Sunday, June 15, 2008


Probably the most entertaining things that I’ve compiled over the drive has to be the following:

1. Driving away from a perfectly good Mail Box with Postcards stamped and filled out on the dashboard
2. Leaving a perfectly good rest area w/o asking if she needs to use the facilities or would possibly like to walk around
3. The laptop being out does not mean that you are boring and you need to begin a full scale guided tour of all that you are seeing.
4. You should never pack the laptop case at the bottom of everything
5. Failing to comprehend the following translation in a national park “Oh that’s pretty”= “You will stop in the Next 15ft regardless of traffic so I can get a picture”.... (This explains why the older silver backs of the male gender drive so slow in these locations)
6. Two Cell phone conversations at once is no ok, in any circumstances whatsoever
7. Under no circumstances can you tell her to “Talk Sexy like the Garmin”

Incoherent ramblings of the Crazed Chauffeur (2)

Well we have now hit enough mileage to put a fresh oil change on the mighty Dodge. Everyone seemed to enjoy my last post, but here are some more things that I think about while acting in my official capacity...

1. Wyoming: It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a 75mph speed limit when you put your highway directly up and into a mountain range... Here is a thought, if the uphill climb is substantial enough that on the way down you have a “runaway” lane why not put the highway somewhere else? I’m not driving it for scenery, I’m on it for time.... Way too much down shifting involved, not too mention vehicles who couldn’t go 75mph.

2. Montana: Great roads, great surface, great scenery, POOR PLACEMENT.... signs telling me that a “Chain Up” zone is approaching tells me you know you chose poorly at least 3months out of the year. Not every road has to look like a recruiting poster for why your state is the best.

3. Idaho: Pick a speed limit already... You have signs that change how fast I’m supposed to go on the curve, and then change it back a quarter of the way into the curve... Pls make up your mind and pick a safe speed already

4. Custer State Park: You roads are roughly the width of a toothpick, and there are no places for turn offs when you are stuck behind slower traffic. Two VW bugs couldn’t pass on these roads, but you want me to pass a winnebago at speed??? This just doesn’t make sense.

5. Yellowstone National Park: Great job clearing snow, except for within your camp grounds. Also... it may be time to look at some pothole maintenance, there were a couple that looked to be the size of Rhode Island... It almost swallowed a Mini.

Snowed out of Yellowstone

After a quiet night in Buffalo, WY, Brad and I set out westward to Yellowstone. I checked the weather and found that the weather service forecasted an 11 inch dump of snow that evening. Wary, I called Xanterra, the concessionaire that runs all Yellowstone lodging and dining. I ask the staff if there are any sites available with tent pads (so we do not have to pitch in mud/snow/mix). The answer was none but the staff recommended that, upon check in, I ask the registration crew if they have any cancellations. I asked if any of the other grounds had openings; none. Most filled up before December, and the remainder filled in the past two days with people changing their reservations in advance of the weather system. (Originally, I booked Canyon b/c it was the only site where I could get four days straight, with two days being a weekend visit. All other campgrounds were booked for the wkend.)

As the truck climbed Route 14 through the Big Horn Mountains, I ask Brad, “Sweetie, what is the highest elevation at which you have skied?” “Mt. Washington, NH.” I flip to the NH map in the Atlas and assess that Mt. Washington is a mere 4700 feet. Hm. “Sweetie, do you know if you are susceptible to altitude sickness?” “No, why?” “Well, I according to the map, some of these pass are at elevations twice as much as you are used to.” “Well, I better hydrate.”
We topped snow covered peaks and were amazed to see a Direct TV truck pass us, heading down the mountain. As we crested a few additional peaks, we found summer camps and retreats tucked into the hillsides. I have to say, I was envious at the beauty that surrounded these secluded lodges. In our descent to Greybull, WY, we stopped to view the gorge created by the river; the highway follows the riverbed for the remaining descent. We teetered atop rocks to shoot pictures of the waterfalls and roaring rapids beneath us.

Having seen a billboard for Sierra Trading Post, Brad and I stopped in Cody, WY, for both lunch and some shopping. From the locals and shop owners, we hear that the snow in Yellowstone is the first blizzard in June that the area has seen in nearly 30 years. Among the sale racks, Brad and I assess that despite how many layers we have, we are unprepared for snow and the wind that is forecasted to blow the storm through on the following day. I caved and bought a windproof jacket, insulated Alpine Lowe jacket, gloves, and matching hat (hey, I had to coordinate). Brad, too, buys a windproof vest with hood. Both are purchases that will see much use in Alaska, but they made me feel very unprepared for our visit, despite my meticulous planning.

