Harper’s Ferry

In her deep radio DJ voice, my daughter repeated the only phrase she could remember from a movie watched a few years before in her AP American History class, “John Brown, John Brown”. This was my constant companion as I finally made it to Harper’s Ferry, which had been on the trip’s itinerary for Day 4, not Day 64. It was foggy and rain threatened as we followed the signs into the National Historic Park. We were not at the location of the town that John Brown and his men raided but the heights where Stonewall Jackson laid seize to the town in September, 1862 and the subsequent surrender of Federal troops, the largest of the Civil War. Rather than take the bus provided nor heed the warnings of severely limited parking from the park rangers, we drove down to the restored town. We snagged a spot within seconds of entering town and bounded out of the car with the confidence gained from a parking spot easily found. Oh, the joy of good parking karma.

The rain held off as we explored the streets, buildings and the Point, where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. Via various plaques and signs, I was reminded what an important role Harpers Ferry played in 19th Century US history and in some of the themes I had explored on my trip, including Lewis & Clark and Civil Rights. Even George Washington had known this area when he had been a surveyor, long before it was settled and had become the US Armory and Arsenal, where Merriweather Lewis gathered supplies and provisions prior to the Corp of Discovery’s expedition. Storer College, established after the Civil War to educate former slaves and where Frederick Douglass was one of the trustees, was the site of a public meeting and address by W.E.B. Du Bois in 1906 when the Niagara Movement met on the campus. Brig. Gen. Custer spent time in Harpers Ferry in 1864 when the Union had regained the town and it was a major supply base. But it was John Brown and his raiders that had brought me to Harper’s Ferry. Brown, that man of Bleeding Kansas fame, who along with three of his sons, five freed black men and other ardent abolitionists descended upon the town in October 1859 in hopes of sparking a rebellion of slaves that would lead to a revolution ending slavery. All involved were captured or killed by the Virginia militia and Federal marines under the command of Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee. Brown was executed shortly after the raid but his actions, trial and hanging brought the moral issue of slavery to the front headlines and the nation closer to civil war. The John Brown Museum had three films outlining his life, his purpose and the raid as well as several artifacts and informational placards. I studied a board with statistics comparing slave states to free states in population, land mass, exports, number of animals, even the number of libraries. It was detailed and fascinating.

After a quick lunch at one of the many restaurants in the restored town, we headed for New Jersey to pick up our pooch, from my oldest who had been caring for her. The towns and byways of Maryland made for a picturesque drive with its rolling hills dotted with barns, pastures and federal style buildings. At Baltimore we hopped onto I-95, then it was on to Philadelphia where we stopped to pick up a slice of pie, that’s pizza pie, from our favorite pizza place, Gianfranco’s. Smaller than most people’s living room, it’s located just two blocks from Independence Hall, costs just two bucks a slice, and is a sure favorite on any visit to Philly. Happy and content with our slices, we drove across the Ben Franklin Bridge to my eldest’s apartment and into the lick-bite-tagging-wagging happiness that is our four-year-old Cairn Terrier, Stella. Once the happy reunion was had and the dog paraphernalia gathered, we drove on to Little Silver, NJ to spend an evening with my nephew and his family. I had spent my second night of the trip with them, so it was nice to spend one of my last nights with them and share some adventures of the trip.
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Flight 93 Memorial

My youngest came along for the ride when I left Michigan. The plan was to visit Harper’s Ferry before going up to New England. My route was a familiar one; east on State Route 43 to Kalamazoo, then I-94 to Marshall, south on I-69 to the Indiana Toll Road, east again across the Ohio Turnpike to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We had gotten an early start and thankfully it was an uneventful trip with many familiar landmarks and rest stops. I was thankful for my EZ-pass and the knowledge that it would work, unlike in Kansas, as we went smoothly from state to state. We even snapped a picture of the “Drink Milk” sign on a barn in Pennsylvania that I had seen for years. My daughter took the photo as she was uncomfortable with me taking photos while I was driving and there was no where to stop along the busy turnpike. The farm with the barn was west of Somerset and shortly before it we had seen signs for the new Flight 93 Memorial. We decided to alter our course to visit it.

The Memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 was 17 miles off the Turnpike up and down some rambling hilly country roads. There was a huge car junkyard that caught my eye. Once in the park, we followed the road for three more miles where reforestation of the former surface mine was well under way and 40 memorial groves had been planted. The outdoor Memorial Plaza has a shelter and entry area with informational panels on Flight 93, the passengers and crew, and series of events on 9/11. We walked along a long pathway with a sloping wall that marked the edge of the crash site and then examined the 40 white panels each with a name inscribed that made up the Wall of Names. Finally, we peered through a wooden gate behind which laid the crash site and a boulder marking the impact. It was a solemn experience, and brought back vivid memories of 9/11. We were glad to have paid our respects.

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PURE MICHIGAN

Dorothy is correct, “There’s no place like Home”. And for me, there is no place like my little house near the big lake, especially when one of my people awaits my arrival. Once into Indiana, I’d been checking the clock on my phone to see if I had made it into the Eastern Time Zone, my time zone. I know the highway by heart, almost tree for tree, sign for sign, but I never fail to play little mind games to help pass the miles as I inch closer to home. None of us lives permanently at our lake house, but for happy wanderers like ourselves it is not just located in South Haven, but it is our haven. Tonight would be no different then all the times I’ve driven along I-94; I would honk the horn loud and long as I past the “Pure Michigan” welcome sign, I would drive along the lake, past St. Basil Church, the lighthouse and arrive happily at our home.

My youngest greeted me at the door with a big smile and there was a simple homemade welcome on the mantle. Although I reminded her that I still had four states to go, she insisted that the yeoman’s work of the trip was done. I spent three days in South Haven, doing laundry, writing blog posts, visiting with friends and my aunts, and watching glorious sunsets.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder

My daughters and I were all fans of The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My husband was familiar with Laura, Pa and the gang, too, as he often read aloud these books to our youngest daughter. One evening when our youngest was in third grade, my husband came stomping down the stairs complaining that Pa just kept moving the family. The Ingalls would get settled, friends were made, life was productive and then Pa would move the family. He went on and on about Pa uprooting the family, his inability to stick with farming in one place, and the difficulties of moving. My husband looked for confirmation and support from our son and oldest daughter, who quizzically gazed at him. Our older kids were sitting at the dining room table in the fifth house and fourth state in which they had lived, recently having returned from spending a summer outside of London, which was a happy benefit of their Dad’s work. Our oldest made an understated but hilarious poke at the similarities between our lives and the Ingalls; my husband’s face registered the understanding that he had lacked a few moments earlier and we all had a good laugh. Occasionally we still refer to my husband as “Pa” when we gear up for another move, there have been three since that evening.

Laura’s many home towns were on my agenda. Unfortunately for me, my timing was poor. The DeSmet, South Dakota sights opened after Memorial Day (I’m a bit behind in this blog) and I wasn’t willing to go two hours out of my way for a drive-by. I focused instead on visiting Walnut Grove from “The Banks of Plum Creek”. Minnesota was the last ‘new state’ I would enter and I was excited to cross the border into the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The two hour drive was across fertile farmland and ever so enjoyable. I never tire of barns, silos, farmhouses, and fields on my horizon; proving once again that you can take the girl out of the Midwest but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl. Walnut Grove was a small town that readily emphasized its relationship to Laura Ingalls Wilder with the Olsen’s Mercantile, Nellie’s Diner, a Wilder Pageant in July and a small museum. The museum was closed but it was a kiddie-place, so I was relieved that I couldn’t visit and was quite content to take a few photos and continue to the Ingalls’ family dugout along Plum Creek, north of town.

I put my $5.00 in the box by the barn of the Gordons, the current owners, and drove down the dirt road to explore where Laura played as a child. Spring was just coming on and Plum Creek was in full view. The big rock that Laura described as well as the spring and the remains of the dugout were all there. The fields of prairie grass and a walking trail around the area were established and maintained by the Gordons allowing for wildflowers and birds as well as fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder to enjoy the area. As I departed, a school bus arrived and I happily made my way back to State Route 14, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway. I couldn’t help but notice what a fertile, productive farm the Gordons’ had and considered once again the limited farming abilities of Charles Ingalls.

