Sunday, 15 July 2012

Day 16 - Thats it, thats all! July 15, 2012

Day 16 - July 2012

We're home.

The day started out slow...we slept in...seeing as we went to sleep today (at 3:30am), and up and showered by 10:30, it was the slowest start on this vacation.

We were looking for a Denny's today.

And of course, there wasn't one close.

We figured, lets eat in Port Huron. We are going there anyway to get a few groceries, hit the Duty Free, and cross the Border...everyone can wait the 60 minute drive, right?




Torrential downpours. This weather system was between us, and food.
Food we hadn't seen in over 17 hours.

Figures.


  • Breakfast/Lunch. Check.

  • Groceries (as my cupboards, fridge and freezer were BARE). Check.

  • Duty Free. Check.



Goodbye, US of A.
Hello beautiful Canada ahead....

Gas Prices Today:
No gas purchased today. We wanted to get the hell home.


Trip Summary:
2.5 hours driving - 113.25 total
214 km - 10005  total

Ive sat my ass down. I'm not doing laundry until tomorrow.

I'm not driving until Tuesday.

Sadly, I have to travel to Toronto for work on Wednesday.

All in all, a fantastic trip of a lifetime for us all. We could have picked anywhere to travel to. For the money we spent, we could have taken a luxury cruise somewhere, or flown overseas, but Canada IS a gorgeous country.

I had my reservations about all the driving - I hate it.

I'm a results driven, instant-gratification kinda girl, but at the end of the day, I saw my Canada. At least whats West of me.

East is next.


That's another blog!
:)

Day 15 - July 14, 2012

Day 15 - July 14, 2012

La Crosse was short lived - once we programmed the GPS to take us to the next destination, we were too far away from the Mississippi River to get any real great pics. Here's the only one I got.



At least we can say we saw it. We drove over it. We were there. Right next to and above the Mighty Mississippi.

'Check'

Next stop? 'Wisconsin Dells'.

Never heard of it? Neither had I. A friend of mine from Wisconsin recommended it as:

a) a tourist trap
b) a great place to spend money
c) an awesome place for the kids to unwind after 14 days on the road

He was right on all three counts!

The Dells has over 100 things to do, straddles 4 counties, and proclaims itself the 'Waterpark Capital of the World'.

One of those 100 things Noahs Ark Waterpark - they have 51 waterslides, including Scorpion's Tail– America's first upside down looping body slide!!!

We thought Great Wolf Lodge was awesome! This takes the cake!

We were close enough to home, no one wanted to spend (waste?) a day in a WaterPark, so instead, the boys hit up the Go Karts, and Chloe and I went to the Wisconsin Deer Park.






We worked up an appetite, so we headed for Famous Dave's - BBQ and Beer was in order!



Corn Muffins, Beans, Corn on the Cob, Coleslaw, Ribs, a whole Chicken, Pulled Pork, and Fries for everyone.

I think this is the first time I have ordered ONE THING from a menu, and everyone in my family was able to eat.

The food here was fantastic, and a super reasonable price. Even picky Chloe was happy with everything!

After lunch, the boys needed another go-round on the Go Karts, and Chloe and I hit up Goody Goody Gum Drop for Mint Smoothies, Salted Caramels and Salt Water Taffy.

They also had Astro Pops!!!! Remember those???

I wasn't paying $1.89 for one though...they used to be a quarter! Sheesh!




Then it was on to Middleton, Wisconsin.

I said in the very first Blog Post we were going to Middleton, and I wasn't lying.
We were tired, and not far from home, but we were going.

Plus I wanted to hit up the National Mustard Museum.

And I'm not one to go back on my plans.


4 exits? Its bigger than we thought! I figured it would be a little hole in the wall Podunk little town!



Cool town logo!


Town Map of Middleton Wisconsin



And lookie thar...it DOES exist!


Just one of their items for sale...


Downstairs is the actual Museum - this is just one wall (separated by Country) of Mustard jars collected


Retro Mustard ads, and boxes


More of the same...


A poster...love this one!


This was in the ladies bathroom. The soap was in the mustard squeezie bottle!!! I had to take a pic!




Foreign mustards



After the Mustard Museum, we intended to drive for a few more hours, and get a hotel room.

We left Wisconsin, and entered Illinois. We felt good...the driving was easy...no one was really ready to stop.

We left Illinois.

We entered Indiana. There's so LITTLE Indiana, why stay here?
Wouldn't it be cool to get our asses into Michigan for our last night?
Yeah. Lets do that.
Brazilliant idea.

We grabbed a little supper, and got back on the road, and just as we crossed over into Michigan, we started looking for rooms.
There were none.
Anywhere.

New Buffalo? No.

Benton Harbor? Nope.

Paw Paw?? (come on...) Nada.

Kalamazoo????? (in a REALLY bitchy tone) 'If you don't have a reservation, we don't have rooms'

This is when we started to get a clue. Turns out, there was a baseball/soccer/sports tournament weekend going on, and every hotel in Southern Michigan was booked solid.

