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 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 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 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 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 16: Sunday, September 30 – Yellowstone to Jackson, WY

  • This morning started off with a visit to the ranger first aid clinic.  It seems that Glenda was bitten by bugs/spiders while sitting at the desk in our hotel room.  What??  The medical professional on duty prescribed benadryl, ice and the usual.  OK, that is done.
  • Worked our way out of Yellowstone toward Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Teton National Park (yes..wait for it….another STAMP!!).  Glenda mentioned that the translation of the Grand Tetons is Big Tits so we will, of course, refer to it from now on as the B.T.  Before exiting Yellowstone we had time for one more loop around the geysers and other hydro thermal features and one last facial at Thumb Geyser Basin.

  • We hit the B.T. only 5 miles or so south of Yellowstone yet the landscape already looked different.  More fall foliage, dramatic mountains (B.T.’s) springing up from the lake.

  • Hit Jackson proper (population about 1800) and looked for a hotel.  Found this leather chair, buffalo, manly-cigar-type of fancy hotel that had a room with 2 giant king beds.  So here we are.  Headed back out in search of moose.  Sorry to say, no moose yet but more incredible bison herd sightings.  Beautiful dusk lighting too!

Jersey Junction

It seemed like again there would be no Jersey connection but we finally met a fellow restaurant patron dining at the bar next to us.  Terry lives in Vermont, has lived on Montana and other places.  Terry worked hard to come up with his Jersey experience bypassing, thankfully, his several times on I-95 in refinery world, and landing on a bike race he competed in through Harriman State Park and the Palisades.  He mentioned a beautiful view of NY and the Hudson and had a pleasant memory of it all.  Yes, a pleasant Jersey experience!  We rest our case.

Theme of the Day:  Gorgeous scenery

Up next: Jackson again and the search for a moose sighting!!

Day 17: Monday, October 1 – Jackson, WY

  • By some miracle this morning we actually were up and in the car by 7am–shocking–we know.  But we were determined to have a moose sighting.  Armed with directions to moose territory given to us by our waitress, we aimed for sunrise moose viewing. At first no luck but we drove further into the B.T. Park and encountered a bear.  So adorable.  Then further on we hit the jackpot with a moose and her baby (just missed her husband, Bullwinkle).
  • On our way back we looked for Mr. Beaver and couldn’t find him but we found his handiwork and his friend.

  • Back into Jackson for a walk about Town Square and some shopping.


Sue and Glenda getting into the western theme!!

Sue’s mom and her friend getting into the western theme circa 1953!!

Jersey Junction

In our shopping, we met a store clerk who was born and raised in Clifton, NJ then Pompton Lakes, NJ.  She married and moved to Lynbrook, Long Island and then decided to bolt to the far west in 1970 with her 2 kids and a sawed off shotgun in tow.  She left her Harley dealer hubby to follow and set up their new life 15 miles outside of Jackson.  She now shows no signs of her former Jersey or LI life…not even an accent is left.

We also met a very friendly store clerk originally from Minnesota with a good friend here in Jackson, an artist, from Maplewood, NJ….a close enough junction.


Theme of the Day: Photo Safari

Up Next: Salt Lake City and Sue’s friend Nancy!!  wooo hooooo!!

Day 18: Tuesday, October 2 – Jackson, WY to Salt Lake City, UT

  • Started off the day with a visit to the Jackson Emerg-a-Care clinic to treat what turned out to be Glenda’s infected, black fly-bitten, index finger. Ick!
  • Medical issue taken care of we hit the road south to the SLC home of Nancy and George Janes, Sue’s buds from Short Hills. We drove through 3 states and an ever-changing landscape; tiny towns with a whole lot of nothing in between. This ride made us really see so many different colors everywhere. Here they are:


blue and peach










Jersey Junction

Yay! A self-evident Junction; we stayed with transplanted Jersey people. Had a great dinner, discussed Mormon Utah, and learned that the Mormon caffeine ban does not apply to Coca-Cola because it is a cold beverage and the ban seems to be on warm drinks only. Whatever. Nancy and George love it here and they are now confirmed Utahns (yes, that’s the term). Many thanks to them for a great stay.

Theme of the Day: Colors – all along the way, starting with a visit to Dr. Blue (really, that was his name :))

Up Next: Eureka, Nevada

Day 19: Wednesday, October 3 – Salt Lake City UT to Eureka, NV

  • Great accommodations at the Janes Inn.  As usual, we took the full 3 hours to organize ourselves for departure.  Nancy left for work, came back – surprise we were still there!  She was unphased, gracious and perhaps a little worried that we would never leave 🙂
  • Hit the road– the back roads, in fact, ultimately America’s loneliest road: Rte 50 to Eureka Nevada.  First we crossed Utah and the great expanse of Salt Lake and these weird salt/mud flats.  Once in Nevada, the loneliest road pretty much describes it.  About 200 miles with only 3 towns in the whole stretch.  Again, a whole lot of nothin’ in between.  Coming from Mormon Utah and entering the “anything goes” Nevada (we were corrected in the welcome center as to the correct pronunciation..that’s Ne-va-da not Ne-vah-da. OK!!) was quite the contrast.  From no caffeine, booze, smoking, gambling, etc to prostitution, smokin’, drinkin’ and gambling everywhere – even the gas stations.  Wow!!  Pictures from the road: 

