Thursday, September 30, 2010

Puke... er.. Butte, Montana..

Butte Montana has been voted the ugliest city in America by the National press more than once. As you will see by the pictures, the city isn't ugly much, but it has, I suppose, to do with the enormous pit that sits RIGHT next to it.

I'm still in Montana, choosing between a very long driving day or two shorter ones. Must be my age... I've crossed the Yellowstone River a few times, as it's a meandering river, but pretty all the same.

The Berkeley Pit, the largest open pit Copper mine in America can be seen for miles... especially the slag from it. The first time I drove around the bend that leads to it, I was amazed.. and a bit sickened. It's right across from where I'm camping now. It would be right across from where I am if I was in Wyoming!

Driving in...

On closer view I was surprised to see it filled with water. The first time I saw it I had to sneak on the property and take a video. They had closed the mine about 2 years earlier, and it was very deep, about 3,800 ft. Since they closed the mine and shut down the water pumps, the water level has risen to about 150 feet below the water table. There are 33,000,000,000 gallons of water in it now, so you can't see the bottom. This is going to be a real problem when it hits the level, as it is filled with incredibly noxious metals, which are going to pollute several rivers.

the mine

Maybe the National press was right..

The town, however, is quite rustic and filled with solid old buildings.

The last is looking down into fhe valley below the hilly town... quite a pretty setting.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

John Wesley Harding (nope Bob Dylan, you got it wrong)

The name was John Wesley Hardin, you fool....

but that's a gunslinger of another story..

I'm in Hardin, Montana. NOT named for John Wesley, but it could have been.

A long day of driving rewarded with a nice little KOA that closes tomorrow.. PHEW! just made it.

The countryside has changed, but not so's you'd notice (as they say). More water accounts for the trees, and what may be cottonwood trees blazing yellow along the many rivers.

More hills and you can see why they're called the Black Hills. They look that way from afar.

I stopped at the Custer Battlefield and paid TEN DOLLARS AMERICAN MONEY just to take a picture for youse guys. I've been there before.

The first picture is of the place where most of the 260 men were found. They buried them as they lay, but apparently moved them later and put them under a huge monument. Probably to keep the curious from looking for souvenirs.

You can see where the indian encampment is in the second picture. Down in the trees, they must have known the enemy approached for miles, as Custer's detachment rode along the dry, barren hills up from the Big Horn River, kicking up dust as they 'snuck up". Not that bright... OH well, he got what he wanted in the end.. fame and the retribution that spelled the end of the plains indians.

The last picture is supposedly where Custer fell. Reno took a lot of flak, as he approached from the flank but, seeing he was incredibly outnumbered, submitted a hasty retreat. They called him a coward, although he was cleared in a military 'trial', but he was marked for life. At least he HAD a life... I call him not so dumb.

I may be in Montana a couple more nights. This is a big state, and it's a long way to get to the sneaky short cut I know to Oregon...

Welcome to Deadwood (you know the rest)...

So.. Here I am and no wifi. The campground has it but it’s down. You won’t see this until tomorrow, which will see like today because you’re seeing it now... so confusing.

I got up early this morning and decided to have breakfast at Wall Drug. Wall Drug is in Wall South Dakota and is an interesting story. A man and his wife and child came to Wall in 1931 and opened a pharmacy. It was a small town and they could see all the cars going by and not stopping (many of them were probably the dust bowl people going west... another migration). He wondered what to do when his wife said, “Put up signs that say “FREE ICE WATER”. The next year he had to add 8 waitresses to handle the crowds for ice water and ice cream. Through the years he bought up the surrounding stores and added to the place. You can see the signs in Minnesota. There is a 520 seat restaurant INSIDE this building and you can buy just about anything. It’s huge and the town has grown and it’s a wonder. Another reason I love South Dakota.

Wall Drug

Inside Wall Drug... you can’t see it very well, but through that doorway there are many more doorways. It has a chapel and... well.. everything.