The LIW Historic Highway took me through a town called Sleepy Eye. I wondered aloud how this town had gotten its name and happily noted that it was busy, active and thriving as I drove on to Mankato. I made a brief stop in Mankato to see the homes of Betsy-Tacy, who were the characters of a popular series of the same name written by Maud Hart Lovelace. Although this series was a bit before my time, it was especially beloved by several of my friends, including a set of five sisters from Kalamazoo that I had the privilege to befriend years ago. Betsy and Tacy’s homes and the “Hill Street” neighborhood were just as Lovelace described them, a welcoming small-town midwestern life. I was pleased I had read the books before my trip and that I had made the stop.

My other Ingalls destination was to be Pepin, Wisconsin but after reading that the big woods in “The Little House in the Big Woods” had been cut down for farmland and there was a plaque in its place, I concluded it was time to head home to Michigan. My psyche couldn’t take three hours of driving to view a plaque, not after 8+ weeks on the road. My only stop in Wisconsin was worthy of any dessert lover, it was at a Culver’s, the home of butter burgers and frozen yogurt. The particular Culver’s I visited boasted to be the largest Culver’s in the USA, just off I-90 south of Madison. The ‘concrete mixer’, vanilla frozen yogurt mixed with M&Ms, was delicious and my last stop before facing non-stop construction from Rockford, Illinois to Chicago and then non-stop traffic on I-294 around Chicago.

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Badlands

The website for Badlands National Park Service states that it draws visitors from all over the world, yet on the afternoon that I visited I encountered two cars (and they were together) on the Badlands Loop Road. After dropping my husband off at the Rapid City, SD Regional Airport, I had headed southeast to the Badlands. With leaving the airport I had returned to being alone, and within a few miles I was alone not just in the car but on the road. It was an interesting adjustment, going from having a traveling companion to being alone, from being at busy National Parks to being out on a dirt road without any other car in sight nor seeing one for many miles. I embraced the solitude but not the quiet as there were birds flitting everywhere.

The Badlands met my expectations with its rugged beauty of eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires. The shades of white and grey were numerous and the formations fascinating. I enjoyed my dirt-road drive, stopping to take photos, to walk about a bit and at times just to stare out at a landscape I had only seen from 30,000 miles above as I flew over this fly-over state. The Loop Road took me first through eroded buttes and then grasslands where some bison grazed. It took me out of the park for a few miles and along a road with family farms growing crops to the left and rugged peaks and canyons to the right, then it was over a cattle-grid and back into the national park. I noticed a prairie dog alongside the road as I was leaving the park for the final time and was pleased I hadn’t missed a sighting of this little creature. I stopped to observe it, turned my head and saw dozens of prairie dogs on the other side of the road. Observing the behavior of the prairies dogs was how I spent the next 30 minutes or so, and of course, taking loads of photos. I, especially, enjoyed the antics of a threesome who huddled together above their hole, ran off in unison, bobbing and weaving until they arrived at another hole. They definitely reminded me of my threesome, back in the day when they weren’t spread across the globe.

My trip to the Badlands would not be complete without a trip to Wall Drug and this was easily accomplished as the road out of the park led north directly to Wall, South Dakota. They make a very good chocolate milkshake at Wall Drug, which I enjoyed while browsing the many rooms of souvenirs and checking out the Western theme street that Wall Drug occupies. From Wall, I drove east on I-90 noticing the changing landscape from the Badlands of the west to the farmlands of the Midwest which seemed to coincide with the time change from mountain time to central time.

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Mount Rushmore

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, American patriotism meets head on with American commercialism to create an Americana vacation experience for the entire family. I’m torn in this post on whether to share my positive, patriotic American view of the area or my cynical, white-male-dominance-American view of the area. Maybe a little of both since my experience and thoughts consisted of both. On the forty-five minute drive into the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, there was a host of family-fun entertainment places to visit: Bear Country U.S.A., Old MacDonald’s Farm, Sitting Bull’s Crystal Caverns, Alpine Slides, trams, mini-golf, and chuck wagon dinners. Each of these places conjured up happy images of the quintessential American family driving vacation, giggling children running about, parents watching their youngsters petting farm animals, winning at mini-golf or racing down an alpine slide. My dark side saw crying kids sticky with sugary drinks spilled down their shirt, squabbling siblings hot and overtired after missing the bear sighting at Bear Country U.S.A., and a frustrated father who just spent $55 at Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns and now little Timmy was afraid to go on the tour. Yes, these sights were ripe family vacation memory-makers just ready for the picking, but would your pick be a happy one or go down in family lore as the afternoon that Dad blew a gasket at Crystal Caverns.

