Day 78! Newark, New Jersey to London, Heathrow

Well here we are, at the end of our great adventures! We’ve had the most fabulous time travelling the highways and byways of the great U.S.A.

The view of Newark Airport from the Marriott Hotel

The view of Newark Airport from our room at the Marriott Hotel

The cases!

The cases!

We drove 13,183 miles in three different cars (you all know the story of Beasts 1, 2 and 3) and have seen things that will remain with us forever. When we think back over the amazing things we’ve seen it seems like we’ve been here forever, but on a daily basis, we feel as though we arrived only yesterday.

We are going home with two extra suitcases!! I don’t know what we have in those extra suitcases (well, I do really), but we don’t really remember buying half of it! I’m sure when we unpack back home there will be a few surprises in store.

We will post once more on the blog, tomorrow once we reach home, so join us then for the grand ‘farewell’.

Day 77! New York City

So, today was the last ‘adventure’ day for us as tomorrow we fly home.

The South Pool

The South Pool

The Freedom Tower

The Freedom Tower and South Pool

The Freedom Tower

The Freedom Tower

Simon and Sandra

Simon and Sandra

GZ 7a

The North Pool

The North Pool

The Survivor Tree

The Survivor Tree

St. Paul's Chapel

St. Paul’s Chapel

Some of the tributes inside St. Paul's Chapel

Some of the tributes inside St. Paul’s Chapel

The 'Bell of Hope' at St. Paul's Chapel

The ‘Bell of Hope’ at St. Paul’s Chapel

Two of New York's finest

Two of New York’s finest

We visited the 9/11 Memorial also known as Ground Zero, in New York City. We travelled by AirTrain from the airport, then travelled on a double-decker overland train and last of all on a subway. It was different and with the help of one or two people we actually managed to buy the train tickets too!!

We expected it to be an emotional visit to Ground Zero and it certainly was. Because the area is still under construction we had to book tickets beforehand (Nat, big thanks for the info, without that we may not have been able to go into the Memorial today) and the organisation, as with all things American, was excellent.

There were people from all over the world and after all the adventures we have had on this trip, this was very sobering.

The Memorial consists of two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers. Thirty-foot waterfalls, the largest in North America, cascade into the pools, each then descending into a centre void. The name of the victims are inscribed in bronze parapets around the pools.

Every day a white rose is placed in the names of those whose birthday it would have been that day.

For the 1000 people who do not have a final resting place, there are paving bricks set between the two pools and each one is dedicated to one of those people.

Reading all the names was very emotional but one of the things we found particularly upsetting was reading the names of some of the ladies who lost their lives that day and who were pregnant. Next to each of the ladies names was added “and her unborn child’.

The master plan for the site calls for a spiral of new towers around the eight-acre Memorial and will also include a Museum (due to open in 2014). In the atrium of the Museum stands two steel tridents – forked columns from the original North Tower.

On the site is a Callery pear tree known as the ‘Survivor Tree’. This tree was planted in the 1970s and stood on the original World Trade Centre plaza. After September 11th, workers found the damaged tree, reduced to an eight-foot-tall stump, in the wreckage of Ground Zero. It was nursed back to health in a New York City park and grew to be 30 feet tall, sprouting new branches and flowering in the springtime. In March 2010 the tree was uprooted by severe storms, but true to its name, it survived.

In December 2010, the tree was returned to the World Trade Centre site. It embodies the story of survival and resilience that is so important to the history of September 11th.

We then went on to St. Paul’s Chapel that stands very near to the 9/11 Memorial. The Chapel first opened in 1766 and survived ‘The Great Fire’ of 1776. President George Washington in 1789 attended service there on his Inauguration Day and it survived the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre while the buildings around the Chapel were either destroyed or very badly damaged.

During 2001 and 2002 it became home to an extraordinary round-the-clock volunteer relief ministry for recovery works at Ground Zero. Family and friends of those missing in the attack went to the chapel and left photographs and stories about their loved ones and people from all over America and the world visited the chapel to leave tributes and a lot remain their today.

Outside of the Chapel is a bell called the ‘Bell of Hope’. Accompanied by an honour guard of British police offers it was presented to the people of New York by the Lord Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Centerbury on September 11th 2002. It was created by the famous  Whitechapel Foundry in London which also cast America’s Liberty Bell and London’s Big Ben.

The bell is rung every September 11th, was rung on March 11th 2004, when trains were bombed in Madrid and on July 7th 2005 after the London tube (subway) and bus attacks. The ringing of the bell symbolises the triumph of hope over tragedy.

Day 76! Elmira to Palmerton, Pennsylvania and on to Newark, New Jersey

Penn 1a

The house on the hill

The house on the hill

I've been trying to get a shot of a Coca Cola truck all holiday - and here it is at last!

I’ve been trying to get a shot of a Coca Cola truck all holiday – and here it is at last!

The Gang 2

The Gang 2

NJ 1aWell, today we said our sad farewells to Dot, John and Kasha and travelled down to Palmerton to see our other great friends, Nat, Terry and Ty and we had the added bonus of also seeing Terry’s Mum, Judy and her husband Terry.

After a lovely dinner with Nat, Terry and Ty, (no, Si did not have ribs tonight, he had crab and shrimp cakes!) we have driven to Newark Airport to stay here in a hotel until we fly home on Wednesday.

Tomorrow we return Beast 3 to the rental company and our plan then is to go into New York City for the last item on our agenda, to visit the memorial at Ground Zero.

Day 75! Elmira

That pesky squirrel up at camp - he's trouble!!

That pesky squirrel up at camp – he’s trouble!!

Dot and John's Flag of Freedom

Dot and John’s Flag of Freedom

Dot and John's dog, Kasha, she's a sweetie

Dot and John’s dog, Kasha, she’s a sweetie

Home from home!! Dot and I on-line - wonder what we are looking at!!

Home from home!! Dot and I on-line – wonder what we are looking at!!

We started off the day at camp where it rained again this morning but we have now travelled back to Dot and John’s home to prepare for our departure tomorrow when we head back to Newark, New Jersey.

On the way we will be stopping off to have dinner with our other great friends, Nat, her husband Terry and little son Ty who live in Pennsylvania. Nat completes our Twilight trio with myself and Dot.

I’ve spent part of today sorting and repacking the four suitcases we now have to take home and am pleased to report that we just about meet the weight requirements. I think it will take a few days when we get home to unpack them and sort everything out!!

Day 74! Hammondsport, New York

House Finch

House Finch

Red Cardinal

Red Cardinal

The Farm on the way to Hammondsport

The Farm on the way to Hammondsport

Curtiss V8

Curtiss V8

Restoration project at the Curtiss Museum

Restoration project at the Curtiss Museum

Life on the lake

Life on the lake

Racing on the lake (is that Si Smith we see?)

Racing on the lake (is that Si Smith we see?)

Life on the lake (again, is that Si Smith?)

Life on the lake (again, is that Si Smith?)

Hammondsport church

Hammondsport church

The bandstand at Hammondsport

The bandstand at Hammondsport

The monsoon!

The monsoon!

The monsoon!

The monsoon!

The day started cloudy and warm but this afternoon we’ve had rain. Luckily, we had just finished lunch and were back in the car before it started. We so enjoyed dinner last night at the Waterfront Restaurant that we went there for lunch again today. There was racing on the lake, Si Smith we think we saw you there!!

Our first visit of the day was to The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport. The museum covers local history with a focus on Glenn Curtis and boasts a large collection of Curtiss’ airplanes, motorcycles and many other items pertaining to the local Finger Lakes area such as boats and wine culture. Curtiss (May 21, 1878 – July 23, 1930) was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle racer and builder before moving on to motorcycles. As early as 1904, he began to manufacture engines for airships. In 1908 Curtiss joined the Aerial Experiment Association  (AEA), a pioneering research group, founded by Alexander Graham Bell at Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia to build flying machines.

Curtiss made the first officially witnessed flight in North America, won a race at the world’s first international air meet in France, and made the first long-distance flight in the United States. His contributions in designing and building aircraft led to the formation of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, now part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation. His company built aircraft for the U.S. Army and Navy, and, during the years leading up to World War I, his experiments with seaplanes led to advances in naval aviation. Curtiss civil and military aircraft were predominant in the inter-war and World War II eras.

After visiting the Museum we went into Hammondsport, a small town that in 2011 had a population of 662 and in 2012 was voted ‘America’s Coolest Small Town’. Dot and I found two lovely small gift shops to spend some money in while Si spent time taking photographs.

We are currently trapped indoors as we are experiencing near monsoon rain! Have we been transported back to the Mother country?

I’m happy to report that Dot managed to ‘get her act together’ this morning and the hummingbirds are again enjoying their special water.

We had a camp fire last night (sadly the resident photographer didn’t take photos!) and were going to have another one tonight and eat s’mores (a traditional nighttime campfire treat consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two cracker pieces) but I don’t think that’s going happen as it looks as though the rains’s set in for the night.

Day 73! Elmira

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

The Gang at the Waterfront Restaurant

The Gang at the Waterfront Restaurant

Flaming Hurricanes

Flaming Hurricanes

Sea Plane

Sea Plane

Sea Plane landing on the lake

Sea Plane landing on the lake

We’ve had a lazy day today! We’ve travelled up to Dot and John’s summer camp where the weather was beautiful and we were treated to Blue Jays and Mourning Doves. We would have seen the wonderful sight of Hummingbirds feeding but unfortunately, Dot slacked off this morning and didn’t prepare their special water. Dot’s response to that was that she was being the perfect hostess and taking care of Si and myself before looking after the needs of the wildllife!! Tonight, John treated us to a lovely dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant on Keuka Lake and we had most delicious cocktail, Flaming Hurricanes. The waitress surprised us all when she actually set light to the sugar cubes on top of the cocktails. People on the lake are able to pilot their boat and tie up to the dock, come in to the restaurant, eat and then sail off down the lake again. When we win the Lottery that’s what we are going to do. We also had one exciting moment when a sea plane landed just on the lake in front of us.

Day 72! Columbus, Ohio to Elmira, New York

Before I start today’s post there’s a couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday!

Firstly, hands up all those who watch ‘The Big Bang Theory’, this will be mostly Americans I think! You know how Howard’s Mum is always going on about eating at the Red Lobster, well we had dinner there last night, the first time ever and the food was excellent and guess what, it was right next door to the Olive Garden, another one of her favourites!! Shame we didn’t have one of Howard’s Mum’s coupons!!

