Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday, May 14 - The Home Stretch

The last day is upon on. We arose early in PA as we had to have the RV back in Arlington by 11AM (about 3.5 hours away). So after the last cereal was eatn, and the last goodbye said, we headed off.

About 5 seconds later, as we were leaving Lindsey's parents' driveway, something was not right with the RV. We pulled into the milking barn parking lot (about 100 yards from the driveway) and surveyed the damage. We discovered the drivers' side tire was flat on the bottom. We had travelled so long and now we had a flat - luckily it happened in the right place! Lindsey quickly called her dad, who arrived momentarily with a portable air tank (you gotta love the farm's resources). Since it was flat on the bottom, we suspected it wasn't a puncture but a leak somewhere in the mechanics of the tire. We were able to use the air tank to fill the tire enough to make it up the road about a mile to the farm's maintence garage, where Lindsey's uncles sprang into action. After some studying of the tire and some chatting about the trip, the tire was fully inflated and in good condition. Apparently, it was the extender air valve that had a leak so Lindsey's uncles simply removed it and the problem was solved. We were on our way again.

After a short conversation with the RV rental office, all was secure for our late arrival. The rest of the trip to DC passed without any incident. We had a driver, and the rest of the travellers packed and cleaned the RV. Luckily, we even found some street parking big enough right by Lindsey & Anders ' place that made the unloading process very easy. We unloaded quickly and drove to the rental ofice to return our trusty steed.

So we are now back in DC reflecting on a great trip and trying to put everything back to where it belongs. Thanks to all who we met along the way and helped make it a great trip (Sabrina, Adam, Katie, Bill, Joyce, Lindsey's uncles, cowboys, random English guys, and our good friends the bartenders - just to name a few). We're all a little closer, all more travelled, all wiser on US geography, and all looking forward to the next adventure!

Sunday, May 13 - Family Farm Fun

Waking up at a rest satop has its advantages - fresh, hot coffee and Cinnabon :)

The travellers drove the remaining 5 hours to Pennsylvania to Lindsey's parents' house on the farm. After the journey, a few beers were enjoyed on the porch before a wonderful steak dinner (Thanks Joyce!!!) and a tour of the milking barn and processing plant given by Lindsey's dad. The vikings got to meet more of Lindsey's family as folks kept stopping by to check out the RV parked in front of the house and to say hi :) A good time was had by all!!! The travellers even got to utilize one of the farm's high pressure washers to get about 22 states' grim off the RV.

After a short showing of some trip photos to Lindsey's parents, all headed to bed for our first night out of the RV (Again, Thanks Joyce!).

Saturday, May 12 - Mad Dash to the East

The day started with Bergen, which is just an intersection!! There is an antiques store, a meat processing place, a house, and the Bergen Bar and Grill in the intersection. So we took our pictures, had lunch at the Bar & Grill, and headed East. The day was a long one with us driving through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois (through Chicago baby), Indiana, and Ohio!!!!!

Finally, at 3 AM we were ready to call it a night so we tried looking in our campground book for somewhere to stay in Northern Ohio. There weren't too many choices, but we decided to try the one. When we arrived there was a night registration, so Lindsey deposited the $15 fee in an envelop with her contact info (as was normal procedure), took a map and went to the RV to find a spot. Then we were faced with our first challenge - we couldn't get into the campground. The lane in had a gate that was locked and the lane out had tire spikes bolted to the ground. So we did what any tired campers would do - we broke in :) We sent a team of two out to Gorilla Tape the spikes down so we could drive over them (which worked withhte help of our doormat for extra tire protection). Then we were faced with not being able to find a spot due to permanent trailers everywhere and a suck ass map. So we decided to break back out! (Driving over the spikes in the right direction was a breeze!) With a short stop at the office so Lindsey (armed with a pair of tweezers) could fish our deposit back out of the drop box, we were on our way. 30 miles later we were settling in for the night at a rest stop on the Ohio Turnpike along with all the truckers.

Friday, May 11 – Crossin’ South Dakota

Crazy Horse Memorial was the first stop today followed by Mt. Rushmore. Both were impressive and worth a visit. The travellers then headed back on the road to cross the Great Plains of South Dakota. We had lunch in Murdo, South Dakota at the GTO Diner. There was also a car museum at the Diner, but we had to skip it to keep our schedule.
We crossed into Minnesota and are now sitting in the Jackson KOA with a stop planned tomorrow morning for the Norwegian town of Bergen, Minnesota (and perhaps a visit to Oslo also if we have time). Our days are running short and we still have many miles to cover!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday, May 10 – On the Road Again

Today we departed Yellowstone in a two hour drive out of the park towards Cody (man, that park is large). Yellowstone Lake is still frozen and there is snow in the park so needless to say it was a cold night :)

The entire day was spend driving into our next position, Mt. Rushmore. Anders successfully piloted us through Wyoming, including over a part of Big Horn Mountain Range (part of the Rockies). It was all worth it when on the other side we saw our first authentic cowboys in action herding cattle across the road. It was a proud moment as they even waved at Cowboy Stig :)

We stopped in Gillette, Wyoming for dinner a small town where apparently every single person eats out every night as there was a wait at every restaurant we tried. Eventually we ate our dinner and continued on to South Dakota. We are now sitting 5 miles from Mt. Rushmore, which will be our first stop in the morning.

Wednesday, May 9 – In the Bush

Next destination: Yellowstone National Park. We drove north into
Idaho (where Stig’s grandfather lived for several months before WWII) and then entered the corner of Montana to gain access to the park. We were intending to drive on to Cody, Wyoming tonight but those park roads are closed from 8 PM to 8 AM so we are staying inside Yellowstone tonight (No WiFi here so this will be uploaded later). We checked in at our campground where there was an extensive check-in lecture by the Park Ranger since we are now in the heart of Grizzly Country and then proceeded on to Old Faithful. Along the way to the geyser we saw quite the array of wildlife, including about 5 bison walking right down the middle of the road!! They finally moved into one lane so we could pass and take extreme close up pictures of them.

Old Faithful gave quite a show, although the weather was starting to get pretty chilly. We returned to the campground - no electric, no showers, but flush toilets :) - and started our campfire for a dinner of burgers and a few beers, We have some long drives ahead of us in our remaining days, but scenery like this makes it all worth it! :)

Tuesday, May 8 – Salt Speed

We departed California finally and drove across Nevada. Shortly after driving over the border into Utah, we arrived at our next tourist destination – the Bonneville Salt Flats. Driving along the isolated road to the Flats, Stig interrupted some teenagers who were making out in their car along the road with our headlights. They quickly relocated to another spot :) We all had a test run over the Salt Flats – even Nigel who broke his own speed record. A few fireworks were set off by Odd Jan and Joar to celebrate the occasion. It was then a two hour drive to Salt Lake City where we hunkered down for another short night’s sleep.