The "Blue 'Burb" is all packed and we're about ready to shove off. ETD is 10:00 pm. The GPS is up and running on the IBM laptop, so at least we'll know where we are, even if we don't know where we are going. First stop, Arches National Park in Utah by way of Las Vegas, arriving sometime tomorrow afternoon. It's going to be a all-night marathon driving run.
We'll report in tomorrow evening, assuming I can attach the modem to the motel phone system. I've got tools and patch cord...so look out, sparks may fly!
Just checking out of a motel in Moab, UT after visiting Arches National Park. Checked in yesterday about 6 hours late after the water pump on the 'Burb shredded itself in the middle of "Nowhere Utah". Luckily for us, the desert along Highway 70 has cell phone service! Got a tow to Green River, UT and found the following news at 2:30 pm on Saturday: All the mechanics in town are gone until Monday! (Population is 700 total.) OK, dump off the truck and I'll do it myself...after all, I do have the replacement water pump in the truck! In 100-degree heat and blowing sand in the junk yard behind the wrecking company, we got the pump off (no small feat, cracked my 13mm socket!), then got out the replacement special order pump (from Pep Boys)...wrong one! Bummer! Undaunted (not really!), we got the local Napa parts store re-opened at 5pm (closes at 4pm) and guess what...they had the right pump ($48...$20 cheaper then the Pep Boys one). Tipped the guy behind the counter $10 and installed it. We were back on the road by 7:30 pm. Finally got some sleep last night after being up for 36+ hours.
I'll add pictures at the next stop...checkout time was 11pm and its after 12noon now. The GPS is working great, we can even read the laptop screen in the daytime. I offered to give the towing service my exact lat-long so they could find us.
This report is from Winter Park, CO. Off-season, Sunday afternoon, and a little wheeling-and-dealing on the phone got us a two-bedroom, kitchen, livingroom place at the The Vintage for a great rate. Getting here was another adventure, I discovered, as did my brother Marty, that diesel engines don't like high altitudes (12,000+ feet). They ping and smoke like crazy. You think that they are broken. (And mine may be...we shall see!) What is worrying us now is that we are getting some blue smoke on decelleration...something that I believe is new. My brother Marty theorizes worn valve guides; I'm worried about broken oil rings. The engine seems to have plenty of power, and seems to be burning the normal amount of oil for an engine this age. The problem with a diesel engines is they always sound like there is something broken loose inside the engine. But we shall find out today as we travel over a couple of 10,000+ foot passes on our way out of the Rockies. Then its on to the Black Hills...if luck remains on our side.
We're about to check out from the State Game Lodge in Custer National Park. We're off to visit Mt. Rushmore, a cave or two, and maybe some dinosaur bones. We don't know where we will be staying tonight. They say that there are over 200,000 motocycle riders in the area...and we believe it. We have a buffalo grazing in our front lawn...really!
The diesel engine come back to life once we got out of the Rockies. I can't get a decent amount of smoke from the engine anymore. We still are not burning oil. Therefore, the conclusion has to be that GMC diesels don't like altitudes over 10,000 feet. We got some great views in Rocky Mountain National Park. You cross the Continental Divide at 12,000 feet...above the tree-line. The road is narrow, so Sher didn't like parts of the trip. (I'm glad that she is the one that picked that route!)
I hope to have time to upload some pictures at the next stop. It's 7:45am here, the trucks is loaded, and its time to play tourist.
We're in a Holiday Inn in Michell, SD, "Home of the World's Only Corn Palace"...whatever that is? I could only wangle a 20% discount on the cell phone in the middle of a thunderstorm...the tornado warnings are over and we've brought them good weather. There was literally at least one motorcycle parked under each overpass for the last 100 miles. Not the best way to travel where it rains!
