Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 14

Saturday, July 26 - On to our primary destination - Rochester, New York - where we would spend three wonderful days with our oldest son, Peter, and his wife, Christina. Aside from a brief visit they made to Southern California in May, we hadn’t seen them since they headed out to Rochester a few weeks after their wedding last year. We stayed at a La Quinta Inn in Rochester, but one night Peter and Christina graciously allowed the boys to stay with them in their small flat and give Ralph and Lynn some private time.

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 13

Friday, July 25 - Another short driving day, only as far as Mount Vernon, Ohio - NE of Columbus. Here we stayed with Bob and Theresa Kasper, old friends from our old church, First Baptist of West Los Angeles. They also have three sons, Joseph (15), Daniel (18) and David (21), but unfortunately they were all away at the time. This was especially disappointing as we wanted Nathan to meet Daniel who was born on the same day as he in the adjoining labor room at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles! But we had a great visit getting re-acquainted with Bob and Theresa, whom we had not seen since before Adam was born.

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 12

Thursday, July 24 - This was one of our shortest driving days as we were only traveling as far as Fishers, Indiana (outside Indianapolis), where we stayed with Tonia and Tony Sargent. Tonia was one of Lynn’s college roommates and one of our bridesmaids. They have three sons like we do, Matt (15), Ben (19), and Tom (22), but Ben was out-of-town and we only say Tom briefly. We had a fun evening playing the "Settlers of Catan" board game with the rest of the family.

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 11

Wednesday, July 23 - We relaxed at the Vranishes’ in the morning, doing laundry and shopping, then we all piled together into their van along with our dog, Troy, and their 90-pound Labradoodle, Rover, to go to a leash-free dog beach on Lake Michigan. Rover loved swimming, but Troy, who is not a water dog by any stretch of the imagination, studiously avoided the water and Rover - when he got out and shook off! With the wind coming off the lake, we had waves similar to our Pacific beaches, but it was quite cold. Brrrr! It was a lot like an ocean beach but without the sticky salty feel to the air or the salt-water to sting your eyes. David returned home that evening, so we got a chance to visit with him.

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 10

Tuesday, July 22 - We battled mid-morning traffic to drive through downtown Chicago and see the Sears Tower, then had pizza at a nice restaurant (though not Chicago-style pizza!) and sang a belated happy birthday to Adam along with the restaurant staff. After more than a week camping and seeing the natural wonders of our country, we were pleased to be visiting old friends in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the next two nights. Ken and Peggy Vranish are old friends (Lynn and Peggy went to junior high and high school together!) that we don’t get to see nearly often enough! We continued the celebration of Adam’s birthday with a cake that Peggy had purchased at Lynn’s request. Their oldest son, Job, and his wife joined us for dinner, but their younger son, David, a certified search-and-rescue person was on a search in the Upper Peninsula area of Michigan. Their daughter, Teá, took Nathan swing dancing with friends that evening, which he greatly enjoyed.

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 9

Monday, July 21 - The morning of Adam’s 11th birthday was spent in Sioux City finding an internet café (because the Motel 6 didn’t have wi-fi) and doing laundry. The weather had cleared in Sioux City, but we saw lots of evidence from the storm in terms of downed tree branches. Traveling across Iowa that day, we trailed the storm, only experiencing a few downpours, but our night’s destination, a KOA campground in the Des Moines/Moline Quad Cities area, had no power due to the storm. Unfortunately the power outage was wide-spread, so there were no other lodging alternatives in the Quad Cities. We had to travel farther into Illinois, ending up at a Super 8 motel in Rock Falls at 10:30 that night.

