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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Road Accidents

After traveling so many miles over the past three weeks we talked about the accidents we observed. We were in a horrible traffic jam just as we entered Vegas. In their wisdom, the highway department took five lanes of traffic and took it down to four and then down to three and then down to two and, yes, then down to one. It was no longer a traffic jam but a parking lot. We saw the aftermath of three car accidents as we slowly drifted through the mess. John finally managed to get to an exit and he worked his way around the mess.

In Texas we saw a semi in front of us go off the road and he struggled to keep from losing control. He tottered and teetered and we were afraid we would be the first people at the scene of the accident but he managed to get control. After that he slowed down. We suspect he either fell asleep or just lost control. Either way we got in front of him, prayed he was okay, and flew down the road.

On our last day of driving home we passed (on the right) a car from California that insisted on staying in the left hand lane. John rolled down his window and yelled at the driver and pointed to the right...but at 70 mph I doubt she heard him. It was an older couple (yeah, older than us) and I guess she picks a lane and stays in it.

So we were very lucky that we were not in an accident and that we didn't really see any bad accidents. After that many hours on the road, we were very fortunate. John is a great driver, the car is awesome, and I am a great back seat driver....if I could have gotten into the back seat since it was piled full of stuff.----Penny

Our Anniversay October 2nd

One year has past since John and I said "I do" or "I shall" or "I will"....we are unsure what we said but we know we meant it. As our anniversary approached we talked about how lucky we were to have found each other. We are truly blessed to have each found two people to love in our lives. Some people never find the right person and we found the right person twice. We teased each other about renewing our contract or what new things we want to add to the list of promises for the next year. But it came down to just one thing---we promise to love each other as long as we live. For us both it is a lifetime commitment. We are truly blessed and wish everyone the joy and happiness of finding that one (or second) right person.

On our wedding day we joked with the priest before we said our vows that this marriage is like a jail are hoping for twenty years to life. Since we are both in our 60's, twenty years seems very possible and even more would be wonderful. So every day, at one meal or at all the meals, we toast each other with the mantra...."Twenty years to life.....amen."

John, I love you and am so happy you made me your wife.----Penny


We are home from our trip out West.....and what a trip it was!!! Be careful if you see us on the street because we will talk your ears off. We have some numbers to report.

21 ... days on the road

5,342.....miles on the car (and our butts in the seats of the car).

2 .... bags of mail from the Post Office

58...... advertisements, requests for donations, regular junk mail (including two addressed to Lauren and two addressed to Linda).

19 .... offers from thanks....

34 .... bills, investments mail, action needed stuff....ugh

17 .... magazines (not including 4 genealogy related magazines and 4 People magazines)

1 ..... Anniversary Card

2 .... the number of windows we accidentally left open the whole time....

27 ... the number of times we said we were glad to be home.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One in Four Wins at McDonalds!!!

We had a couple of meals at McDonalds over the past couple of days. No big deal. They are fast and we can get back in the car and travel further. Last night was awful. We couldn't find room in several towns in Texas and finally decided we had to stop and eat at the next town no matter what. Yeah. It was McDonalds again. And the really funny thing was it was inside of a Wal-Mart. We grabbed a quick sandwich and sat down to eat and watch the people shopping. What a hoot. Then we realized that there was a big sign that said "One in Four Wins" in the Monopoly game. We counted up at least ten items over two days and we never won anything!!! It's a scam I tell you!!!

So this morning we left our really bad motel experience to head toward home. John asked the hotel clerk where would be a good place to go for breakfast. I refused to go to McDonalds again...especially in light of the SCAM!! The clerk suggested not eating in that town at Dennies (could be an interesting story but we didn't ask) but said in 28 miles there was a great pancake place. Cool. So we hit the road.

Now, if you know something good is in 28 miles, wouldn't you just kinda glance at your mileage so you would know when you are getting close? Not dear sweet wonderful John. We hit the road. After awhile (less than 28 miles I will note) he pulled off the highway to find the pancake place. I noticed a big building to the right with the word RESTAURANT across the front. So he pulled into their driveway but said, no, let's go to the one across the street with all the cars. When there are that many cars, it has to be good. So, we drove back across the street.

