July 30, 2009

Day 46 - Back in California

After 46 days on the road, traveling from hotel to hotel, we finally made it back to California. But not before a little more gambling/losing, a lunch stop at Ikeda's in Auburn, and a quick stop at the Vacaville Outlets.

Welcome (Back) To California

We drove over the Bay Bridge, amazingly enough, the first time we had gone completely over the bridge.

As we passed Treasure Island, San Francisco came into view, fog and all.
As we pulled onto my brother's street, the final mileage for our road trip was 11,177 miles.
As our road trip comes to a close, I'd like to thank everyone for following our blog and commenting on our travels. We saw amazing places, ate great food, and met many friendly people along the way. Definitely worth the hours of driving and daily packing and unpacking. For now, this blog is "temporarily disabled" (all you geocachers know what I mean). =)

July 29, 2009

Day 45 - Driving to Reno

Not much to report today, just driving from Wendover, UT to Reno, NV. Gambled a bit, hit $75 on $1 Wheel of Fortune but pretty much broke even. Tomorrow, back to the Bay Area!

July 28, 2009

Day 44 - Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats

Checked out of our hotel and headed out to find a couple of Idaho caches, the last state we needed (other than Alaska) to find at least one cache in every state. There were a couple of virtuals nearby so we went looking for those.

Dave at the Where The Red Fern Grows virtual cache
We then headed toward Salt Lake City. We first stopped at the Burger Bar in Roy, UT, getting a Lime Rickey but passing on the buffalo and elk burgers. We then headed to see the Great Salt Lake. We stopped at the Salt Lake Marina and took a quick pic.

Jenn at the Great Salt Lake
We then headed to the Bonneville Salt Flats, to see where all the land speed records are set. Cool spot, lots of salt along the side of the road. Jenn said it reminded here of Hawaiian salt, although the granules looked larger to me.
Dave at the Bonneville Salt Flats
After finding a few caches at the Flats, we headed for Wendover, UT, where we're staying for the night. We did find a virtual cache at the plane where they filmed scenes for Con Air. Here I am checking out the inside of the plane.

And since Wendover is the UT/NV border, there were a few casinos. Decided to check out the Rainbow Casino. Walked through looking for some place to eat dinner but decided to save money and eat at Subway down the street. The Zeus slot machine tempted me though and I put in a $5, got up to $10, cashed out at $7. Stopped since we're saving our money for Reno, our next stop.

July 27, 2009

Day 43 - Grand Tetons, Jackson, and Idaho Falls

Today we checked out of our hotel, grabbed a sandwich for lunch in West Yellowstone, then headed back through Yellowstone on our way to the Grand Tetons. On our way through Yellowstone it started to rain hard and even hailed.

Outside the south entrance of Yellowstone, for miles, the road is unpaved, as there is extensive road construction going on. This was our view for most of the way.
We eventually go to the Tetons NP, where it was still raining. It rained throughout our drive through but cleared up every now and then.

Dave and Jenn with the Tetons

After the Tetons, we headed for Jackson, WY and saw the antler arches in the town square.
It was pouring so we didn't stop, instead heading over the Teton Pass to Idaho. Once we crossed the border to Idaho, the sun came out!

Drove to our stop for the night, Idaho Falls. After checking into our hotel, we walked right across the street to see the Idaho Falls, a man-made falls for a hydroelectric system.
We took a stroll along the walkway for a bit, then headed back to the hotel to head out for dinner. Along the way, we spotted this guy sunning himself. What started a rainy and cold day, ended up a bright sunshiny day.

Tomorrow, Salt Lake City.

July 26, 2009

Day 42 - Yellowstone, Old Faithful Area

Today we spent our entire time at Yellowstone at the Old Faithful area. There's so much to see there, lots of geysers, springs, and pools. When we got there, we went straight to the Visitor's Center, to see when Old Faithful was going to erupt next. It was in the next twenty minutes or so, so we sat down in the shade and waited. OF finally erupted and we got a few photos, but this was a short eruption so by the time we took this photo, it was nearing its eruption.