Secondly, granola is one of my most favourite breakfast cereals. Can anyone from the US tell me when they started selling it in individual breakfast packets? I only discovered the individual packets yesterday when we went for breakfast at the hotel where we were staying. I must check this out when we get back home.

Penn State 1aNY 1a

A swing and a miss

A swing and a miss

Base hit

Base hit

Homer?

Homer?

Play ball

Play ball

Take a walk

Take a walk

Struck out

Struck out

The Guys

The Gang!

Terry

Terry

Anyway, today was the last our long drives, just over seven hours from Ohio, through Pennsylvania and into New York State. The journey was mostly made up of long boring roads with lots more road works and the speed limits only ranged from 40 to 65 so it felt as though we were driving for ever!!

We are now staying with our good friend’s Dot and John, and their lovely dog, Kasha. We also had the pleasure of meeting their son-in-law, Terry.

We had a real treat this evening, we all went to see the local baseball team, The Pioneers. After visiting the ‘Field of Dreams’ site recently, we felt that we knew everything there was to know about the game, but of course we didn’t. We weren’t lucky enough to catch a ball but we did partake in the singing, the eats and beverages. Our section was even lucky enough to win vouchers to be used in the local Christmas store! I knew our holiday was passing very quickly but surely it can’t be Christmas already?

Today we will be going up to Dot and John’s summer camp so you may not hear from us again until Sunday when we return to Elmira as the wifi at camp is not quite so accommodating!

Day 71! Columbus

We started the day sorting out Beast 3! We visited the Firestone facility just across the road from our hotel as we were told that they maintain the rental fleet for Alamo/Enterprise. I’m very pleased to say that they serviced Beast 3 for us in just 30 minutes. That saved us travelling the sixteen miles to the airport to swop him over. Everyone please keep everything crossed that we have no more tales of woe regarding Beast 3!

Columbus was really just a stop over on our way back to stay with our good friends Dot and JB and we were planning on just an easy day not doing much. However, we discovered that the Ohio State Fair started today and was being held just down the road from our hotel, so we jumped in our newly serviced vehicle and headed out.

A giant slide at the Fair

A giant slide at the Fair

It's my slide!

It’s my slide!

Four days old!

Four days old!

A camel at the Fair - they were giving rides

A camel at the Fair – they were giving rides

Peyton Taylor singing at the Fair

Peyton Taylor singing at the Fair

The butter cow and calf

The butter cow and calf

The choir sculpted in butter

The choir sculpted in butter

The State Brass Band

The State Brass Band

The Fair is huge and last year received over 800,000 visitors during the ten days it’s on. The organisation was excellent, we were in and parked in no time. Once the car was parked we jumped on a tractor/trailer and they dropped us off right at the entrance.

I have to say that of all the county fairs we have visited in England, I don’t think we have every seen so many food stalls, they went on for miles. There was also a huge fair ground to keep the children amused.

We saw just about every animal you would see on a farm plus camels, lamas and one or two we had never heard of!! There were two calves, both born within the last four days and there were even two cows due to give birth whilst the Fair is on. Now that would be something to see. We also just missed a chick hatching from its egg.

One amazing thing we saw was a cow, calf and the Ohio choir modelled out of butter!! They were made out of 2,000 pounds of butter and took 543 hours to complete. Now that’s dedication.

If you ever find yourselves in Columbus at this time of year, then make a diary note to visit the State Fair. It was excellent.

This time next week we will be preparing to board the plane for our flight home!!

Day 70! Le Claire, Iowa to Columbus, Ohio

The monsoon

The monsoon

Well, what a day it’s been! We had a long drive today, about eight hours! It started out lovely, warm and sunny but we ended it in a monsoon. We drove across four States, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. We were a little concerned when one County sign said ‘Entering Madison County’. Our first thought was that we had been driving around in circles and had ended up where we started a few days ago, in Winterset! We were very happy when we realised that Ohio also has a Madison County!!

I have to say that our sat-nav (Margaret), has not exactly been at her best today. She did all she could a couple of times to send us in the wrong direction. I think she’s starting to feel the strain of the ten weeks she’s been ‘on the road’.

We passed the time by listening to an audiobook called ‘Undaunted Courage’ by Stephen E. Ambrose.

The book is the story of the Lewis and Clark Expediton, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, that was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States, departing in May, 1804 from St. Louis on the Mississippi River, making their way westward through the continental divide to the Pacific coast.

The expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, consisting of a select group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. The duration of their perilous journey lasted from May 1804 to September 1806. The primary objective was to explore and map the newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent, and establish an American presence in the territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.

The campaign’s secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography, and establish trade with local Indian tribes. With maps, sketches and journals in hand, the expedition returned to St. Louis to report their findings to Jefferson.

Crop duster

Crop duster

Crop duster

Crop duster

During he drive we were treated to the sight of a ‘crop duster’ plane that flew really low over the road.

We’ve had two disappointments today! Firstly, we had to return the suitcase we purchased on Sunday because when I went to pack it last night it became apparent that there was a strange smell to the interior lining. It smelt of moth balls! There was no way I was packing clothes into that! We went to the store today to change it and we had quite a battle on our hands. Because I had removed the sales tags they said it would be treated as a used item and could not be changed! Yeah right! We stood our ground and tonight we have a replacement all ready to be packed.

Beast 3

Beast 3

Welcome to Indiana

Welcome to Indiana

Welcome to Illinois

Welcome to Illinois

A Police Call Box we saw along the way

A Police Call Box we saw along the way

Welcome to Ohio

Welcome to Ohio

The Mississippi at Le Claire

The Mississippi at Le Claire

Fancy seeing you here!

Fancy seeing you here!

The second disappointment was ‘Beast 3’. We had only done about 400 miles today when the oil light came on again saying ‘change oil as soon as possible’. Well, that’s a battle we will be fighting tomorrow when we once again, visit an Alamo facility to change the car yet again! My goodness, there’s going to be a really long letter when I get home to the people who arranged this car hire!!

To overcome the disappointments of the day we enjoyed a really ‘naughty’ meal at California Pizza Kitchen. I had the largest glass of wine available while Si downed a couple of beers!!

‘Tomorrow’, as they say. ‘is another day!’

Day 69! The Royal Baby, Dyersville and Le Claire

Well, first of all it’s ‘Many Congratulations’ to William and Kate on the birth of their baby son and our future King!!

Wetting the baby's head!

Wetting the baby’s head!

Dyersveille home to 'Field of Dreams'

Dyersveille home to ‘Field of Dreams’

Donny Lansing

Donny Lansing

Me and Donny discussing corn!

Me and Donny discussing corn!

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Babe Barrett!

Babe Barrett!

And she makes Home Plate

And she makes Home Plate

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

On the bleachers at The Field of Dreams

On the bleachers at The Field of Dreams

Who's that coming out of the corn?

Who’s that coming out of the corn?

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Si at Antique Archaeology

Si at Antique Archaeology

Miss River Lily

Miss River Lily

Miss River Lily

Miss River Lily

Iowa scene

Iowa scene

One of those dusty Iowa roads!

An Iowa road!

It was actually Cindy, who I met in Forks (big Twilight fan), who emailed me and said Kate had gone into hospital and then it was my bro who texted me during lunch to say that ‘it was a boy’.  Being a big Royalist I’m very sorry that I was not at home for this big occasion but ‘here’s to the next time’.

Today has been another movie buff’s day!

It’s been a really exciting day all round really, first of all with the Royal birth and secondly, the fact that I realised a dream today in visiting the baseball field from the film ‘Field of Dreams’.  In fact, I’m so excited that I’m finding it hard to sit here and type this.

It was exiting enough to just go there but then we were in for a really exciting event. As  Si was taking photos of the field and the house, a man approached us and asked if we would like a photo taken together, which he did. After that he introduced himself as Donny Lansing!! Well, most of you are not going to know who he is but I knew because I’d been reading about him this very morning. He’s the man who owned the farm house next to the baseball field in Field of Dreams and he even had a role in the film!! Well, to say I was flabbergasted is an understatement.

He was the most loveliest person and we spent ages talking to him about his home, the field and the film. He was in three scenes in the film but two of them were cut out but at the end of the film when all the cars drive down at night to the baseball field, well he’s driving the lead car.

We were talking to Donny about corn. The whole of Iowa appears to be one huge corn field and it got us to thinking about how much corn must Iowa produce.  Well, Donny couldn’t remember the exact amount but he said it ran into billions of bushels. After further investigation, this is what I’ve found. The 2013 projections indicate 2.45 billion bushels of corn on 13.97 million acres of land. I hear you asking “well how much is a bushel?” Well, one bushel equals approximately 35.24 litres or a measure of capacity equal to 64 pints  used for dry goods. Or in layman’s terms ………………. rather a lot!

Everything is still as it was when the film was made with one exception, there is now a gift shop. Well of course there had to be one!

Do any of you know the American TV show, American pickers? Well, Si and I watch it all the time back home and here in Le Claire is where the show is based and partly filmed. The name of the shop is actually Antique Archaeology and is owned by Mike Wolfe, one of the pickers.  It’s always surprising how small these places are compared with how they look on TV. Sadly, Mike, Frank (the other picker) or Danielle (she takes care of things while they are both out picking) were not there today but it was exciting to see the place anyway.

You remember I told you yesterday that we staying by the Mississippi River, well below is a photo of a flower that we saw on the river this morning.

Tomorrow we leave Iowa and travel to Columbus, Ohio. One thing we will not miss about Iowa are the dusty roads. Apart from the highways most of the roads are gravel, dusty roads. Beast 3 is already needing a wash!!

Day 68! Winterset to Le, Claire, Iowa

White Lions B&B

White Lions B&B

Kayla, Mark and Hank

Kayla, Hank and Mark

Hank

Hank (so Regal)

Hank sure loves his Mum

Hank sure loves his Mum

It rained!

It rained!

Bike night in Winterset

Bike night in Winterset

Bike night in Winterset - no helmets here!

Bike night in Winterset – no helmets here!