2 weeks of living on the road, and flying by the seat of our pants, and we get screwed on the very last hotel room we needed.

Argh.

We were advised to drive to Ann Arbor, as there were likely rooms there.

SO close to home, but it was so late, and the van was so disorganized - receipts everywhere, we weren't even remotely ready to talk to Customs Agents about our week in the States, or show receipts. We knew we had to sleep, tidy up, and get our shit together.

We found a room between Ann Arbor and Detroit, and it was the nicest room we had on the entire trip.
She made us an incredible deal (considering we sauntered in at 3am), and provided awesome service, allowing late checkout for us as well.



Gas Prices Today:
Onalaska, Wisconsin $3.459/G (equivalent to $ .91/L)
Benton Harbor, Michigan $3.499/G (equivalent to $ .92/L)


Trip Summary:
9.5 hours driving - 110.75 total
874 km - 9791  total


Wild Turkey Count: 5
Brown Heron Count: 2
Coyote count: 1
Deer Count: 94 (including 4 bucks!)
Antelope count: 8
Elk count: 13
Bison count: 3
Buffalo count: 1
Prairie Dog count: 1
Moose Count: 3 (1 fake, 1 dead)Harbour Seal count: too many to count
Humpback Whale count: 3
Minke Whale count: 1
Dalls Porpoise count: 3
Bald Eagle count: 2
Rhinoceros Auklets count: too many to count
Raccoon count: 2
Dolphin count: 1
Bear Count: 1
Mountain Goat Count: 0
Bighorn Sheep Count: 0
Gopher Count: well, we just stopped counting
White Tailed Deer: 1
Caribou Count: 2
Coyote Count: 3
Heron Count: 1
Muskrat (maybe?) count: 2

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Day 14 - July 13, 2012

Day 14 - July 13, 2012


Left Murdo, South Dakota with no real plan today other than 'head for home, and we will see what we see when we see it'

I happened to spy on the map just north of I-90, a little town called Walnut Grove.

And a little plan formed.

One that my kids didn't seem to impressed with.

You see, even now, when Little House on the Prairie comes on the TV, I cant seem to change the channel. There's something about that little bitch Nellie, and how well behaved and polite kids were back in the day with their 'yes ma' and 'yes pa' and 'may I be excused' that makes me long for a little of that in my own house.

Maybe more so after 14 days straight of being in a house on wheels with my three adult children, but I digress.

So today, we hit up Walnut Grove, Sleepy Eye, and Mankato along the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway

If those poor people drove that road in a horse and buggy every time Mary needed her eyes checked, or if Charles didn't make it that time Ma was about to hack off her own leg, I pity them all - in a van, it sucked enough!




Olesons' Mercantile. The same one? I have no idea.

Water tower

The actresses, obviously. We weren't sticking around to meet them.


The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum - bus tours were available to the dug out site where their home in Walnut Grove was located, but no one wanted to spend 90 minutes on a bus with a bunch of Seniors for the privilege.

Nellie's - I'm sure not the same one :)


After our 'Little House' tour, we encountered some interesting weather....
from a rainbow

to wicked storm clouds

then we left it behind



And settled in after 9.5 hours of driving in La Crosse Wisconsin, along the mighty Mississippi!!!

We are having cheese tomorrow!



Gas Prices Today:
Mitchell, South Dakota $3.48/gallon (equivalent to $ .92/L)


Trip Summary:
9.5 hours driving -  101.25 total
892 km - 8917  total


Coyote count: 1
Deer Count: 93 (including 4 bucks!)
Antelope count: 8
Elk count: 13
Bison count: 3
Buffalo count: 1
Prairie Dog count: 1
Moose Count: 3 (1 fake, 1 dead)Harbour Seal count: too many to count
Humpback Whale count: 3
Minke Whale count: 1
Dalls Porpoise count: 3
Bald Eagle count: 2
Rhinoceros Auklets count: too many to count
Raccoon count: 2
Dolphin count: 1
Bear Count: 1
Mountain Goat Count: 0
Bighorn Sheep Count: 0
Gopher Count: well, we just stopped counting
White Tailed Deer: 1
Caribou Count: 2
Coyote Count: 3
Heron Count: 1
Muskrat (maybe?) count: 2

Day 13 - July 12, 2012

Day 13 - July 12, 2012

We departed Sheridan Wyoming, and got on the road to Mount Rushmore.

We really truly had no history about this place whatsoever, other than the fact that there were 4 dead American Presidents faces carved into a big piece of rock.

That, and it would be pretty impressive to see.

Not half an hour on the road, I spied a bee in one of the 'sky lights'



Corben happened to be sitting in the front, and rather than tell him and make a scene, or distract Bill while he was driving, Cale and I spend the next 30 minutes being secretive about it, and trying to kill it right above Corbens head. 

It got to be almost funny - the longer it took us, and the more Corben was totally in the dark about it, the more we laughed!

First I tried the shoe, but the bee kept hiding in the trim of the window every time I got close.
I then got out my hairspray (Corben didn't even notice the 5 times I nailed the bee with that!!!)

