Monthly Archives: September 2012

Day 15: Saturday, September 29 – Yellowstone National Park

  • Morning: geyser trail. Saw Old Faithful erupt, then got our 5th park stamp. Woot, woot! Headed out on a boardwalk trail passing many different geysers,hot springs, pools and other thermal features. The earth is bubbling, burbling, boiling, belching, spitting, spouting, spritzing, and steaming. We learned that you have to stay on the boardwalk because you can fall into these thermal pits and boil to death! The geysers fill up, roar, bubble, spout and then drain. The pools are multi-colored with vibrant blues, oranges, greens and yellows. Some are mud pits with boiling mud baths and some are dry steam vents that vented like the NYC subway.

Old Faithful

Bacteria Mat (this is what it really said on the sign)

Mud Pots

  • After a picnic lunch, we viewed the Yellowstone canyon and falls. The Lower Falls are apparently twice as high, but much narrower than, Niagara. The canyon was impressive, huge and yellow.

The Lower Falls

Yellow stone in Yellowstone (actually, it’s gray stone with mineral deposits on it)

Us with yellow stone


  • Finally, on our way back to the lodge, we drove through the river valley part of Yellowstone. This meant more animal sightings. We saw the now mundane bison and a couple of new animals: wolf and fox. We looked desperately for a bear but no success yet – maybe tomorrow. Saw the elk and his harem again, too.





Jersey Junction

So we saw a Jersey car parked next to us at breakfast this morning. It was packed to the gills with all kinds of stuff, in every seat, in every crevice of the car. Plus, there was a box on the top and one on the back bumper. We went over to investigate, thinking this might be our junction. But when we looked closer, we saw the top of a guy’s head peaking out from under stuff, still asleep. We screamed and ran away. Hmmm – maybe not the time to talk about Jersey.


Theme of the Day: The 5 Senses

We saw the vibrant colored pools, heard the gurgling geysers, felt the steam give us facials, smelled the rotten-egg smell of sulphur from the geysers, and tasted elk meat. All good.

Up Next: Jackson, WY

Day 14: Friday, September 28 – Buffalo, WY to Yellowstone National Park

  • It takes us 3 hours to get out each morning no matter how hard we try or how we change our routine. It’s 3 hours. We must accept it. Ok – 3 hours later – we left on the long road to Yellowstone. First up – incredible scenery and up and over a mountain. 8,500 feet or so, winding switchbacks and heading into Big Horn National Forest.
  • Towns are few and far between in this big ol’ Wyoming. Once you get to one, it might be a dot. Like Emblem, WY, population 10 (so says the sign). We stopped in Cody, WY, population 10,000 – megametropolis – founded by Buffalo Bill Cody as the gateway to Yellowstone and a whole wild west vibe. His hotel, Irma, (named for his daughter) is still here and still open for biz. We lunched here and strolled the main street.

  • Back on the road to Yellowstone, which purported to be 68 miles, but it turns out that was just to the east entrance to the Park and we are heading to the southwest entrance. Another 70 winding miles. Again, fantastic scenery, crazy weather patterns and animal sightings. Just when we were giving up hope on seeing animals, we struck gold with a major elk sighting! Here’s what we learned:
  1. Elk are in mating season now.
  2. The male (bull) makes a bugling horn call to impress the babes (cows). A good bull will have a harem of babes, possibly up to 20.
  • So, lucky us, we witnessed a bull (10 point rack) and 8 cows hanging out. The bull bugled 3 times, at least, and the cows responded with their own call. It seemed to us that the sistahs were more or less doing their own thing, calling to each other, and were generally unimpressed with Mr. Bull.
  • We met a Google-Earth photographer scoping out the park for a future Google project who filled us in on elk behavior. So we think the bull was about 8 years old – in his prime! One sistah hung with him but the others totally wandered off. We did like his bugling, however. Later we saw a young bull, only a 4 point rack, who had his paltry harem of 2. Go young bull!!
  • Our accommodations here in Yellowstone are in cabins. However, a little less appealing than our Badlands cabins. Well… quite a bit less. Bordering on skeevy.

Jersey Junction

Lame today. We saw 5 cars from Jersey on the road, in Cody and in Yellowstone but no encounter. Our Google photographer was singularly uninterested in discussing Jersey except to note that it is at sea level while were were at 8,000 feet. That’s it!

