Author Archives: Sue

By the Numbers

SInce we both brought our old HP12C financial calculators on the road (you never know when you might need to do a quick present value calculation when driving across America), we felt the need to calculate something.  So for you number cruncher people, here is our trip quantified:

Number of Days on the Road: 43

Number Miles Driven:  8,590

Number of Fill-Ups: 53

Number of States Traveled In/Through: 22

Number of Hotels/B&Bs Stayed In: 27

–       11 chain hotels

–        7 non-brand hotels

–       5 National Park lodges

–       3 B&Bs

–       1 ranch

Number of Homes Stayed In: 4

Number of Medical Professionals Consulted on the Road: 4

Number of Animal Species Seen/Noted: 37 plus 2 dead horses

Number of Waking Hours Spent in Silence: 0

Number of Books on Tape Completed: 0 (but we got through 2 separate halves)

Number of State Tourism Bureau-Provided CDs: 1 but it was a good one!!!

Number of Meals Missed: 0

Number of Days without an Alcoholic Beverage: 0

Number of Stamps in our National Park Passports: 42  woooo hoooo!!

Number of National Parks/Sites/Monuments Visited: 21

Number of Photos Taken: 4,558 (9.71 Gigabytes)

Number of Strangers Photographed: 111

Highest Elevation Reached: 11,312 Feet Above Sea Level – Monarch Pass, CO

Lowest Elevation Reached:  282 Feet Below Sea Level – Death Valley, CA

Highest Legal Speed Limit: 80 MPH, UT  (Sue never exceeded the speed limit!!)

Average Number of Miles Driven per Day: 200

Total Dollars Spent on Travel (Gifts Excluded):  $8,781.82

Average Cost per Person Per Day: $102.11

Number of New Taste Sensations: 51

Day 40: Wednesday, October 24 – Overland Park, KS to St Louis, MO

  • 40 days and 40 nights. Who knew we would actually make it this far?  The morning starts out with our usual slow start but we are pressed as we have to make Glenda’s 4th doctor appointment of the trip.  As we have mentioned before, we are going to name all the docs with names of colors so this one, Dr. Firestone, is Dr. Red.  Nema takes the patient, Glenda, to the doc while Sue wanders around KC Plaza, a shopping center of southwestern architecture full of fountains and beautiful tile work.
Back to the doctor–yes the arm is broken–and now Glenda gets to pick out a cast–now called a clamshell splint made of Aquaplast (a low temperature plastic).  She selects Jayhawk blue. Why not?  When in Kansas…..

KC Plaza


Glenda and Dr. Red and her x-ray

Glenda and Carla the hand therapist

Making the cast

Do you recognize this arm sans cast from “Person of Interest”??

  • So once she is all fixed up, we say goodbye to Nema and head out east on Rte 70 to St. Louis.  Nothing to report on the way, just highway and we land at our hotel across from the Arch.  The Arch looks really cool, beautiful and huge!  We will explore it further tomorrow.

The Arch

  • Dinner tonight we decide to try the “Little Italy” of St. Louis — “the Hill”.  We take a cab which takes forever…through the city streets, highways, crossing rivers, on main avenues etc and we finally arrive at one restaurant.  No sign of a “village” like the little Italy we were expecting.  Oh well.  We eat at the restaurant and find out that Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola grew up across the street from each other on Elizabeth Street here.  We walk over to find the street now named Hall of Fame Street.  Wow!!  The cab ride home takes half the time, half the cost and such a pleasant driver.  He advises us against taking the rickety capsule ride up the Arch to the top describing the awful ride.  We agree wholeheartedly and thank him for his wise counsel.  No Arch ride for us.

At Cunetto’s

Toasted ravioli – a “Hill” special

Hydrant at the “hill”

Jersey Junket

Today we have 2 junctions.  First, Carla, of hand therapy fame, announced that she was so impressed with customs at EWR.  She loved it.  So much better that London, apparently.  Second, Yogi Berra, a long time Jersey resident, of Montclair and late maybe of Caldwell, an icon…was raised here in “the hill” in St Louis.  5447 Elizabeth St.  Here is his house:

Sue in front of Yogi’s house

#5447 Elizabeth

Theme of the Day: Arms.  Broken arms, great throwing arms, catching the great pitching arms etc.

