This is a blog about our “Great North American Road Trip” across the United States and Canada. We were on the road for 90 days and we covered around 12,000 miles – almost all of it on the two lane back road highways.
Five of us went on this trip: my girlfriend Shanti, her baby girl Aida Marie, my cat Tiger, me (Erin) and a man named Mike. We toured in Mike's recreational vehicle with his jeep in tow. Almost every day one or the other of us made entries in this blog. It's not your normal xHamster blog. Not wall-to-wall sex because this is more about real life.
We had many roles on our trip. Shanti was our spiritual leader and she guided us in meditation. She is also a stupendous cook who can make anything taste delicious. I'm was like a “scout leader”. I kind of pointed to which direction we were headed. I fly by the seat of my pants. Mike's role was to pay the bills and generally not be a nuisance. He did and he wasn't. He's was also our handyman, security guard, expert fisherman and campfire builder. I asked Tiger what his role was. All he told me was that he was the “Big Enchilada” AND “don't call me late for dinner.
Daily Trip Stops:
Feb. 19 – Redding, California
Feb. 20-22 – Ft. Jones, California
Feb. 23-24 – Etna, California
Feb. 25 – Lakeview, Oregon
Feb. 26 – Denio Junction, Nevada
Feb. 27 – Winnemucca, Nevada
Feb. 28 – Austin, Nevada
Feb. 29 to March 2 – Ely, Nevada
March 3 – Beaver Utah
March 4 – Kanab, Utah
March 5 – Tuba City, Arizona, Navajo Nation
March 6 – Gallup, New Mexico
March 7 – Springerville, Arizona
March 8-10 – Magdalena, New Mexico
March 11 – Capitan, New Mexico
March 12 – Roswell, New Mexico
March 13,14 – Brownfield, Texas
March 15 – Aspermont, Texas
March 16 – Graham, Texas
March 17 – Hico, Texas
March 18-20 – Groesbeck, Texas
March 21 – Mansfield, Louisiana
March 22 -25 – Vicksburg, Mississippi
March 26 – Amory, Mississippi
March 27 – Selma, Alabama
March 28,29 – Eufaula, Alabama
March 30 – Americus, Georgia
March 31 to April 1– Sandersville, Georgia
April 2 – Hartwell, Georgia
April 3 – Elberton, Georgia
April 4-6 – Blue Ridge, Georgia
April 7 – Albany Kentucky
April 8 – Beattyville, Kentucky
April 9 – Portsmouth, Ohio
April 10-12 – Glenville, West Virginia
April 13 – Oakland, Maryland
April 14 – Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
April 15 – Wellsville, New York
April 16 -18 – Norwich, New York
April 19 – Cooperstown, New York
April 20 – Johnstown, New York
April 21 – Bakers Mills, New York
April 22 – Whitehall, New York
April 23 – Moultonborough, New Hampshire
April 24-26 – Norway, Maine
April 27 – Rockland, Maine
April 28 – Stonington, Maine
April 29 – Calais, Maine
April 30 – Miramichi, New Brunswick, Cannda
May 1 – Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada
May 2 – Riviere-au-Renard, Quebec, Canada
May 3 – Matane, Quebec, Canada
May 4 – Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Canada
May 5 – Alma, Quebec, Canada
May 6 – Chibougamau, Quebec, Canada
May 7 – Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Canada
May 8 – Chapleau, Ontario, Canada
May 9 – Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
May 10 – Garden Corners, Michigan
May 11 – Green Bay, Wisconsin
May 12 – Antigo, Wisconsin
May 13,14 – Iron River, Wisconsin
May 15 – Duluth, Minnesota
May 16 – Hibbing, Minnesota
May 17 - International Falls, Minnesota
February 20, 2012. Bridge Flat Campground, Klamath National Forest, near Ft. Jones, California ~ By Erin. Took state highway 299 out of Redding and west to Weaverville. Then north on highway 3 to Ft. Jones. Then followed the Scott River north on a county road.
So many people think of San Francisco as “northern” California. But today we are in the true northern California. In 1941, the citizens living in the rural areas from Redding north to southern Oregon, wanting to keep local control of their tax dollars, rebelled and tried to succeed from the rest of California and Oregon and create the State of Jefferson. But when Pearl Harbor was bombed and WWII happened, the citizens helped out in the war effort and the rebellion came to an end. Still, the State of Jefferson libertarian “state of mind” lives strong in these parts.
Most of the day we traveled through the snow covered Trinity Alps. This being the first day of our trip, we all are feeling some apprehension. But it is hard to pin down the reason for it. Maybe it is because this trip has no particular destination or ending. It's not like we are going to Disneyland for two weeks and then home to resume our normal lives. Essentially, we are homeless and out of our “comfort zone”. The overcast weather adds to our strange mood.
We were planning on staying in the Trinity Alps, but there was more snow on the ground then we had anticipated. Not very much for this time of year, but all the campgrounds were inaccessible. So we worked our way up and over Scott Summit (5,300) and down to the fertile Scott Valley. Then, we followed the Scott River, one of California's last wild rivers, along its' journey into Klamath River.
After dark, we arrived at a deserted campground along the Scott River (Bridge Flat Campground). We called it a day. We made a big campfire and cooked up several rainbow trout that we had bought yesterday at a fine fish market in Redding. Then we capped things off with a few marijuana joints before Shanti and I joined Aida Marie and Tiger in the RV. Mike set up his tent and slept outside.
February 21, 2012. Bridge Flat Campground (again) ~ By Erin. It was a very eventful day today – even if we did end up right back where we started.
At the break of dawn Einstein Mike, as we like to call him, insisted on showing us the town of Scott Bar where he used to hang out when he was young. Since Scott Bar was only 10 miles up the road we thought it might take us just an hour. Turns out that those were 10 very winding miles along a one-lane road that was, in some places, a 500 foot direct drop into the Scott River.
I don't know if you've seen that I Love Lucy movie where Ricky and Lucy are hauling their Airstream trailer over a curvy mountain road and everything is moving back and forth in their trailer. That is what happened to us. Things started flying off the shelves and out of the cabinets. Several jars of herbs that Shanti had mail-ordered just for our trip broke. A forest service ranger even stopped and lectured us about driving an RV up the road. Anyway, we finally made it to Scott Bar. Here is a picture of the post office that doubles as a library branch. This is what Mike wanted us to see.
We wanted to go back to our campground, but we decided to take the round-about way because that way wasn't so curvy and dangerous. This meant that we had to travel 65 miles just to get back to our campground. On the way back we stopped in Yreka (only 25 miles from our last home in Mount Shasta) so Mike could buy some hardware to better secure our belongings in the RV. Finally, by mid-afternoon we made it back to our campground. Mike spend the rest of the day fixing things up so this wouldn't happen again. I guess it is to be expected that the first few days of a trip are kind of “shake out” days.
February 22, 2012. Bridge Flat Campground (again) ~ By Erin. Exhausted from yesterday when we accomplished next to nothing, we decided to lay over today and enjoy this secluded campground. A beautiful day with the blue sky and green trees and snow-capped mountains. Nearby, there was an abandoned Forest Service ranger station. We found a stash of oak firewood and hauled quite a load back to our campsite and burned it all day and evening long.
The highlight of my day was seeing two bald eagles and an otter. The bald eagles (my first wild sighting of this bird) were perched high upon dead trees and they were awesome to see as they flew away. The otter was feeding in a swimming hole under a bridge. When the otter came up for air, I waved to him and he just kind of very curiously looked at me. I hear that otters are very playful and good-natured. This one seemed to be and I was lucky to see him.
Late in the afternoon, Mike went fishing for steelhead trout and salmon. This isn't the best time of the year for that. But Mike was mostly doing it to practice his technique and for the relaxation. To Tiger's dismay, Mike came back empty-handed. We have Tiger's generator powered smoked salmon smoothie blender with us just in case Mike ever does come through.
While Mike was gone Shanti and I got really horny. It might have been from being outdoors. We laid a blanket by the fire and took off our bottoms and got in the 69 position. Then I licked Shanti's pussy and asshole and she made me feel good too. We were having orgasms for about an hour and we didn't care if anybody saw or watched us. But nobody caught us having sex.
February 23, 2012. Etna, California ~~By Shanti
We backtracked to Fort Jones and then drove the 12 or so miles west to Etna, California, and checked into the town's only real motel. Etna is a quiet and quaint little town with a population of about 800. It is located at the foot of the Marble Mountain Wilderness in the Siskiyou Mountain (Cascades) Range. It is a resting point for many of the Pacific Crest Trail hikers that hike that 2,600 mile trail from Mexico to Canada. Etna also has some micro-breweries and a monastery. Here is a picture of downtown Etna:
We didn't really need to stay in a motel so soon on this trip. Except that Mike wanted to watch Jeremy Lin and his Nicks get clobbered by LaBrawn James. Anyway, speaking of Mike, he's not getting any on our trip. At least not from me. But we still let him do his thing. Which is mostly to masturbate.
Since we live in such close quarters it isn't realistic and it's too problematic to hide ourselves from him. Mike has seen us many times without our clothes on and we are topless many times around him. Not to stimulate him - just because we like to go topless. We've seen Mike's penis many times too. He's gets off on showing it to us when he jacks off. Which is okay. I let him do what he likes and Erin kind of provokes him by talking dirty to him or sometimes masturbating along with him. Then he cums and returns to normal. Lately, he has been cumming on the driver's seat of his RV so much so that we are bugging him to sit on a towel.
Mike has seen Erin and me making love too. We don't ask him to take a front row seat. But, like I say, we live in close quarters and it is hard to avoid him sometimes. But when we stay in motels, Erin and me stay in one room and Mike gets a separate room. On the road Mike sl**ps outside in his tent whenever possible. If he has to sl**p in his RV, then he sl**ps up front while we sl**p in a little private room in the back.
All and all, Mike is not that hard to live with. Considering that he is a man. We are all sexual beings. Mike respects our limits and for that we commend him.
February 24, 2012. Etna, California ~~By Tiger
This is Tiger the Cat. Today I heard that a wild wolf was up in the nearby hills. So I wanted to see what was up with that. I'm your intrepid reporter who risks life and limb to bring you “the rest of the story”. Read all about it...
Lone Gray Wolf Crosses Into California
By Tiger, Xhamster Staff Writer
February 24, 2012
A lone gray wolf crossed the border into California on December 29th, becoming the first wild wolf in the state in almost a century.
The 2 1/2-year-old male, known as Wolfee, was tracked using a GPS collar as he crossed the Oregon border, to the delight of a****l lovers and the horror of the greedy ranchers in the forested northern regions of California.
The presence of the mythic predator in California is a major event for environmentalists, who would like to see the state's native predators and wildlife return. But it could also reek havoc for normal house cats like me if the potentially dangerous canine carnivores become prevalent near my backyard.
Wolfee, who had already been tranquilized and collared a year ago, has been a minor sensation before he crossed the border. As most young males do, he left his pack three months ago. Since then, he has wandered over mountains, across highways, through forests and meandered about 700 miles back and forth across Oregon's wildlands.
His presence, however, doesn't mean he will stay in California. In fact, experts say that he is looking for a mate and that he will have to wait a long time before a female wolf also discovers the Golden State.
Wolfee Talks To Me
With much risk to my own safety, I caught up with Wolfee for an interview. I waited until he had finished off a deer so that he would not want to eat me. Here is the transcript of my interview:
Tiger: I hear that you are looking for a mate. If you stay in California, then you might not find a female.
Wolfee: Maybe you're right. I've tried online dating sites, but I've only met cougars so far.
Tiger: Well, it is great to have you in California. But you better give that song from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack a listen. You know, about “looking for love in all the wrong places”.
Wolfee: Well, there is more to life than finding a mate anyway. And I like that you trust me enough to talk with me. Like Sam The Sham said in his song, “Even bad wolves can be good.”
Tiger: No problem, Wolfee. I'm just worried that some hunters are chomping at the bit to get you as a trophy.
Wolfee: Really, I'm more concerned that Sarah Palin will come down here in her helicopter and take me out.
Tiger: You know, Wolfee, Californians are also upset about i*****ls crossing the border. I hope that you don't have any more of your pack behind you.
Wolfee: None that I know of. Just a few polar bears who are relocating because of global warming.
Tiger: And I hope that nobody calls Homeland Security because you are a lone wolf.
Wolfee: I'm not a lone wolf terrorist. I just want to dine on a few cattle from time to time.
Tiger: Just so you don't dine on me. But you are going to make the ranchers mad.
Wolfee: Fuck the ranchers! They can write the cattle that I eat off on their taxes. And the government will replace the cows too. The ranchers get their subsidies and I need to subsidize my pallet.
Tiger: Can you believe all this attention that you are getting?
Wolfee: I've haven't heard of a lone wolf entering California make this much news since James Dean in 1937. [Ba-Da-Bum]
Tiger: You're a real comedian, Wolfee. Well, welcome b*****r wolf. And good luck. You are going to need it. May your pack increase. Just watch out for the mountain lions.
Wolfee: Thank you little one.
February 25, 2012. Lakeview, Oregon~~By Erin
Today we went east on highway 3 and then south on I-5 to Weed, California; then north on highway 97 to Klamath Falls, Oregon; then east on highway 140 to Lakeview, Oregon.
By committee, we decided to make a major course change. Instead of going to the California coast, we are heading east. The reason for the change is that we want to see unfamiliar country. As nice as it is, we've all been to the west coast many times, but not so many times to Utah and New Mexico and points east and south like Texas and Alabama.
We will also be spending more time in motels. The RV is to cramped to do stuff like yoga and it is too cold outside to do that kind of exercise either. Also, Shanti and I need our private space away from Mike to do what we do together.
Weed, California, was an interesting town to drive through. Actually, we've been through it many times as it is only 9 miles from our former home of Mount Shasta. It's an old lumber company town and it was named after its' founder Abner Weed. The town capitalizes on the name and, of course, we all had to buy this souvenir t-shirt:
Lakeview, Oregon, - where we are tonight – is a little town of 2,300 people that sits on the edge of the Southeastern Oregon high desert. Goose Lake is just south of town. It is a huge alkaline glacial lake. Here's a picture of it:
Shanti and I went into the supermarket today while Mike waited out in the RV. While we were shopping one of the employees found a $10 bill on the floor and told everyone he was going to put it in the store lost-and-found because nobody in the store claimed it. When we got back to the RV we told Mike about it. After we checked into the motel, Mike returned to the store and claimed it was his $10 bill and the store employees gave it to him. Mike's hard up, but then he's paying $4+ a gallon to tote us around in his gas-guzzling RV. So...what the hey.
February 26, 2012. Denio Junction, Nevada~~By Mike
Today we went north for a few miles on highway 395; then east on highway 140 to Denio Junction, Nevada. Here is a picture of Denio junction. More on this fantastic little place later.
I've never driven a more deserted stretch of road than I did today. The only outpost along the 125 miles between Lakeview, Oregon, and Denio Junction is an old general store in the middle of nowhere that caters to the few ranchers who live out here. But it is beautiful with cold mountain streams, the Sheldon National Wildlife Reserve and vast vistas – one of which serves as a designated launching pad for hang gliders.
Honestly, though, I don't know how men can live out here. There are no women around. All I saw were cows, horses, coyotes, antelope, and about a dozen wild burros. I shudder to think of what I would have to resort to (besides my hand) so that my sexual needs are satisfied. Erin, Shanti and I went into that old general store and when the men in there saw the girls I thought for sure that their eyeballs were going to pop out of their sockets. They probably hadn't seen one good looking girl, much less two good looking girls, in over 20 years. The men probably thought that I was their daddy.
Well, in a way I am Erin and Shanti's daddy. Their sugar daddy that is. But the girls are just eye candy to me. It's look but don't touch. That's okay. I enjoy their energy and company and the girls make me feel young again. I'd rather spend money on Erin & Shanti than hoard it so that my spoiled nieces inherit it. I'm kind of a mini-version of that billionaire geezer who married Anna Nicole Smith.
Denio Junction is quite a find. All there is at this junction of highway 140 and highway 95 is a business establishment with a bar, cafe, slots and a few groceries. Out back is the motel that we are staying at. Here's a picture of this place:
The so-called lobby of the motel is the bar. Here's a picture of the bar:
As you can see, the bar looks better on the inside than from the outside. The motel looked pretty bad on the outside too. But the rooms were just $40 each and we really didn't want to travel the 100 more miles into Winnemucca so we took a chance and paid for two rooms: one for me and the room next door for the girls.
The motel rooms are incredible. Real wood flooring and paneling and fantastic central heading. No phone or T.V., but great wi-fi. There was no desk. But when I pulled out one of the dresser drawers and turned in upside down and put it on the bed it made a great desk. And I just spent close to 3 hours looking out the window at the view of the surrounding mountains and endless stretch of road. During that time it occurred to me that the proprietor never asked for our I.D. or had us sign anything. Very informal for this day and age.
Here's a picture of our motel. We have the two rooms on the second floor right at the top of the stairs.
So now it is 7pm and the bar/cafe is closed and the proprietor locked up and went to where ever he lives a couple of miles away. Nobody else is staying at the motel and so we have Denio Junction all to ourselves. How cool is that! Usually, I want my motel room walls to be very thick. But tonight I hope the walls are paper-thin so I can cup my ear to the wall and hear what Erin and Shanti are doing next door.
February 27, 2012. Winnemucca, Nevada~~By Erin
First, let me say that Mike didn't hear anything that went on with Shanti and me last night. That is testimony to the thick walls because we had an intense session of rough and playful sex. Strap-ons, spanking and we also tried out our new double-ended dildo. It took a little practice, but we finally got the dildo to fuck our pussies. We made lots of noise, but Mike said he didn't hear a thing. Hard to believe, but so he says.
Today we went east on highway 140; then south on highway 95 to Winnemucca, Nevada.
I totally agree with all the good things that Mike wrote yesterday about Denio Junction. This morning we had awesome breakfast burritos at their little cafe. At $6.50 with coffee included, it was the most expensive item on their menu.
Then we drove up the road a few miles and discovered that there actually is a little town named Denio. Besides a few houses and trailers, there is just a post office, elementary/middle school and a library that is next to the town's only business – a bar. According to the postmaster, the elementary/middle school has an enrollment of only 5 students. The closest high school is 100 miles away here in Winnemucca. The high school students from Denio have some type of boarding arrangement in Winnemucca during the week so they don't have bus the 200 mile round trip each day.
So now we are in Winnemucca. Population 8,200. The high school mascot is the Buckaroo. Winnemucca is probably more well known then it deserves to be. Maybe because it sits along busy Interstate 80. Also, there are more than a couple of songs written about this place. My favorite song is I've Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash:
Here's a retro picture of Winnemucca from back in its' heyday:
We are connoisseurs of the retro mom & pop motels and we found a charmer today. An 80 room single story gem called the Scott Shady Court. It was built in the 1920s and it has always been owned by the same f****y. Here is a picture of its' sign beckoning the motorist to drive two blocks off the main drag to the quietest motel in town:
The rooms are very vintage. The main sl**ping room is only about 12 feet by 9 feet. With the queen-size bed, desk, nightstand, TV and chairs, there isn't hardly any room to move around. But the décor is to die for. The wooden desk and nightstand are – I'm guessing – from the early 1940s. Of course they have their nicks and scratches, but they are in great condition and can probably bring in some serious money at an antique sale. There is even a Naugahyde “bucket seat” to lounge in. I've been told that the lighting fixtures are from the 1960s – from the globe light that hangs from the ceiling to the cheesey lampshades.
The bathroom is almost as big as the main room. So big that the refrigerator and microwave oven are in there. The shower seems to have its' original tiles in pristine condition and the toilet is from way back when and doesn't even have a water tank. There is also a little powder room where the ladies– I picture – got all gussied up before they went out on the town to play at some of the swell casinos.
Right outside our rooms there is a 3-step concrete walkway that stretches as one big block across maybe 20 of the rooms. In front of the walkway is a row of immaculately pruned trees. The motel is close to Interstate 80 and I'm thinking that it was Winnemucca's finest auto court when I-80 was just a two lane road. I imagine families sitting on the shady steps in front of their rooms on hot summer afternoons admiring their newly invented contraption called the automobile. Across the way there is also an old-fashioned clothes line and some swing sets circa 1950s. Everything in and out of the rooms is in perfect condition.
There are a few paradoxes with this motel. There is a modern heated indoor lap pool and sauna. The lobby is majestic: a vaulted wood ceiling and a beautiful fireplace. This whole motel is a museum. And it is for sale too. So if you want all of this and can handle Winnemucca, then come on down.
February 28, 2012. Austin, Nevada~~By Erin
Today we drove east on I-80 to Battle Mountain, Nevada; then south on Highway 305 to Highway 50; then east on Highway 50 to Austin, Nevada.
So now we are in Austin, Nevada. This little town is at an elevation of 6,600 feet and has a population of just 340. Austin came to life during the great Nevada silver rush of the 1860s and back then had a population of over 10,000. Today Austin is a “living ghost town” with its' old buildings in various states of repair. Pretty much the only thing going on here is nothing. Except for watching the cars and trucks pass through. But Austin is authentic; not a touristy recreated place like Virginia City, Nevada, or Branson, Missouri. There are no chain restaurants or national motels here. Just peace and quiet. Here's a picture of Austin:
On our drive across Nevada we've noticed several “Shoe Trees” where hundreds of old shoes hang from the branches. According to legend, it all started with a couple of newlyweds passing through the desert on their way to California. They started to argue, so the groom pulled over to a big cotton tree and left his wife there to cool down while he went to a bar to drink some beer. When he came back, the bride was still in a fighting mood, so he took her shoes and tossed them into the tree and left to drink some more beer. When he returned the bride had cooled down, but they couldn't get the shoes down from the tree. Ever since then, other travelers have taken to throwing their own shoes into these “Shoe Trees”. Here is a picture of one of “Shoe Trees”:
While driving into Austin we noticed an unusual three-story rock tower up in the hills. After checking into our motel room, Mike and I hiked up to it. The tower is called “Stokes Castle”. In 1897 a Mr. Ansom Stokes built it as a summer home for one of his sons. Mr. Stokes was a mine developer and member of a prominent eastern U.S. f****y. The castle was modeled after a particular medieval castle that Mr. Stokes had seen near Rome, Italy. The castle was lavishly furnished, but the ungrateful son only lived there for one month. Other than that, it has never been occupied. Here is a picture of “Stokes Castle”:
February 29, 2012. Ely, Nevada~~By Erin
Today we went east on Highway 50 to Ely, Nevada. Highway 50 runs from Ocean City, Maryland, to Sacramento, Caifornia. The stretch through Nevada is known as “The Loneliest Road In America”.
This stretch of highway is dubbed the “The Loneliest Road In America” because in 1986 Life Magazine article. The article said “...the road is totally empty. There are no points of interest. We don't recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they're confident of their survival skills.”
The towns along this highway turned the article around and used it to make the road a tourist attraction. Travelers can pick up free Loneliest Road survival kits along Highway 50 that have a state road map and a list of things to see and do along the way. Every tourist that gets their survival kit stamped in all the towns along the way (Fernley, Fallon, Austin, Eureka and Ely) can mail their survival kit to the Nevada Governor. In return, the tourist will get a certificate signed by the Governor, a Loneliest Road lapel pin and a bumper sticker saying “I survived the 'uninteresting and empty' Loneliest Road In America.”
Well, it might be a lonely road if someone wants to see Disneyland-like stuff. But if you like the outdoors and historical things, then this is the road for you. Much of the road also parallels the Pony Express Route of the 1860s that carried mail from Missouri to California. Even after all these years, we saw remnants of the route along parts of the highway.
So now we are in Ely, Nevada. Population of 4,200 and the birthplace of Pat Nixon, the wife of former President Richard Nixon. We are staying at the historic Hotel Nevada. Here is a picture of the hotel:
When Hotel Nevada opened in 1929 it was the tallest hotel in Nevada. Many celebrities have stayed and entertained here: Mickey Rooney, Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Jimmy Stewart, Vikki Carr, Charlie Pride, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Wayne Newton, President Lyndon Johnson, Pretty Boy Floyd. The walls and main gambling hall are loaded with the most interesting pictures and artifacts – not to mention all the stuffed a****ls. It is one employee's full time job just to manage the exhibits.
We have a 5th floor room overlooking Ely's main street. It's snowing tonight and the view below to the blinking casino lights across the street is amazing. The room is modern, but I would have liked to see more historic décor. Only $35 though. It is such a hassle to stay at these old hotels though. It is quite an effort to bring Shanti's daughters' things up here. Then there is Tiger and his litter box.
This is Mike's lucky night. He is out at the Stardust Ranch. That is one of Ely's legal brothels. The guy really needs to get his rocks off. Hopefully, tomorrow Mike will have something to write about.
March 1, 2012. Ely, Nevada~~By Mike
Today is a rest day. Last night I got to release some sexual tension that had been building from being denied pussy by Erin and Shanti. I went to one of the legal brothels in Ely, Nevada, called the Stardust Ranch. I wasn't allowed to take any pictures from the inside, but here is a picture from the outside of the Stardust Ranch:
I first stopped by the Ranch at around 5pm to look over the girls and “make a date”. I sat down at the quaint but confy bar and four girls were working the shift. One was an older woman in her 50s. Another was a biker chick type with a bunch of tatoos. Then there was a blonde dominatrix - perhaps in her early 30s. Then there was a girl named Monica. She is just 20, as she later told me, and is the girl-next-door type with long brown hair, petite at 5 foot 2 inches with a perky natural tits and a tight ass. She is very sweet too. I had to have her.
We talked and arranged for a “date” later that evening. I wanted fuck Monica right then, but she was already booked for the next four hours. We agreed on one and one-half hours at $800 an hour. I told her what I had in mind. I would be Monica's school tutor and after about 30 minutes of lessons I would make sexual advances toward her. Monica would resist and then I would overpower her and have my way with her. Monica agreed with everything except that she made it clear that there couldn't be anal sex.
About four hours later I came back to the Stardust Ranch. After paying up and taking a shower and getting checked by one of the other girls, I went to Monica's room. She was dressed like your average college girl. Not like you see in porn with the short skirt and black dress shoes and all that. She had on sweat pants, a tight t-shirt and yellow socks. Her long brown hair was in a pony tail and she was sitting at a desk studying some text book.
I sat down next to Monica and helped her study. After about 20 minutes of this “foreplay”, I touched her t-shirt where her tits are. Monica slapped my hand away and told me that wasn't right. I tried to feel her up again and she told me no and got up and moved to the other side of the room. But I closed in on Monica and pressed her against the wall and I whispered in her ear that I was going to fuck her little cunt good. She pleaded with me not to. I didn't care what she said. I pulled Monica's t-shirt off and pulled down her sweat pants until they were around her ankles. Monica was in a panic and said she would suck on my cock if that would satisfy me. I didn't know if she was being real or just role-playing. But I took off all my clothes and Monica started to put a condom on me. I asked her why she was putting a condom on me if she was just going to suck me. She didn't say anything and I took that as her message to proceed with my fantasy.
I really don't like bed sex and normal stuff. I like rough sex so I pressed Monica face-down on the carpet and got on top and started fucking her young pussy really hard from up top. Having my way with her and throat fucking her and talking real dirty to her too. I can't believe the names that I called Monica and how I totally lost control. I fucked her in every position and it was incredibly hot. This went on for about an hour until I shot my cum on her face. I won't go into all the details because this blog entry is more about going to a brothel and seeing what I can get away with if I pay enough money.
The whole reality that I fucked a girl that I had never seen before and will never see again is a big turn on for me. Guys can say that they role-play like this with their girlfriends. But I think that usually destroys the relationship. I've done this with girlfriends a few times in the past and things were never the same. It was well worth it to pay $1,200 and live out my fantasy of fucking a young girl while she resisted me. It will keep me sane and I'll be better able to deal with the cockteasing that I get from Erin & Shanti.
