Friday, 7 October 2011

Oct 6th - 8th. Shelby,Montana to Home

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Woke up in Shelby to heavy rain and cold wind. Richard and Linde had wisely put their top up the night before, but Steve and I hadn't, and were soaking wet and freezing by the time we did. Half the stuff in the car was wet too. There was no breakfast at the motel so we packed up hurriedly and took off, cold, wet, and hungry. We hadn't put our side curtains in because they were at the bottom of the trunk and more stuff would get wet getting them out. The wind was blowing rain into the car and we were very cold and miserable.

When we stopped for breakfast a couple of hours later we had to drag the side curtains out anyway. After breakfast at a dubious greasy spoon, we continued and things got better. We were heading for Logan Pass through Glacier Park and the Going to the Sun Road.
 Hwy 89 approaching Glacier Park is very pretty this time of year with the leaves changing colour. Most of my pictures were taken through a rain spattered windshield so a lot of them had to be deleted. The side curtain is plastic and has to be opened with a zipper, so that way was not good either.

 There were no signs or warnings that Logan Pass was closed, and we were stopped here by one little sign. We asked in the store at the turnoff to the park and was told that the road had been closed since Labour Day. You would think there should have been a sign 30 miles back in Browning! So we had to turn around and go back almost to where we had breakfast.  None of us was really too sorry that we had come as the route was very beautiful.


Twin Medicine Lake  
All through Montana, Idaho and into Washington, people had a lot of beautiful horses in all colours. Not sure what this one is doing on the side of the road.
Now after all this wilderness, we had another case of horseshoes!!! In the town of Kalispell, we were stopped by a red light and Richard pulled oer to wait for us. He thought he might as well check the noise he was hearing in the engine. Turned out it was the generator, and as it happened he was stopped in front of a mechanical shop. The owner had the time to take it out, and knew someone who could replace the bushing. Steve and Richard took the generator to the other shop and though that guy didn't have the parts he needed he was able to figure out what to do to get us back on the road. Within an hour and a half the car was up and running again. And--and as luck would have it there was a Kmart 2 blocks away so Linde and I didn't have to sit and be bored!!! Amazing eh?
 So we drove on again to Libby for the night. Turns out we'd stayed here before on another trip, at the same motel. We had a nice dinner, had a good night's sleep, and got everything dried out. The next morning, Friday, was drizzly but not so cold.  We crossed into Idaho and then into Washington. Back into the very beautiful Pacific North West.  
Tonight we are in Winthrop, at a very nice hotel right on the river bank. Tomorrow we will be in our own beds.

Saturday October 8th -  we woke up to frost on the cars! Time to get home! All four of us feel a cold coming on, sore throats, sinuses, coughs, headaches, etc. Unbelievable, we've been fine all this time and on the last day we all get sick. The drive through the Cascades was phenomenal. The higher mountains already have a skiff of new snow. We saw two beautiful lakes, Ross Lake which is deep blue and Diablo Lake which is jade green.


Diablo Lake


Ross Lake


This is the odometer of the MGA. In case you can't read it, it says 55645. At the start of this trip it was at 37160. The odometer is not perfect, so the corrected distance done by the MGA is 17745 miles. The MGB probably did more.


A few fun facts:
  • We (Steve and Sheila) have slept in 89 different beds on the trip
  • At between 10 to 20 bridges a day we figure we have crossed between 1400 to 1800 bridges
  • Towels from hand size to beach size are multi functional tools to have on any trip. They serve as hats, jackets, pillows, blankets, draft stoppers, leak soakers, table cloths, sun shields, air conditioners, seating cushions, umbrellas, and even as a pool or beach towel.
  • We've been away 123 days, or 4 months and one day. We left on the 8th and returned on the 8th.
  • We decided that God must love MGs, because we have so many cases of amazing good luck or 'Serendipity'.
  • We travelled through parts of 33 States and 5 Provinces, some more than once
So here we are back home again, glad to be here, but a little sad that it is over. We all feel that Driving the Dream was a success. The cars performed amazingly. We had a great adventure. Would we do it again? YOU BET!!!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Oct 4th and 5th Wyoming and Montana to Shelby

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Big Horn Mountains


Tuesday morning we left Gillette with the promise of a lovely sunny day. Until we got to Sheridan the scenery was pretty much the same as yesterday. Then the elevation starts rising into the Big Horn Mountains.
Looking back from the mountains
At the summit of 9430 feet, it was very windy and terribly cold. There were patches of snow that hadn't melted from last winter. The summit is a wide open flat area of grassland which explains the wind whipping through there.
The "bump" on the plains at the summit is called Bald Mountain, and you can see the snow in the basin. There is also another bump up there that has an observatory.

