We left the hotel late, since we anticipated a short drive (oops!). It had rained all night and was still raining. We stopped at a gift shop along the road in Vermont and got a 4 pack of HEADYTOPPER!!!!!!! The beer of legends.
After a long drive, we met up with cousin Andrew and his daughter for Mexican food. I ordered a combo plate of chile relleno and tamales. Soon after the margarita was delivered, I was told they were out of tamales, so I opted for just the steak chile relleno. Then the waitstaff told me they were out of chiles rellenos…..WTF!
After dinner, we checked out Andrew’s apartment. It was a cool little place built into a converted Junior high school. His place was one of the showers originally. I found no peep holes, so I am guessing it was the boy’s locker room.
After that, we went to the family house and chatted till late in the night over wine.
Iowa isn’t heaven, but I was worried about Detroit. It turned out to be for nothing. The traffic wasn’t too bad and my brother’s friend let us camp in his backyard (yes, like kids in fifth grade). It was quiet for a big city. We went for a beer at a local pub and I got to try Old Nation’s M-43. A super smooth and juicy IPA. YUM! At bed time, we got to see fireflies for the first time in many years.
We woke and went to a Quick Lane (Ford’s answer to Jiffy Lube) on the advice of a fellow beer drinker. The experience was less than stellar. They did at least change out the oil filter, but failed to (at least document and charge us) for synthetic oil. They also were confused on how to reset the oil usage meter… so, I wouldn’t use them again, but Honda had a 5 day backlog and no drop in oil changes.
From there, we went for breakfast at a small Tunisian coffee shop, the Qahwah House ( www.qahwahhouse.com ). We had some sweet breads and coffee. It was really good, despite not knowing what to expect. The staff recommend some Arabic restaurants nearby if you are in the area at dinner time.
After breakfast, we headed for the tunnel. Passports in hand we passed under the Detroit River into Canada. Customs was a breeze, but we had hours of driving before we would make it to our destination for the night.
We stopped at a diner that server “Dutch” food. This was old school for German food. We both opted for the wienerschnitzel. It was big, but not nearly as massive as the Germans will hit you with. From there, we continued on to our first major stop Niagra falls and the Minion teleporter. The falls were pretty, but very built up and commercialized. You could zipline next to the falls, ride a boat into the falls (not over), view the falls from something that looks like a broken bridge. After using our 2 hours of paid parking, we decided to continue on our way to where we hoped to camp.
The drive back was pretty slow, but went easy enough. I made the mistake of directing us into downtown Buffalo, NY at rush hour to find gas. Not a good idea.
Back on the road, we make it to the campsite we thought would be good, but it turned out to be a camp full of trash, mud, frogs(!!), and a sketchy tent. With the recent rains, most places were wet, if not flooded. The forecast was for rain and thunderstorms, so we found a hotel for the night and had a beer.
After hitting the local diner for breakfast, we went to the Iowa Irish Festival. Border collies herded sheep around a pin, excessive amounts of alcohol, 3 or 4 live music stages, funnel cake (is Irish?), one old guy passing out, and my chance to be the only person acknowledging that the Irish flag has just as much orange as it does green… OK, my orange shirt was clean and I didn’t pack a green one.
A nice dinner of fish tacos and jalapeno poppers capped off the night. Tomorrow, on to Detroit!
We broke camp soon after sunrise. We didn’t make coffee or try to eat as the mosquitoes were not taking prisoners. Thee road to the interstate was interesting. There were ducklings, pheasants, chickens, random birds, farm equipment, but no deer.
We made my brother’s place in Iowa around 3 pm. After the usual pleasantries, we headed to Toppling Goliath Brewery. They make fabulous IPAs. If you like beer and happen to be near Decorah, IA I highly recommend visiting.
After a nice evening in Cody and a great breakfast, we said our goodbyes and hit the road on a sunny Friday morning. Traffic wasn’t too bad, but there seemed to be a bunch of motorcycles… lots of groups of motorcycles. While filling gas, I asked a motorcyclist a dreaded question… “Is Sturgis this weekend?”. The prompt reply was “Yes! This is the first weekend!!”.
This is the third time we have hit this type of thing. 1- a few years ago, we went to Phoenix and almost made it to the city before a friend mentioned that it was Superbowl weekend. 2- July 19, 2019 (THIS TRIP) we rolled into San Diego and were confused why there was a dearth of hotel rooms and why they were so overpriced. Then we found out Comic Con was on that weekend. 3- Planning to be in South Dakota during the biggest bike rally that I know of in the world.
After some quick plan changes, we point the old Honda at the Badlands and gun it. We made it there hungry and hoping for a campsite, but no luck. We did get to enjoy a big horn sheep (who knew they ranged this far onto the plains?); We took a few photos and drove to White River, SD. The city park/fair grounds had a free campground with power, water, and pit toilets. We cruised into town close to sunset and found only one motorcyclist in the campground, I said hi hoping to offer him a beer in consolation of loosing his sole occupancy status, but he grunted and waved in a manner of ‘screw off’ and not of ‘welcome’ so we drink our beers without him. We pitched our tent in the well groomed lawn which was dry despite the recent rains and mud in other camp sites we looked at along the way. Yeah! A small win for a not so great day.
Day 17- 31/7/2019 Glacier National Park and beyond
We got an early start and drove the long bumpy dirt road from Quartz campground to the Road to the Sun. The road was pretty, but narrow. The groups of cyclists kept me on my toes as we ascended towards the views above. The sights were magnificent. We stopped at many of the pull-offs to see what could be seen. Lots of waterfalls, snow fields and glaciers (distant and close), flowers, and rocky mountain faces filled our views.
We stopped at one short hike to go to a couple of waterfalls and a large lake. No bears were present, but a group of hikers with bear bells walked by.
We stopped and filled our water jug and got to see two mule deer dart across the road. Soon after, we left the park and started towards Helena in preparation of going to Yellowstone on our way to Cody, WY to visit friends. Within a couple of miles of the park exit, we came upon (wild?) horses walking in the road. This took 10 minutes or so to convince them to let us go, but made for yet another WTF moment in our trip. We also saw a coyote an hour or so later, but it was too fast for my camera skills.
We stayed in Helena, MT at a cheap hotel and had a few beers at Lewis and Clark brewery. They have a few good IPAs.
Day 16 – 30/7/2019 We broke camp and headed towards Ross Creek Cedar Grove. We were greeted by flocks of turkeys (young and old) scampering across the road. We walked the 1 mile nature path through the giant cedars and enjoyed the woods to ourselves.
Laura was able to spot a frog hiding below the surface of a small stream.
The trees were the same grove I visited as a kid. They seemed fewer, smaller, and more threatened by the people and the world but still magical.
After our walk in the trees, we headed to Glacier National park (National Park #7 if you are keeping count) for a chance to see bears and waterfalls. We made the park around 2 PM, but only the nosebleed pay sites were available. We drove 1.5 hours on paved, dirt, and rough dirt roads to get to the campground and see if any sites were left. We got a site, but decided to make an early trek through the park and exit it the next day. The crowds were too much and the park seemed similar to Rocky Mountain NP.
It was good weather for the drive out. We made good time and stopped in a paid campsite ($10) near Troy, MT. The pack rats or squirrels are bad in this area, so we had to leave the hood open to discourage them from taking up lodging in the car’s engine compartment.
This later proved to be a critical error on my part as the little pest slipped into the car and opened a new bag of popcorn and a some peanut clusters.