I stopped at the rest area outside of Wall

and then kept on going..

I saw some prairie dogs! Big Whoop..

I saved an entire family of turkeys by NOT running over them on the road... good eyes Marilyn.

A little old prairie home... Bigger Whoop... I;m getting there... be patient...

Then on to Deadwood.

The entire area changes and the flats of buffalo become hills and trees leading up to Deadwood...

It’s changed, of course, even since the last time I was there, just after Kevin Costner built his Casino. I was there once before gambling, and it was totally different. But, as the lady in the campground office said, without it Deadwood would probably have been gone...

A view before you enter.. by far the prettiest shot because it looks like a small western town.

Bullock’s hotel.. undergoing restoration?

The street...

The place where Jack McCall was caught. Further down the block is where the original #10 Saloon stood.

I drove out to Mt Moriah’s, but didn’t walk to the graves. I have pictures of them at home somewhere, but I wouldn’t have made it back down the hill as my knee was killing me from all the walking around Deadwood... I DO have a bucket of quarters though...

On to Lead (pronounced leed) and the Homestake mine. I have a video to put on here, and will. The picture tells a lot, and if you look at the schematic underneath, you can see that this is only a small part of the ‘diggings’, so to speak. Most of the gold was taken UNDERGROUND, and there is still some kind of study being done and more gold to get. Well worth it no matter how big it gets..

The mountain across from the KOA was build with slag from this mine, as were several others. I watched it being built, and now it’s covered with trees...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dances With Wind...

I'm in Belvedere, South Dakota and I've learned something today. I probably already knew it, but it was resubmitted to me in case I forgot. Driving at 75 mph in a headwind BURNS GAS! Whooee!

I called my sister and asked her if she remembered Dances With Wolves and told her it was filmed around here and that's what it looks like on this side of South Dakota. She said, "With a bunch of dead buffalo around?" I, of course , said yes. So if you're wondering why I'm inside typing this on a sunny afternoon, just picture what it looked like in that movie. Windy and without the buffalo.

"Out here" they have things done up right, with the line poles about 50 ft higher (or more.. I have always had trouble with measurement since the .."nope, it's really 8 inches, sweetie". They run the lines apart from each other by a large space, which, with this wind, makes sense.
Minnesota lines...

In South Dakota, they are on both sides near the 'big' cities.

The rest areas used to have small teepees, with cloth covers, and two people in each of them (which is remarkable, considering the towns out here are all about 40 miles apart). Now they have these monoliths, and no people... ah... progress... sigh...

One of the things I love about S.D. is it's penchant for colorful things to drag you to a small town you would pass up otherwise.

Take Mitchell.. They have the Corn Palace. They have been decorating this building since 1894 (I was here for the centennial. Inside this building is a regular basketball court and seats, and outside is covered with corn. Corn husks, corn halves, different colored corn... they change it every year with a brand spanking new theme.

Side view..

Front view..

What was missing from Mitchell this year was one of my favorite all time signs. The fist time I drove through town, which was before gambling was allowed in the state and town was much quieter and smaller, there was a street sign that said "DRIVE CAREFULL".. I loved it.. Someone,however, must have gotten on them about the grammar, so the NEXT time I went through it said "DRIVE CAREFULY" rofl!

It's gone, of course, gone the way of all good things.

I crossed the Missouri River today at the point where Lewis and Clark made portage and camp. It's a bigger river here than the Mississippi (again!!) which is about the same distance from the start... but I don't know where the Missouri starts, so maybe I"ll shut up about it.

and while were here, I have to give a hat's off to Lewis and Clark, who did a thing so remarkably brave that I can't even conceive the scope of it.

A nod to them on the wall of a rest area...

I didn't take a picture of the campground.. if you want to see what it looks like, watch the movie. Kevin Costner's cuter anyways.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mississippi River

The Mississippi River at La Crosse Wisconsin, on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border. Just a small video In the state where the river begins... as a small stream in Minnesota.

