Monday, October 1, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Day 27 - Home Sweet Home

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bill was getting increasingly anxious to get home. Thoughts of mail accumulating, Mom's memorial looming and the construction project on the island had him up and moving early.

We were out the door before 6:30am for the final stretch home to the island.

It was a breeze getting out of the tri-state area on I-95 North that early on a Sunday. The fall colors in route were muted, but ready to pop.

Bill took the wheel by URI in RI, and had an unfortunate turn driving in steady rain. Except for the light showers on our arrival in Crested Butte, this was the only rainfall of the trip.

After an uneventful four-plus hours, we caught an earlier ferry in Woods Hole, MA and arrived in Vineyard Haven around 1pm.

What a great trip! We were blessed with good luck and weather throughout our trek.

There's no place like home, and it's a great luxury to be able to venture away now and then.

With the odometer at 8,876, we turned off the car and gave each other a big kiss and a high five!

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Arrival on the East Coast

Day 26 - Arrival on the East Coast

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The roadside hotel provided one of the best showers of the trip! Life's little unexpected pleasures are the best, especially first thing in the morning.

It was pitch black at 7am when we grabbed breakfast to go and departed for I-70 East out of Indy. The mileage was at 7,834.

Bill was feeling a little punky, so I started the day behind the wheel. He dropped the ball on navigation, so we missed our turn off for the scenic fall-color route out of Columbus, OH and up through New York State.

We made a couple of bad turns and eventually corrected the route on an old familiar path: Interstate 80.

The fall colors were more dramatic than we imagined going through the 300 miles of Pennsylvania's rolling countryside.

We crossed into Jersey, and we're soon going past Mom's former town of Denville. It was melancholy.

It was a big day if driving.

What better place to stay for the night than our beautiful home in Chatham. We stopped for sushi to go, and crashed for the evening in homey comfort.

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The Plains and Praries

Day 25 - The Plains and Praries

Friday, September 28, 2012

The extreme weather patterns of the last few weeks caught up with me. I woke in a sneezing fit.

In a heavy fog, we took hotel breakfast to go and hit I-70E at 7:15 am at 7,199 on the odometer.

Bill navigated through serious pockets of limited visibility while I blew my nose.

It was another uneventful day of travel as we traversed Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. We lost another hour and pulled off around 6pm EST just east of Indianapolis.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Coming Down from our High

Day 24 - Coming Down from our High

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thoughts of bears crawling in our open window troubled me occasionally during the night. Although both Bill and I managed to get a better sleep on our second night in high altitude.

We were up and out before 7am. After a brief stop at the condo to leave our firewood for Jim and Ally, we were on our way with the mileage at 6,578.

It was a little scary through some of the mountain passes in the rain clouds. The temp was hovering around freezing. There was beauty around every bend once we broke out of the clouds.

We stopped for breakfast in Salida, and continued on the two-lane mountain road along the Arkansas River to Colorado Springs.

Once we hit Interstate 70, I took to the wheel. With the cruise control set at 79 mph (75 mph speed limit) I drove for about four hours on a pleasantly wide open road.

We pulled off in Salina, KS around 5:30 pm CST. Yelp directed us to the Hickory Pit for some tasty barbecue.

There was a minor mix-up at the hotel, and they advised that Solo had to sleep in the car. Shortly thereafter, the hotel staff apologized to us, and permitted him to stay in our room.

He was on our bed most of the night:)

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Altitude Adjustment

Day 23 - Altitude Adjustment

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

With insomnia being one of the symptoms of altitude sickness, we woke much later than usual after stretches of sleeplessness through the night.

Mt. Crested Butte was still hiding in the clouds on our morning walk with Solo.

At one point in the morning, I left the room, and in the hotel hallway a young man looked at me and said, "You are Bobby's aunt, you look just like his mom." I was shocked, but quickly realized the close group of our nephews' friends living in CB. We had a chat with Chris Dean, and said we'd try to meet up for a group dinner. Too funny!