Theme of the Day: The Elk’s Club

Up Next: Stay in Yellowstone


Day 13: Thursday, September 27 – Custer, SD to Buffalo, WY

  • Crazy Horse mountain carving.  The Lakota chiefs hired a Polish Bostonian to create a mountain sculpture of Crazy Horse.  The work started in 1947 and is ongoing today.  It is much bigger than Mt. Rushmore and totally privately funded so still being carved under the direction of the original artist’s children.  Another amazing South Dakota site!

Crazy Horse Sculpture Model

Crazy Horse Mountain Carving
  • Random observation – loved the mixture of names of Crazy Horse Scholarship recipients – David Strickland, Regina Still Smoking, Ruth Afraid of Bear, Theresa Brewer, Maxine Broken Nose, Jerilyn Chasing Hawk, and Leo Her Many Horses. Also loved this real place – Crazy Woman Creek!
  • On our way to Wyoming we first stopped at Jewel Cave National Park and—yes–another stamp!!!  We opted to forego the spelunking and even skipped the hour and a half tour deep underground into the cave full of stalactites and stalagmites (we just wanted to say those words out loud).  But we watched the video and jewel-like it was!
  • Spontaneous decision along route 16 to head to Devils Tower a national monument and —-yes—-another stamp!!!  A most unusual rock tower with a lot of Indian folklore, a sacred Indian site with a fun tale of its origins.

Devils Tower

Jersey Junction

Two today:

At a rest stop in Bumbleroot, Wyoming (seriously, we have no idea what the real name of the town was), Sue spotted a fellow Jersey vehicle.  Seeing as how we were the only other people/vehicle in the rest area, we approached them.  Yay Jersey!!!  They were from Pennington and on a similar cross country trip with their dog, Dora.  They were great to talk to.  They were worried about their Obama bumper sticker.  We all agreed it would be fine until Texas.

On the way out of Devils Tower, we were instructed to stop and wait for the Pilot Car.  What??  While waiting, we chatted up the nice young Wyoming road worker.  He let us know that he had never been to NJ because “it’s a zoo there, isn’t it?”  So we offered him peanut butter and wheat thins which he happily accepted.  The Pilot Car arrived and escorted us up past the landslide road repair and off we went.

Theme of the Day: Indian stuff

Up next: Yellowstone National Park


Another random animal crossing the road (we think it’s a Mule Deer)

Day 12: Wednesday, September 26 – Badlands to Custer, SD

  • Left beautiful Badlands.  At checkout, Glenda was inspired to purchase 2 50-cent plastic bison for healing and courage…plus we were hoping to see a real one soon.  A crowd gathered at the desk for this photo shoot: complete with Badlands mouse pad as a back drop!

  • Rapid City, SD and the streets are lined with bronze presidents. Can you guess who they are?

Ronald Reagan

Jimmy Carter


Andrew Johnson

Millard Filmore

William Henry Harrison

  •  And more presidents – Mount Rushmore – what a sight! We learned its story and how the whole thing was carved (90% using dynamite), the funding, who worked on it, everything. We loved it! Natch, our visit included the ritual commemorative stamping of the passport.


NJ – 3rd State Admitted to the Union – Yay!


George’s nostrils


Tom’s nostrils

  • On to Wind Cave. Much to Glenda’s chagrin, we were too late to get our stamps however all was not lost. The animal viewing and identification was fantastic. Pronghorn antelope, steers, turkeys, prairie dogs, and a herd of buffalo.

 Jersey Junction

To make up for our previous failures today we bring you two Jersey Junctions.  Up first our Badlands breakfast waitress-never been to New Jersey but what came to her mind first?  She said “the Jersey drawl” and she proceeded to give us a taste of the “Jersey drawl” including Joizee, cawfee. “even though i’m from Podunk, I know my accents!!”.  Her Jersey accent was spot on.  Further probed, she admitted to hearing about Jersey shore the show, not the beaches–is she Snooki or Snickers??

