Road Trip 2011 – Part 2 – Eastbound & Down

Monday, the 5 of us hit the road bright and early. 5? Yes, Cora, Wednesday, her two African dwarf frogs, Kermit and Trevor, and me. We are driving Cora's Corolla back to sell. We'd kept it out there and drove it when we were there, but with insurance and all, it's going to be just a cheap to rent cars on our visits.

Hopping (frog humor) on I-90, we cut thru the Cascade Mountains via Snoqualmie Pass and into Eastern Washington. Wow, what a difference a set of mountains makes!

From pine covered mountains, to rolling prairie. As we wound across the Columbia River, we paused at the Wild Horses Monument. On a ridge overlooking the valley, there is a sculpture of a herd of wild horses thundering along.


RT-02-Wild-Horse-02A view of the gorge. RT-02-Wild-Horse-03A view of the gorgeous.

Right after the Wild Horses, we zoomed by, I cannot tell a lie, George, Washington.

Lunch found us desperate for a bathroom, but not so desperate as to not explore the scenic downtown of Ritzville, WA.

RT-02-Ritzville-01 RT-02-Ritzville-02
RT-02-Ritzville-04 RT-02-Ritzville-03


Refueling both our bodies and the car, we blasted through Spokane, WA, and Coeur RT-02-Clark-Fork-01d'Alene, ID, and into Montana. I think the most common sign in Montana is "Clark Fork". We lost track when I-90 crossed it for about the 8th time. I think we crossed it about 15 times total. It became the running joke.

But no joke was this forest fire burning in a little valley off the side of the interstate.

RT-02-Fire-01 RT-02-Fire-02

I sure the chopper pilot was glad to have a handy source of water from the Clark Fork River right there.

As the afternoon started to fade to evening, we set our sights on wrapping up the day in Bozeman, MT. And it wasn't going to be too late. And then it hit us.

Frak! We're now on Mountain Time, so we've lost an hour! (Not the last time a time zone change would bite us in the butte.) So, it's late and we got to Bozeman. Should rename it "Booze-man" because I could have used a drink! We pull in to the Comfort Inn, only to get the "Jesus Treatment" (no room @ the Inn.) It appears classes were starting at MSU-Bozeman, so it was full up with parents. Okay, fine, we crossed the street to The Bozeman Inn.
How bad could it be?


Pretty nasty. There was exposed cinder block. That overhang in back? I could barely stand under it. And the bathroom was on the frightening side. At least there wasn't some nasty mystery stain on the box spring.

Oh wait…

Next stop: Yellowstone.

(See, we were eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin'. Passenger named "Frog". Jerry Reed. Just go with it.)


Road Trip 2011 – Part 1 – Getting There

Earlier this month Cora and our daughter, Wednesday, took off for Seattle. They had some stuff to do with the ongoing court case, and it was also a chance to see and be seen by family and friends. (They were even spotted crossing the street by a lapsed blogger who lives a couple of blocks from Cora's mom's place.) Wednesday got to see a couple of friends while she was out there, and the court stuff went pretty well.

Me on the other hand, I was a wreck. I had a week to myself, and it started off with me wandering around the condo like a sad puppy looking for it's owner. Something funny would be on TV, and I would look over to where they sat to make a comment, only to be surprised that they weren't there. It got so bad that on the second night, I slept on the sofa, because the bed just felt too empty.

But then I snapped out of that, and enjoyed the freedom of walking around in my underwear and peeing with the door open.

Time-FliesSo, Friday the 19th came, and I went to the airport after work. Flew thru security, got a tasty sub from Potbelly's, and headed toward my gate for my 7:10 flight. After a 3.5 hour delay due to a storm in Newark not allowing my plane to leave for Hartford and then fly to Midway, we got to board the plane. Aided by a free drink coupon that netted me a double rum and diet Coke, I slept a decent portion of the flight. I'd sent Cora a text long before we took off that I was going to be late, and aided by one of those online flight tracker sites, she wasn't waiting too long at the airport for me. So, it's now technically Saturday, and the road trip hasn't even started and it's already just a touch behind schedule.

After we awoke Saturday, Cora, Wednesday & I headed over to a place on Puget Sound called Seahurst Park. It's a beach along the Puget Sound. This is not the same kind of Pacific coast beach you get in Southern California.

RT-01-Seahurst-Park-01Trying to restore the beach to a more "natural" state with big rocks… RT-01-Seahurst-Park-02 And huge logs of driftwood everywhere. Wouldn't want people enjoying the sand!
RT-01-Seahurst-Park-03 Wednesday is modeling her "New Age Victorian" beachwear. Exposing an elbow. How daring! How darling! RT-01-Seahurst-Park-04 My two little chicks, up in a tree.
RT-01-Seahurst-Park-05 Besides the beach, there is a nice section of woods and streams leading down to the Sound. RT-01-Seahurst-Park-06 Look @ me getting all artsy playing with light and shadow and shooting at an angle and stuff.

