Cholo's 2019 Road Trip--16,750 miles in 9 weeks

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Cholo

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BPJ, I couldn't leave here. My 2 daughters and 6 grandkids live close by. What I love about the west is the lack of population and those big beautiful open skies. IF I were to move out west, it would probably be Idaho because it has the above and the political climate I like.

The Utah sign at the state line posted above has another sign in the background that says "Next Service 83 Miles". Now, that's a lot of low population and open skies if you ask me :)
 

Cholo

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I think I'll head back into ID for the 3rd time this trip :) I havn't retraced any steps, though, and I've never seen the state from south to north.

I havn't hit rain or even an overcast day in over 4 weeks! The weather has been absolutely spectacular! In the SW the temps were 10-15* less hot than last years record temps. Close to 20* in Death Valley due to record heat there last July of around 122*. Blue skies every day. Also, most of the west last year was covered in smoke from all the forest fires. I saw none of it this year. Nice!

The sky on Hwy 93 north towards ID. The shadows they cast on the golden fields were amazing!







I stayed in Twin Falls, ID. Going to my motel I passed by the Nissan dealership that changed my oil 2 weeks earlier when I was traveling east to west. What were the odds? The sky remained beautiful, but it looks like I'm finally going to hit some rain. On the road between Sun Valley and Salmon via Stanley:











Well, it rained...and hailed up a storm south of Salmon! It was so loud on that big empty van that it sounded like my head was in a bucket and John Bonham was playing Moby Dick on it!

Oh, look, a plane coming in for a landing! I wish. A rock hit the windshield the day before. It would have hit me right between the eyes. Glad I wasn't on my bike.



It was pretty cool riding thru where Elmer Keith had a ranch!



I sent my oldest daughter this pic with the caption "I guess it all blew up in..."



From Jimmy Buffett's best album, the 1st line in Miss You So Badly

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZmrJSmtzVY
 

Cholo

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I heard the Beartooth Highway is nice this time of year :) Charles Kuralt once said on his segment "On the Road" that BH was the most beautiful drive in America. Did that guy have the best job in the world ever? We, I can think of a few better jobs but not for the Forum. For 25 years he was paid to drive all the backroads and quaint places in the country and report on them, and the true characters he met. I entered it thru Red Lodge on Hwy 212.



Right away they had one of those lit up signs saying Watch out for bicycles Aug.13 Let's see what day this is... You've got to be kidding me :x There were over 7 trillion bicycles climbing that mtn! At least they stayed mostly to the right and in single file. Well, except for some of the men who were riding in the middle of the lane. (Notation: Don't forget bag of broom sticks next trip for sliding thru front wheel spokes.) They really were a pretty darn good bunch with the rare ***holes sprinkled in.

I don't know if I'd say this was the most beautiful drive in America, but it's well worth your time to travel on it! It's beautiful!















I drove thru Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT figuring that's pretty much the end of the BH. I had to backtrack because I really didn't want to enter Yellowstone NP a 3rd time. I'll take 296 to Cody, WY. What a gorgeous road! And look at the skies I continue to get! They've been like this every day except 30 minutes of fog in Olympic NP and rain/hail just south of Salmon, ID. Wow!









I'm thru Cody heading towards Buffalo, WY. It was in Buffalo where I was left turned by a PU while on my bike in '73. I went down and slid about 50' on the wet rainy road. Buffalo is so big now that there was no way I could find the road it happened on. This is the last pic of the Rockies I'll take. They start at Buffalo here and I'm heading east.

No more Cascades, no more Sierra Nevada, no more Rockies :cry:



The change is so abrupt. Now I'm looking at hundreds of golden mounds and in my rear-view I see snow capped mtns. Amazing! But I'm heading to the Black Hills of SD.

♪ ♫ Now somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota there lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoooon... ♫ ♪

Not before I visit Devils Tower, WY. Cool place! If you're able, and I am barely, take the trail around the base. Interesting place.