Jersey Junction 2: Dinner at the local bar/restaurant in Custer, SD.  We met a young couple from MN.  First things first, they drank bloody marys with pickles instead of celery and salt on the rim like margaritas.  Do we do that in Jersey?  Neither of them had ever been to NJ but they too mentioned Jersey Shore..the show…not the beaches..ugh!!  How can we counter that perception??  Glenda pulled a good one out of her facts hat – Jersey is the home of M&M’s (first made in Newark, NJ).  Our couple was impressed as they had been munching on them as they drove across South Dakota.  Yay red M&M’s!!


Theme of the Day: Presidents!!

Up next: Wyoming


Day 11: Tuesday, September 25 – still in the Badlands

  • Very happy with our accommodations.  Followed the lead of a local Indian woman who suggested a hike-the Notch-ladder and all to a great view. So we did it.  Glenda brought her mega binoculars which proved to be useful later.

home sweet home

intrepid hikers

photo taken with a wide angle lens?


  • Glenda made me do it.  So queer…we had to go to the ranger station and get our National Parks Passports stamped with the date and the official park stamp.  Cringe factor: off the charts for this sophisticated Jersey girl 🙂  See the picture below. Does anyone recognize the body part from: Royal Pains, Blue Bloods, Pan Am or Law and Order SVU??

Hint: this body part is a member of SAG and AFTRA


Glenda, uncontrollably laughing while preparing to stamp

  • Since we conquered the first hike so easily we decided to go for the big girl hike “Medicine Root Loop”.  This was where we encountered Big Horn Sheep (which, frankly, look more like goats if you ask me..but then again I am not the best on animal identification).  Fortunately girl scout Glenda had the mega binoculars at the ready because I was sure they were a pack of hikers all dressed alike on some kind guided tour/hike.  When she zoomed in..surprise!!!  a herd of animals!!

little ones

back end

  • Having been overcome by too much nature, we had a hankering for a tacky tourist opportunity.  On we went to Wall, SD home of Wall Drug-renowned worldwide apparently for offering free ice water and five cent coffee to all comers.

home of SD kitsch

  • On the way to Wall here is who we met: ..who knew these prairie dogs squeak just like fresh Wisconsin cheese curds??

Priscilla the Prairie Dog


Jersey Junction

Another resolute failure on the Jersey front.  Honey, there are just no people out here!!

Theme of the Day: A walk in the park (not like any park we have back at home)


Next up: Mount Rushmore, Custer, SD



Day 10: Monday, September 24 – Fairmont, MN to Badlands National Park – Interior, SD

  • Morning…ball of confusion…We temporarily lost the following: an envelope of cash; Glenda’s eyeglasses; Glenda’s sunglasses; Sue’s cell phone; Sue’s sunglasses; Sue’s cell phone charger (sadly, permanently lost); Glenda’s camera.  Went to the gas station-more ball of confusion-we Jersey girls don’t pump gas!!  What’s with this diesel gas, ethanol 10%, ethanol 85%, unleaded regular nowhere in sight? All very confusing which made for a late start. 

The gas station incident

  • Back on I-90 to South Dakota.  We learned that South Dakota all along I-90 is the ticky tacky kitschy capital of America.  Yay!!  We found a giant cow statue at the Land O Lakes building.

Is that a wave or a signal for help?

Glenda surveying the big bovine

  • On to Mitchell (shout out thanks to Kathy B for this recommendation) to view the Corn Palace.  Spectacular!!  It is an arena with its outside walls all decorated using corn husks, cobs and other plant and grain material.  Doris Gerlach, our hostess, told us they get 600 visitors a day in the off season…and buses from Australia!!!

Glenda with Doris, corn volunteer

This year’s theme is “Youth Activities”

Halloween mural made of corn cobs

  • Happily, in Mitchell and further along I-90 we also found a corn cob, a big steer, and a junk art sculpture park on the highway to photograph.

Sue and Glenda pose with a happy cob of corn

Giant steer

Some guy’s enormous sculptures in a field along I-90

  • Continuing on toward the Badlands–scenic landscapes and signs galore.  Stopped to pick up groceries in Murdo.

  • Finally…exit 131 off I-90 toward the Badlands National Park.  Before we arrive at the beautiful park we get to see the giant prairie dog statue.  Phew!!!  We have not, however, seen a live one yet.

Oversize prairie dog

  • Badlands National Park: crazy beautiful landscape.  Our cabin is unexpectedly new, charming, made of cedar wood with western decor.

