Friday, July 25, 2014

Driving (us crazy)

So, the second part of this adventure is the drive. It’s a long post for a long trip-so find a rest stop, get comfortable, and prepare for a lengthy drive.

After we did our Tour of Tacoma and Sights of Seattle, we had to get into a car-my small car packed to the gills and thrills-and drive ourselves 1700 or so miles from Washington to Minnesota. A trip I have been anticipating for many months.

So, plan to start out Thursday. And poor Laura-she woke up in the night sick sick sick. Nauseated, throwing up. My gosh. Poor girl. But like the trooper that she is (would we really expect any less??) she said-Let’s do this thing (ok, maybe she didn’t say it that way but she indicated that we should do this thing). So we loaded the car and off we went.

Dave and I have driven this route 3 times, and had pretty darned good weather. But, not so much this trip. It was a bit grey and drab to start, and we had sun breaks and heavy rain throughout Washington.

But over the mountains we had some pretty views--

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Trucks and mountains at the rest stop, just east of Snoqualmie Pass.

We flew through the Gorge and worked our way towards Spokane where we planned to stop and see a couple of sights.

It was raining really really hard there when we arrived but let up as we got closer to our destination.  Laura perked up and we hit Riverside Park with a vengeance. Sort of.

Hoopfest was getting ready to start and I’m sure the thousands of people there to see and participate in it cared about it, but us? Not so much. What we cared about was finding the giant Red Flyer. That’s what we cared about. Because, really, isn’t it all about a giant wagon with a slide?

The Spokane river was running high, but very pretty

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Dark Skies, Raging River.

We found the goat that eats paper. Laura pressed the button but we didn’t know how it worked-nor did we have any paper. Very unprepared.


But then-well, the picture says it all-

The Holy Grail of Radio Flyers--


Right? That is what I am talking about. Complete with a slide. And you know what that means--

Next best picture of Laura-EVER!!


She braved wet pants and feeling sick to say she went down the giant wagon slide. (The slide was wet, she didn’t wet her pants-people, she wasn’t THAT sick). I do love this picture.

After this break, we got a little lunch, and off we went to the next stop, which was Bozeman, MT

Eastern Wa-



The view from the Bozeman LaQuinta Inn. Which is a great hotel AND takes pets. Just saying. (We stayed there last March with two dogs and two cats. Laura and I saw two cats sitting in a hotel window. They looked annoyed)

Next day Laura was recovering nicely-still a little peaked, but better. Thinking she might live. So off we went for day two-destination Chamberlain SD. It’s a long day. (Long kind of a theme here)

Some Montana Hiway—still grey.


Grey Montana skies (Not the Emmy Lou Harris duet Wild Montana Skies but close)


We drove through some serious storms, black skies, lightening, heavy blinding rain. And construction, lots and lots of construction.

However-the skies cleared just in time for our trip to the Devil’s Tower. Which, by the way, the Garmin could not find on its satellites. We had to go by the phone maps. The Devil’s Tower had some serious anti satillite map mojo/cell phone reception interruption going on.

I have about a zillion pictures of the Tower-it doesn’t seem to mess with camera function. I’ll try to weed out as we don’t want this to turn into your typical vacation-yawn-slideshow.

Slow approach to Devil’s tower.


Harder to see when you get right up close-the mystery of the tower


"If everything's ready here on the Dark Side of the Moon... play the five tones."


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The views away from the Tower were pretty awesome too

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The hills were very red inside.


Me pretending there isn’t a large behemoth rock formation looming in the background. 


And no pictures of Laura. She’s evasive, or communing with the aliens while I wasn’t looking.

Oh, and what is the origin of said formation-glad you asked-


You gotta click to make that big enough to read. But it’s got what you need to know. Right there.

We left the Tower and found out way back to the highway. And though Dave and I have driven this a zillion times (ok, 3) we had never stopped at the Tower. It was so worth the trip.

We barreled through some seriously nasty weather and found ourselves here-


Freakin’ Wall Drug. This is the kind of picture I get of Laura. No scenery here, but a jackalope. The hell. I wasn’t completely sold on Wall Drug. But also never having been here before it was a must see.

I saw it.

I am not really sure why I have as many pictures of Wall Drug on here as the Devil’s Tower. Mainly because Laura was cracking me up with the posing on the various statuary.

Me on said Jackalope-I cut in front of small children for this.


Obviously Laura was nearly herself again by Wall Drug time-

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Words cannot describe-


Hey Pappy-you lookin’ at me?


We had to get out of there before being eaten by this-


We hit Chamberlain in style, rested, and the next day we headed for glorious Minnesota-

With a stop here-(I really did want to see this)


Dudes, it’s the corn palace. Which I kinda liked more than Wall Drug. Only because I found the blatant tourism less offensive. And less made in China.

Oh, but we did find these---

Which led to a phone search which showed that we had access to hundreds of games like this—ON MY PHONE. Are you kidding? We were dope slapping ourselves for not thinking of it, although Laura did have a rousing license plate game going on. You don’t realize how much you get into that kind of thing until you are on the road for 2.6 days.

I bought two for the car.

Who knew-at the Corn Palace.

Corn pictures above the stage.


Corn Murals outside.


Laura wearing a corn hat with corn murals in the back ground. It was all about the corn.


No raccoons were harmed in the taking of next picture.


We took off from there and stopped to visit the Jolly Green Giant-

He welcomes you to Blue Earth


Look, I’m a mini Green Giant.



And so it goes. We played games the whole way back through Minnesota until we hit our home town, Rochester. Which I just found out is the 6th happiest city in the 4th happiest state in the US of A.

We can’t stop being happy here.

So that’s what happened.

I was feeling pretty tired but I got in one final bad selfie to prove I made it back to Dave.

