Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Back Home Again 10/1/19 & Trip Summary

10/1/19, Tuesday. It was a cool morning in Williams, and became a warm day as we continued our journey westward.
Arizona Landscape
Barstow was our stop today, for lunch and for a visit to the Mojave River Valley Museum. This little treasure is in need of updating, but has interesting historic items, fossils, and baskets. There's also quite a few fine books about area history, geology, the desert, and more.

Mojave River Valley Museum
Baskets in the MRVM
Road construction on Hwy 18 added a half an hour to our drive, but we had a lovely view of Joshua trees, so we put on some U2.

Driving through Pearblossom, we were delighted to find that what was once the Valley Hungarian Sausage Company has reopened as Tibor's Gourmet European Deli. It opened last Thursday. Although it doesn't have the full variety of products as the last restaurant, they expect to have all of them by Christmas. We bought sandwiches to go for dinner, then back to the six lane highways as we entered the Los Angeles area and made it home safely.

Trip Summary:

North Dakota - Randy's & Bryn's 50th State! Sportsmobile's 48th State!
- oh! watch for an update; we'll have to check the odometer to see how many miles this trip actually was.
- the only van issue was needing a new battery.
- we had exceptionally good weather; one small shower in South Dakota; one heavy but short cloudburst in Texas
- the only gas station with flex fuel was our local Chevon. In 2009, we were able to get it around the country.
- Bryn learned how to use GPS via cell phone last year; on this trip, she learned how to connect to the aux port and play downloaded albums. We forgot to play Take It Easy when we went through Winslow, AZ.
- there's more trash alongside the roads in California than in any other place, but it's easier to recycle things in California than in any other place
- best gas price was $2.19 in Bartlesville, OK; on the day we got home, the local Arco (cheapest gas station around) was $4.35.
- we listened to the book Swiss Family Robinson; it was very detailed, and very long, and provides all sorts of innovative survival skills,quite useful should one find oneself shipwrecked. An interesting things was the diversity of animals the characters found on their equatorial island, from elephants and kangaroos to hippos and porcupines. Randy mentioned that at the time the book was written (1812), the idea that species were regional, not global, was not really understood.
- the order of states visited on this loop trip: CA, NV, AZ, UT, AZ, CO, WY, SD, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, NM, AZ, CA.
- friends and family visited: Pat, Nikki, Vanya, Shawn, Jenna, Justin, Lainie, Don, Rebecca, Joe Don, PSB, Stan, Sally, Catherine, Maureen, Kimberly, Adam, Mariella, Robin. Thanks to each of you for putting up with a whirlwind visit.
- as mentioned in earlier posts, many times, it's easy to find many interesting things to see and do in just about any place. Having to pick only one thing to do each day is tough, so we continue to make lists of things to see and do next time we pass that way again.
- and the next Sportmobile trip will be...? Wait and see!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Some favorite stops along I-40

Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Co.
At dawn, on her way to work, Catherine drove Bryn to meet Randy at the hotel.  We had breakfast, packed up, and went to Gallup for one of our favorite stops, Richardson's Cash Pawn Trading Post on old Route 66.  It never disappoints.

Richardson's in Gallup, NM
 We lost a lot of time on the road today. We were near the front of a several-mile-long row of cars.  The NM Dept of Transportation did a traffic break, causing everyone to follow at 10 mph for nearly an hour.  Why? Because the left lane ended and everyone had to merge because there was road construction. It was a ridiculous waste of time. Hey NM, people understand the merging concept, this was not necessary at all!
In Holbrook AZ, we stopped at Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company. It's a fun place to look around at beautiful petrified wood, plus rocks and fossils from around the world.
We can't go through Arizona without stopping at Bookman's.  There are still several of these great used bookstores in the state, and we successfully visited at the Flagstaff branch.

In Williams, we were stopped at the railroad tracks as the Grand Canyon Railroad train went by.  We went downtown for dinner and a little sightseeing.

Grand Canyon Railroad

Downtown Williams

Amarillo & Albuquerque - 9-29-19

Sunday September 29, 2019

Amarillo, Texas, weird dinosaur cowboy sculpture, it was emailed to Bret to help celebrate his special day.  We continued our westward drive through Texas and entered New Mexico, which has quite a friendly welcoming sign. They also seem to have a lot more rest areas than the other states we've been through lately.