And what did we find?? A grocery store. So John goes to a counter and asks a guy "is this a restaurant?" By then I had gone past where John was and found a counter where you can order....breakfast things just like McDonalds. The poor guy says, yeah, this is a restaurant. LOL. So we ordered and ate there. It was a poor imitation of McDonalds and AGAIN we did not win anything.

Interesting thing I noted. There were two guys sitting at a table close to us. One was obviously Hispanic and only spoke Spanish. The other was Caucasian and only spoke English....and yet they talked to each other. Huh? Never figured that out.

So, we are exhausted and headed home tomorrow. It will be great to see everyone!! But it has been a blast.---Penny

Two Coffees in Vegas

While trying to leave Las Vegas early in the morning (whatever day it was....) we found a McDonalds off the highway. We decided to just go through the drive-thru and hit the road to cover some miles before we actually stopped for breakfast. So, here is what happened:

John: I'd like to order two coffees, one black and one with cream and sugar

The Voice: Do you want that inside or outside?

John: Huh?

The Voice: Do you want that inside or outside?

John: Well, I'm in the drive-thru so I want it outside.

The Voice: Sir, I mean the cream and you want it inside or outside the coffee container.

John: was John's passenger, Penny---------Penny

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No rooms at the Inn

From San Francisco,we went down 99 to Fresno to see my Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat. Bill was recently diagnosed with cancer, but he is a fighter. Our visit was both joyous and emotional. We visited with them and also Karen and Steve, their daughter and son-in-law. We are very thankful that Karen and Steve live so close to them. We saw some of Steve's homes that he built. The guy is an artist. So is Jeremy, their grandson, who owns his own business, Air Tech. He restores cars. His work has been featured in several national hot-rod magazines. We stayed for two days, then off to Vegas baby.---John

Elk City, Oklahoma

The car is headed East and we expect to be home on Friday. HOORAY!! Last night we stayed in New Mexico. (Side note: the owner graduated from Steven Decatur High School in Decatur, IL!!!) Tonight we are in Oklahoma. So, why are we spending the night at Elk City, Oklahoma? After searching for a room in several towns in Texas, we crossed over to Oklahoma. There were no rooms at any inn in Texas. We kept hearing the oil workers were taking all of them. Finally found a room with a bed (we were starting to discuss tossing a coin to see who would sleep in the back seat) at a newly remodeled Super 8. It turns out that it isn't just the oil workers. There was a huge riot at the State Pen and over one hundred extra guards were called in to subdue it. Of course. And now this motel has two more rooms and then it will be full. And we checked in about 8:30. Wow. Interesting.

Some notes: We spent last night at a casino just west of Albuquerque. When we checked in John asked the clerk how many miles to Albuquerque. She said, 25 miles unless you drive faster and then it is closer. Huh? Had a nice stay there. John played poker twice but didn't cash. It was a nice place. Weird though. They close at night so this morning it was quiet and empty.

Three more states with 75 mph:   New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Oklahoma is 70 mph. Dear, dear Illinois....we vote that you increase the speed limit....

A sign we saw in Fresno: Alien meat jerky. Um. Illegal aliens? Aliens from outer space? We didn't buy any.

We stopped at a Stuckeys close to Amarillo today. All of you waiting for gifts from us from our trip....well, we still haven't gotten you anything...but we could have gotten gater heads!!! Yes, gater heads. Um. No.....

It has been interesting to see the long trains. Some of the terrain out here is so flat and you can see so far that we can see the beginning and the end of the trains. I think most of them have been at least 100 cars if not more. Also have seen semis pulling two or three trailers!

Another interesting note: In Illinois we have deer crossing signs. On our travels we have seen "Elk crossing" and one that said "Various Animals crossing." But nothing prepared us for the crossing sign we just saw at a Wal-mart close to our motel. Drum roll please........"cart crossing".... Yes, the shopping carts have their own crossing.