To the right is a view of the plains up there, as you see the sky is a major factor in the views. 

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View going down of Big Horn Basin
Okay now we start down! What a road that is! On one slope where the highway zig-zags back and forth several times, we saw a couple of huge rolls of paper about the size of hay bales on the side of the road. As we got further down we looked up the slope and saw lots more paper all the way down. It looked bad for the driver of the truck that lost the load. Also the road was badly damaged in this area, and several of the zig-zags had been patched. When we got to the bottom we had 'lunch' at 3:30 in Lovell. One of the locals told us that the driver turned the truck on it's side and hit the railing but was very lucky to escape with a bump on his head. And very, very lucky not to go over  the side! He said it was comical to see the huge rolls of paper come rolling down the hill like a giant had lost his toilet paper. It was also very lucky that there were no vehicles on the road below. The highway was damaged because it was built on a poor foundation and they have been repairing it every month for years.



We slept in Billings, Montana and then headed for Shelby. Didn't take many pictures today as nothing was much different from yesterday. They have a lot of beautiful horses out here.
We also saw a huge wind farm. These don't look so big, but when you consider that yesterday we saw the arms on rail cars and each one took up two oversized cars, you can see how really big they are. Tonight we are in Shelby and the trains are very noisy across the road, so I hope we get some sleep!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Oct 2nd and 3rd Keystone to Gillette Wyoming

Lake Sheridan North of Keystone


Roughlock Falls
Steve wants to gamble and Deadwood is a little casino city North of the Rushmore area. Also we were told that Spearfish Canyon is a must-see at this time of year, with the leaves changing colour and 3 waterfalls. So we took a large loop around Deadwood to see the canyon, and then checked in to one of the casinos for the night. The canyon was well worth the drive, however quite busy with locals and tourists, as they had also heard that this is the weekend to see it.  We got back to Deadwood early afternoon. I watched a movie while Steve gambled and then I went down to the casino and won back most of the money he'd lost. Linde gambled a bit and Richard had fun at the bar.

 

Main Street Deadwood


 On the way out of town, we stopped at the Mount Mariah Cemetary, where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried. It is an historic graveyard for the area, built on  a very steep hill overlooking the town.





We thought that after we left Deadwood, Monday would be a long day of just driving. Luckily we stopped at a visitor's centre and were told we had to go and see The Devil's Tower. We took a 50 mile detour and was that ever worth it! It is this huge tower of rock just coming out of the ground hundreds of feet high. It is a popular rock climbing site, as well as quite beatiful to see.
This North East corner of Wyoming is mostly rolling grasslands, with cattle, beautiful horses in all colours, a lot of hay, and a lot of small oil derricks and natural gas equipment.  We stayed the night in Gillette, Wyoming.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Sept 29-Oct 1st Black Hills and Badlands SD

Wall Drugs

The road to Wall from Kadoka is rolling grassland, a lot of hay and some cattle. And billboards, thousands of them, advertising all the museums, stores, hotels, 24-hour TOE service (I don't know if that's a joke or someone can't spell) and Wall Drug. Especially Wall Drug, there must be thousands of signs for them, from 300 miles in every direction. They really do not want anyone to miss them, and they sell everything from food to housewares, cowboy stuff, jewellery, clothing, native art, books, dinosaur stuff and souvenirs. They even have a traveller's chapel. But very few over the counter drugs! They have been in business since the 1800s. When we got there it was a disappointment, as they were more like a mini mall of lots of different little stores, and except for the native pottery, most of the stuff was made offshore. There were some pretty wooden boxes made in Canada.