Seriously? Huff Huff :(



 
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Cholo,
I'm glad to see that you have enjoyed the "Big Skies of The West". That is one of the best reasons to be in the West.
Like you said all of this country is beautiful in it's own way.
What I noticed while living and working in AL, NC, New England, Canada and spending a LOT of time in VA while kids were stationed there. When you drive down the interstate and all you see are trees at the edge of the road and in the medium. Taking the back roads are even worse. We have driven the Blue Ridge Parkway and The Skyline Drive a couple of times. The first time was from beginning of Skyline to end of The Blue Ridge. Even that is not like the West. I like to be able to see the land and sky that I'm driving thru and what is taking place on it. Yea they have mountains in the East but you don't get to see a lot of them while driving.
We won't even talk about all the haze in the summer time. Great Smokes got their name for a reason and yes we have roamed around them also.
Anyway looks like you are having a wonderful trip. We have also been to many of the same places that you have and all are OUTSTANDING.
Thanks for the Great travel Log
Jim
 

Cholo

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I hear you, Jim, and I appreciate your responses in this thread.

When I wrote what Charles Kuralt said about the Beartooth Highway it got me to thinking. I can now say that, with very few exceptions, I've seen everything that I've want to see in the USA. North south east and west, I've been nearly everywhere I've wanted to be. There is one road I feel is the most beautiful drive in America. You just have to do it at the right time, and there's not much leeway. I'll save it for the end of this trip report :)

I will say that there's not much that beats the amazing big western sky! I'm always in awe and as you know, pics do it no justice.
 

Cholo

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Let's head to the Black Hills, lots to see there! I looked on Trip Adviser and they recommended staying in Custer or Keystone. GMAB! :roll: I hate those little tourist towns! IMHO the best place to stay where you can be most anywhere in about 30 minutes is western Rapid City. Lots of reasonably priced motels and all the restaurants you'll need. The drive is the Black Hills. Seriously, how long can you look at Mt. Rushmore? I read one report that highly recommended Keystone "there's no parking but you'll love it there". Ugh...

Well, let's go see Mt Rushmore again. It really is impressive! Heading to it on Hwy 244 is this sign:





I leisurely drove just about all the roads in the Black Hills, which included Custer SP. There's not an ugly one to be seen. The Crazy Horse Memorial was worth the side trip. It was started in 1948 and isn't close to completion. At the rate it's going it will be done in about 600 years. That's not being sarcastic. They refused govt. $, about $20m, because they said the govt. screws everything up. Watch the short movie inside.





I went to Wind Cave NP but the elevator was closed for maintenance. The ride to the end was beautiful!









In this pic it looks like you're looking down on the clouds.



Hwy 87 north to Hwy 385 is IMHO the most amazing road in the Black Hills! It's also known as Needles Highway. You're just driving along and...Wow! These pics were taken at the Needles Eye tunnel on the north side.







I think he gone makeit (sic)



Naaa, don't think he gone makeit without some structural damage :)



Got up bright and early to see some new sights. I'm heading to drive Hwy 16a north from 36. 16a has 3 tunnels on the way to Keystone. You can see My Rushmore centered in the 1st and 3rd tunnels. Really cool! Heading south from Keystone you can see Mt Rushmore centered in the 2nd tunnel. What the...? :)



Anyway, before I get to all of this I see a car broken down on the side of the road. Hood up and gallon gas can next to the car. I ask the woman if she's okay, someone is in the passenger seat, no--out of gas. Into Keystone I went. 2 1/2 hours later I return with 2.5 gal of gas in a borrowed gas can. Now a man is behind the wheel. I asked if anyone has stopped since I left them. No. I'll admit that he looked pretty rough, but nobody?

Keystone sucked. I don't know why anyone would recommend staying there.

I still have a ways to go, and I havn't hit Badlands NP since '73. Moving on...
 

AJGUNNER

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After you finish this thread up---(no hurry), could you please post a map with your route highlighted. I want to copy it so that one day I can do a very similar trip. While I have been all over much of the Western & Mountain states, and actually been in 35 of the states, this thread is reminding me that there is certainly much more to be seen.
 

Rick Courtright

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gramps said:
That’s what I am talking about!!! Rick, critters like night time in the desert cause it is COOLER? :shock: :mrgreen: At least that is my reason.
gramps

Hi,

I'm sure that's a large part of the reason for many of them, gramps. But one must remember, some of the biggest temperature swings happen in the desert, too. Just for example, the spot a buddy and I like to go isn't the coldest nor the hottest place we've gone, yet it has shown us from 22 deg F to 116 deg F between winter and summer! And the wintertime activity is still at least as great as the summertime once the sun goes down. Hmmm...

Rick C
 

Cholo

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AJGUNNER, I don't know how to do one of those maps like you sent me of your brother's epic bike trip. Maybe someone can walk me thru it or my daughter can.

gramps, I didn't visit Freedom Arms. It would have been interesting, though!