Leaving Cody, we climbed through what looked like an alpine Christmas scene. Shoshone National Forest was covered in at least five inches of snow, and the wintry mix that froze the bugs onto the windshield had Brad in third gear and looking wary of what we would find at Yellowstone. With no cell phone signal, I could not call and check the weather again.

We approached the gate at Yellowstone, where the Ranger scanned our annual pass, pointed out the road closures on the posted map, and gave us an updated weather report. Brad asked if we could, indeed, make it to Canyon Camp Grounds. The Ranger leaned out of his heated cubicle and assessed the truck’s tires and peered into the can to see or 4WD. “Sure,” he answered. Brad drove through the gate and parked at the nearest turnout. He placed the gear shift into neutral, and as the snow began falling harder, he gave me a questioning look. I answered his gaze, “We are prepared for rain and a little bit of snow, but we are not prepared for a foot of snow at our campsite.” I thought to myself, “we need a shovel, a tarp, dry firewood, and snow shoes for our activities. I packed yak trax on the off chance we would encounter ice on the trails, but I never thought we could cross country ski on 11 June!”

“That Shoshone Lodge had vacancy. Wanna check there?” He smiled, nodded his head, placed the truck and reverse, and we left Yellowstone, less than 90 seconds upon arriving.
On our way home, we saw Shoshone's finest. Since we named the Custer Bison, Barry, we deemed Bennie worthy for the Yellowstone bison. We caught a glimpse of Mortimer the Moose, too. Another snowed out couple obligingly took our picture with Morty as he ate grass in the river below.

Waldorf A’Story

Thanks to Road Food, we found a PHENOMENAL breakfast joint in the small town of Story, WY. As you enter the eclectic general store, turn left, walk four steps, and you are listening to locals chide the waitstaff and cooks from bar stools modeled from tree trunks. Welcomed like family, the staff took our order for the famous Samich (brad) and biscuits and gravy (me). As we waited for our orders, we filled our coffee cups from the do it yourself station and meandered among the rows of general merchandise and odds and ends. From the ceilings hang wind chimes and lamps, all for sale. It was as if the store was part consignment shop. Our food was top notch, and despite its size, I wish I had ordered a Samich to go. My one bite from Brad’s was scrumptious. My gravy had a late kick, and the biscuits were good, too, if not somewhat foreign. Growing up with a mama from Atlanta, GA, I like my biscuits with buttermilk. Out west, they are a wee bit dry. We purchased some postcards and a loaf of whole wheat bread and still stayed on another 15 minutes to talk to the locals and staff about nothing in particular—just chattin’ away. Road Food does not fail us again.

Ellsworth Air Force Base and the South Dakota Air Force and Space Museum

Being frugal, Brad and I stopped at Ellsworth AFB to work out at the gym, visit the library to use their wi fi, and to stock up the groceries for Yellowstone. We selected soups that we could warm over the propane burner, rolls to help clean out our bowls, and carb-loaded snacks to replenish us after trail hiking. Before setting off for Buffalo, WY, we paid a visit to the South Dakota Air Force and Space Museum. Many of the gems outside were on loan from collections at either the Smithsonian or the Air Force Museum itself. Inside, there was a marvelous, detailed exhibit on the Minuteman Missiles nearby. A far cry from the lack of signage on the interstate, this collection was a full history lesson about the Cold War climate and the US response’s local impact. Put my dad in there as a “Ranger Talk at 2:30 PM” would render the exhibit complete.

As evident in the displays of newspaper articles and photos, the local town was/is very proud of its supporting role as hosts to the AFB. Intimate exhibits about the USAF rescuing townsfolk during a flood to the dog who became the base’s mascot were heartfelt and filled with pride. On a personal note, I loved the exhibit on the the Berlin Wall and the Candy Man, Retired Col. Gail Halvorsen. During WWII and the Soviet’s erection of the Berlin Wall, one pilot responded by dropping candy to children. Aptly, he became known as the Candy Man and the German’s wrote a song for him. During a Bob Hope USO tour, he traveled to Berlin for a special ceremony. I was one of the children selected for a choir to sing the English translation of Candy Man. As an eight year old, I remember a frail man with tears in his eyes, shaking my hand and thanking me for singing “so pretty.”