Tomorrow we will reach Missouri and then on to home. It has been an adventure!!---Penny

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Another two nights without internet!!! What is the world coming to?

We stayed downtown at the newly remodeled and newly opened Plaza. The room was wonderful and on the 12th floor overlooking the mountains. They have a few glitches they need to work on but it was a good stop.

John played poker three times and in one of them he came in third. He cashed on that one which pleased him. I, of course, had bad luck with the slots so one night I just walked a lot and stopped and watched street performers and some very strange people. Vegas was fun!!!----Penny


Two nights in Fresno were wonderful. (Except no internet.) We stayed with John's Aunt Pat and Uncle Bill and they are awesome people. One afternoon we went for a drive around Fresno which included a stop at a Mexican supermarket. Everything in there was in Spanish first and English second. They had salsa music playing and all the announcements were in Spanish ending with the phrase "por favor"which I thought was please and Aunt Pat said was thank you. The market was colorful with pinatas hanging from the ceiling and items stacked higher than I have ever seen. It was amazing in the meat area to see so many different kinds of meat. We saw pigs feet, fried pig skin, and so many items that I didn't even know you could eat. It was amazing.

We also saw several houses that their son-in-law, Steve, has built. One house is just starting this next spring but he has been working on the property for eight years. First he had to design and put up a gate and security system. Then he built a gate house that is bigger than most houses we have seen. It houses one vehicle, an antique truck, and the people have parties in that space. The owners then hired a landscaper to put in all the trees and bushes. When the trees finally matured (eight years) then they decided to build the house. The lot is over 800 yards long and overlooks a river valley with bluffs from the back of where the house will be. Now that takes money. Another project was a 5,000 square foot garage that a guy houses his Porsche collection. He had Steve add a kitchen and paint all the cabinets Porsche red. Each gallon of paint costs $1,500!!!. But when you have money......

We also went to their grandson's car shop. He restores and rebuilds cars. One car that was in his shop is getting a new engine as it was blown racing at the Salt Flats. Cost for rebuilding and repainting? $30,000 to $40,000. This happens yearly. Another car in his shop cost $60,000 just to repaint it. Incredible amounts of money.

Fresno was a great stop and allowed us to catch our breath. Then on to


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pacifica, California

Well, yesterday I forgot to mention an incident at a restaurant. Of course it was on Pier 39 and a seafood restaurant. Delightful food and great atmosphere. However, we both had to use the ... um... facilities. John went first and said I would have a big surprise when I went. Curious and trusting, I headed where he pointed...behind the red striped curtain. It looked like the entrance to a cabana. I stepped inside the curtain and three men were washing their hands. OH NO!!! I stepped back out, looked around the corner for a woman's curtain and nothing. So I stepped back inside again and this time there were two women and one man. So, I looked around and all the stalls were little rooms with individual doors and when locked they said "occupied" and when empty they said "vacant." So, I gathered my courage and my full bladder and entered one that denoted vacant. I locked the door, assured it now stated occupied, and did my business. Yes, ladies, the last person left the seat up!! But it was a hoot when I went back to the table and told John he should have warned me. He laughed.

This morning we went back to Dennies for breakfast. Even though the day started out sunny and gorgeous, a severe rain and thunderstorm is headed this way. We had the same waiter as yesterday and we thanked him for his instruction to get to the BART. He said GPS is good. Turns out that he isn't easily classified. I said he was oriental yesterday but today we think he is more hispanic. Perhaps he is a combination of both. His accent sounds more of the hispanic nature. Speaking of languages it is amazing to hear so many different accents and conversations in other languages. On our trolley ride yesterday there was a German couple and a couple from the Netherlands. There are a lot of people speaking oriental languages but no way for us to determine if they are Chinese or Japanese or Americans using their native tongue. Spanish is the other most common language and some of my high school instruction comes back to me with a word here and there. However, from what I remember, I know I do not remember enough. It makes me want to learn more. Last night we ate at an authentic Mexican restaurant where their language was rich with the Mexican influence. It was interesting to note that I tried to order ground beef on my burrito and they did not offer that kind of meat. I don't remember all of the choices but I do remember that one choice of meat was tongue. I stuck with chicken.

