Monday, March 29, 2010


The forecast for today was rain so we decided to drive out to Dulles Airport and take in the National Air and Space Museum. We spent the entire day there. The museum is free, but it costs $15 a day to park in the lot. It's a good trade off because a person could come in a car full of 10 people and then it would be a bargain. I think it also encourages people to take metro from downtown to the airport. Then your only cost would be for the metro.

The outside is impressive and the sculpture leading to the entry really sets the tone. Inside you are surrounded by airplanes.

The impressive thing is that the airplanes exhibited are the originals. These are not mock ups or replicas. The Smithsonian has been given the originals by the people who actually flew them or the company that produced them.

The Virgin Atlantic is a prime example. This is the actual airplane the flew nonstop around the world.

The space shuttle, Enterprise, is one that actually flew missions to space. The magnitude and complexity of conceiving and building the elements of space flight are mind boggling when you see the actual components. Standing next to the space shuttle I found it difficult to envision the size of the rocket that it takes to launch this vehicle into space.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


As I write this, the rain is falling steadily on the motor home and it's making me very sleepy. We left our overnite site at Hico, West Virginia, with the forecast of rain today. The sun never did come out and there were showers throughout the day. The morning road started like this and the day ended with us entering Washington, D.C. on 6 lane interstate highway.

West Virginia feels very hilly and rural. The forest was mostly oak with a very clean floor. Further east the forest floor is covered with rhododendron of some variety that was not yet blooming.

Virginia on the other hand seems clean and agricultural. The Shenandoah Valley is beautiful.

We stopped for lunch in a rest area that had a beautiful view of the valley. Today we decided not to stop at any of the many historic Civil War sites along the freeway. It was cool, cloudy and raining periodically. Instead, we listened to our book on CD and just took in the scenery. We finished two books on CD this trip across the U.S.

We love listening to a book and watching the view change in our windshield. Along I-66 the cut banks were filled with forsythia and plantings of daffodils.

The daffodil are planted in big arrays about a mile apart or at the interchanges.

Tonight we are safely in our camp site for the next two weeks. Can you believe $8 a night for a site one mile from the metro to downtown Washington D.C. The campground hosts are from Eugene, Oregon, and we met a couple from Germany who shipped their RV over here on a container ship and have been touring the U.S. for the last 4 1/2 weeks. They were here in November and left to go back to Germany. Then they returned and drove from Yuma, Arizona, across he U.S. and tomorrow will load their RV on a ship in Baltimore and then fly home the next day. Tomorrow we begin to explore. Rain is predicted for the next two days, but then sunshine and temperatures in the 70's are coming up.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Today we drove through another state capital city. It's amazing how many of them are along the interstate highway routes. On this trip we stopped in Boise, Idaho, took a shortcut past Cheyenne, Wyoming, skirted Denver, Colorado, and took a bypass around Topeka, Kansas. We went right through Jefferson City, Missouri and Frankfort, Kentucky and today went through Charleston, West Virginia. When I say through, I mean we were off the interstate and on city streets. Yesterday we left St. Louis in bright sun and clear skies and entered into Indiana.

That afternoon we toured the boyhood home site of Abraham Lincoln near Dale, Indiana.

Afternoon found us rolling into Louisville, Kentucky. Our friend Lynn Howe, is from here and she recommended we take walk down Bardstown Road. It's reminded us of Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland. We found a restaurant called Ramsi's which served a wide variety of dishes and was so crowded we had to wait a half an hour for a table. We had a ball people watching and had a wonderful meal.

Walking on Bardstown we came past a liquor store and I stepped in to check prices being in the state where Kentucky Whiskey is made. No special prices, but I was surprised to see a prominent display of Oregon Pinot Noirs.

This afternoon we entered West Virginia. The roads were immediately rougher than they had been all across the U.S.

When we passed the State Capital building the dome was shinny gold. I wonder if that's where all the money goes.

We took State route 60 out of Charleston and ended up on some really narrow, winding roads along the Kanawha River.

Tonight we are the only rig in a small RV park near Hico, West Virginia. It's peaceful and quiet, sunny and warm. Unfortunately rain is on it's way. With luck we should make it to our camp ground in Washington D.C. tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


When you first approach the Arch it overwhelms the landscape of downtown St. Louis.

After parking our car underground we emerged from the parking structure to a grassy park along the Mississippi River. We could see the arch through the trees, but in the summer I would imagine it would be hidden. You descend a ramp to enter the tram to the top. Security at the entrance is the same as going through airport security.