"Puget Sounds Worst Play Lot"
3 years running!

RT-01-Seahurst-Park-08And seriously, WTF? I mean W?T?F?

We then went back to Cora's mom's place and took a nap. Oh, the glorious nap that helps set you on Pacific time, how I love you! And after dinner, we went to Shari's for dessert.

Sunday was a busy day, also. First, we had breakfast at IHOP with Cora's mom & sister and her family.

RT-01-IHOP-01 I've got them Harry Potter "apperating" skillz. Either that, or I forgot to set the 10 second timer, and just took the picture, then had to reset the timer, and run back in place. One or the other. RT-01-IHOP-02And as you can see, I fit into the family nicely.

And here's the little star of the show, showing off a skill she learned a few weeks prior.

After our pancake party, it was off to Seattle for the Mourning Market. This is not to be confused with your mother's craft show in the grade school gym or the Pike Place Market. This is a dark, goth market, with some steampunk elements thrown in.

RT-01-Starbucks-01 The show was located in the SoDo neighborhood, just down the street form Starbucks headquarters. RT-01-MM-01Not everyone came dressed for the occasion, but some did. Yes, that's one of 3 hearses that were parked outside.
RT-01-MM-02This was a very interesting display of items for sale. RT-01-MM-02AImagine trying to carry this bad boy thru the airport security line!

At the show, we met up with Cora's friend, Callista and her husband. We had a nice chat with them before the show opened. At the show, Wednesday bought a new pair of fingerless gloves. Her current pair that she wears all the time have been sewn a couple of times, and really, aren't long for this world. After the show, the 5 of us had lunch @ Jimmy John's and then hung out for a while by the cars. As we left, Callista's husband gave me the tub of Lego Star Wars kits that I bought off of him a while ago. (The Yoda will be getting put together soon. That's all I know right now.)

Later in the afternoon, after a round of laundry and packing, we headed over to Cora's dad & stepmother's house. This was my first visit, so I got the tour and the explanation of how they are going to lift the house, move it up and over a little bit, then add a story under it. Plus, I got to see his outdoor train setup.


After a good visit and the tour, the five of us headed out for dinner. A nice Mexican restaurant. It was a calm, relaxing visit, which masked the nerves over the drive to come. Having driven Cora's stuff out last fall in basically 3.25 days with no sightseeing, her dad was a bit skeptical of my plan to do it in 4 days, with a lot of sightseeing along the way.

He was right, but that's for a later post. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Cora's mom's for the final bit of packing and prep-work before hitting the road.

Let the adventure begin!


This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest.


So, by the time you are reading this, I've left to meet Cora and Wednesday out in Seattle* for the weekend. And then we are driving back to Chicago.

Originally, the plan was to rent a car, and drive back. Until we realized that it was bloody expensive to rent a car one way. It was going to cost about $1,300 for the 3 days. For the car. Then gas, food, lodging, etc. With the court case going on, we wanted to save a little money.

So we then looked into having someone ride with us in Cora's car (we've left hers out there for us to drive when we're out there) and then drive the car back. But that fell through.

Then we looked at Amtrak. While we wouldn't get the exact sightseeing we wanted to do, we would get to accomplish another goal of the trip. Wednesday's pet water frogs have been living with grandma since we moved, since they can't fly and you can't ship them.

Finally, we decided to just drive Cora's car back and sell it. When we go our there, we'll rent a car. Since we'll save $75 a month on insurance, we'll either break even or come out a little ahead.

Our planned route is on the map above. Basically, it's I-90. Virtually door to door. But there will be a few side-trips off the interstate and into the wild. We're going to take the better part of 4 days. It will be our quest.

Our current planned side-trips are:

On the bubble:

  • Devils Tower [Link] – It's cool, but it's just a little out of the way, and and it might be dark when we're passing by. So, it may just be a "Close Encounter".

Unfortunately, the following stops, while they COULD be along our path, aren't.

  • Little Big Horn National Battlefield National Monument [Link]
  • Kenmare, ND High School Class Year Rocks. [Link]
  • Rugby, ND (Geographic Center of North America) [Link]

Fortunately, the following stops, while they COULD be along our path, aren't.

  • Spoonbridge & Cherry [Link]
  • Mall of America [Link]
  • Wisconsin Dells [Link]

Nor will this sight be seen along the way. :-(


* Okay, technically, I'm going to work, then flying out tonight. But I wanted to be DRAMATIC!


This Cheese Stands Alone

Cheese. Who doesn't like cheese? COMMUNISTS and WEIRDOES! Actually, I bet Communists (insert Wisconsin joke here) even like cheese. So that just leaves weirdoes.