We went to a grocery store to pick up a few items and spent time browsing their fresh vegetables and fruit. Wow. They must ship the small veggies to the inland because I have never seen some of these items so big and glorious looking. It was like all the veggies and fruits were on steroids!! I wanted to tell everyone they are very lucky.

So, not sure what we will be doing today. Starting off slow because of the drastic weather change that is rolling in with the surf. ---Penny

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

San Francisco

We started the day with breakfast and John asking for directions to the closest BART station (Bay Area Rapid Transportation). Our waiter was trying very hard to explain and John was trying very hard to understand. The waiter finally said he would be back. He came back a little later with his cell phone and was trying again to explain to John using Google maps. Now, combine an oriental person with a person who claims he is NOT hard of hearing and it is hard to get the message across. So, I pulled out my cell phone and the waiter said, OH, you have GPS? He then came over to me and we spoke the universal language-----GEEK TALK----and we were able to get directions.

Once we found the BART station we were able to figure out how to pay for our parking, buy our tickets and get on the right train. Between the two of us we can do anything. After getting downtown we had to take a trolley car to Fisherman's Wharf. What a hoot that was!!!

We decided to take a boat trip tour around San Francisco Bay. It was a bit chilly but the sun came out for us so it wasn't too bad. It was about 90 minutes long and we sat outside on one of the upper decks. The boat went under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz Island. We also saw sea lions. It was a fun trip even though the seas were pretty choppy.

After the boat trip we took an open air double decker sightseeing bus trip around the downtown area. The bus was fun but toward the end of the 90 minutes it was getting pretty chilly. We enjoyed all the sights we saw, including the gate that leads into China Town.

Tomorrow is 90% chance of rain so not sure what we will be doing our last day in San Francisco. Whatever it is, it will be fun.---Penny

I do not do GEEK TALK, just draw me a map. We had a bad forecast, but the weather gods took pity on us. It turned out to be a pretty fair day. With Penny handing the GPS and I driving, we made the BART station in Daly City without a problem. The BART ticket purchases are much like the METRA in Chicago. We then took the F-line trolley to Pier 39. Here is were you can buy tickets to several tours. We selected a package that included a boat ride that went under the Golden Gate bridge and circles Alcatraz and a bus tour. The weather around San Fran is very complex due to the cold currents of the ocean past the bay. You get to the Golden Gate and the temps are 10-15 degrees lower than the harbor. It was awesome to go underneath the bridge and around the "Rock". We then went on a 90 minute open air bus tour of downtown. It is now getting cloudy and chilly, but the tour was great. One highlight was seeing the street where they filmed the famous car chase from the Steve McQueen movie Bullet. The ironic thing was that they were going the wrong way on a one-way street. -John 


We left Lake Tahoe and set our car toward the West. We got as high as 7900 feet (nothing after the past few days) and slowly descended down to sea level. Our motel is nothing fancy, no valet parking, no bell captain like in Vegas, no rich history like at Cal-Neva in Lake Tahoe, BUT we are a block from the ocean and have a bay window with an unobstructed view. WOW! We were able to watch surfers until it got dark. While we were eating at a restaurant that also looked over the ocean we were told that two of what we thought were surfers were actually either porpoises (porpoisii?) or sharks. We found out that the next beach south of us is the largest great white shark population in the world. So...we will not be venturing out into the ocean.

Today we plan a boat ride in San Francisco Bay, going under the Golden Gate Bridge, and ending up at Fisherman's Wharf. Hopefully those plans work out okay for us.

Nothing really exciting about our drive to here. No bugs in the car, just a long drive. We are stilling having fun, still enjoying each others company. We are past the halfway mark of our trip and on the down side now. We will see what things happen in San Francisco!!!---Penny

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Our Anniversary

Today was our one year anniversary and it was a glorious day. We took a drive around Lake Tahoe, yes, up and down the mountain range, but it was so beautiful. We stopped in a town to visit a couple of casinos. John did really well at three card poker and I watched. We went for a carriage ride with a young man who is studying to be an EMT. The horse's name was Duke and Duke would suddenly pull over and stop. Our driver explained that there were three restaurants on their route and at times Duke had been fed a carrot. Once he was fed a carrot, he pulled over every time.....just in case.