March 2, 2012. Ely, Nevada~~By Shanti
Today is another rest day in Ely, Nevada. Tomorrow we are going to our first of many National Parks, Great Basin National Park, before we head into Utah. Such a quiet little town this is. But it is time to go into parts of the United States where none of us have been before. Tiger sure liked this place. He sat for hours on our fifth-story window sill and looked out at all that was happening outside. Who knows what was going through his mind. Mike and Erin brought back this Elk Burger from one of the local yocal restaurants. I think it's gross.
I am so happy that I have the opportunity to take this road trip. My daughter is less than one year old now. But I can't be moving her around like this when she gets to be three or four years old. Then it will be time for more stability. For Aida Marie and me. But only for awhile. I had Aida at a young age because I don't want to be “momming” when I'm in my late 40s and 50s. Well, I'll still be a mom of course. But Aida will be out on her own and I'll have the rest of my life to be totally free again.
About the only radio station that we get as we drive the hinterlands is National Public Radio. Erin and I love that station. So many interesting features. The other day a single mom from the Netherlands – I think – was being interviewed. This woman felt very strongly that she wanted to raise her c***d on her own without the help of a husband (or other woman). She thought that single parenthood would avoid parental conflicts and that the last thing a c***d needs in their life is conflict among the parents. Believe it or not, up to now I hadn't really thought about that topic too much. The woman wasn't saying that single parenthood was for everybody. Just that it was a good option for some women and men. I feel no compulsion to find a man. And, as a companion, I love Erin dearly. But, as we've agreed among ourselves, Erin is not assuming a parental role. Bless her heart, but Erin is more of a party girl and she has her hands full taking care of herself.
Well, it's on to Mormon country. Wagons Ho!
March 3, 2012. Beaver, Utah~~By Erin
Today we went east on Highway 50; then south on Nevada Highway 487 with a detour to Great Basin National Park; then south on Utah Highway 21; then some local roads to Beaver, Utah, just off I-15.
Tonight we are staying in Beaver, Utah – about 200 miles south of Salt Lake City. Population of 2,500 and the birthplace of western outlaw Butch Cassidy. Settled by the Mormons Pioneers in 1856. We went looking for some “I Love Beaver” souvenir t-shirts, but we couldn't find any. The Beaver High School mascot is the Beaver – which conjures up a desire to obtain a team picture of the girls' basketball team in the uniforms. To celebrate our entrance into Mormon territory, Mike bought of 6-pack of this beer:
Today we drove to Great Basin National Park. The entrance to the park is at the foot of an awesome mountain range that overlooks the Great Basin. Unfortunately, the snow level did not allow us to drive too far into the mountains. The Great Basin is the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and the Wasatch mountain range in Utah. None of the water in the Great Basin flows to the Pacific Ocean. I did not know this as I thought that all water west of the the Continental Divide (east of here in Colorado) found its' way to the ocean. Well, I learn something every day.
On our way out of Great Basin National Park we saw an old car about 1000 feet off the roadway. We stopped and walked over to it. When we got to the car we saw this:
On our drive to Beaver, we went through several huge and almost deserted valleys that were each maybe the size of a small U.S. state. In the middle of Pine Valley we came to this abandoned house:
Actually, the house is part of an old ranch with numerous corrals. Judging from the size of the trees in front of the house, the ranch was kind of old. And judging from all the fresh cow pies littering the stables, the ranch had just been abandoned. We went inside the house and everything was meticulously in order. All of the cooking utensils were in place and the bed was even made. The only thing out of place was a coating of dust all around. Actually, it was pretty spooky and melancholy.
We are anxious to get a little farther east where the towns aren't so far apart. We like nature, but we want to do more people stuff during the day. Meet people, take part in the buzz of the town and see what kind of trouble we can get into. But we sure are happy not to be in the midwest right now with all the tonadoes.
March 4, 2012. Kanab, Utah~~By Erin
Today we went south on I-15; then east on Utah Highway 20; then south on Highway 89; then east on National Scenic Byway 12 to Bryce Canyon National Park; then back to Highway 89 and south again to Kanab, Utah.
What a spectacular day! Both the weather and the scenery. In the middle of winter it was 70 degrees without a cloud in the sky. If you ever come this way don't miss the Red Canyon National Scenic Byway and Bryce Canyon National Park. Here's a picture of how Red Canyon looked as we approached Bryce Canyon National Park:
At the Red Canyon Visitor Center (which was closed and deserted) we stopped and walked a few of the trials to get closer to these red technicolor “hoodoos” - a Native American word that means to “cast a spell”. The Native Americans believe that Coyote cast his spell and turned evil spirits into these hoodoos. The contrast of these red rocks against the bright white snow, deep blue sky and green Pinyon and Ponderosa pines was sensory overload. All the while there were at least two or three “skywriting” jets crisscrossing the sky and leaving their white trails. There were tears in my eyes because it was all so overwhelming.
At the Bryce Canyon entrance station we purchased, for $80, an annual pass that allows us to see all the National Parks on our trip. Otherwise it would have been $25 per park. There are 58 National Parks and we're not sure how many we will see, but we will probably get our money's worth.
Bryce is one of the smaller National Parks, but it is out of this world with all the colors and rock formations. The main road runs parallel to the rim of the Bryce Canyon and the views at various points are spectacular. Here is a picture from Inspiration Point:
That picture was taken looking east and I hear that to watch a sunrise from there would be...unforgettable. Down in the valley below is a little town called Tropic. It is there in 1858 that the first Mormon Church was built and it is still standing today.
Now we are in Kanab, Utah. Population 3,500. It's maybe 2 miles from the northern Arizona border. Here is a retro picture of Kanab:
Kanab is known as Utah's “Little Hollywood” because it was the filming location for many western movies and television shows from the 1930s to 1970s. Up and down main street are plagues commemorating the actors and actresses who worked here.
Most of the movies I did not recognize because they were “B” westerns, but I did know some such as Planet of the Apes. Television shows filmed here include Gun Smoke, The Lone Ranger, Death Valley Days, High Chaparral and Daniel Boone.
Aside from all the actors and actresses who were in those westerns, other notables worked here, including former President Ronald Reagan (the Death Valley Days host) and The Rat Pack when they made their movie Sergeants 3. The town is surrounded by red rock mesas and I can almost see the Indians at the top of a mesa and the cowboys shooting at them from behind the rocks. Each Monday the local theatre, for just $2, shows the movies made here.
Since Kanab is midway between Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, it is a prime tourist stay-over spot during the spring and summer seasons. There are plenty of motels and trendy restaurants and boutiques. But right now it is very quiet and the businesses are just charging the winter rates. In fact, some of the motels and restaurants are only open during the tourist season. The weather today was prime spring weather so we feel almost like criminals taking advantage of these low rates and the peace and quiet.
March 5, 2012. Tuba City, Arizona, Navajo Nation~~By Tiger
Today Erin told me that we went south on Highway 89 into Arizona; then south on Alt-89 with a detour to Glen Canyon National Recreational Area; then south on Highway 89 to Arizona Highway 160; then east to Tuba City, Arizona.
This is Tiger. Many of you think it's odd that I like to travel. Most cats, you know, don't like their routine disturbed and are skittish about change. But I'm not your dime-a-dozen orange tabby. I'm Tiger the Traveling Tabby. So, for all my curious fans, here's a “day in the life” of the coolest cat on xHamster (IMHO).
The day starts when I wake up. After that, I have a very light breakfast – just a few nibbles at some tuna flakes. Can't eat too much since I'll be sl**ping all day in our RV and I can't be bothered to take a bathroom break.
Most cats don't like being in a moving vehicle. Until the last couple of years I didn't like it either. But ever since Erin bought me a cat carrier it's been smooth sailing. I curl up in my fleece blanket and the vibrations from the road put me out like a light. I can go up to 12 hour without moving a muscle - except for a twitch of my whiskers now and then.
Around about the time that I get hungry we pull into my motel room. Before Erin takes me to the room she sets up my litter box, a scratching pad and prepares a spread of creamy yogurt and Cheez-Its to satisfy my discriminating pallet.
Then Erin carries me to the motel room and lets me out of my carrier. Immediately, I search and smell the room for dog smell. If I smell a dog, then I scratch my pad and Erin knows that she has to get me another room.
When I'm satisfied with the room I attend to my meal. I like my yogurt thick so that it weighs heavy on my sandpaper tongue. And I like my Cheez-Its extra salty (lately I've taken a liking to the new parmesan and garlic flavored Cheez-Its). As I nibble on my last Cheez-It, Erin brings me with some Snow's All Natural Clam Juice to quench my thirst.
Now I'm ready to take a dump. But I never use the litter box because the litter always gets stuck in my paws. Instead I use the toilet. First I go over to Erin and rub against her leg and bug her to lift the toilet lid and flush for me when I'm done. They I let 'er rip.
Now it's time for some entertainment. First I look for a sunny window sill. Today was excellent. A second story view looking right at some pine trees where some mourning doves were perched. I let out a low growl.
After the sun goes down I curl up in a comfy chair and watch some TV. Most motels have the a****l Planet channel. I get Erin to bring over every remote in the room. The TV remote, the microwave remote, the heating and cooling system remote. You name it. Then I push every button I can until the a****l Planet channel comes on.
Then I finish off my evening by logging onto Erin's laptop computer so I can surf the web. This almost always requires that I be a pest since Erin is usually busy being on xhamster while she rubs her pussy. So I jump on her lap and disrupt her masturbation. She'll gently put me down and then I jump on her lap again...and again...and again. Finally, she gives up and I have the laptop all to myself.
This evening I logged onto my favorite a****l website and found a story about the oldest two-faced cat. Meet Frankie and Louie. “They” are 12 years old. Cats with two faces are called “Janus” cats and most Janus cats only live a few days. Janus cats are named after the Roman god of doorways and transitions, who also sports two faces.
Well, I don't have two faces, but I have two pussies. Erin and Shanti's. So I retire every evening by burrowing under my bed covers and resting my head right between the girls' legs. Then it's sweet dreams. Such is a “day in the life” of Tiger the Traveling Tabby.
March 6, 2012. Gallup, New Mexico~~By Shanti
Today we went east on Highway 264 from Tuba City, Arizona, to Highway 491 in New Mexico; then south on Highway 491 to Gallup, New Mexico.
For almost the whole day, we drove through the largest continuous land area “assigned” to the Native Americans in the United States. Mostly, this land area is in northeast Arizona. But it also includes parts of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico too – along with the touristy Four Corners where a person can extend their arms and legs and be in four states at the same time. Here is a map of this territory. You can see that most of the land is part of the Navajo Nation, but that the Hopi Nation is here too:
Tuba City, Arizona, where we spent last night, is known as the “western regional hub” of the Navajo Nation. Tuba City is dry and dusty and not particularly interesting in the way of scenery. Much of the town is run down except for the schools and sports fields which are very modern. Native Americans make up 92% of the population here. We had a real nice visit to an interactive museum where we saw beautiful hand crafts. Former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt stayed in Tuba City on his way back from a mountain lion hunt in the Grand Canyon. Here is a picture of Tuba City:
After our travels today, I feel that the Navajo and Hopi Nations are very committed to their tradition and sovereignty. Although some parts of these nations are very poor, the feeling is upbeat – unlike some other Native American nations that I have been too.
There are some twists about being in these nations. For one, due to problems with alcoholism, alcohol is not allowed to be sold anywhere in the Navajo Nation. We found that out when Mike went out to buy his nightly six-pack. Still, the roads are littered with empty beer bottles.
The Navajo Nation stays on Daylight Savings time throughout the entire year. This means that for several months during the year the time in the rest of Arizona and the Navajo Nation are different by one hour.
The Navajo Nation does not have any casinos. Instead, the Navajo Nation has supported itself through renting out its' land to private companies that mine for natural resources. The Navajo Nation sees gambling and all that goes with it as a bad influence and they want to avoid it.
Within the Navajo Nation are your McDonalds, KFCs, Taco Bells and Chinese restaurants. But the Navajos either own the franchises or are paid very generously to have them here.
In each small village on the Hopi Nation, there is a sign saying that, out of respect for their nation, nobody should take pictures, make sketches or make recordings of anything in the village.
Within the Hopi Nation it was surprising to see so many Christian churches. I even saw a Mennonite church. What are they doing way out here? Of course, there were Mormon churches too.
The countryside between Tuba City on the west end of the Navajo Nation and Window Rock, Arizona, on the east end was mostly very dusty. Not too much going on except the tumbling tumbleweeds. Every once in a while we saw tracts of non-descriptive housing out in the middle of nowhere. Oh, and I guess there are no dog leash laws here. We saw so many dogs just running around. But that was okay. They were mostly the mutt type and they were very docile.
The Navajo and Hopi Nations don't seem to be much interested in attracting tourists. Aside from the occasional crafts gallery, there aren't many “tourist attractions”. Motels are hard to find (except for a few big chains that charge bloated room rates). Not many campgrounds or hiking trails either.
All of the Native Americans that we met spoke perfect English. Their challenge is different from the Mexican-Americans. They are trying to teach their native language to the young ones instead of learning English as a second language. I got the impression that the Navajo and Hopi Nations want the best of modern America and they want to retain their rich traditions.
On the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation is the city of Window Rock, Arizona. You might call it the “Washington D.C. of the Navajo Nation.” Window Rock is where the central tribal courts and governments are located. Unlike Tuba City, Window Rock is a modern city and very clean. Aside from it being subject to the laws of the Navajo Nation and that 95% of the population is Native American, it looks like your typical American city. Lots of good energy. Here's a picture of Window Rock:
And here is a picture of the natural landmark from which Window Rock got its' name:
So now we are in Gallup, New Mexico. It's a town along the famous Route 66. We are going out tomorrow morning to explore it. The town seems to have lots of character and some characters living in it too.
March 7, 2012. Springerville, Arizona~~By Mike
Today, starting in Gallup, New Mexico, we went south on New Mexico Highway 602 to New Mexico Highway 53; then west through the Zuni Nation to Arizona Highway 61; then west to Highway 191; then south on Highway 191 to Springerville, Arizona.
Last night we stayed in Gallup, New Mexico – one of the towns along the historic U.S. Route 66.
One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established in 1926. The route started in Chicago and went through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California before ending in Los Angeles. It was known as the Main Street of America and the Mother Road. The highway became popular because it was mostly flat (at least compared to the other routes) and easier for the cars and trucks of the early 1900s to drive across. It was the route that the Dust Bowl refugees of the 1930s traveled to get to California and the route for the f****y vacation to Los Angeles. Mom and Pop businesses like gas service stations, restaurants and motor courts popped up to support the travelers and those businesses – or the decaying remnants of them – are now nonofficial historical monuments. Today the drab but efficient U.S. interstate system has made Route 66 obsolete. But its' lore remains. Here are versions of the famous Route 66 song by Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones:
Last night we stayed at the El Rancho Motel – the crown jewel of the Gallup motels on Route 66. It was built in 1937, renovated in 1988 and today it is an official U.S. Historical Landmark. Here is a picture of the outside of the El Rancho:
Back in the day, Gallup and the surrounding area was a prime location for western movie shoots. This was because of its' rugged terrain and also because there were many “authentic Indians” nearby on the reservations that could fill out the cast. Almost all the actors and actresses stayed at the El Rancho during these shoots, including John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Humphrey Bogard, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, Gregory Peck and Burt Lancaster. The second floor of the motel lobby has hundreds of autographed pictures of celebrities who stayed and played at the El Rancho. Here is a picture of the lobby:
Gallup has an old feel to it. Many of the stores were built during the early to mid-1900s and have an old - but not unpleasant - smell to them. Gallup is not very cosmopolitan, but it is very multi-cultural with a good mix of Native Americans, folks of European decent and Mexican-Americans. There are quite a few homeless people too and I hear that there is v_iolence on the fringes. In many ways, it's a rough town.
Back in the early 1980s when I was 19-21 years old, I hitchhiked numerous times across the United States. Many times I passed through Gallup. One time this guy picked me up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and drove me to Gallup. During the ride I could sense that he was jacking off. But I didn't want to look and confront him. When we got to Gallup he asked me if I wanted to sl**p in his motel room instead of where I usually did (outside). I can't remember why I said yes. Probably because it was nice to sl**p in a bed for a change. Anyway, we slept in separate beds. But the minute the lights went out he jumped into my bed and started to put his hands on me. I was out of that motel room in less than a minute. I wasn't really mad at him, but I let him know that I wasn't into gay sex. I remember sl**ping out by the railroad tracks and catching a ride out of Gallup the first thing in the morning.
So tonight we are in Springerville, Arizona. Population of 2,000 and at an elevation of 7,000. The nearby White Mountains are a prime hunting local. Today we had a nice drive through the Native American Pueblo Nation where the Zuni tribe lives. I've noticed that the different Native American nations and tribes have their own personalities. Much like the different nations of the world do. The Zuni tribe is a bit irreverent and more celebratory than some. They call their village of Zuni “Zuni-Land”. We got a kick out of listening to their local radio station as we went through the reservation, or “The Rez”, as some of the Zuni Tribe affectionately call it. We listened to a song called “Thank God I'm An Indian Boy” which was kind of a spoof of John Denver's “Thank God I'm A Country Boy.” Erin and Shanti danced to the “Pow-Wow” songs as we passed around our peace pipe and indulged – if you know what I mean.
March 8, 2012. Magdalena, New Mexico~~By Erin
Today, starting in Springerville, Arizona, we drove east on Highway 60 to Magdalena, New Mexico.
Before leaving Springerville, we walked around town. We saw the Round Valley Ensphere located on the high school campus. This dome houses the football field as well as seven basketball courts. It also has a track field and can seat 5,000 people. Here is a picture of this domed stadium:
Since this dome stadium is located in a town of 2,000 people and it is out in the middle of nowhere, I asked the man working at the local museum how this can happen. He said that the power company that built a state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant just outside of town donated the funds to build the stadium.
The drive today across the high plains of New Mexico was beautiful. Most of the land and the high mountains on each side were covered in fresh snow. Just before we got to our stopping point for the day we came to a radio astronomy observatory. Its' official name is the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array. There are 27 very large telescopes there. Here is a picture:
The telescopes investigate galaxies, quasars, the sun, the planets, black holes and other out-of-this-world stuff. The telescopes have been used to receive radio communications from the Voyager 2 spacecraft as it flew by Neptune.
These telescopes were used as the setting at the beginning of the 1984 film “2010”. Bon Jovi shot their music video of “Everyday” here. The telescopes appear on the cover of a Dire Straits album and they can be visited on many online games. Just to name of few of its' uses in pop culture
Tonight we are in Magdalena, New Mexico. Population of about 1,200 and at an elevation of 6,600 feet. Magdalena came to life in the 1860s during a silver boom. Later is was known as “Trails-End” for the cattle drives that arrived from the surrounding countryside. Magdalena has had its' share of old west legends passing through, main street shoot-outs, fiery ranchers and grimy-faced miners. The town sits at the base of a serious mountain range with the highest peak at 12,600 feet. Mary Magdalene (aka "Lady on the Mountain") gazes down from the Magdalena Peak today as she has for centuries, keeping a watchful eye over her town. This setting reminds me of the movie “The Treasure of Sierra Madre”. Here is a picture of one of Magdalena's alleys:
It is snowing tonight and the road out of town might be closed in the morning. That's no problem. We usually don't hit the road until around noon anyway. We like to walk through town and see the local sites. Have a cup of coffee at the local cafe. Mike's a great bullshitter and he can get the locals to open up in a minute. Every town has its' own story to tell.
March 9, 2012. Magdalena, New Mexico~~By Erin
A snowstorm is passing through so we didn't travel. Instead, I watched porn almost the whole day. Shanti joined me when she could. I'm sure that Mike was in his room beating his meat. I have over 3,000 vids stored on my external hard drive, so I had plenty of porn to choose from. I like pretty much anything as long as the girls are hot and the cocks are hard. Maybe I do like the perverted and rough stuff better. Shanti is more into the lesbian vids with the kissing. She's into tribbing vids too. Now we're all sexed up.
Looks like we may be snowed in tomorrow also. If that happens, then I think that we are going to have sex all day. Maybe we'll get Mike involved too. Let him watch us while he jacks off. We might collect his cum in one of those cheap plastic motel glasses and see how much he can produce. I don't know what we'll do with the cum though.
Anyway, enough about sex. I've always been fascinated by motels and how each motel is never the same. Unique like each snowflake. I have my list of things that I like in a motel room. I've yet to find one motel that had everything. And the more expensive rooms don't necessarily – or even usually – have more than the cheap rooms. Here's my wish list (in no particular order) for a good room
1. Fast wi-fi
2. A shower with good water pressure and plenty of hot water
3. A large desk and work chair
4. T.V. with many channels or at least Fox News, The A_nimal Planet and ESPN
5. A refrigerator and microwave
6. A coffee maker
7. An AC/Heating unit that works
8. Good lighting
9. Parking right outside the room
10. Space enough to move around in
11. A comfortable chair to sit in
12. A nice view out the window
13. General cleanliness
14. An ice machine
Like I said, I haven't found a room yet that had all of what I want. Things that I don't care about are a pool, an ironing board, an in-room phone, a hair dryer, the friendliness of the motel staff or a “continental breakfast”. By the way, the “continental breakfast” is usually no more than coffee, juice and cold cereal. And the places that give a better breakfast are usually $40 more expensive and I'd rather use that money to eat at a real restaurant.
Some things that are necessary to pack along are good earplugs, a coffee maker, a power strip, a three-prong adapter, a small clock, a reading lamp, and an ice chest.
Finally, subscribing to a proxy server service is a must. Every once in a while a motel will block the porn sites, but the proxy server will get around that. I use Hotspot Shield. It only costs $4.99 a month. They have a free version, but it is slower and comes with too many ads.
March 10, 2012. Magdalena, New Mexico~~By Erin
Still here in Magdalena for a third day. Another snowstorm came through. Not as heavy as the last snow, but this weather system just won't pass through. Not that this is a bad place to get snowed in. But we are anxious to hit the road again and it looks like the weather is going to be beautiful for the next several days. Or so The Weather Channel says anyway.
The full day of sex that we had planned for today never happened. During coffee at the motel cafe Shanti and I met a man who has been living here since 2007. I'll call him Keven. He has lived in Redding, California, (where we started our trip) so we had something in common. Keven used to own the motel that we are staying at until he sold it last summer. Now he lives in one of the rooms. He also has a cabin way up in that 12,000 foot mountain range that I was writing about the day before last. And he's building a house about 25 miles out of town in the middle of nowhere next to the Alamo Navajo Indian Reservation – one of the remote Navajo settlements in the west.
Keven drove Shanti and I as far up the mountain as we could go to his cabin before the snow made things impossible. Then we went to see the place next to the indian reservation where he is building his house. He's been doing a little here and there to get the house built, but it is hard to make progress when it won't stop snowing.
Seems like Keven has no money problems, but you wouldn't know it from his unkempt appearance or the beat-up old truck that he drives. He used to work as a surgeon at the Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding before he decided to change course. I get the feeling that there are lots of those types of people up here and I can see why. You can buy 140 acres (no water or electricity) for $50,000 or 50 acres with water and electricity for the same amount. There are some fellows who have put down the money and are living in their trailers with their faithful dog. One of Keven's friends has a sign up on the front porch of his trailer that reads, “I divorced my wife to spend all my time with my dog...he's better looking.” Keven was a perfect gentlemen and got us back safe to our motel room at dusk.
Shanti, Mike and I just got done talking about our future travel course. We don't plan too much and the 100 miles a day is working out real well. Anyway, our general direction is to keep heading east through Texas and the Deep South. Then we will probably head northeast until we get to New England. But we most likely won't go up the Eastern Seaboard. After that...we don't know. We are on this trip for the adventure. But we are also looking for a new place to call home.
March 11, 2012. Capitan, New Mexico~~By Erin
Today, starting in Magdalena, New Mexico, we went east on Highway 60 to Socorro, New Mexico; then south on I-25 to San Antonio, New Mexico; then east on Highway 380 to Capitan, New Mexico.
I'm amazed at all the surprises that we come across on the road. The birthplaces of famous people, sites of historic events and the resting places of a****l icons.
In the morning we dropped down out of the mountains to the quiet town of Socorro, New Mexico. Then, after a short drive on the interstate we came to our state highway turnoff at San Antonio, New Mexico. This is just a dusty little outpost of a couple of hundred people that was founded way back in the early 1800s. And this little place is also the birthplace of Conrad Hilton – founder of the Hilton Hotels and perhaps better known these days as the great-grandfather of Paris Hilton. Mr. Hilton's first job was carrying luggage from the since abandoned train station here to his father's hotel located in their modest adobe home. We stopped by the old schoolhouse (now a barn) to see his name carved in the wall as “C Hilton 1903”.
A few miles up the road we came to the Trinity Site. This is where the first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. The monument pictured below marks the spot of Ground Zero where the atomic bomb was placed on a 100-foot steel tower.
And here is a picture of the bomb as it exploded:
But the biggest surprise of the day was in Capitan, New Mexico, where we are staying tonight. Population of 1,400 and at an elevation of 6,500 feet. As we drove through Capitan we noticed all this Smokey Bear stuff. Practically all the stores, motels, and restaurants had “Smokey Bear” as part of their name. There are wood carvings everywhere of Smokey Bear. Even the main street is named “Smokey Bear Boulevard”.
It turns out that just outside of town – on Capitan Gap – was where Smokey the Bear (then just a cub) was rescued in 1950 by firefighters as he clung fearfully and tenaciously to a burning tree. After the rescue, the U.S. Forest Service adopted Smokey as their mascot to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. Here is a picture of Smokey right after he was rescued:
Smokey was eventually flown to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. where he lived until his death in 1976. Here is a picture of Smokey in 1976 just before he died:
This little town has the Smokey Bear Museum and it is loaded with all kinds of Smokey memorabilia. We went there and saw lots of pictures of Smokey and stuff that k_ids got when the joined the Smokey Bear Club. Things like Smokey canteens, books, hats, dolls, watches, pens and scarves. I was a member of the Smokey Bear Club so it brought back many memories.
But the highlight was finding out that Smokey is buried right here at the museum. Here is a picture of where Smokey was laid to rest:
Smokey Bear was my ch_ildhood a_nimal hero (besides Tiger) and I practically learned to read by reading the story books about him. It was a real honor and thrill to pay my respects to him today. And it was a total surprise that this is Smokey's town.
March 12, 2012. Roswell, New Mexico~~By Shanti
Today, starting in Capitan, New Mexico, we went east on Highway 380 to Roswell, New Mexico.
Everyone, at least in America, knows about Billy the K_id. He's the 19th -century frontier outlaw and beloved folk hero who killed up to 21 men in his day. Maybe you've heard the story of “Pat Garrett and Billy the K_id” - told many times in movies and books. Well, that story happened in little Lincoln, New Mexico, and that was our first stop today.