A Harley Davidson

A Harley Davidson

Bike night

Bike night

A Victory bike

A ‘Victory’ bike

We had to say goodbye today to our lovely hosts, Kayla, Mark and Hank as it was time to move on. We’ve had such a wonderful time here at the White Lions B&B and hope to return one day. Kayla and Mark gave us ‘going away’ presents, two Madison County t-shirts. Every time we wear them they will stand as a reminder of the lovely people we met and the super time we had here.

Winterset is truly a treasure and if any of you find yourselves this way then make sure to visit and of course, stay with Kayla and Mark. You just have to sample Kayla’s cooking.

Every third Saturday of the month a ‘bike night’ is held in the town square and last night was that night. The square was full to overflowing with ‘bikers’ who had come from far and wide to meet up, have a drink and listen to music. The range of bikes was truly amazing.

Today started cooler at 64ºF (17ºC) and just before we left the B&B we had a thunder storm with torrential rain. We hadn’t seen rain like that in a long long time. The rain followed us on our way to Le Claire but it’s now sunny and 84ºF (28ºC) so a tad warmer.

Iowa is a very pretty state, it’s lush and green and most of the crops grown here would appear to be corn.

Alas, our first impressions of Le Claire were tainted by the fact that when we checked into our ‘non-smoking’ hotel room, someone had in fact …………… been smoking!!! Our hotel overlooks the Mississippi River and we were on the third floor with a balcony, so the view of the river was lovely. Unfortunately, because we asked to change rooms due to the smell, the only one available was on the ground floor. We are still overlooking the river but the view is not quite so grand but we do have a small patio area.

The next thing we are ‘miffed’ about is Beast 2!! You remember I told you how we went into the Alamo rental facility on Wednesday and they told us we didn’t need to swop the car in? Well, on the way to Le Claire today a warning light came on telling us to ‘change the oil soon’. You can imagine what was said when that appeared. So, this evening we discovered there was a small airport just sixteen miles from the hotel that had an Alamo facility. We went along all ready for a big fight but we were greeted by two of the nicest ladies and they said they could swop the car over very easily and they even had another Ford Edge in dark blue. It turns out that the one they gave us is more highly-speced than the one we returned and is a limited edition. It has a leather interior and if the weather should suddeny turn cold, it has heated seats!!

There is just one other thing to report. Those of you who have been following the blog from the beginning of our trip will know that it soon became apparent very early on, that we would need to purchase a third suitcase as we were running out of space. Well, today we purchased the fourth!! Enough said I think!!

Tomorrow we will visit our own field of corn that grows along the side of a baseball field …. the one from the film ‘Field of Dreams’. I wonder who we will see appearing out of the corn!!

Day 67! Winterset

J, Hank the dog and Gloria

Jay, Hank the dog and Gloria

John Wayne

John Wayne

Si outside John Wayne's home

Si outside John Wayne’s home

So we started the day by saying ‘farewell’ to a lovely couple we met here at the White Lions B&B, Gloria and Jay, from Houston, Texas. The B&B only opened in May and Gloria and Jay were the first guests to ever stay at this wonderful home. Hank, the dog lives at the B&B.

We then went to see John Wayne’s birthplace. He was born here in Winterset on 26 May 1907 weighing in at a hefty 13 pounds! His Dad was a pharmacist who worked on Winterset’s town square before opening his own pharmacy business elsewhere.

As some of you will know, John was born Marion Robert Morrison. He hated his name because he was teased at school for having a girl’s name. He had a very large dog called ‘Duke’ and he used to hang out at the local fire station because the men there were always nice to him. They didn’t know what his real name was but knew his dog, so they always used to say “here comes big Duke and little Duke”. He went home and told his parents that from then on he wanted to be called ‘Duke’ and that’s how he got to be called ‘The Duke’.

The house has had some famous visitors in the past, one of them being President Ronald Reagan.  The town is currently raising funds to open a John Wayne Museum.

Bob Fogler 1a

Bob Fogler Museum Guide

The Bevington-Kaser house

The Bevington-Kaser house

Me in the pharmacy, it is said that Theodore Roosevelt was served through this window!

Me in the pharmacy, it is said that President Theodore Roosevelt was served through this window!

The three-hold privy!

The three-hole privy!

Me 'back at school'

Me ‘back at school’

A lawyer's office

A lawyer’s office

A pioneer mother's note to her daughter on how to wash clothes!

A pioneer mother’s note to her daughter on how to wash clothes

An old petrol pump

An old petrol pump

Log rolling at the County Fair

Log rolling at the County Fair

Winterset's Courthouse

Winterset’s Courthouse

The 'Blue Note' Lounge

The ‘Blue Note’ Lounge from ‘The Bridges of Madison County’

Our next ‘port of call’ was the Madison County Historic Complex or “History on the Hill”. From its humble beginning in 1904, the Madison County Historical Society has developed into a complex which includes 14 buildings located in 18 picturesque acres.

We were advised to make sure we visited the complex before we left Winterset and we are so pleased that we did. It’s a magnificent place full of historical artefacts and old buildings. We were very lucky to be guided around the museum by Bob Fogler, a young man of 84 years, who also told us about his family and lovely wife, Marjory, who showed us around the show piece of the complex, the 1856 Bevington-Kaser House which was constructed by C.D. “Doc” Bevington. The house has been restored and furnished in Victorian richness.

The Bevington-Kaser House and the Limestone (three-hole) Privy are on the National Register of Historic places.

After taking a history lessen we made a quick stop by the County Fair and one of the events taking place was log rolling. Rather them than me, but I guess it was a quick way to ‘cool off’, it’s been rather hot today.

Just to finish off, at the bottom of the post is a photo of the lovely courthouse here in Winterset and one other photo related to ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ film, the ‘Blue Note’ lounge (or it’s really called the ‘Pheasant Run Pub and Grill’). This is where Francesca and Robert ‘got out of town’ for the evening to where no-one would know them. The interior was used for the scene but the outside shot was actually a tractor garage located in Winterset’s City Park! The powers of Hollywood!!

Tomorrow we leave Winterset for another film location, this time in Le Claire, Iowa, to see the baseball field in the film ‘Field of Dreams’.

Day 66! Winterset and ‘The Bridges of Madison County’

Unless you are a covered bridge or The Bridges of Madison County fan then I guess this post is going to be rather uninteresting!!

I’ve been watching The Bridges of Madison County and anyone who has a heart and has seen that film will understand how I feel right now as the tears splash on to the keyboard!!

Twilight was the love story with the happy ending while The Bridges of Madison County is the love story with the heartbreaking ending. If you haven’t seen it then you won’t understand when I say, that when it gets to the part towards the end where Francesca (Meryl Streep) is sat in the truck with her husband and Robert (Clint Eastwood) is stood in the rain staring at here and she reaches for the door handle, even though I know she won’t open it and go to Robert my mind is screaming for her to open it and go with him. What is the right thing to do?

The most famous of the bridges Roseman Bridge. This is the bridge where Francesca pins the note to Robert and I'm pinning mine!

The most famous of the bridges Roseman Bridge. This is the bridge where Francesca pins the note to Robert and I’m pinning mine!

Me pinning my note to the bridge

Me pinning my note to the bridge

The Holliwell Bridge, again used in the film

The Holliwell Bridge, again used in the film

The stone bridge where Francesca and Robert go for their picnic together

The stone bridge where Francesca and Robert go for their picnic together

Middle River Ford where Francesca's two children go to discuss her diaries

Middle River Ford where Francesca’s two children go to discuss her diaries

Is that Clint driving away? This is where they filmed the rain scene at the end of the film

Is that Clint driving away? This is where they filmed the rain scene at the end of the film

The ironing board from the film - it's in the Chamber of Commerce who show the film all the time

The ironing board from the film – it’s in the Chamber of Commerce who show the film all the time. We just got there in time for the heartbreaking scene

Me driving across Cedar Bridge - the only one now able to take traffic

Me driving across Cedar Bridge – the only one now able to take traffic

Roseman Bridge plus a smaller version in the Gift Shop used as a bird feeder!

Roseman Bridge plus a smaller version in the Gift Shop garden used as a bird feeder!

Imes Bridge

Imes Bridge

Hogbackd Bridge

Hogback Bridge

Cutler-Donahoe Bridge

Cutler-Donahoe Bridge

Francesca's house from the film

Francesca’s house from the film

Anyway, today we visited the six covered bridges that Madison County is famous for, including the ones used in the film together with some other locations too. All of the bridges were built between 1870 and 1890, although Cedar Bridge after an arsonist burned it in 2002 was rebuilt to the original plans and consistent building methods and was rededicated in 2004. Here are the photos. Enjoy!

Day 65! Sioux Falls to Winterset, Iowa

OMG, where's the road gone!

OMG, where’s the road gone!

Along the way

Along the way

Smiley at Adair

Smiley at Adair

MV Sergeant Floyd

MV Sergeant Floyd

Sergeant Charles Floyd

Sergeant Charles Floyd

So, as you can see, we are speeding our way across the highways back to New York to stay with our dear friends Dot and John before we fly back home. It doesn’t seem possible that two weeks today we will be home in good ol’ Blighty!!

I’m sorry to have to tell the photographers reading our blog that from now on it is unlikely that we will have anymore mind-blowing photos to post. From here on it’s more likely to be of the holiday-snap variety!!

Today was another five hour drive, some of the roads were the same as yesterday, very straight and not much to see but there were also times when we were treated to hills and trees and the odd photo opportunity.

Today we were introduced to Sergeant Charles Floyd, another U.S. pioneer. Another moving historical story.

When we passed from South Dakota into Iowa we visited a very unusual Visitors Centre. This one was on a boat in dry dock and was called the Sergeant Floyd River Museum and Welcome Centre. The Sergeant Floyd was launched at the Howard Shipyards of Jeffersonville, Indiana on 31 May 1932 and was under the jurisdiction of the Missouri River Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It was named in memory of Sergeant Charles Floyd, a soldier who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their epic 1804 expedition of the Pacific Northwest. In 1803 Lewis was picked by President Thomas Jefferson to lead an expedition through the Northwest. His instructions were to explore the Missouri river. Lewis chose Clark to join him and to share command.

Sergeant Charles Floyd (1782-1804) was one of nine young men from Kentucky chosen to accompany Lewis and Clark on their expedition and he kept a regular journal of the trip from 14 May 1804 until just prior to his sudden and unexpected death on 20 August 1804. It is thought his death may have been caused by a ruptured appendix.