We went out to eat at an absolutely beautiful and wonderful restaurant. All in all, it was a great way to spend the day. Now tomorrow morning we drive to San Francisco. I already checked the map and there doesn't seem to be a way out of here without going back over the mountains. will probably hear me yelling....Penny

For those who have never been to Lake Tahoe, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountain range, it is one of the deepest and coldest lakes in the world. The only fish that live there are brown and rainbow trout, but they are so sparse and swim so deep, that few are caught. We wanted to go on a brunch cruise, but it ended on Oct 1. The only cruise available was one that left on 1PM and got back at 4PM. We decided that we didn't want to spend three hours on a very choppy lake. So instead we drove the entire perimeter of Lake Tahoe. What a beautiful drive!! We stopped at a vista point to take some shots of the north edge of the Lake. The winds were very brisk, but the parking lot was nearly full. The scene of the huge cove with a rugged island was breathtaking.

We continued onto South Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe has the major casinos (Harrahs, Harveys, Horizon and Montblue). After playing at Harrahs and Harveys, I noticed a horse drawn carriage waiting for their next fare. We were joyous to do so and Penny and I had a ball. It was a great first year anniversary. Many more to come, I pray. Tomorrow, we are off to San Francisco.--John  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lake Tahoe

We arrived at our hotel after going up and over another mountain range. Did I mention I am scared of heights and trips over mountains?? The curves at 20 mph and the signs that the road will close in case of heavy snow and the trees everywhere were enough to get my inner scared self upset. But then, we came down the other side, and the most magnificent view of Lake Tahoe came into view. It is absolutely the best we have seen so far. This hotel was owned by Frank Sinatra years ago. The Rat Pack came here often. We will be celebrating our first anniversary tomorrow night in this very romantic spot. John made all the arrangements and he did a great job of finding a wonderful place. is he going to get me back over the mountains again as we drive to San Francisco day after tomorrow?? The drama continues.

This is the view from our hotel room window. Need I say more.....

This hotel is listed as a casino but there were only about fifteen machines in the whole place. It sits on the California Nevada border so obviously the machines are located on the Nevada side. While we were waiting and just killing time John hit a jackpot of $180 on a 40 cent bet. That doesn't happen often and probably won't again for a long time. I was having bad luck again so I sat and read brochures about excursions. We are now planning a boat trip tomorrow on Lake Tahoe. It just gets better all the time. John just found a deck that we can go on but since our room is on the eighth floor I was less than thrilled to go on it. I did step on it and the views were worth it. Next time I will take the camera out there with me.---Penny

Friday, September 30, 2011

Gas Rebuttal

John forgot to mention that when we filled up after almost running out of gas, we had half of one gallon left in the tank!! The next place to get gas was 27 miles away so we would not have made it. The next stop was a Flying J truck stop to buy a "Next Exit" book that Uncle Jim and Aunt Darlene recommended. It would have been handy when we were cruising along on fumes. I was ready to try to coast into a gas station or have John push the car. I think (I hope) that he is finally cured of driving the car down to when the red light comes on.

Also the speed limit in Wyoming, Utah and Nevada has been 75 mph which I love. Here the speed limit in construction zones is 65 mph.

And last...during the bug incident, we pulled into a McDonalds, while still battling the bugs. Some big flying insect landed on our car and went absolutely nuts trying to eat our bugs. We thought about staying there to see how many it would eat but we had to get down the road.