I took this pic from my van in the Black Hills, Custer SP I believe. What is it with people and large animals? They park and walk right up to the Bison in Yellowstone, and this right after that 9 year old girl was thrown about 8' up in the air by one. So, here are some wild donkeys. 2 of these women put their toddlers on the donkey's back. They start to suddenly walk away with the kids on top in the effin' road! One slip and there's a serious head injury.

The looks on these 2 women's faces were of sheer terror as they ran the short distance to snatch their toddlers off the backs of the 2 donkeys, and then they were grinning from ear to ear like how cool was that? :x I need to get away from people. I can't handle stupid like this when it comes to kids. I need to just STHU or there's going to be an altercation I don't want. And this **** happens every-single-day in these parks.

On to Badlands NP. I remember riding thru Wall, SD on my '73 bike trip. Yup, Wall Drug is still there and the town is how I remembered it. I didn't stop then, and I didn't stop now.

I got on I-90 and headed east so I could do Badlands NP the way I did it in '73.









That's lush grass growing up there!



The only tree around. I wonder how long it will be before someone crashes into it :)



I took the long dirt road out to Hwy 44 in Scenic and up to Sturgis. It was hard to believe that a week or so ago there were 495,000 bikers in the area.

How many of you know that there's a National Park in ND? Yup, divided into 2 sections.

North on 79 into 22 in ND and on to Dickinson. This was the loneliest stretch of road I've ever driven on! Sturgis, SD to Dickinson, ND was 196 miles of nothing but crops! No services of any type! Nothing but groceries growing in the massive fields. Sure, I could have headed west and hit Hwy 85 that paralleled the route I took and I'm certain there would have been some civilization. But I've never driven 196 miles with nothing.

It looks like I might get wet for only the 2nd time on this trip.





Damn, did it ever rain! :shock: No place to pull off to wait it out.

Once it ended I thought how this place is so lonely that I'd bet you could drive 120 mph for years and never get a ticket. There's hardly any vehicles! I stopped where 22 jogged east and then north to take a pic. 2 PU's came along and I fell in behind them. One passed the other and the road was so bad I wasn't in any hurry. I turn north to continue on 22 and about 5 miles later, in the middle of nowhere, I see blue lights. The PU that passed the other one? It wasn't his lucky day as a ND State Trooper had him pulled over. There went my 120 mph thought right out the window :)

Suddenly there was the good sized town of Dickinson, and RR tracks--the reason Dickinson is even there. All these crops have to go somewhere.

Next stop:

 

Cholo

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I didn't know much about Theodore Roosevelt NP. TR was probably the 1st true conversationalist. He visited the ND badlands and fell in love with them. There's a north and a south section. I visited the south 1st.









About 80 miles north is the north entrance. Of the 2 I'd say this is the prettiest.





I read a sign somewhere in ND that said the early settlers called this area Bad Lands because there was no way to cross it. I thought, buy hey, we built a road! :mrgreen:









I didn't visit the 3rd section of the Park and where TR had his homestead: Elkhorn Ranch Unit. I was told I needed a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle and even then I might not be able to make it. Bummer :( All that remains are parts of foundations.

A friend told me last summer that I might want to consider taking Hwy 2 across the northern US. I did in some areas, but it wasn't far north enough. Hwy 5 in ND is :) At some places just 5 miles. I wondered what kind of people lived way up here and what they looked like. They were a cross between Aboriginal Australians, Peruvian Inca Indians, and Swedes :mrgreen:

I left Williston well before sunrise and hung a right onto Hwy 5. The 2nd pic is pretty much what it would look like until I crossed into MN, minus the sunrise.





There's sure not much traffic up here! When you do see a vehicle, and this goes for every remote bread basket road in the mid west, you see farm trucks. No S-10's, Rangers or Tacomas, these are big hard working American muscle, mostly Dodge and Ford. Big Chevys might be used to go to the grocery store for a bag of dog chow. I noticed the same thing in the mtns of the west. I'm not knocking Chevys. It's just what I saw; you might see it differently.

Earlier on the eastbound leg of Hwy 5 I saw a motorhome coming at me. I'm like--WTH is HE doing way up here. Then I thought about it. Okay...

It was about 315 miles to the MN line. There were a few places to get gas or some grub. I really enjoyed this road and admire the folks who call this home! I had to lock up my guns. MN doesn't recognize my permission slips...
 