He was buried on the top of Floyd’s Bluff with military honours on 20 August 1804 and the river where the expedition camped that night, was named for Sergeant Floyd. His grave was a well-known landmark but in the spring of 1857 a high and irregular river washed away part of the bluff and exposed his bones, which were seen and rescued. On 28 May 1857 the bones were re-buried approximately 600 feet east of the original grave.

The discovery of Floyd’s Journal and its publication in 1894 led to a search for this second grave site and after finding it the Floyd Memorial Association was formed to recognise the area, mark the grave and construct a suitable monument to the first and only member of that historic expedition to die.

That monument, standing 100 feet high, can be seen today next to the Floyd River. When the bones were studied between 1895 and 1900, photographs were taken of the skull and lower jaw and an impression made of the skull and a plaster cast was formed and the head and face of Sergeant Floyd were reconstructed and is now on display at the Floyd Welcome Centre.

MC 1a

Winterset

Winterset

Our B&B

Our B&B

Winterset

Winterset

The Courthouse in Winterset Town Square

The Courthouse in Winterset Town Square

Me outside the Northside Cafe

Me outside the Northside Cafe

Clint sat here!

Clint sat here!

This says it all!

This says it all!

After reaching Winterset in Madison County and checking into our lovely B&B we set off to find a hairdressers as it was time for another trim (how the time flies).

We are here in Winterset primarily to see the sites where they filmed The Bridges of Madison County (have you watched it yet, did you cry?) so the obvious place to start and to eat at the same time, was the Northside Cafe. This is where one of the scenes was filmed and it’s still possible to sit on the same bar stool that Clint Eastwood sat when he was filming there. The fourth one from the door, so of course I had to do that and have my photo taken too.

I was rather surprised when I started talking to the young waitress that although she knew the significance of where she was working, she has never actually seen the film!! What!!

Winterset is also famous for other things, John Wayne was born here and they have six covered bridges.  These we will be visiting over the next couple of days.

Just a couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday. One, we were talking more about The Homestead we visited that was settled in 1909. The family travelled there in a wagon drawn by a team of horses and the home and outbuildings were dug more or less by hand, some by digging holes in the earth. It was only 60 years later in 1969 that man walked on the moon!!!! Food for thought indeed!

Secondly, for those who have followed our blog from the early days, you will know the story  of Beasts 1 and 2.  Well, we visited the rental facility again yesterday as four weeks had passed and you will be pleased to know that it was a straight forward visit.  We just had to collect a copy of our updated contract and were allowed to keep Beast 2! Hooray! There was no need for us to unpack the car and we didn’t lose USA Licence Plate Game version 2.

Day 64! Rapid City to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

First of all, congratulations to Lisa and Malcolm! Ten points to you both. Lisa, because you knew the film I was referring to was The Bridges of Madison County starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep (anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, watch it now. It’s heartbreaking!) and also to Malcolm because being a guy, he’s probably never heard of The Bridges of Madison County but he knew there was a film called Winterset and also that John Wayne was born there. Your points are in the the post!

Five hours of this!

Five hours of this!

In the middle of nowhere

In the middle of nowhere

On the way

On the way

In the middle of nowhere

In the middle of nowhere

Five hours of this

Five hours of this

Those French get everywhere!

Those French get everywhere!

Five red trucks

Five red trucks

On the way

On the way

Cornhead

Cornhead

On the way

On the way

Today was another driving day, this time to Sioux Falls. It was a five hour drive and the scenery was basically the same all the way and the five hours were spent on one road, the I90, more or less a dead straight one.

Luckily, as always, I spent all the trip with the ‘resident photographer’s’ camera on my lap taking photos as we sped along. Here are a few for you to enjoy.

I keep meaning to say that at the moment the whole of the U.S. is undertaking a major highway refurbishment and I think we’ve been through them all.  My understanding is that the roads in the U.S. were so bad with potholes (a little like us in the U.K. then!) that it was decided to upgrade the Interstate system thereby improving the roads and possibly helping the economy at the same time.

An interesting fact for you, is that under President Eisenhower, one mile in every five of all Interstates had to be perfectly straight to be used in case of emergency aircraft landing!! I bet not many of you knew that!

Another thing I wanted to share with you all was …. roundabouts or circles to those in the U.S. It’s true to say that there are not many roundabouts in the country and on the Montana map we had there was an explanation of how to use them. Well, I’ve been keeping a hold of the map to take a photo of it to share with you all, but now I’ve been and thrown it away! Those in the U.K. would have loved it. I’ll have to keep an eye out for another one.

One more thing I’ve been meaning to say during our visits to the National Parks is, if any of you ever come here and intend on ‘doing’ the National Parks then make sure that at the first Park you visit you buy an Annual Pass, currently for $80 (£55). Some of the Parks can be very expensive and we have saved a butt load of money by getting the Pass. For instance, Yosemite and Yellowstone each charge $25 (£18) per park for a seven-day ticket.

After our overnight stay here in Sioux Falls we move on tomorrow for another film stop in Winterset. See you there!

Day 63! The Black Hills of Dakota (Part 2)

First of all, congratulations to Nat who guessed correctly that The Devil’s Tower is indeed from Close Encounters of the Third Kind! Your ten points are in the post Nat!!

It’s been really hot today, 94ºF (34ºC) so we’ve had to make sure we were drinking plenty of fluids.

Wall Drug Store

Wall Drug Store

What can I say?

What can I say?

Me at the Wall Drug Store (I'm on the right!!)

Me at the Wall Drug Store (I’m on the right!!)

A welcome at the Wall Drug Store

A welcome at the Wall Drug Store

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

The Prairie Homestead

A white Prairie Dog at The Homestead

A white Prairie Dog at The Homestead

Welcome to the Badlands!

Welcome to the Badlands!

New life in the Badlands

New life in the Badlands

The Badlands Yellow Mounds Overlook

The Badlands Yellow Mounds Overlook

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

We started the day with a visit to Wall Drug. Now the Americans reading the blog will know what that is but for those back home, Wall Drug is the Wall Drug Store and is a tourist attraction located located in the town of Wall, South Dakota. It is a shopping mall consisting of a drug store, gift shop, restaurants and various other stores. Unlike a traditional shopping mall, all the stores at Wall Drug operate under a single entity instead of being individually run stores. The New York Times has described Wall Drug as “a sprawling tourist attraction of international renown that takes in more than $10 million a year and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town.”

The small town drugstore made its first step towards fame when it was purchased by Ted Hustead in 1931 with a $3000 legacy. He bought Wall Drug, located in a 231-person town in what he referred to as “the middle of nowhere,” and strove to make a living. Business was very slow until his wife, Dorothy, got the idea to advertise free ice water to parched travellers heading to the newly-opened Mount Rushmore monument 60 miles (97 km) to the west. From that time on business was brisk. Billboards advertising the establishment can be seen for hundreds of miles throughout South Dakota and the neighbouring states.

After ‘buying up the place’ which believe me is very easy to do, we headed off towards the Badlands National Park but along the way we were sidetracked to see one of the most moving things I’ve seen in a long while ………. the Prairie Homestead.

The Prairie Homestead was the original home, known as a sod home, of Mr and Mrs Ed Brown who homesteaded the 160 acres in 1909. All but one of the buildings have survived and just needed a small amount of restoration to bring them back to how they looked when they were originally built!  Homesteading was a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Use of the term in the U.S. dates back to the Homestead Act of 1862.

Mr Brown was 55 when he moved part of his family, his wife Alice and grown son, Charles, in a wagon from Nebraska to the Badlands of South Dakota. After 18 months of working the land he was able to pay $80 and receive a patent on the land. This he did.

The home and outbuildings were literally dug out of the ground and it makes you appreciate what hard working, fearless people these pioneers were. Visual memories of homestead days are fast becoming extinct. These pioneers played a very important part in setting the Great Plains of America.

The home had not been lived in since 1949  when In 1962 it was bought by Keith and Dorothy Drew. It was Dorothy who had the desire and vision to restore the Prairie Homestead for future generations to enjoy.

One strange thing we saw today at The Homestead were white Prairie Dogs!!

After spending an enjoyable hour there we moved on to the Badlands National Park. It consists of 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. For 11,000 years, Native Americans have used this area for their hunting grounds.

About 75 million years ago the area was covered by a shallow sea teeming with life. In today’s Badlands the bottom of that sea appears as a greyish-black sedimentary rock called Pierre shale and the layer is a rich source of fossils.

Tomorrow we leave Rapid City and drive to Sioux Falls. This is just a stopover on the road to our next main stop, Winterset, Iowa …….. a film stop! Another ten points will be awarded for the first person to tell me which film that may be!!

Day 62! The Black Hills of Dakota (Part 1)

So, with this post we will be all up to date, hooray!

We awoke to a lovely hot sunny day in the Black Hills of Dakota and set off to see the Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Mt Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore

The hordes at Mt. Rushmore

The hordes at Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore

Us in fron to Mt. Rushmore

Us in fron to Mt. Rushmore

Fort Hays from Dances with Wolves

Fort Hays (Major Fainborough’s office) from Dances with Wolves

Sandra in the office of Major Famborough

Sandra in the office of Major Fainborough

Major Fainborough's office

Major Fainborough’s office

The bullet hole in the window pane where Major Fainborough shot himself!

The bullet hole in the window pane where Major Fainborough shot himself!

The Rope Shop at Fort Hays

The Rope Shop at Fort Hays

A coffin at Fort Hays!

A coffin at Fort Hays!

Welcome to Deadwood

Welcome to Deadwood

Bill Hickok's Bar & Steakhouse

Bill Hickok’s Bar & Steakhouse

More of those mail boxes!

More of those mail boxes I was talking about yesterday!

Mount Rushmore National Monument is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum.  Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).] The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres (5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.

South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region.

Robinson wanted it to feature western heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud and Buffalo Bill Cody but Borglum decided the sculpture should have a more national focus, and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. The memorial began in 1927, and the presidents’ faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum’s death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum became sculptor in charge of the commission and the last drilling was done on  October 31st 1941.

Some of you know that I like my films (movies) so you can imagine how surprised I was today when we were driving down to Mount Rushmore and there on the side of the road was a sign advertising a Dances with Wolves movie site!! Further investigation was required.