Photo: 1800 miles later

(I think I need my own hashtag-Sarah and Dave @ #badselfies)

Either way, it was an adventure and I certainly enjoyed it and I was sorry Laura was sick but ever so glad she was with me to see some new things…..


and convince me that some things are just worth doing!

Thanks girlfriend-I owe you 1700 miles.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Our Crazy Vacay (this might take some time)

Moving-4th and final drive.

So, the reason for the lag in blog posts is that so many things happened between then and now. I believe it’s going to take more than one blog posting. But since I’m back in Minnesota, and the boxes are unpacked (not all put away, but unpacked….) I think I have the organizational skills to get out some regular blog posts once again. Well, more regular than the past few weeks.

I actually had to go back and see where I left off, which was getting ready for Laura to come and take me back home.

She made it just like she said she would and we started what I like to refer to as our crazy vacay-because it was kind of a vacation-if you call a whirlwind trip to the Seattle area (and a little beyond) then a three day all day drive from Tacoma to Rochester a vacation.

I do, but not sure Laura is on board with the definition.

Anyway-we began our journey with a tour of Tacoma-starting at the famous Tacoma landmark Lefty’s. Famous for the milkshakes and and the Frings. Although we weren’t impressed with the Frings.




We snuck a peek at my old house (only a block or so south of here), and commenced to Chamber’s Bay, home of the 2015 PGA tournament (and a loss of huge dollars we could have made renting our house out to unsuspecting touristas)

It was a beautiful day on the water, and a bit warm.


There was lots of swimming going on by the beach-

Swimming families of geese


Swimming dogs


Swimming girl who is not complaining that the water is 58 degrees


Even Laura got into the act-


Although she had something to say about the 58 degreeness of said Puget Sound.

She spent some time contemplating it


I took pictures-and Laura took a picture of me-


We then went out to my sister’s house on Harstine Island.

We went out there because I thought, if someone comes to the PNW, they should actually see what people rave about, which is the water, forests and mountains. Not so much the concrete jungle that makes up the Seattle/Tacoma area.

It was sunny when we got there, and my sister Debbie cooked up a delicious meal. But the fog rolled in over night so the next AM was a bit grey. It was super super still on the water though.

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Until the police boat came by. Not sure what they were looking for. But they made their presence known.


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Debbie took a picture of me after I just got up. Nice, huh? I shouldn’t even choose to put such bad pictures in my own blog.


This one is way better than the other one she took though. That one will not see this side of the blog. Ever.

After we ate a brief breakfast, off we went to catch the Bremerton ferry to Seattle, and face the day there.

We made the ferry with 5 minutes to spare. A little closer than I like to cut it, but makes for a short waiting time before loading.

We took lots of pictures of water and land, and enjoyed the ambiance of the ferry world.


Laura, enjoying the ambiance before we even left the dock.

It was a grey day until we got around the corner, out of Bremerton and closer to Seattle. Then the sun came out.


Sun’s coming out, Seattle on the Horizon….

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We off loaded and fought a little, but not much, traffic, went to park and got to the Pike Place Market. I didn’t take many pictures of that.

I did get a picture of the famous hammering man in front of the art museum. Not sure why he hammers all day, but he does.


But then we went down to the piers and my oh my we did have some fun there.

Mainly on this carousel ride.


Does that look like having fun or what?


We are danger. Don’t let our smiles fool you. It was a fast bucking ride.


We saw sailboats out on the water in the bay.


And this guy, who I think is a fisherman made up to scare little children.

We also saw some crazy skeletal remains of dead people (hopefully they were dead) and some other crazy collectables down there. Why I didn’t take a picture of the skeletons I don’t recall. It seems blogworthy now though.

(I found this picture on line-the store is the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop-it was curious)

(BTW Laura-on the list of Road Side attractions-just saying…)

Lunch was at Ivar’s Acres of Clams, where we  watched people enable seagulls unhealthy behaviors of eating fries until their arteries explode.


(This seagull will need CPR in a couple weeks)

and the fireboat next door


(two more seagulls in various stages of cardiovascular disease due to massive amounts of fried food consumed by a species meant to live on a raw diet)

After this, we had to exit Seattle quickly. It’s always my intent to leave the city by 3. Blane was also there vacationing but he was coming up as we were going out. He got into the city at 5, fought bad traffic, saw an overdose collapse and seize and another drug addled person acting up on the streets. Which is why I never break my rule of being downtown after 3. Except for very special occasions. Which were very few and far between. And more likely to be in the AM, not PM.

We went down to Point Defiance park where they were setting up for the taste of Tacoma. I was almost tempted to stay. Almost.

We hiked 3 miles or so, and saw some beautiful forest land. In a city park. It’s really a nice park.


Laura heads up the trail.


The Narrows Bridge in the distance (it collapsed once so I took Laura over it so she could say she did. She lives on the edge)


And here I am , at the big sign in the Rhododendron Park-rhododendrons grow like weeds here.

There are signs all over that park saying that you should NOT feed the wildlife, to which Laura wondered what kind of wildlife would you possibly see in this park.

Well, as we were driving out we saw a deer. Sweet.

And then we saw the wildlife to which they refer.

Raccoons. A lot of raccoons. They come out and sit at the side of the road at around 5. They sit there and beg. They aren’t so sweet and friendly looking either. They look somewhat possessed. And don’t pet them. Nor feed them.


Raccoon with crazy demon eyes-intent to kill you for a fry. Don’t. Do. It. 

We got out of there fast. Creeeeeepy.

And headed off to Nina’s house to pack up a little, and get ready for the days that lay ahead.

Which is part two and the really super crazy part of our vacay.

Crazy Vacay Map

Our Map. Click to make bigger please. Blue is day one, Green is day two.

Yay for us.