With suppressed appetites, we dressed for our 10am spa appointments. Bill and I had a relaxing massage at the hotel.

We were happy to finally get a glimpse of the butte afterwards. The sun was in and out, and the clouds over the mountain top drifted away. Beautiful.

After a quick drive through Kebler Pass, we walked up and down Main Street. It's the friendliest town ever!

Ally met us at Elevation's bar 9380 for a drink and we picked up Jim at the condo. It was fun to see their space and Jim's artwork decorating the pad.

Jim and Ally treated us to a yummy dinner at Select Stash. We dropped them back at the condo and said our goodbyes.

Entering our hotel, we bumped into Deaner and his friend again. They were on their way to the hot tub, and we were on our way to bed !

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Rockies!!!

Day 22 - The Rockies!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We were on the road with 6,199 miles just after 7am. We took breakfast to go from the hotel.

It was a painfully bright sunrise as I navigated Bill out of Albuquerque and into the scenic southwestern neighborhoods of New Mexico.

The vacant highways and byways afforded a relaxing change from our typical routes on busy interstates.

We crossed into Colorado just after 11:00am. Northern New Mexico was pretty, but CO was instantly more lush in several different ways.

It was a peaceful two lane highway as we climbed deeper into the state. The mountains enveloped us, and the aspen trees were in full radiant color. It was a spectacular ride.

We stopped at a park in Gunnison to walk Solo, and then found a great little lunch at Gunnisack Restaurant.

As we were dining, the weather changed dramatically. Dark clouds and thunder accompanied us on our climb to Crested Butte. After 21 days of dry weather and varied temps, the first rainfall of our journey was a fine change of pace. A hail storm greeted us on top of Mount Crested Butte.

We were delighted to see the magnificent landscapes and mountain homes, some of which were shrouded in clouds at 8,800 feet.

We checked into the Grand Lodge, and we're very pleased to find a spacious suite and reasonable off-season price.

After a little relaxation, Jim and Ally met us in the lobby and drove us to a terrific Asian restaurant called Ryce. It was great to catch up on the last few weeks. They left the vineyard two days before we started our trek out west.

After a fun visit over a nice meal, our altitude sickness disappeared and we said good night.

Bill and I walked Solo and enjoyed the moon peeking out from the clouds with the big mountain ever present in the darkness.

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Business in Albuquerque

Day 21 - Business in Albuquerque

Carlsbad, Mojave Base, Needles, Albuquerque

Monday, September 24, 2012

Once we plugged in our laptops, we knew it would be a lazy morning. Free wi-fi and a big keyboard made for a productive morning.

After breakfast at the hotel, we settled in the room and got some planning tasks completed for Mom's memorial. We decided to extend our stay in Albuquerque one more night.

Feeling very accomplished, we headed out to pick up a couple of essential items at the nearby Target, a beard trimmer and hair detangler!

For lunch, we took our camp grill and leftover pizza to the park and played frisbee with Solo. The pizza was even delicious the next day, warmed on the grill!

Off to historic Old Town with the pooch for some sight-seeing and browsing. Albuquerque is quite the dog-friendly town. Solo was welcomed in all the shops.

We drove to Nob Hill and bought some t-shirts for Will at Urban Outfitters. Without delay, they were in the mail to TESC before heading back to the car.

Cocktail hour sure rolls around quickly! We had a drink in our room before walking over to a Yelp recommended dinner joint, The Owl.

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Uneventful Travel Day

Day 20 - Uneventful Travel Day

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Still dark when we woke to the stars above, it was 79 degrees at 6am.

We broke down camp and had a light breakfast at the site before embarking on the day's journey.

The odometer was at 5,647 miles as we entered the I-40 eastbound ramp. Within minutes, we crossed the Colorado River and entered Arizona.

It was an uneventful day on the road, with the Painted Desert being a highlight of the vast and barren landscape through AZ and NM.

