Back To Reality
We arrived back at Holly and Arliss’ place in Langley after passing through the border with no delay. We spent a nice Thanksgiving there and got our grandchildren fix. We arrived back home on the 15th, after 10,480 kms (6512 miles), with an average fuel consumption of 19.4 miles per gallon (diesel), which we think is pretty respectable. What’s next? Probably a 6-7 week trip south to California and Arizona right after Christmas. One thing we have learned from our two trips thus far is to try and avoid setting deadlines (as far as possible), and to plan on spending at least two nights at any one place. We’ll see how that goes…. For now, you can all take a break!
Back On The Left Coast
We had an uneventful drive back to the Pacific, except for a flipped semi on the I-90 coming into Seattle, which funnelled six lanes of traffic into two, and created a 6 kilometre backup, which meant we arrived at the hotel a good half-hour late. however, all’s well that ends well, and we will head for Bellingham tomorrow morning, then head for the border. It’s been an interesting trip in many ways, but we are still mostly sane and still together, so it’s all good. I’ll do a final entry once we arrive home next Tuesday. For now, thanks to everyone who has followed us and shared your comments. To be continued….
Shopping Spokane Here
We spent the day in Spokane, managing to hit a Jo-Anne’s quilting supply store, a Costco, a Best Buy, and a Camping World, where financial damage of some degree was inflicted at each. We passed the afternoon at a mall, where we had a bite to eat, then went to see “Gravity” in 3D. While it played a little fast and loose with the laws of physics, and the plot was a bit of a stretch, it is certainly entertaining, and the cinematography was breath-taking. Besides, with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, what’s not to like?
We have changed our plans slightly for tomorrow, as we will be staying at a hotel in Seattle, rather than a campground. This is to facilitate a quicker trip to Bellingham on Thursday morning to pick up something at a store there, then be over the border and at Holly’s by 2:00, so we can surprise Celie when we pick her up at school. Tomorrow’s drive is only 4 1/2 hours, so it should be a more relaxed day.
Who Drew The Short Straw?
In terms of the driving shifts, it was definitely Jeannine. One of us was up at 7:30 this morning, and was greeted by the sunrise lighting the tops of the mountains to the west:
We were on the road by 8:15, headed for Helena, where we spent time at a Costco, getting some breakfast, fueling up Lucy, and getting the propane tank refilled. I took the first shift driving, and the weather stayed sunny for the first couple of hours as we wended our way through very pleasant scenery as we headed toward the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains. Jeannine took over at the wheel, and as if by magic, the weather turned cloudy and rainy as the road began to climb. When we finally emerged on the Interstate, the weather turned sunny again, but it was only teasing us, as it turned out. With Mario Andretti at the wheel, we were making good time until we hit Spokane, when a storm cell descended on us and the rain came down faster than the wipers could keep up with it. As we neared the campground, the rain let up and the sun came out as we arrived and set up.
Jeannine went for a swim and I did some computer work, then we read in the lounge. We are probably going to spend much of tomorrow in Spokane, going to a quilt supply store, a camping supply store, and taking in “Gravity” at an Imax theatre.
Big Sky Country
We were on the road by 8:15 this morning, and drove west under sunny skies but cool temperatures. Eventually our route took us off the Interstate and onto a two-lane highway that was practically devoid of traffic and wound its way through Big Sky Country, rewarding us with some lovely vistas, as the altitude increased, as did, oddly enough, the temperature. We arrived at the Conestoga Campground in mid-afternoon (we had actually stayed here last year, but going the opposite direction). We took the opportunity to do some laundry; part of it was dried using the Prairie Dryer:
We went walkabout, then, beverages and books in hand, sat and watched the sun, and the temperature, begin to fall:
We plan on leaving early early tomorrow, as we want to stop in Helena, before pushing on across Idaho and into Washington State.
Escape from South Dakota
When we checked the highway conditions early this morning, we found that the I-90 was still closed in several places west of us, and would likely remain so until at least Sunday. We dragged out our well-thumbed map of the Central States and decided to head west for a few kilometres, then take Highway 218 north, which, at least on paper, appeared to run in a straight line up into North Dakota, where it would intersect with I-94, where we could at last start heading west, thereby avoiding the winter storm, which was still producing rain where we were, but up to 4 feet of snow in the higher elevations of the Black Hills.
We left Mitchell at 9:30, and after a last glance at the map, headed west, then north on 218. About 2 hours into the trip, we suddenly realized that the highway we were on was now heading east, and was not 218. We stopped at a gas and convenience store, where it was confirmed that we had missed a turn some 20 miles back, a turn which apparently had escaped the mapmakers. We backtracked and got on the right road again, and finally intersected I-94 just over the North Dakota state line. After fuelling up Lucy and ourselves, we finally headed west, buffeted by recurring rain showers and strong winds, The highway however was bare and dry, so we turned on the cruise control and let her fly across North Dakota and into Montana (“Keep moving along folks, nothing to see here”). After a couple more fuel stops, we arrived at a campground just over the Montana state line, after almost 10 hours of driving.
It seemed only right that as we approached the end of the journey, we should be rewarded by this:
We are at last back on schedule, and will be heading for White Sulphur Springs tomorrow.
If You’re Handed Lemons, Make Corn And Sex
When we checked the weather advisories this morning, it appears that we made the right decision to stay here. Portions of the I-90 have been closed during the day, and more than 1 1/2 feet of snow has fallen in Rapid City. We discovered that the local amateur theatre company’s fall production, “No Sex Please, We’re British”, opens tonight, so we ordered tickets online. We then headed into downtown Mitchell to pick up our tickets at the theatre, The theatre manager was happy to take us on a guided tour through the facility, which was built in 2005 to replace the original theatre which burnt down. It is quite a nice facility:
We then went down the street to see the one and only “Corn Palace”; it is certainly a one of a kind building, originally designed as a place for the community to hold events. It now houses a basketball court which has apparently been voted by some national organization as one of the 10 best venues in the U.S. for high school basketball, but it also holds many other events and concerts. This weekend, it is the home of a bull-riding competition. In this case, pictures are definitely worth more than words:
Needless to say, all of the pictures/panels/murals are made out of corn products, and there are ten fields dedicated to growing the different colours of corn used in the murals, which are changed on a regular basis and designed by local artists.
I’ll leave you with this (only in America):
We’re hoping to get out of here tomorrow and start heading west, assuming the highway has been re-opened.