Lover’s Leap

After my conference call and lunch, we head out to a second trail near the park’s visitor center. This popular trail boasts a strenuous climb, moderate descent, and stream crossings in several areas. We started to climb, and I started to shed layers. Ten minutes of, you guessed it, straight up, 45% grades with no relief. This time, I was prepared, hydrated and nearly naked from the waist up. Legend has it that from this peak, two Native American lovers fell to their deaths when their families forbid their union. Brad and I marveled at how horses could climb this trail, its tree roots, jagged rocks, reflective quartz pieces, and eroded downward slopes. It was at the multiple stream crossings that we had the most fun. Of course, Brad made me go first to “test” the logs and rocks placed in perpendicular fashion between the two banks. I tested my balance, got creative, and tempted fate in some of the leaps I made. Neither of us got wet. Later, near the trail’s end, a family of three caught up to us and passed us. We saw them trying to navigate a traditional crossing that, with the recent snow and rain, had been knocked out of sorts with other wood debris that had floated downriver. Seeing their predicament as the father made his way across, rather precariously, I scouted out an alternate path further upstream. Brad followed suit, and at a narrow part of the stream, easily jumped the bank and made our way back to the main trail just as the third member of that party was struggling to cross, cursing all the way. It was another three mile trail that left us both refreshed and laughing.

Pronghorn on the Prairie

As we departed Mt. Rushmore, Brad has me consult the map to find a running trail for him. We head out to the Wildlife Loop to access a 3 mile trail through the prairie. We decide to check it out. We leave our packs in the truck and set out for a quick jaunt. After crossing a dry river bed, we made away among wild flowers and bison patties up over some rolling hills. (Again, don’t these people believe in switch backs? Each trail that contained an ascent was dead-on, straight up. Devils.) We see a couple of pronghorns and mule deer among the hillsides. Without my pack with my trusty whistle and other assorted goods, I pick up a rock. Brad exclaims, “Hey, why did you pick up the rock?” I answer, “Don’t worry about it,” having seen the look of “oh shit” on his face when I confirmed the bobcat print earlier that day. The next thing I hear is his shuffling step to pick up a rock, too. As we crest a hill and decide to head back to the car and subsequently, camp and dinner, he queries, “So, again, I ask, why did you pick up that rock?” I sigh and reply, “It is nearly dusk, I do not know the area, there are herbivores here, and it is wildlife loop. Who else do you know would be hungry around now?”

The look of comprehension and realization was priceless. Later, jus before the trailhead, I discarded my rock. I heard a second drop behind me. It was like having a twin…

Over dinner, Brad decides to run along the nearby horse trails rather than the rocks along the prairie trail (he has broken his ankle once and has no desire to do it again). We opt to hike that same trail the next morning. On Friday, as we peaked the first hill, Brad points out that we stirred two pronghorns, who are now running across our path to the distance hill. We stop and wait for them to make their way over, thus allowing them to smell who/what we are now that the wind is in their favor. We start slowly, me watching the very protective male as much as he is watching us. As we continue down the path, the pronghorns continue to move back from whence they came. With our backs to them, I urge Brad to check behind him often, respecting the distance but making sure the male knows we are watching him, too.

As we continue down into the scenic riparian area we remark that this trail’s description is highly underrated by the trail map. We loved this trail. It was the best little three mile warm-up ever. Toward the end of the trail, we meander along a brook and diverse riparian area. Out of nowhere, Brad erupts in a “Ga--aaahhh!!!” I turn and see a small bunny rabbit poised perfectly still next to a large bush. Brad had disturbed his previous spot, so the bunny moved, Brad screamed, and the buny froze. Classic. It was a good thing he did not have that rock from the day prior.

As exited the Wildlife Loop, we came upon a pronghorn and her two young.

Capitalism is alive at Mt. Rushmore

After a quick lunch, we set out for the carved granite hills. Proudly, we presented our Annual Park Pass to the Parking Lot attendant, who shook his head and stated, “I’m sorry. We do not accept that here. This is a private concessionaire-operated garage. Parking is $10. It is free to see the Monument.” I balked. We asked if there was a military discount. Nope. Begrudgingly, we paid our ten dollars and verbally abused the universe of concessionaires on federal lands. I pulled out the accompanying brochures that came with our pass. There, on the third page of the second brochure, it stated, “This pass is not valid for state parks or Mt. Rushmore.” I just shake my head, spout a few chose words, and join my husband as we head to the visitor’s center.