On the site there are the buildings that were used in the filming of the Fort Hays scenes in the film. The scenes were actually shot using these buildings sixteen miles away and were supposed to have been torn down after filming was completed but the production company just left them. Someone local bought them and moved them to their current location, had them rebuilt as they were, including the bullet hole in a pane of glass. They have photographs of the shoot, scenes from the movie showing and a behind-the-scenes DVD with Kevin Costner talking about making the film.

There’s a yellow piece of tape on the floor where Kevin Costner stood when shooting the scene where he first went to Fort Hays and spoke to Major Fainborough about a posting and who subsequently shot himself. Of course, I had to stand on that piece of yellow tape!

After that we went to visit Deadwood. The town attained notoriety for the murder of Wild Bill Hickok and the local cemetery remains the final resting place of Hickok and Calamity Jane.  Deadwood became known for its wild and almost lawless reputation, during which time murder was common, and punishment for murders not always fair and impartial.

Day 61! Cody, Wyoming to Rapid City, South Dakota

The road to nowhere!

The road to nowhere!

The long and winding road!

The long and winding road!

The inevitable RV!

The inevitable RV!

Oh dear, an RV wreck on the highway but everyone was okay

Oh dear, an RV wreck on the highway but everyone was okay

Just a nice red barn

Just a nice red barn

On the road scene

On the road scene

Mail Box

Mail Box

A young lady from Ranchester

A young lady from Ranchester

How did he get up there?

How did he get up there?

We didn't see a nodding donkey in Texas but we did in Wyoming!

We didn’t see a nodding donkey in Texas but we did in Wyoming!

Old Glory!

Old Glory!

Granite Pass

Granite Pass

The end of the Rockies

The end of the Rockies

The Devils Tower

The Devils Tower

The Devils Tower

The Devils Tower

Prairie Dog

Prairie Dog

Two cows, two buffalo and one Texas Longhorn passed by the Devils Tower

Two cows, two buffalo and one Texas Longhorn passed by the Devils Tower

Bighorn National Forest

Bighorn National Forest

Well, today we left Cody after a quick visit and set off for Rapid City.  The drive was scheduled to be about six hours ………… which of course turned into nine!!

Once again the terrain we have crossed has been so varied. From lovely green mountains with fir trees to complete desolation. We drove across the Rocky Mountains and the road was very winding and at one point in Granite Pass, we were at over 9000 feet. On the way there were signs pointing out how old some of the rocks were, in one particular area they were 2.5 billion years old!! How can they possibly know that?

The drive across the mountains took so long because it was mostly single-lane road and there were lots of RV’s out and about too, so we stopped for lunch and had a traditional American meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn followed of course with apple pie! It was all delicious.

We then decided to take a little detour of about 60 miles round trip to see something of particular interest to a movie fan ….. me of course! I’ll give ten points to the first person to write in the ‘Reply’ section which movie Devil’s Tower was in!! Of course, there is a lot more to learn about this tower than just being in a movie but I just want to say that today we saw ‘the dark side of the moon’!!

People were living around the tower more than 10,000 years ago and it is still of great importance to the Native Americans who come here and leave prayer offerings. They believe the ‘claw-like- marks on the tower were created by a bear chasing two young girls to the top but it is actually weather erosion.

The area has hundreds of Prairie Dogs, they are so cute and so tame. People are told not to feed them but going by the size of one or two, I think a lot of people are not adhering to the rules!!

One thing we have found interesting on our trip are American mail boxes and we’ve seen a few. I expect most of you know that mail in the US is usually delivered to a box at the end of the property and not as in the UK, actually put through the door. Last week I saw a line of about thirty all stood together. This was because all the houses were dotted about a mountainside so the mailman leaves the mail in all the boxes and the people collect it themselves. Also, we’ve noticed the variety of boxes, some plain, some decorated and some like the one above!! How sweet is that?

I think it’s official now that the older we get the stupider we get.  For some reason and I don’t know why, but every time I talk about Yellowstone I keep calling it Yosemite!! I need to go back and check all the posts because I think I may have been writing Yosemite instead of Yellowstone too!! I think I’ve been on holiday too long, I need to go home for a rest!

We arrived here in Rapid City in very poor weather and the temperature had dropped from 85ºF to 55ºF. Fingers crossed the weather is a little warmer tomorrow!!

Day 60! Leaving Yellowstone for Cody, Wyoming

Saying goodbye! Cheryl on the left and Brogans in the middle!

Saying goodbye! Cheryl on the left and Brogans in the middle!

Goodbye to our cabin

Goodbye to our cabin

Buffalo's Rear!!

Buffalo’s Rear!!

Spot the coyote!

Spot the coyote!

Coyote on the hunt!

Coyote on the hunt!

Beartooth Mountain

Beartooth Mountain

The long and winding road that we travelled along

The long and winding road that we travelled along

Another Yellowstone view

Another Yellowstone view

A view along the way

A view along the way

Wyoming panorama

Wyoming panorama

The Shoshone National Forest sign or as I like to call it The Shoeshine National Forest!!

The Shoshone National Forest sign or as I like to call it The Shoeshine National Forest!!

Storm clouds over Wyoming

Storm clouds over Wyoming

Me outside the Buffalo Bill Historic Centre

Me outside the Buffalo Bill Historic Centre

Buffalo Bill's boyhood home

Buffalo Bill’s boyhood home

A 'little friend' outside BB's home!

A ‘little friend’ outside BB’s home!

So today we said ‘goodbye’ to Cheryl, her dog George and the Brogan family and we came down from the mountain and our Little House on the Prairie for the last time to travel to Cody, Wyoming. Luckily, ‘Margaret’ our sat-nav (GPS) took us the pretty route out of Yellowstone through the Beartooth Pass on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway via Cooke City. The highest elevation at the Pass being 10,947 feet or 3,345 metres. The road to say the least was very winding and at times breathtaking  and we were once again treated to some of the most magnificent scenery on Earth!

Yet again we were treated to huge herds of buffalo and even found ourselves in the situation of having to wait to cross a bridge because a buffalo had decided he was going first. Poor thing was quite grumpy, he was having a really bad time with all the flies! Still, it gave us time to really study his rear-end. Mine doesn’t seem half as big after staring at his for 10 minutes!!

Then, we noticed a traffic jam ahead and wondered what it could be and coming out of the tall grass to cross the road was a coyote!! He was very thin and his coat very mangey and I certainly wouldn’t want to feel the sharpness of his teeth.

We passed through the Shoshone National Forest (or as I initially called it, The Shoeshine National Forest), while storm clouds had started to gather over our destination at Cody. Still, we didn’t see any rain at all.

We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Historic Centre before checking into our hotal in Cody. It turned out to be a much larger and more magnificent museum than we had expected by far and we really should have had a full day visiting there.  We would certainly recommend anyone visiting Cody to visit the museum. The strangest sign we saw was one on the door that said “No Firearms”. Not a sign we see everyday back home!!

The museum showed every aspect of William F. Cody’s (aka Buffalo Bill) life and times from a small child to his time with his Wild West Show which he toured the UK with and once, performed in front of Queen Victoria. He was instrumental in the building of the town of Cody but his show never performed there.

Day 59! Yellowstone National Park (Part 3)

Elk and Fawn 2a

Elk and Fawn coming down the mountain

Elk and Fawn

Elk and Fawn

Upper Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail

Upper Falls from Uncle Tom’s Trail

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Us at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Us at Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Artist’s Point

Artists Point

Artists Point

Is it a mouse?

Is it a mouse?

Dragon's Mouth

Dragon’s Mouth Mud Volcano

Sulphur Cauldron

Sulphur Cauldron

Buffalo above the car park destroying a tree!

Oh my! Wonder who’s upset him!!

Buffalo Herd

Buffalo Herd

Buffalo Herd crossing the road and causing chaos!

Buffalo Herd crossing the road and causing chaos!

Feeding Time!  (Another Sandra 'special'

Feeding Time!
(Another Sandra ‘special’)

Bear and cubs

Bear and cubs

Bear and cub

Bear and cub

The Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River

Me at the 45th Parallel stood on tiptoe!

Me at the 45th Parallel stood on tiptoe!

And last but not least for the second time this trip ... the Roosevelt Arch!

And last but not least for the second time this trip … the Roosevelt Arch!

As we drove down from the mountain this morning we were treated to the sight of an elk and her fawn crossing the road right in front of us. What a lovely way to start the day!

Today was our last trip to YNP and the weather has been slightly cooler which was a good thing because Simon did the Tom Thumb Trail (aka Uncle Tom’s Trail) which consists of a zig-zag path leading down to 328 metal steps to an overlook of Lower Falls.  It’s said that there are 2,000 steps back up but in reality there’s only 328 plus a lack of oxygen and because of the altitude makes it feel like 2000.

The trail was originally constructed in 1898 by park concessionaire, “Uncle Tom” H. F. Henderson when he was granted a permit to operate a ferry across the Yellowstone River. Henderson ferried park visitors across the Yellowstone River then escorted them to the trail and they travelled down to the base of the Lower Falls via ladders and ropes (even ladies in their long dresses). Upon their return, visitors were provided a picnic lunch on the south rim of the canyon before returning via the ferry. In 1903 when the original Chittenden Bridge was built, Henderson’s ferry business began to decline. In 1905, when the government built a wooden stairway, visitors were increasingly unwilling to pay Henderson the $1 fee for the tour to the base of the falls. 1906 was the last year he operated tours in the canyon. The trail has been maintained and improved by the National Park Service to this day.

During a visit to one of the Visitor Centres today we saw this little mouse-like chap ….. anyone know what it is?

We visited Artists Point in Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon too and saw a man painting this view. Although there are lots of places to view this part of Yellowstone, it is said that this point in the Canyon is the best for painters and photographers.

We visited the Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcano and although they were not as colourful as the geysers and Prismatic Lake we’d seen before, they were still a wonderful sight to see and watching the mud bubble up and particularly the smell of rotten eggs was quite fascinating.

It was also fascinating to see a buffalo wondering through the car park. Buffalo can outrun man so we were rather worried when it suddenly charged off and jumped over a fence.  We saw it later ripping a branch off a tree. I think us humans had invaded his territory and he was rather cross!

Today was also exciting for a couple of other reasons, firstly we saw a herd of buffalo crossing the main road, some with their calves and later saw a calf feeding from its mother and then to Si’s absolute delight we were treated to the sight of a mother bear with her two cubs, again crossing the main road.

