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.

Monday, May 7 – Still California Dreamin’

(Note to our devoted readers: Thanks for the patience! We’ve been in some pretty remote country without internet connection, but now we our back on. Enjoy reading about our latest adventures over the last couple of days!!)

After another great sandwich at the campground cafe, we departed Santa Barbara. Along the way, we stopped at the beach so we could dip our toes into the very cold Pacific Ocean. The Vikings even decided to go for a swim – though they were the only ones on the whole beach who thought it was a good idea J

We set the RV towards San Francisco travelling along Route 1, a very scenic highway of the California coast. We arrived in San Francisco at dusk, just in time for some great pictures as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. The travellers started looking for a campground and ended up around Lake Tahoe (a stone’s throw from the Donner Pass). The night was freezing cold when we arrived at 1AM and there were signs warning us of brown bears everywhere. Cold weather, bears, the Donner Pass – where the hell are we?!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sunday, May 6 - Wine & Dine

Finally , we all could sleep in!!! The RV even had an overnight guest, Katie, who stayed with us after the crazy night out in Santa Barbara. Joar & Lindsey discovered a path to the neighboring campground which has a deli so the crew enjoyed a great deli lunch after a short walk (really great sandwiches). Next, we all piled into Katie's car destined for wine country. We had a wine tasting at a winery at the Ynez Valley where some wine was purchased to help us make Sangria for dinner :) On the way back, we stopped at Solvang, a very interesting town modeled after a Danish village.

A short swim at the campground pool was enjoyed by all before we had a cookout for dinner. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Katie as we start to head east tomorrow. Our Californication is over for now.

Saturday, May 5 - Bimmers & Beer

With Saturday came Bimmerfest, a huge BMW car show in Santa Barbara, which initiated this whole trip! Anders, Joar, Stig & Odd Jan attended Bimmerfest while Katie & Lindsey went down to the beach and went shopping. During the awards ceremony at Bimmerfest, they asked for the person who traveled the furthest to attend the show. A woman from New York was going to claim the prize before Joar called out "I'm from Norway!", which was indeed the furthest traveled to atttend the show. So Joar recieved a large trophy (which is now housed in the RV) and even got to give an acceptance speech to the whole Bimmerfest audience.

We all got cleaned up for the night and headed downtown to dinner with Katie. After dinner, we ended up at an English Pub (No Wankers Allowed) and settled in for the night. After many beers, rum & cokes, gin & tonics, and vodka & cranberries, Stig announced that "We got limes, bitches" after ordering a round of Mexican beer in honor of Cinco de Mayo. A very good time was had by all with many folks asking Cowboy Stig if he was really a cowboy. We eventually had a late night taxi ride back to the RV park to get some much needed sleep.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Friday, May 4 - California at Last!!!

The morning started a stop at a western wear store for some more cowboy gear. Cowboys Anders & Stig now have some boots to complete their assembles. Stig lead the charge into California with Lindsey as copilot. As we crossed the Mojave Desert, the RV was caught in some extremely high winds and a sand storm! Visibility was poor at best and the RV was being tossed around the road by the wind. Even as we stopped at a rest stop along the road the RV adventurers found it hard to walk across the parking lot against the wind.

Stig with Joar as copilot then masterfully cruised through the LA traffic. We even had our very own greeting to LA with another driver signaling us to roll down the window and he yelled "Go Norway!" in Norwegian! How did he know about the Norwegians? It could possibly be the big Norwegian flag in the back window and "NORWAY" written under it :)

We finally arrived the campsite about 8 PM, all happy to be staying in the same place for a couple of days. Katie came over to the RV and took us to civilization for dinner. Let tyhe Californian fun begin!!!

Thursday, May 3 - Viva Las Vegas

Today was a highlight for everyone - even Nigel - the Grand Canyon. It is a spectacular site that everyone enjoyed. It was a sucessful visit with many pictures and no one fell over the edge :)

After the Grand Canyon, we were on a straight shot for the city lights of Las Vegas. A short stop was required for lunch at the Road Kill Cafe along historic Route 66. After a colorful lunch ("Too Slow Doe" is a BBQ beef sandwich) we were on our way to Sin City.
Next was a great drive over the Hoover Dam, we arrived about 7 PM (those pesky time zones keep surprising us) and enjoyed a few beers at the camground before hitting the famous Strip. Although we were all tired from a day of driving, we managed to visit Bally's, Paris, and Bellagio before calling it a night. Vegas definitely needs a return visit - perhaps the next vacation?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Wednesday, May 2 – Native American Country

