Reno Nevada 8/21 08/22/2007

Melissa won $26.00, first Casino experience EVER!

Stayed at a fun, clean hotel with a real bed.  Yummy Italian dinner. Played at the Casino and slept very very hard all night. Off to SF this AM.  Cannot wait, v. excited... but sad the whole trip is coming to an end.  We are all learning to enjoy the journey.  Journey continues in California!


As we headed into Idaho from Wyoming the land grew bigger and the towns grew smaller.  The farms had more horses, cows and llama's and we had less places to stop for gas.  And when we finally turned off the main road we followed some back country roads to the middle of no where, City of the Rocks!  A random outcropping of rocks in the middle of the plaines.  It was pretty awesome.  After a lovely hike along a dry creek bed, we found camp, set up and with a soup can as our cooking pot we boiled enough water for our ramen noodles on my own pocketrocket stove. With a bottle of wine, good conversation and good books we went to sleep and woke up with the sun.  For Melissa's first camping experience she seemed to have a great time, slept well and even ate well. Success for future camping excursions for sure!  We woke up fresh with the sunrise and hit the road, dirt roads, for hundreds and hundreds of miles through nothingness to reach a whole other world... RENO!


Niki and Liss head west toward San Francisco.  More on their Idaho Camping Adventure and Reno Casino Night soon!

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Highlights included:
Trail riding
A rodeo
More food
Barrel Racing
Lassoing (is that the right word? perhaps its roping or "heading") fake baby cow horns
Great food
Great drink
Great company
Trivia for money of which Liss was the CHAMPION!!!!  [Well, Niki did win the most questions, but I won the most money. Although, Lee gave me his winnings so maybe that doesn't count.]
Shopping for cowboy boots
Boulder scrambling
More food


I have no idea what deems me a "celebrity guest blogger", but I'll accept the title graciously.  Apparently I've been a huge distraction the past few days for Melissa and Tucker to update their blog.  Now Melissa is parting ways with Tucker as he heads back to Connecticut and then after a couple days to College at Franklin and Marshall.  Melissa will be finishing the car ride to San Francisco with her sister Niki, I guess they will have to start their own P'Diddle game.  Niki is going to break Melissa in to camping at Craters of the Moon in Idaho, good luck Niki!

Jackson, Wyoming has been tons of fun; horseback riding, fly fishing, hot tubs and middle of the night hotel fire alarms.  Not to get too sappy, but it’s been really great spending time with Melissa these past few days, we are really looking forward to San Francisco.  

Driving today we saw several cars pulled over on the road looking into the woods, so naturally we pulled over and bolted out of the car to see what was up.  A giant black moose was walking in the woods, a first sight for both Melissa and I.  

Following an afternoon trail ride where we saw literally 30 Elk running through the woods, there was an excellent BBQ picnic at the Crescent H Ranch with live Bluegrass music.   

Thanks to the Jones for such a great visit and time at the ranch.  Safe travels back to CT and CA for everyone.  I’m headed back to Denver today and then Utah tomorrow to resume the ride to San Fran.  



Today we left South Dakota at 5:30 AM, and drove all day.  We had one traffic jam due to a Bison (yes, a BISON) crossing the road in Montana, and again in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park due to an Elk (yes, an ELK) crossing. [We were reminded of the pamphlet handed out to every Yellowstone visitor to the park:
“WARNING! Many visitors have been gored by Buffalo.  Buffalo can weigh 2000 lbs and sprint at 30 miles per hour.  Three times faster than you can run. These animals are wild unpredictable and dangerous.  Do not approach Buffalo.”  Yes, BUFFALO!]  Also, I almost hit a small half-squirrel, half-chipmunk, half-prairie dog creature with the car and nearly cried with anticipated guilt.  We finally arrived at our destination at Canyon Village in Yellowstone around 3:30 or 4PM.  Went for a quick run/hike and had a great meal in the local “dining room”.  We are sipping Montana Big Sky Brewing Co.’s Summer Honey Ale, and reviewing photos from the last week. Every day the terrain has changed so much, each mile astounds us.
P.S.  We hate mini-vans.
P.PS. And that new chevy that’s half minivan but wants to be a suburban
The Rendevous. I mean seriously. What were you thinking.
PT Cruiser.
Ford Fusion
Jeep Compass
Acura TL. The car’s alright, it’s the people that drive them.
The Chrysler 300, not the C, just the 300 with ridiculous stock wheels. I mean give me a break.
That Chrysler joke of a midsize SUV.
Most new Chryslers actually
AND minivans they are ABUSRD!