So tomorrow is Lake Tahoe!!!! Here we come. Watch out for the Barrys. Who knows what will happen next----Penny

Day 8 - Penny, the new poker phenom

As Penny mentioned in her edition, we swatted, washed, and did various methods of  hand to hand combat with these little creature that wanted to make our car their home. This is really fun going down the highway at 80 MPH. Noting that, NASCAR must have been in charge when the legislators decided to make the speed limit at 75 MPH. We topped out on cruse at 82. I guess when the traffic is so sparse and the only living thing you could hit would be some Pampas grass, it makes sense. Penny entered her first poker tournament this morning. She was very nervous. I am very proud that she finished 5th out of 20 players. I went out in 7th. She can't wait for the next opportunity. Watch out DPL in 2012. Interesting sign on a restaurant - "Louie's Chinese Bistro". Someone tell me how any of those words go together.--John

Day 6 and 7 - John, the car is thirsty

We left Loveland , Co about 7 AM, heading for Utah. I made a decision early in the planning process that we would go north and hit I-80 in Wyoming. Since neither of us had ever been in Wyoming, it was a good move. The sight lines were boundless.It seemed that you could see 50-60 miles. The one thing I would have changed was something I thought I had learned years ago. "Fill up the tank before you leave each morning!!" Penny was driving and I looked over to see that the low fuel light was on. Normally at home, this would be no big deal, since you can bet on 35-40 miles before you run out. Not here though.There are vast stretches of desolate terrain followed by miles of the same. We were very nervous, until we saw a Conoco sign around a bend. At first, I thought it was a mirage. But no, it was real. We filled up and was almost delirious with joy. As we left, I was thinking that Rod Sterling (Twilight Zone) would have had the station disappear after we left. We past an interesting business soon afterward. The logo on the side of the building was "Liquor - Fireworks". Yea, they really go together. We made a decision to drive to Wendover, Nevada. We stayed at someplace that a crackhead had to design. Neon everywhere with reflective ceilings. Vertigo, here we come. I played in a tournament. 30 players and I finished 14th. Meanwhile the car, underneath lights in the parking lot was being assaulted by the BUGS.


I played in my first poker tournament with real live people today at Circus Circus in Nevada. John played too. I was very nervous and had a quick instruction session with Hap the dealer. Out of twenty people, John finished seventh. I finished FIFTH!!! I am hooked and looking forward to playing again.---Penny

Wyoming, Utah, Nevada

Wyoming was absolutely beautiful. The mountains just keep changing all the time. Sometimes they are different on either side of the highway. I cannot imagine what it took to build the highway, but I am grateful. The scenery was wonderful.

Utah was even different from Wyoming but gorgeous.The drive through Salt Lake City took my breath away. The granite mountains there were different from others I had seen. My ears plugged up in the Rocky Mountains and I still can't hear very well. I have to raise my voice to be heard, which is great for John who insists he is not hard of hearing. Yeah. Right. A sign for a shooting range: "We have machine guns you can shoot." That is just wrong.

Oh. Started to get a cold in Kansas but stopped and took some wonderful medicine....starts with a "z" and ends with a "cam." Where have you been all my life? I feel great now. (This was a commercial.)

Okay. Now lets talk about Nevada. We decided to not stay in Salt Lake City and drive to Nevada for the night. We did see the Great Salt Lake and lots of other pools of water that obviously have salt in them. It was amazing to see some of the ground had salt coming through. Very weird for a girl from Iowa. We stopped in Wendover, Nevada, for the night. I gambled $20 and left with $50. (only good news on gambling so far). We went to our car the next morning to leave early and found it was covered with bugs!! COVERED!! They were like the size of a gnat but more like baby flies. We hurried and got in the car and took off for breakfast. That's when we realized we had a serious problem. They were everywhere inside our car and outside of it. We had to brush them off our clothes to go eat. When we got back to our car it was still covered in bugs. We jumped in and headed down the road. The bugs clung to the car. We had hundreds inside the car and kept rolling down our windows to get rid of them. We didn't realize we were actually letting more in. We drove for about an hour swatting and killing the flies as we drove until we stopped to get gas. The car still had bunches of them so we ran it through a car wash. Now we had CLEAN bugs....we managed to get most off the car but not all of them and the ones that washed off were now clean but not dead. We jumped in the car and took off again. After another couple of hours we stopped for lunch. We had used up all the paper towels and napkins in our car trying to kill the bugs so when we stopped for lunch I grabbed a roll of toilet tissue. John laughed his butt off to think that first I would steal and that second I would steal toilet paper. But we drove on. We got about fifty miles from Reno and we stopped for a break. I went into a WalMart to get bug spray. When I came out of the store, John had unloaded all our belongings into a shopping cart so we could spray inside. It looked like we were homeless people!! We sprayed the car, put everything back inside and took off down the road killing the few that were left. NOT FUN!!!!