In 1877 the Lincoln County War erupted because of some business dispute. Billy the K_id took sides and killed a man and was charged with murder. But Billy escaped and went to Texas. After the war ended Billy sent the Governor of the New Mexico territory a letter asking for forgiveness of the murder charge in exchange for his testimony that would help convict one of the bad guys. The governor gave Billy amnesty and Billy testified and the bad guy was convicted. But the district attorney refused let Billy go and held him in the Lincoln County jail. Billy, being the cunning guy that he was, escaped and lived off cattle rustling and gambling until he killed another man. That got Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett, a former bartender and buffalo hunter, to send out his posse and capture Billy and haul him back to jail. The K_id was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. But before Pat Garrett could get the noose around Billy's neck, Billy broke out of jail and killed two of the guards right outside the jail during his escape. A few months later Sheriff Pat Garret tracked down Billy and killed him for good. During the 1870s this little town of Lincoln, New Mexico, sure was the Wild West. Rutherford Hayes, then the President of the United States, called this place the most v_iolent town in America. Here is a picture of the Lincoln County courthouse (downstairs) and the sheriff's office and jail (upstairs) as it looks today:
Tonight we are staying in Roswell, New Mexico. With a population of 48,000, this is by far the biggest place that we've stayed in so far. Roswell is famous for the 1947 UFO crash that happened here in 1947. Today we visited the International UFO Museum and Research Center to investigate. Wow, what a place! On a normal Monday afternoon it was jammed. The k**s there were loving it. Some of them will probably have nightmares. Here is a picture of the museum:
Back in 1947 there was a wave of flying saucer sightings all over the world. In July of that year one of those flying saucers crashed on a ranch outside of Roswell. Here is a picture of that crash:
The next morning the owner of the ranch discovered the crash. He saw four aliens. Three of the aliens died in the crash and the other alien is alive and is living at a top secret military base in Dayton, Ohio. Here is a depiction of the dead aliens:
The rancher drove into town with parts of the spacecraft and showed them to the sheriff. Then the sheriff called the Air f***e to investigate the crash site. Here is a picture of the Roswell newspaper that was reporting all of this:
The Air f***e took away the UFO and the aliens and concocted a story saying that it was a weather balloon that crashed and that the aliens were just crash dummies. Here is the staged photo of the weather balloon that the Air f***e released to the public:
Everyone who knew the truth about this, like the rancher and the mortician who examined the aliens, was told by the U.S. Government to never say a word about this. Actually, they were threatened with their lives and careers if they told the truth. That worked for awhile, but the truth started to come out in the 1970s when these people got older and they didn't have as much to lose.
Why would the government continue to cover this Roswell UFO crash up? I think that if the people of the world actually knew that there was life outside of Earth, then the concept of nations would disappear and we would think of ourselves as “world citizens”. Even former President Reagan said as much. And that is not in the best interest of the United States.
Anyone with common sense knows that there has to be life outside of earth. I don't know if it will be revealed for all to know with certainty during my lifetime. But I hope so. It will unite us.
P.S. This is Tiger. Shanti met some Rastafarians at the UFO museum and I think she smoked too much of that green weed with them. Tiger.
March 13, 2012. Brownfield, Texas~~By Erin
Today, starting in Roswell, New Mexico, we went east on Highway 380 to Brownfield, Texas.
The snow and the mountains are definitely behind us now. All of that has been replaced by cotton and oil fields and a temperature of 82 degrees. It is exciting for us to be in Texas. This is a part of the United States that none of us have spent much time in.
Tonight we are staying in Brownfield, Texas. Population of 8,900 and the hometown of women's basketball star Sheryl Swoopes (Brownfield High School Class of 1989). Brownfield is kind of a fusion of West Texas and the Midwest. It has the huge grain elevator, a couple of water towers and the classic downtown with diagonal parking. An older Sears Department Store is down there as are lots of businesses that couldn't make a go of it after the WalMart opened on the edge of town. Here is a picture of downtown Brownfield:
I think that we are in the Bible Belt now. There are churches everywhere and a couple of them are humungous. Here is a picture of the First Baptist Church. But the picture doesn't do it justice because it is about 5 times the size of what you see. Mostly I included it so their church could be on a porn site LOL.
It was against the law to sell beer in Brownfield until 2008. But that changed with a public vote that barely passed. Now beer sales are allowed but only during limited hours.
What unites the town more than anything else is the High School football team. The city water tower has a picture of the Cub mascot on it and big cub tracks are painted on the road leading to the stadium. The high school itself was rated “Academically Unacceptable” by the Texas State Board of Education in 2011.
It is very peaceful here and the birds are chirping. There are even a few pigeons roosting in one of our motel room walls. We're doing a rest day today while we plot our course across Texas. Right now we are deciding whether to take a trip to Dallas or stick completely to the backroads.
March 14, 2012. Brownfield, Texas~~By Mike
A second day in this hellhole – otherwise known as Brownfield. I really didn't want to stay another day, but Erin & Shanti took off early in the morning to visit some heritage house museum and didn't get back until after check-out time. This place looks okay at dawn and dusk. But in the afternoon it is ugly. They say that it gets above 100 degrees all the time in summer and the wind blows like crazy. The locals say there are dust storms all the time. Here is a picture of a dust storm a couple of years ago on the edge of town:
This town is god-forsaken no matter how many churches it has. Gone is the rich scenery and history of the California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Hello, Texas! During these bleak times we are going to have to get out of our motel room and shoot the bull with the folks and find out what make them tick. People are always interesting even if the place where they live isn't.
Being a lawyer, I went downtown to scout out the local law offices. I poked my head into one and chatted with one of the lawyers who had a little time on his hands. He does criminal defense work and he said that the most interesting crime committed in Brownfield in recent memory involved a fencing operation.
This gang of shoplifters and meth heads were stealing large containers of Tide detergent from the local WalMart and selling the goods to methamphetamine dealers for $10 hits. Then the meth dealers turned around and sold the Tide to these Dollar Stores for much less than WalMart was selling it for. The lawyer says it was the talk of the town for weeks. That and what the daily cotton price is.
Here we are in the middle of rural Texas and the Indians (meaning from India) still own and manage all the mom and pop motels. It has been that way the whole trip. I chatted today with our Indian host about that. He said it is dubbed the “Patel Motel Phenomenon” and it started in the early 1940s when the business class of the Indian Guajaratis starting buying U.S. motels. The trend accelerated in the 1960s and 70s – much of it due to political unrest in East Africa where many of them lived. Today over 60% of mid-sized motels in the U.S. are owned by Indians.
One thing that distinguishes the Indian-owned motels from the others is that the whole f_amily lives at the motel and usually does all the labor. My host told me that his f_amily has owned several motels in the U.S. since the 1960s and it was tough for awhile. Lots of prejudice and some customers were put off by the smell of curry dishes cooking while they were in the lobby. During our trip we still see motel signs that say “American Owned”. Of course almost all of the Indians are American too, but lets not let facts get in the way. Generally, I find the Indian-owned motels to be a great value. The only complaint that I have is that cats are not allowed in many Indian-owned motels or the motel charges maybe $25 extra. Apparently, cats are not looked upon favorably in the Indian culture and are considered to be bad luck, unfaithful and sly. Many times we just sneak Tiger inside and keep him away from the window when the owners are out and about.
It is college basketball March Madness today and tomorrow and I wouldn't mind sitting in front of the TV all day with a cold beer or three. But the sooner that we move along, then the sooner that we will be out of Texas.
March 15, 2012. Aspermont, Texas~~By Erin
Today, starting in Brownfield, Texas, we went east on Highway 380 to Aspermont, Texas.
I just love these small Texas towns. They are so quiet and have none of the crime and hustle and bustle of the big cities or suburbs. And I'm talking small too: towns of 500 to 3,000 people where the towns are even the county seat.
We were kicking around the idea of going to Dallas to see where President Kennedy was assassinated. But it is way to complicated and it would take us a day to get into and out of that place. Mostly we would lose the feel of the 2-lane road trip that we've been on for 25 days now. The clincher was finding out that Dallas is having a huge St. Patrick's Day parade and that half the streets will be closed to cars.
Chances are that the nicest building in the small town is the county courthouse. Here is a gem that we found in Tahoka, Texas, a tiny town of only 2,900 people:
Most of these towns seem to be more or less the same in that their hey-day was in the early 1900s. The old downtown streets are lined with old brick buildings. Many of these buildings are well maintained but vacant. Often the old downtown streets are paved with red bricks. Then there is the newer main drag that has the convenience stores, fast food restaurants and newer motels. The Sonic Drive-In chain is big out here – complete with carhops who sometimes wear roller skates.
After passing through Tahoka, we came to Post, Texas. This town was founded by C.W. Post. He was the American breakfast cereal and foods industrialist and the owner of one of the largest fortunes in the early 1900s. Perhaps you've heard of their cereals which include Gr_ape Nuts, Cocoa Pebbles, Shredded Wheat, Raisin Brand and Honey Comb.
Mr. Post began his career as a farm tool manufacturer. The stress of his work caused him to suffer two nervous breakdowns. He searched for a cure and became interested in digestion chemistry. He spent some time at a sanatorium owned by a Mr. Kellogg (another famous cereal maker) and he was inspired to start his own cereal company based on the diet products that he used at the sanatorium.
In 1906, after Mr. Post earned much money with his Post Cereal Company, he bought 225,000 acres in and around the Post area and set out to create his own self-sufficient city. He sold much of the land very cheaply to farmers, businesses and people so they could live in Post. Seems that he was very much a dreamer and idealist and that Post might have been an early attempt at a 1960s-type commune.
In 1913 Mr. Post became terminally ill and one year later he committed suicide to relieve himself of his pain. His only daughter married E.F. Hutton and today that f_amily is one of the richest in the world. By the way, I think that Mr. Post would be turning over in his grave if he knew the kind of candy-coated “cereal” that Post Cereal Co. is putting out these day.
So tonight we are in tiny Aspermont, Texas. Population of 1,000 and the county seat of Stonewall County. I'm not aware of anything that this town is known for. Here is a picture of downtown Aspermont:
As you can see, it is quiet. But that's okay because that's the way we like it. Right now we are sitting in beat up old chairs in front of our motel room while we listen to the birds chirp and the dogs bark.
March 16, 2012. Graham, Texas~~By Shanti
Today, starting in Aspermont, Texas, we went east on Highway 380 to Graham, Texas.
Tonight we are staying in Graham, Texas. Population of 8,900. Supposingly, this town has the largest public square in the country and one of the last operational drive-in movie theatres. It sits on the western edge of the Palo Pinto Mountains and is just north of Possum Kingdom State Park, which we will be driving by tomorrow. Here's a picture of Possum Kingdom State Park:
The landscape is getting a little more scenic. Great to see some blue and green again. But it is sad that we are in one of the intolerant parts of the U.S. Poor Mike found out that this was a dry county and he had to drive 40 miles round trip to the county line to buy some beer. The front page in the local newspaper has a big headline reading, “Convenience Store Raided, Pornography Confis_cated.” It is a violation of the city code to sell even Playboy Magazine and according to the article they found some porn vids in the backroom. It is the evangelical chruchee-type people doing this. Yet, they get all in a huff (and rightly so) if they think someone or some government is telling them how to practice their religion.
One thing that I am meditating on during this trip is how to deal with intolerance and to not let imperfection bother me. Small things like doors that don't shut properly, super slow wi-fi when the motel has a big sign saying “high-speed” wi-fi, bad meals at high prices, guys at our motel who go to work at 5am and make a racket in the process by honking their horns and noisily loading their trucks while they yell at the top of their lungs. At home I can control these things a little more, but on the road it is a roll of the dice. I need to just think “oh well, no big deal” to the little stuff and be grateful for the majority of times when things are really good.
March 17, 2012. Hico, Texas~~By Tiger
Erin tells me that today we started in Graham, Texas, and then went south on Texas Highway 16 to I-20; then east on I-20 to Texas Highway 108; then south on Texas Highway 108 to Stephenville; then south on Texas Highway 6 to Hico, Texas, where we are tonight. Population of 1,300 and home of the Hico High School Tigers.
See that cat above. That's me, Tiger! We are in cow country now. Cows are one of my favorite an_imals because they spend utterly their whole life eating. I've always wanted to know more about them. Today we drove by a ranch with this emblazoned on its' gate: Kitty's Ranch – Home of Kitty the Catty Cowcat. I demanded that we stop so that I could investigate. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Kitty out in the pasture herding a head of cattle. Here he is:
I just had to mosey up to Kitty and do this exclusive interview for xHamster...
Tiger: Hi Kitty. This is Tiger. Can I have a few words with you?
Kitty: Howdy, partner. Of course you can talk with me. It gets lonely out here on the range with just me and the cattle. I hardly ever get a chance to chat with another cat.
Tiger: Well, you're the only cowcat that I know and cows fascinate me. Tell me what you know. Like, for starters, how many cows are in the world? How old do cows get?
Kitty: There are 1.3 billion cows in the world. That is billion with a “B”. And cows can live to be 15 years old. Of course, there was Big Bertha. She was born on St. Patrick's Day in Ireland and lived to be 48 years old. That's the record. She was quite a celebrity too. Raised $75,000 for cancer research. A wake for Big Bertha was held in a pub and now she's stuffed and “resides” on a farm out there.
Tiger: Wow! How do you know there are 1.3 billion cows in the world?
Kitty: I use a cowculator.
Tiger: Last night on An_imal Planet I was watching a bullfight. What enrages those bulls? Is it the red color of the cape?
Kitty: No, that's just tradition. It's the movement of the cape that gets the bull to charge.
Tiger: And what's the best way to stop a bull from charging?
Kitty: You take away his credit card.
Tiger: I see that you have some Texas Longhorns on your ranch. Tell me a little about them.
Kitty: Years ago the cowboys mixed the Mexican feral cows and regular cows and made the Texas Longhorn. They almost went extinct in the 1920s because they didn't make for much meat. Too much skin and bones. But the Forest Service saved them and now us Texas ranchers keep them for tradition. Also, with the new health craze, people like them for their lean beef that's low in fat, cholesterol and calories. A prime specimen fetches $40,000 and one just sold at an auction for $170,000.
Tiger: Holy cow!
Kitty: Not only that. The Texas Longhorn is the University of Texas football mascot. They keep one on campus by the name of Bevo. One time he charged a cheerleader and she had to defend herself with her megaphone. Another time Bevo got loose and ran amok on the campus for two days. Hell, Bevo even attended George Bush's second inauguration in 2005.
Tiger: I think he should have been the one being inaugurated instead of George Bush.
Kitty: Hey, careful partner! George Bush lives around these parts and we think quite kindly of him out here.
Tiger: Sorry for that. Please tell me how to herd a head of cattle.
Kitty: It's an art and a science and way to complicated to go into here. But you have to know how fast the bovine can move and what makes them tick. And you need lots of patience. But I'll tell you this. You'll never learn how to herd cattle by watching Billy Crystal in that movie “City Slickers”. That's for damn sure.
Tiger: Every time I see a cow he is eating...
Kitty: Cows eat 8 hours a day and they make 25 gallons of saliva each day. They eat 100 pounds of food each day and drink 30 gallons of water.
Tiger: That must mean that...
Kitty: Damn right. Cows urinate about 30 pounds of water and poop about 60 pounds of feces each and every day.
Tiger: Holy cow!
Kitty: You already said that. You want to know how to milk a cow?
Tiger: No thanks. I've watched Erin do that. Well, not milk a cow, but milk something else. It's the same technique.
Kitty: Well, I hear the cow bells ringing. They're getting out of range. Gotta round them up and bring them home. Any more questions?
Tiger: How come cows wear bells?
Kitty: Because their horns don't work. I gotta go. Like they say, a cowcat's work is never done. Happy trials!
March 18, 2012. Groesbeck, Texas~~By Shanti
Today we started in Hico, Texas, and went south on Texas Highway 6 to Valley Mills; then South on Texas Highway 317 to Moody; then east on Texas Highway 107 to Eddy; then east on Texas Highway 7 to Kosse; then north on Texas Highway 14 to Groesbeck, Texas.
Before we left Hico, Texas, we walked around this little western town and noticed that there is a Billy the K_id museum here and also a Billy the K_id festival that is held here each April. Back in my March 12th entry I wrote about how Billy the K_id was captured and killed in Lincoln, New Mexico, in the early 1880s. But here in Hico, this guy named “Brushy Bill” Roberts claimed that he was Billy the K_id and that he lived out his life in Hico until he died in 1950. ABC's Sam Donaldson and the television series Unsolved Mysteries did stories about “Brushy Bill” and his claim. But most historians think it is just something promoted by the Hico Chamber of Commerce to drum up tourism. I think Hico's claim to Billy is just another Tall Tail of the West.
Today we visited a little town that was in the national spotlight for the first part of this century. That town is Crawford, Texas. It is the home – or at least the vacation home – of former President George Bush Jr. When George Bush was President you would have seen this sign as you rolled into town:
But today the only sign in Crawford, Texas, about Bush is a well-worn one that is in front of the town's only cafe and it reads, “Crawford, Home of President George Bush”. Actually, he lives on a ranch outside of Crawford and the locals wouldn't give us the details of exactly where it is. Besides, these days he spends most of his time up the road in Dallas. But back in the day this was quite the place.
When George Bush was President he spent practically half his time in Crawford. World leaders and his closest advisers came here to huddle with him. Here is a picture of President Bush and his advisers walking down a road at his ranch as they talked about war plans:
Of course the national and worldwide news media also came to Crawford too. Seems that they took up residence in nearby Waco, Texas, and pumped millions into the economy. The protestors came here too. This town was a regular circus. Here is a picture of one of the protests:
I respect all of our American Presidents and I don't think that George Bush was evil. But he was dumb, gullible and had too much machismo and that is a deadly combination. Big Dick Chaney, or as I like to call him, Little Dick Chaney was the evil and maniacal one. Little Dick was the ventriloquist behind his puppet George Bush and the price is still being paid today. I support our troops, but the wars that Little Dick created have taken their toll on everyone. Just a couple of weeks ago one of our “crazed soldiers” shot a dozen or so civilian Afghans dead because he was stressed out.
Okay, I'll get off my soapbox. We eat in the Crawford cafe where George Bush and his entourage would, on occasion, drop into. The place did have some atmosphere and although the food was not my type (fried meat and fried vegetables) it looked decent. Pictures of George Bush visiting the cafe were all over the walls and here is one of him yukking it up:
But now President Bush is out of office. And I give him credit for keeping a low profile. Unlike Little Dick Chaney. As the spot light on George Bush has faded, so has Crawford. Here is a picture of Crawford, Texas, today:
March 20, 2012. Groesbeck, Texas~~By Erin
For two full days we have been holed up in Groesbeck, Texas, (population 4,200) as we waited out the band of thunderstorms and tornado threats. All and all, the storm didn't pan out to be as severe as it was supposed to be.
Still, last night it did rain like crazy for about six hours and a few of the thunderclaps were incredibly loud. Aida Marie cried much of the night. Tiger was absolutely terrified and hid under the bed and didn't come out until several hours after the storm had passed. The little fellow missed his breakfast. Mike telephoned our room in the middle of the night and said that if we were scared we could come and sl_eep in his bed with him. We told Mike that sl_eeping with him would be much more scary than the thunder and lightning.
The town of Groesbeck itself was a little jumpy because last April several tornadoes rolled through town. Roofs were ripped off buildings, trees snapped in half and car windows blew out. A steeple from the First Baptist Church was even tossed across the street. Here is a picture of that tornado:
And here is a YouTube video of some storm chasers and those tornadoes:
I always see those storm-chasing vids on The Weather Channel. It seems to be in vogue to hype up hurricanes and tornadoes and treat them as entertainment. The reporters on the The Weather Channel are practically orgasmic when they talk about severe weather. Half of the programming on that channel is thrill-seeking documentaries and we can hardly ever get a simple forecast anymore. It is like MTV and CMT where the only thing not on those channels are the music videos that made them worth watching in the first place.
Our motel parking lot is the location for cat fights between gangs of cats. I've seen a gray and an orange cat walking around together and two white cats in another gang. I'm not letting Tiger outside. Back in the day he could have had those cats for lunch. But now he is a little older and he might get hurt.
Well, it will be good to get back on the road again. We might even make it to Louisiana tomorrow. I can't believe that we are more than half way to the east coast.
March 21, 2012. Mansfield, Louisiana~~By Mike
Today, we started in Groesbeck, Texas, and went east on Texas Highway 164 to I-45; then south on I-45 to Buffalo, Texas; then north on Texas Highway 79 to Elkhart, Texas; then east on Texas Highway 294 to Alto, Texas; then east on Texas Highway 21 to Nacogdoches, Texas; then east on Texas Highway 7 to the Louisiana state line; then east to Mansfield, Louisiana.
I didn't know that there were trees in Texas. But today we drove through forests of pine and along green pastures. Because of the heavy rains there was some flooding and it was strange to see full grown trees rising out of “lakes”. About every five miles there were dirt roads leading back into the woods to cemeteries. We drove up a few of the roads and were surprised to find little churches tucked up there too along with small pavilions that are probably used for hot summer night revivals. We also came across a site that was used in World War II as a prisoner-of-war camp for captured German soldiers.
In Nacogdoches, Texas, we toured the historic downtown. During the early 1900s many of the well-known and the well-healed stayed at the ultra-modern Redland Hotel:
In 1912 the Marx Br_others stayed at the Redland Hotel while they performed their singing act at the old Opera House across the street. But the performance flopped when most of the audience rushed outside to look at a runaway mule. Soon afterward, the Marx Br_others decided to try their hand at comedy and the rest is history.
In Center, Texas, stands the old Shelby County courthouse:
In 1885 an Irishman named John Gibson was anxious to show off his brick-maker and mason skills. He bid $26,000 to build a courthouse for the county. True to his word, he completed it on budget. But during its' first winter there was a severe snowstorm that caused part of the courthouse to collapse. Mr. Gibson repaired the damage at a cost to him of $2,700 and spent the next couple of decades in vain trying to get reimbursed. Posthumously, the local historical society raised $2,700 and used it to memorialize Mr. Gibson for his valuable contribution. This courthouse is now the only remaining Irish castle style courthouse in the United States.
Tonight we are staying in Mansfield, Louisiana (population 5,000). Vida Blue, the great baseball pitcher, was born and raised here. Here is a picture of Vida:
In high school Vida was a star quarterback and he was hotly recruited by several big-name Texas universities. But when Vida's father died during his senior year, he decided to take a $5,000 bonus and sign a contract with the baseball Oakland A's so that he could help support his mother and five younger siblings.
In 1971 - Vida's first full year in the majors - he was a national sensation. Vida went 24-8, had over 300 strikeouts, won the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards and started the All-Star game. Fans loved his infectious personality and almost every game he pitched was a sell-out. Vida even made the cover of Time Magazine:
Unfortunately, the Oakland A's were owned by a skin-flint man named Charlie Finley. With all of Vida's success both on the field and at the box office, many fans thought it only fair that Charlie tear up Vida's 15,000 contract and give him a raise. Instead, Charlie flew Vida's mother out to Oakland and presented her with a new baby blue Cadillac. Of course Vida and his mom could have used some extra money instead and Charlie was playing off the racial stereotype that African-Americans are happy just so long as they have a Cadillac...but what was a rookie 21-year old pitcher to do?
The next season Vida did not report to Spring Training and he held out for $50,000. After Charlie refused to pay him any more than $25,000, Vida announced his retirement and went to work as a salesman for a company that manufactured toilet seats. But, finally, well into the season, Charlie and Vida agreed to split the difference and Vida joined the team. But Vida, due to the late start and perhaps because he let his bitterness with Charlie get the best of him, only managed a 6-10 record.
After that disappointing season Vida vowed to not let Charlie get on his nerves again. Vida went on to win many games for the A's until 1978 when he was traded across the bay to the San Francisco Giants. In Vida's first year with the Giants he started the All-Star Game and was named Sporting News National League Pitcher of the Year. Finally, in 1986 Vida retired after winning over 200 games.
Vida now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and he spends countless hours promoting baseball and donating his time to many charitable causes. Here is a recent picture of Vida:
Because Vida Blue played for both the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants (and also in large measure because of his down-to-earth and friendly personality) he is arguably the most beloved San Francisco Bay Area baseball player. I've seen him pitch many times and Vida is my favorite baseball player. Here's a tip of the cap to the Man from Mansfield!
March 22, 2012. Vicksburg, Mississippi~~By Erin
Today, we started in Mansfield, Louisiana, and went east on Highway 84 to Whitehall, Louisiana; then north on Highway 8 to Sicily Island, Louisiana; then south on Highway 425 to Clayton, Louisiana; then north on Highway 65 to I-20; then across the Mississippi River and into the State of Mississippi to Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Now we are on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Here is a picture of the bridge over the Mississippi River at Vicksburg:
We hadn't expected to travel all the way across Louisiana today, but when we were ready to stop in the afternoon we couldn't find any motels in the run-down towns or any suitable camping spots. Then we were fo_rced to stop in Vicksburg when Mike's RV had some engine trouble.
Vicksburg's population is only 26,000, but it looks much bigger. That's probably because of all the tourist attractions like Civil War exhibits, riverboat casinos, the historic downtown and even the Coca-Cola museum. So, if we have to be stuck, then we will have plenty of stuff to see and do.
Shortly after arriving in Vicksburg this African-American girl who is 20 years old (or so she says) kind of latched onto us. She was very helpful and answered all of our questions about Vicksburg. I don't think she has any money and, for some reason, she wants to leave Vicksburg. I don't even know if she has a home. She didn't talk hardly at all about herself except to say that we were so lucky to be traveling around the U.S. and that's what she wants to do right now too.
Last night she spend the night with Mike. I know what they were doing in his room. Can't say that I blame Mike. She has a cute face and a real nice and tight body. But I'm not jealous for his good fortune or anything. I just hope that Mike keeps his wits. I told Mike that he better find out for sure what her story is before he does stuff that would have bad consequences. Like getting her pregnant or helping her escape from a situation that she shouldn't escape from.
March 23, 2012. Vicksburg, Mississippi~~By Erin
No travel today. Looks like we will be here a few more days until Mike gets his leaking radiator replaced. Which is a good thing because there is so much yet to do. We relocated from new Vicksburg where all the casinos and non-descript hotels are to historic downtown Vicksburg which is three blocks from the Mississippi River waterfront.
Vicksburg is a great town to visit for all of its Civil War history. Also, it is much more relaxed and uncrowded than the other Mississippi River towns like New Orleans, Memphis and St. Louis. Less expensive too.
It is weird to see the west bank of the Mighty Mississippi River in a wild state with nothing but trees while Vicksburg sits on the east bank. But it is easy to see why. The east bank is a steep hill and Vicksburg was established there because it was well above the floodplain. Here is a picture of Vicksburg taken in 1910:
Aside from taking a walk through downtown, Shanti and I spent much of the day on our fifth floor balcony looking out at all the comings and goings. Across the street is the old Vicksburg Hotel. When it was built in 1928 it was the tallest building between New Orleans and Memphis. In this very hotel in 1948 Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his candidacy for President of the United States! Here is a picture of the Vicksburg Hotel:
In 1980 the Vicksburg Hotel was completely renovated and its' two hundred rooms were converted into sixty modern residential apartments. The rent for a one bedroom apartment is only $500 a month. And that includes wi-fi, cable, electric, water and garbage. Judging from who was walking in and out of the hotel, most of the rooms are rented by students. Here is a picture of the old check-in desk (notice the blue ice water fountain that was a luxury back in 1928):
One fun fact that I learned today was where the expression “Teddy Bear” came from. Back in 1902 President Teddy Roosevelt was hunting for bears along the bank of the Mississippi just outside of Vicksburg. One of Teddy Roosevelt's guides cornered a bear and tied him to a tree for Teddy to shoot. But President Roosevelt felt compassion for the bear and refused to shoot it. The local newspaper dubbed the bear Teddy's Bear and that was later shortened to Teddy Bear.
About the only time that I saw Mike today was when he went across the street to an antique store. For $300 he bought a skeleton of a human torso. Mike spent the rest of the day in his room with his new girlfriend. And I know exactly what they were doing – they were fucking. Mike must be paying her some good money because I know she wouldn't fuck him for free. But I'm not jealous. And if I was jealous, then I would be jealous of Mike and not her. I wouldn't mind having some of her too.
March 25, 2012. Vicksburg, Mississippi~~By Shanti
No travel again today. We haven't seen Mike for 36 hours. He has a “do not disturb” sign on his motel door and he's not answering his cell or room phone. I hope that Mike's new girlfriend isn't wearing him out so much that he doesn't even have the energy on Monday morning to put on his pants and get his leaking radiator fixed.