We covered a lot of ground, and pulled off the road around 5pm at a Holiday Inn Express in Albuquerque.

Solo need a romp in the park, so we played frisbee before I used the facilities at the hotel to catch up on loads of laundry.

While I slaved away, Bill found the best pizza of the trip from Nine, a Yelp recommendation. It was delivered to our room.

We were in heaven with clean clothes, a tired pooch, full bellies and air conditioning!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Eastbound Interstate 40

Day 19 - Eastbound Interstate 40

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chris and Bill were up early with coffee and dog duty, while Audrey and I opted for beauty sleep.

Once we were all gathered around the French press, we hopped into Chris' new truck with three dogs and went out for breakfast in Solana Beach.

The dogs had a great time at Del Mar dog beach before heading over to view the construction progress on Chris' winery and restaurant. It looks like it's going to be a very cool space.

Back in Carlsbad, we loaded up our car and said good-bye to the newlyweds. It was a short but sweet visit.

With the mileage at 5,333 and at our furthest southwest point away from home, we officially began our journey east at 12:15pm.

I navigated while Bill drove us to Interstate 40 East. It was a dramatic drive through the barren rolling hills nearing the Mojave Desert. The road was wide open except for the occasional trucker.

We had a final In-N-Out burger fix for a late lunch at 3pm in the desert town of Barstow. With a full tank of gas, we were back on I-40 for Needles, CA. Bill continued to drive, giving me my first day off. I think he felt guilty about my four hours behind the wheel in LA traffic.

It was 106 degrees when we pulled off around 5pm to set up camp at a gimmicky Pirate's Cove Resort.

We carefully placed our tent away from the volcano shaped ant hills and plentiful horse poop. For the first time on our trip, we had the tent flaps at optimal ventilation.

We savored a bottle of Chris' Pinot Noir, but skipped the campfire. Too hot!

It didn't take us long to realize that the tent fly must go. We needed total air circulation, so we stripped the tent down to it's bare shell.

It was down to 100 degrees when we took to our air bed. We had a full panoramic view of the light show above. Although I felt somewhat exposed, it was spectacular sleeping under the stars!

There was a time during the night that we actually got into our bags.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Central to Southern California

Day 18 - Central to Southern California

Friday, September 21, 2012

Every dog has his day, and today is Solo's day. He didn't seem to mind sleeping in the car and was quite perky on his morning walk.

After an amazing "rock shower" in our funky room at Madonna Inn, we headed down 101S for the town of Buellton. Our starting mileage for the day was 5,024. Two accidents delayed our breakfast at Ellen's Danish Pancakes, but it was worth the trip.

We then drove to the cute little Danish town of Solvang for a stroll before going to Arroyo Burro dog beach in Santa Barbara.

Solo was in dog heaven with the frisbee, loads of playmates and a cool Pacific swim.

It was close to 2pm when we found ourselves in the thick of Los Angeles Friday afternoon traffic. It was simply miserable, and took close to three hours to get out of greater LA.

Just after Orange County, the road opened up and we found ourselves oceanside once again.

Chris and Audrey were waiting at home in Carlsbad for our arrival. We were greeted by three large and exuberant Goldens, Reina, Zed and Cali and a little darling, Hunter. Solo made five.

It was great to meet Audrey and see Chris again. We went for a group dog walk, with wine in hand, before heading out for a Mexican dinner in town.

Back at the house, we had a deluxe guest suite and fell quickly asleep.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

A Magical Day All Around

Day 17 - A Magical Day All Around

Big Sur, San Luis Obispo

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Sheridan Petaluma was a nice break. It was fun watching all the race car drivers organizing in the lobby. Apparently, there was to be a big race at the Sonoma track later in the day.

We stopped at Marine Bean for a latte and muffin to share, and started back on the Redwood Highway with the morning mileage at 4,741.