Up next: Lexington, KY

Day 39: Tuesday, October 23 – Overland Park, KS

  • Oh No!!!  Technical failure!!  Right off the bat this morning, Glenda’s new camera (purchased on the road 2 weeks ago) broke.  A slit instead of an open lens.  Help!!!  So before we launch into the day’s activities, we stop to exchange the camera.
  • Nema and Bob take us to Independence, MO the home of the Harry S. Truman Home National Park Site and Truman library.  First we check out the local town and then off for a tour of the home (a very big stamp day here…stamps for the home, the farm, the various trails…woohooo).

Jackson Court house where Harry S. Truman starts his political career as a judge

an Independence Eatery

  • For the home tour we meet Ranger Mike, our guide.  Glenda, an aspiring park ranger, is secretly thrilled when Nema asks Ranger Mike to remove his hat to let Glenda try it on.  She needs to get a good feel for the uniform she may be wearing in her future employ.

Please note Glenda is already wearing the requisite green ranger pants

Here we are at Harry’s home

A few facts about Harry S. Truman:

-His middle name is only the initial S.  for both of his grandfathers

-He is the last president to not have attended college

-He was nominated as FDR’s VP to replace the previous VP and became VP in Jan ’45 and FDR died in April ’45 so he became our 33rd President.

-Moved back to Independence after his turn as President and lived there until his death.

-We stopped back in town for ice cream.  Sundae and shakes for all (Harry worked here as youth when it was a pharmacy).

In Independence…


  • We arrived at the Harry S. Truman Library. Take in the movie and go through the exhibits. This is a really well-organized museum. So much happened in Truman’s watch and he had so many big decisions to make. We took it all in. And then Glenda’s new working life re-emerged as a PR woman asked Glenda if she would pose for some still shots for a potential brochure and website. She’s back in front of the camera – all body parts were represented! Bob, Nema and Sue all barged in for their own stints at modeling. We think Nema will be picked as she played her role writing something out so very well.

Photo shoot – Glenda & Bob

More photography – Glenda & Sue

Harry and Glenda

  • We toured a bit of downtown KC and capped off the day with fabulous, true, KC barbecue at Oklahoma Joe’s – a BBQ joint in a gas station – rated #1for ribs in the country by some. Best BBQ we’ve ever had!

Gas and ribs, anyone?

Slab o’ ribs

Jersey Junction

In our quest to get Glenda a new camera, we met Zach, our Best Buy sales associate. He’s never been to New Jersey but revealed that the first thing that comes to mind when asked about our fair state is the basketball team. He was a NJ Nets fan because of Vince Carter and knew all about the recent move of the Nets to Brooklyn. He also made us smile when he told us he would NOT mention Jersey Shore in answer to our question. Good man!

Best Buy salesman and NJ Nets fan Zach

Theme of the Day: The buck stops in Independence, MO

Up Next: St. Louis, MO

Day 38: Monday, October 22 – Flying W Ranch to Overland Park, KS

  • Up early to try to view some prairie chickens — we tried but we don’t think we saw one although we did flush out a bird that looked kind of like a duck?? But no water in sight??  Is it a prairie chicken?  Yes, we think so.


Sunrise 2

Glenda (splenda) in the grass.

Hags on Nags

  • Next up – Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve with 3–really–stamps.  The prairie (french word for meadow) used to cover 170 million acres of North America, today less than 4% remains.  It is basically 3 types of grass rolling out over hills.  Because of the drought here the grass didn’t reach its usual height potential so it was easier to hike through and see where we were going.

Schoolhouse on the prairie



Glenda as a junior ranger

  • Still on our way to Overland Park, KS.  Next stop Topeka for a visit to the Brown v. Board of Ed National Historic Site.  We landed in Topeka but we were hungry!!  Shout out to Papp for the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives book for directing us to Bobos Drive-in.  Yummy.  A vintage drive-in for the burgers and onion rings.


Said our server

food art photo

At Monroe Elementary School now home of the Brown v Board of Ed National Historic Site

  • We arrived in Overland Park, KS to the home of Glenda’s friends Bob and Nema and dog Cooper.  They have a beautiful house and welcomed us, our bedraggled selves and overloaded car, warmly.  Fabulous dinner on the patio in 80 degree Kansas October weather?  We go to our separate but equal bedrooms. Ahhhh 🙂

Glenda, Nema, Sue

Cooper: Dog of the month at Pete and Mac’s Dog Hotel

Chocolates for dessert

Jersey Junction

Nothing really strong today–a mention or 2 in the Brown v. Board museum about Newark’s several African American Mayors since the civil rights movement. Nema and Bob have both been to NJ many times.  Nema has decided that the Princeton U campus is the prettiest campus she has ever seen.  Nema, a Texan who knows her way around a sweet potato pie, recalls over 20 years ago she bought the best sweet potato pie she has ever tasted from some guy in the Trenton train station. She still remembers it.  So there!!