The first stop today for Erin and me was the Yesterday's Ch_ildren Antique Doll and Toy Museum. I had no idea about the quality of dolls that are made for serious collectors. I just knew about the dime-a-dozen types that you see in the toy stores. But this museum has a big collection of life-size dolls that look so real that it is surreal. Many of the dolls are from the late 1800s and are in excellent condition. Back then, it was a status symbol for a fam_ily to have a doll and they were for display and not for play. Some of the dolls in the museum are worth over $30,000.
The curator at the Doll Museum recommended a local restaurant down the block for lunch. Erin is dedicated to trying the local foods and it seems this was the place for that. Erin had an octopus salad with a side dish of fried pickles. The octopus salad is made up of fried octopus and greens with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil. Erin said it was good, but I passed on it. They love to fry their food down in The South and I hate that.
After lunch we went to the Coca-Cola Museum. This museum, called Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum, is where the first Coca-Cola was bottled way back in 1894. Before then, you had to drink it at a soda fountain. There was Coca-Cola memorabilia everywhere. But nowhere in the whole museum did I see any mention of the fact that Coca-Cola used to have cocaine in it. Even so, all the old advertisements played up the theme that it was “refreshing” and “invigorating”. Many of the yesteryear ads, like this one, had pretty girls in them:
Back in the day, the President of Coca-Cola said that his company looked for this type of girl to put in their advertisements: “we want a beautiful girl but not a hussy...and not the type of girl who would develop into a hussy. Our girls are the kind that you would like your son to have a date with.”
We tried to take a boat tour of the Mississippi River but it seems that there are no tours until April. I've been back and forth across the Mississippi River once before but I can't remember crossing it. I must have been stoned or asl**p or something. Seems that there are over 200 bridges across the Mississippi River and that some people make it their life's work to cross over each one of them.
The famed Highway 61 goes through Vicksburg on its' way to points north and south. Highway 61 starts in New Orleans and ends in Minnesota. Here is a sign about Highway 61:
Blues artists used to travel up and down Highway 61 on the way to their gigs. The highway mostly parallels the Mississippi River and was a route for southerners to get to the north in much the way that Route 66 was the road that westward travelers took to get to California. Mr. D - Bob Dylan - titled one of his most famous albums after Highway 61:
We're going to get back to our travels on Highway 61 tomorrow. That is, if Mike gets his act together.
March 26, 2012. Amory, Mississippi~~By Mike
Today we started in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and went north on Highway 61 to Highway 3; then east on Highway 3 to Yazoo City, Mississippi; then east on Highway 16 to the Natchez Trance Parkway; then north on the Natchez Trance Parkway to Highway 32; then east on Highway 32 to Okolona, Mississippi; then east on Highway 41 to Highway 278; then east on Highway 278 to Amory, Mississippi.
Last week the radiator in my RV started to leak and a replacement arrived early today and I got everything fixed. That's too bad because I really enjoyed my time with Leticia. She is the 20 year-old African-American southern belle that I met in Vicksburg when we arrived. I hope that Leticia considers the time spent with me to be worthwhile because it was worth every penny to me. Leticia wanted to travel with us and see the U.S. (she's never been out of Mississippi), but I don't think that it would work out. She is more into seeing the bigger cities and we want to avoid them. Also, I like to try new girls and Erin would probably steal Leticia from me anyway just like she stole Shanti away from her boyfriend. I like Erin...but she is sneaky like a fox.
After one hour on the road we came across another vehicle problem: my driver's side window wouldn't roll up or down because the button that I push to do that was jammed. So we made a detour to Yazoo City, Mississippi, to find an auto body shop. First we checked out their downtown that has pretty much been abandoned after a couple of serious tornadoes roared through town in 2010. The city leaders, in an effort to revitalize downtown, reached out to citizens to help them clean up the city. Several residents got the idea of painting the buildings outlandish colors and they are even doing the painting themselves at their own expense. Here's a picture:
After much searching, we finally found a body shop on the edge of Yazoo City to fix our window problem. Actually, it was kind of a combination body shop and unlicensed barbecue hang-out. When we arrived the owner was busy grilling a raccoon.
I can't cook at all and neither can these southern boys. But they don't really care and apparently they will eat anything. How do these guys grill a raccoon? They catch one out in the wild and then skin it. Then they dump lots of stuff – like tomato sauce, hot sauce, garlic, greens and whatever else they can think of into a huge pot and bring it to a boil. Then the raccoon goes in the pot too. After the raccoon is well softened and flavored, then it is grilled. Here is a picture:
Fortunately, we didn't have to wait too long to get the window fixed and we begged off on the grilled raccoon.
We spent most of the afternoon driving north on the Natchez Trance Parkway. This is a 444-mile scenic road that goes through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. It is part of the National Park System. There are no businesses of any kind allowed on the parkway and no trucks are allowed on it either. Back in the early 1800s before the steamboat was invented, the parkway was the route that Native Americans, settlers and explorers used to get to the Mississippi Valley from more established points east. Because of its' importance to commerce, President Thomas Jefferson managed to make it into a road. Today it is lined with hiking trails and campgrounds. There are also alligators in the swamps, but we didn't see any of them. Here is a picture of the Natchez Trance Parkway with the dogwoods in bloom:
Tonight we are staying in Amory, Mississippi – population 6,900. Amory's claim to fame is that the song Blue Suede Shoes was written by Carl Perkins during a trip to Amory in 1955 for a concert with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
March 27, 2012. Selma, Alabama~~By Shanti
Today we started in Amory, Mississippi, and went east on Highway 278 to Sulligent, Alabama; then south on Highway 17 to Aliceville, Alabama; then east on Highway 14 to Selma, Alabama.
Well, we made it to the Deep South. Tonight we are staying in Selma, Alabama. This town is best known for its' 1965 Voting Rights Marches. So, it is kind of ironic that all the talk on the radio today was about the killing of that African-American 17 year-old boy (Travon Martin) by the white or hispanic security guard. We listened to right wing wackos Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity spouting off from one side and the pious publicity hound Jessie Jackson, the Reverend Al Sharpton and the vigilante New Black Panthers Party blowhards on the other side. Try and tell me that racial tensions aren't very much alive and well these days in America.
Our Selma motel had a DVD on the Selma Voting Rights marches and last night I watched it. Back in 1963 Selma was totally segregated. That included restaurants, theatres, schools and even drinking fountains. More than 50% of Selma's residents were black, but only 1% of them were registered to vote. Blacks were prevented from voting by police vio_lence, the KKK and a literacy test (to name just a few methods).
In 1963 civil rights groups came together to organize black voter registration drives. There was much opposition by the county sheriff and his cronies, but by 1964 there was some success. That's when a local judge made an order that banned a gathering of three or more people under the sponsorship of the civil rights organizations. That worked for awhile until Dr. Martin Luther King defied the order by speaking at a Selma rally on January 2, 1965.
After Dr. Martin Luther King's speech, the civil rights groups started a national Voting Rights campaign to bring attention to the denial of black voting rights in Alabama and particularly in Selma. Still, blacks met with police vio_lence and arrests when they tried to vote. In response, the civil rights groups organized a Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, march (Montgomery is the state capital). On March 7, 1965, around 600 marchers started to march. But before they were able to cross Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge they were attacked by state troopers and local police with tear gas and billy clubs. This came to be called “Bl_oody Sunday”. Two days later Martin Luther King led a symbolic march to the bridge and tried to get court protection for a full-scale Selma to Montgomery march. A federal judge gave an order protecting the marchers and on March 21, 1965, around 3,200 marchers departed from Selma. Four days later when they arrived in Montgomery their numbers had swelled to 25,000. Here is a picture of those marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge where they had been attacked just a couple of weeks earlier:
The Selma to Montgomery marches changed public opinion about the Civil Rights movement. The pictures of Alabama police beating nonviolent protesters were shown all over the U.S. and the world on T.V. screens and in newspapers. Until then, many U.S. citizens thought that the segregationist movement was necessary to keep the social order of the South. But after the marches, more people saw that racist movement as nothing more than state-sponsored terrorism against non-whites. Later in 1965, President Johnson presented a bill to Congress called the Voting Rights Act and its' passage is considered one of the most important achievements of the civil rights movement.
So, Selma is a very significant city in American history. Here is a picture of downtown Selma today. In the middle of the picture you can see the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the marchers were beaten back on that “Bl_oody Sunday” 47 years ago.
March 28, 2012. Eufaula, Alabama~~By Erin
Today we started in Selma, Alabama, and went east on Highway 80 to Highway 7; then south on Highway 7 to Highway 263; then east on Highway 263 to Greenville, Alabama; then east on Highway 10 to Clio, Alabama; then north on Highway 51 to Clayton, Alabama; then east on Highway 30 to Highway 431; then north on Highway 431 to Eufaula, Alabama.
This southern stretch of our trip through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama has been quite interesting to me. The South has always had this stigma of being racist and segregated while the North has moved past all of that. Yet I have also heard that it is not really that way.
I must say that there seems to be a lot less racial tension in the South than in other parts of the United States. Maybe it is because the population of whites and blacks is more or less equal in the South. Everywhere I've been – whether in a supermarket or out and about on the street or in a restaurant – whites and blacks are together and talking with each other and all of that. I don't think you see that so much in New York or San Francisco or Boston where things really are much more segregated. IMHO.
We've been seeing these Sonic Drive-Ins in almost every town ever since we entered New Mexico.
The Sonic Drive-Ins really are the bomb! Most of the guy and girl car-hops roller-skate the meals out to the cars. That must not be easy to do – especially with the drinks. There is a Sonic across the street from our motel and we watched them for an hour and they didn't spill a drop.
So tonight we are in Eufaula, Alabama. Never heard of the place before, but it seems that this is quite a tourist mecca. The Chattahoochee River runs through town and there is a huge lake and national wildlife reserve here too. Twenty percent of the town is actually water.
Originally, this area was occupied by three tribes of the Muscogee Nation. But because of the rich soil, during the 1830s white settlers swarmed the area and f_orced the tribes to leave their native land forever and relocate in upper Florida. Much wealth was created by the cotton trade and there are still many stately homes in Eufaula that are exhibits of the wealth and culture of that time. Here is a picture of just one of the homes:
And then there is Eufaula Lake which is partially in Alabama and partially in Georgia. The lake is surrounded by campgrounds and it is where many hunters go for their spring pilgrimage. Here is a picture of Eufaula Lake:
I think we will rest up today and take a tour of some of the old homes and then drive out to the National Wildlife Reserve. There are supposed to be lots of alligators out there and I've never seen a wild one before.
March 29, 2012. Eufaula, Alabama~~By Tiger
This is Tiger. We didn't go anywhere today except to the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. Right now I'm chilling in a cool sink while I reread my interview, that is below, with Rutherford. He's the alligator that I met at the refuge. Everyone else was scared to get out of the RV. But not me. I'm not scared of anything.
Tiger: Hi there, Mr. Alligator. My name is Tiger. What's your name?
Rutherford: My name is Rutherford.
Tiger: That's an odd name for an alligator. I thought you might be named Al or Jaws or Scales or Wally or something like that...
Rutherford: Well, there are over 1,000,000 alligators living in the southeastern United States and all those names are taken. But I'm the only Rutherford.
Tiger: I've never seen a real alligator before. What kind of alligator are you?
Rutherford: I'm a hungry alligator.
Tiger: What I mean is, what species of alligator are you? For example, I'm a Felis Catis or, to those without my knowledge of science, I'm known as an orange tabby cat.
Rutherford: I'm what the humans call an American Alligator. And the only other alligator species left on earth is the Chinese Alligator.
Tiger: Where do the Chinese Alligators live?
Rutherford: What kind of a question is that?! They say us alligators have small brains, but...Hey, don't get too interested in those Chinese Alligators. There are only about a dozen wild ones left in China and they only grow to about half the size of us American Alligators. The Asians are always shorter than us Americans.
Tiger: What about Yao Ming?
Tiger: No, not Who. Yao. Never mind.
Rutherford: I see your RV over there. How come you have to travel in such a large vehicle?
Tiger: Well there are five of us. Besides me there are two girls, a baby and an old geezer lawyer guy. But really, we need the extra space to carry around our luggage.
Rutherford: I wouldn't say the word “luggage” to an alligator if I were you. Don't you know what some of that luggage is made of?
Tiger: Oh, sorry. I really should take a few moments to walk in your shoes before I say something like that.
Rutherford: And don't say “shoes” either!! How come your friends don't come out of their RV to get a closer look at me?
Tiger: They think that you are going to eat them.
Rutherford: Well, I would love to eat the girls. But out of professional courtesy I would never eat a lawyer.
Tiger: Besides humans, what else do you eat?
Rutherford: Just about anything that I can get my jaws on. Come to think of it, you would make a nice appetizer. But I had a run-in with one of your kind the other day so I think that I'll pass.
Tiger: What do you mean? What happened?
Rutherford: I was at the shore trying to eat some chicken meat that some stupid tourists gave me. And all of a sudden this cat moved in and started jabbing me with his paws. Can you believe the nerve? Here's a picture:
Tiger: Wow! What I mean is that's too bad.
Rutherford: Don't you cry no crocodile tears for me. I was so shocked at what that cat was doing that I retreated back into the water. I'm the laughing stock of this wildlife refuge. All the other alligators say that I let a little house cat made a monkey out of me. And even worse, there's is a YouTube video of it and it has gone viral. Here it is:
Tiger: Well, I won't do any more to ruin your reputation. Nobody will hear a word about that from me!
Rutherford: Somehow, I get the feeling that you are pulling my leg.
Tiger: Maybe I might if I could, but your legs are so short that I can't even get my paws around them.
Rutherford: I have to scale back this interview. If the other alligators see me with another cat then I'll never hear the end of it.
Tiger: Okay, I'll see you later, alligator.
March 30, 2012. Americus, Georgia~~By Erin
Today we started in Eufaula, Alabama, and went east on Highway 82 into Georgia until we came to Highway 27; then east on Highway 27 to Americus, Georgia.
What an incredible day! We spend all of it in tiny Plains, Georgia, the birthplace and current home of former President Jimmy Carter (1976-1980) and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
Back in the mid-1970s Americans had just suffered through Tricky Dick Nixon and his Watergate scandal and were longing for a President with integrity and the style of a common man. Out of nowhere came Jimmy Carter. Formally a peanut farmer from this small town of 700 and a one-term Georgia governor, Jimmy (as he likes to be called) beat President Gerald Ford (the one who pardoned Nixon) and came to Washington. During the Carter administration, Americans also got to thrill in the adventures of Jimmy's mother (Miss Lillian), his younger br_other (Billy) and his 9 year-old daughter (Amy).
Our first stop was Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's old high school.
Now the old high school is the Jimmy Carter Historical Site and it is run by the National Park Service. Both the exterior and interior have been restored to original condition and it has many incredible exhibits. But this museum is not just about the Carters. The museum has plenty about the history of Plains and about the yesteryear student activities at the old high school.
Then we went to Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign headquarters. Back in 1974, after Nixon had resigned the Presidency in disgrace, Jimmy opened up shop here. It used to be the Plains railway station. Jimmy said he chose it as his headquarters because it was the only business building in Plains with a bathroom. Here is a picture of it:
When Jimmy announced his candidacy the news media said, “Jimmy Who?” When he told his mother, Miss Lillian, that he was running for President, Ms Lillian responded, “President of what?” Miss Lillian was the indefatigable widowed mother of the Carter clan and a devoted champion for proper nursing care. In 1966, at the age of 68, she joined the Peace Corps and volunteered in India. Here's a picture of Miss Lillian and her famous son:
Jimmy Carter was at the headquarters on election night watching the results and he gave his victory speech on the lawn outside the next day. Inside is a museum with all kinds of campaign memorabilia. We were totally alone in there. Oh, if the walls could talk.
Next we walked across the street to br_other Billy Carter's old gas station. Now it is a museum about Billy and here is a picture of it:
During the 1976 campaign the news media descended on Plains and discovered Billy Carter and they became fascinated with this hard-drinking Southern good ol' boy. Here's a picture of Jimmy and Billy inside the gas station:
Billy, ever the opportunist, played on the news media's image of him. After Jimmy became President, Billy started selling his own brand of beer.
For a short time Billy Beer was a national sensation and it couldn't be brewed fast enough to meet demand. But Billy Beer sales feel flat after Americans got around to tasting it. In later years even Billy had to admit, “I just cringed every time when I read the Billy Beer logo saying that 'it's the best beer I ever tasted'. That's a lie of course. It was the worse stuff that I had ever tasted. You had to be an alcoholic to drink it.”
Nonetheless, Billy-mania continued through out Jimmy Carter's presidency. In 1979 the Associated Press dubbed Billy as a “professional redneck” because he pretty much just traveled the country drinking beer, appearing at events and cashing checks.
But all good things run their course. Billy's outlandish behavior was embarrassing Jimmy (Billy once urinated on an airport runway in full view of the press) and he lost his bid to become mayor of Plains too. But the worse was when he registered as a foreign agent of the Libyan government (an enemy of the U.S.) and accepted a “loan” of over $200,000 from Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Billy was even the subject of a less than flattering Time Magazine cover story:
In 1987 Billy passed away from pancreatic cancer. To be fair, there was much more to Billy than the national image. For much of his life Billy and Jimmy operated a successful peanut farming business together and he was a devoted husband and a father of six ch_ildren.
After leaving Billy's service station we went to a downtown Plains antique store so that Mike could buy a souvenir 6-pack of Billy Beer. It cost him $75 and we later learned that it goes on eBay for around $15. Ooops! What you see in this picture is all there is of the Plains business district. There are no motels, chain stores or any of that.
Then we hopped in the R.V. and drove out to Jimmy Carter's boyhood farm home. On the way we stopped at the cemetery where Miss Lillian, Jimmy's father, and Billy are buried. Here is a picture of their modest plot. Billy's grave is in the foreground.
There was an incredibly touching hand-written letter left under some rocks next to Billy's grave from one of his daughters. His daughter (Jana) writes of how she thinks of him every day and how she did not know Billy in the way he was portrayed in the press.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was visiting the Carter fam_ily farm where Jimmy lived during The Depression. It is three miles outside of Plains. Jimmy's father sold it to someone else in the 1940s and then the National Park Service purchased it from that fam_ily in 1995. Here's a picture of the Carter farm:
It was unbelievable that we were able to go inside the house with nobody else in it. All the rooms had been restored (furniture, table settings, etc) to exactly the way that they were during Jimmy's ch_ildhood. Here is a picture of the bedroom that was Jimmy's bedroom from when he was 3 years-old to when he was 13 years-old:
Jimmy's father Earl ran a store right next to the house. Here is a picture of the store:
Again, we were in the store with no supervision and the stuff in there must have easily been worth in the $1,000s. Notice the orange and white cat sitting on the chair. The farm was teeming with friendly cats. Most of the cats were Siamese and I'm guessing that was because Amy Carter had a sweet Siamese cat as a pet while she lived in the White House (Amy lives in Atlanta now and keeps a super low profile).
So that was our tour through Plains, Georgia. President Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn still live in Plains. Their house is just a few blocks from downtown. Because of some trees it can't be seen and the public does not have access because it is protected by the Secret Service (which I can totally understand because a former President of the United States needs his private space.
But Jimmy Carter is frequently seen around town. In fact, he teaches Sunday School at his church about three Sundays a month and his schedule of when he will be teaching is all over town and his classes are fully open to the public. He also takes his turn with the other members of the congregation and mows the church lawn once a month while Rosalynn tends to the church garden. Here is a 2008 picture of Jimmy riding his bicycle to his favorite Plains restaurant:
There is so much more to tell about Jimmy Carter - like his devotion to many good causes and how he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. But my blog entry is already too long. So I'll end it here with a BIG salute to a Great American – Jimmy Carter!
March 31, 2012. Sandersville, Georgia~~By Erin
Today we started in Americus, Georgia, and went east on Highway 27 to Hawkinsville, Georgia; then north on Highway 26 to Highway 80; then east on Highway 80 to Dublin, Georgia; then north on Highway 319 to Wrightsville; then north on Highway 15 to Sandersville.
Nothing too terribly interesting happened today. We had to drive out of our way to one of the larger towns so that Mike could get money out of his bank branch ATM. Otherwise, he would have been charged a $5 ATM fee. So not only did we have to go out of our way, but Einstein Mike turned left when he should have turned right and we put on 25 extra miles before he figured out that we were going the wrong way. All in all, we went about 75 extra miles (that's about $25 in gas) to save $5 of ATM fees. Oh well, it's only money. And it is Mike's money, not mine.
During lunch at a campground we ran into this married couple in their 60s. All that they have been doing for the last 15 years in driving around in their small camper and staying at the free National Forest campgrounds. Their only major expenses are gas, food and auto insurance. They have no responsibilities except to each other. It didn't seem that they have much ambition, but they are satisfied with their lives. At least they are not trapped like so many other people seem to be.
We are kicking around the idea of going into Canada. Maybe way out to Nova Scotia. But Mike got a DUI about 15 years ago and we've heard that Canada doesn't allow anyone in their country with a DUI. On the other hand, we've also heard that we can go there if the DUI was more than 10 years ago. So, we don't know for sure. And the border officials have computer access to criminal records under some arrangement spawned by the 9/11 attack. So we can't lie to them. I suppose the worse than can happen would be getting turned away. Or we could try one of the less busy crossings in the dead of night.
Tonight we are in Sandersville, Georgia. It is in Washington County, Georgia. The county was established in 1784 and it was named for George Washington prior to him becoming President and it is the only county in the U.S. to be named for him as a General. Sandersville is the birthplace of Elijah Muhammad. He led the Nation of Islam and was a mentor to Malcom X, Louis Farrakhan and Muhammad Ali.
April 3, 2012. Elberton, Georgia~~By Shanti
Yesterday we started in Sandersville, Georgia, and went north on Highway 15 to Sparta, Georgia; then east on Highway 16 to Thomson, Georgia; the east on Highway 43 across the South Carolina state line to McCormick, South Carolina; then north on Highway 81 to Iva, South Carolina; then west on Highway 29 across the Georgia state line to Hartwell, Georgia. Today we left Hartwell, Georgia, and returned to Sandersville by going south on Highways 77, 17, 47, 16 & 15 before returning by those same highways to Elberton, Georgia.
We've made a grand total of about 70 miles of progress during the first three days of April. On April 1, we decided to lay over for a day in Sandersville, Georgia. Then yesterday we took a real nice drive into South Carolina and followed the Savannah River north until we re-entered Georgia and stayed for the night in Hartwell, Georgia.
As we unpacked in Hartwell, Einstein Mike discovered to his horror that he had left his laptop AC adapter at the motel room in Sandersville, Georgia (about 100 miles away). So today we spent the whole day driving back to Sandersville to retrieve it. Now we are one town away from where we were the night before.
I can't really get on Mike's case too much for forgetting his AC adapter in the motel. I've left so many things in motels that I can't even begin to count. But from now on we will all be checking each others' rooms before we check out. And I wish that laptops had uniform AC adapters and not a different one for each computer brand. If Mike hadn't been able to get his adapter back, then we would have had to go into someplace like Atlanta to find the right adapter.
Oh, well, we should finally be out of Georgia by today. Good thing too because the Masters Golf Tournament is starting and all the motels for miles around are starting to fill up. I've been happily surprised by the Deep South. I thought it was just filled with hostile rednecks but it is not. Like Erin wrote a few days back, there is much less racial tension here than in the north. It is more leisurely too. In these small towns there are lots of people who just sit on their porch all day. But I'm glad that we went through here now instead of in Summer. Still, it is starting to heat up and it is getting humid too.
The parts of Georgia that we've gone through have been the really old towns. Most of these places were founded in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Many of the buildings are very old too. But it is hard to find any buildings that remain from before the Civil War. That is because either fires destroyed them or the Yankees knocked them down. Here is a picture of the Hancock County courthouse in Sparta, Georgia. It looks like big haunted house to me.
Well, we've been on the road for about 45 days and we've only made it from California to Georgia. We better pick up the pace if we plan on seeing all the parts of the United States in the next 45 days. No more layover days – or at least not a layover day every other day. I wonder where we will end up.
April 4, 2012. Blue Ridge, Georgia~~By Mike
Today we started in Elberton, Georgia, and went north on Highway 77 to Toccoa, Georgia; then north on Highway 23 to Clayton, Georgia; then west on Highway 76 to Blue Ridge, Georgia.
Our big stop today was in the tiny rural town of Royston, Georgia – the birthplace and boyhood home of baseball great Ty Cobb. In particular, we came to Royston to visit the Ty Cobb Museum. But, to our surprise, Ty Cobb also left quite a legacy here and it has nothing to do with baseball.
Ty Cobb played major league baseball for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia A's from 1905 to 1928. There is no dispute that Cobb is one of the greatest players in baseball history. Perhaps the greatest with all his hits, stolen bases and batting average records. But he was also one of baseball's most controversial, hated and complicated players.
Ty Cobb's parents were also very complicated. Cobb's dad married Cobb's mom when she was only 12 years-old. Cobb's dad was a military college graduate, a professor, newspaper editor, school board member and, finally, a Georgia state senator. He told Cobb not to waste his time on baseball and to concentrate on getting an education. Nonetheless, as soon as Cobb finished high school, he went off to play in the baseball minor leagues.
Three weeks before Cobb was called up to the majors, Ty's mom shot Ty's dad to death. Ty's dad was climbing into his house through the upstairs bedroom window in the middle of the night and Ty's mom thought he was a burglar and killed him. Why was he climbing through his own bedroom window? He suspected his wife of cheating on him and he wanted to catch her in the act. Cobb's mom was charged with murder, but was later acquitted because the killing was in self-defense.
Cobb was only 18 years old during his first season in the majors. But he was already much better than all of his teammates who resorted to hazing him. Cobb later said that “those old-timers turned me into a snarling wildcat.”
Cobb was certainly hell on wheels on the base paths which he insisted belonged to him. He was a master of the slide and didn't care how many players he spiked. The players – even his teammates – feared and despised him. And Cobb's take-no-prisoners demeanor was not just reserved for the players. He choked the wife of a baseball groundskeeper that he didn't like, he assaulted a handicapped heckler, he stabbed a night watchman and he had a fist fight with an umpire.
But Cobb was no country bumpkin or the typical baseball player of the time who spent all his money on women, booze and gambling. During his playing days Cobb stayed away from all of that and used his baseball salary (he made about $400,000 during his baseball career) to make brilliant investments. Cobb invested most of his money in Coca-Cola and General Motors and those were pure speculative investments at that time. Cobb was a very wealthy man when he retired from baseball and his fortune grew to $11,000,000 at the time of his death in 1961 ($90,000,000 in today's dollars).
Even though Cobb had all this money, his life during retirement was rough. Cobb went through two divorces. One of his sons died of a brain tumor while another son died of a heart attack. Once, Cobb beat another of his sons with a whip for flunking out of Princeton.
In the 1950s Cobb was friendless and sought to rehabilitate his image. Spurred on by this motive (and perhaps by his dad's lectures about education and his sons' medical problems), Cobb established - right here in Royston - the Cobb Educational Fund and the Cobb Healthcare System. In 2011 alone the Cobb Educational Fund gave out $700,000 in college scholarships to rural Georgia high school graduates and the Fund has awarded more than $15,000,000 since Cobb founded it. The Cobb Healthcare System operates two hospitals, three nursing homes and employs over 1,000 healthcare professionals – all in this rural part of Georgia.