We are now at Harrahs in Reno in a very nice room. I have to wonder though what the valet thought about parking our car that smells like bug repellant and with a roll of toilet paper on the passenger's seat. ---Penny

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 5 - Three layer salad

We are excited today as we are going to the Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive was rather long (over an hour), but was absolutely gorgeous. We took several shots prior to getting into the park. We saw quite a few fishermen going after mountain brown trout. We went through Estes Park, which was very touristy. A few miles outside Estes Park was the entrance to the Park. I got a lifetime pass since I was of an advance age. For the rest of my life, I will be able to enter all national parks at no charge. This also includes National Forests and camping facilities. It pays to be decrepit after all. We were not even prepared for what we were about to see. At the base of the mountain, we were already at 5600 elevation. At the peak of the route, we were well over 12,000 feet!! The views were breathtaking. At one stop, we were very close to ice and snow flows. We were going to climb to the peak, but it was a half-mile hike uphill. We got a quarter of the way up when we waved the white flag. I now know what oxygen deprivation feels like. Not fun. During our journey, we went from shirts to light jacket to winter coats. The peak was in the upper 30s with high winds. All during the drive up we noticed 12 foot poles on the sides of the road. These are for the snow plows. Without these, they would plummet down the mountain. Penny did rather well, although I could have paid for the trip if I got a dollar for each time she screamed, "I am scared." The next time we do this, I am installing a steel shit bar, so she can hang on to something. We couldn't believe the number of RVs and bicyclists on the road. I would love to camp at the base of the mountain, but take these beasts up to the top. I don't think so. As for as cycling, bury me on the side of the road. These guys have to be in unbelievable shape. Tommorrow, we are heading north to Cheyenne, Wyoming and catch I-80 to Salt Lake City.---John

Rocky Mountains

Anyone who knows me knows I am afraid of heights. John has managed to get me onto a plane twice to fly to Vegas but I was still scared. I can paint the ceilings in our house on a four foot ladder but I am still afraid. All of that paled compared to our drive through the Rocky Mountain National Park! I was so scared I had a crucifix in one hand, a rosary in the other, and the Pope on the phone!!! John is a great driver but he deserves a medal after putting up with me. It wasn't as bad coming back down the mountains as I had my window rolled down snapping photos as I yelled I was scared!! Honestly, if you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend it. Reaching the highest peak was like visiting the moon it was so barren. But it was a fantastic adventure.

Tomorrow we head to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Do they have mountains there?---Penny

Where is Waldo?

Sorry. Waldo didn't make the trip with us. But at any time we are usually sure where we are but unsure what day of the week it is. I go by the day listed on my medicine containers!!

The states that we will either drive through, sleep in, or just sleep through are: Illinois (done), Missouri (done), Kansas (done), Colorado (done), Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. John will correct me if I have forgotten one or if my order is incorrect. I personally have never been to any of them but Illinois and Missouri so this is an incredible experience for me!!

This is a great way to see the country and the differences in terrain. Right now, out my window, I can see the Rocky Mountains. They take my breath away. So, we are now heading out to take a tour and see how many photos we can take. Later we will attempt to post photos!!---Penny

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 4-Penny is speechless

Before dawn, we were off and running to Walmart. Penny is getting a sore throat and we went to get some medicine for her. On the way back to the car, we noticed about eight campers and RVs drycamping in the parking lot. Western Kansas is pretty desolate with quite a few cattle ranches. Finally Colorado, but the first 150 miles is a repeat of Kansas. Finally about 20 miles out of Denver, Penny could make out the outlines of the Rockies. I counted at least 7 Wows and three OMGs. We are staying at the Residence Inn in Estes Park. Tommorrow, we are going to the Rock Mountain National Park. --John

Day 3 - Where is Dorothy?