Theme of the Day: From the mountains, to the prairies….

Up next: Overland Park, KS

Day 36: Saturday, October 20 – Manitou Springs, CO to Dodge City, KS

  • We are heading to the plains and the “wild west” town of Dodge City, KS-via Route 50-we are avoiding the big interstate Route 70.  Along Route 50 we learn of a National Historic Site near La Junta, CO called Old Bent’s Fort.  It was a trading post on the Santa Fe Trail for fur traders, Indians, explorers and visitors-the gateway to trading in the west.  It is on the Arkansas River and sits near what used to be the border with Mexico.

At Old Bent’s Fort


  • That was a fun and informative stop – and Glenda met another Glenda in the gift shop.  Wow!!!  Back on the road we notice the flat, open land we expected.  No more Rocky Mountains or any mountains-in fact there’s hardly a hill at all.  We found a few more sites en route.  The DAR installed 12 statues of pioneer women all across the country from Bethesda MD to Upland CA and we found one in Lamar CO.  This one is the Madonna of the Trail.  We also passes through Holcomb, KS site of the Truman Capote “In Cold Blood” murders.

Madonna of the Trail

Road view

  • Now in KS we see a lot of feed lots–full of cows packed in at the troughs.  Roll down the window and breathe deep.  Take a good whiff of manure of a million cows.  Ugh.  Reminds us of Jersey on the turnpike.  P.U.

  • Dodge City is a pretty tired town with not much happening for tourists especially.  The fake western museum/town was closed when we arrived so we walked around town and shopped a little in the primarily Mexican downtown.  Dinner at a local Mexican joint.  Pretty good!!



Jersey Junction

No people junction today, but outside of La Junta, CO (which means the junction) at Old Bent’s Fort, we learn that Colt revolvers were traded regularly at the fort and were manufactured in…yes…Paterson, NJ.


Theme of the Day: It’s Mexican Day (our book on tape is also set in Mexico)

Up next: The Flying W Ranch Strong City, KS

Day 34: Thursday, October 18 – Hotchkiss, CO

  • OK, so another trip for Calamity Jane (aka Glenda) to the local clinic.  This time, a slip and fall and a possible sprain/break of the wrist.  Although the doctor was named something else, we harken back to Jackson and Dr. Blue.  So since all docs out here are colors, we refer to this one as Dr. Yellow.  Dr. Yellow took an x-ray, wasn’t sure if it was broken or sprained, but gave her a splint and icing and Advil instructions.

A visit to Dr. Yellow

  • But Glenda can still walk and trooper that she is, she was ready for a hike.  We had breakfast and watched as people came to pick the grapes at the B & B vineyard.


The vines

Jessica and Emily, the pickers

Action shot

  • We drove to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Gunnison National Park.  A stamp!!!!  And a hike to a view at the edge of the rim.

Black Canyon

  • Later we stopped by Glenda’s friend Dan’s house here in Hotchkiss where her other friends Chuck and Inken were visiting for a fishing weekend.  A beautiful, contemporary, NY architect designed-house sitting on 200 acres with the Gunnison River running through it.  Sue tried her hand at fishing with no success but Chuck reeled in a big one!!

Dan’s House

Inken and Glenda walking back from fishing


  • We had a raucous dinner party at some guy’s house where he has a brick pizza oven and makes pizza for one group only in a room in his house.  Dan and Eve brought all the snacks, beverages and side dishes and Joe the pizza guy made the pizzas fresh in his oven.  The beverages were flowing and we had a long discussion about shooting guns which Sue desperately wants to do but might be too scared to try.  Joe apparently has many firearms of all kinds to shoot all kinds of things.  Hmmmmmm.

Pizza Party

Glenda, Sue and Dan’s guest Teddy

Jersey Junction

Dan grew up in Red Bank, NJ a full-fledged Jersey Boy!!  His friend Eve, a Phille girl, spent her childhood summers at the Jersey Shore.

