The Griswolds could learn a few things from us!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

We bring our wild, wild (mid) west adventure to a close.

We have enjoyed this 3800 mile adventure.  We spent our last 3 days in Bowling Green, Kentucky where we were able to meet up with great friends, the Palmers from Washington State, and the Elliotts from Owensburg, Kentucky.  We spent our last 3 days relaxing and enjoying friends -- what a perfect way to end our trip.  And as you can see from below, Erica finally got her way!

Playing Chess, Campground style!

We travel in 11 states, in 17 days and we came up with our favorite 5 things from our trip.  We also thought we would share some of our favorite "Griswold" moments.

Our Top 5 Favorite things:1.  Custer State Park - experiencing the buffalo
2.  Needles Highway - beautiful mountains
3.  Wild Life Safari outside of Omaha, Nebraska
4.  The Bad lands
5.  Amazing use of wind mills for energy in many of the midwest states

Top 10 Griswold moments:1. A man took a picture of me and Nathan while he was screaming (for hours) in the St Louis Arch - I think we will go into his scrap book as memories from his visit to the arch.  I looked at Erica and said "did he take a picture of us?" with eyes real big she shook her head Yes!  I just laughed and cried at this same time.
2.  Dennis had to back-up the camper and truck down a 1-way road in St Louis when we couldn't fit under a bridge (and I had to get out and move "do not enter"signs).  Yes, the rednecks have left St. Louis.
3.  A Tractor-trailer driver had to motion for Dennis to pull our rig over because our electral system was dragging on the road!
4.  Nathan got kicked out of the pool (No infants in the pool) and this red-neck Mom wanted to bonk the old-man tattle-tell that brought it to the lifeguard's attention.
5.  Erica got us in trouble when she had to go to the bathroom at a campground that we were considering staying for 3 days.  The manager didn't believe us and got mad and told Dennis he owed her $5 for flushing the potty - which Dennis said "No." The manager's heart sank when I told her my name (I had called ahead and she was dying for our business) and we decided NOT TO STAY at a campground with such a hateful manager.  She lost a sale BIGTIME!  Our joke for the rest of the trip was "we could always go back to Whispering Pines!"
6.  We drove an extra 50 miles to the ONLY campground on Lake Michigan in the Chicago area.  The campground had been CLOSED due to storm damage!  We considered breaking in, but "Clark" didn't.
7. Our last week consisted of a bathroom door with the handle missing (we called it a semi-private bathroom).
8.  Dennis "sub-let" a campsite in Okaboji, Iowa from a guy because there were NO campsites in the entire city and we had driven an extra 50 miles to stay in this area.
9.  Dennis was locked out of the campground when he went to the store because he couldn't find the security code.  Redneck from Tennessee!
10.  We did eat t-bone steaks with Wisconsin brie cheese on PAPER plates and cut them with plastic knives.  Sometimes it was hard to tell if we were more like "Clark and family" or "Cousin Eddie and family."

Thank you for sharing in our 2011 vacation adventures.  We really did have a fabulous time and are very thankful for the opportunity to explore our amazing country.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The fun continues as we travel a different route on our way home!!

We continue to see many sights that are new to us and continue to play every day by ear. Sometimes it is a "good" thing, like when we were able to attend a rodeo when we stopped in Mitchell, SD, and sometimes it is a bad thing like when we drove for hours in Okoboji, Iowa, begging for a campsite ANYWHERE! Found a primitive spot and was thankful for it!  But with the good and bad, we are having a blast.

The Bad Lands, South Dakota, are truly breathtaking!!

And fun to climb!!

This little gas station was a VERY welcome site.  Our GPS said NO gas for the next 30 miles.  With us getting 10miles/gallon pulling the camper, we would NOT have made it.  Dennis' heart sank when he lifted the 1 functional pump and it would not work.  But when he went in and woke up the attendant, she turned on the pump and we were able to get gas.  Shew!!