In the late 1950s Cobb was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He took to alcohol to ease the pain and his behavior became very bizarre. When Cobb died in 1961 he had by his death bed $1,000,000 in cash and a Lugger handgun. At Cobb's burial here in Royston there were some close friends and f_amily, but only three old-time baseball players attended. We visited his grave site and here is a picture of it:
The Ty Cobb Museum is inside one of the Cobb hospitals and it has five rooms and many items that the Baseball Hall of Fame donated to it. There is even a set of Cobb's false teeth in the museum. Since the museum's stated mission is “to celebrate one of baseball's all-time greats”, you would think that Cobb was a saint by what is in the museum. The curator even told us a “white lie” and said that Cobb's dad climbed through his upstairs bedroom window because he came back from a business trip in the middle of the night and didn't want to wake up his wife. But all the sugar-coating is understandable since Cobb's legacies are the lifebl_ood of little Royston.
Today we drove past one of the crossings of the Appalachian Trail. That is the 2,184 mile hiking trail that goes from Georgia to Maine. During late March and early April is when the hikers that intend to hike the whole trail are passing through Georgia. There were about 40 of them hanging out at the trail-head.
Tonight we are staying in Blue Ridge, Georgia. We are in the southern Appalachians now and just a stone's throw from both Tennessee and North Carolina.
April 5, 2012. Blue Ridge, Georgia~~By Erin
We didn't go anywhere today. Well, Mike did, but the rest of us didn't.
Mike left in his RV to go to Augusta, Georgia, to see the Masters Golf Tournament. We aren't going with him because Mike does not understand that tickets sold out a long time ago for that tournament. In fact, last night on the news we saw a story about a dog who ate a guy's Masters tickets and the guy had to plead with the Masters for replacements. I suppose Mike can get in if he pays enough money to a scalper. Good luck to him.
I know that Mike is paying our way on this trip but he is starting to be a drag. I like baseball but I don't want to spend my time going to a museum to see the false teeth of a deranged baseball player who died in the 1960s. And for sure that is the last thing that Shanti wants to see.
So, we all agreed that Shanti and I will take Mike's jeep and keep heading north while he goes to Augusta. Then when the tournament is done or he finds out he is wasting his time he will catch up with us. We are going into the Great Smoky Mountains and maybe meet some hillbillies.
April 7, 2012. Albany, Kentucky~~By Erin
Today we left Blue Ridge, Georgia, and went north on Highway 5 to the Tennessee state line; then north on Highway 68 to Crossville, Tennessee; then north on Highway 127 across the Kentucky state line to Albany, Kentucky.
Yesterday we didn't go anywhere. Instead, we got Mike's jeep fitted with a soft top. Things are kind of cramped in the jeep with Shanti, her baby, Tiger and myself. But at least we are not cramped by Mike. He really should have taken the jeep to the Masters Golf Tournament and left us with the RV...except that Shanti and I don't know how to drive one of those behemoths.
Today we took a leisurely drive across beautiful Tennessee going south to north and made it all the way to Kentucky. Perfect weather and all the trees and flowers are blooming. Most of the drive was on 2-lane roads.
We only go about 50 miles per hour – 55 max – because there is no purpose in hurrying. But there are always the locals or some tourist in a hurry who comes up real close and tailgates us so that we can't even pull over if we wanted to (and we do try to let everyone pass us). When I get tailgated I always tap my brakes and put on the emergency flashers just to tick the tailgater off. I used to give them the finger too, but I don't do that anymore because I don't want to incite road rage.
The locals really play up the tourists out here. They build these “rustic” cabins on mountain tops and advertise them on the highway billboards. We went up one of the mountains to see what the cabins looked like. There were five cabins all in a row and they couldn't have been more than 15 feet apart. The cabins had electricity, but it was easy to tell that they were built to look rustic on purpose – right down to the old rocking chairs on the front porch. They looked just like the cabins that Granny and Uncle Jed lived in before they struck oil and moved to Beverly Hills. The rent for one night at a cabin is $125. There were no vacancies either.
We had lunch at a little cafe out in the middle of nowhere. The owner – he said his name was Jethro - was quite a character. Jethro looked like your typical hillbilly. Actually he looked kind of scary, but he was friendly. Jethro's comedy routine is that he juggles and flips cups and saucers for tips. He is also a one-man band and makes music with just his body parts. Like farting with his arms and that kind of stuff. Funny thing is that most of the tourists don't even go to these local cafes. But the McDonalds and Hardees chains on the edge of town are jammed.
By the way, we know that Jethro is no real hillbilly and I'm sure that isn't his real name either. He's just playing off that stereotype for fun and to make a living. Anyway, we asked Jethro if there was still bootlegging and moonshining going on out in the Appalachians. He assured us that it was part of their heritage and would never die. No matter how hard the “feds” and “bible thumpers” try to make it “on us boys”.
Jethro told us about a Mr. Popcorn Sutton who lived out in these parts. Popcorn had been moonshining and bootlegging white lightning for over thirty years before he died in 2009. Here is a picture of Popcorn:
It seems that Popcorn was the Billy Carter of moonshiners: that is, playing up the part and cashing in on it. Popcorn wrote his famous book called “Me and My Likker” and several documentaries were done about him. Popcorn even ran a little gift shop out of a nearby cabin. The problem was that all of that caught the attention of the feds. In 2008 the government raided Popcorn's shed and a junk school bus on his property and arrested him after finding three 1,000 gallon stills, more than 800 gallons of moonshine and hundreds of gallons of sour mash. Just before Popcorn was to start his prison time he committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Now he is a legend. Here is a very funny and sad interview with Popcorn during his last days:
Tonight we are in tiny Albany Kentucky. It is five miles north of the Tennessee state line. Albany is in a 24/7 dry county and it was funny to see all the cars with Kentucky plates at a Tennessee border drive-thru liquor store. No doubt that half of those guys pop-a-top on their drive back to Albany. Thanks, bible thumpers!
We saw a man carrying a huge wooden cross all the way across town. Shanti asked him what he was doing and he said something about bearing the cross of the lord and Shanti told him to have a nice day. Some day her flippant remarks are going to get her into trouble.
We stopped in at the grocery store to buy a few things. The grocery clerk girl was so hot that I can't get her out of my mind. Quite young with long red hair and incredibly white teeth. Cute face and small breasts. When she dropped my avocado she told me in the deepest cute southern drawl that she was “always so clumsy”. She probably couldn't even begin to imagine my dirty fantasies about her.
April 8, 2012. Beattyville, Kentucky~~By Shanti
Today we left Albany, Kentucky, and went north on Highway 127; then east on Highway 90 to Somerset, Kentucky; then east on Highway 192 to London, Kentucky; then north on Highway 30 to Highway 11; then north on Highway 11 to Beattyville, Kentucky.
Today is Easter Sunday and it is time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. I'm not a Christian in the sense that I believe that Jesus is the only way to God. But I do believe that if we can ignore some his intolerant and trouble-making “followers”, then we have much to learn and celebrate about his teachings. Not the least of which is that Easter Sunday means (to me) the triumph of eternal life over death.
So, being that it is a day to celebrate, Erin and I started out, in the name of Jesus, with an extra long 69 session followed by some intense tribbing while we kissed and pressed our breasts together. Praise you, Jesus!
Usually, we search out local restaurants for our breakfast. But since it is Easter Sunday all of those restaurants in the tiny town where we stayed were closed. So we resorted to the McDonald's that was open. I hardly ever even go into McDonald's except to use their restroom. And I never eat their food and neither does Erin. So we settled for coffee.
We took our seats in a booth in the corner and sat next to each other. The booth right in front of us was occupied by two 30ish couples who were eating breakfast before heading off to church. The two men sat with their backs to us and the two women were facing us. They were praising the Lord and citing all kinds of Bible verses. Which, of course, is wonderful. But I just know that these “followers” of Jesus and his message of love would be abhorred if they knew that Erin and I have sex with each other.
The thought of doing something with Erin in front of those couples made me horny. Mostly because it is just not right. So I snuck my hand under Erin's shorts (she wasn't wearing panties) and started to softly rub her pussy lips and stimulate her clit. Erin then did the same to me down there and we were looking at the couples while we did this. There was no way that they could see us masturbating each other with the booth in the way but it was still hot.
After a few minutes we started pushing our fingers into each others' pussies because we both love finger fucking. Erin was using her index finger on me and I was putting both my middle and index finger into her. Every so often we would take our fingers out of each other and suck on them like we were sucking on a penis. We tried to get the attention of the couples while we did this but they were all caught up in their own rapture.
We kept going at it and had some really good cums. I wonder if those religious women in the next booth have ever had lesbian affairs. Probably not, but I'm sure that they masturbate - although they probably do it with shame. Before we left we decided to do a full mouth kiss and not stop until the women saw us. So we started kissing and it took only a few seconds before both women saw us kissing and practically had heart attacks. Then we got up and left.
We had a wonderful day traveling the Kentucky back roads. There must be so much history in these hills. Not in the sense of famous history (although we did drive past the stomping grounds of Daniel Boone), but personal history. We saw so many little cabins and shacks that have long been abandoned. Who lived there and what did they do and where are they and their descendents now? Here is one of those shacks:
The real little towns are different from the ones in the south and out west. Most of the Kentucky real little towns have no real downtown or town square. Mostly, these little towns are just clusters of houses with maybe one general store. And the bigger towns (population 10,000) are different too. Those towns are very ugly until you work your way into the center of them. They are ugly because they have miles and miles of strip malls which, I assume, are able to stay in business because that is where all the people from these really little towns with no stores go to shop.
Tonight we are staying in Beattyville, Kentucky. Its' population is only 1,100 but it does have a downtown. In October the town holds the very popular Woolley Worm Festival. Perhaps you've heard of it and probably you have not. Many valuable prizes are given away to those who can coax a worm to climb to the top of a string. Here is a picture of the worm which is actually a caterpillar:
This is Tiger. I think Shanti and Erin are going to hell for doing what they did at the McDonald's on Easter Sunday. Tiger.
April 9, 2012. Portsmouth, Ohio~~By Erin
Today we left Beattyville, Kentucky, and drove north on Highway 11 to Highway 77; then north on Highway 77 to Highway 460; then east on Highway 460 to West Liberty, Kentucky; then north on Highway 519 to Highway 7; then north on Highway 7 across the Ohio state line to Portsmouth, Ohio.
Each day has its' surprises. When we stopped at a small grocery store a couple of miles before we got to West Liberty, Kentucky, we should have suspected something. The grocery store was absolutely packed with people and there was a makeshift post office in the parking lot. After buying a few oranges we headed down the road to West Liberty.
The minute that we entered downtown West Liberty we realized that this town had been bombarded by a tornado. Every single building was practically demolished. It could just as easily been the work of a massive earthquake or bomb.
It turns out that just a little over a month ago a 150 miles-per-hour tornado ripped through downtown. Six people died and there were 75 injuries. It is amazing to me that there were not more injuries and deaths. Here is a picture of the tornado as it approached West Liberty:
The outskirts of West Liberty are somewhat intact but I don't know how this town can survive. Most of the residents have been evacuated to shelters. Now most of the people here are part of the clean-up and repair crew. Where there had once been over 100 businesses now there is just the Rite-Aid D_rug store that is open. That explains why the grocery store in the next town over was so crowded. Here's a picture that was taken the day after the tornado hit:
During our trip we have seen our share of forests leveled by tornadoes. But this is the first town that we've seen get hammered. Of course I've seen lots of pictures of towns hit by tornadoes. But I never felt the impact until I saw it in person. I got the feeling that everyone in West Liberty is still in shock about sucker punch that happened to them right out of the blue.
Tonight we are in Portsmouth, Ohio. It sits on the north bank of the Ohio River. Portsmouth is an old steel town. The population is 20,000 but it was 37,000 back in the 1950s before the steel mills started shutting down and industry when overseas. Portsmouth has a very high crime rate and many of its' residents are addicted to prescription dr_ugs – especially OxyContin which is also known here as “hillbilly heroin”. There was a major Hepatitis epidemic here in the 1990s. Here's a picture of the bridge leading into Portsmouth from Kentucky:
April 10, 2012. Glenville, West Virginia~~By Erin
Today we left Portsmouth, Ohio, and drove east on Highway 52 to Highway 140; then north on Highway 140 to Highway 93; then north on Highway 93 to Highway 233; then east on Highway 233 to Highway 141; then east on Highway 141 to Highway 7; then north on Highway 7 to Highway 35; then across the West Virginia state line to Highway 2; then east on Highway 2 to Highway 62; then east on Highway 62 to Highway 33; then east on Highway 33 to Glenville, West Virginia.
If you are traveling across the United States for adventure and not just to get from here to there, then the backroads are the way to go. But as you can see from the route description right above, it takes some planning and a close eye on the road map. We are usually good for several wrong turns during the day. Sometimes because we aren't paying attention and sometimes because the road signs are hidden or don't have enough detail. The two-lane roads are bumpier too. But it's the only way to go!
We really enjoyed our time along the Ohio River. From what I can tell from my map, the Ohio River starts near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and runs down to Missouri before it flows into the Mississippi River. It must be about a quarter of a mile wide and many classic old towns dot its' banks. Driving the course of the Ohio River is a road trip in itself. The towns along the waterways feel so different – the air is fresher and it is just a touch cooler.
Tonight we are staying in charming Glenville, West Virginia. It is a tiny town with a population of 1,500 and it is nestled in a valley along the banks of the Little Kanawha River. There is even a small college here called Glenville State College. There is a chill in the air and it is even snowing a little. I really like this place. One of my favorite night stops along with...I'm looking at my list of where we have stayed and there are so many nice stops but this is one of the best. Here is a picture of Glenville:
We are going to stay in Glenville until Mike gets back from the Masters Golf Tournament. He's taking the interstate so he should be here by tomorrow. Mike never was able to get a ticket to see the Masters (he didn't want to pay the $1,500 per round that the scalpers were asking) so he watched it on television. I told him he couldn't get a ticket and I told him over the cell that I hated to say that I told him so but I told him so. Seems that Mike also backed his RV into a light pole and broke his tail light so we'll have to get that fixed so that the police don't have a reason to pull us over.
At our motel here we made small talk with this 20ish year-old guy who is also staying at the motel. He's working in the coal mines somewhere around here. While we talked to him the topic of yoga came up because that is what Shanti likes to do. He pretended to be fascinated about yoga. But we know that was a lie because the only men who are into yoga are athletes who need to be flexible and guys who are into spiritual stuff and he wasn't one of those types. But we still invited him into our motel room so that Shanti could show him a few postures.
If someone is the pervert type (like us), then some of the yoga postures can be sexually suggestive. Shanti did some basic postures like the cobra, half shoulderstand, the bridge and she went through the Sun Salutation too. Then I wanted to do a little harmless cockteasing with the guy so I asked Shanti to get into the Plow Posture which is this:
While the guy watched Shanti maintain the Plow Posture I asked him if he knew what this position was good for. He said he knew exactly what it was good for. I kept asking him to tell me and he just said, “You know what it's good for.” Well, obviously it is a great sex position for fucking – including anal. But I told him that it was good for stimulating the abdominal organs, stretching the shoulders, relieving symptoms of menopause, reducing stress and that it was the****utic for headaches – among other things.
Right about then Shanti's baby started crying so we had to break it up and he left our room. It was only later that I realized that my strap-on was in plain view for him to see on our dresser. I wonder if he saw it.
April 12, 2012. Glenville, West Virginia~~By Mike
Well, I'm back from the Masters Golf Tournament. To tell the truth, my trip down there was a disaster. I probably should have spent the $1,000+ that the scalpers were asking to see a round of golf, but I decided, instead, to watch it in my motel room. Even then, the motel owners jacked up their prices to more than three times what they normally charge. Still, it was an experience to be in Augusta, Georgia during the Masters weekend. Kind of like a mini Marti Gras – for golfers.
I leave for just a couple of days and the little vixens and their mangy cat make it half way up to Canada. But now I'm back to slow them down. I spent all yesterday getting my RV tail light fixed after bumping into a light pole. Of course I had to pay a premium for the auto body shop to give my job a priority.
I must say that Erin and Shanti have found quite a town here. The population is only 1,500 but that doesn't include the 1,500 college students – most of whom are hot young girls in the teaching program. I saw a few of them yesterday and the word is that there is a lot of sex on campus and that there is some very eager pussy here. While checking out Glenville on the web I found this picture of a couple of the Glenville college girls (and below is the link to the site which appears to be that of a Glenville muckraker):
Erin and Shanti are hot to trot, but I wouldn't mind spending a few more days here to investigate further. But I've already slowed things down enough so we better be moving on.
Hey, Mike, this is Tiger. Don't call me mangy! If anyone is mangy it is you. Mangy Mike. How come you hit that light post? Did it move? Tiger
April 13, 2012 – Oakland Maryland~~By Shanti
Today we started in Glenville, West Virginia, and drove east on Highway 5 to Highway 19; then south on Highway 19 to Highway 15; then east on Highway 15 to Highway 219; then north on Highway 219 across the Maryland state line to Oakland, Maryland.
Another day in paradise. Driving through rural West Virginia is all about going up mountains and going down into valleys. In almost every valley there is a little town as old as dirt. Here is a picture of Webster Springs – a place that was famous in the late 1800s and early 1900s for its' salt sulfur springs. Ailing people from all over the world came here because of the supposed medicinal qualites of the its' waters:
Most of the rural highways run high along the ridges when they don't dip down into the valleys. The views are spectacular in all directions and I'm quite sure that we could see out 200 miles all around.
I can imagine how isolated these West Virginia towns must have been before the invention of the automobile. As a crow flies, they are not that far apart. Maybe 25 miles. But to walk or take or horse and buggy up and down those hills must have been a chore. Some of the old settlers way back then probably never traveled outside their county or maybe even their little town. They say that back in the day there was lots of inbreeding in this Appalachia country and I can understand why.
On some of the ridges in the eastern part of West Virginia there are giant windmills. They are part of some kind of experiment between the U.S. government and turbine manufacturers to improve windmill design. Here is a typical ridge that is full of them:
Pick your poison: coal or windmills. They are both here in West Virginia. The windmills look very freakish and they are creating lots of controversy too. Bird lovers (of whom I am one) are up in arms because massive amounts of birds are being killed by the turbines as they migrate over the ridge tops.
55 days on the road and counting. Our plan and Mike's budget calls for a 90 day trip. So if we only have 35 more days then I doubt that we will make it back to California – especially if we are allowed into Canada. Erin and I have pretty much decided that we are going to settle in the first nice little town that we come to when we get around the 90 day mark. I would be perfectly happy in about half the towns that we've stayed at and many others that we have passed through. Every place has its' own kind of magic.
April 14, 2012. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania~~By Erin
Today we started in Oakland, Maryland, and drove north across the Pennsylvania state line to Highway 653; then north on Highway 653 to Highway 281; then north on Highway 281 to Highway 30; then we detoured to the Flight 93 National Memorial and returned to Highway 30 and headed west to Highway 711; then north on Highway 711 to Highway 56; then west on Highway 56 to Highway 210; then north on Highway 210 to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Yikes! Crazy stuff keeps happening to Mike's RV. This afternoon we hit a deer. The collision shattered the upper left portion of the windshield, broke one of the front turn-light covers, ripped off the exterior driver-side rear view mirror and caused a massive dent around the driver-side door so that now the door can only open halfway. Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be any damage to the engine or alignment.
It wasn't Mike's fault. We came around a bend on a two lane road. All of a sudden we saw the deer. Everything happened so fast that we don't even remember if the deer was just standing in the middle of the road or was running across it. Anyway, the deer leaped up and bounced off the front windshield. After that, I looked in the my rear view mirror and saw the deer tumbling down the road. It seemed to be still alive, but I'm sure that it is dead now.
We don't know yet exactly what we are going to do about this. It will definitely take a few days to fix everything. We might not do anything unless the windshield shatter spreads so that it blocks our view and makes it a safety hazard. As it is, sooner or later we will probably get pulled over by a cop and be given a fix-it ticket.
This morning we detoured to the Flight 93 National Memorial just outside of Somerset, Pennsylvania. We didn't know that we were in the area until we saw a road sign about it. This is where one of the hijacked airplanes crashed during the September 11, 2001, al Queda terrorists attack.
For background, two of the hijacked planes crashed into the New York City World Trade Center. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon. The terrorists planned to crash Flight 93 into the U.S. Capitol with Congress in session. But with the hijackers just 18 minutes from the Capitol, the 33 passengers and seven flight crew members fought back against the hijackers. In the struggle Flight 93 crashed to the ground at a speed of more than 500 miles per hour at this remote site. All the passengers, crew and hijackers were instantly killed. Here is a picture of the crash on that terrible day. The speed of impact caused the plane to burrow into the ground.
Private and public funds were raised to construct the Flight 93 Memorial which is now managed by the National Park Service. A road several miles long now leads to the crash site. At the Memorial, there are several plaques describing the sequence of events and there are pictures of the deceased. There is also a row of tablets memorializing the brave passengers and flight crew. Here is a picture of the row of tablets:
Just beyond the tablets is a boulder that is right on top of the exact place where Flight 93 crashed. Only the f****y members have actual access to that boulder. The remains of the passengers and flight crew are still buried there. Here is a picture of the crash site. You can see the boulder in the upper-right corner.
Visiting the Flight 93 Memorial was an incredibly emotional and somber experience. There are no souvenir sales or other commercial activity at the memorial. It is all about the passengers and flight crew and their heroic service. There is a building where visitors can write messages to the heroes and leave mementos. Because the Flight 93 Memorial Site is out in the middle of nowhere I didn't think there would be many people there. But there were about 250 cars and this is more than 10 years after that horrific day.
Today we must have seen a dozen horse-drawn buggies driven by the Amish people. Back in the early 1800s many Amish emigrated to the United States. Today there are upwards of 200,000 Amish people in the United States – mostly in rural Pennsylvania. The Amish are known for their simple living, plain dress and reluctance to adopt to the conveniences of the modern world, including their non-use or very limited use of the automobile. The Amish are also known for their practice of pacifism and their independence from the non-Amish world.
Many of the roads that the Amish travel on are two-lane roads with no shoulder. So, it is share the road time. It is obvious from the way the Amish drive their horse-drawn buggies that they believe they have as much of a right to the road as the automobile. And of course they do. Unfortunately, it makes some drivers nuts and we saw several vehicles (mostly pick-up trucks driven by guys with small dicks) noisily speed around the buggies and then cut right in front of them. Aside from being disrespectful, that is dangerous because it can spook the horses. Here is a picture of one of the Amish buggies. Notice the caution sign in the back of it.
Tonight we are staying in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. This is the home of the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. Every February 2nd Phil goes outside before a gaggle of media to find out if he can see his shadow. If Phil can see his shadow, then that means 6 more weeks of winter.
We are staying in an old renovated hotel in the center of Punxsutawney and today we actually saw Phil. His home is a roomy glass-walled structure that is in the public library. His digs can also be seen from the street. Phil has a mate and both of them were sl_eeping when we saw them. Speaking of sl_eeping, Tiger was sl_eeping too so he hasn't seen Phil yet. In the morning Tiger wants to chat with Phil and see what's up.
April 16, 2012. Norwich, New York~~By Tiger
Erin tells me that yesterday we started in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and went north on Highway 119 to Highway 255; then north on Highway 255 to Highway 555; then east on Highway 555 to Highway 120; then north on Highway 120 to Highway 155; then north on Highway 155 to Highway 6; then east on Highway 6 to Highway 44; then east on Highway 44 to Highway 49; then east on Highway 49 to Highway 449; then north on Highway 449 to Highway 19 at the New York state line; then north on Highway 19 to Wellsville, New York.
Today we started in Wellsville, New York, and went east on Highway 417 to Highway 15; then north on Highway 15 to Interstate 86; then south on Interstate 86 to Highway 414; then east on Highway 414 to Highway 224; then south on Highway 224 to Highway 96; then south on Highway 96 to Highway 38; then north on Highway 38 to Highway 79; then east on Highway 79 to Highway 206; then east on Highway 206 to Highway 12; then north on Highway 12 to Norwich, New York.
This is Tiger. I've been pestering Erin to get Mangy Mike to drive to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, so that I could meet Punxsutawney Phil. He is the famous groundhog who comes out of his burrow every Groundhog Day on February 2nd and predicts when spring will come. Here's Phil:
We finally made it to Punxsutawney and early yesterday morning I walked over to the public library where his home is. It can also be seen from the street. Here's a picture of Phil's Burrow:
There's a window intercom and I pressed it with my paw so I could chat with Phil.
Tiger: Hey, Phil. Wake up. It's me, Tiger!
Phil: I thought I've seen it all in my 123 years. But this is the first time that I've seen a talking cat.
Tiger: I'm a reporter for xHamster and I'm your biggest fan. Please tell me the story of Groundhog Day.
Phil: Well, I'll tell you the true story. But first let me tell you about all the pomp because this town was built on it. Each Groundhog Day these weirdos wearing top hats and tuxedos - who call themselves “The Inner Circle” - take me a couple of miles out of town to this place called Gobbler's Knob.
Tiger: You're right. The Inner Circle does look weird. You're the only normal looking one in the bunch.
Phil: Anyway, the media and my thousands of followers from all over the world come with them. They put me in this phoney burrow and wait for me to come out. If they can't see my shadow then they announce that it will be an early spring. Then they bring me back to the public library and go count all the money that they have made off of me. Here's a picture of the phoney burrow and a youtube clip of this year's chicanery:
Tiger: But can you predict the weather?
Phil: Hell no. Who can predict the weather? According to the StormFax Weather Almanac “my” Groundhog Day predictions have only been right 39% of the time. You could do better by flipping a coin. The Inner Circle says I reveal my prognostication to them in the secret language of groundhogese that only they can understand. But nothing like that happens. It's a hoax, a charade, a ruse, a scam.
Tiger: So it is just a flimflam to draw tourists...
Phil: Exactly! That's all it is. Half the businesses in town have my name in them. There are statutes of me all over the place. The Chamber of Commerce is nothing more that a Punxsutawney Phil souvenir shop. The local paper even uses me on their masthead...
Tiger: Not only that. People who use the McDonald's drive-thru talk to a carving of you when they give their food order.
Phil: Oh my god...
Tiger: So what's in it for you? Wouldn't you rather be out in the wild instead of being gawked at all the time?
Phil: Ah, now that's a good question. What's in it for me is the magic elixir that The Inner Circle gives me. It is the only thing about this whole hustle that is real. Most people don't think I'm 123 years old because groundhogs only live for around 7 years. But The Inner Circle makes me this elixir and each sip prolongs my life another 7 years. Without that, I would be long gone by now.
Tiger: I bet you're like me and like all the attention. Don't you?
Phil: I do. They even made a movie about me with Bill Murray in it that's called Groundhog Day. They flew me out to New York City in 1995 to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I hear that is why Oprah likes Dr. Phil so much. My fans have even tried to draft me for President:
Tiger: I'd vote for you. After 123 years you must have a lot of offspring...
Phil: I have no offspring. Not many potential groundhog mates come into the public library. Hey, you said you were writing a story for xhamster. You know any horny hamsters?
Tiger: No, but I know lots of horny xhamsters. They'll have sex with just about anything that breathes.
Phil: Well good. Let them know that they can find me at the Punxsutawney Public Library. Maybe me and them hamsters will put on a show for all the gawkers here.
Tiger: I'll do that. But they are not the kind of hamsters that you have in mind.
Phil: Want to hear a good Groundhog Day joke?
Phil: Why did CBS pull the plug on Charlie Sheen's show “Two and a Half Men”?
Tiger: Because the show is only about sex and that's boring.
Phil: Wrong, Tiger. CBS pulled it because on Groundhog Day, Charlie saw his dealer which meant 6 more weeks of hookers and pornstars!
Phil: Get it?
Tiger: No, but then there are lots of things that I don't get about Charlie Sheen.
Phil: You want to munch on some dandelion greens with me?
Tiger: I don't think so. Erin is making me a salmon smoothie and if I mix it with dandelion greens then I'll get the runs. Speaking of which, I have to run. It's been an honor and thrill to meet and chat with you.
Phil: Likewise. And I'm glad to get the truth out. This Groundhog Day stuff is one more money making publicity stunt that those humans think up.