White Tail Deer

A drive to the Badlands was next.What an awesome place that even pictures can't describe! Beautiful rock formations wherever one looks. Right about here the "A"s alternator packed it in. A decision was made to return to Wall and try to find someone to repair it. No rebuilders in town, but one shop did recharge the battery to enable us to get to Rapid City for repairs.
On Friday morning we found a battery and starter/alternator repair shop. Got there at eight, removed the alternator, gave it to them and it was repaired and back in the car by 9:15, at the horrendous price of $39.95. What great luck!



By the time we were packed up and had breakfast it was 11 o'clock, and within an hour we were in Keystone, checked in to a great hotel with a view of Mt Rushmore. So we had the rest of the day to explore. We had a look at Cosmos, which is a cabin built on a hillside at weird angles that make you feel very strange. It is an amazing feat of engineering and angles!  Next was the Presidents. We've all seen so many pictures I'm not putting any on the blog. But to be there and see it in person is awesome, moving, inspiring. We also learned a lot about the four men whose faces are up there and the builders who put them there. 
Eye of the Needle

Next we took the drive around the mountain, part of that being Needles Highway. Now here I am running out of superlatives! Twisty! incredible! impossible!  road through some of the strangest rock formations we have ever seen!!! They are literally needles of rock, some even with eyes. At one point the highway passes through a narrow opening in the rocks and then widens out to a circular area where a few cars can stop. Here you are completely suurounded by tall spires. with a few windows to the view, and some nooks just asking to be explored. Then the road tunnels out through the rock. This place is called Eye of the Needle.

video

We then returned to Keystone via the Iron Mountain Road, completing the circle around Mount Rushmore. This road is so twisty it needs 3 Pigtail bridges to make the turns. On one of them the road passes out of a tunnel, then over the bridge and around and down under the road. These roads are all built for the sheer pleasure of driving them and seeing the spectacular views!
Pigtail Bridge
In the evening we were lucky enough to catch the last lowering of the flag show at Mount Rushmore. There was a very informative movie and then the mountaind was lit up. They called all the current and past veterans down from the audience to participate and the crowd went wild with applause and gratitude. It was very moving!!


Sat Oct 1st - We thought a 20 minute stop at Crazy Horse would be enough, but we ended up spending a lot of time there-it was so interesting. It was designed and started by a sculptor named Korczak Ziolkowski, in 1947. He made it his life's work untill he died in 1982, when his wife and 7 of his 10 children continued the monumental task. Korczak would not accept government funding or involvement, and the project has continued solely on public donations. There is so much information on this site, it would be worth your time to look it up on the internet. The plan is to establish a university there for native studies, as well as a bunch of other stuff. It is so big the Rushmore monument would fit on Cheif Crazy Horse's forehead. It is 580 feet high. 
Battling Stallions - Korczek sculpture


Marie Antoinette-He has no head

We drove around the back of Mount Rushmore again along a different road to see Jewel Cave, but that didn't work out, so we headed South through Wind Cave Park to Hot Springs. At this point Richard and Linde decided to go back to the hotel and Steve and I wanted to see the Mammoth Site at Hot Spring. We were tired but so glad we took the time to go. It is a sink hole about 100 feet in diameter that filled with water and trapped hundreds of animals. They did a core sample to 68 feet and found bones in all of it. At this point they have only dug to 27 feet. The decision was made to leave the bones in situ rather than preserve and remove them as they do at other sites. A building was built over the whole site so it is all indoors and protected from the elements. As they go deeper they will remove some of the bones, but some skeletons are so valuable because they are all attached and complete, that they will not move them. I'm not sure how they intend to dig under them, though. We were amazed to learn that there was a Mammoth larger than the Woolly Mammoth, called the Columbian Mammoth. A modern elephant could walk under it's chin. All the skeletons are males, which is because the males travelled alone and would not know the danger of this area, as the herds of females would.
Another very nasty creature found here is the Short Faced Bear. If you met one of these in the woods there is absolutely no way you would survive!! Standing on it's hind legs it could reach a second story window.









Prong Horn



We took the Wildlife loop through Custer State Park to get back to the hotel. Richard and Linde took the same route earlier and saw the same variety and numbers of animals that we did. At one point two male Prong Horns were chasing each other, and crossed the road not 5 feet in front of the car. Their panting and rolling eyes were clearly visable and thrilling. Unfortunately, no time to get the video running!
Wild Turkey


He was so close we could smell him

Coming out of Hot Springs we reached the 16000 miles driven on this trip!!