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16 Jan 07    Wallaceburg, ON (stopover)

After packing up and visiting Bertha, we got on the road about noon. We had made one stop for a last-minute gift for Somer, too. It was a short travel day since we were stopping for our first night in Wallaceburg. We had a great visit with Mom and dinner at the Oaks. The van seems very full, with Larry’s ski gear and clothes for every weather, plus food, leisure materials and computer stuff. Is it possible to travel light? Not, apparently, if you’re a Hatt! Just to complicate things, the Peru trip that we were 90% certain was OFF, suddenly was 100% ON, as of about 5 pm on Monday. So we had to scramble to pay the travel agent and we’ll need to arrange passports, shots and so on while we’re away. There’s only about a 3-week pause between when we return from this trip and leave for Peru. Yikes!!


[ (Larry’s comments or additions will be in square brackets like these) We got away at noon today after a brief visit with Grandma Hatt and a Somer pickup at Ikea. Gma Hatt was having her feet attended to so we didn’t stay long. She recognized us and seemed to understand our trip to an extent At Ikea we picked up a wooden easel for Somer’s Christmas present. We are overnighting in Wallaceburg at the normal Oaks motel. We had a good visit with Gma P for the afternoon, and she came out with us to the Oaks Restaurant for a nice dinner. We would have gone to the Black Sheep but she was out there for lunch with a friend. She wanted to bring her own car so she could drive herself home. Larry has set up the computer for the test of remote access to the website and is actually making this post while Janice is returning to the residence with Gma P. I was greatly relieved that access to the website via FTP is working like a charm; it would be tough to fix it from here. We plan on leaving early in the morning and crossing the ferry at Walpole Island into USA. We then cross the north of Detroit and head through Chicago and plan to overnight in Madison, Wisconsin. Madison is where Janice spent several years after she was first married. We shall see if she remembers anything about the locale!]

17 Jan 07   

We left Wallaceburg before 8am and crossed at the Walpole Island ferry.[ Arriving USA ]. The US customs agent confiscated our picnic roast beef, but otherwise we had no problems. Larry did some fancy navigating to avoid Detroit and get us onto I90/94 heading for Chicago. We had a frigid ( and meatless ) picnic at a rest stop and cruised into downtown Chicago in the early afternoon. There were a few very seedy areas, but the waterfront and downtown look quite spectacular. We’ll have to go there for a few days sometime and really see it. From there it was a fairly uneventful run to Madison, Wisc. We got a hotel on the outskirts and drove down to the capital square.  . It’s still gorgeous, but Rennebaum’s Drug Store is now a Walgreen’s. We had a beer and supper at what I think was the pub we used to go to, but I wasn’t successful at identifying where we lived 37 years ago. I certainly recognized the frigid winds.

[ I have to put this in. Just got a note from the McDonalds in Maine. Babies aside these dudes rock! ( The Cool McDonalds ) ]

18 Jan 07 Chamberlain, South Dakota

We got a fairly early start from Madison and headed west on I-90. It was a windy day with snow in the air. That made driving a bit tricky and we did see some cars in ditches. Other than the weather it was a n uneventful drive. At Lacrosse, Wisc. , we saw the mighty Mississippi – mostly frozen over in this weather.  We climbed up out of the Mississippi Valley and onto the plains. Over the course of the day we saw very flat and very rolling land, as well as some deep “coulees” ( the local name for gulleys ). We both had come away without some essentials so around noon we found a Kmart and shopped for a bit. We decided to eat at the grill rather than having another freezing lunch out of the back of the van. The weather cleared for awhile, then went back to blowing snow. After more of that we were nearly ready to get off the road at Sioux Falls in mid-afternoon. However, once again it cleared, so we motored on to Chamberlain SD. From the front of our motel we can see the Missouri River.  Good supper at the famous Casey’s Café (where Cracker Barrel got the idea ).

19 Jan 07 Gillette, Wyoming

After a couple of days of pretty flat land and hard driving, today was chock-full of interest. We were on the road in time to see the sunrise in our rear view mirrors and pulled off to get a better look. It was beautiful – there is such an expanse of sky out here that it is quite amazing. Our first adventure was the scenic loop through the Bandlands.Camping World's Guide to RVing Badlands National Park: South Dakota -  Camping World  What wonderful formations and colours! The road is only about 35 miles long, but we made frequent stops and took many photos. We walked one very short trail, to the edge of a canyon and then one longer one that climbed above a very interesting rock formation, through the woods. At one overlook we could see two herds of white-tailed deer, about 15 deer per herd. Interesting that they divide up so evenly – Larry commented that he didn’t know they could count! We stopped at the Visitors’ Center to watch the movie about the area. It seems that it is equally brown in summer as now. Checkout the day's photos altogether

  
The road brought us out at Wall, South Dakota – home of the famous Wall Drug Stores. It’s much more than a drug store now. The complex takes up a whole long block of the down town area, and includes several areas with specialty shops and a restaurant. We picked up a few souvenirs and admired the local crafts, including the beautiful Black Hills gold which is several colours (yellow, white, pink, green ). My dad brought my mom a broach of it when he came here hunting about 45 years ago and she still wears it occasionally. It had warmed up a bit – we even ate our picnic lunch in the Wall Drug parking lot, after nearly perishing at the early stops in the Badlands. Our next stop was Mt. Rushmore. The road is long and winds up and downhill. There were few cars, just as there have been for a day or two, on the highway. Anyway – Mount Rushmore looks like the pictures, but also not. It’s higher on the mountain than I expected and the carvings are a bit smaller. Great to visit. Amazing to imagine carving it out of the mountain. ] From there we took a cross-country route back to I-90 through the Black Hills National Forest, passing through the famous frontier town of Deadwood. Turns out there’s a casino about every 3 feet all over town. Now we’ve stopped for the night at the Quality Inn in Gillette Wyoming. Big plans for tomorrow and fingers crossed for a few more days of good weather.

All Photos 19 Jan 2007

Continue to 20 January - Yellowstone NP