After arising in the Colorado mountains, we completed the short 10 minute drive to Mesa Verde National Park. Once there, we toured the Cliff Palace site which included climbing ladders out of the site the equivalent of 12 stories. A few English chaps met Nigel after the tour and thought he had “such a cracking name” J We continued on to Four Corners Monument & Navajo Market which was open today!!! After the necessary pictures, a few more accessories were bought to contribute to Cowboy Stig’s outfit as Joar and Odd Jan purchased some genuine Native American weaponry. The RV roared to life again as we travelled to Monument Valley and its spectacular views. Although Lindsey did not realize this was the next destination as the conversations concerning this stop were being discussed in Norwegian (a small detail which will now surely change). After careful deliberations, it was decided to head the RV to Tuba City, Arizona (in the Navajo Nation Reservation) for the night which will put us in good position for the Grand Canyon tomorrow. A few hard earned beers have been opened the group is unwinding for our next adventure.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Tuesday, May 1 - Tornado lookout

The morning started with a wonderfully scenic drive through New Mexico and our first encounter with violent rain and hail. The weather played with us all day varying between sunny and downpours. Apparently, we're driving a perfectly straight line through tornado alley during the start of tornado season!!!! Several times we had all RV occupants scanning the horizon for funnel clouds.

During a sunny break, a swim break was required at Santa Rosa "The city of Natural Lakes". Nigel even got in on the fun with his very first accidental swim (by falling in), which he enjoyed very much after some assistance :) We all packed in the RV and headed west to Albuquerque then north to Four Corners Monument. The drive took us through the heart of the Navajo Indian Reservation where Anders performed speed trials on the RV (85 max until he hit the govenor). We arrived at Four Corners Monument right as they were locking the front gate (NOOOOO!), so we hope to come back and hit that site tomorrow. We proceeded onto Mesa Verde RV Resort for the night (only about an hour away) which will put us in prime position for multiple site visits tomorrow. By the way, this RV park is the BEST we've seen thus far - two hearty thumbs up!!!!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday, April 30 – Cowboys & Cowgirl

We departed Oklahoma City after a supply run and a visit to a local western wear shop. We had a few more cowboy hats than when we had arrived at the city (and a pair of bull horns for the RV) and we were on our way. With our entry into Texas, we witnessed the emergence of Cowboy Stig. Sporting his new black stetson and wrangler jeans, Cowboy Stig drove us into the sunset through Texas. We stopped in Amarillo to pay homage to the Cadillac Ranch and leave a few names spray painted on the cars. Surprisingly, the cars our in a pasture field that did contain many cows (and a few bulls!)!!! We charged on and entered the field on foot to get a closer look at the cars with only one curious bovine on-looker that had to be chased away by the resident cowgirl. After all the pictures, we packed in the RV once again and proceeded on to Tucamcari, New Mexico where we are resting our weary heads for the evening.

Sunday, April 29 – Roll along little doggie

Refreshed, the group awoke with a fire to continue the trek. Soon after leaving Memphis, we found ourselves in Arkansas and in southern humidity. After a drive through the entire state, we entered Oklahoma on the way to Oklahoma City for the evening. The group had dinner on the schedule with Lindsey’s friend Sabrina & her fiance’ who happened to also be in Oklahoma City the same night. We met them for dinner at a race track/restaurant and then had some fun in the casino. After a short visit at the campground, we settled in for the night. We are officially half way in the trek west now, but with many more miles to go.

Saturday, April 28 - Early Morning

Anders manned the first driving shift with Lindsey as co-pilot into southern Virginia as the jet-lagged vikings took the first sleeping shift. Stig took the second driving shift with Joar as co-pilot charging into Tennessee. By 5AM all were awake thanks to rest stop coffee & a shaking RV at 60+ MPH. The slightly delirious group rolled into Memphis 2PM Saturday - 19 hours after our departure. AFter check-in at a slightly shady campground, we walked the 5 minutes down the street to Graceland, our first tourist destination. We all put on our blue suede shoes and got all shook up to fully take part of Elvis fever :) After a tour of the mansion, the car museum, and his airplane the "Lisa Marie", we had seen enough Elvis for one day. We headed back to the campground and initiated the first cook out of the trip before settling in for our first good night's sleep.

Friday, April 27 – Departure Day

After all the planning and preparation, departure is upon us. A few minor last minute trips were necessary for additional supplies, but all was mostly accounted for. We picked up the RV in the early afternoon and started packing. Finally the last piece of luggage was in, the last bathroom trip made, and the last viking entered the RV. We departed DC at 8 PM with a non-stop trip scheduled to Memphis, Tennessee (approximately 900 miles away).