April 17, 2012. Norwich, New York~~By Erin
We didn't go anywhere today. First thing in the morning, when we stepped outside we saw that Mike had a flat tire.
So we called Triple A and they put on Mike's spare. Then we went to that Triple A guy's auto shop to get the flat tire repaired. There was a huge 2 inch nail that was flush in the tire so that was the problem.
The auto shop also does body work so Mike asked for an estimate for all the damage caused to his RV by hitting the deer the other day. The damage is $1,700, most of which would be picked up by his insurance. But it would also take about a week to order the parts and do the repairs.
Mike is mulling it over but he thinks he wants to get the repairs done. Otherwise we might not be able to get into Canada and who wants to ride around in a trashy RV anyway. We have our standards...LOL.
If Mike goes ahead with the repairs then I think we are going to make a quick trip up to Maine while the parts are on order because Mike has some type of important paperwork waiting for him up there. Then we will come back to Norwich and wait out the repairs.
Just a short entry today, but wanted to say something. Back on the road today. Going to drive through the Adirondack Mountains. It should be beautiful.
April 19, 2012. Cooperstown, New York~~By Mike
Today we started in Norwich, New York, and drove east on Highway 23 to Highway 51; then north on Highway 51 to Highway 80; then east on Highway 80 to Cooperstown, New York.
Being a big baseball fan, I've charted out Cooperstown on the map for quite some time because it is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum. Erin is a big baseball fan too so she joined me. Shanti, not so much, so she spent the day in the RV parked in a shady spot and babysat her daughter and Tiger.
There is just too much to see in this museum in just one day. There are 3 floors of incredible displays. Really, all we had time to do in our 7 hours there was browse through all the exhibits. Fortunately, with it being a weekday and school still in session it wasn't very crowded. The cost is a bargain for all that was there - $17.50 a person. You can pay $40 and go as many times as you want during the year, which is what I would do if I lived near Cooperstown. For all the items that are on the 3 floors there is twice as much in the basement and they rotate their collection to keep things fresh.
About the only criticism that I had was it was a little dark in there. Perhaps it is that way because too much light would destroy some of the items. One thing did get on my nerves, but it had nothing to do with the museum display. It was that so many of the visitors were just going from exhibit to exhibit and quickly taking pictures with their cell phone cameras of every little item. They were like busy bees pollinating all the trees.
There were all kinds of bats, hats, balls, shoes, uniforms that were part of famous games or famous players. Really, you've seen one ball and you've seen them all. But seeing a particular ball – like for example the ball that Joe Carter hit for a home run to win the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays over the Phillies – and then connecting it with what I was doing at that moment was very satisfying.
The most incredible exhibit that I saw were these 2 wood carvings of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. The picture doesn't really do the carvings justice. I could actually see the beard stubble and both carvings are all wood. Not a bit of plastic or clothing or anything else:
Just as Erin and I were about to leave, it occurred to us that we had not seen any mention or display whatsoever about Barry Bonds. After all, he has hit more home runs than anyone in the history of the game so we thought that was odd. Of course he's an arrogant asshole and a cheater besides – having ingested steroids to accomplish his feat.
We hunted down a guide and he pointed us to a corner of the third floor where home run ball #756 is located (that's the home run where Bonds passed Hank Aaron). That ball was caught by a fan and auctioned off for $750,000. The purchaser set up a website to ask fans what they wanted him to do with the ball: (1) display it in Cooperstown unblemished, (2) shoot it off into outer space or (3) make an asterisk on it to symbolize the extenuating circumstances surrounding the record and display it in Cooperstown. The fans voted for the asterisk so that is what he did and here is the ball:
Next to the ball is a little write-up about how all of Barry Bonds' records are suspect. Kind of the like the Hall of Fame is giving the finger to Bonds like he has done to the Hall of Fame by hoarding all of his memorabilia and not donating any of it to the Museum like almost all of the other baseball players or their heirs have done.
Outside the museum were row upon row off baseball stores offering souvenirs and collectibles.
There were many good restaurants too with lots of good baseball food like hot dogs and beer. The place is a mecca for baseball fans and I could easily spend a week in Cooperstown and just tap the surface of all there is to see.
April 20, 2012. Johnstown, New York~~By Shanti
Today we started in Cooperstown, New York, and went north on Highway 80 to I-90; then east on I-90 to Highway 10; then north on Highway 10 to Highway 67; then east on Highway 67 to Johnstown, New York.
Over breakfast in Cooperstown we hashed out our travel plans and issues. First off, we all agreed that we don't want to get Mike's RV fixed. We don't want to return to Norwich, New York, and wait the minimum 6 days for the RV to be ready. Also, who is to say that we wouldn't run into another deer or get the windshield shattered again by a hail shower.
We also decided to extend our road trip. Originally, it was going to be for 90 days and we are already into it for 62 days. Now we want to go on for another 90 days so that will make it 152 days when we are finished.
Believe it or not, it takes about 60 days to really figure out what works and what does not work. And it takes awhile to roll with what comes our way and resist the urge to make to many plans. One thing we all want to do is to spend more time camping. The unpacking and packing from the motels is getting old and it is a waste of money too. We would much rather eat a “home cooked” meal or fry some fish around the campfire and under the stars than eat the so-so food that many restaurants serve. And we also want to wake up to the birds singing instead of the cars zipping by. We're seeing lots of state park and national forest campgrounds that only charge maybe $10 a night – if that. Or we can just drive up some dirt road and camp for free.
We're also finding wi-fi hot spots quite available. Even in these small towns there are coffee houses and libraries have them now. Now we can keep up this blog on a regular basis over a cup of hot coffee.
Most important we all have our issues that we want to work out during this trip. Well I don't have any big issues, but I enjoy this kind of travel and I won't be able to do it when my baby daughter gets just a little older. Erin is pondering her next adventure after this trip and she really has no idea. Overseas? Backpacking? Living with me? Going to college? Mike's in a mid-life crisis that doesn't seem to be ebbing. But he knows he can't stay still. Tiger? Beyond what he tells us, who knows what is going on in his little head except that he seems quite happy on this trip and he adjusts well to all the new surroundings. We all respect and love him as a fellow Being.
Tonight we are staying at the southern edge of the Adirondack Mountains in Johnstown, New York. It is a little hilly and looks abit like a mini-San Francisco.
By tomorrow or the next day we'll probably be in New England. We're really exciting about tooling around all the small towns up here and exploring all those lakes in upper Maine.
April 22, 2012. Bakers Mills, New York~~By Erin
Yesterday we left Johnstown, New York, and drove north on Highway 30A to Highway 30; then north on Highway 30 to Highway 8; then north on Highway 8 to a county road just south of Bakers Mills, New York; then south several miles to a campground.
Yesterday we drove across some of the southeast portion of the Adirondack Mountains. It was beautiful in the morning, but the weather deteriorated and by dusk it was drizzling and the wind was starting to blow. It seems that some storms with maybe some snow are moving in.
Last night we had our first camp-out since our first few days in California. We drove down one of the side roads for several miles and found a campground that used to be run by the State of New York but hasn't been maintained for several years. Still, there were picnic tables and fire rings and it was free so we decided to camp there.
We didn't think anybody else was there, but we were wrong. Turns out that this authentic wild man named Arsen is staying up there. Arsen is originally from the country of Georgia (the country that is in eastern Europe and used to be part of the U.S.S.R. - not the state of Georgia in the U.S.) He is 23 years old and we found him while he was throwing rocks at a squirrel so he could kill it and eat it.
Arsen speaks very broken English with a thick accent, but we could understand him. Seems that his parents and him came over from the mostly undeveloped part of Georgia a couple of years ago and settled in New York City. Arsen likes the wilderness better so that is why he is out in the campground.
Arsen doesn't have a vehicle. Just a big tent and two boxes of canned food that someone brought up there for him. Mostly, the canned food is Chef Boyardee Ravioli and green beans. He's only been up at the campground for about a month and I don't know how much longer he can survive. He is reckless with the way he wades in the water and he is going to kill himself if he doesn't starve first.
We invited Arsen over for dinner and we cooked up some shark steak fillets that we bought at a grocery store in Johnstown. Arsen insisted on melting some of our mozzarella cheese over his fillet so we said “what the hey”. Arsen ate it like a total an_imal. No fork or anything. Then he shook in delight, wiped his mouth with his hand and said it was very good. Then Mike cracked open some Budweisers for Arsen to wash his meal down with.
I will say that Arsen knows how to build a great campfire. There was plenty of wood around. From twigs to big logs. And even though the wood was damp, Arsen started out with a few twigs and within maybe one hour we practically had a bonfire going. After a couple of hours we left Arsen with a 12-pack and we retired to the RV. All through the night we heard Arsen singing and talking to himself in Georgian (I guess) and having a good time.
This morning before the break of dawn we hit the road again. Before we left the campground we noticed that Arsen was totally out cold and sl_eeping in his sl_eeping bag by the fire that was still burning. We left him two more 12-packs of Bud, a jar of pickled herrings and a big bag of granola. Now we are eating breakfast at a touristy little cafe in Johnsburg, New York. Normally, it would be a little dicey being on xHamster in a public place like this, but I have one of those privacy screens.
April 23, 2012. Whitehall, New York~~By Erin
Yesterday we started near Bakers Mill, New York, and drove east on Highway 8 to Highway 9N; then north on Highway 9N to Highway 22; then south on Highway 22 to Whitehall, New York.
The Adirondack Mountains are so wonderful. We were always just a stone's throw away from water – whether it was a creek, a river or one of the huge lakes. We passed over the Hudson River. I know the Hudson is kind of polluted by the time it reaches New York City, but up where we are it looks very drinkable. It's quiet up here too. All along this road trip we've been several steps ahead of the tourist crowd.
We drove by two amazing resort towns. One is named Brant Lake and the other is named Hague. Both towns seem to surround a lake and are dotted with incredible homes that are sometimes just ten feet from the shoreline. We saw one house that actually seems to be built out on a pier. At first we thought it was a houseboat. Here's a picture of Brant Lake:
Here is a picture of Hague which sits along the shoreline of George Lake:
I think that these are mostly summer homes and weekend retreats for the well-heeled New Yorkers, New Englanders and others from around the United States. Many of the homes are practically mansions. As I said, we are ahead of the tourists and most of the motels and restaurants are still closed. But they will be crawling with vacationers in a couple of months and with k**s at their summer camps.
At a roadside rest stop today we ran into an interesting fellow. He is 49 years old and doing pretty much what we are doing. Just traveling around. But his story is a bit more complicated.
In his former life he was married without k_ids and living in Denver, Colorado. He was some type of mining engineer. When he was 40 he grew tired of his career but even more tired of his humdrum married life. So, he just took off. He left a note so his wife wouldn't think something harmful happened to him. The note just said something along the lines of “I'm leaving our marriage.”
Before he exited he put the the entire house in his wife's name and changed all the bank accounts so that she had almost all the money. He changed the title on the car too. Seems that he had done quite well in his career because he left about $900,000 to her and kept about $100,000. That is more than the wife would get in a divorce. He had brought up the idea of a divorce with her but she wasn't receptive to it and he didn't want to go through the drama. So he just took off.
He's not hiding or on the run or anything. I can't think of anything from a legal point of view that he actually did wrong. He changed his phone number and isn't online or anything, but I'm sure that his wife could track him down if she wanted to. But he hasn't heard a word. He says he can always go back to work when his money runs out and he says he has no regrets.
This guy was well-spoken and he talked a little about what he did as a mining engineer and Mike thinks that he's on the level. Good luck, fellow traveler.
Late in the day we were about to cross over into Vermont using the Ticonderoga Ferry over Lake Champlain. Here is a picture of where we were going to cross:
But due to the bad weather it was closed so we had to drive 25 miles south to Whitehall, New York, where there is a way around the water. Now we are maybe 2 miles from Vermont. It's cold and rainy and we might get some snow going across the Green Mountains National Forest. Can't wait!
April 24, 2012. Moultonborough, New Hampshire~~By Shanti
Today we started in Whitehall, New York, and drove east on Highway 4 across the Vermont state line to Highway 22A; then north on Highway 22A to Highway 73; then east on Highway 73 to Highway 100; then south on Highway 100 to Highway 107; then east on Highway 107 to I-89; then south on I-89 to Highway 132; then east on Highway 132 across the New Hampshire state line to Highway 10; then south on Highway 10 to Highway 4; then east on Highway 4 to Highway 104; then east on Highway 104 to Highway 25; then east on Highway 25 to Moultonborough, New Hampshire.
Today I learned that Buffalo died. He is the father of my daughter.
It is stunning to realize that Buffalo is gone. I lived with Buffalo for three years; the first two were wonderful. For two years, we were lovers, housemates, best friends, cheering sections, roommates, emotional support. The last year wasn't very good and I always felt that, some day, we'd be able to sit down and talk. Never happened.
Buffalo was one of the most important people in my life. He was to many, even to me, a pain in the ass. He was also caring, vibrant, passionate, fun, enthusiastic and smart. He was a determined political activist and often let things go for other things, but what he wasn't was a humorless political activist. He was warm, and caring, and loving and determined. And yes, stubborn, and hard-line and frustrating. Things MATTERED to him.
We went out to brunch just about every Sunday. We debated whether it was "rabbit, rabbit" or "white rabbit" that you said on the first of the month for good luck. He brushed my hair for me. I remember his orange jumpsuit fashion twirl after one of the our political actions; I went to see him and there he was, all decked out. Adorable. Oy vey. I still see Buffalo, long hair, oversized jumpsuit, big smile, in the crowd of men, signing "I love you" to me, twirling around to show me his stylish outfit. Happy as hell.
Somehow Buffalo and I ended up together, and in love. The first night that we slept together was in the choir loft of a church, in Annapolis or somewhere, and he brought me a mocha the next morning. Then we came back to Eugene and he moved in with me. Buffalo was the guy who believed in me more, up to that point, than anyone in my life in so many ways. He believed I could do anything, more, in fact, than I thought that I could. His belief in me did cause me to risk things, to try things I never had before.
When the news of his death came, it was breath-takingly, numbingly stunningly bad. Unfair, way too early, ridiculous and just flat out fucking wrong. Buffalo was 26. He risked so much, over and over for what he believed in. He let very little stop him when he believed in something. And for a time, he believed in me. Over and over he would tell me that what I did was great.
Buffalo also preached about past lives and horoscopes and it drove me eye-rollingly mad. He built me my first garden - literally built it out of the tables in the yard and scrap lumber and we had a blast. He grew up poor and he had a hill accent that cracked me up. One of my favorite memories was the one when one time we had a flat tire and he asked me to get the "tar arn". He kept telling me that until he finally got up, went to the trunk and fetched the "tire iron". I didn't always understand what he was saying, but I stopped correcting him long ago because it was condescending. Everyone understood him and he was fine thanks.
Buffalo wore his hair long - I loved that, loved having a lover with long hair. Early on in our relationship, I got ticked off at him and stormed out of the apartment only to find him racing after me, barefoot, to make sure I didn't drive away mad. He didn't want that, he wanted to fix things. I'd never known anyone who thought that way, and I loved him for it. And we fixed it.
I never idealized Buffalo, but he was unique in my life. He was courageous and stood up for things and for people and did things no one else would, because it was the right thing to do.
Sure, Buffalo was a pain sometimes, but he deeply cared too. And I loved him. It's not right that he's gone.
April 25, 2012 – Norway, Maine~~By Erin
Yesterday we started in Moultonborough, New Hampshire, and drove east on Highway 25 to Highway 113; then east on Highway 113 to Highway 302 across the Maine state line to Highway 117; then north on Highway 117 to Norway, Maine.
Our drive through Vermont and New Hampshire was incredible. Water everywhere. Lakes, creeks, rivers...If you ever want to just call “time-out” for a year or two, then come up here. Rent an apartment or little house in a small town for $500 a month and just chill.
We make it a point to take several short hikes each day along the roadside trails. Usually, it is humping the hill – as I like to call it – and it's great cardio exercise. I came upon a frog pond today at one of our trailheads. It was full of Spring Peepers frogs. Here's a picture of one of them:
I have a frog net and I caught several of them just by swiping my net through the water. After investigating them for a while and getting them to blow up I let them go.
So here we are in Maine. From coast to coast via the Deep South. Except for the language and our Constitution nobody is going to tell me that this is just one country. California, the southwest, the Native American Nations, Texas, the Deep South, Appalachia, New England...all of these areas are completely different. Not just the landscape, but the people. Probably more different than each country in Europe is to each other.
Tonight we are staying in Norway, Maine. It's just a little place of 4,600 people. We've rented out a cabin along the shore of Lake Pennesseewassee. Here is a picture of our digs at $100 a night (it goes for $200 a night during the summer).
Mike's RV is in the auto body shop right now getting fixed. He's just fixing the windshield, mirror and light cover so that it can pass a safety inspection at the Canadian border. The weather is beautiful and life is good.
This is Tiger. I wish Erin had kept some of those frogs for me to paw around with. I think that my claws could pop their bubble.
April 26, 2012. Norway, Maine~~By Erin
We haven't gone anywhere for a couple of days. Just waiting for Mike's RV to get fixed. He finally got it back this afternoon and it looks great. Well, not as good as new because we didn't get the front fender replaced. But the auto guy did a real good job of banging it back into shape. Now we just have to steer clear of all the moose that are up here. We'll be sure to see some because we're going into the remote parts of Maine and Canada.
Staying at this cabin along the shore of Lake Pennesseewassee has been outstanding. We have total privacy – both around the house and out on the deck. The weather has been beautiful too except for just the last couple of hours when it has started to rain. All of us have been pretty much sans the clothes and Mike has been getting an eye full.
Lots of girl sex between Shanti and me. Licking pussy, breast play, kissing, sexual massage and some strap-on fucking too. Shanti is the best when she has anal sex with me like that. She's not too rough and not too gentle. Just right and very dirty.
We let Mike watch us and he spent almost the whole last couple of days with a beer in one hand and his little cock in his other hand. We let him cum on us too. Just as long as he didn't cum in our mouths or right on our pussy lips. Then we jumped in the lake and washed off. I think that he came on us 7 times. That should take care of him for awhile.
Tiger has been very busy with his favorite activity which is sl_eeping.
Tiger is getting close to 12 years old and he thinks his days are numbered. He is beginning to write his memoirs. His triumphs, tragedies, moments of glory and regrets.
April 28, 2012. Rockland, Maine~~By Shanti
Yesterday we started in Norway, Maine, and drove south on Highway 26 to Highway 121; then east on Highway 121 to I-95; then north on I-95 to Highway 196; then east on Highway 196 to Highway 1; then east on Highway 1 to Rockland, Maine, with detours south on Highway 127, Highway 27 and Highway 129 to the Atlantic Ocean.
After a morning of working our way through the semi-metro area of Lewiston, Maine, we finally came to Highway 1, which skirts the Atlantic Ocean coast for a couple of hundred miles. There are smaller state highways off of Highway 1 that go south right to the ocean and small fishing villages. We took several of those roads to get to the heart of the coastal Maine.
The first road took us to Reid State Park and we got our first view of the Atlantic Ocean and its' rocky shore.
The park was practically deserted and we walked for a mile back and forth along a sandy stretch of beach. The only others on the beach were a group of lucky elementary school k_ids out on a field trip. They were building a hut out of driftwood and seaweed.
I love everything about the ocean: the fresh sea air, the way the waves roll and the sound as they crash against the rocks, the salt water, the seaweed, the sea gulls. It is always a mind bender to look out to the horizon and see nothing except water. A challenge to our finite-trained minds. It was a little chilly, but not too cold and we cooked up some New England Clam Chowder for lunch.
The other roads that we took lead us to harbors and old time fishing villages with names like Boothbay and South Bristol. Here's a picture of Boothbay where there is going to be the annual Fishermen's Festival this weekend:
The town is a little touristy in summer. But it was quiet yesterday with mostly just the locals out and about. And it's a authentic fishing village. We saw several of those crusty old Maine fisherman harvesting their lobsters and clams. These are the places to come for the best seafood. It's fresh and reasonably priced. We had a second lunch at one of the restaurants. I had lobster meat on a caesar salad and Erin had a lobster roll.
Speaking of lobsters, that is what this part of Maine is all about. Well, at least as far as food goes. There are the old lighthouses and beautiful handcrafts too. Where most towns are loaded with convenience stores, this area is loaded with lobster stores. These stores sell everything from lobster dolls to lobster portraits to lobster sauce to grilled, boiled and live lobsters. There are even lobster statutes out in front of these stores.
Tonight we are staying in Rockland, Maine. It also an old fishing village right off the Atlantic Ocean. Here is a picture of its' downtown:
The motel that we are staying in cannot be topped. It is just outside of town and it sits right at the shore of little Glen Cove and Penobscot Bay. The rooms are great with all of the modern amenities and electric fireplaces. But best of all is the view out our private balcony looking east across the cove and bay.
Right now it is 3:00 in the morning and I have a front row seat for the sunrise. Up to now I've only seen sunsets across the Pacific Ocean so this morning's sunrise will be very exciting.
April 29, 2012. Stonington, Maine~~By Erin
Today we left Rockland, Maine, and drove east on Highway 1 to Highway 15; then south on Highway 15 to Stonington, Maine.
Yesterday we drove out to the islands off the coast of Maine and ended up spending the night on Deer Isle in the little fishing village of Stonington. We arrived at Stonington before noon and had no plans to stop. But it is so beautiful and so secluded and so quiet that we couldn't resist. We found a great little motel that is right on Main Street at $48 a night so we checked in and started exploring.
Deer Isle is one of the places that John Steinbeck visited and wrote about in his book called Travels With Charley. That's the book where he travels around the United States in his makeshift camper with his French standard poodle named Charley. Steinbeck's publisher had suggested that he drop by and he feel in love with this place. I can see why. It is way off the beaten path and not nearly as popular as Bar Harbor, Maine, which is 10 miles east as the crow flies. But Deer Isle and Stonington are where a good portion of the Maine lobsters are caught and it is gorgeous. Here's a picture of the bridge connecting Deer Isle with the mainland. It was built in 1939 and before that the only way to get to the island was by ferry.
The tourist season - or what there is of it - doesn't begin for another month and it was super quiet.
Only about a dozen cars drove through Main Street each hour. The lobster fishermen were not on their boats either as it was breezy and, from what I'm told, that's not good lobster catching weather. Here's a picture of the Stonington harbor:
Deer Isle has a real nice mixture of native fishermen and creative people that have come here from all over the United States. There are lots of galleries and many writers live here. Also, lots of fishermen moved out several years ago when some of the urban people from places like Boston and New York offered them zillions of dollars for their homes. Now many of those homes are vacant – even during summer – because those urbanites got caught up in the hard times and can't afford to come up here and while away the summer. Also, the property taxes are really high. One native that I talked to bought his home in the 1950s for $10,000 and now pays that amount each year in taxes. Some of the transplanted urbanites are paying $70,000 a year.
For dinner we purchased some fresh lobster at the local lobster co-op and the owner of our motel cooked it and brought it to our room at a very modest charge. After dinner we took in the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen that is playing this weekend at the historical opera house. It's a 2011 movie about a sheik who wants to bring fly-fishing to Yemen and a fisherman who helps him. Needless to say, it's a movie about the power of faith. The opera house was packed. Here's a picture of the opera house which also hosts live performances:
I know that someone can't get the real essence of this village by poking around for a day or a week. But I would love to spend a winter here and just soak it up. From what I've been told, there are plenty of those houses that rent out at very reasonable prices so I might be back here. Well, it only 5 o'clock in the morning. But the sun rises early way out here in the east so I want to make a cup of hot coffee and go out to the harbor to watch the sunrise and the seagulls.
April 30, 2012. Calais, Maine~~By Shanti
Yesterday we started in Stonington, Maine, and drove north on Highway 15 to Highway 1; then east on Highway 1 to Highway 3; then south on Highway 3 through Arcadia National Park and then back north to Highway 1; then east to Calais, Maine.
Yesterday we visited Arcadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine. This area is probably the main “playground” of Maine. It is off-season and Arcadia National Park was very quiet. We took the loop road around the park. Mostly, the park is a mountainous place surrounded by vast bays and rocky shores. It was beautiful, but we miss going through the little towns along our drive.
The gateway town to Arcadia National Park is Bar Harbor, Maine. For such a small town in population (5,200), it has so many motels. Large ones too. Most of them are closed until the tourist season begins in a couple of weeks. Seriously, there must be 5,000 motel rooms in Bar Harbor. I just can't imagine how crowded it must get from Memorial Day to Labor Day. President Obama and his fam_ily vacationed here a year or two back. But leave me out of all of that. I want to be one of the only tourists in town, not surrounded by them.
I love Maine. Like Erin wrote yesterday, it is a wonderful mix of native Mainers and people coming here from the rest of the United States. I've heard that Maine people don't like to talk to strangers. I didn't find that to be true at all. Everyone has been so friendly in a kind of low-key way. And nobody is trying to “rain on anybody's parade” like in some other states.
I'm inspired by all of the creativity in Maine. Hand crafts, poets, painters, sculptors and writers are everywhere. It seems that some have made their money and come here to get in touch and develop that other part of themselves. Some never wanted any part of the urban “rat race” and have relocated here. I don't want to be part of the “rat race” either. Besides being stressful, I think it is a big bore and a waste of time. I know that some money is necessary. But the question is, how much?
Maine feels distinct from the rest of New England. It is hard for me to put a finger on why, but it just feels separate. The accent of the native Mainers is very appealing to me. It almost sounds English as in British. We were talking to a girl at a Stonington deli the other day and it was memorizing to listen to the words roll off her tongue. A very thick accent and very beautiful. All and all, Maine has been my favorite state so far on this trip.
Now we are in Calais, Maine. The beautiful St. Croix River runs through this town and separates it from the Canadian province of New Brunswick, where we can almost swim to from our motel room. Here's a picture of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, from Calais:
Today we'll try to cross the Canadian border. The only reason we might be denied is because of a DUI that Mike got some 15 years ago. From our research, if it happened more than 10 years ago and all of the terms of the sentence have been fulfilled, then it shouldn't be a problem. That's the case, but Mike doesn't have documentation of that with him. If they don't let us through, then we'll try a couple of other crossing later. It pretty much comes down to what customs official happens to “greet” us. We can live with whatever happens. As the song sings:
Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.
May 1, 2012. Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada~~By Mike
Yesterday we started in Calais, Maine, and drove across the border into Canada; then north on Highway 3 to Highway 8; then north on Highway 8 to Miramichi, New Brunswick.
We made it into Canada. But the episode at the border was nerve-wracking – at least for me.
The customs official in the booth asked us the standard questions such as where we were going, how long we planned to be in Canada, what was in our vehicles and so on. Then he asked us to park and go inside the office.
Inside the office was a female custom official and she was hot. Maybe 25 years old, about 5 foot 10, medium length black hair, cute face, nice slim figure. Anyway, she asked us some more standard questions including whether I have a criminal record. I told her about my DUI from over 10 years ago. She got on the F.B.I. data base and sure enough it turned up. Along with some minor offense from 1981 when I slept in a campground without paying. Still, all of that turned out to be no problem.
Then the woman custom official and another male customs official searched the RV and jeep while we waited inside the office. That took around 30 minutes. They searched the vehicles quite thoroughly, but they didn't remove any car parts and they didn't use any dogs. I could have easily hidden some contraband in the fender or in the compartment used to store the spare tire and they wouldn't have found it.
Then the woman asked me to get my laptop, turn it on and enter my password so she could search it. This was something that was totally unexpected. What was she looking for? Something to suggest that I was a terrorist? Something that contradicted my earlier answers to her questions? Ch_ild porn?
Anyway, I did what she asked me to do and then she took my laptop into a backroom and searched it. She was gone for 1.5 hours. The only thing on my computer that she could find objectionable would be all of my porn vids and pics. But fortunately, I had encrypted all of my files (porn and otherwise) and I was – and am – confident that she couldn't break through the encryption.