Mount Rushmore was run by the Park Service but it was the only place that didn’t accept the “America the Beautiful” $80 annual park pass that I had purchased for my trip. We were told that it didn’t cover the $11.00 parking fee. Ah, my cynical side enjoyed how clever it was to separate the parking fee from the free entry into the memorial. At once claiming the entrance free, but still earning $11.00 per car. Once in the Memorial, I decided to spring for the audio guide although my husband did not want one. For $5.00 I hoped to gain some useless but interesting factoids about the carving; however, I wasn’t prepared to wait patiently to the long detailed instructions on how to operate an audio guide that the woman behind the counter was insistent on giving me nor that she wanted a copy of my driver’s license to ensure its return. I might add, she wasn’t pleased when when I walked away without slipping the strap over my wrist as she previously instructed.

We had seen the carvings from the parking lot. It was stirring to see the faces as we walked through the Avenue of Flags. I must state here that The Avenue of Flags consisted of the flag for each state and territory of the United States. Some of you non-Ohioans might not realize that Ohio has a pennant or burgee and not a traditional rectangular flag. This uniqueness is cherished by some but not all of its citizenry. My husband never goes by the Ohio flag without making a comment on its shape, this day was no exception. There were gorgeous blue skies, the flags were a lovely foreground for the sculpture and made for a great photo opportunity. We walked the Presidential Trail, examining the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. I listened to the audio guide and informed my husband that initially the carvings were to be of famous westerners, but later presidents were chosen, that Roosevelt was a controversial choice because he hadn’t been deceased long and was thought too progressive by some, that the workers had a baseball team that competed in a local league and that on a guy’s first day they would strap him in a harness and put him over the side holding a 85-pound jack-hammer with only a cable to hold him. There were more facts to share, but I spared my husband, temporarily. I had gotten my $5.00 worth and more from the audio guide.

Great President’s faces carved into the side of a mountain was true Americana, hokey and patriotic at the same time. The audio guide had its fair share of patriotic music and played up freedom, civic duty and important moments in American history. It was stirring and goose-bump inducing. I envisioned young boys and girls from the Plains and elsewhere viewing this memorial, growing up and enlisting in the armed services. It was that patriotic. It was also located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a sacred space to the Lakota Native American tribe, so the destruction of a mountain side to carve faces in it as a tourist attraction seemed contrary to the Lakota values of respecting the land and another way the white man/government demonstrated its power. Yet as we watched veterans, foreign visitors and little kids staring up at the carving, it was hard to deny its significance.

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North Dakota

I promised myself that I would drive the Lower 48 yet I worried how I would fit North Dakota into my journey. Initially, I planned to stay in Bismarck and visit Fort Mandan, where Louis & Clark wintered in 1804-1805, but as I got closer I was anxious to get to our Michigan lake house and I was growing tired of my life on the road. The driving, the food, the hotels were getting tiresome, and the sight each morning of the car was making me long for my front porch, a cup of tea and fresh breakfast made by no one else but me. During the last week or so, I kept staring at the map conjuring ways to visit North Dakota without logging too many miles or taking an additional day. Finally, I decided that I would forgo Fort Mandan and drive through North Dakota without a destination visit other than to a couple of small towns. My drive would be less than three hours in the southwest corner of the state.

Leaving Little Bighorn Battlefield, we headed back to I-94 across Montana exiting onto Route 12 once again to travel into North Dakota. The topography and vegetation of the area was limited. The geography of the area was plains with occasional buttes, mostly the view was flat grasslands. The first two small towns we drove through were deserted. It was plywood or broken glass on display in the windows of the few buildings still standing on the main streets in both crossroads towns of Marmarth and Rhame. We saw one man in each town, each looked worn-down and worn-out. As we drew closer to the City of Bowman, population 1,641 in 2011, the barren highway grew into a commercial oasis of fast food, used car dealerships and strip malls, but we headed south before seeing downtown. Another hour of the same grasslands and we entered South Dakota with a Mount Rushmore picture on its sign stating, “Great Faces. Great Places.” It reminded me of Michigan’s old slogan, ” Great Lakes, Great Times” and I longed for the big blue lake even more as I stared out at the flat, empty land. I shook myself out of my melancholy and reminded myself that I had wanted to see this wide-open country and that in the morning, I was going to one of the most Americana places in the entire country, Mount Rushmore.