Jackson, Minnesota...

Rest area in Minnesota... or maybe still Wisconsin.. earlier today. It's made out of some kind of rock or slate, and was quite beautiful. That's the obligatory Highway Patrol Officer, with requisite shades, heading inside.

I'm in Jackson Minnesota, as the title implies. Today was a glorious day of driving. It was relaxed, sunny but cool, unhampered by traffic or crowds. I love this kind of travel day.

I crossed the Mississippi again, nearer to it's beginnings (which I believe to be a small spring in Minnesota, but you can check to see if I'm right if you care). I took a small video, but haven't been allowed to upload it yet.. maybe later. I remembered this rest area that's right on the river. You can see a dam (and I imagine there are many) in the video, but not in the picture. There has been a lot of weather here lately, and lots of flooding, but the Mighty Mississippi keeps on rolling. hmm... sounds like a good song there somewhere.

The Mississippi.. fun to type.

The rest area at the Mississippi... I just wanted to type Mississippi again.(grin)

There are bluffs along the river, probably cut by it, but only on the west side... Who knows, they might have helped shape it's flow. After a bit, there is the flat land once again.

Lower Wisconsin and Minnesota, where I-90 runs is loaded with more open space and huge farms. Cows in attendance, they rise above the flatness with their huge barns and silos. QUITE pretty.

So I'm firmly ensconced for the night, and tomorrow it's South Dakota, with all it's charms (and, in spite of the sere appearance, it has lots and lots of charm!).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Back to Wisconsin...

Ok... so you KNEW I was going to have to put a cute baby picture in her somewhere!

St Julien (and a Happy Birthday to YOU, m'dear).. you might recognize this bear, as you sent it to me years ago. I have a collection of stuffed things (work those imaginations... go ahead). Rilynn was visiting, held sideways by her Mom, and when she saw Cocoa Bear, her little feet started kicking back and forth and her face lit up and ... well... he's her bear now. In a much better place in much cuter hands..

I drove from Michigan through a small part of Indiana (phew!), Illinois, and I'm again in Wisconsin. Four states in a day again, but not so much traveling.

Remember how I mentioned that Iowa had no billboards? Well, southern Michigan made up for it.. DOUBLE billboards.. huge.. one on top of another... yuck!

and Toll roads..

In order to avoid any time in Chicago (and you have to say that with the flat midwestern accent it deserves), I drove around the city on a toll road. Interestingly enough, the speed limit was 55 mph the entire way. Anyone actually DOING that speed would have been shot on sight. At 65 I was still being passed by 80 percent of the traffic.. and no one seems to care.. (least of all me, I'll have to admit).

The view from the campground. I don't know if I would love having my cute little pinkish house right next to the KOA, especially in the summer time..

Oh well..

On to Minnesota.. (again, must be said in that sing song manner which so suits the state).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mackinac Bridge

Makes the Golden Gate look like a tinker toy... Now THIS is a bridge. It was a heck of a thing to build and took decades. Not a great video, but there were wind warnings... Rumor has it that a Ugo was blown off the bridge at one time.... (but of course, the insanity of driving a UGO in Michigan speaks for itself) where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron join (NOT Lake Superior)

We're On the Road Again..

By WE I mean me... and Falcor, the Luck Dragon. That's the name Kimmy and I gave to the first Astrovan.. it's from the Neverending Story.

I had a great visit with Treasure... sunny and sitting around and rainy and sitting around, just talking and reading and talking and talking and talking. I miss her a lot.

I'm in southern Michigan now, about a hundred miles north of Chicago. I stopped here because I want to drive around that area on a weekend rather than on a Friday night... This ain't my first rodeo, you know.

The drive today was windy (wind warnings off the lake) and rainy, but the sun has peeked through and it turned into a nice afternoon... cool... I'll say that again... COOL..

Not much to say, so I'll just put a picture of Treasure doing what she loves best..