You can be driving along the roadway and suddenly encounter a huge traffic jam and that’s an indication that it’s either a buffalo, bear or elk jam meaning the animals are very close by and of course, everyone stops to take photos.

Then, driving out of the Park we crossed the 45th Parallel which is called the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole!

Tomorrow we leave our log cabin in the mountains for Cody, Wyoming and Buffalo Bill!

Day 58! Yellowstone National Park (Part 2)

Old Faithfull

Old Faithful

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Excelsior Geyser Crater

Excelsior Geyser Crater

Not a sight you see every day!

Not a sight you see every day!

Wonder where he's going!

Wonder where he’s going!

Elk with six points on each antler with his harem!

A buck Elk with six points on each antler with his harem!

The Fishing Hole!

The Fishing Hole!

Today the main focus of our visit to YNP was to see ‘Old Faithful’ which is a cone geyser. It is called the most predictable geographical feature on Earth erupting almost every 91 minutes and each eruption can last from 1.5 to 5 minutes. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet (44 metres) with the highest recorded eruption being 185 feet (56 metres).  It is the most viewed geyser in the Park and each time Old Faithful erupts there are hundreds of people there to record the event.

We also went to have a look at Grand Prismatic Spring. It is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world The lake is known for its turquoise colour and so our ‘resident photographer’ was rather disappointed not to be able to see it due to the rising steam.

The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented bacteria in the microbial mats that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water

As you travel round the Park, Yellowstone has so many different faces, meadows, mountains, rivers, streams, lakes, canyons and rolling hills it’s no wonder that it was made the first National Park. It covers over two million acres!!

We were lucky today to see a Buffalo treading the highway and a big buck Elk with his harem, they decided to spend the afternoon sitting outside the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

The last picture is of a small lake we pass when we drive down the mountain ….. we’ve christened it ‘the fishing hole’.

Day 57! Yellowstone National Park (Part 1)

Roosevelt Arch at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Roosevelt Arch at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Pallete Hot Spring

Pallete Hot Spring

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser Crackling Lake

Norris Geyser Crackling Lake

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser Basin

Si at Mammoth Hot Springs

Si at Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Sandra at Yellowstone Lower Falls

Sandra at Lower Yellowstone Falls

Yellowstone Lower Falls

Yellowstone Lower Falls

Buffalo

Buffalo

Buffalo in his mud patch!

Buffalo in his mud patch!

Elk

Elk

Si's bear!

Si’s bear!

First chance Mine up on the mountain

First Chance Mine up on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

Sunset on the mountain

We awoke in our log cabin to yet another hot sunny day and after eating a magnificent breakfast cooked and served by Cheryl, we headed out to Yellowstone National Park (YNP).

We have seen some mind-blowing, magnificent sights on our travels across the USA but what we have seen today at YNP outweighs everything we have seen so far.

Yellowstone lies over a hotspot where light, hot, molten mantle rock rises toward the surface. While the Yellowstone hotspot is now under the Yellowstone Plateau, it previously helped create the eastern Snake River Plain (to the west of Yellowstone) through a series of huge volcanic eruptions. The hotspot appears to move across terrain in the east-northeast direction, but in fact the hotspot is much deeper than terrain and remains stationary while the North American Plate moves west-southwest over it.

Over the past 18 million years or so, this hotspot has generated a succession of violent eruptions and less violent floods of basaltic lava. Together these eruptions have helped create the eastern part of the Snake river Plain from a once-mountainous region. At least a dozen of these eruptions were so massive that they are classified as super eruptions.

Yellowstone was established as the world’s first national park in 1872 primarily because of its unparalleled collection of geysers, hot springs, mud pots and steam vents. It is classified as an active volcano and has approximately 2000 earthquakes annually!

The highest point in YNP is Eagle Peak which stands at 11,358 feet above sea level. YNP gets approximately three million visitors a year of which only 140,000 visit in the winter.

The 300 plus geysers make up about two-thirds of all those found on the planet! Combine that with more than 10,000 thermal features and you have a place like no other.

For those who like the technical detail; Geysers are hot springs with narrow spaces in their plumbing, usually near the surface. These constrictions prevent water from circulating freely to the surface where heat would escape.  The deepest circulating water can exceed the surface boiling point (199ºF or 93ºC).

At Norris Geyser Basin a scientific drill hole measured 401ºF or 200ºC at just over 265 feet below the surface. Hot then!!

Hot springs are the most common hydrothermal features in the park. They vary from frothing mocha-like boiling water to clear and calm pools of unfathomable depth. The colours of the hot springs are magnificent and the water is mostly clear.

Travertine terraces are found at Mammoth Hot Springs, where interactions of water and limestone create chalk-white travertine.

The overriding smell where the geysers are is one of sulphur or rotten eggs, although it was nowhere near as bad as we thought it would be!! We were lucky enough to actually see one geyser erupt just as we arrived.

YNP as a whole emits 30-40 times more heat per square feet than the rest of North America.

Wildlife roam freely all over YNP and today we were lucky enough to get ‘up close and personal’ with a buffalo, see a herd of elk and today …………. Si actually got to see a bear in the wild! We also saw an Osprey’s nest high up in the cliffs.

YNP even has its own Grand Canyon called Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and it has a magnificent waterfall (Lower Yellowstone Falls) which looks just like a miniature Niagara Falls with the most wonderful rainbow.

We hiked down to the Lower Falls which are actually twice as high as Niagara Falls at 308 feet (94 metres). The hike is a one-mile round trip with a drop of 600 feet but then of course we had to climb the 600 feet back up to the top, which at the altitude and heat made us a little breathless. The hike is classified as ‘strenuous’.

We were ready for our dinner tonight, Cheryl cooked lasagna with salad and garlic bread and it certainly went down a treat. The other family from England have left and so today we were joined by the lovely Brogan family from the US.

Si took a walk to take some sunset photos for you to enjoy!

Tomorrow we continue our adventure in Yellowstone and will be visiting ‘Old Faithful’.

Day 56! Whitefish to Yellowstone National Park

Well, it’s a case of Sandra and Simon and their own Little House on the Priarie!!

Kintla Lodge

Kintla Lodge

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

Is this an Antelope?

Is this an Antelope?

Our own 'Little House on the Prairie!

Our own ‘Little House on the Prairie!

CML3a

Wild flowers on the mountain

Wild flowers on the mountain

We left the ski-lodge behind us this morning and travelled up to Gardiner just outside of Yellowstone National Park in lovely hot sunshine. The scenery was beautiful along the way, lovely lakes, rivers and mountains. We saw a lake called Swan Lake and saw this antelope(?) who was rather surprised to see us. We arrived here and the temperature was 92 degrees so lovely and hot.

I think I told you that our next ‘port of call’ would be at a guest ranch 8000 feet up a mountain. I can confirm that the tarmac runs out about eight miles before the Lodge so it made for an interesting drive and to give you an idea of the bumpiness of the road, that eight miles takes about thirty minutes to complete. It is very steep and has innumerable hairpin bends. However, when we arrived we were very warmly welcomed by the owner, Cheryl, her dog George, two cats and the chickens.

It is really a beautiful wilderness atop a mountain. Our resident photographer was very impressed with the magnificent views (photos to follow) and the abundance of wild flowers.

You will see from the photos that our cabin is just like the Little House on the Prairie and besides the fact that it has electricity, indoor plumbing and running water, I guess it probably is just like the Little House but much, much more comfortable!!

Everyone staying here all sit down together in the Lodge for breakfast and dinner. When we arrived there was already a Brit family here! What are the chances that another family from the homeland could find this remote spot too!

Tomorrow we start our adventure in Yellowstone National Park.

Special Note!

Tomorrow, Tuesday 9th July, we will be leaving Whitefish and Glacier National Park to travel down to Gardiner near Yellowstone National Park and will be staying at a guest ranch that is 8000 feet above sea level.

It appears that we will not have access to the internet at all so the chances are that today’s post (Monday 8th July) will be the last before normal service is resumed on Saturday 13th July.

Please come back and see us then when, after spending four days in Yellowstone, you can be sure we will have lots of photos to share and stories to tell.

See you then!

Day 55! Glacier National Park

First of all, I realised after I posted last night that I had forgotten to tell you all the funny story about our sat-nav or GPS (aka ‘punch it Margaret’). Well, you know they say never trust a sat-nav, that came true for us. When we were trying to find the ski-lodge ‘Margaret’ took us down a gravel lane that stopped rather abruptly and poor Si had to reverse the car through bushes and get us back on a real road.

We saw a man cleaning his car so stopped to ask him the way and his reply was “you followed your GPS didn’t you? It happens all the time.” It would appear that ‘Margaret’ didn’t realise that a new road had been built that leads to the lodge.

It would appear that the older we get the more stupid we get!! Do you remember how last night I said we didn’t have a TV in the room? Well …………. we have of course! We discovered it this morning when we opened the door to the TV cabinet. Shoot us now!! Ha, ha, ha.

Deer 1aBlack Squirell 1aLast night we had a deer grazing outside our room and a black squirrel on the balcony  but alas ………. not a bear in sight!!

Si's pork belly!

Si’s pork belly!

Si's elk

Si’s elk

Sandra with her buffalo

Sandra with her buffalo

One excellent thing about last night was that we ‘fine-dined’. This is something we have not had the opportunity to do very often during our trip as some of the places we have been staying in do not do ‘fine-dining’. Just down the road from our lodge was another lodge who had the most lovely restaurant and it has to be said that the food and wine were fantastic.

Sandra with her Franjelico

Sandra with her Franjelico

Si with his whisky and wine

Si with his whisky and wine

Si did not have ribs at this fine dining establishment, instead he started off with pork belly, followed by elk and I started with soup followed by the buffalo! (Apologies to any vegetarians reading the blog). This was all followed by huckleberry tart with home-made vanilla ice-cream, coffee and liquers.  It was a good job we walked down the hill because we wouldn’t have been able to drive back up!!

Anyway, to today’s business! It was cloudy and cool when we awoke but the sun soon appeared and it reached a very warm 82ºF.

We reached Glacier National Park (GNP) and the first thing you see is Lake McDonald. What a spectacular sight that is. I actually took my socks and shoes off and had a little paddle.  The water was cold but not ice-cold as I imagined it would be.

Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald

McDonald Falls

McDonald Falls

McDonald Creek

McDonald Creek

Bird Woman Falls

Bird Woman Falls

McDonald Creek Valley

McDonald Creek Valley

The Cloud

The Cloud

The Road-To-The-Sun

‘Going-To-The-Sun Road’

A Sandra 'special', taken through the car window as we were on a one-lane road and couldn't stop! The-Road-To-The-Sun

A Sandra ‘special’, taken through the car window as we were on a one-lane road and couldn’t stop!
‘Going-To-The-Sun Road’

Logan Pass

Logan Pass

Si with Heavens Peak in the background

Si with Heavens Peak in the background

Sandra with Heavens Peak in the background

Sandra with Heavens Peak in the background

Waterfall

Waterfall

Tour buses

Tour buses

'Going-To-The-Sun Road'

‘Going-To-The-Sun Road’

The one thing you do in GNP is to drive the ‘Going-To-The-Sun Road’. The road climbs higher and higher from about 3000 feet above sea level rising to over 6000 feet at Logan Pass. The road is quite narrow and as you climb the temperature drops and you see snow on the mountain-tops and at the side of the road.

Going-To-The-Sun Road is the only road that crosses GNP, going over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. It was completed in 1932. A fleet of 1930s red tour buses called “jammers”, rebuilt in 2001 to run on propane or gas, offer tours on the road. The road spans 53 miles (85 km) across the width of the park.

We had been travelling up the road for about an hour when suddenly the sky turned black and it started to thunder and lightning. By the time we got to Logan Point, where we intended to turn around, it was pouring with rain together with some hailstones as well. The temperature had dropped to 49ºF.

Going up the hill I of course, was on the sheer-drop side of the car.  My heart was in my mouth a few times I can tell you. There are waterfalls all along the side of the road, watering rushing down the mountainside. It surely is a sight to see.

Day 54! From Colfax to Whitefish, Montana

Wa to Mt 1aWa to Mt 3a

Flatbed Lake

Flatbed Lake (one of my specials from a speeding vehicle!)

Flatbed Lake

Flatbed Lake

This made us smile - shame about the telegraph pole!

This made us smile – shame about the telegraph pole!

View from our balcony

View from our balcony to the left

View from our balcony to the right

View from our balcony to the right

We’ve now left Colfax, home of the Palouse and driven across two States up to Whitefish, Montana via Idaho. It was a lovely drive with fantastic scenery. It’s been beautiful and sunny all the way and the temperature at the moment is 82ºF. We’ve lost an hour of time so that confused us for a while!!

“Why go to Whitefish?” I hear you ask. Well, we’ve come here to visit Glacier National Park to drive the scenic route called ‘going to the sun road.’ Before we left the UK back in May we hadn’t booked anywhere to stay and Si kept saying that there was no panic, there would be plenty of accommodation available!! Well, knowing that men usually no nothing I took it upon myself to find somewhere and sure enough when I looked there was basically nothing left to book. I spoke to the Lodging Company and the only room I could book was up a mountain at a ski-lodge!

I was rather sceptical when I read Trip Adviser and people were saying that because it’s summer there’s nothing much going on here, nowhere will be open to eat and any shops that are here will be closed.

Well, I’m pleased to report that the lodge we are in is excellent and has exceeded my expectations.  The area’s fantastic, there are people here and there are places open to eat. As I am typing this I can hear birds singing and a river flowing. Idilic or what!

The downside is that there’s no TV in the room and we’ve just found out that Murray’s won Wimbledon, so we will have to watch a replay of that on-line.

Here are some photos taken on our trip up from Colfax and the views from our room.

Day 53! The Palouse

Well, it’s certainly hotter here than when we left Forks! The day started at about 64ºF and ended at 84ºF, so quite warm with lovely blue skies.

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

Palouse 3aPalouse 4a

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

Us at the Palouse Falls

Us at the Palouse Falls

The Palouse Falls

The Palouse Falls

I think it’s fair to say that we have probably driven all over the Palouse today. Unless you are here to see it in person it’s difficult to describe. It is a patchwork quilt of rolling hills known as the ‘Palouse Scenic Byway’ that goes on for hundreds of miles of undulating hills, rich farmlands and rural communities. The rolling sculpted landscape changes with the seasons from vivid greens, vibrant yellows and amber harvest hues to silvery snow-dusted hills. Speckled among the hills are majestic buttes with spectacular panoramic vistas.

Day 52! Leaving Forks (Twilight 7) for Colfax

Well, we are now officially on our way home. We’ve left the west coast of the USA and are now heading back towards the east coast and home.

‘I would miss Forks, I’d miss the clouds, I would miss all the new friends I’d found in Forks, but we have to go on the road, so I’m gonna spend the rest of the time with my husband and this will be a good thing ………… I think!’

(For the Twilight fans reading this they will know that I’ve changed the words slightly but for those who are not Twilight fans, some similar words are spoken at the beginning of the film, Twilight, when Bella is leaving her home in Phoenix and I thought they were appropriate for us leaving Forks).

Susan and Bill (owners of 'The Cullen House)

Susan and Bill (owners of The Cullen House)

We said goodbye to Susan and Bill, owners of The Miller Tree Inn B&B (aka The Cullen House) with the promise that we shall return. Bill was kind enough to tell me at breakfast this morning (sorry, but I’m going to blow my own trumpet here!) that he considers me to be in his Top 10 of Twilight fans because of my knowledge and interaction with his other Twilight guests. (Sadly, the photos we took of Susan and Bill were chewed up and spat out by our camera, so I have to thank megaroma/Flickr for this photo of them).

So, it turns out to be a myth that it rains in Forks all the time. We were there for five days and we never saw a drop, apart from when we arrived and the sun was shining, most of the time it was ‘under a near constant cover of clouds ……’ (Twilight again!)

Shawna and the puppy

Shawna and the puppy

Brian

Brian

Enough said! (Saw this on the way to the ferry

Enough said! (Saw this on the way to the ferry)

Puget Sound from the Kinston side

Puget Sound from the Kingston side

Our ferry - the Walla Walla

Our ferry – the ‘Walla Walla’

Arriving at Edmonds

Arriving at Edmonds

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse

Here also are a couple of photos of Brian and his sister Shawna (son and daughter of our friends Mel and AJ, who live in Forks). Shawna wanted to keep that puppy, who can blame her, he’s so cute.

It was another long driving day that to our surprise, also included a car ferry trip!! When we  set out with our trusty GPS, we call her ‘punch it Margaret’ (Dot will understand why!), we had no idea that she was taking us towards the Kingston to Edmonds Ferry that crosses the Puget Sound. We could have taken a road route to get us to where we needed to be but as we are on holiday, thought it would be a little adventure.  The fact that it added an hour to our trip is neither here nor there. What was amazing was that ‘Margaret’ could tell how far we were travelling even though we were stationary on the ferry! I was a little worried before we boarded because I’m not the best sea-farer but it was okay and my plastic bag was not needed!

Our ferry was called the ‘Walla Walla’ and I’m sure it was a coincident that we ended up on the ‘Walla Walla Highway’ to bring us to our next destination, Colfax. We are here to visit the Palouse area of Washington State, an area of rolling farmland hills with one major butte called Steptoe Butte.

Here are a couple of photos of the Palouse ……………. more in our next post.

Day 51! 4th of July in Forks

american independence day

Forks' Old Fashioned 4th of July

Forks’ Old Fashioned 4th of July

Well, a ‘Very Happy 4th of July’ to all our American friends reading the blog.

Watching the Parade

Watching the parade

4th July Forks 14a4th July Forks 15a4th July Forks 13a4th July Forks 12a4th July Forks 11a

Well, there's a truck I recognise!

Well, there’s a truck I recognise!

4th July Forks 9a

Veteran of the Korean War

4th July Forks 8a

The Forks High School Cheerleaders

The Forks High School Cheerleaders

4th July Forks 19a4th July Forks 18a

Logging truck

Logging truck

Quileute dance

Quileute dance

4th July Forks 14a4th July Forks 13a

Call the fire brigade!

Call the fire brigade!

Nice car!

Nice car!

4th July Forks 5a4th July Forks 4a

Gosh, he was young riding this bike!

Gosh, he was young riding this bike!

Bill's patriotic jug!

Bill’s patriotic jug!

Jake with his sunset picture for which he won second prize!

Jake with his sunset picture (bottom right) for which he won second prize!

We’ve spent a lovely day watching the wonderful 4th of July parade with Mel, AJ, Shawna, Brian and Xena (Shawna’s best friend). Given the size of Forks, we were really surprised at the large number of floats and people taking part. It was something to see. Here are a few photos of the people taking part.

There have been lots of activities during the day and tonight of course it will all finish with a ‘big bang’, fireworks that is!!

If we are in the USA on 4th of July we usually hide away  for fear that someone may realise we are British but not this year.

When we went down for breakfast, I did wave a white handkerchief just in case but we were warmly welcomed as always and Susan, our hostess, cooked us red, white and blue French toast to eat which consisted of French toast with strawberries, cream and blueberries, they were delicious. To show there were no hard feelings over the ‘tea war’ back in 1776 Bill, our host, even served cream at our table in a jug with the Royal crest and ‘Her Majesty’s Dinner’ written on the side!

After the parade we went to the local art’s and craft’s show and a young man called Jake had won second prize for his sunset drawing.  He was very shy but had his picture taken anyway.

We’ve had a wonderful time in Forks and will be sad to say ‘goodbye’ tomorrow but the road beckons once more!

Day 50! Beach Day (Twilight 6) (The Book Tour)

Well, sadly our Twilight tour is nearly at an end.  We will spend the 4th of July celebrations here tomorrow and then we are off to pastures new! We’ve had such a wonderful time here in Forks.

The happy couple, Cindy and Eric

The happy couple, Cindy and Eric at The Cullen House

Abi, Megan and Ali

Abi, Megan and Ali at The Cullen House

Twilight Central - home of all things Twilight!!

Twilight Central – home of all things Twilight!!

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

First Beach at La Push

First Beach at La Push

Beach log at La Push

Beach log at La Push

No Vampires!!

No Vampires Beyond This Point!!

Yesterday, I told you how Eric had proposed to Cindy here in ‘The Cullen House’ and today I have a picture of the happy couple.