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Little Bighorn

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument was a short way off I-90 and as students of history, my husband and I were both interested in visiting. On this trip, I had encountered several Native American markers and sights, some of the more memorable being the Mission in Kansas City, Trail of Tears signs across the south, the reservations in Oklahoma, Mesa Verde, the California Missions, and the Nez Perce Trail. I had felt a continued Native American presence throughout the western portion of my trip and I wanted to see the sight where the Native American warriors won the battle but shortly afterwards lost the war against the white man. My husband, after visiting many battlefields and cemeteries of WWI and WWII while we lived in Belgium, was interested in seeing this battlefield that had been taught in our history classes as “Custer’s Last Stand”.

At the Visitor’s Center we perused the extensive book offerings on Native Americans, the West and the Battle, visited the small museum which held artifacts from the battle and items once belonging to Custer. The rangers, as I had found throughout my trip, were informative and helpful in assisting us on how best to utilize our time during our visit. Walking the path to Last Stand Hill, we began to understand the battle and the outnumbered cavalry troops in poor position against Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. Then we drove the battlefield road, where we encountered several horses in the road, to see the five mile area from Last Stand Hill to Maj. Reno’s entrenchment, where his troops had retreated to after being routed by the warriors in the valley and were unable to aid Custer. There are 249 memorial markers set across the battlefield where Custer’s men had fallen, including the 41 men and Custer on Last Stand Hill. This was done in 1890 by the Army. In 1999, memorial markers were erected where three warriors had fallen and a larger memorial to the warriors who fought and why was created.

As the pamphlet we received at the Visitor Center stated, this battle continues to fascinate people, it is part of our western heritage with heroism, brashness, and defeat. A battle lost but not forgotten and a rallying point used to gain a final victory over the Native American tribes which would end their nomadic lifestyle permanently. For me it was a fascinating visit, stirring and thought provoking on Custer, Indian policies, and manifest destiny. Image.

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Yellowstone

There are arches made of Elk antlers adorning the four corners of the Jackson town square lending a distinctive western flare to this tourist gateway to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and loads of ski resorts. It was early and most of the restaurants and shops were still closed, so I took a couple of photos of the town square and then we headed down the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway in the Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Tetons were a photographer’s dreamscape; clear lakes, majestic mountains and green forests created unceasing opportunity for anyone with a camera. Anxiously, I made many stops for photography and walked the trails in hope of seeing some elk. There were no wildlife encounters in the Tetons while we hiked around Jenny Lake but we did see prints in the snow and lots of droppings.

The Parkway hugged Jackson Lake and led us into Yellowstone where, thankfully, the road was open. The snow was several feet deep in places in the park and most of the hiking trails were snow-covered or muddy. We stopped to view Lewis Falls on our way to the Old Faithful Inn, which had its spring opening on the day of our arrival. Built in 1903 with clear views of Old Faithful, the Inn’s soaring multi-story log lobby was as welcoming as it was western. We spent the afternoon walking along pathways, examining the geysers and hot springs while awaiting the eruption of Old Faithful every 90 minutes or so. This hydrothermal wonderland was simultaneously fascinating and disturbing. The heat, color and movements of the geysers held allure and I learned much about the workings of a geyser, but I had trouble shaking an underlying feeling about the moveable, pliable and combustible earth that I hesitated to encounter. Overall I enjoyed our explorations and the several times we watched Old Faithful. The variations in height and pressure were visible even to a first-time visitor such as myself. The evening sunset was colorful, the stars gave quite a show in the night sky and a coyote howled a few times right as we settled down for the night. I went to sleep glad I had finally made it to Yellowstone.