There was more traffic than we anticipated heading into San Francisco, but we were on the Golden Gate Bridge pretty quickly out of Marin.

We drove Highway 1 to Carmel and window shopped with Solo before going to Clint's Hog's Breath Inn for lunch. Solo just laid at our feet on the patio while diners spoke fondly of the pets they left at home.

Back on Highway 1, we enjoyed the agricultural sights, and marveled over the inexpensive prices of avocados and artichokes along the way.

Then, we were utterly captivated by hours of the most breathtaking, but tedious driving of the trip.

It was a severe clear day and Big Sur was even more spectacular than we remembered. The pass was a crowded stretch with motorcycles, convertibles, campers and thrill seekers abound.

We arrived in San Luis Obispo just before 5pm. Our "Rocky Mountain" room at the Madonna Inn was whimsy and magical, just like the rest of the hotel.

The hotel was not pet friendly, so we decided to leave Solo in the car for the first time ever. He was comfy with pillows and a perfect CA temperature.

We had martinis at the bar before dinner in the wacky dining room. It was a fun night.

We walked Solo around the beautiful grounds before we took to our bed. Life is good!

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Moving On from an Unforgettable Bad Vibe

Day 16 - Moving On from an Unforgettable Bad Vibe

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Crawling out of the tent at the crack of dawn, and greeted by the muted hues of sunrise over the lake was a spectacular sight.

We lingered over coffee and a campfire, talked to Will at college, and made omelets with our leftover asparagus and Tillamook cheese.

Still wigged-out with the campground, we were hesitant to take showers, but ended up doing just that after we broke down camp.

The shower felt good despite the unkept facility, which left us raving about and missing the world class campgrounds in Oregon.

Back on the road, with the odometer at 4,570, we headed into civilization. The first call of duty was getting Solo a bath. Second mission: In N Out Burger for lunch. Third errand: get the oil changed.

I even got a little Marin County shopping in!

We dropped in on Peggy. The door was open, but no one was home. Julie and Renee were expecting us around 5pm for dinner, so we made our way to San Rafael.

The twins were simply delightful as the moms tried to get some dinner in their little bellies. We had a nice visit before Peggy and Sala arrived.

We all sat around the living room for a couple of hours. The twins went to bed and Peggy left shortly thereafter. Julie and Renee got a nice meal of pasta and salad on the table.

Still troubled by our camping experience, the conversation turned to Ukiah and the CA natives told us of the vast amounts of weed and meth produced in the northern part if the state.

We said a fond farewell around 9pm and drove to our Sheridan Hotel in Petaluna. Ahhh! It was a nice bed!

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Meth Town Campground

Day 15 - Meth Town Campground

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A beautiful but pesky variety of blue birds infiltrated our morning camp. Solo did not like the invaders at all. A fellow camper told us of a nearby owl's nest, which probably was attracting the hungry birds.

Breakfast by the fireside was pleasant, despite the pests. We were back on 101S just before 9am with the odometer at 4251.

The sands dunes were fascinating as we worked our way further down the OR coast.

Natural beauty enveloped us, and the marine haze gave way to blue skies as we neared the CA border.

We stopped at an amazing store, Fred Meyer's in Brookings, OR for groceries and camping supplies just before the checkpoint at the border.

There was an inspections agent asking what sort of fruit we were carrying across the state line. A little bizarre we thought, but our grapes and WA peaches were okay.

We stopped at a bar-b-que joint in Eureka, CA and continued to thoroughly enjoy the ride on Redwood Highway.

Northern California was equally beautiful, with dark corridors of redwood tree tunnels every once and a while.

As the landscape changed to vast rolling hills, we found our way to a campsite in Ukiah, Lake Mendocino. It was our first waterscape camping, and also our first creepy feeling camping.

The first campground was unacceptable so we drove through the scary little town to find the second camp. Although a beautiful setting, Kyen Park left us uneasy.