Cholo

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I cross the state line onto MN 175, to 59 to 11 east. It really started getting pretty in Baudette where 11 runs along the Rainy River with Canada right across from it, not far at all. The weather was spectacular, as usual on this trip. That's Canada on the far side.



The road behind me and in front of me. The river is on the tree side. Yes, I could stand right in the middle of the road for the pics. It's nice and peaceful up here.





International Falls, MN. I always hear that it was this cold in IF, MN this morning! It's called The icebox of America because it has 109 days per year that don't reach 32*F. I think I'll check it out. I love these little waypoints.



Make motel reservations well in advance if you want to stay on the US side of the border!

I think I'll hit Voyageurs NP in the AM. Get booked for the boat trip ASAP at the:



I'm booked and ready to go. Time to head to the Sha Sha Resort for some bar grub before the boat trip.

www.shashaonrainylake.com

I'm the 1st one there, imagine that :) I liked her Led Zeppelin T-shirt. That started the conversation, and she was tipped well.



I got to sit on the top front center after tossing a small child overboard :)



The sky, the water, an absolutely gorgeous day to be in the NP! It would be really easy to get lost up here with all the islands and channels.





I have no idea how deep the water is here, but the boat goes right between the grasses on the left and right.



I can't believe that nobody's crashed a boat into this lone tree on this tiny island.



Harry was one of the last commercial fishermen in Voyageurs NP. His ice house was so well made that he'd cut ice in the winter and it would last 2 summers :shock:





I headed south then east etc. and came out in Silver Bay, MN on Lake Superior.



I headed north on Hwy 61 towards Grand Portage at the Canada line. It was a beautiful day with beautiful views--but that &%$#& road :x It was 90 something miles of what seemed like riding over those rumble strips in the road. Not the entire time, but over half of it. Total misery and I had to backtrack it as there was no other way out. My 10 ply tires didn't help, but this was the most god awful hwy I've ever ridden on. I had a splitting headache. At least when I got to Grand Portage, which is on the Res., they had the courtesy to have a sign that read: Rough Road. Ya think?









I got a room in Superior, WI. Superior is where the Edmund Fitzgerald set off on its fateful journey...
 
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I have travelled extensively, I thought, to all 4 corners of the continental US, but there is very little in your pictures that I have seen. This is a huge country! I suspect you have seen far more than the average person can even begin to imagine.
 

Cholo

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I was standing in the road. I didn't post many pics taken thru the windshield. The one above where you can see the hood of the van is one of them. You can see the cracked windshield left center.

WAYNO, I try not to retrace any steps I've taken before. I like odd places like Cape Flattery, WA, Hwy 50 across NV, and International Falls, MN. Between last year's bike trip and this year's van trip I covered over 26k miles. A lot of places I like to go have no interest to others, but they do to me :)

I traveled across northern WI and the UP (Upper Peninsula) in MI. Hyw 2 in the UP coming in from WI is really pretty. I didn't drive the more northern hwys because I've done them before and I like to see new roads. The further east you go the more crowded it got. It finally got to the point of far too many people for me.

I crossed the Mackinac Bridge with Lake Superior to the west and Lake Huron to the east. It can get really windy up there, but thankfully it wasn't this time. This is the longest bridge I drove over at 5 miles. The Astoria-Megler Bridge between OR and WA is 4 miles. I visited my sister north of Detroit and we drove to the scenic town of Marine City on the St. Clair River with Canada on the other side. Beautiful water! It connects Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair and Detroit! Nice town and not crowded at all.



I found a bigger boat for Chief Brody!



I don't know if this would be a roofers worst nightmare or a wet dream :)





On to see my son in NE OH. It's the Labor Day weekend and he has a few more days off from work so we can do some things.

Twice I've tried to get to the baseball HOF in Cooperstown, NY. Neither time worked out, so here we go! We'll take one way there and another way back. We crossed into enemy territory (NY) from PA on I-86 to I-88. For those who have never been to upstate NY, it's gorgeous!



We were headed to Cooperstown, not a photo shoot along the way like I'd have done if alone. It's very pretty around the town, and the town is quaint as well.















I see no need to post pics taken inside. The place was amazing and lacked nothing having to do with baseball. If you've ever liked the game at any point in your life, this is a must see museum. We spent the entire day there. Nice! :)
 
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Another GREAT report.

We crossed into enemy territory (NY) from PA on I-86 to I-88. For those who have never been to upstate NY, it's gorgeous!