Still, she was back there doing something with my computer. As I waited it occurred to me that she could still see all my Chrome porn bookmarks (one of which is a link to this blog) and my download folder that contained a good number of xHamster vids and pics. I would have cleaned all that up if I thought my laptop would be searched. But, like I said, it never occurred to me.
So, I'm looking around their office and I see all these anti-ch_ild porn posters saying how merciless Canada is with ch_ild pornsters. Nothing on my computer – to my knowledge – is any of that. But, governments have been known to prosecute if something looks like ch_ild porn. I was sure she was going to tell me to leave Canada just for being a pervert. But my real concern was that she was going to get law enf_orcement involved. Somewhat comforting was another woman at the counter who told me that these searches were standard for someone like me who had not been in Canada for a number of years – in my case since 1993.
Finally, the woman came out of the backroom. We exchanged an awkward glance and she told me that we were good to go into Canada. What could she have been looking at for 1.5 hours if she couldn't access my files? Probably she was looking at the porn vids that she could find in my download files while she rubbed one out. I later learned that she had also turned on my cell phone and checked my messages. But she missed my external drive that was tucked away with my clothes. That's the drive that has my extensive porn collection. If she had asked me to un-encrypt that drive, then I would have refused and she would have turned us away.
I guess the lesson here is to make sure that your laptop is totally clean before crossing over in Canada. I'm sure that the U.S. officials check the Canadians also.
Now we are in Miramichi, New Brunswick, which lies near the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
We are in our fourth time zone – the Atlantic time zone which is one hour before the eastern U.S. time zone. We're getting way out there. And we still have a ways to go. Especially in the next few days. In a way what I'm doing is reckless and stupid. The kind of thing that I did in my early 20s. If the girls weren't with me and encouraging me onward I probably would have turned around way back in Utah
May 2, 2012. Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada~~By Erin
Yesterday we started in Miramichi, New Brunswick, and drove north on Highway 11 to Highway 113; then east on Highway 113 to Miscou Point and then back to Highway 11 and west to Bathurst, New Brunswick; then west on Highway 134 to Campbellton, New Brunswick.
For most of the day we traveled northeast along the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Our drive took us to Miscou Island and Miscou Point, which got us out there pretty far into the northeast reaches of the North American Continent. To get there we took potholed Highway 113 until it ended at the Phare De Lile Miscou Island Lighthouse.
This lighthouse was built in 1858 and it is one of the oldest lighthouses along the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
There was nobody else out there and we walked along a beach that was full of clam shells and an occasional lobster trap. Lobster-fishing boats were trolling through the waters. Looking east it was like looking out into the ocean. Looking north over the great Claleur Bay were the mountains of Quebec. There was lots of driftwood so we built a fire and fried some fresh salmon. There were still a few patches of snow on the ground.
Unlike the islands that we visited in Maine, there were no tourist attractions, parks or even a town at the end of this road. Just the lighthouse, a house here and there along the way and a couple of old churches. We found this church called the St. John's United Church of Miscou Isle just around the corner from the lighthouse:
The church is no longer active and the doors were nailed shut. But the funny thing was that when we looked in the windows it was as if the next mass was to begin in a couple of hours or maybe the mass had just ended. It was beautiful inside. Wooden pews and a wooden floor. Spotlessly clean. There was a wood heater in the middle of the church and a few bibles on the pews. Vestments were neatly folded on the alter.
It was late afternoon so we had to leave this lovely end of the road. We drove west along the south shore of Claleur Bay for the rest of the day. Most all of the houses that we passed were modest in size and very basic. But also very well maintained even though some of them had been abandoned. Many houses had boats and humongous piles of firewood in the yard. There were lots of clothes lines and clothes blowing dry in the fresh breeze. This is not a tourist area – just a place where very hardy people live.
I thought that all of the French Canadians lived in the Province of Quebec. But northern New Brunswick has mostly French Canadians living in it. We loved listening to the French radio stations. Even though we don't know French, the language is very beautiful. We liked the French music too – even the French rap song that we heard. And it is a good thing that we like French radio because the English stations up here are few and far between.
Now we are in Campbellton, New Brunswick. The fishing is great here and the skiing in the nearby mountains is outstanding.
Across the bridge is the Province of Quebec and that is where we are going today. Shanti, Mike and I don't know a word of French (except bonjour) and we hear that the Quebec people want us to speak French in their province. So that makes us a little apprehensive about the coming days.
This is Tiger.
Il n'y a rien pour Erin à s'inquiéter. Je peux parler la langue française très bien. Retourdans ma jeunesse, j'ai eu une petite amie féline nommé Dominique et elle me l'a enseigné très bien lors de nos séances d'amour.
May 3, 2012. Riviere-au-Renard, Quebec~~By Shanti
Today we started in Campbellton, New Brunswick, and drove into Quebec Province. Then we took Highway 132 as it looped around the Monts Chic-Chocs to Riviere-au-Renard, Quebec.
Wow! The sun actually rose at 4:45 in the morning. Now it is 6:30 in the morning and it looks like it is almost noon. We're as far up into the northeast part of the North American Continent as we've ever been and we switched back from the Atlantic to the Eastern time zone so those are the reasons for the early sunrise.
Yesterday morning we noticed that one of Mike's RV tires seemed be losing air. We went to a tire repair shop and had it checked. Sure enough, it was losing air. Mostly because it was just worn really thin along with the other tires. Since Mike was going to get the tires replaced soon anyway, he decided to buy new tires now because we're going up into some remote regions and don't want to worry about getting stranded. Now we feel better even if Mike is a little poorer.
We are following the Gulf of St. Lawrence coastal road and driving across all these little towns. The Gulf of St. Lawrence looks just like the ocean because it is so huge. Just up the road from where we are now is the town of Perce and the Perce Rock.
Perce Rock is one of the largest natural arches located in water and it's a Quebec icon (if a rock can be an icon). Here's a picture of Perce Rock from another angle:
At low tide you can actually walk to Perce Rock. But it is dangerous because there is a lot of falling rock. It's a major tourist attraction as is all of this part of Quebec. But the tourists won't be coming for a couple of months and it is quiet here now.
All the signs and everything else in Quebec Province are in French. Just the numbers are the same as in English and even then they are in kilometers and not miles. The only English words that we saw all day on signs were “restaurant”, “police” and “cafe”. The French Canadians are very cool. Everyone that we talked to knew English. They always start off the conversation with “bonjour” and it is good manners to say “bonjour” back before speaking English. Then we always conclude with “merci”.
We had a fun dinner in the little restaurant/bar right by our motel room. It was packed and everyone was having a good time watching this black labrador dog playing with a ball-shaped buoy on the shore of a harbor right outside the restaurant. We were there for two hours and the dog never stopped pushing the buoy around in the water and barking at it. Just when we were leaving two guys who had been in the bar went to the outdoor patio and mooned everyone in the restaurant and then ran away. Sometimes guys can be so disgusting.
So, now we are in Riviere-au-Renard getting ready to head out for breakfast. Here's a picture of the little harbor where the lab was playing with the buoy:
May 4, 2012. Matane, Quebec~~By Erin
Yesterday we started in Riviere-au-Renard, Quebec, and drove south on Highway 132 to Matane, Quebec.
We had an outstanding drive yesterday along the south shore of the Gulf Of St. Lawrence. We passed through little villages like Grande-Vallee, Riviere-la-Madeline, L'Anse-Pleureuse, Marsoui, Cap-au-Renaud. Each village was separated from the other by a mountain that we either drove over or around.
Each village has a beautiful church in it. You can see the church on top of the bluff in this picture of the village L'Anse-Pleureuse. Strange thing is that there is usually only one church in each village. I think the reason for this is that Quebec is 86% Catholic and the head honchos in the Catholic Church only allow one church for each village.
This trip has really opened my eyes to all the different lifestyles and types of people on this continent and to how much we are a product of our environment. Am I the way that I am because I'm being me or am I the way I am because I happened to be raised in Reno, Nevada? And to think that all I've seen are the different regions of the United States and Canada. How different is North America from Europe, Asia, Africa and South America?
When this trip ends I want to travel the world. But I would need to take a few months to do a little studying about where I want to go, the way that I would travel and how to make it affordable. Some continents might be best traveled by trains, others by boat, others by car. Some are best in April and some in November. I don't know any of that. It's kind of overwhelming. But if I just take it a day at a time then I can figure it out...I'm really beginning to understand that a well-traveled person has a valuable perspective on life that can lead to a different way of thinking.
Now we are in Matane, Quebec. The countryside as changed slightly from yesterday's drive. We're staying in a motel on the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But farms have replaced the mountains. Looking out in front of the motel are wheat fields (I think) and around the back of the motel is the Gulf, which still looks like an ocean even though it is narrowing as we move closer to Quebec City and Montreal. This afternoon we are taking a ferry to the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence so we can continue without having to drive down to those big cities. I think that Roswell, New Mexico, has been the biggest place that we've been so far (population 20,000) and that's the way we want to keep it.
May 5,2012. Baie-Comeau, Quebec~~By Shanti
Yesterday we did something a little different and traveled with our vehicles by ferry across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Our point of departure was Matane, Quebec, and our point of arrival to the west was Baie-Comeau, Quebec.
We took the ferry for fun. But it was also the smart thing to do. Otherwise, it would have taken another full day to get to Baie-Comeau from Matene. This is one of several ferry routes that cross the Gulf of St. Lawrence in this region.
Our ferry was scheduled to leave at 2pm. But I remember hearing somewhere that the French idea of punctuality is not too strict. It was 3pm when the ferry finally arrived from Baie-Comeau. Before loading, we had to wait for all the passengers and vehicles from the previous ride to unload. It is amazing how many cars and semi-trucks they can pack into the ferry. There must have been 300 vehicles in there.
Anyway, Mike was waiting in line in his RV right in front of Erin and me in the jeep. Finally, they waved us into the bottom deck. There are three lanes on the bottom deck and each vehicle enters and then has to make a complete u-turn in their lane. Poor Mike. He was having trouble making that u-turn (as were all the large vehicles) and the ferry workers were screaming at him in French to do this and do that. But he finally made it and we all went to the upper decks except for little Tiger who was sound asl_eep in his cat carrier in the RV.
I thought this ferry would be nothing more than a glorified tugboat, but it was quite elaborate. It had a restaurant, bar, movie theatre, wi-fi, a beauty salon, a gift shop, and exercise room, and plenty of sitting rooms. It had seven decks with the passenger decks being the sixth and seventh deck. Passengers could also go outside in the open air.
This was my first excursion ever on the water. Now I understand the expression about “it takes awhile to get your sea legs”. The ride wasn't terribly wobbly, but it was a little wavy. My legs felt like jelly and I'm not sure I could take one of those long cruises. I wasn't the only one either. Many people were staggering around like they were dr_unk. It was actually pretty funny to watch.
Erin and Mike spent most of their time on the outside deck while I sat inside with my baby. The trip took about 2.5 hours and it was maybe 75 miles. For many of the travelers it is just their routine shuttle and they were crashed out on a seat or doing stuff on the laptops or reading. Others were getting dr_unk and enjoying the view. For about 1.5 hours we couldn't see any land at all.
All and all it was a very enjoyable experience. The cost was quite reasonable too. They charge $16 for each adult passenger and $35 for each small vehicle. The RV costs about $75.
Now we are in Baie-Comeau, Quebec. Since we got in at 6pm we haven't really had a chance to check the place out. This is the first reasonably priced motel room that we've had in Canada at $57 a night after taxes. The lobby is in a basement and it's a saloon with slot machines. An older woman, a girl about my age and the man working the motel didn't know 15 words of English between them. Which is about twice as many French words as we know. But we still managed to get a room.
May 6, 2012. Alma, Quebec~~By Tiger
Erin tells me that today we started in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, and drove south on Highway 138 to Highway 172; then west on Highway 172 to Highway 169; then south on Highway 169 to Alma, Quebec.
This is Tiger. It's time to put my paws to the keyboard and write out my memoirs. For one does not know when the final bell may toll. I'm just outlining right now, but I thought I would share with my xHamster friends a little of the flavor of my life.
I was born in August of 1999 in a strange man's garage in Reno, Nevada. Seems that my mom, Cheese, had found a comfortable box in this garage. A perfect place, or so she thought, to bring her litter into the world. Well, Mom gave birth and the first two weeks were wonderful for me and my two little br_others.
Then one day the man who owned the garage came home from some trip and found us. He was outraged and shooed Mom away and picked up the box that me and my br_others were in and threw us in the dumpster.
It was boiling hot in the dumpster and I couldn't get out. I meowed and meowed for help as I watched my br_others die from the trauma. Finally, when I was near the end, a kind old lady rescued me and took me to her apartment.
This lady was very nice to me. She had saved my life and I loved her and I thought I had a home forever. But then one day when I was 3 months old she put me outside and drove off. I thought she was coming back but she never did. I was on my own in the alleys of Reno.
Those were tough days. Sometimes I got a handout, but mostly I was eating out of garbage cans. Occasionally, I would catch a mouse. But mostly, the best that I could catch were grasshoppers and crickets. I would constantly ask myself, “Is this my sad lot in life?”
One day I was walking down the sidewalk and came to Erin's lemonade stand in front of her house. Erin saw me and thought I was cute and she gave me some ice cream. In all my life I had never tasted anything so wonderful. I purred and purred. I was to later learn that Erin's cat had just been run over by a car and she was on the rebound and looking for a new pet. Fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time and she took me in. She named me Tiger. Here's a picture taken during my first night in her home:
Those first few years with Erin were wonderful times. I was well taken care of and full of energy. Every blowing blade of grass and every little butterfly that flew past me was an adventure. The world was my oyster.
I was curious too. Curious about sex. You see, Erin hadn't neutered me yet and I was started to feel urges. And the female felines were hot for me. One day the boss cat of the neighborhood came around and offered me a can of tuna fish if I would get into kitty porn. It was all too good to be true and I was a major kitty porn star of the mid 2000s. My stage name was Buster Cherry and the only thing I wouldn't do was have sex in the doggy position. Here's a picture of me at the height of my sexual prowess.
But good times don't last forever and Erin got me neutered. I still had worlds of energy. I was in my prime and full of piss and vinegar. Dogs tried to chase me and I stood up to them. I remember this Boston Terrier named Rowdy who lived next door. He would always run right up to me and bark. With a hiss and the swipe of my claws he would run back home. Here is a picture of me at 6 years old when I was in my prime:
I got in plenty of cat fights protecting my yard. I remember this one stray cat named Danica who used to come around. She would be sneaky and try to eat out of my dry food bowl. Of course, dry food is my food of last resort, but I didn't like cats sneaking around in my yard. Here's a picture of Danica:
Each time that I caught Danica I would get a vice grip on her head with my front paws and kick her head real hard with my back paws. She just took it because she knew who was boss. But I always let her eat from my food bowl after her ordeal was over. I let her eat because I'm a good sport and so she would be encouraged to come around again so I could kick her in the head some more.
Around about this time, I had my only major medical problem. I couldn't go to the bathroom and I was bloating up. After a few days of this, Erin took me to the vet. They did some type of operation on me. Seems that I was only a couple of days from death. Here's a picture of me right after my operation:
My medical crisis made me think differently about life. Life was about more than sex and fighting. It was about the richer joys. Like cuddling up in a warm comforter or sipping a smoked salmon smoothie. I also began to take a liking to my ani_mal friends. There was plenty of food in my cat food bowl and I let cats come around and partake of my bounty. Especially the strays and feral cats. I even stopped bothering dogs (although I still don't take any crap from them).
Another crisis happened to me a couple of years ago. Erin and her parents went on a road trip and left me at home. They put out lots of dry food in the garage so I wouldn't be hungry. But day after day passed and they didn't come home. I started to have flashbacks about that old woman who had rescued me from the garbage dumpster and how she had deserted me. This went on for a week and then I panicked. I climbed up a tree in the yard next door. I was stuck up in that tree for 3 full days with no food or water. Here's a picture of me in the tree:
Finally, Erin and her parents came home. I was so happy and I meowed and meowed for her to get me out of the tree. Erin was calling for me too but she didn't hear me. After a couple of hours she finally saw me. Erin called the Reno Fire Department and they boosted their ladder up there and got me down.
Around about this time Erin was graduating from high school and was preparing to move away from her parents and travel around in her car. What would happen to me? I had never traveled in a car before except on short trips. I could stay with Erin's parents. But her parents don't dote over me like Erin does.
So, I decided to suck it up and take a car trip with Erin during the Spring Break of her senior year. We went from Reno to Missouri and then down to New Orleans and came back by way of Mexico. I took to traveling like a duck to water. The vibrations of the car while I'm in my cat carrier, the smell of strange motel rooms, the sights of strange an_imals like cows and horses...Traveling has put the spice back in my life.
But like I say, my days may be numbered. I'm as healthy as a horse but nobody lives forever. Not even me. True, I've been pampered. But I've had my hard times too. And that makes the good times all the more sweeter.
I should be done writing my memoirs by the end of the year. I don't know what I'll call it yet. But I already know the ending . It will be a verse from the Frank Sinatra song I Did It My Way:
And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I've traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
May 7, 2012. Chibougamau, Quebec~~By Erin
Today we started in Alma, Quebec, and drove west on Highway 169 to Highway 373; then south on Highway 373 back to Highway 169; then west on Highway 169 to Highway 167; then west on Highway 167 to Chibougamau, Quebec.
Plenty of rushing rivers and deep blue lakes during yesterday's drive. About every quarter of a mile there were dirt roads leading back to these rivers and lakes.
You could spend a whole summer just camping at all the different spots. The lakes are not the artificial reservoirs or humongous lakes that everyone knows about. Just your anonymous and very quiet little lake. Maybe a mile's walk around the shore. Many of the lakes have shelters built back in in the 1940s. All of this is free here. Quite a refreshing change from the United States where they charge a fee to enter a park, a fee to camp and a fee for just about anything else they can get away with. Not many restrictions either. I'm used to see signs saying “no campfires”, “no motorized vehicles”, “no guns” and so on. Here the signs just say “Bienvenu” which means “Welcome”.
Now we are in Chibougamau, Quebec. Chibougamau means “crossed by a river”. The population is 7,500 and this is the largest town in northern Quebec. It's very remote too. We had to drive 120 miles from the last town of any size just to get here and today we'll travel another 120 miles until we come to another town.
Chibougamau is an old company logging town. Nearby Lake Chibougamau still has a sheet of ice on it. For some reason Disco music is real big up here. There are 3 discotheques in town and the only radio station plays practically nothing but Disco music.
Canada can be a very expensive place to travel. At least compared to the United States. The food prices are not too bad. But gas is somewhere between $5 and $6 dollars a gallon and your basic motel room costs around $90 and then they tack on a 15% room tax. No free ice either. It costs around $3 for a five pound bag of ice. Last night we stayed in a cheap room – only $92. It only had five TV channels and all of them were in French.
Part of the fun of traveling is the adventure. Expectations and needs can be a drag. There are sites like TripAdvisor that have motel reviews. But we don't read any of that beforehand because we like to take our chances. Besides, I read the TripAdvisor reviews of the motels after we stay in them and I only agree with them about half the time.
I'm happy to be experiencing traveling through Quebec where French is the primary language. It's given me a taste of what traveling overseas would be like. It gets me out of my comfort zone which is what I will have to get comfortable with. I wouldn't want to travel with a bunch of other American tourist and stay in American-style hotels and eat at a overseas McDonald's. By the way, McDonald's is everywhere. There is even one here in Chibougamau. Having said all that, I'll be happy to get back to English speaking Canada and to the good ol' United States.
May 8, 2012. Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec~~By Shanti
Yesterday we started in Chibougamau, Quebec, and drove south on Highway 113 to Highway 386; then west on Highway 386 to Highway 397; then south on Highway 397 to Highway 117; then west on Highway 117 to Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec.
Today we bid au revoir to Quebec. It's been a fascinating province. Aside from the far northern regions that are mostly without decent roads, we covered most of the rest of Quebec except for the Montreal and Quebec City regions. Some would say those cities are the heart of Quebec. Perhaps they are. But our road trip is about going through the smaller towns and seeing the countryside. Still, it is a regret that we didn't stop by Montreal to visit one of the great cosmopolitan cities of the world. But that would have been a budget buster and we've already been hosed enough by Canada's high prices.
Without going through all the history, I do think that in their heart of hearts most people in Quebec do want their independence from the rest of Canada. Some don't – like the English speaking population and immigrants from areas like Israel and Asia and Greece. According to polls, the older French speaking Canadians are split about 50/50, but the younger population is overwhelmingly in favor of separation. The last vote for separation was in 1995 and it lost by only 1%. So I think it is coming as the older population dies out.
Even without separation, the Quebec provincial government seems to go it's own way as much as it can. The province feels vibrant, seems to be on the cutting edge technology-wise and there is no shortage of natural resources up here. There might be more tourism if there were a few English signs and other things in English. Simple things like English menus in restaurants. But maybe the people up here think of their French language as a barrier to keep them separate from the rest of Canada. But we never came across any hostility for speaking English.
Aside from the language and certain political viewpoints, the culture up here really isn't that different from the rest of North America. There are some nice twists. Congrats to Quebec for having a mostly litter free countryside. Too many Americans consider their roadside to be a garbage can. I love their radio stations too. Most of them play a good mix of English and French music ranging from hip-hop to rock to disco to country. Where else can you find a Neil Diamond song followed by a Stinky Toys song?
Right now we are in Rouyn-Norada. With a population of 39,000 it is the largest town that we've been through on this trip. We would have avoided it, but it is the only way out of Quebec without having to go through the really big cities. We took a walk through the downtown yesterday. Very bohemian. Lots of open air cafes and plenty of music. The people in Quebec – especially the men – seem to be either perfect gentlemen or incredibly gross. I've seen way too many butt-cracks around here. But maybe that's the charm.
May 9, 2012 – Chapleau, Ontario, Canada~~By Erin
Yesterday we started in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, and drove north on Highway 101 to Highway 393; then west on Highway 393 to Highway 388; then west on Highway 388 into Ontario Province and to Highway 101; then west on Highway 101 to Chapleau, Ontario.
A long drive across the rolling hills of northern Ontario. It was beautiful, but a little too much of the same with too few towns in between.
They say there are white moose up here. Bears too. Lots of signs saying not to feed the bears. We haven't seen a single moose of any color or even a deer since we entered Canada. We haven't seen much wildlife at all except lots of different kinds of birds and a couple of squirrels and a groundhog.
The only town of any size that we went through was Timmins, Ontario. That's the ch_ildhood home of sexy country singer Shania Twain. She founded the Shania Twain Center in Timmins. The billboards with Shania on them told us to “Come on Over” so that's what we did.
The Centre has everything that a Shania fan would want to see. All her music, some concert vids, pictures from her youth, souvenirs, memorabilia and some of her hot outfits from her concerts and videos. The Centre is also Timmin's community center and holds all kinds of events. Shania has also contributed millions of dollars to Timmons charitable organizations. I don't like the “new country music” all that much. Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson are more to my liking. But I've always loved Shania's music and vids.
Now we are in Chapleau, Ontario. It's tiny with only 2,200 people, but it is home to one of the world's largest wildlife reserves. Lots of good fishing. Logging is big too. The Canadian Pacific Railway cuts through the center of town. Old time Canada.
It's great to be back in English speaking Canada where we can have extended conversations with people. I went out alone to have dinner at one of the restaurants and was befriended by a woman in her early 60s who was having dinner with a man about 20 years younger than her. She saw the California plates on my jeep and that perked her interest.
The woman, whom I'll call Susan, asked me what I was doing way up here. I kind of gave her the rundown on where we've been and what we've done. Like I write about in this blog. Then Susan told me about her adventure in 1970.
Susan had just graduated from high school and was spending the summer backpacking through Europe. Seeing all the different countries and attractions and staying at the hostels. But the trip was ending and Susan was kind of sad because she still did not have that one big story about her travels to share with her fam_ily and friends when she returned to Canada.
Susan was in Greece. On a whim, she decided to take the bus to the end of the line and just stay where ever the end of the line was. She vowed to herself not to stay in the hostels and to let life happen to her...find her big story.
Well, the bus took Susan to this little Greek village. It was like traveling back to the 1800s. There were no cars there and hardly anybody spoke any English. An older lady in her 70s took Susan into her home. The older lady didn't know a word of English and Susan didn't know any Greek but somehow they hit it off.
Susan also ran into this man named Dikran who was in his 20s. Dikran did know about 7 words of English so they bonded. Every day Dikran would bring Susan Greek pastries and Dolmades (gra_pe leaves stuffed with rice). Dikran was really nice to her.
After about a week in the small village, Susan and the older lady went to a big festival in the village square. Everyone was dancing and Susan was dancing with Dikran. All of a sudden the music stopped and everyone stopped dancing and formed a circle around Susan and Dikran and a Greek priest who was at the festival.
(Susan was getting really excited telling me this story. The man having dinner with her was enjoying the story too although I sensed that he had heard it 1000 times.)
Anyway, in front of all these villagers, Dikran said something in Greek to Susan and asked her to repeat some Greek words back to him. So Susan repeated the words back to Dikran and the Greek priest said something in Greek. Then everyone started dancing again and hugging Susan. She put 2+2 together and realized that she had just accepted Dikran's proposal for marriage.
Susan told me that she was totally in shock. Not mad, because Dikran was very sweet and sincere and wasn't trying to trick her. That was just how things were done. They made love together that night as husband and wife.
But Susan was sure that she couldn't remain married and live in that little village for the rest of her life. That wasn't in her plans. So the next morning she snuck away from Dikran and took the first bus out of town and didn't look back until she was out of Greece.
Now she had her big story to tell her fam_ily and friends and shortly after that she went home to Canada. But that is not the end of the story. It gets bigger.
A few months later Susan found out that she is pregnant with Dikran's ch_ild. It felt right for her to have her baby so she did. I asked Susan where her baby is now. She laughed and put her arm around the man she was having dinner with, kissed him on the cheek, and said, “Here's my big baby.”
May 10, 2012. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan~~By Shanti
Yesterday we started in Chapleau, Ontario, and drove west on Highway 101 to Highway 17; then south on Highway 17 across the United States border to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Most of the day we drove along the east shore of Lake Superior. What an awesome lake! It is the largest freshwater lake in the world and covers as much ground as the state of South Carolina.
Unfortunately, much of the shoreline was within Lake Superior Provincial Park and the province of Ontario was charging a steep fee to walk along the shore. We could have paid it, but we're burned out about all the money that we're spending in Canada. Still, it was nice to see Lake Superior from the road and we'll be seeing more of it in the coming days.
During the afternoon we crossed the International Bridge that separates Canada from the United States.
It's great to be back in the United States. Home sweet home. But we didn't exactly get a warm greeting from the U.S. border official.
I really can't believe the attitude of the border official that we met. He was extremely hostile from the very beginning. Like, “Why should I believe you've been on vacation for 3 months?” and “tell me about all the guns and d**gs that you have in your vehicle”. We are U.S. citizens and there is no reason for him to be like that. I understand that they are protecting our borders but can't they at least be halfway polite like the Canadian officials were?
Things kind of escalated when the border official told Mike that he didn't look like a lawyer. True, Mike was dressing down but so what. Mike then told the official, “You don't look like anyone I want patrolling our border.” That comment landed us in the office so they could search our vehicles.
Two other officials searched our vehicles for about 30 minutes. They made a big deal of finding a twig of wood lodged in one of the seats and they said they had to take it because of some Agricultural Department requirement. Whatever...
Now we are in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. It's in the part of Michigan that is not shaped like a glove and it is known as the Upper Peninsula or UP for short. Downtown Sault Ste. Marie is actually on an island and that is where we are now.