Also, I posted a picture yesterday of Megan, Adam and Ali but Abi was missing …………… I think she was off in search of Edward!! Anyway, we caught up with her this morning so I thought it was important to post another photo just so that she didn’t feel left out.

After another visit to Twilight Central to pick up a few Twilight things I missed first time around, we headed out to Ruby Beach.  Alas, when we decide to visit the beaches to take photos the sun heads in the opposite direction and so it was this morning. It was cloudy and only 60ºF when we left here but by this afternoon it had warmed up a little and the sun peeped its head through the clouds.

As seems to be the case with most of the beaches around this location, the beaches are full of driftwood or beach logs as they are also known. Some pieces are huge and the most magnificent shapes.

Beach logs are the bones of a rain forest picked clean by the sea. They begin in river valleys – giant conifers like Sitka spruce. When a day’s down pour adds to glacial melt the stream may rise six feet, undermining the bank and toppling trees into the flood, washing them down to the river mouth and beach. Some fall from eroding headlands and some of them are numbered and those trunks are strays from tug-pulled log-rafts.

On our way to La Push I noticed a sign we hadn’t seen before!!

After Ruby Beach we revisited First Beach at La Push as I wanted to collect some sand, pebbles and some very tiny driftwood as a remembrance of our time here.

Day 49! (Part 2) Port Angeles (Twilight 5) (The Book Tour)

Well, it’s been another busy ‘Twilight’ day. As you can imagine, being in Forks and staying at ‘The Cullen House’ means we have been meeting lots and lots of other Twilight fans so we’ve spent a good part of the day chatting and sharing stories with like-minded fans. It’s been a wonderful experience. It’s mainly the ladies and girls doing all the chatting of course whilst the poor menfolk stand by suffering in silence!!

It was quite a romantic start to the day because before breakfast this morning one of the guests, Cindy (a big Twilight fan) was proposed to by her partner Eric!! I think Cindy has met her real-life Edward!!

Cindy told me about a new Twiight-related DVD that she had bought down the road in a shop called ‘Twilight Central’. The DVD is called ‘Twilight in Volterra’.  So, having heard nothing about the DVD and needing one for my Twilight collection of course, our first job of the day was to stop by the shop and get a copy. The producers of the DVD are the same people who made the DVD ‘ Twilight in Forks’ and has only been available for about three weeks.

Sandra with Charlene Leppell, owner of Twilight Central

Sandra with Charlene Leppell, owner of Twilight Central

I have the ‘Twilight in Forks’ DVD and to my amazement it turns out that the lady who was interviewed for that DVD and appears on it is only the lady who owns Twilight Central, Charlene Leppell!! Small world or what!!

We then moved on to Port Angeles to have a look at Bella Italia, where in Twilight, Edward and Bella have their first date and she eats mushroom ravioli. Stephenie Meyer has actually visited Bella Italia and they have Bella’s mushroom ravioli on the menu too. As I don’t really like mushrooms, Si did the gentlemanly thing and said he would eat it himself just so that we could say we had ordered it. Bless!!

Us in Bella Italia

Us in Bella Italia

The waitress sat us at a round table right in the window. It was a lovely spot and we like to believe that that was the table Edward and Bella sat at in the book.

Megan, Ali and Adam - Abi's hiding somewhere!!

Megan, Ali and Adam – Abi’s hiding somewhere!!

Life can be strange sometimes and whilst we were eating dinner the waitress told us that the family two tables down from us were also Twilight fans and that they were on their way to Forks and would be staying at The Cullen House tonight also.

It turns out that the family were Megan, Adam, Ali and Abi from Arizona and we had a lovely long chat with them this evening about all things Twilight and some about Harry Potter too. The girls are hoping that Adam will drive them to some of the movie sites down in St. Helens tomorrow!!

Port Books and News in Port Angeles

Port Books and News in Port Angeles

The Lincoln Cinema in Port Angeles

The Lincoln Cinema in Port Angeles

Also in Port Angeles is Port Book and News. This is chosen as the book store where Bella just looks in the window but never enters. This location is chosen on the book tour because it is in the same area as Bella Italia and where the girls would have been shopping for prom dresses.

Just up the road is the Lincoln Cinema. There are only two cinemas in Port Angeles and although the name is not mentioned in New Moon (where Bella goes twice to the cinema, once with Jessica and then again with Jacob and Mike), this venue is most popular with Twilighters.

Day 49! Port Angeles

Today will be another ‘two posts’ day.

Crescent Lake on the way to Port Angeles

Crescent Lake on the way to Port Angeles

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake

Prairie Dog - small and cute!

Prairie Dog – small and cute!

Prairie Dog

Prairie Dog

Deer

Deer

Deer 3a

Hello!!

Deer

Deer

Deer 1a

Deer

American Bison

American Bison with calf

Tibetan Yak - hope I don't lose my hand!!

Tibetan Yak – hope I don’t lose my hand!!

Got any for me?

Got any for me?

Why don't all these people go away and let me sleep in peach!!

Why don’t all these people go away and let me sleep in peace!!

The weather this morning was sunny and warm …… until we got to Port Angeles and then we had to put our jumpers on. It’s a lovely small town and on the drive to it we passed a beautiful lake called Crescent Lake. We went to Port Angeles primarily for Twilight purposes (more on the other post).

After doing the Twilight ‘thing’ and on the advice of a lady we had met earlier in the day, we went to visit the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim. Well, what a delight that was. It’s been in operation for over 40 years and for 28 of those years worked exclusively with Walt Disney Studios and many others on features including: ‘The Grizzly Adams Series’, ‘The Incredible Journey’, ‘Charlie, The Lonesome Cougar’ and many more. Most of the animals are now offspring of past animal actors and several others are rescued animals.

Some of the animals they have are Prairie Dogs, Timber Wolves, Tibetan Yaks, Llamas, Zebras, Arctic Foxes, Fallow Deer, Kodiak Bears, Black Bears, American Bison, Roosevelt Elk, African Lions, Bengal Tigers, Siberian Tigers and Cougars.

It was quite an experience because we were able to buy large loaves of bread to feed to some of the animals, mainly the Bison, the Yaks, the Llamas and the Fallow Deer. Because the animals are used to being fed by humans, as soon as they see a car approaching they walk right up to it and if your window is open they will stick their heads right in to get some bread.  I have to say that the Bison have terrible breath!!!!!

Well, Si got his wish at last ……. up close and personal with bears!!

Day 48! (Part 2) Forks and La Push (Twilight 4) (The Book Tour)

"The Cullen House'

“The Cullen House’

Sandra at 'The Cullen House'

Sandra at ‘The Cullen House’

The Cullen mail box

The Cullen mail box

CH1a

Carlisle’s Medical License

Carlisle's office

Carlisle’s office

CH6a

The graduation cap board

At the Chamber of Commerce

At the Chamber of Commerce

Do I look like Bella?

Do I look like Bella?

Bella and Charlie's house in Forks

Bella and Charlie’s house in Forks

Carlisle's parking space at the local hospital where he works

Carlisle’s parking space at the local hospital where he works

The original Forks High School has been rebuilt but they still have the sign we all know from the films

The original Forks High School has been rebuilt but they still have the sign we all know from the films

Charlie's Police Station in Forks

Charlie’s Police Station in Forks

Forks' Outfitters where Bella works after school

Forks’ Outfitters where Bella works after school

This house has become Jacob's Vacation Rental complete with his motorbike!

This house on the way to La Push has become Jacob’s Vacation Rental complete with his motorbike!

The treaty line between Forks and La Push!

The treaty line between Forks and La Push!

The Vampire Indicator at the Treaty Line at La Push!

The Vampire Threat Indicator at the Treaty Line at La Push!

First Beach at La Push

First Beach at La Push

Us on First Beach at La Push

Us on First Beach at La Push

Sandra, Mel and Shawna

Sandra, Mel and Shawna

So first of all, here are some photos of The Miller Tree Inn B&B. The B&B is also known as ‘The Cullen House’ because it closely resembles the house in the first book, Twilight. It is full of Twilight memorabilia and is one of the first places people come to see when they visit Forks.

Most of you will know that none of the films were actually filmed here in Forks, La Push or Port Angeles, other locations were found for that as detailed in my earlier Twilight posts. These photos show things as described in the Twilight Saga books.

We paid a visit to the Forks Chamber of Commerce this morning where they have all the Twilight information and they were telling us how tourism in Forks used to be about 4,000 people a year until Twilight was published and figures started to rocket. Their best year was in 2010 when 73,000 people visited!!

As may be expected numbers have dropped off a little now that the series is finished but we are meeting lots of people just here for all things Twilight.  Having said that, we were talking to a lady at breakfast this morning who was just staying here because she was visiting the area for things other than Twilight and she told me that she had never heard of Twilight and didn’t know anything about it. As you can imagine, I soon filled her in about all things Twilight!!

We also recently met another lady at Yosemite who had stayed here and she told us that she had stayed in a room called ‘Edward’s’ but she had no idea what that meant and again, knew nothing about Twilight!! So, there are still those out there who have yet to discover the greatest love story ever told (well, in my opinion anyway!)

A lot of you will know about my friendship with Dot and Nat, my fellow Twilight buddies. Well, the three of us also have two other friends who we also met through the Twilight Saga and that is Mel and her daughter, Shawna.  Mel used to live in Pennsylvania but having taken a holiday here in Forks and loving it so much, moved her family here. So, last night we met up again for the first time in 18 months. Twilight has been instrumental in so may friendships being formed all around the world and there are so many people who are so thankful for what Twilight has brought them.

Day 48! Washington Coast

We awoke this morning to grey skies and mist!!  Luckily it warmed up quite quickly here in Forks so we decided to do the Twilight tour of Forks (will post a separate post for that) and then head to the coast so that Si could get some coastal photos. The area is known for its beautiful beaches.

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach near La Push

Second Beach, La Push

Second Beach, La Push

Second Beach, La Push

Second Beach, La Push

First Beach, La Push

First Beach, La Push

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the beaches the clouds hadn’t cleared and it was quite cool, so photos were a bit of a problem. We visited three beaches and every time the clouds were a problem. Here are three of the photos that Si managed to take but we will need to return to see if we can get some with blue skies.

All the debris on the beaches is washed in from the sea.