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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