We saw Mt. Rushmore...they were tearing down the original observation platform I remember from the Hitchcock movie (Northwest Passage?) while we were there. Our tax dollars at work! Then we went to visit Sitting Bull Caverns...you have to "do" a cave when in So. Dakota. We toured the Badlands National Park (along with several hundred motorcycle riders). It's like Anza Borrego, but with more grass. After visiting an original homestead sod house, we stopped at Wall Drug (of course), then headed east on I70. We chased our first bad weather of the trip into Mitchell.
I promise to empty the camera and upload some pictures before we leave tomorrow. BTW: The truck continues to run just fine...I think it especially likes rain.
Checking out of the Holiday Inn in Mitchell. It's on to Duluth, MN by this evening assuming no problems. We saw the Corn Palace...a very strange place indeed! The folks in Mitchell re-decorate a city block-square building with corn (cobbs and husks) every year. We also visited a 1960's Mustang muscle-car museum.
We made it to my brother's farm in Esko, MN (15 mi from Duluth) last night just before dark. He has a great spot, 20 acres with a barn, two garages, and a neat house. The weather is great! Lot's of pets: a dog, a cat, a parakeet, many rabbits, 12 ducks, a goat and a lamb... and lots of mosquitos. John's cousin Dan has a Honda 75 motorcycle...John has been riding it non-stop for 2 hours. We're off to see the sights in Duluth.
We pulled my brother's Suburban's radiator this morning so we can tow his trailer to Wisconson. Then we did the tourist thing in Duluth...a good train museum. Tomorrow we are going to the Duluth Blues Festival...John Mayall is one of the headliners. I have an LP of his...but its been years since I've listened to him.
We're installed at the cabin in Manitowish Waters, WI for the next week. As near as we can tell, the cabin has a real stuffed bald eagle, mounted on the wall...a no-no under Federal law!? We've got a pontoon boat, a canoe and an electric rowboat. We attended a world famous Steve Freyder BBQ last night. More of the same today. Bonus: the cabin has a telephone for Internet access.
Back at Marty and Lori's farm outside Duluth after a great week in Wisconson. Had to replace the hydraulic pump (bad leak) in the Suburban while in Wisconson...operator error while re-tightening belts after water pump replacement in the desert (never use a pry-bar on the pump housing!).
The weather continues to be great! One last night for the Lightner's special BBQ'ed pork chops. Then it's off to Yellowstone tomorrow morning...one (short) week to go on our vacation. Next time we are spending more time at Marty's house!
Metaflow's connection to the Web was down yesterday, so this report is late. The trip from Duluth to Dickinson, North Dakota was an uneventful 10 hours. The weather continues to be great. We're just now checking out of the motel in Dickinson. More Badlands are on the schedule (Teddy Roosevelt National Park), then it's on to Yellowstone.
We're in Evanston, Wyoming at a fine motel with a modem connection possible. However, AT&T is sending packets very slowly, so no pictures today. We toured Yellowstone National Park, then stayed at a dude ranch near Moran Junction, WY the night before last. The Grand Tetons and an off-road trip (using the GPS) to find some charcoal kilns occupied yesterday. Dinosaur National Park is on the schedule for today. The truck began making black smoke uphill, and blue smoke downhill, once we got into the mountains again. However, I found a good use for the smoke...fumigating slow-driving Iowa farmers, once we managed to pass them. There was a bit of traffic in Yellowstone (not unexpected)...we need to come back off-season. We saw Old Faithful...after a 100 minute wait...we don't have to do that one again! The lodge near the geyser is a neat building...it would be fun to stay there sometime.
We got back to San Diego Saturday morning at about 3:00AM after a 10 hour drive. On Friday we visited Dinosaur National Monument and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. After that, we drove through Flagstaff, Arizona, then down Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona (a very picturesque drive), then on to Jerome, Arizona, a former copper mining community on a hilside which became a ghost town in 1954 when the mines closed (population formally 15,000).
We now have a photo collage of all the "electronic photos" from our trip. More editorial input to follow...