"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Salon...'Home Again, Finnegan'

Mt. Rushmore at night

Weather: Rain and hail.

'Home Again, Finnegan': Carly and I arrived home after our cross country trip from New York to our home in Washington State. We piled all her earthly goods into and onto her Subaru Outback and headed out last Sunday for a coast to coast trip. It took us five solid days of driving and one day of sight-seeing with a bit of driving to make the 2800+mile trip.

Weird things we noticed during our trip:

  • Pennsylvania must not want to spend any money on dead deer pick-up and disposal because we saw at least 32 dead deer alongside the road in that state. Ugh.
  • Though there are no physical barriers between states, we could usually tell when we crossed borders because of the condition of the roads. Sorry Wisconsin, you lose. You have the worst roads of all the states we drove through.
  • South Dakota and Montana are missing out on an opportunity to harness the wind.  The grasses were certainly blowing as we drove through your states but we didn't see any windmills like we saw in Minnesota and in Eastern Washington.
  • States that charge road tolls offer really great service areas with gas, toilets, food all in one. States that don't, it is up to the driver to find the services and it may require three separate stops.
  • Most states just repair their roads but some states, like South Dakota just destroy the old road and start over on the same bed. Impressive.
  • Weirdest sign at a rest stop (in South Dakota): "BEWARE OF POISONOUS SNAKES".
  • Weirdest place, which ended up being super cool: The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. They decorate the outside with murals created by corn in a variety of colors. The murals are changed every year using a sort paint by corn system. Carly and I were pretty impressed.
Touristy things we did:
  • Ate lunch in Pokagon State Park, Indiana. When I typed it into my phone, spell check corrected it automatically to Pokemon. We wished we had more time to explore this lovely site.
  • The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. (See note above.) In addition to the corn murals, we wandered around and learned about the artists who create the blue prints for the murals. We were especially impressed by the permanent display of Oscar Howe, a Native American artist who designed the murals for the Corn Palace for many years.
    Mural on the Corn Palace. Last year's theme was Weather of South Dakota.
  • Badlands National Park, South Dakota. An amazing portion of the landscape with so many rock formations and outcroppings. We spent several hours driving around from location to location and a bit of time in the National Parks Service building talking to Rangers about the fossils they have found in the rocks. We saw more wildlife in South Dakota than anywhere else on our trip (if you don't count dead deer): pronghorns, prairie dogs, big-horn sheep, the occasional live deer. Thankfully no snakes.
A big-horn ewe and her lamb
  • Wall Drug. It is iconic. We had to see it for ourselves.
  • Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota. We checked into our hotel, ate fast food, and drove up the mountain to see the famous sculpture in stone of four American presidents. We arrived an hour before sundown. At nine in the evening Mt. Rushmore is lit up and the park rangers put on a program. While we waited for it, we wandered around the excellent museum on site. One would have to be a very negative person to come away from whole experience without feeling very patriotic and proud. The program, the museum, and the sculpture itself has so much to do with FREEDOM.
    State walkway with flags from all 50 states
Inadvertent tourism: A few miles out of Madison, Wisconsin the 'check engine' light came on the dashboard. We decided to not risk it so we turned around and had the car run through a diagnostic test at Autozone. The test revealed that we needed a new catalytic converter. We called around and found a business, Meinike, who could do the work for us that day. While the work on the Subaru was happening we were given a loaner car to explore the city. We decided on a movie to see first: RBG, a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We both thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much. (Go see it!) For lunch we dined at a restaurant right across from the State Capitol building called The Old Fashioned. We tried a local delicacy: fried cheese curds. Yum!After we got our car back we headed for South Dakota expecting to get to our destination by midnight. We did. En route we got to witness a thunder/lightning storm across the prairie.
Fried cheese curds at The Old Fashioned in Madison, Wisconsin
Hosts: We were hosted twice during our trip. Thank you Aunt Betty and cousin Robin for rolling out the welcome mat in Wisconsin. Thank you Alec and Courtney for dinner and good conversations in Missoula, Montana. We loved meeting your boys! Good luck on the remodel.

Audiobooks: We listened to 5 1/3 books. For a complete list and short preview of each please click this hyperlink: Audiobooks on Road Trip.

Worst traffic of the whole trip: was near our own home on Highways 18 and 167. We made it home about an hour later than we anticipated because of the end-of-the-trip traffic snarl. 

Yesterday: Don and I babysat our grandson while Rita and Carly joined a RHS alumni choir to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of their high school. I wanted to attend the program but fell asleep and missed it.

Just Home and Love! the words are small
Four little letters unto each;
And yet you will not find in all
The wide and gracious range of speech
Two more so tenderly complete:
When angels talk in Heaven above,
I'm sure they have no words more sweet
Than Home and Love.
                     -Excerpt "Home and Love" by Robert William Service


  1. Great post! I love all the observations and unexpected adventures. We always loved road trips, although much shorter ones than you two did!!

    1. It was pretty daunting when we started out but by the end, it was a piece of cake...just lots of driving.

  2. Great post! Thanks for the chance to have a little vicarious trip - I enjoyed it! Though I'm not sure about the fried cheese curds...

    1. I know, fried cheese curds. But they were delicious.

  3. Great description of your road trip, it sounds absolutely fantastic! And it made me want to go on a road trip with my daughter.

    1. I wish we had planned more touristy things to do along the way but Carly didn't want to worry about her possessions in the car while we explored sites.

  4. I wish I could have been with you but am glad not to have been at the rest area with a poisonous snakes sign. Nope. Will not go there.

  5. Hmm...I jiust left a really long comment but it didn't look like it "took" - let me know if you didn't get it and I will try to do it again :)


    1. I think you made the comment on my other blog about the audiobooks. At least I am guessing, since that comment is rather long.

  6. Hi Anne, this is a great travel re-cap. Wow so many nice sights! I've driven a similar road trip from Wash, DC to Chicago and then on to SD and Canada. RBG is a great movie!

  7. What a fabulous trip! I think it’s time we visited the Dakotas. I imagine there are lots of rocks for my husband, and it would be on the way to our son’s home in Chicago.


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