We made the most of it and had our OR Coho salmon on the grill with a nice bottle of wine and a lakeside campfire.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Long and Winding Road

Day 14 - The Long and Winding Road

Monday, September 17, 2012

We woke just before 6:30am. Our campsite had water and electricity, so we used our hot pot to boil water for coffee.

Brew in hand, we took Solo to the beach. Just as we were walking over the dunes, we looked back to see the sun peeping out over the distant hills. Beautiful!

Back at camp, we had cereal and the best public shower ever. We rolled on 101 at 9am, to continue our trek down the OR coast.

Our first stop of the day was Tillamook cheese. We bought some curds and had a hearty breakfast. A splurge on the diet with ham and eggs and lots of melted cheese.

Back on the road, we were treated to some of the most magnificent sights either of us have ever seen. The wild and rugged Pacific!

After about 250 miles and seven hours on the road we pulled into Humbug State Park just after 4:30 pm. Camp was set up quickly and efficiently and we took to the fire with brats, avocados and beer. Heaven in the wilderness.

We folded in early with our Kindles. Although the camp was right off of 101, I slept soundly but Bill had some fits of sleeplessness with late night highway cruisers.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Bittersweet Goodbyes

Day 13 - Bittersweet Goodbyes

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Solo had the big hotel bed to himself with Will spending his first night in the dorm. I did a final load of laundry before our departure.

We arrived on campus just before the President's Brunch at 11am. Will met us under the clock tower. He looked nice, with a new shirt and jeans on. He told us of his fun first night. There was a beach party on the Puget Sound.

The brunch was well attended. The speakers imparted some thoughtful messages that even inspired Will.

Will walked us back to the car where Solo had been sleeping in the cool shade. We all said good-bye, with tears concealed to the best of our abilities.

With the odometer at 3,836 miles, we drove out of the serene campus for I-5 south. Bill and I were a little sad.

We stayed on I-5 until just before the OR border where we began our journey along the coast on 101.

The beautiful shore along Astoria lifted our spirits. We stopped for fish and chips at Bowpicker, a recommendation from a fellow camper at Olympic National Park. It was a good find!

Cannon Beach was pretty, too, and we found a campground a little further south in Nehalem Bay State Park. Our site was sheltered by dunes about 100 yards from the beach. Very pleasant!

We enjoyed a memorable sunset with wine, and took to our campfire before climbing into our sleeping bags. It was a little gusty during the night, and the sea provided a lull for a mostly sound sleep.


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Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Big Day

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's the day we've all been waiting for. Move in day at TESC. We headed over to the school after breakfast at the Black Bear Diner.

The school was jumping at 9:30 am and we waited in an organized line for a little while.
Will really didn't have a huge amount of belongings to move, so it went quickly once we there room to park in the circle in front of the dorm.

Gregory, Will's roommate, and Ben were setting up their spaces when we arrived. They seemed like nice guys. There's another Ben in the quad, but he wasn't around.

Will unpacked while I made up his bed. I was feeling blue since breakfast.

Bill and I went to Target to pick up some odds and ends, then had lunch while Will and the quad mates went into Olympia in Ben's car.

We picked up Will at school and went back to the hotel. I did some laundry while the guys watched football. We went to a Japanese Steakhouse for dinner and it was a disaster. That's all I'll say.

We took Will back to his dorm for his first night at college. It's bittersweet.

Will and Gregory

Friday, September 14, 2012

College Bound

Friday, September 14, 2012

It was a pleasant morning by the campfire. A cool 46 degrees when we woke. After breakfast we broke down camp and headed for Olympia. The scenery was simply beautiful as we drove down highway 101 South.

We stopped at an oyster farm, Hama Hama, for clams and chowder. We were also hoping to get a taste of geoduck, but no such luck. The Asians have a corner on that market.

At 3774 miles we pulled into the Red Lion Inn, Olympia WA! After checking in, the first stop was a barber. Will got a trim and then we walked around town.