You are 100% correct about upstate NY. While we lived 30 miles North of Montreal in 1971 we spent a lot of time in upstate NY, NH, Connecticut, and ME. NY and New England gets a bad rap because of NYC. kind of like CA. because of the big cities.
 
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Cholo:
There, I finally managed to work through this thread. Wow! Those are some great pictures. I'm very impressed. I've heard of Voyageurs National Park but haven't made it there. I spent two summers working at Crane Lake, at a resort right up there just about 20 miles or so from International Falls MN. It's very, very nice up there... in the summer that is.

Thanks for all the pictures.
 

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Cholo, I've done a fair amount of exploring parts of the country. Up and down the east coast, up and down the west coast, and two crosscountry trips from east to west, but nothing as rambling and rolling and carefree as your epic journeys. 3 places on my bucket list are the Custer Battlefield, Gettysburg and Arlington Nstional Cemetary. Cooperstown would be a fourth...If Ihad to choose a place to revisit it would be the Grand Canyon. In fact, my good friend Jerry and I are putting together plans to do a raft trip through the canyon now that he's had successful back surgery and a hip replacement. Perhaps you might be interested in joining us? Give it some thought...

Peace and God bless, Wolfie.
 

Cholo

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Jim, New England, including upstate NY, is some of the most beautiful country in the lower 48.

Kevin, glad you're enjoying the pics. IF, MN is incredibly beautiful in the summer! Clean air, fresh deep blue water, and mild temperatures. Boats out the yazoo, too, with all those lakes up there! The fishing must be amazing. Where do they put all those boats once the lakes freeze 20' thick? :?

Great, wolfsong. Now I have to go back to MT to see Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and I stayed in Billings right before I did the Beartooth Hwy. :x My OCD is kicking in :mrgreen: I'll think on the Grand Canyon trip.

We left the next day and took the northern route, I-90, to visit Niagra Falls. I havn't been there since I was a kid; Wayne never has. They're still quite impressive!







When I was there as a kid I remember how ugly Buffalo, NY was. We're about to go back thru it so has it improved any? It's still the ugliest most decrepit city I've ever seen in any country. It's literally depressing. I told Wayne how ugly I remember it and he said it was far worse that he imagined. Plus they get 93" of snow per year. Ugh...

Yup, Ohio has a NP, Cuyahoga Valley NP. It's one of the newer NP's established in 2000. If I had this trip to do over again, I'd just have pics of the NP signs without me in them. I think it makes for a better pic. This is a hiking NP, not a drive thru. There is a 3 hour train ride, but we didn't wait for it.





Wayne showed me how to darken the pics to look more natural in places with little sunlight. I wish I'd have known that in the Giant Redwoods :(











Located around OH, this is one of the finest outdoor sporting goods stores I've ever been in, and I've been in 2 of them. Nice!



The last 3 Labor Days we've taken a few Cleveland Indians games, but they were away this year as well as the Pittsburgh Pirates about 2 hours away. So, why not take in an Akron Rubber Ducks game? They are a AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. It was the last game of the year and they called out seat #'s for prizes. I won a base used in the game. It must have been 3rd because it didn't have much dirt on it :mrgreen: I gave it to Wayne.





This is what the van looked like towards the end of the trip. It only rained 2x in 9 weeks. The bugs literally get ground into your windshield and an hour of solid rain won't remove them with the wipers. Those gas station squeegees are useless. Next trip I'm bringing a stepping stool and a heavy duty cleaning utensil so I don't have to be looking thru bugs all the time.



The windshield crack kept getting bigger and bigger, so it now has a new one. Let's see how long it will last. It's had 2 replacements.

My trip was over, but my vacation wasn't. Not without going with my oldest daughter and SIL to see Dwight Yoakam in Chattanooga.





I've now seen 98% of what I've always wanted to see in the lower 48. The only schedule I had to meet, and it's just because I wanted to, was to spend 5+ days with my son over Labor Day and be home in time to see Dwight Yoakam. Other than that, I didn't have a plan except to see things I've never seen, or have not seen in decades.

It really leaves me with--What's next? I want a 3 day trip to Macon GA to see where Duane Allman and Berry Oakley met their end. No, I'm not macabre; it's just a sad part of my past. They're buried with Greg in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon. I want to visit there, but that's 3 days max.

I think I have next years Great Adventure in the planning stages. I'll follow up with thoughts about this trip. Thanks to all who've enjoyed it :)

PS: If anyone has any questions about anywhere I've been this year or last, or in my life :) , just post it here. I'll be glad to answer any questions.
 

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