We were up and out at the crack of dawn as we had planned a long day of driving, north out of Yellowstone, through Montana and North Dakota to spend the night in Rapid City, South Dakota. In addition, we hoped our early start would allow us to view some wildlife and more of the hydrothermal features of the national park. We were not disappointed. Bison were abundant along the roadways and we took several photos from the safety of the car. Closer to Mammoth Hot Springs there were herds of Elk to view, including a few closer to the road. The geysers, travertine terraces, hot springs and fumaroles(steam vents) were acutely visible on this cold spring morning. Steam rose from the ground at almost every turn in the road and it was hours before we left the Park through the Roosevelt stone arch.

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Garnet Ghost Town

I couldn’t wait to get out of Missoula, my generally open-minded self was closed to the vibe of this town. I felt I had stepped back in time to an era of disheveled, long-haired, pot-smoking, college dropouts and my very negative visceral reaction to the place was irritating me. While I was analyzing my reaction and was ready to get on the road headed to Jackson Hole and a lovely resort for the evening, my husband was single-minded about getting a University of Montana t-shirt. He saw himself walking the streets of Southie in a maroon “Fear the Griz” t-shirt. Once that purchase was made, we headed east on I-90.

We ventured off the road about 45 minutes later to go to Garnet, a ghost town owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Earlier in this blog, I mentioned that I was interested in visiting a ghost town and I was sure this would be my last opportunity. I wasn’t going to miss it. We pulled off the highway and followed the well-signed road towards Garnet. It was 10 miles from the highway, the first couple of which were paved. Around mile four the road forked, went from gravel to dirt and we encountered a guy who was using some heavy machinery to help maintain the road which was used the previous summer by trucks to haul dirt and rock from the area. He warned us that the road got rough up ahead, that there was an ascent up to the ‘buildings’ and that there might be mud and snow. We decided to continue on for a bit; we’d turn back if it got bad. Mile 5, 6, 7 and 8 weren’t bad, not unlike the many Michigan unpaved roads we’ve traveled. Then the road narrowed and we began a steep climb up a one-lane dirt road with switchbacks every quarter of a mile, tire tracks that turned into gullies at places, patches of mud and a sheer drop off the open side of the mountain. There was no turning back, so I accelerated my RAV-4 and we had an awesome ride up to Garnet. I was pumped up when we arrived even though it had started drizzling. I was already thinking about the drive down.

We spent about 30 minutes exploring the ramshackled town, which had its heyday from 1895 to 1912. The search for gold and other precious metals had made Garnet the home to about a 1000 people. The Main Street still had the hotel, a saloon, a store and a closed visitor center. There was a boardwalk along a couple of the buildings made by a local Eagle Scout. We could enter, at our own risk, several of the weathered down houses and they were complete with old bed springs, tools and debris left behind. My husband spotted a varmint or two that scurried under the buildings as we wandered about the town. We returned down the mountain on the same road rather than taking an alternative route that we had seen posted, figuring “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. It wasn’t a difficult descent and we were quite pleased to inform the guy we had encountered earlier that the snow was almost gone from the town and there were only a few patches of mud on the road.

The drive along I-90 and I-15 to Idaho Falls was a bit boring. Although we encountered a few signs and spots that made us ponder, like the sign for “Local Access” or the “Used Cow Lot”, mostly it was a dull ride. I had just the thing to break up the monotony, Tina Fey’s audiobook, Bossy Pants. While we both enjoyed the book, it was only I that laughed out loud so much that we had to occasionally pause the book so that I could catch my breath. Really, I found it that funny; maybe it was just being out in the middle of nowhere, but I was entertained by Ms. Fey’s reading of her work. We turned off the book as we headed thru the Teton Pass. At the top there was a tremendous view of Jackson Hole; unfortunately my photos do not begin to do it justice. I learned that a “hole” was a cowboy/rancher expression for a valley between two mountain ranges. Upon the advice from some New Jersey friends, we spent the evening at the Spring Creek Ranch. It was a lovely spot with unfettered views of the Grand Tetons and a great restaurant, The Granary. We were pleased with our meals, a filet for my husband and roast chicken for me, along with a bottle of Malbec, which has been my wine of choice since the selection of our new Argentinian pope. We spent a lovely evening chatting with several fellow out-of-state visitors, the main topic being whether or not the road going into Yellowstone would be open the following day. It had been a snowy winter and with the sequestration it was unknown if the plowing had been completed as planned. This was of interest to us, too, as we were to take the road into Yellowstone to the Old Faithful Inn the following day.

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