Eve and Dan – Jersey People

Theme of the day: Colorado Outdoor Life, Hikin’, Fishin’, Huntin’ (for a doctor)

Up next: Pueblo, CO

Not sure yet how to pronounce this state…Col o rahdo or Col o rado…like Nevada.  Anyone know???





Day 33: Wednesday, October 17 Moab, UT to Hotchkiss, CO

  • Glenda’s friends Chuck and Inken called to let us know that they would be in Hotchkiss, CO about 3 hours east of Moab, for a long weekend.  So we rearranged our schedule and planned to meet up with them tomorrow.  We did a little shopping in the fat tire-friendly town of Moab.  We made a few purchases and found one Jersey Junction.
  • Next, on the road for 3 hours driving east to Hotchkiss.  We passed through Grand Junction, CO.  This was a surprisingly big (population 60,00) city.  The downtown was filled with sculptures and boutiques including a whole store devoted to babies and midwives (Lee take note).
  • Finally on to Hotchkiss, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Colorado.  We are staying at a B&B/vineyard run by a Frenchman Yvon and his New Yorker (Queens) wife Joanna.  For dinner we head to town and Zack’s BBQ for ribs and chicken and a delicious local brew.

Leroux Creek Inn


BBQ joint

Local brews

  •  Back at the B&B, Yvon and Joanna were hosting 2 couples for a culinary event. They toured local vineyards and farms to buy the ingredients and come back to the B&B to cook a meal under the guidance of chef Yvon. We participated in the wine hour before they sat down to dinner. Pat & Jim, from Denver by way of TX, Cheryl from CT with her partner Tim from England. A really festive night for all, drinking the  B&B’s wine.
Jersey Junction
So, we have a couple today. First, our shop owner in Moab – Cathya Haas. Born in Philly but her parents lived in Pennsauken, NJ. Plus, her father was from Westmont,NJ (wherever that is). So even thought she has lived out in the west for a long time – she’s got Jersey roots!

Cathya with some of her beautiful hand-dyed scarves

Our second JJ was our B&B mates, Pat and Jim. Jim spent many a week in Liberty Corner working for Ingersoll Rand. He loved driving the back roads of NJ in the early morning and agreed that most Texans have no idea how beautiful NJ can be. No ugly Jersey stories from him. Thanks, Jim!

Jim and Pat

Theme of the Day: Beer and Wine
Next Up: Staying in Hotchkiss


Day 30: Sunday, October 14 – Grand Canyon, AZ to Monument Valley, UT


  • Another visit to the Grand Canyon South Rim this morning.  We walked along the rim and got 2, count them, 2 National Park stamps here.  Glenda was ecstatic.  Yay!!  We spotted our first wildlife evidence in the canyon and we shopped.  A double great morning!!

Morning at the South Rim

Wildlife at the Canyon: Turkey Vulture?

  • Next on our way to Monument Valley and The View Hotel in the Navajo Nation.  We weren’t sure what to expect as we traveled again through the middle of nowhere.  We noticed in the Navajo Nation that there were many octagonal/round buildings/huts mixed into the communities with houses and trailers.  Glenda researched in the passenger seat and discovered that these are called hogans — Navajo homes — round to represent Father Sun, Mother Earth, Sister Moon and the circle of life (brothers Rand, Pete and Steve take notice, bros don’t count…sorry).  Some of the hogans were also sweat lodges for meditative/ceremonial purposes. Some look like round garages, made of wood like some kind of garage or shed next to the house.  Maybe the grandparents live there?  Here are pictures of the mud hogan the ceremonial/sweat lodge type.  Pictures of your regular old hogans to come.

Mud-type hogan en route to Monument Valley

Sue inside a sample hogan


  • Monument Valley is _________ (insert your own superlative here).  This was the scene, apparently, of many old westerns featuring John Wayne etc.  As a matter of fact, our hotel is showing one of those old westerns on the side of the building right now.  We arrived just in time for the sunset, perfect time for shooting pics.

Monument Valley at Sunset


  • A note about our fellow travelers.  We have seen, of course, many Americans along the way.  But for the non-American tourists, we have seen the following:   Niagara Falls – East Indians; Yellowstone – Chinese; Death Valley – French; Swedish bikers; Grand Canyon and Monument Valley – Japanese; Germans everywhere as well as our fellow AARP members. HA!!