Left Ponca mid-morning and drove many miles on picturesque Highway 12 through Nebraska. After waiting several minutes face to face with a stoic young Midwestern boy construction worker holding a “STOP” lollipop in our lane, he then hoped in a waiting  (decidedly bizarre) construction vehicle with a “PILOT TRUCK.  FOLLOW ME” sign on the back. We followed him in the one lane for several miles before he pulled a quick U and we went on our way. 

The whole day was very VERY weird.  Prairie after prairie, field after field, teeny little towns dozens of miles apart.  We tried to stop in D for lunch, 1 mile off I 90, but the entire place was deserted, dirt roads untouched for at least weeks.

Finally we arrived in cheesy, touristy Mount Rushmore.  Still don’t know why they built that thing.  Luckily we are staying in an adorable log cabin type motel complex some miles away. 

Dinner at the GasLight Saloon in the abandoned ghost town, Rockerville, was a fun, eerie finish to the day.  We are fish out of water here in the Midwest.  Loved it for the day.  But dunno how long we would last if we had to stay.  Crack-o-dawn start tomorrow to get to Yellowstone by dark!

Having left the great lakes way behind, we are starting to feel very landlocked, as if there is nowhere to excape to if one of these ghost towns turns into a horror movie on us. For now, though, that hasn’t happened…for now.


Leaving Chicago early this morning, stealing a coffee from the convention in the sheraton hotel, we were off to a rough start with two wrong turns. But we got on our way, with a staggering 9 hours of driving ahead of us. After a few pit stops for Melissa bladder-the-size-of-a-hummingbird Briggs, we stopped for lunch at George's Pizza in Grinell, Iowa.
I pulled ahead in P'Diddles big time today, perfecting my already amazing P'Diddle talent.
Several hours later we pulled into Ponca, Nebraska, with a population just over 1,000. We stopped by the state park to look over the Missouri river, and headed back into town to eat at their only restaurant.
Unfortunately, the only restaurant was closed, so we made due with the local grocery store.
With a population so small, the only hotel still has wireless internet in our room, not to mention more channels on the TV than the Sheraton in Chicago.
I also pulled way ahead in our P'Diddle score, proving myself a better and cooler person than Melissa.
A shorter drive tomorrow will give us time to explore Mt. Rushmore. We were discussing our confusing over why the heck someone would carve the faces of presidents in the side of a mountain today and look forward to figuring out that rationale tomorrow.

Chicago 8/11 08/11/2007

Crossed back over the US border today.  Mr. Grumpy Border Patrol wasn't having a very good day, but we didn't care because were heading into MICHIGAN! Whoohoo. That state was pretty boring. Luckily one of Niki's mix-CDs and an audio recording of "The WalMart Effect" passed the time.

Few miles in Indiana, central time change, hour of traffic entering Chicago metro area (yay) and then we arrived!  Staying in a lovely hotel right on the Chicago River.  We went for a nice run on Lake Michigan, around to Grant Park and then wandered up through the Michigan Ave area.  It was a glistening day, all  the sailboats were out, and there was live music in the Park.  VERY early dinner (more like late lunch) at a local pub hit the spot and we wandered back to our cool hotel.

O Canada! 8/10 08/11/2007

We packed up the trusty Subaru Forester this morning, bade
 Mummy, Dad, Toby and Pirate farewell and hit to road west.  Driving from Connecticut, north to Mass, and west through Upstate NY to Canada. 
  We listened to Sydney Poitier’s Spiritual Autobiography on disc and ate Twizzlers tm (Strawberry and Cherry Nibs)

Heading north of Buffalo we noticed a hazy steam rising from the terrain ahead as if from an explosion or industrial malfunction.
 As we neared the phenom, it became clear we were witnessing the mist rising from Niagara Falls.  We stopped of course. 
Tucker didn’t push me over. 

At the Canadian border a very pretty border patrol officer asked us for our id and if we had any weapons “...or firearms.
Some people think a firearm isn’t a weapon” she said, “but it is.  Do you have any?”  We said “No” and were allowed into the country.

Boys in kilts waited on us at dinner at a pub in St. Catherines, Ontario. 
We met Craig and Claudia, area locals who upheld the good Canadian rep, very friendly and warm.
 On the way home Tucker found his new favorite store.  Of course we stopped to pick up a cold Hefe Weisse or two!  Cheers.


    August 21th 2007
    Day 11
    MILES: 3607
    HOURS: a lot

    STATE: Nevada

    Niki 2

    New York

    Ottawa, CA


    South Dakota



    August 2007

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