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 8

Sunday, July 20 - We attended a church service at the KOA put on by a group of college students who were working at the campground for the summer, then back to Mount Rushmore to get some daylight views before heading out of the Black Hills. Our next stop was the Badlands National Park for some amazing rock formations and wildlife, including pronghorn and prairie dogs. We crossed the Missouri river out of South Dakota and into Iowa where we stayed at a Motel 6 in Sioux City. That night we were treated to a spectacular thunder and lightning show as a rare severe weather event, a "derecho,"cut a 60-mile-wide path across Iowa and into Illinois, with winds of 65- to 95-miles-per hour. (Check out this article for more details about the derecho: http://www.qctimes.com/articles/2008/07/21/news/local/doc488516843a5d0341872392.txt)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 7

Saturday, July 19 - In the morning we toured Jewel Cave National Monument, currently the second-longest cave system in the world. It may well pass up Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, since based on airflow out of the cave, they may have only mapped 2-5% of the passages!
We spent the afternoon doing laundry and relaxing around the campground. That evening we watched the lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore which was very inspiring (despite the ranger with her elementary school teacher style of talking s-l-o-w-l-y about how the four presidents portrayed were known for taking "risks.")

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 6

Friday, July 18 - As the museum allowed two days of visiting for the price of admission, we were able to see more of the museums in the morning before leaving Cody. Now on to the Black Hills of South Dakota by way of the Big Horn Mountains. On the way to our campground we caught a glimpse of the unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial being sculpted from the hills near Mount Rushmore. We checked into our cabin at the Palmer Gulch Resort and KOA - the 2nd largest KOA in the nation, with 2 pools, water slide, water park, giant bounce pillow, fishing pond and more!

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 5

Thursday, July 17 - This morning we packed up and headed out of Yellowstone by way of one last area - Mammoth Hot Springs, a part of the park with many travertine terraces. As we headed out of the park we encountered a large bison coming up the opposite lane of the road. Notice the picture with the driver’s sideview mirror showing in the corner. That’s how close it was! (Of course we stayed in the car!) We had planned to take the Beartooth Scenic Highway from the NE entrance of Yellowstone up into Montana, considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the country, but we decided that we wanted to visit Cody, WY to the SE, so we only went partway up the Beartooth Highway before detouring down the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway over Dead Indian Pass. Cody is home of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (www.bbhc.org/), including five world-class museums. Since Nathan and Adam had just finished performances of the musical, "Annie, Get Your Gun," about Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody, we really enjoyed seeing exhibits about the real people involved in the musical, including Pawnee Bill, whom Nathan played.

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 4

Wednesday, July 16 - We crammed as much of Yellowstone into one day as we could, seeing many amazing sites, including Old Faithful (no pictures unfortunately because our camera battery died right before it erupted!) We saw many other geysers and geothermal features, plus lots of bison and other wildlife, and the "Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" river and falls. We were especially impressed with the volume of water in the rivers and in Yellowstone Lake, wondering where it all flowed from since Yellowstone straddles the Continental Divide, and is a relatively level area.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 3

Tuesday, July 15 - We made a quick stop by the Great Salt Lake - pretty hazy - and snapped a few pictures of the Mormon Temple while driving through downtown Salt Lake City. Since we would have one less day in the Yellowstone/Grand Tetons area, we decided to head to our campsite in West Yellowstone, Montana, by driving through Grand Tetons National Park in order to at least get a glimpse of it. We got some beautiful views and pictures of sunset over the Tetons, but this route took a lot longer than expected, leading us to drive up through Yellowstone largely in the dark and arrive at the KOA campground just before the store closed at 11:00 pm so we could get the key for our cabin!

Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 2

Monday, July 14 - In the morning the mechanic informed us that he could not recreate the problem we were having, and his best guess was that it was caused by overfilling of the transmission fluid which then overflowed when heated. We praised God for a wonderful answer to the many prayers (thanks to all you who were praying for us!) and continued on, making it to Provo, Utah for our second night, losing one day at Yellowstone because of the delay. After dinner in Provo we visited a small, but beautiful waterfall, just out of the city, that had been recommended by a local we met at dinner. We managed to get some nice pictures of Bridal Veil Falls despite the gathering dusk.


Cross-Country Trip - Summer of 2008 - Day 1

Sunday, July 13 - After church, we returned home to load up the dog and the food (having loaded everything else the day before.) Our first night’s destination was Cedar City, Utah. However between Baker and Las Vegas, we developed transmission trouble and had to be towed back to Baker - not a salubrious place to spend the night. We had visions of major expense and delay, or possible curtailment of the entire trip!