Jersey Junction

No Jersey stories today.  We think that is because the entire day was just, as noted above, a big ball of confusion.  Jersey girls pumping gas and cleaning the windshields?  It was all just wrong.  We did meet a woman in Mitchell from Massachusetts and a man from Connecticut took our picture at the cabin.  Close but no cigar.  We’ll look forward to getting back on track with Jersey tomorrow.


Theme of the Day:  Ball of confusion

Next up: Another day at the Badlands.


Day 9: Sunday, September 23 – Madison, WI to Fairmont, MN

  • Started with excellent bagels, just like home!
  • We deflated the bed

unplanned matchy matchy…

  • First stop, La Crosse, Wisconsin which took its name from the Indian game.
  • Headed from there to view the World’s Largest 6-Pack, so big that the beer would provide one person a 6-pack a day for 3,351 years! (Steve – take note for potential icon for new Gansett RI brewery).  We were sorry it was Sunday and there were no brewery tours. Amazingly, we weren’t the only disappointed tour seekers (there were actually others traveling to the giant 6-pack, camera in hand).

Lots o’ beer from City Brewery

  • Our final stop in La Crosse was Grandad’s Bluff for a great view of the 3 rivers, 2 of which we don’t know! But the big one was the Mississippi. Standing in La Crosse, WI we looked across the rivers at Iowa and Minnesota.

Mississippi and 2 unknown rivers (you can look it up)

  • Onward via I90 West – cheese curds snacks cooled by our very “cool” Coleman car plug-in fridge. Corn, corn, soybeans, soybeans, flatness, more corn. Beautiful.

Sunset on I90 West

  • Arrived at Blue Earth, Minnesota to take in the glory that was the 55 foot tall Jolly Green Giant. Enough said.

Sue as JGG

Jolly Green Giant
  • Stop for the night in Fairmont, Minnesota Hampton Inn. We learn that 4 other guests are on cross-country trips. Wow.
Jersey Junction
Our waitress at the new, locally-owned, Bean Town Grill has never been east of Wisconsin. When asked about NJ, she came up with 2 thoughts. 1. Good Will Hunting. Does that have anything to do with Jersey? 2. She recalled an acquaintance she met while living in Arizona. From somewhere in NJ that began with N-e-w-… New Providence? New Brunswick? New Vernon? Further questioning revealed the person to be somewhat troubled, possibly drug-addled, and possibly a former gang member. Newark, we asked? A tough town? That’s it!!! Did he have an accent, we asked? Oh yes, she replied, saying it just like she was Marge of the movie “Fargo”. Cory Booker – there’s a little more work to do! There is, though, a good ending, complete with reform and redemption for her friend.
Theme of the Day: Vegetables
Up Next: Badlands, South Dakota

Day 8: Saturday, September 22 – East Grand Rapids, MI to Madison, WI

  • Off we go after a quick photo op at….Jersey Junction…in E. Grand Rapids.  En route to Madison, WI home of Glenda’s niece Laura and her roommate Cory.

A 4 state trek: MI, IN,IL, WI.

  • Crazy gas stop on the border of IN and IL.  There must have been 24 pumps and 100 cars lined up every which way facing all directions, backing up, inching forward, turning around and then parking at the pumps for what seemed like hours .  Later we discovered that the gas there at our chosen Shell station was a full 30 cents per gallon cheaper than other area stations.  Frank, Value Man would be proud!!
  • Stop for Teutonic fare in Rockford, IL: Der Rathskeller


  • Arrive in Madison–Badger Land!  Tour the campus and the local town.  A sea of red sweatshirts everywhere!  Badgers win over UTEP.  All good in the cheese state.
  • Dinner at a local restaurant with Laura, her dad Dave and roommate Cory.  Sue tried her first cheese curds!!  Yummy!!
Jersey Junction
Laura, as a transplant from Jersey, is often teased by her midwestern friends about being from Jersey and all that goes with it.  According to them she is confrontational, outspoken and independent thinking. When she spoke up to a waiter about the awful service her friends were horrified.  Now the new phrase is: Laura are you going to go Jersey on us?  Show some Jersey attitude!
Jersey Rules!!!
P.S. Cory, from northern Wisconsin, thinks midwesterners would actually like to be a little more Jersey!
Theme of the Day
Next up: South Dakota here we come!!