This was a nice relaxing day. We went to mass. The church had a certain Frank Lloyd Wright feel. After church, we all went to Bogeys, THE place for burgers and shakes in Salinas. While the food was good, it was not close to the standards of Krekels or even Steak n' Shake. Later in the afternoon, we went to Penny's Uncle Jim and Aunt Darlene for a cook-out. Jim is a retired Marine, who served two tours in Vietnam. I did one and that was enough. He is an awesome guy. After the dinner, I got sold on the idea of becoming a geocacher. Andrew and Jim got me signed up. We will see where it goes. Stacy and I talked well into the night and enjoyed a very good German ale. He also gave me a book about the Confederate States of America. ---John

Day 2 - Damn, Dorothy we are in Kansas.

As I said in the previous post, Comfort Inn advertised a hot breakfast. I traveled 16 years with the State of Illinois as an auditor and have eaten close to a thousand breakfasts. This was the worst!! The eggs were so rubbery that I could have chewed them all the way to Kansas City. I felt like going back to the billboard touting their breakfast and inserting "lousy" between hot and breakfast. We stopped at The Isle of Capri casino in Boonville Mo. I won about $15 and Penny helped the local economy. We drove past Royals Stadium which is just off of I-70. If you have never seen this stadium, it is worth the trip. We stopped at Ameristar casino and had a great lunch. We both lost a few bucks, but had a great time. I am not a big fan of GPS units, unless it is a Sky Caddie, but it did come in handy as I took two wrong turns and landed up in downtown Kansas City. That English broad got me back on track in no time. We did see a wedding in one of their beautiful parks, Union Station and Kempfer Arena, so it was not a complete loss. Eastern Kansas was more rugged than I remembered. It reminded me of Texas. Next trip out this way, I would like to see either the Eisenhower or the Truman Museums. We got into Salina and had a great visit with Penny's cousin Chris and her sons Andrew and Stacy. I was introduced to Geo-Cacheing by Andrew and talked politics with Stacy. A good day.---John

Day 1 - Getting out of Dodge.

After watching our granddaughter, Vi (also known now as the creature), for five days, we were ready to hit the road. We handed her off to her mother and with wheels spinning and smoking, we were off. I have never seen Penny so excited in my life. We stopped in Kingdom City for the night at a Comfort Inn that advertised "a hot breakfast". More on that later.



We arrived in Denver late afternoon on Monday, 9/26/2011, and I was speechless for the first time in my life. The view of the mountains, the clouds around them, the absolute beauty of those "purple mountain majesties" took my breath away. We are spending tonight and tomorrow night in Estes Park. Tomorrow we are going on a driving adventure in the Rocky Mountain National Park!!! We hope to overwhelm our cameras.---Penny


On the second day of our trip, we stopped in Booneville at the Isle of Capri Casino. Later we stopped in Kansas City at Ameristar Casino. No big winnings to report but we had fun for a short amount of time.

The next stop was at my cousin, Chris's home. We met her sons Andrew and Stacy. They were both an absolute joy. The next night we had a cookout at my Uncle Jim and Aunt Darlene's home. Debbie was there. Amy and her husband and two sons. Debbie's son Michael and wife were there. Alan's daughter Amanda and her husband Carlos, and their children Diego and Annabelle. Help me if I have forgotten someone and if I have spelled names incorrectly. We had a wonderful time visiting with everyone. The visit was too short but we had places to go.----Penny

Western Trip

We left Decatur on Friday, September 23rd, and spent the first night in Kingdom City, Missouri. The driving was uneventful. As we were getting ready for bed around 10:00 pm, John called the front desk to ask for a wake-up call. He asked for a 4:30 wake-up call. The clerk said, "is that 4:30 in the afternoon?" HUH?? Did she think we were going to sleep for over eighteen hours???---Penny