The rodeo was in town during our stay in Mitchell, South Dakota.  We were so excited to have this opportunity to attend.  Joel loves horses and we all enjoyed this event!


Miss South Dakota, actually had to work, rounding up cattle, sheep, etc.

At the rodeo

When we arrived at the world's only Corn Palace the next morning in Mitchell, South Dakota, we were greeted with a parade!!  The parade was in honor of the rodeo being in town (not in honor of the Irwins being in town, as Dennis likes to think).

All the artwork at the Corn Palace is made from corn and other agricultural products.  The artwork is amazing and it is changed every year by different artists.

And who can drive through Minnesota without a stop by the Spam Museum.  It was a fun time for all!
Making Spam!

What a delicious stop we made at the Mars' Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin to get "our fill" of some wonderful Wisconsin cheese.  Yum!!

What a great visit we had with Ann McNamara in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois.  Ann treated us to a trip to the Shedd Aquarium and lunch, overlooking the beautiful Lake Michigan.  The "Windy City" had a "hot wind" blowing this day, as the heat wave sweeps the midwest.  Chicago is a "little bit" bigger than Knoxville (ya think??)

Unfortunately, our trip through Indiana was short and sweet.  We traveled our most aggressive travel day yesterday, driving almost 500 miles.  We ended up in our new home for 3 days of Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Only 3 days left....we'll have to see what we can find in Kentucky!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Exploring around Wyoming today...

We have had a full, but rewarding day.  We drove to Wyoming and enjoyed some lovely sites.  We have grown to love the small towns we go thru when driving on the long stretches.  Below you will see the smallest one we have seen so far, Aladdin, Wyoming, population 15.

We made a quick stop at Devil's Tower.  Some may recognize it from the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

And tonight, we went to Mount Rushmore.  It is truly amazing.

And below are a few pics from the campsite.  Who says roughin' it can't be fun!?!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Verdict is in......South Dakota is amazingly gorgeous!

 We have had a full and exciting day, exploring the beauty of South Dakota.  Our 1st stop was to see the work in progress of Chief Crazy Horse.  I visited here when I was 12 yrs old and wow, has lots of work been done on this monument, but it has a very long way to go.  The face was completed in 1998.  Very interesting....
If you look real close, you may be able to figure out where we are from (evidently, this was orange day)!

Below is one of the narrow tunnels on Needles Hwy.  We had a lot of fun exploring the Black Hills today.

Dennis and I tried Bison (buffalo) hamburgers today.  We thoroughly enjoyed them....every bite!!

This is a Pronghorn.  Very interesting animal.
And this is a bison (formerly buffalo)....and yes, this is a very close up picture because he liked our truck!

 The baby bison were soooooo very cute.  They would run to keep up with their moms!  So sweet.

Lots of Prairie dogs
 Erica was thrilled with the gigantic dandelions, so we had to get some pics.

 We have had a great day, exploring the beauty of the Black Hills.  Breathtaking. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I was finally able to get some pics to load. the St. Louis arch was not the funnest adventure the Irwins have ever had.  We were there with about 5 million of our closest friends.
This is me, moving "DO NOT ENTER" signs in St. Louis, trying to navigate this East Tennessee red-neck truck/camper around the city.  Not sure why everyone was looking and pointing at us!  Ha!
The wind mills in Rockport, Missouri
This pic and these next few are from the Lee G Simmons Wildlife Safari in Ashland, Nebraska.  We loved this!!

You know in the movies, when the characters roll into the deserted gas station on fumes?? Well, that was the Irwins after this long stretch of don't-see-another-car road. We were so thankful to see this gas station!

Thankful for Kevin who fixed our tire that went flat in Alliance, Nebraska.  So thankful that it didn't happen on yesterday's stretch of 150+ miles of farmland!
Saw some beautiful wildlife when our GPS sent us on about 10 miles of gravel road
Home for the next few nights.  Off to do much needed laundry!

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