Like Bryce Canyon and Yellowstone, Glacier National Park has a signature experience that separates it from all other similar venues in the world. For Glacier it is the Going to the Sun road. This incomprehensible roadway takes you thousands of feet up the side of a mountain on a narrow two-way road. When you are going up there is only a two foot stone barrier separating you from the sheer drop to the bottom far, far below. Going down, you have to dodge frightened ascending drivers veering over the center line into your lane on one side and pinch points where the rock walls stick out drastically narrowing your lane on the other. At it’s steepest points you truly do feel as if the road goes all the way to the sun. Why would people come from all over the world to take this scary, scary ride? Because the views of the vast mountains adorned with snowy glaciers is not duplicated anywhere else. The experience of traversing the Road to the Sun road is truly unforgettable. It is another life changing reminder that our land, America, is vast and great. We hope you enjoy our pictures. Thanks for riding with us!
If you have been following our journey, you know that Diane and I found a lost little Bear in Sedona AZ who was looking for a little girl to live with. We told him all about our granddaughter Claire and introduced the two of them to each other over Skype. Claire named him Grizzy and said she would be his new little girl. When we rendezvoused with Erin, Jeff, James and Claire in Couer D' Alene, ID on the 4th of July, the deal was sealed. Claire and Grizzy hit it off, became inseparable and a happy ending was achieved for all. Except, Diane and I got used to seeing Grizzy sitting on our sofa waiting for us patiently to come home when we had been out. We also missed having a trip mascot of our own. Enter Brownie.. We found Brownie in West Glacier village and he agreed to come and be a part of our family. He's a little bit more of a home body than Grizzy was so he won't necessarily be in all of our pictures. But, you will hear about his exploits as our trip continues. The pictures in this section are from our visits to the West and East Villages of Glacier National Park, a visit we made to the historic Isaac Walton Inn, and an evening boat ride we took in the park on Lake Mac Donald, the largest lake within the park boundaries.
Since we left Glacier, we have been on a non-stop sprint. We drove back to back to back for three days from Columbia Falls, Montana to Butte Montana, to Billings, Montana to Spearfish, South Dakota. In all we covered around 960 miles setting up camp three different times in the process. Driving a motorhome is a lot more demanding than driving a car. By the time we hit the Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort in Spearfish, South Dakota and finished setting up, we were tired. But, we decided to go into nearby Sturgis, South Dakota, look around and have something to eat. It was a great move. After Sturgis we went on to see Mount Rushmore, then the Crazy Horse monument, then the town of Deadwood. Along the way we took the twisting road through the Black Hills National Forest that has delighted scores of bikers who annually attend the Sturgis Motorcycle rally. We got back to our campsite in Spearfish exhausted but elated to have seen so much on what was planned to be a travel only day.
The Black Hills get their name from the trees that line the land. They are well suited to the arid conditions and are so dark green that they appear black from a distance. We had three full days onsite in the Black Hills area. We had a great time there. We went back to Sturgis several times. We visited the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum, shopped for supplies, and generally took in the atmosphere in the weeks leading up to the big annual rally. We did a day trip back to Wyoming to see the Devil's Tower. We decided to have lunch at a little roadside place near the tower. Lunch was great, I had a really good Bison burger and got a lot of information from a book they had for visitors that explained the whole geology of the Devil's Tower. One of our other big events was a follow-up visit to Deadwood. This time we took a bus tour, went to the Number 10 saloon and saw a recreation of the shooting of Wild Bill Hitchcock, and spent a lot of time just walking the streets and seeing the stores and the people. We have had terrible connectivity issues which are preventing us from posting our pictures. We will post them as soon as we can get to a location with decent internet and cell signals.
Thanks for riding with us.
We really didn't know what to expect when we added Badlands National Park to our itinerary. Fortunately I booked us into a new campground close to the park instead of trying to day trip from the Black Hills. The Badlands are a phenomenal place to visit. Once again, we decided to see what we could experience on our arrival day. We were able to visit the park visitor center and get some really amazing insights into the geology and history of the area.
The entire interior of the US was once covered by a shallow inland sea. As in Bryce, the sediment layers from this sea became exposed over time. Weathering and erosion have sculpted the landscape into roughly 240,000 acres of the most rugged and unique areas in the world. We did both legs of the scenic loop on our arrival day and then again on day two. There was a light rain overnight and the sky was overcast when we rode through the park again on day two. Instead of making things dreary the rain and overcast enhanced the color of the formations. Thus, we were able to see the formations in a new light - tinged with intense bands of color sometimes three or four colors at a time. It was a very special experience.
While in the area, we visited the famous Wall Drug store in Wall, South Dakota. We also visited the National Grasslands visitor center which is also in Wall. This is the visitor center for all 26 grassland sties across the US that the Forest Service manages. We got a wealth of information on the role grasslands play, how they were formed, and where they are all across the great plains. In addition to those activities, we visited the Minuteman Missile Historical site, a genuine sod house from the Homestead Act days, and a new Ogala Lakota visitor center that is being launched in the Badlands area.
We have had terrible connectivity issues which are preventing us from posting our pictures. We will post them as soon as we can get to a location with decent internet and cell signals.
Thanks for riding with us!
After retirement and before they moved to Arizona, my Mom and Dad would escape harsh Buffalo winters by going on months long road trips around the country with their life long friends, the Eislines. They would pile into the Eislene’s little K-Car to save money on gas and stay at little motels all across the country. They had no set itinerary. They would simply go wherever they thought it would be interesting. They would leave after the first snow and not come back until Spring was firmly established in Western New York State.
Over the years they visited nearly every part of the continental US and the lower sections of Canada .I was trying to establish my career at that time and was working crazy long hours. I was lucky to get even a weekend off. The idea of being able to go on one of their long, adventurous, open ended trips was exotic and fanciful to me. Their experience was one of the major inspirations for this trip that Diane and I are currently on now that we are retired.
On one of their trips, my parents and the Eislines visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. I remember vividly my Dad recounting to me his experience visiting this huge building “covered in corn.” As Diane and I were traveling from SD to Wisconsin on our way to visit Deb and Dan Christian in Indianapolis, we went right by Mitchell. We made sure to stop at the Corn Palace. It was worth it.
We took a tour of this huge multipurpose building in downtown Mitchell. We learned about the history of “palaces” in mid-west harvest celebrations and the many iterations of the Mitchell Corn Palace over the years. Mitchell’s is the only permanent “Corn Palace” still standing anywhere in the world. Each year the huge murals that adorn the outside and inside of the building are recreated with fresh new themes that are executed in gigantic mosaics made of multi-colored corn. Literally, corn is stapled to the wooden underlayment to create the pictures for that year’s themes.
The annual celebrations at harvest time are huge multi-day affairs with bands, nationally known entertainers, and much hoopla. The rest of the year the three thousand seat auditorium and vast floor space is used by the city and its residents to host basketball games, concerts, school events like proms, and small conventions.
Our stop at the Corn Palace was fascinating in its own right, but even more meaningful to me because it was a direct link to the life and experiences of my Mom and Dad. Who knows? Maybe one day, our Daughter Erin, or grandkids James and Claire, will visit Mitchell and the future Corn Palace and think of our adventures on this trip and us. That is how memories and traditions are passed down across generations.
We hope you enjoy our pictures. Thanks for riding with us!
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