Sunday, May 30, 2010


We spent the night in Grand Teton National Park and awoke in the morning to scattered clouds and blue sky. The Snake River has it's source in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It is dammed and fills Jackson Lake before starting it's journey through Idaho and Oregon to join the Columbia and then reach the Pacific Ocean.
We stopped several times to take in the ruggedness of these mountains that seem just to sprout from the grassy meadows.

Just outside Grand Teton is Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

There are lots of shops, mostly jewelry, sporting goods, and arts, but what we were looking for was a good breakfast. We were both craving a nice omelet which we found in a restaurant which had just opened in an old historic house on the edge of the shopping area.

As we started following the Snake River south and westward, the clouds began to build and it started to sprinkle.

It wasn't a hard rain. There was just enough to make everything cool and green.

This was going to be a long day of driving. We are getting close to home so we have been over this part of our route several times. The distance to my brother's house in Baker City turned out to be too short for breaking it into two days and too long really for one day, but we were anxious to get home so we decided on doing it in one day. That means several on the road snacks rather than stopping to make a big lunch. Marlene prepares this kind of snack while I'm on the move. She only does this when we have smooth straight stretches of road. We also can make a pot of coffee while moving.

The day goes fast when we hold a steady 55 miles per hour and listen to a book on tape. By early evening we were approaching Lookout Mountain in eastern Oregon.

Here's where we said goodbye to the Snake as it swings a little to the north to form the boarder between Oregon and Idaho.

The mountains took on a soft green glow in the fading light.

After visiting for the evening, we said goodbye to Herman and Eleanor and headed for home, 6 hours away.

Dianne and Frank Gruelle were parked just where we left them 10 weeks ago. Our house and property looked better than it did when we left thanks to their hard work and attention to detail.

Frank had mowed the lawn, painted the front porch rail and the barn windows and edged around all the garden beds. He even had cleaned the moss out of the cracks in our paving stone driveway and treated the moss on our roof.

We are so grateful to them for allowing us to be away on the road and not have to worry about what was happening back home.

It's a joy to be back, but it's a little sad to end a trip that was trouble free, exciting, awe inspiring, relaxing, and all around wonderful.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


This morning we explored the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. Casper, Wyoming, where the center is located, was a common point on the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, The California Trail and the Pony Express Trail. It was a well done museum displaying the travails of westward expansion. We left there thinking about what it would be like traveling only 15 to 20 miles per day along the route where we are covering 200 to 250 miles per day. Then we tried to compare the hardships. We fuss about not having cell service or internet connection. They had to put up with dust, boredom, hardship, and death.

After miles of flatness, the mountains began to take shape. These painted hills could have been those in Oregon.

The higher we went, the cooler it became and finally we were in the snow.

We crossed the Continental Divide and headed down the drainage into the basin of the Tetons. We've seen these mountains before, but they are always spectacular when they first come into view.

We decided to find a camp site in the Grand Teton National Park. Tonight we are in Signal Mountain Campground. Our site is right on the lake and we have a view of the mountains through the trees. It's cool, but not raining. It's mind boggling to think that on this trip we have camped in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Ozark Mountains and the Teton Mountains. Each area has it's beauty and each is spectacular in it's own way. We continue to feel gratitude for having the opportunity to see this country from so many perspectives.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


This morning broke bright and sunny in our Wal Mart camp ground. We started the day with a breakfast of cereal and frozen blueberries from our garden. Last years blueberries of course.

We continued west on US 14 heading for Rapid City, South Dakota. Highway 14 has been a wonderful east to west route to take. We have been following it from Rochester, Mn., for the last 3 days. Traffic has been light. There have been very few trucks, mostly local trucks hauling corn or animals. Small city parks and less formal campgrounds have been frequent. We've been listening to a book on CD and watching the miles role by.

For lunch we stopped at a Forest Service information pull out in the Black Hills. From Rapid City, we swung south and picked up highway 16 through the Black Hills.

West of the Black Hills from Newcastle, Wyoming, we used State 450 and 387 to pick up Interstate 25 heading south to Casper.

By mid afternoon, storm clouds started building in the west and we saw several lightning strikes ahead of us.

The clouds got darker and higher so we stopped for a break in Wright, Wyoming.

It rained on us there, but not much. It looked like the storm was going to miss us to the north west.

When the storm passed, we started up again. A few miles down the road we ran into 2 inches of hail on the road. Two cars, one pulling a horse trailer had spun out on the hail and were off the road in the ditch. People had already stopped to help them and there was no place for us to pull off, so we continued on.

Tonight we are parked in the lot of this Historic Trails interpretive center. There is one other rig here so we have neighbors which always makes us feel more secure.