Finally Cale constructed a trap with his jackknife and a water bottle.
It wasn't until we captured it, and covered the top of the bottle with cardboard that we showed Corben what we had been doing for 30 minutes.

Captain Oblivious, that boy.


The 'trap'


Cale, inspecting his kill


The whole episode reminded me of what the State of Washington calls their porta-shitters. Not sure if this makes them easier to use?


 
Goodbye Wyoming, hello South Dakota.

Bill spotted George Washington's nose as we rounded the corner...tried to snap a pic, but too many cars were behind us at the time...



Did you know Mount Rushmore is actually unfinished? I didn't!


Names of the Mount Rushmore workers


What is a Tourist Attraction without the obligatory visit to the Gift Shop?

On this day however, we were lucky enough to meet and chat with Don 'Nick' Clifford, one of the original Mount Rushmore drillers!

Nick is 91 years young, and continues to visit the site on occasion to sign his book, meet visitors from all over, and answer questions.

The book was a fascinating look into the story behind the creation of Mount Rushmore from the working mans perspective.



Nicks book


The 'Middledons' - Nick couldn't hear me that well :)


We ended our day with a stop in Murdo, South Dakota for the night.

Never heard of it? There was nothing here. We ate at a gas station for dinner. Chocolate milk, cheese strings, and beer.



Gas Prices Today:
Sheridan, Wyoming $3.40/gallon (equivalent to $ .90/L)
Wall, South Dakota $3.60/gallon (equivalent to $ .95/L)

Trip Summary:
6.5 hours driving - 91.75 total
637 km - 8025 total


Coyote count: 1
Deer Count: 93 (including 4 bucks!)
Antelope count: 8
Elk count: 13
Bison count: 3
Buffalo count: 1
Prairie Dog count: 1
Moose Count: 3 (1 fake, 1 dead)Harbour Seal count: too many to count
Humpback Whale count: 3
Minke Whale count: 1
Dalls Porpoise count: 3
Bald Eagle count: 2
Rhinoceros Auklets count: too many to count
Raccoon count: 2
Dolphin count: 1
Bear Count: 1
Mountain Goat Count: 0
Bighorn Sheep Count: 0
Gopher Count: well, we just stopped counting
White Tailed Deer: 1
Caribou Count: 2
Coyote Count: 3
Heron Count: 1
Muskrat (maybe?) count: 2

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Day 12 - July 11, 2012

Day 12 - July 11, 2012


We checked out of Bozemon, and headed for Yellowstone National Park.

We knew you needed at least a week to see all of Yellowstone, but we didn't have the time, so we picked a few of the sights we wanted to see, and planned for one day there.

I also noticed that Montana is littered with these tiny Espresso Drive Throughs - each one seems to have a different name, but they are as prolific as Tim Hortons at home - and this one made a fantastic Caramel Macchiato!




We made it to the little town of West Yellowstone, where we stopped to get gas and a bite to eat before entering the park. This little marketing gem caught my eye, so I made Bill loop around so I could get a pic.





Our first stop (actually in West Yellowstone) - the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Centre.




Clearly the bears were well fed, the crows were living harmoniously with them!



Wolves - sleeping in the sun. Occasionally, they would roll over, and show us their bellies.



I trapped a bear.....


And in we go! A few minutes later, we crossed into Wyoming. After a few hours here, I found Wyoming a lot like Nevada (Red Rock Canyon, specifically) only greener with water.


 Bison by the lake.



Lower Geyser Basin


The 'bacteria mat' - yum!






Then of course a stop at Old Faithful


Who wasn't so faithful.....




Evidence of a forest fire - one of many




We left Yellowstone on Highway 14, which took us through the Bighorn Mountain Range - unbelievable scenery, with rock formations dating back millions to billions of years ago.

(we need these chips at home - seriously, Lays people)



Got milk?



Exiting the mountains, and coming into Greybull Wyoming, we came across the South Bighorn County Airport, where we spied this Royal Canadian Air Force plane - no idea what year or kind it is - anyone?




After a few rounds of R-Rated down by the bay, and 55 deer later, we checked into Sheridan, Wyoming.







Gas Prices Today:
Bozeman Montana $3.449/G (equivalent to $.91/L)

Trip Summary:
7.5 hours driving - 85.25 total
616 km - 7388 total


Deer Count: 72 (including 3 bucks!)
Antelope count: 8
Elk count: 13
Bison count: 3
Buffalo count: 1
Prairie Dog count: 1
Moose Count: 3 (1 fake, 1 dead)Harbour Seal count: too many to count
Humpback Whale count: 3
Minke Whale count: 1
Dalls Porpoise count: 3
Bald Eagle count: 2
Rhinoceros Auklets count: too many to count
Raccoon count: 2
Dolphin count: 1
Bear Count: 1
Mountain Goat Count: 0
Bighorn Sheep Count: 0
Gopher Count: well, we just stopped counting
White Tailed Deer: 1
Caribou Count: 2
Coyote Count: 3
Heron Count: 1
Muskrat (maybe?) count: 2