I love cheese. Not all cheese. But a lot of different cheeses. So last year I wasn't afraid to try an unusual cheese at the farmers market:

Cheese that doesn't melt.

It's a Juustalepia from Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin. A cheese that you can nuke or pan fry, and it will soften, but not become liquid.


This was a plain one we had a few weeks ago. I fried it up in the pan, getting a nice char on the outside.


The cheese has a wonderful, buttery and nutty flavor. Speaking of flavors, they do have multiple flavor of this stuff. We've tried the bacon and the garlic ones. The garlic one is the best of all. I plan on picking some up at the farmer's market on Thursday.

And stocking up before the farmer's market season ends.

What's your favorite cheese? (Cora you don't need to reply. I know of your love of Merkts Swiss Almond Cheese Spread.)


Random Bits of Random-ocity

I've been collecting a whole lot of random bits of fluff and goo around on my hard drive, meaning to share them with you.

And that just hasn't happened, until now…

While cruising thru someecards, I found this gem for the chemists out there:


This one, I created for a friend who has been having good days and bad days.

I look at picture of this, wondering who really would want to smell like Elizabeth Taylor's passion for men.  And then she went and died the next day, so I thought I'd not make fun of the recently departed.  Then I forgot about the picture.

And then I started to think about who would want to smell like a smell, smoke-filled casino.


And then there's this bike.  I see hipster punks riding these around every once in a while.  They desperately try to avoid stoplights.  (FYI: You'll notice a small step welded by the rear wheel.)


The wife and daughter are heading out of town later this week, leaving me to the bachelor life for 8 whole days.  I imagine you'll be hearing more from me as I rattle around the empty condo, lost.


Digging This Commercial

I've actually been digging some of the new Wal*Mart commercials. And the one that I've really been digging for awhile is the "Don't Paint Me" one.

I would love the mural. I've been searching for a picture of the mural without these two goofs standing in front of it. I would love to use it as my computer wallpaper.


Until then, I guess I'll just have to settle for Neptune's stare-down!

Walmart Mural

"Don't paint me."? Oh, I want to paint you. On the side of my van.

Or over my bed.

Think about it. That would rule, wouldn't it?

What's you're favorite commercials going around now? If you say "The Hillshire Farms with the chick" then just slink off and don't leave a comment.

Seriously. What's wrong with you?


It's A Trap…

Tourist trap that is.

Yesterday on Facebook, I tossed out that I was looking for some tourist idea for an upcoming drive from Seattle to Chicago. I already have Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, the Bad Lands, Little Bighorn, Devils Tower, Wall Drug (gotta get me a Jackalope), and of course the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.

In the comments, I made an aside to the fact that we would be traveling too far south in the state to hit the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota. I've already seen it, and driving to Darwin, MN (60 miles due west of the Twin(e?) Cities) wasn't going to happen.

Then I realized that some of you may have missed out on ever seeing one of the largest twine balls on the planet (I'll explain in a second*).

2001-07-The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minniesota 2
So one July, I drove up to the Savage, MN, to see my good friend, T-Bone and his wife. We had a great time, as we always do, when he looks me dead in the eye and asks me if I wanted to see the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota.

That's like asking a shark if it wants to dine on some tender surfer toes.

So, off to Darwin we went, to see the largest sisal twine ball built by one person. And there it is, in all it's glory.

God Bless America!

2001-07-The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minniesota 1

* Wikipedia lists a number of twine balls, using different judging criteria.

Largest sisal twine ball built by one person - Darwin, MN - 17,400 pounds, 40 ft , and weighs 17,400 pounds

Largest sisal twine ball built by a community - Cawker City, KS - 17,886 pounds, 40 feet in circumfrance (and still growing)

Heaviest ball of twine ever built - Lake Nebagamon, WI - 19,336 pounds and growing.

Guinness Book of World Records - Branson, MO - 41.5 feet in circumference

I know what you're thinking: Alright, monkey-boy, play the damn song:

So, what are your memories of the roadside attractions?


International Clown Week - 2011

Last year, I ran a series on International Clown Week.  Based on Google Analytics, my posts that week on "Sexy Clowns" and "Scary Clowns" are still my most popular.  I'm not going to do a full week this year (last year, this was the down time between getting married and my wife and daughter moving in).

But I thought I'd share some clowns with you.  First off, a little Pockets:

After pockets, let's keep things a little sexy:



And now we see what happens when Kim tracks down that cougar:


And if Kim Bauer isn't scary enough, here's couple pictures to help you sleep well tonight.


But is a cartoon clown doesn't do it for you, how about a crazy clown demon baby?


But then this guy is just all kinds of wrong.  WHAT'S UP WITH HIS EYES?!?


I'm not even what to say about this guy…


Don't cry that the blog post is over, smile that it happened.