Welcome to New Mexico, I-40

Next stop, Old Town Albuquerque and the Back Street Grill, where we met Maureen, Kimberly & family, and Catherine for a great New Mexican-style lunch.

 Afterwards, Randy went to check into the hotel. Meanwhile, Bryn, Catherine and Maureen walked around Old Town, did a little shopping, visited the church of San Felipe de Neri, founded in 1706 (rebuilt in 1793), and relaxed with lattes for M&C and a prickly pear sparkling soda for Bryn.

Randy joined us for dinner for more New Mexican specialties, with sopapillas for dessert.  Then he went back to the hotel and Bryn went to Catherine's to talk more while Catherine was busy making scones and finger sandwiches for a tea party. It got too late so Bryn had a sleepover.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bricktown Lunch & Banjos

In Oklahoma City today, we had the ABCss of Bricktown.  Abuelos Mexican Restaurant, next to Banjos - the American Banjo Museum, and C - Exhibit C, a Chickasaw art gallery that features many Native American artworks. The three of them are in a row on Sheridan Street, right down from a big Oklahoma mural, and they are all worth a visit.  The ss is for Stan and Sally, who joined us for lunch.
American Banjo Museum.

Next we were lucky, as there was a Celtic Jam Session scheduled at the museum. Stan is part of this. Although he plays the banjo, he is the guitar player for a Celtic group, and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to them play a favorite and then try a new song for the first time together. Lovely!

It ended all too soon, then we were on the road again westward. We had a quick stop at the Mohawk Lodge in Clinton to see old baskets (not for sale).

We were in a huge thunderstorm in eastern Texas, then we arrived in Amarillo for a late dinner and early evening.

Celtic Jam Session.
Bryn & Sally

Mohawk Lodge baskets.
Thunderclouds worsening in the eastern Texas panhandle.

Friday Sept 27, 2019 Woolaroc and dinner at home

Friday, September 27, 2019

Randy took most of the day off, other than getting gas and groceries - that was work!

Bryn met Rebecca and off they went to Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve. In what was once Osage land, Frank Philips built this ranch retreat in 1925. Philips of Philips Petroleum, Philips 66, Philbrook Museum, Philmont Ranch.  It's an old-fashioned museum filled with Native American treasures, but as a private museum, it does not have to follow standard museum practices, and some of the exhibits are not exactly politically correct. Woolaroc stands for Woods, Lakes, Rocks.
Bison at Woolaroc.

Birchbark canoe for Rebecca and cases of baskets for Bryn.

Chickens, some for sale,at Woolaroc.
 Later in the day we picked up The Curl from preschool, and met Joe Don and Randy at the house. The guys were grilling outside, while the girls did the veggies. Through this cooperative effort, we ended up with a yummy dinner.  We got a squash at the Knife River Indian Village NHS a few days prior. They had been growing Arikara squash in their three sisters garden (corn, beans, squash), but they found out that this was a hybrid of Arikara and Hubbard squash. So instead of saving them for seeds, they gave squash out to visitors.

Three sisters garden.
Zebra at Woolaroc.

Hybrid Arikara - Hubbard squash, we ate it for dinner.

Thursday Sept 26, 2019 Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma!

Thursday September 26, 2019

Cornfields and sunflowers lined the road as we traveled through Nebraska today. We were listening to The Wizard of Oz book on tape, and thought we'd have it in Kansas, but we miscalculated and it finished before we got to the border! But it was a grand story, it goes beyond the movie, and we enjoyed listening to it. Kansas roads were also lined with cornfields and sunflowers; it is The Sunflower State.
A stop at the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site.

Our first stop of the day was in Topeka,  Kansas, at the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site. It is housed in the Monroe Elementary School building, one of the formerly segregated schools.

Next we went to a local burger joint for lunch. It turns out Bobo's has been around since 1948, and it has been on Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins. The burgers were great, and so were the fresh potato chips.

 Next stop, Oklahoma! We went out for bbq with Rebecca, Joe Don, and The Curl. The guys (including Max the cat) tuckered out early, the girls talked 'til midnight!