Now, from those who have seen this monument, I have heard it is really small in person. And you know: they are correct. The layout of the viewing platforms, the museums, locations of key views of each member’s face is mapped well. We visited the museum and learned about the sculptor and his family, the original design (it was supposed to include their jacket collars and upward facing hands), how sculptures “commuted” to work each day, and the unique tools they used to carve such realistic eyes and glances of each face.

We later learned that we should have stayed a few more hours for the lighting ceremony. Each evening, the park invites all veterans and active duty members to fold the flag and participate in a moving, patriotic ceremony. Bummer. Brad and I are still undecided whether or not we want to pay $10 to participate should we be there again.

And as if the concessionaires had not robbed us at the gate, the pop machines evoked a certain partiotism to lure you in...

Little Devil's Tower

According to our trail guide, Little Devil’s Tower is connected with a trail that runs up to Harney’s Peak. I selected Little Devil’s Tower b/c it gave us views of the Cathedral Spires, whose rock formations we saw from the drive to Sylvan Lake. Enchanted with the idea that we could climb high enough to peer down at this wind-sculpted peaks, I sipped some water from my camelback and set off. We strolled down the flat trail head until the split for either Devil’s or Harney’s. We bore left and immediately started to climb. We meandered around lots of fallen trees in the middle of the path and remarked at how such a popular trail was in such disarray. The day prior had been South Dakota Trail Day, and a team of hikers ascended this splendid peak to raise awareness for the hiking available in the state parks. Let me tell ya, they could use a couple of hiking clubs. In Shenandoah, this most visited national park—thanks to its proximity to the vast populations on the east coast—never wants for trail maintenance. New logs reinforce switchbacks and erosive side paths are blocked with debris before either become a safety hazard. But I digress.

We started climbing, and I started to get hot. I mean, really hot. I had on base layers, pants, short sleeve shirt, windproof vest, a hat, the works. As we ascended into the tree line, up 45% grades, my dehydrated behind was dragging. The topography for the Sunday Gulch Trail would have required the majority of my water in the latter half, not the first half as this one. I had executed poorly. The 45% grade was kicking my butt, too. Don’t these people believe in switch backs? No wonder it is called DEVIL’S tower! It’s pure torture to climb the damn hill. I must have sat and rested at least four times. Twice on the first hill and twice on the second hill. We received a small reprieve upon entering a crevice into which we descended. The second hill offered fantastic views of the Black Hills. It made for pleasant scenery as my ass was parked on a sharp rock trying to catch my breath and burping profusely as I continually downed water trying to rehydrate my weary body.

And how was Brad, you ask? Fucking peachy. Convinced I was going to take him on a 3.5 mile death march, that sneaky bastard was hydrated and was living large as he paced the hills with ease. In all, my ego was bruised more than anything.

At the top of the hill, I donned my grip gloves and climbed rock faces to the peak. We followed blue diamond markers which were hidden among the crevices. Careful to not stray from the blue diamond path, we reached the peak and beheld the beautiful cathedral spires. We enjoyed the breeze, and it was at that point that I was thankful of the extra layers. We descended, me burping the whole way.

Hiking in Custer State Park

After a hardy breakfast of cereal, we closed up the tent and headed out to conquer some trails. I had selected a couple of challenging yet somewhat moderate trails for our hike. From Blue Bell campground, we headed north to Sylvan Lake. Behind the dam at Sylvan Lake- a popular, small recreation and camping ground for families—is the trailhead for Sunday Gulch. The trail guide map boasts that the view from the peak looks out onto Custer National Park, Black Hills National Forest, Sylvan Lake, and—on a clear day—a glimpse of Mt. Rushmore.

We took the small path around the lake to reach the trailhead, only to be greeted by a closed for the winter sign. Hmph. Well, let’s see how closed it really is…we started down the small path. As we climbed over some rock and vegetation, I see that the vegetation is depressed in a small, round pattern…I look up. No mountain lions looking down upon me from the cliffs above. I log the pattern and continue our descent into the gulch itself. The rock leading down to the river are reinforced with railings to assist hikers in navigating among the slippery rocks in the river bed. Brad stops at the top of one sharp rock and says, “I think we found the reason it is closed.” I freeze and look up, expecting to see whomever had slept there the night prior. Nothing above me, so I look below me, further into the gulch. Water. Lots of standing water. I make my way down the rock steps and peer down the trail, which is now covered in 18 inches of water. We were prepared for stream crossings but not hiking in a river. Technically, this is Brad’s first foray in hiking with me; call me crazy, but I think it would bode well for me to select an alternate trail. I turn around and head back up the railings. Brad is waiting for me, pointing down at a track. I inspect: bobcat. Well, that explains the bed I saw. We make our way back to the closed sign and the dam. We continued our promenade around Sylvan Lake, taking some candid shots and deciding on Little Devil’s Tower trail, just up the road.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Barry the Bison