The clouds have passed and we have a beautiful view of the city of Casper, Wyoming below us. Another good day of travel. After a nice 30 minute aerobic walk along the ridge over the city, we are settled down for the night.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The last weekend at the farm brought a variety of activities. John planted the lilac that Steve and Diana gave "The Farm" in appreciation for their stay.

Jim invited us to share his "Beer Can Chicken". This is chicken prepared on a charcoal grill using a special support that holds a beer can. The can is half full of beer with special spices added. Jim's spices are a secret. The beer can is inserted into the chicken cavity and placed on the grill. Cooking time was about 1 1/2 hours. The chicken turned out moist and flavorful with a nice crispy skin. Along side the chicken were fresh morel mushrooms with potatoes and also fresh portabelo mushrooms sliced, onions, and potatoes. What a feast.

Sunday, we drove to Eleva, Wisconsin, to visit cousins of John and I. We are some of the descendants of the Ryder side of the family. My mother had twin sisters. One twin had 3 boys and the other had 2 girls. The six of us who were able to get together used to gather each year for a Thanksgiving celebration when we were kids. Then we were in grade school. Now we are all senior citizens.

Today we said our good byes and headed west on I-90. After 50 miles, we exited onto US 14 at Rochester, MN, and continued on the 2 lane highway.

This evening finds us in New Ulm, MN. We have fresh flowers from the farm on our table and are in a very nice Minnesota State Park.

It was 95 degrees and humid when we set up our camp.

Marlene made a very tasty dinner of fresh potatoes, green salad, and a small fillet of salmon.

After dinner, we took a long 3 mile up and down hill walk to the center of town. New Ulm is an old German settlement. Established in 1854 by German immigrants. The streets are straight and wide with alleys behind the houses. Houses are neat and trim. The three mile walk was strenuous and was longer than we expected. By the time we arrived in the downtown area we were both tired and thirsty. Fortunately, one of the first businesses established in the city in 1860 was the Shell's Brewing Company. They make a delightful array of beers and we found a tavern on main street that had all their beers on tap. What was even nicer was the fact that Minnesota has a no smoking law for restaurants and taverns and this tavern smelled fresh and clean and was filled with the local town folk. Unfortunately we arrived about 30 minutes too late to hear a local oompa band perform live. We ordered a couple of drafts and engaged in a conversation with the bar keeper and his helper. By the end of the evening, the helper offered us a ride back to the park which we graciously accepted.

What a wonderful end to the first day back on the road.

This building is the old post office which has now been turned into the Chamber of Commerce, historical society, museum, and visitors center. It sure reminded us of Germany.

Here's the downtown.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Steve and his family were with us for 9 days. We had an opportunity to visit Marlene's brothers, some of the cousins, and family friends of ours.

At Harlan's farm they got to check out an old go cart that was built for Harlan's son, Karl, when he was 5 years old. Hence, the number 5 on a car that is now more than 40 years old.

Casey got to try out an antique Massey Harris tractor.

Another night on the Dopp farm we sat around a fire ring and were serenaded by second cousins and friends from high school who play in the jazz band.

Spring farm work has to continue when the sun shines, so the boys got to participate in preparing a field for soy bean planting. Each boy got to ride in the big tractor for a full turn around the field.

Marlene's brother Don has a highly productive dairy operation. Ryder got to meet a heifer close up and personal.

Don took us for a ride in an old manure spreader which he converted to a passenger wagon by strategically placing some hay bales for us to sit on. He took us around to the old places that Marlene remembered having lived on this farm from when she was in grade school through high school.

Another day we went to Tomah, Wisconsin, to join the second cousins in celebration of a ninth birthday. It's not hard to tell that these kids are all related. Our three grandsons are separated by my brother's grandson and granddaughter.

Bath time on the farm is pretty easy when the sun is shining and it's warm.

After the bath, Marlene and I took the boys for an adventure to visit the swinging bridge in Galesville. The fun here was picking up maple seeds and dropping them over the railing and watching them spin down to the water 30 feet below.

Forty years ago, Steve had a birthday party here on the farm. Since Casey and Phelan's birthday celebration would be in June and by then we would be back in Oregon, we decided to celebrate early. Home made ice cream was the special treat of the day.

The birthday boys got first opportunity to lick the paddle.

The cake was decorated with toy trucks just like it had been for Steve in 1970.

An evening dinner with our friends the Chalsma's in Taylor, Wisconsin, included an ATV tour of the farm. Half way through the ride, I offered Ryder the chance to drive. He handled the machine totally on his own.

The last day of their visit to the farm included the discovery of the "Red Ryder" bee bee gun. (be careful or you will shoot your eye out). All three boys had a chance to learn how to aim and shoot the gun. The target was a plastic Pepsi bottle.

This was our good bye picture. It was wonderful to be together and parting brought some tears of sadness, but we know the separation is only temporary and in a few months we should be back together again. The Blue Daisey is headed to Canada and to the East Coast. We will be heading west to Oregon.