End of a long and fun day!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Mitchell SD to Omaha NE

South Dakota Cornfield
South Dakota today included driving through cornfields, having another 6 mile construction site (which included the entire Main Street of one small town!).  The fun stop was Mitchell, SD.  First we went to the Prehistoric Indian Village Site, a National Historic Landmark and home of the Archeodome. The archaeological site, which is being excavated by Augustana University, Sioux Falls SD, and University of Exeter, Exeter, England, is inside a large building, allowing for year-round, indoor excavating. What luxury for the archaeologists! The museum includes lots of bison bones, pottery fragments, lithic materials, a bison skeleton, and a recreated earth lodge.

South Dakota 11 mile construction site.
Inside the Archeodome, Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village

Having a corn dog at the Corn Palace.
Corn Palace lobby with mosaic pillars.

Corn Palace! Partial view of the building's front.

The second stop in Mitchell was The Corn Palace! Yes, Theeeee Corn Palace, "the world's only corn palace!" It's actually an auditorium/basketball court/event venue, but the exterior decorations are made of corn cobs and corn husks. Inside, the pillars are tiled like colorful corncobs, and Bryn thought they were really spiffy!

Then we crossed the Iowa River into Iowa, saw more cornfields, and then crossed the Missouri River into Nebraska. We arrived in Omaha for the night, and had dinner at Lo Solo Mio, an Italian restaurant that was recommended by Nikki. It was yummy.

Iowa River from the Iowa side, looking at Nebraska.

Lo Solo Mio, Omaha.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

NPS in ND - Theodore Roosevelt & Knife River Indian Villages

Good morning, Little Missouri River

Good morning, prairie dog town

Good morning, bison and turkey on the road
 It was a gorgeous morning in Theodore Roosevelt National Park!
Good morning, Sportsmobile

We did sightseeing along the South Unit Loop Drive, but due to a collapsed section of road, it was 24 miles in and 24 miles out again. We were able to see different things as the morning light and clouds created varied views.

Hoodoos are created by soft clays eroding below sandstone cap stones. Geological features observed include fossilized tree moulds, anthracite (coal) veins, concretions, and more. Animals were out and about - a pronghorn pranced through a prairie dog town, and we thought we might be late for our ranger walk when a herd of bison blocked the road. Although it was a little cloudy, the weather was very temperate, in fact it was warm for the season. Autumn colors were starting in the ash and cottonwood trees.

Sandstone tree moulds surrounded by bison tracks
 In the Peaceful Valley Ranch area, we joined a ranger-led birding hike. Regrettably, we only saw one kestrel, but we had a good time walking through the forest and along the river. We found out that yes indeed we had seen seagulls yesterday, as they are birds of the Dakotas, as well as ferruginous hawks.

Pronghorn in a prairie dog town
Birding by the river.
Ready for the hike.
Staff have been busy sweeping the forest for fire prevention.
Farewell, TR National Park
 We left TR and drove east on I-94. Interestingly, the landscape is thus: off the edge of the highway, there is a mowed section with rolls of hay, then either a marshy area or a pond with cattails, and then cornfields beyond this. This pattern was followed for nearly 200 miles. We followed another construction area that lasted for 11 miles; as mentioned yesterday, road construction is odd in the Dakotas!

Our next stop was another National Park Service Unit, the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. It includes the archaeological remains of three Hidatsa and Mandan village sites. Importantly, this is where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805, and where they met their guide Sakakawea. Sakakawea is North Dakota's official spelling of Sacagawea (Tsakaka-wea). There is a nice museum here with comprehensive displays plus a lot of hands-on replica objects . Outside there is a recreated earth lodge, a garden (we were allowed to take a squash with us), and walks to the village sites.
Earthlodge exterior; village sites off in the distance.

Earthlodge interior

Knife River Villages Visitor Center

We continued our drive north to the evening's destination, Jamestown. Unfortunately we found out that the National Museum of the Buffalo was closed. Luckily, however, we were able to visit the World's Largest Buffalo, a statue named "Dakota Thunder."  For size comparison, see the little park bench to the right of the figure. At 26' tall and 60' long, this is one big bison!

Bevan zarva.

Dakota Thunder, World's Biggest Buffalo, is 26 feet tall.

North Dakota is a friendly place!