Morton Salt Factory, UT

Really Big Tires!!. UT

Strange Ball Statue, UT

Along the road , NV

Pony Express Stop, NV

Along America’s Loneliest Road


  • Arrived in Eureka, crossed to the Pacific time zone here and crossed into another world as well.  Pretty sure this is the most remote place we will stay in.  We are in the Best Western here and our fellow travelers and fellow diners at the one local eatery are quite the sight.  Here is who we saw: mine-working, dusty, steel toe boot clad, giant mountain men; a pair of older toupee-wearing gay motorcycle men; a gray-haired local couple holding holding hands and saying grace before dinner; a table of Mexican workers; a possible Euro tourist with fancy shoes; a hipster with a cap, weird rubber shoes and a most unusual pair of pants that we swear would fit in at Williamsburg, Brooklyn now; a pair of men who seemed to be on some sort of business trip…what business there might be for them around here we haven’t a clue;  a couple of local men wearing both belts and suspenders.  All in all, a whole new world here.



Jersey Junction

We have driven some 4,000 miles away from Jersey only to find ourselves in the Newark Valley.  Somewhere in between Ely, NV and Eureka, NV lies, yes, Newark.  Here’s a picture.  Does anything look familiar?  Can you see the Rock in the distance?



Theme of the Day: Empty spaces

Up next: Tahoe, perhaps.


p.s. We forgot to mention when we were in Wyoming that Wyoming is the largest producer of bentonite in the world.  Bentonite is the major ingredient in cat litter.  We left the cat litter capital of the world behind.  Just sayin’.

p.p.s. Glenda had Tater Tots for dinner 🙂


Day 20: Thursday, October 4 – Eureka, NV to Reno, NV

  • Last minute decision to try Reno – “The Biggest Little City in the World” just because we have never been there and don’t know a thing about it.  First we hit Hickison National Forest along route 50 (the loneliest road in America).  A short hike led us to great views of the valley and petroglyphs.  

Today’s wildlife sighting: lizard




Glenda at the Hickison Overlook

Sue at the Hickison Overlook

  • We stayed on route 50 and headed to Austin, NV pop. 300.  We stopped at the Austin post office for stamps and were treated to quite a long conversation with a local.  He started the conversation by asking us about the postal rates–perhaps we looked like USPS employees?  And as the primarily one way conversation rambled we learned he is not an original local.  He called himself a” prune picker” aka a Californian.  But he has been in Austin since he graduated high school and he has definitely had many years on him since then.  He did recommend an alternate route off of Highway 50 that turned out to be a good recommendation.  We stopped for lunch at one of the two restaurants in town, looked in a rustic gallery/jewelry shop and drove off past our new friend and a woman sitting in front of a store on the main drag.  He gave us a big wave on our way.

** Here’s where he really endeared himself to me–discussing how his wife finally kicked him out after he told her one too many times that her hair was too short and her ass too fat.  He said this while comparing her hair to mine but tried to smooth it over by indicating that my ass wasn’t that fat.  He also mentioned that he had been hit on the head 3 times at his work which may have contributed to his unchecked outbursts.  Maybe.

Wildlife sighting:antelope

Salt flats


  • We continued on our way through Fallon, home of the US Navy “top gun” Air Station.  We saw a plane flying around there too.  We also passed by Sand Mountain, a giant sand dune sprouting in the desert not far from the Navy Air field.  We are always crunched for time and I’m sorry to say we missed both the Red Light Prostitution Museum and the Bra Chandelier in Virginia City, NV.

Sand Mountain

  • Made it to Reno and checked into one of these casino hotels with bargain rates.  Still a lot of casinos here are abandoned–we are looking at an abandoned high rise hotel from our window.  Similar to the towns along route 50, it’s a boom and bust situation–silver, gold, lead, gems mined created booms in the 1800’s and early 1900’s but it was over in a flash.  Looks like Reno may have experienced some of the same.

Jersey Junction

Back to our talkative “prune picker” who also taught us another term: “rubber tramp” for one who sleeps in his car, meaning what he did after the wife threw him out.  He mentioned that one of the 300 souls who live  in Austin is originally from Jersey.  Amanda is Portuguese and may be from Newark (he didn’t recognize the town name but we figure it’s a good guess).  But how she ended up here in Austin NV?  Who knows?  We didn’t get to meet Amanda but she’s out there!!

Theme of the Day: Boom and Bust

Up next: Lake Tahoe

p.s. Shout out to Nevada bureau of tourism…the lady at the welcome center gave us a CD to listen to with info about Nevada.  It was really good and informative about these little towns along the old Pony Express route.  Best thing we got from any of the states so far!!