Back at the hotel, we reviewed Will's schedule, had a drink and went to Bascillia for Italian food.
With a spooky movie on the TV, we settled into our beds and further relaxed. It's been a great trip.

A Chilly Night in Olympic National Park

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It was a chilly night under the stars. Thoughts of bears and coyotes ran through my head while trying to fall asleep. Solo was as quiet as a mouse on his bed at the foot of our tent. The silence in the campground was kind of eerie.

We woke at the crack of dawn and Bill provided tent service with coffee for his loved ones.
After a soothing bowl of oatmeal and toast, we sat by the fire planning our day. And continued to sit by the fire for hours upon hours. We listened to our book, had hot tea, made hot dogs and beans, played frisbee and sat by the fire.

Finally, we made a move and drove to Hurricane Ridge, 17 miles up the mountain road. It was a spectacularly scenic ride. We then drove to Port Angeles, the nearby town, to buy gloves and a hat. Burrr!

At an amazing little general store, Will geared up for college. He found some Levi's and flannel shirts. Yes, gloves, too!

Back at camp, we rekindled the fire and prepared wings, corn and rice for dinner.
It was a relaxing stay in a beautiful setting. We love our campsite!

And this was sea level!

Sol Duc Hot Springs

Day 10 - Sol Duc Hot Springs

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It wasn't nearly as cold our second night at Heart of the Hills campground. It was a balmy 48 degrees when we woke.

We enjoyed another morning of sitting around the fire with our coffee. We made bacon and eggs with a WA peach for breakfast!

After clean-up we hit the road for Sol Duc Hot Springs. The ride along Lake Crescent made me think of Lake Tahoe. A mountain lake of deep blue and emerald green hues. Gorgeous.

We left Solo in the tent with his water bowl and Aero bed to himself. After a lengthy road construction delay, we found our way to the hot springs, 45 miles or do into the park. The hot shower after a pleasant soak in the mineral pool was equally delightful.

We had a picnic with our Vancouver goodies from the Italian shop, accompanied by super cold Coors before heading back to rescue Solo from the imaginary bears and cougars at the campsite.

Enroute to the campground, we finally finished our 60-hour audio-book. Stephen King weaves a great web, but his endings somewhat disappoint.

Solo was happy to see us but seemed to be completely content to spend an afternoon in the big bed in our tent.

We all went prowling for firewood and enjoyed cocktail hour as we prepared our dinner. With onions and potatoes in the fire, we prepared steak, broccoli, salad and last-minute campfire bread. Delish!

We have the clean-up down to a science, and the perfect campfire for a nightcap. Solo had enough, and walked over to the tent door to communicate his desire to go to bed. Cutest dog ever!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Heading to the Wilderness

It's been a fun few days in the beautiful city of Vancouver. We're off to Olympic National Park in WA. I can't think of a better way to help Will gear up for school, and pray for peace and love in a post-9/11 world. I doubt we'll find internet at our campsite, so I'm signing out until Friday!

Monday, September 10, 2012

North Vancouver

Day 7

Pikorua necklace
We decided to extend our stay in Vancouver for one more day. After the best night's sleep, I was up and moving early. I cleaned out some of our camping foodstuff from the car, grabbed the laundry supplies and proceeded to throw in a couple of loads of clothes.

Another yummy breakfast and we were off on our day. Back on the #14 bus to the harbor, the sun-lightened-seedy-underbelly of East Hastings Street didn't seem as dramatic. We transferred to the sea bus for North Vancouver.

After the quick ferry ride, we strolled and shopped a bit. I found a pikorua necklace made from BC jade to remind me of Jim and Ally.

Back in downtown Vancouver we walked a couple of blocks and stumbled upon a terrific place: Imperial Chinese Seafood Restaurant, and enjoyed dim sum for lunch.