Brad and I camped for three nights at Custer State Park. Upon loading up with groceries, we set out from Ellsworth AFB and headed south to the Black Hills. Just about eight minutes into the park, Brad rounded a corner and exclaimed, “Why the hell is this guy in the middle of the…WHOA!” The Jeep Cherokee in front of us was making a wide berth of a large, lumbering bison, walking the grass culvert along the road. With Brad’s pants nearly soiled, we cut right and drove slowly past the first Bison Brad had ever seen.

Aptly, Brad named him Barry. This formidable creature became our park mascot. We saw him in a nearby field the next two days as we drove to the game lodge for wireless access. And even as we left Custer State Park via the same route, Barry was munching on grasses in the same field, as if on cue for his to saw goodbye, if not on the same scary level on which we said hello.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Incoherent ramblings of the Crazed Chauffeur

Brad's contribution:

Well we have now hit the half way point for putting mileage on the mighty Dodge. Yes, I have been passed by a Prius, and other such embarrassing things... It really sucks to have to consider gas mileage. My thoughts will naturally be a total ramble as we go through different stages of our drives....

MD: I will not miss riding on the Beltway.... We managed an adventure on the way out caused by the inevitable accident and the privilege of calling to report another. Crazy people I tell you

PA: How bad in Pittsburgh tourism? They advertise attractions / draws from more that 200 miles away.

Ohio: Not too bad, but could you communists install EZ Pass or a speed pass of some kind. The Chauffeur does not enjoy stopping for actual human contact. Lets join everyone else in the 21st century

Michigan: I know that with all the snow, salt, and plows that your roads take a beating, but it is time to START PAVING!!!!! Construction delays would be welcome to prevent being fearful for my life.

Indiana: Didn’t spend enough time to fully have an opinion

Illinois: A 200yd break in construction so that I can pay a toll does not mean that you can claim the end of the construction zone just to open it back up 50yds after taking my money at high speeds (are you listening OHIO!!). Also if I’m driving through in June 2008, and your signs tell me the construction will be done by the beginning of June 2008, buy more signs!

Wisconsin: Quite pleasant actually... Very flat and easy

Minnesota: We know it is flat, and that agriculture is the economy, but for the safety of all, plant some trees along the highway so 30mph winds don’t push semi’s into poor defenseless Toyota Corollas. Also, START PAVING; The fact that we could take a weed eater on the drive and use it on the seems in the highway should be a sign that maintenance is required.....

South Dakota: When you guys do road work you mean road work.... Just blow it up and start again

Custer State Park- Blue Bell Camping

Blue Bell campground was our home for three nights in Custer State Park. We enjoyed cooking on the grill, sleeping in the tent, and hiking. We have many pictures to download and will update more soon. Until then:

Brad and the Flamingo having breakfast:

Our Abode:

Yes, we actually fit in here. And let me tell you-- when we withstood 35 mph winds and 20 degree temps on our second evening, the small enclosure was warm and welcoming.

Flamingo on the Prairie

Crossing Rivers

I was so excited to cross two major rivers out west: Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. I watched the map, waiting for the hill crest that would indicated a downward slope toward a riparian area. For each, I readied my camera, looking out for the tourist pulloff to pose and take a picture with the Flamingo. Sadly, neither had pull off points. The road simply turned into a bridge and crossed major water systems.

The Missouri River system did provide me with some awesome shots of US Army amphibious training. We saw many other convoys as we rolled through South Dakota. Some guard units were training within Custer State Park. Brad was haunted by the camoflauged trucks as we turned corners, pulled off on outlooks, and stopped to take in wildlife in their natural settings.

