Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Holiday at a Monument

PHOTO: Security at Mount Rushmore on July 4, 2007.

Visiting Mount Rushmore on Independence Day was a bit surreal. It wasn't just the heightened security; it was the festivities that cloaked history in frivolity. Exhibits about the hundreds of people who worked on the massive stone memorial to Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt and Jefferson shared attentions with Native American bands, CD sales and a misting tent, a favorite of the younger visitors.

Our trek across Nebraska on Route 20 proved to be hot and predictable. Cattle pastures separated hayfields accented by small towns with names like Emmet, Cody, Kilgore, Wood Lake and Answorth. A sustained rain would be a blessing.

PHOTO: St. Louis welcomes highway travelers with its famous arch.

After boon-docking in Kansas City at a Wal-Mart, we zipped across Missouri on major highways, setting our sights for home. Our journey at this time has changed from that of a tourist, to that of a road warrior, aiming for home. So, with just a few off-road forays to water the doggies, we've almost ended this nearly 8,000 mile adventure.

PHOTO: In Otto (our motor home), Josh (left) and Jake (our Royal Standard Poodles) ride on our bed during much of the trip. They've been with us for the whole 4.5 week journey.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Absorbed in the West

Routes 14 and 16 (read about all U.S. routes here) in northern Wyoming and South Dakota offer casual travelers an intense, up-close experience of western life. Mile after mile (70 miles with no services), antelope mingle with freshly baled hay and brilliant reds, yellows and greens explode into plains, prairie and plateaus.

PHOTO: Seney's Rexall drugstore in Buffalo, WY, hawks holiday fare. Inside, you'll find an old-fashioned soda fountain and candy store, greeting cards and medications.

PHOTO: Patriotism is more than a July 4 thing at this Buffalo, WY, home.

Along the way, medium and small towns welcome visitors with rodeo signs, horse murals, gas stations and cowboy clothing shops. The towns have names like Buffalo, Spotted Horse and Recluse.

PHOTO: Fireworks dance over Mount Rushmore. This photo is courtesy of the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

We spilled back into a more congested America when we picked up I-90 toward Rapid City, SD, where we spent the evening doing laundry. A TV at the laundromat carried the entire fireworks spectacular at Mount Rushmore, where about 30,000 people had congregated.

We boondocked at a Wal-Mart.

Monday, July 2, 2007


PHOTO: When Baby bellows, Mamma listens, even if it means holding up tourists in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park is all it promises to be -- wild, wonderful, stunning and loaded with camera-toting tourist content with capturing the park's beauty in drive-bys more than hike-bys. And why not? The most sought-after sightings are of bison, and these giants tend to hang out by the roads anyway.

If you are interested, you can watch Old Faithful spurt.

My husband, Al, and I have a ton of pictures like this -- self-shot images of the two of us in vacation spots. Here we are in Yellowstone, with a beautiful back-county falls behind us.