The boys went for a seaplane flight and I found a hair salon. Win-win for all! Together again in a couple of hours, we enjoyed a quick stop in a pub, with Will excited to be legally drinking at the bar. Back on the bus, Angel, some crazy, toothless bum entertained our rear corner with card tricks. We love the scene on public transportation!

Some wine and goodies purchased from the Italian shop across the street will suffice for our last night's dinner in Vancouver.

View from the sea bus

Cloudy Day Touring Vancouver

Day 6- Sunday, September 9, 2012

Solo was ready for his morning walk bright and early. Bill and I took to the neighborhood with pooch in hand. We explored the grounds across the street. Hastings Park is an expansive greenery with gardens, trails and an awesome skatepark. There's even a racetrack and the former home to the Vancouver "Smucks," the PNE.

A surprisingly delicious hotel breakfast lifted our spirits and set the pace for a lovely morning of touring the sea walk, gaslight district, and west end. A flea market temporarily depressed us as we worked our way through a down-trotted, pee-smelling population selling stuff salvaged from neighborhood garbage cans. Sad sacks, indeed.

We had a relaxing lunch outside at a brew pub, Steamworks, and hit a couple of malls for back-to-school clothes for Will. Everything was very expensive, so we compromised on a hoodie and a pair of shoes and promised more shopping in Olympia, WA.

The big adventure of the day took place on the #14 bus back to the hotel. Crack heads and other sorry looking individuals filed on and off the bus as we sympathetically mused in grateful appreciation for all of our blessings.

We were all pretty tired after the day of walking, but rallied after a respite in the hotel room.
Italian food was on order for dinner. We grabbed a taxi and headed over to Commercial Drive and enjoyed pizza, pasta and a bottle of Chianti at Lombardo's.

A lively dinner discussion ensued over the merits of the accuracy of Zagat's and other rating systems. It started with the observation of a "23" food rating in NYC is not really in the same caliber as a "23" rating for a Vancouver restaurant.

A quick taxi trip back to the hotel, in the rain, and we were snuggled in our beds and off to dreamland in no time at all.

Memorable Annoyances

Day 5

Missoula, Butte, Coeur D'Alene, Spokane, Seattle, Vancouver

Saturday, September 8, 2012
On the road again at 8:13am. The blue sky heading westward was slightly tarnished by the smoke from multiple wildfires plaguing the dry countryside. The drought has been apparent throughout our journey.

Fifteen miles into the beautiful scenery, it dawned on me that I left my Kindle in the hotel room. We did an about face to collect the device. Ugh. What's an extra 45 miles in the scheme of 10,000?

At 2890 miles we crossed over the ID/WA state line. We were happy to see the beautiful land and waterscapes approaching Spokane, which we missed on our last go-around. The beautiful Coeur D'Alene Lake area was shrouded in darkness on our 2010 passage.

We stopped at another burger place for lunch. It held a special memory from our 2010 swing out west. It sits on the dramatic edge of the Columbia River gorge: Blustery Burger. Last time we were there it was so blustery it left us with an indelible memory.

Will took the wheel after lunch, with Seattle within two hours. Then Bill took us to the Canadian border, while I tediously worked on the iPhone for hotel reservations in Vancouver. It was not easy finding a dog-friendly hotel in the city, but I pressed on as we waited in the immigration line of vehicles for about 30 minutes.

We arrived at the Holiday Inn Express on East Hastings totally frazzled. To further complicate our mood, 70's music was blasting from a nearby speaker in the carport at check-in while we unloaded everything from the car top carrier because the garage height restriction prevented us from entering the parking lot.

With the empty Thule now inside the van, we parked the car and proceeded to our room, immediately finding ice and pouring double scotches before evaluating dinner options.

Le Petit Saigon was just up a couple of blocks so we walked for dinner. It was a brightly lit joint with decent food and lovely service. We couldn't really understand our hostess as she tried to describe various dishes on the menu, so we just told her to feed us. The was all good.

We finally felt relaxed as we tucked into our beds. It was nice knowing we could sleep in.