Just to the north is the Soo Locks which is the world's busiest canal. People come from around the world to watch the huge ships passing through the Locks. Here's a picture of Soo Locks:
We walked out to Soo Locks this morning. There's a real nice grandstand for viewing and we saw the very long Canadian Steamship Lines Laurentien pass through the South Canal.
May 11, 2012. Garden Corners, Michigan~~By Erin
Yesterday we started in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and drove south on I-75 to County Road H40; then west on County Road H40 to Highway 117; then south on Highway 117 to Highway 2; then west on Highway 2 to Highway 183; then south on Highway 183 to the end of the road at Fairport, Michigan, and back north on Highway 183 to Highway 2; then west on Highway 2 to Garden Corners, Michigan.
A wonderful drive going west across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We spent much of the morning in the Hiawatha National Forest. The little towns out here, like Trout Lake, have the best restaurants. All you can eat of fresh fish, chili and soups, homemade bread, great prices, friendly people. During the afternoon we drove along the shore of Lake Michigan and its' many bays. Many of the little towns along the north shore of Lake Michigan have modern lighthouses like this one in Manistique, Michigan:
We found a neat little motel to stay in. Not really in any town – just along the way. Across the road is the shore of Big Bay de Noc and the motel owner owns about one-half a mile of the shoreline. We went out there with our folding yard chairs and watched the waves come in and listened to the geese while we drank a few beverages. Shanti and I like Hornsby's Hard Apple Cider and Mike was enjoying his 6-pak of Budweiser. Actually, I'm not sure what he was enjoying more: the beer or that he only had to pay $6 for it instead of the $12 that it costs it Canada. Here's a picture of our view out to Lake Michigan:
The motel might be our best find of this trip. Nice big rooms, a zillion Direct TV channels, good wi-fi, fridge, microwave, right next to the lake...and all for $40 after taxes. Nobody else was staying here and the owner lives off site so we had the motel all to ourselves.
For all the nerdy types (like me), I thought I would write a little about how this blog is put together.
During the evening we decide who is going to write that day's entry. The decision is usually based on the events of the day and our particular interests. Shanti is more into politics, Mike is more into sports. I'm more into sights. Tiger is more into an_imals.
Our entries are first prepared on a word processing program and then are cut and pasted to the xHamster blog. Before posting, one or the other of us will do an review and edit. We never change each other's content. We are just looking for good grammar and the flow of the writing and that kind of thing.
The blog pictures are either our own or downloaded from Google Images. I have a separate xHamster account that I upload the pics to. Then I link to that account. Someone can also link to pics in Google Images or anywhere else on the web. But if someone takes down their pic on that website, then the blog loses that link. That's why I take the extra step to upload the pics to my separate xHamster account.
We usually write our entries in the morning. From start to finish it takes around 1.5 to 2 hours. We place the most recent entries at the top of the blog for the ease of the reader. That way you don't have to scroll all the way down to the bottom (but don't let that discourage you from leaving a comment). After the trips ends, I'll go back and reverse the entries so they run from the start of the trip to the end.
We don't know how many people are reading this blog, but we enjoy doing it for our own sake. The details of the trip will fade from our memories without this blog so this will help us remember. Already, I don't remember much off the top of my head about Graham, Texas. But if I go back and read that day's entry, then it all comes back to life.
May 12, 2012. Green Bay, Wisconsin~~By Shanti
Yesterday we started in Garden Corners, Michigan, and drove west on Highway 2 to Highway 41; then south on Highway 41 across the Wisconsin state line to Green Bay, Wisconsin.
On our way to Green Bay, Wisconsin, we drove through Menominee County, Michigan. This county is known for having the most car/deer crashes in the state. Last year there were over 400 reported crashes and 9 people died. Although most of the deer activity is in the Fall, we saw several deer today. The most bizarre sight was when we saw a deer bringing home his kill:
Now we are in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We made this detour to a bigger city because Erin and Mike want to take a guided tour of Lambeau Field and visit the Green Bay Packers Hall Of Fame Museum. They are going to do that this morning. Yesterday we walked around Green Bay a little.
I thought there would be skysc_****rs and all the madness of a big city. But there was none of that. Green Bay is just a gritty industrial town. When we were downtown we kept thinking that this can't be the real downtown. Gertrude Stein once said about the city of Oakland, “There's no 'there' there.” That's how it seems to be with Green Bay: looking for something that isn't there. Not to say that it is bad. It just didn't meet our expectations.
It is really weird that there isn't a lot of stuff about the Green Bay Packers here. At least not downtown. Some of the other places we've been to really put it in your face what makes their town famous. Like Roswell, New Mexico, with the aliens or Capitan, New Mexico, with Smokey Bear. But all we saw were a few people wearing Packers sweatshirts.
The entertainment is a little down scale too. The big headliners for June are Glen Campbell and Barry Manilow. And I almost forgot the Polka Music Festival that's coming up.
So now we are staying at the Road Star Inn which is right next to Lambeau Field. You can see the football stadium right behind the lobby in this picture:
The view out of our motel rooms is of Lambeau Field. It must be only about 1000 feet away. It's strange that this isn't a trendy area. Aside from our motel, there are mostly just little houses. Also, a car wash and coin laundry. But I bet this place is humming when the Packers are playing their games and 70,000 people descend on this town that only has a population of 100,000. The motel clerk says this motel is booked solid a couple of years in advance for those days.
Erin and Mike are really exciting about their tour later today. Once we checked in they spent most of their time looking out their window at the stadium. It does look quite strange to see that big stadium plopped right down in the middle of nowhere.
May 13, 2012. Antigo, Wisconsin~~By Erin
Yesterday we started in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and drove west on Highway 54 to Highway 47; then north on Highway 47 to Highway 29; then west on Highway 29 to Highway 55; then north on Highway 55 to Highway 64; then west on Highway 64 to Antigo, Wisconsin.
The Green Bay Packers – the fabled football franchise. Lambeau Field – the storied venue. Even if the Packers aren't your team, you have to admire the organization. Even if you don't care about football, you have to be impressed by Lambeau Field.
The Packers aren't owned by some big company or a mega-rich fam_ily. They are owned by everyday people who hold shares in the company. And they play in a little town that would not have a prayer today of getting a major league franchise: Green Bay, Wisconsin (a.k.a. Titletown). And they play in the oldest NFL football stadium and on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
Today Mike and I took a guided tour of Lambeau Field, visited the Packers Hall of Fame Museum, ate lunch inside the stadium at Curly's Pub and visited the Packers Pro Shop.
Every day the Packers run several tours of Lambeau Field. The tour runs about an hour and 15 or so of us tag along while the very knowledgeable and friendly tour guide takes us outside the stadium, into the atrium, up to a club suite and down the players' tunnel onto the playing field.
Outside Lambeau Field there are two massive bronze statutes. That's Vince Lombardi on the left and Curly Lambeau on the right – the two Packer giants.
Curly Lambeau founded the Packers in 1919 with $500 he was able to raise from a local meat packing company. A few years later the Packers joined what was to become the NFL. Curly was the coach of the Packers for 30 years and won several championships.
Vince Lombardi was the Packers coach during the 1960s when they won a bunch of championships. But he was more than an Xs and Os coach. He was a leader of men and a profound philosopher.
The Lambeau Field atrium is absolutely beautiful. It was added in 2000 when Lambeau Field was modernized.
Those 2nd, 3rd & 4th story windows on the left are the offices of the coaching staff and the administration. Everything happens at Lambeau Field and at the practice field that is one block away. Whether it is a football game, preseason camp, or the college draft. All of the other NFL teams have offices and training facilities sc_attered here, there and everywhere.
The tour guide took us up to one of the club suites. There are 168 club suites at Lambeau Field. Each one is about 500 square feet and has 20 seats. The suites rent out for around $100,000 a year and the “tenents” - mostly companies – can use them anytime they want to entertain. For all I know, they can even sl_eep in them.
The true fans sit out in the open air. And there are a lot of fans. Right now the stadium holds 73,000 people and the Packers have sold out every game since 1960. All tickets are sold as season tickets and there is a waiting list of 96,000 people to get season tickets. I added myself to the waiting list and I will get a postcard every year telling me what number I am on the list. Only about 50 people on the waiting list get tickets each year so it might be awhile before I get mine. But the Packers allow my descendents to take my place, so maybe in around 4,000 years my ubber-great grandchi_ld will be sitting in those bleachers.
We walked through the Packers tunnel that the players walk through when they enter the field.
The tour piped in the sound that the players hear when they enter the field: screaming fans and the public address announcer proclaiming, “Your 13 time World Champion Green Bay Packers!!!”
Then we went out onto the field at the 50 yard line. They wouldn't let us on the grass (Kentucky Bluegrass), but we got to stand on the sideline.
It was awesome and it felt much more intimate than it looks on T.V. It was really emotional just to think about all of the great players who have played on this field and all of the epic games. Aaron Rogers, Bret Farve, Bart Starr, the Ice Bowl...The tour guide showed us where the players do the Lambeau leap and he told us not to try it because the Packers don't want any lawsuits. The tour guide had us chant in unison the Packers cheer of “Go Pack Go!” so we could hear the stadium echo. The guide said any of us who were not Packer fans could do the chant in reverse. Very funny.
After the tour, Mike and I went to the Packers Hall of Fame Museum. In 1976 the Packers were the first NFL team to have their own museum. Of course, it is inside Lambeau Field too. There was so much to see. A circular hall took us through all the Packer years. Old footballs, cleats, uniforms, vids, pics. There were lockers for each one of the Packer Hall-of-Famers with some of their memorabilia.
My favorite exhibit was an exact replica of Coach Vince Lombardi's office:
You can see the 1960s style furniture, telephone and film projector where he watched game film.
After visiting the Hall of Fame, we had lunch at Curly's Pub. Great food, reasonable prices and a nice view outside to the Packers indoor training facility. Mike had a Beer Cheese and Bacon Burger and I had Curly's Hall of Fame Cheese Curds. Here's a picture of my Cheese Curds:
The Packer rookies are already in camp and we saw a few of them ride their bikes from the Lambeau Field locker room to the practice facility. As is the tradition, k_ids wait outside the locker room and each player rides with one k_id on their bicycles to the facility while the k_id holds the player's helmet.
Our last stop was the Packers Pro Shop. What a hoot. The Packer fanatic can have a whole Packer wardrobe, a completely furnished Packer house and so much more if the fanatic can afford it. Packer green and gold slippers, micro-fridges with the Packer logo ($400), laptop cases, tailgate grills. There were even waffle-makers and toasters that branded the Packer logo on your waffle or piece of toast so you can “toast your team”. Here's a picture of the 1958 Green Bay Packers Chevrolet Tailgater pick-up truck that was in the Pro Shop:
The tour costs $10, the Hall of Fame costs $9 and the memories are free. It's hard to come away from Lambeau Field and not be a Packers fan. But since the Packers open up next season at Lambeau Field against the San Francisco 49ers I still have to yell, “Go 49ers!”
May 15, 2012. Iron River, Wisconsin~~By Shanti
The day before yesterday we started in Antigo, Wisconsin, and drove west on Highway 64 to Highway 13; then north on Highway 13 to Highway 2; then west on Highway 2 to Iron River, Wisconsin.
Upper Wisconsin is a very soothing place to drive through. Hundreds of dairy farms, old style pubs selling Hamms and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, small Native American reservations and towns. Very low key.
We even saw a Bald Eagle. It's the first one that we've seen since our first few days in California. It was flying right across the small town of Merrill, Wisconsin.
I did a little research and discovered that Bald Eagles are pretty plentiful in the upper part of Wisconsin. There was a breeding program in place here when the species was endangered. I got to wondering why the Bald Eagle became the symbol of the United States. It was chosen to be the symbol back in 1782 because of its' long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on this continent.
The day before yesterday we were moving right along the highway when we heard a loud pop and something that looked like part of a tire rolled off the RV. At first we thought it was a blown tire. But that would have been surprising since we just got new tires. Turns out that the bottom covering for the engine dropped out. It's about four feet long and we weren't sure how serious the problem was so we decided to lay over a day and have an auto mechanic give us his opinion. It seems that the covering is there to keep dust and rocks out of the engine so it doesn't appear to be vital. That deer that we hit in Pennsylvania loosened it. Hard to be mad at the deer though. He's in worse shape now than we or the RV are.
Erin and I want to settle down somewhere and Mike wants to get back to Redding. Erin and I have been racking our heads about where we want to live. There are so many nice places, yet no place is perfect. What we have discovered during this trip is that every town has its' sweet spots. So, we decided to take a leap of faith and essentially throw a dart at a map and let that take us to our new home. That's what we did yesterday and now we know where we are going.
We had only two requirement. First, the town's population must be between 2,000 and 20,000 people and (2) the town must be at least 100 miles away from any town with a population of 50,000 or more people.
Here's how we found our town. Mike wrote the names of the 50 states on 50 of his business cards and then tossed the 50 cards into his baseball hat. Then I closed my eyes and selected one of the cards. Then we pulled out the state map for the state that was on the business card and Erin (without looking down) dropped her lucky Mercury dime on the state map. The town closest to the dime with a population of between 2,000 and 20,000 people was where we would live so long as it wasn't within 100 miles of a town with a population of 50,000 people.
The first 3 states that I selected were Illinois, Ohio and Wyoming. But each town closest to the dime had a town of at least 50,000 within 100 miles of it. On the fourth try we finally found our new home. It's quite close to where we are now. Only a few days away. None of us have been there, but it is well known to most Americans. Particularly if they watch the winter weather reports.
May 16, 2012. Duluth, Minnesota~~By Erin
Yesterday we started in Iron River, Wisconsin, and drove west on Highway 2 across the Minnesota state line to I-35; then north on I-35 to Duluth, Minnesota.
Now we are on the west shore of Lake Superior. One week ago in Canada we were driving across the east shore. This lake is humungous. There is an auto route called the Lake Superior Circle Tour and it circles the lake. The route is 1,300 miles long.
We spent our day exploring the town of old Duluth. The port here is the western most one in the United States for ships coming from the Atlantic Ocean and it is further from the sea than any other deepwater port in the world.
Our first stop was the Great Lakes Aquarium. It was a little pricy at $16 a person, but it had many different kinds of fish from Lake Superior and from all over the world. We petted a baby sturgeon and a stingray (the stingray's stinger was clipped). We watched a diver feeding a sixty year old 6 foot sturgeon. There was a Bald Eagle there too named Baldy. He was rescued after an accident in Alaska and can't fly anymore so that is why he is in captivity. He seemed to be happy and it was neat to see a Bald Eagle close up.
Duluth is a great town to walk around in. It is everything that we thought Green Bay, Wisconsin, would be. Lots of old high rises, steam rising out of sewer grates and a seedy section of town with strip clubs, street preachers and dr_unks picking fights. Bob Dylan was born in Duluth and we walked down Bob Dylan Way and saw the hospital where he was born. He used to hang out in Duluth before he took off for New York and he sung about the town a little in Something There Is About You:
Thought I'd shaken the wonder and the phantoms of my youth
Rainy days on the Great Lakes, walking the hills of old Duluth
There are lots of performing arts schools and neat little coffee houses where musicians are playing away on their flutes and guitars while patrons like me are typing away on our laptops. Here is a picture of Duluth Central High School which is still being used as a high school:
We are staying in the part of Duluth known as Canal Park. It is right along the harbor. This is a true maritime town with a huge lift bridge that Russian and Polish ships sail under to load up on wheat to take back home to their countries. We are lodged in what once was a wholesale goods warehouse when it was built in 1900. In this picture it is the old high rise on the far left:
The rooms are quite nice but it is a little eerie too with all the massive piping still in place. It's a little expensive also at $125 a room. But we wanted to stay out along the water and we have a great view of the harbor. The rooms even have dishwashers!
Today we head out for a town that the three of us have had circled for quite some time. After that, Mike heads back to California and we head off in another direction to our final destination. Mike sold me his jeep for a very reasonable price and it should serve us well in the short distance that we still have to travel.
This is Tiger. I wish that aquarium allowed cats inside. I wanted to interview Baldy the Bald Eagle and look at all the trout and pet the sturgeon too. I would have behaved myself. Honest.
May 17, 2012. Hibbing, Minnesota~~By Mike
Yesterday we started in Duluth, Minnesota, and drove south on I-35 to Highway 53; then north on Highway 53 to County Road 52; then west on County Road 52 to County Road 7; the north on County Road 7 to Highway 37; then west on Highway 37 to Highway 73; then north on Highway 73 to Hibbing, Minnesota.
Hibbing, Minnesota. Ch_ildhood home of Robert Zimmerman. Better known as Bob Dylan. The songwriter/singer/poet/author/painter who has been creating so much incredible art from the early 1960s right up to this day. Dylan and his parents moved to Hibbing when he was six years old and he lived in this Mesabi Iron Range town until he graduated from High School in 1959.
To this day, Dylan and Hibbing have a strained relationship. Apparently, Dylan was kind of a smart ass and rebel in his late teen years. That's what I've read and also what a couple of his former classmates whom I met today told me. The type of music that Dylan was trying to play at that time (Elvis, 1950s rock & roll, the blues) wasn't exactly Hibbing's type of music, which was more along the lines of the polka. And Dylan's singing voice was abhorrent to many of the locals. Dylan was frustrated that Hibbing didn't appreciate his style and Hibbing wanted Dylan to be quiet. So, the town and Dylan parted ways.
As soon as Dylan graduated from high school he ditched the Zimmerman name and took off for Minneapolis and soon after that for New York City. In the Big Apple he claimed to be a wandering minstrel, a next generation Woody Guthrie riding the rails – certainly not a middle-class Jewish k_id from the Midwest. Dylan hit it big in New York and word got out that he was a middle-class Jewish k_id from Hibbing. That didn't matter much to his new fans. But Hibbing saw it as kind of a snub that he would disclaim the town and lifestyle. Dylan didn't help matters when he told the media that Hibbing was like a “skunk in the middle of the road”.
So, it wasn't any big surprise that Hibbing didn't welcome us with a big road sign saying Hibbing, Home Town of Bob Dylan! But that's okay. We really just wanted to walk around and see the places that Dylan used to go to and soak up the feel of Dylan's town.
The public library does have a small room in the basement called the Bob Dylan Room. But as you can see from this picture, it is hardly a museum.
The library did prepare a short brochure called the Dylan Walking Tour. So we walked around and saw the haunts of his youth. Places like the furniture store where he used to work, the cafe where he would hang out, the clothing store run by his grandmother, the movie theatre where he watched James Dean movies, the music store where he would buy his records, his high school. Actually, most of those places no longer exist as they did in the late 1950s. The old cafe is now the office of a financial adviser; the theatre is now a deli; the clothing store is now a Chinese Restaurant. But Dylan's ch_ildhood home is still standing:
Aside from the library's modest display, the only other acknowledgment of any note to Dylan is over at Zimmy's Restaurant (Zimmy's is short for Zimmerman). The walls are full of memorabilia and there is a small gift shop there.
Zimmy's also holds the annual Dylan Days Celebration that will be coming up in just a couple of days. Dylan Days includes songwriting, visual arts and literary contests, tours, movie screenings and a concert at the Hibbing High School auditorium where Dylan was booed unmercifully in the late 1950s. Seems that the Dylan Days Celebration is getting quite popular and Dylan fans will be descending upon Hibbing for this year's event any day now.
Over the years the relationship between Dylan and Hibbing is thawing a little. Dylan has had some good things to say about the town and he does come up here incognito from time to time to get in touch with his past. But he hasn't been to any of the high school reunions since 1969 and I don't imagine he'll make another appearance at one anytime soon. And Dylan stills holds to his guns that he does not want Hibbing to capitalize on his fame. I suppose that he couldn't really stop that, but I don't think Dylan has to worry because Hibbing would rather talk about their open pit iron ore mine which is the biggest one in the world.
All in all, Hibbing is just another town.
Dylan didn't receive much inspiration from Hibbing. Dylan received most of his inspiration from the records that he bought here, the country and blues radio stations broadcasting from St. Louis and Louisiana that he could pick up at night and movies like Rebel Without a Cause that he watched at the theatre. Perhaps the only inspiration he received from Hibbing was the inspiration to get the hell out of town as soon as he could.
Well, this is my swan song. It's time to exit stage left. Now that I know where Erin and Shanti are going to end up there is no way that I'm going to that place. Not that they asked me to join them. I'm kind of set in my ways and I want to return to California. So today I head west in my RV while the girls travel on in the jeep.
It's been a really fun road trip and it was really invigorating to travel with the girls. I don't mean that in a sexual way. What I mean is that it is invigorating to see things from a more youthful perspective. And I must admit that Erin's cat is kind of decent too.
This is Tiger. So long, Mike. Thank you for buying all that salmon so Erin can make me my smoked salmon smoothies. You're only half bad yourself.
May 18, 2012. International Falls, Minnesota~~By Erin & Shanti
Yesterday we started in Hibbing, Minnesota, and drove south on Highway 169 to Highway 38; then north on Highway 38 to Highway 5; then west on Highway 5 to Highway 6; then north on Highway 6 to Highway 71; then north on Highway 71 to Highway 11; then east on Highway 11 to International Falls, Minnesota.
We started our day with a detour to tiny Grand Rapids, Minnesota, (not to be confused with Grand Rapids, Michigan) to visit the Judy Garland Museum. Grand Rapids is the ch_ildhood birthplace and hometown of Judy Garland. She played Dorothy in my favorite movie The Wizard of Oz. As well as being an actress in many movies, Judy played vaudeville and performed as a singer in live performances.
Although Judy only lived in Grand Rapids for the first four years of her life, she always thought of it as her hometown. Judy once said of her time in Grand Rapids, “It was the only kind of normal and carefree time in my life.” Judy's first performance was in Grand Rapids where she sang Jingle Bells at a Christmas show. Everyone at the show was awed by her talent and and that night she loved being a performer. Judy finally had to be pulled off the stage after her 9th round of Jingle Bells when she just wouldn't stop singing.
In 1926 Judy and her fam_ily moved away to Lancaster, California. The reason given for the move was so that Judy and her two older sis_ters, who were also performers, could be closer to Hollywood. But the real reason seems to be that Judy's father had some kind of “illicit” sexual affair with a male usher at his Grand Rapids theatre and he had to leave to escape the rumors about it.
In 1935 when Judy was 13 years old she signed a movie contract with MGM. Though Judy's talents were obvious, MGM didn't know quite what to do with her. Judy went to school at MGM with Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and Elizabeth Taylor. Those were the glamor girls and Judy was more like the “girl next store”. MGM ended up casting Judy alongside Mickey Rooney and others in a series of B movies. Judy was only 4 feet 11 inches the MGM studio chief always called her “my little hunchback.” Many think that during this time Judy developed an “ugly duckling” complex that she never quite recovered from.
What was worse was MGM's treatment of actresses in those days. A new form of “speed” or “meth” had just been discovered and MGM used to insist that Judy and some of the other actresses take the d**gs so that they could churn out as many movies as possible. Judy became dependent on the d**gs and it later caused her life to spiral out of control.
Judy first became really famous in 1939 with her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Many of the bigshots at MGM wanted to cast Shirley Temple in the role, but Judy won out because her singing voice better fit the role of Dorothy. Soon after the release of Oz, Judy returned to her proud community of Grand Rapids to visit the house that she had lived in, to thank the doctor who gave her birth and to get back in touch with her favorite ch_ildhood friend named Maggie Shook.
During the 1940s, Judy was in a series of better known movies such as Meet Me in St. Louis. But by the end of the 1940s the dr_ugs and alcohol were taking their toll and she attempted several suicides before checking into a rehabilitation center.
Judy did make a recovery and in the 1950s and 1960s she appeared in more movies and gave many live performances. But things were up and down and Judy never got back to that place of contentment and happiness that she felt in Grand Rapids. Finally, in 1969 she died of an accidental dr_ug overdose. Legions of fans and many of her colleagues attended her funeral to bid her a fond farewell.
The Judy Garland Museum here in Grand Rapids is pretty much the only Judy Garland Museum. There are other museums in New York City and Kansas, but those museums focus on Judy's role in The Wizard of Oz. While this museum has some great stuff from Oz, it is more about her entire life and career and especially about her time in Grand Rapids.
Here's a picture of Judy's house that she was born and raised in. It was moved to the museum grounds.
We went inside and it is meticulously decorated with 1920s décor just like when Judy lived there. The flooring, walls, ceiling and stairway are original. We were in her house alone for about an hour and we could imagine the joy of Judy's parents' as they watched Judy and her sis_ters on the stairwell performing for them.
The museum also has the actual carriage that was pulled by The Horse Of a Different Color in the Oz movie.
Here's a YouTube vid of the carriage scene:
This carriage was also one of three carriages that were owned by President Abraham Lincoln. Again, everything is original.
The museum only contains a replica of Judy's (Dorothy's) Ruby Red Slippers. The slippers that were used in the famous Oz scene where Judy clicks her heels three times were stolen from the museum in 2005 and were never recovered. Here's a sign in Grand Rapids asking who stole them:
Grand Rapids also has an annual Judy Garland Festival. This June would have been Judy's 90th birthday and they are pulling out all the stops. Poppy plantings, many talks and tours, an appreciation dinner with tributes and testimonials. Mickey Rooney is expected to attend. He starred with Judy many times and he is the last surviving male movie star from the 1930s.
But this will be the first Judy Garland Festival where no Munchkin will attend. There are only three surviving Munchkins and they are all in ill health.
Everyone loved Judy and many could identify with her struggles. Judy will always be known as “America's Treasure.”
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! We're at our final stop on our trip. We're in International Falls, Minnesota. This is where we will be living for the next year or so.
International Falls is a town of 6,400 and it is located at the United States and Canadian border just a stone's throw from the province of Ontario. During the winter it gets cold up here and that is an understatement. International Falls commonly has the lowest temperatures in the “Lower 48” and it's known as the Icebox of the Nation. In fact, International Falls has trademarked that slogan. International Falls has been the location for several Duracell DieHard auto battery commercials too:
Exactly how cold does it get up here? The temperature falls below 0 F and -17.8 C an average of approximately 55 nights during winter. Highs reach above freezing only about a dozen times from December to February. Since it never warms up during winter the snow cover is thick and long lasting.
But that is then and this is now. Right now the weather is great and I hear that it gets quite hot during summer. This place is as flat as a pancake and it has a peaceful and quiet feel to it. Here's a picture of downtown:
Right now we are staying in a motel and getting a grasp on what is where. In about a week we will go out house hunting. It seems that we should be able to find a decent place for around $600 a month. We're right in the heart of The Land Of 10000 Lakes and there is lots of forest land around here too. Voyageurs National Park is only 10 miles away. We're going to be taking advantage of the summer weather and doing lots of camping in the coming months. Then we'll park the jeep and hunker down for the winter and do lots of reading, writing and meditating.
It's been an incredible trip. 89 days on the road. 24 states and 3 provinces. Don't know how many miles. Maybe 12,000. In a way it seems like we just started the trip. But in another way it seems like a long time ago. We've met so many different kinds of interesting people. We really liked everywhere we went. Some places were better than others. No place was perfect and everyplace has something good about it and that's why we figured we couldn't go wrong by flipping a coin. This is where we ended up. International Falls is going to work out just fine.
We're so happy that we managed to keep this blog up so we can keep our memories alive. Thank you so much to Mike for being our traveling companion. Obviously, we couldn't have done it without him and we really enjoyed his company. He's a good sport. And thank you for reading! I hope that you enjoyed it. So this is our last entry. Happy Trails!
This is Tiger. Not so fast, Erin and Shanti. It is never The End until I have the final word. If we're going to live in the Icebox of the Nation then I might have to resort to wearing this silly Red Sox sweater that Erin bought me while we were in New England. Now I'll end by saying that I want to thank all my xHamster fans and friends for all the much needed attention that you've given me. Now it is THE END.