completed, we ate and shopped in downtown Cheboygan.  Tracey was not impressed but I enjoyed the trip down memory lane and we found some good deals on used children's books to keep Anne occupied.   To sum it up, we got a late start away from Michigan on Monday and, after a long drive t'rough da U.P. we ended up camping near Appleton, Wisconsin that night.  Tracey thinks the term "pasties" is funny (it's a meat pie).  She thought the store name "Gram's Pasties" was especially hilarious.

After a couple hours drive on Tuesday,  we pulled into the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells where we enjoyed the indoor waterpark.  We picked it because it was the largest indoor waterpark in America and they had multiple sections for toddlers.  Anne especially liked the wave pool but there were lots of areas where a water-loving-two-year-old could have a great time.  Sorry, we don't have any pictures because we were using a waterproof disposable camera.  I like Wisconsin and all, but the drive can be summed up with the word "corn."  We camped in the suburbs of St Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday night.