Blustery Burger on the Gorge

The Burger Dive

Day 4

Dickinson, Terry, Billings, Butte, Missoula

Friday, September 7, 2012
An empty Interstate-90 greeted us at 8:45am. We are moving slowly, but as they say, "getting there is half the fun!"

Right out of the gate we were treated to some beautiful scenery as we sped through Theodore Roosevelt Nat'l Park. Within miles we entered MT! Yay!

We're two-thirds into our audio book and marvel at Stephen King's prolific story-telling ability.

We stopped in Billings, MT for the best burger ever at a Yelp suggestion, The Burger Dive. Awesome onion rings and fries reminiscent of the best Idaho potatoes. The boys didn't get good vibes from the town, but I loved our brief picnic in the park.

Will hauled us into Missoula at around 7pm. Our favorite haunt from 2010 was too pricey, so we opted for the Red Lion. It met our needs just fine.

With the odometer at 2681, we checked into the adjoining Chinese restaurant and called it a day!

MT Still Struggling wtih Meth

Heading into the Gold Rush State

Day 3

Menomonie, St Cloud, Barnesville, Fargo, Bismarck, Dickinson

Thursday, September 6, 2012
Although we gained an hour in CST, we took two! On the road again at 8am, we detoured off I-94 to go around the Twin Cities, but construction made for an extra long trip through the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Ugh.

After lunch we stopped in Barnesville, MN to get Solo current on his shots as required to enter Canada. It was a sweet animal clinic in a town of 2500 people.

Will drove a couple hundred miles and brought us into North Dakota. It was a slow going and uneventful travel day. We crossed into Mountain Time just after Bismarck.

We pulled off in Dickinson, ND at a brand new LaQuinta Inn loaded with construction workers, reflecting the "gold rush" this state is experiencing. The odometer was at 2018.

After dinner in the "best" restaurant in town, Country Kitchen, we took to our comfy beds to watch the MTV awards.

Workers Living in Hotels

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chocolate Bacon Cake

Day 2

Streetsboro, Gary, Chicago, Madison, Menomonie

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Feeling rested and refreshed, we pulled out of our roadside hotel at 8am with the gas gauge on empty. Ten miles up I-80 we refueled and Will picked up some breakfast to go. The morning fog made way for clear blue skies and a bright sun within the first hour.

With so many friends and family in Chicago, it was a difficult decision and a momentous exercise in discipline to drive through the city with one quick exit off of the Interstate for Portillo's drive-thru Italian beef sandwiches for lunch. Best lunch ever though!

Dodging lots of construction and an abundance of inconsiderate truck drivers on I-90/94, we pulled off in Memominee, WI at 6pm with the odometer at 1403!

Bill inquired about a local supper club and we were off to picturesque Jake's on the green river.
Walleyed Pike and chocolate bacon cake was on the menu! Love Wisconsin! Will does, too. Under age patrons can drink beer if accompanied by their parents.

Bacon Lover's Delight in WI

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hurricane Issac Weak but Wet

Day 1

Vineyard Haven, Hartford CT, Tobyhanna PA, Streetsboro OH

Tuesday, September 4, 2012
With a packed car, Solo and Speedy joined the family for another adventure across the country. Our mission is to get Will to school in Olympia, WA and have some fun along the way.

Pie in the Sky, a favorite bakery in Woods Hole, MA was the first order of business for breakfast sandwiches, lattes and sweet treats for our ride. We put in our first audio book at 8:20 am: "The Stand" by Stephen King.

Bill got us through the first 340 miles and I took over the wheel just into PA before the I-80 approach off of I-380. It was a dark and cloudy few hundred miles with stretches of the remains of Isaac pounding the highway, and greatly inhibiting visibility.

With the odometer at 703, we pulled off at a hotel in Streetboro, OH. We were not interested in dinner, so ordered appys from the hotel restaurant and chilled in the room. 

Speedy at the helm of the trek