After buying a ticket (Golden Age Passports are honored here) you descend again to enter a gondola. They ask you when you buy a ticket if you are claustrophobic.

The gondola car feels like an escape capsule or a diving bell.

At the top, you are greeted by a panoramic view of St. Louis downtown on one side and The Mississippi River on the other. Marlene was holding on tight because the arch was swaying in the wind. The guide said it was only 4 or 5 inches of movement, but it felt like the deck of a boat in the swells. That's Busch Stadium where the Cardinals play baseball.

We're standing 630 feet above ground here at the apex of the arch.

The Mississippi is at flood stage because it has been raining for the last two days and this has combined with spring runoff the high water.

We shared the gondola on the way down with a couple from Michigan who were in St. Louis for the NCAA basketball tournament. They were kind enough to take our picture.

Below the arch is a museum with exhibits portraying the exploration and expansion of the West. Lewis and Clark's expedition and the treaties with the Indians were the focus of many of the displays.

Leaving the arch under gray rainy skies made it feel like something from outer space.

The Mississippi was over it's sea wall and the access to the freeway was blocked so we had to detour a ways to get back to our camp site.

Tonight we're staying in, Dr. Edmund Babler Memorial Park, a Missouri State Park. Good AT&T service for phones and Good Verizon coverage for internet. We also have 30 amp service and antenna TV for watching the tournament. Not bad for $17 and 25 miles from downtown St. Louis. Tomorrow we head east through Illinois and if the weather is sunny we may stop again to explore some more of the city.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


We woke up this morning to gusting winds and rain. Freeway traffic was light and there were very few trucks heading east. I suspect that the snow storm in the Denver area kept the trucks from moving.

We reached Abilene about mid morning and stopped to tour the Eisenhower library,home, and museum. This is the house that Ike and his 6 brothers were raised in. It's a three bedroom house and all the furniture inside is original.

The library and museum are modest stone buildings that express the character of Eisenhower, quiet, yet strong.

It was mid afternoon by the time we finished exploring the museum which meant it would be rush hour about the time we reached Wichita and Kansas City so we decided to head south and then east on State highways so we could bypass the traffic. We spent a pleasant afternoon exploring the Kansas countryside.

The rain continued off and on all day and this evening finds us in a Walmart parking lot in Harrisonville, Missouri. It's still raining as I write this. Tomorrow it's supposed to clear up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Monday found us in the mountain passes between Wyoming and Colorado. Just to remind us that it's still winter, there was lots of snow at these elevations.

We made it to our nephew's house in Niwot, CO, late in the afternoon. It was 70 degrees and we had time for a 45 minute walk through the neighborhood before they got home from working in Denver.

Jeff and Dawn wanted to take us out to dinner and fortunately there was a very elegant restaurant about a half mile from their house, so along with their daughter, Katie, we set out walking. Their older daughter, Molly, is a senior in high school and was away on Monday visiting her college of choice in Colorado Springs. She was picking out her dorm room for next fall.

This morning we hit the road early and by noon we were entering Kansas. Marlene's niece, Shannon, used to call her Auntie "M" when she was little, hence the title of this post. We discovered the rest areas in Kansas are wonderful. Each one has a dump station for RVs and has an area in which overnight parking is allowed. It's like a public camp area it's free.

In keeping with our schedule, today was strength exercises rather than aerobic. We pushed out the slide and turned the motor home into a gym. Marlene uses an exercise CD in the computer to guide her through a routine. I use a routine that I was given for strengthening my back after I ruptured a disc last August.

Tonight finds us in one of the rest areas just outside of Russell, Kansas, the home of Bob Dole. Tomorrow we plan to explore Abilene. We're going to visit the Eisenhower boyhood home and his library. This is our first visit to Kansas and it's amazing the number of historic figures that came from this state. Walter Chrysler and Amelia Earhardt being among them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


A while back I read Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869. I had been to the site where the two linked together over 50 years ago when my parents drove west on vacation. Our campsite last night was about 100 miles from Promontory Point so we took a little side trip this morning to revisit the historic site.

Marlene is checking out the replica of the polished mahogany tie where the golden spices were driven. There were actually 4 spikes driven. One was silver.

After climbing out of the Salt Lake Basin, we headed east on I-80.

Late this afternoon, we found another nice boondocking spot on a hill above Rock Springs, Wyoming. We are across the street from a nice residential area. It's very quiet here and feels very safe. It's amazing what you can find when you get off the freeway and explore the back roads.