Jersey Junction

Elba helped us shopping at the Hopi House on the South Rim.  She is Puerto Rican, originally from Spanish Harlem Manhattan.  And although she has lived out west here in Arizona and California for a long time, she is still a New Yorker at heart and….her cousins are in South Brunswick, NJ (close enough).  Thanks Elba!!

Theme of the Day: Giddeeyup!

Up Next: Moab, UT  Arches National Park

Day 29: Saturday, Oct 13 – Bryce Canyon, UT to Grand Canyon, AZ

  • Just in case you think everything has been going so smoothly, we would like to revisit the lost (temporarily) and found issues we were having about 2 weeks ago.  Here is a list of things we have lost (temporarily) and happily recovered again.  (The last few days have been particularly challenging on this front) : Glenda’s flashlight; Glenda’s cell phone; Glenda’s head lamp (yes she has one, hikers!!); Sue’s camera charger; Sue’s camera card reader; Glenda’s purse; Sue’s reading glasses; Glenda’s sunglasses.

Glenda modeling her head lamp (thanks, Di!)

  • Up early this morning we thought we would catch the sunrise but Bryce was cloudy and snowy so no good sunrise to be seen.  We headed south to the Grand Canyon.  En route we changed our original plan and thought we would go to the North Rim first and then on to the South Rim where we had hotel reservations.  The only problem was we didn’t know the time zone changed from Mountain time in Utah to Pacific time in Arizona.  Add to that our general map issues and so our estimated 4.5 hour trip became more like 6-7 driving hours.  Oh well.

Dark clouds on the horizon…

What else do you need???

  • At the North Rim we walked a short distance to Bright Angel Point for spectacular views.  Sue has never been to the Grand’s HUGE!

North Rim

Also the North Rim

  • Now onto the South Rim which seemed like just  few short miles away….210 actually.  We were now in Navajo Nation and stopped at a few roadside Navajo crafts/jewelry stands.  We each found something to buy.

Tiffany’s west?

Vermillion Cliffs from the car

  • Finally we made it along the South Rim for more spectacular canyon views and even caught the sun setting against some of the canyon walls.

Watchtower at Desert View – South Rim

Sue inside the Watchtower

South Rim

  • We were not able to get a hotel in the Park so we are  in a motel- a real throwback and full of Japanese tourists.  The dinner menu reminded us both of some of our local childhood diners or family restaurants with fruit cup,  minute steak etc.  Here is Glenda’s spaghetti dinner:

    Toast and a radish accompanied the pasta!

Jersey Junction
Two Today:
Our ranger at the North Rim, Jacob, asked us where we were from and, yes, he is from South
Jersey–Cherry Hill area. He was a history teacher but gave that up to become a ark ranger 4 years ago.  He lives here in the Park from April until closing in October and then heads to Pittsburgh where he works as a tutor.

Jacob, Park Ranger, and Sue

At a roadside Navajo Vendor/viewpoint we ran into a young woman wearing a Drew Softball t-shirt. Yes, she is the assistant softball coach at Drew University in Madison, just down the road from Sue (shout out to Carol and Andrea..Go Rangers!!).  She is on vacation after their Fall ball practice and before the season starts in the Spring.  She is from North Plainfield.  We Jersey people get around!

Theme of the Day: Big Rocks

Up next: Monument Valley, Utah

p.s.  We just realized that over the last 5 days we have been in temperatures ranging from 103 (Death Valley) to 33 (Bryce).  Thus the BIG suitcases!!


Day 27: Thursday, October 11 – Vegas to Bryce Canyon, UT

  • It only rains 9 days a year in Las Vegas and today was one of those days.  Not just a few drops but buckets.  That meant flash flooding and rivers of one-foot water flowing through the streets.  As intrepid travelers we still made it to the Jiffy Lube for and oil change and fluid check.  Given the all clear we headed out.
  • Enroute to Bryce we encountered some massive stone mountains and were stunned by the dramatic colors of Red Rock Canyon in Dixie National Forest just before the entrance to Bryce.

Massive mountain

  • Once in Bryce we took in the NPS film, got a stamp (natch) and the lay of the land.  It might snow tomorrow which could make our hiking interesting.

Jersey Junction

None today.  Too much time in the car.

Theme of the Day: Rain, rain go away.

Up next: Explore Bryce