I think I"ll move up there and live next door and then I'll come over for dinner alllll the time! I ain't no fool!

Buster (taken with cell phone)... he's a great dog. We figure we could rig him with a backpack and then we could send notes and food and things we need back and forth across the snow... He loves the snow!

me... I'm not too sure...(grin)

So I'm headed, after a few more states, to Deadwood..

anyone jealous?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rain Rain Rain...!

This is yesterday's post... had to drive into town to get the wifi... The weather predictions up here are incredibly accurate... unlike LA.

Treasure’s house... looking up the hill, from which you can see Lake Michigan...

This was such a beautiful day. It was sunny and warm (not hot) with a cool breeze and a glorious day. Treasure and I drove around town and picked up a pound of Applewood Smoked Bacon (on Treasure’s command). We’re having BLT’s for dinner... (Last night we had a delicious butternut soup... and fresh baked bread... sigh)

I stood in one place in her house and took the next three pictures... the view from her front window, the view from the side window, and looking down her long living room/kitchen room. I love this house, and if it weren’t for the snow, I might build a house up the hill (from which you can see Lake Michigan).. I might build a teeny tiny one someday just for visiting... not big enough to cook, so I can go down to her house for FOOD!

Front window..

Side window..


and, of course, the obligatory barn. The lower part, where they used to keep the cows in the winter (not Treasure and Roger, but the old owners), is now Roger’s shop. He and his son build houses and things, which is why Treasure’s house is a not completed. The entire upstairs is not done, but they’re working on it.

Downtown Petoskey. You can see what a beautiful day it was.. This is a sweet little town. It’s very neat and well cared for, and quite charming. I’m staying again tomorrow...

Hell, I may never go home...

except for the snow....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Posting in Petoskey...

I’m in Petoskey, Michigan, at my friend Treasure’s house... It’s a really neat house on which work is being continually done. The view from her windows is wondrous, with fields and trees and quiet and green...

I drove around the tippy top of Lake Michigan today at a very slow pace (for me). It’s very beautiful and reminded me of Oregon (sigh) except that the foliage (yes folks, that’s fol.eee..uge) was different. The lake is too big to describe, and I’m hoping to be able to download a video to show you tonight, but if it takes too long, I will probably put it on later, so look for it.
Some foliage...

My first look at Lake Michigan..

Treasure’s house...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Short Post From Petoskey, Michigan

I have arrived at my friend Treasure's house. It's such a wondrous house with a view of the world...sigh..

I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow to post my stuff when I find some wifi..I'm such a snob.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oconto, Wisconsin... Lucky Once Again

A very good day... cool, rainy, overcast...

Last night I slept well and this morning found my first Cracker Barrel! I’m still in Wisconsin, and got really lucky.

As I head north around Lake Michigan, there are fewer campgrounds that I can count on. I stopped in Oconto, Wisconsin, north of Green Bay to check my campground guide. I didn’t want to drive too much further, and I noticed a sign for camping. I checked it out and found the prettiest little campground (public) right on the river. You’ll see the pictures soon. The land was given (sold) to the city in 1932 for $1.00 with the codicil that if it was to be used for any other purpose other than recreation, it had to be to a family member for .. you guessed it.. $1.00.

It’s beautiful. Not the greatest facilities, but just beautiful and quiet.

Sometimes you get lucky... and as you know, I’d rather be lucky than smart.

I’m way off the major highways and glad of it. The speed limit in Wisconsin is 65, but it’s also 65 on these little highways so far, so not much difference except less traffic. I got stuck in a work zone in Milwaukee for about 20 minutes, but that’s been the only hold up so far this trip..

Knock wood...

I took some pictures of Milwaukee but they weren’t very good. Outstanding among the tall buildings were these churches. As I went through downtown, they seemed to be on every corner; tall, red bricked, beautiful and pointing the way upward.

The river around the campground, with a smaller version of a church.