Day 7: Friday, September 21 – Glen Arbor, MI to Grand Rapids, MI

  • Morning walk to lake’s edge in Glen Arbor; breakfast at Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast
  • Headed south towards Grand Rapids and passed a veritable parade of antique cars headed north. Lots of Model-Ts and tin lizzies.

  • Drove to Lake Michigan to the home of Sue’s new BFF, Tinker. Sue’s son Mac and Tinker’s son Nick, became friends their first day at Tufts. Sue and Tinker met for 20 minutes at the matriculation event, discussed the upcoming cross-country travels and Tinker promptly invited us to stay with her in Michigan. Imagine her surprise when Sue texted her and said, “We’re here in Michigan! Can we come over?”. Tinker, recovering from her shock, graciously invited us to stay.

Tinker and Sue


  • Annually, Grand Rapids hosts an art contest called ArtPrize. Artists from all over the world display their work and compete (based on public voting) for a $250,000 prize given by the heirs of Amway. We went to several of the venues, checked out their works, voted, and thoroughly enjoyed the public art display.

A portion of “Still Point by Gwendolyn Terry


  • After dinner downtown, we managed to get our mugs on the 11:00 news (Today Show-style), went home, offered our decorating advice and rearranged all Tinker’s first floor furniture. She still let us stay.
Jersey Junction
  • Tinker is originally from NJ – born and raised in New Vernon. No wonder she’s so nice!
  • At dinner, Tinker told us a fascinating Jersey story. A relative, Hiram Blauvelt, was the son of a wealthy coal businessman. Not having to work, Princeton-educated, Rhodes-scholar Hiram traveled the world as a big-game hunter and became a wildlife art collector. When he died his estate, which included a carriage house-full of wildlife art and taxidermy specimens, was left to a foundation that Tinker’s father and family would manage. A visit to the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell, NJ will definitely be on our must-see list when we’re back home.

Theme of the Day: Art

Next Up: Madison, Wisconsin

P.S. This Michigan weather is wild and wacky. So changeable! Reminds us of weather in New England!

Day 6: Thursday, September 20 – Glen Arbor, MI and the North Country

  • Breakfast with our fellow B&B residents followed by yoga with Rodney.
  • Off to Sleeping Bear Dunes for the 3.0 mile Dunes Trail hike. Sand, dunes, vast open spaces, rolling hills, beach grasses waving, and glorious views of Lake Michigan. Wiggled our toes in Lake Michigan which was cold but not frigid.


  • Next, off to old fishing town of Leland, MI. Walked around town and yes, did some shopping! Old fish town shacks now have some cute shops. Checked out Carlson’s fish house – sampled the fish sausage – surprise, we loved it!


  • Headed further north to Northport and onto Sutton’s Bay, all towns on Lake Michigan. These towns remind us of a much lower key Nantucket or Hamptons area. Sutton’s Bay was hosting an antique car show with many parked on the street. Cool!


  • Did you know Michigan produces wine? Similar to the Finger Lakes area of NY, the Michigan North Country is home to many a vineyard. We tried out Black Star Farms vineyard. Tasting and buying. Pretty good! Mario Batali is a local fan.
  • Last stop was at Cherry Republic. Michigan is possibly the largest cherry producer in the world. In our little B&B town, there is the retail homage to all things cherry. More shopping. Yum!


Jersey Junction
At the Black Star Farms vineyard tasting center, our server/advisor was Kevin. When asked what came to mind when asked about Jersey, he’s reminded of happy days at the beach in Ocean City where he spent some time as a kid. Here’s a nice story from Kevin: About 50 years ago his uncle went on a high school trip to Ocean City and lost his high school ring in the sand at the beach. His uncle died in his 40’s. Flash forward some years and Kevin’s dad (the uncle’s brother) gets a call from a Jersey woman whose husband had found a high school ring at the beach. She tracked down Kevin’s father in the Philly area and returned the ring by mail. Kevin’s dad sent it on to his nephew. What a sweet story! Jersey people done good.
Theme of the Day
Fruit! Grapes, cherries, apples, pears

Are the grapevines decorated for Halloween? No, it’s netting to protect the grapes from hungry starlings…


Next Up

Grand Rapids and Holland, Michigan