The Famous Wall Drug

In Minnesota, the billboards for Wall Drug begin. Similar into the South of the Border signs along the I-95 corridor, the signs for this landmark are just as cheesy. From the dinos out back to the wares you can purchase, including 5 cent coffee, these boards were a highlight throughout South Dakota. The main road through town is lined with picturesque ranch style homes, with big signs indicating your next turn toward a 5 cent cup of coffee. As you park with other tourists, you enter a main street area that is lined with saloon like shingles for Black Hills Gold Jewelry Store, Saloon and Bar, and of course, Wall Drug. With entrances marked with numbers, you can enter the retail, the convenience store, or the mall area, among others. We strolled through the gift shop, where Brad saw a sign for a free donut and coffee for veterans. Excited about his free donut, we made our way through the mall area, trying on cowboy hats and examining the intricate design of the cowboy boots. Forlornly, Brad sat atop the famous Jackolope for a picture (no, he had no idea it was there—this whole store was unbeknownst to him).

Donut in hand, we made our way back to our car, briefly checking the selection at the Black Hills Jewelry store. This iconic tourist trap was fun and cheesy; it was just the break we needed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Minuteman Missile Silos

If you have had the pleasure of meeting my dad, you may have been privy to his tall tales about his duty assignment at the Minuteman Missile Silos in South Dakota. From drinking songs, to the cows indicating the weather forecast, to how to scare a coon away from the silo, my dad has tons of funny stories about this station. On the Atlas, we saw two Minuteman sites marked. As we approached the first site, I expected to see a brown sign denoting a NPS-managed site. None. Just an exit number. We slowed down to scope out the surroundings and saw a lonely looking farmhouse. That’s it. We decided to continue down I-90 and check out the second one, around Exit 116. Again, no brown signs as we approached, but we exited anyway. According to the map, the site was south of the freeway. We turn left, went underneath the overpass and onto a dirt road. As we crossed from pavement to soil, we saw a fenced area off to the left. We rounded a corner and saw a TINY NPS Sign.

We drove up to the barbed wire fence and parked in the former driveway. Camera in hand, we approached the gate where a small weather proof box contained a small brochure about the Minuteman Missile Silos, the START program, and the Cold War. I beamed with pride as I got goosebumps just thinking, “Gosh, my dad stood in this same spot.” Through the fence, we took pictures of how the NPS preserves the silos today. According to the DoD, they were filled in when that component of the Space and Missile Defense Command reconfigured years ago. It’s a shame I could not slip between the fence to see if it were really filled.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Tea Steakhouse

A friend of mine recommended we purchase “Road Food” for all those small, hometown diners, drive-ins, and dives. We picked it up in Milwaukee, two states too late. The book listed lots of great options for Sandusky, OH, where we rode rollercoasters with Jennifer and Suketu. As we painstakingly made our way through Minnesota, into 35 mph winds, getting 11 mpg, we flipped through the pages to find a haunt in Sioux Falls, SD. We checked into our hotel and decided on Tea Steakhouse, about 10 miles south of our hotel.

We turned off the freeway and headed toward the town of Tea. Per the advertisements we saw at the one and only traffic light, the town hosts Tea Pot Time each June. We saw no preparations for this upcoming event, but I can only assume the waves of Americana-like pride that flow from the home town floats, beauty queens, and local sports teams.

Road Food’s write up of the Tea Steakhouse was dead-on. We split a bottle of Fat Bastard Shiraz (hey, it was a rough day on the road after we left my cousin’s company). We shared onion rings over our small salads. Brad enjoyed a fine NY Strip, and I devoured my bacon wrapped petit filet mignon ($13!!!!!). The atmosphere was family friendly, and the service was excellent. We aim to hit up another joint in Rapid City while in the Badlands. Stay tuned for another review!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Another Cope, sort of

In Minnesota, my cousin Kim Chew, ventured out of the Twin Cities to meet us along the I-90 corridor. We met at a small deli and creamery in Albert Lea. The venue had wonderful selections and lots of customers when we arrived. I had not seen Kim in almost 15 years; she had not changed a bit.

As the two gals spoke at rapid fire speed, Brad became more acquainted with the Cope family. Having spent a lot of time with Uncle George recently, he quickly picked up on certain, ahem, traits among my family members. For "privacy" reasons, I will leave those absent from the public blog. Suffice to say, it was a joy to catch up with her. On my way to the east coast this fall or next spring, I will have to secure a long layover in the Twin Cities to meet her two rescue puppies.

The Flamingo is living the High Life

Flamingo had a good time with the Cabantings, who hosted us for an extra day when the storms hit the Upper Midwest. With severe thunderstorms and tornado watches, we hunkered down in Milwaukee until 5 PM on Thursday evening.

Before we departed for Onalaska, WI, we took some candid shots. To show the foreboding sky and dead bugs on the windshield, I took the last picture from the highway.