- 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.
- Bacteria Mat (this is what it really said on the sign)
- 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.
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
- 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.
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)
- 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
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!!
- 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
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
- 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.
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
- 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!!
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!
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!!
- 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!
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…
Grand Rapids and Holland, Michigan