Dave and Jenn with Old Faithful

We then decided to find a couple of virtual caches above Old Faithful. The elevation kicked our butts on the hike up, having to stop a couple of times. But we got to the top and what an awesome view!
We then walked along the boardwalk and saw many cool geysers and springs. I liked this one, because of my aquarium hobby.

Anemone Geyser

We then walked back to Old Faithful, since it was going to erupt again. Along the way, we went over Firehole River.

The second OF eruption was a lot better than the first, higher and longer. We even got some geyser mist on us.

We then walked to Morning Glory Pool, almost 3 miles round trip. Got to see its colorful waters. Too bad it's this way because of trash being thrown into the pool. A park ranger even said that they once found a chair in there!

We then drove back to West Yellowstone and visited the Grizzly and Wolf Discover Center and got to see some grizzlies looking for their hidden food among their pen.
Finished the day with some pulled pork sandwiches at Beartooth Barbecue. And for once, no photos! =)

Tomorrow, Grand Tetons and Jackson, WY.

July 25, 2009

Day 41 - Yellowstone

Today we drove from Billings, MT to the northern entrance of Yellowstone. Went to the Mammoth Springs Visitor Center to get my passport stamped, and what should we find when we come back out, our first wildlife of Yellowstone.

Elk munching on grass
We then checked out the Mammoth Springs.
We then drove to the Canyon Village to check out the canyon and falls.
As we were leaving the falls, this fellow lumbered through. When he walked toward our car, he sort of leaned toward us. We though he was going to hit the car but no, he just lumbered in the other direction and off he went.

Tomorrow, Old Faithful.

July 24, 2009

Day 40 - Sturgis, Devils Tower, and Little Bighorn

After checking out, we drove towards Wyoming but not before driving through Sturgis since it was on the way. No bike rally this week so this is what Main St looks like without bikes.

And this is what it would look like if it was bike rally week, well in animated form.

Next stop was Wyoming...

...and Devils Tower National Monument, oldest in the US. It's quite impressive as your drive towards it, it just towers over everything around it. We even saw a few rock climbers climbing to the top.

Even saw some cute prairie dogs on the way out.

We then headed to Billings, MT. On our way to Billings, I saw that Little Bighorn National Battlefield National Monument was along the way so we made a short stop to see where Custer made his last stand.

Dave at Custer's Last Stand Hill
The hill looking downward. I think the markers are where the bodies of the soldiers were found. The black marker is General Custer.

Tomorrow, Yellowstone!

July 23, 2009

Day 39 - Wall Drug, Badlands NP, and Mount Rushmore

Left Mitchell and headed to Wall, SD, home to Wall Drug, a huge tourist trap. You see Wall Drug billboards and signs for miles, with all types of quirky sayings. One of the things they're famous for is their "Free Cup of Water".

Jenn with her free cup of water
Of course I had to take a photo with the coords of the store:

And here's a photo of the giant green dinosaur welcoming you to Wall, SD and Wall Drug

After lunch at Wall Drug, we drove over to Badlands National Park. Quite impressive rock formations, I remember seeing similar formations at the Petrified Wood National Forest, but not as many.

Did a quick drive through the Badlands NP, then off to Mount Rushmore. Wow, what an impressive sight! We got there late in the afternoon (or early in the evening) so the sun was almost behind the faces.

Tomorrow, Sturgis, Devils Tower, and Little Bighorn.

July 22, 2009

Day 38 - Driving and the Corn Palace!

Woke up a little earlier today since we were planning on an extra 6 hour side trip to grab caches in Minnesota and North Dakota. We first went to MN, to grab a cache on the border. It's a good thing we found that one. I think the next closest would mean an extra 40 minutes of driving. We then headed for ND, which was about two hours and 45 minutes away. Got there and found a cache fairly close to the border. It was a sad and touching cache, hidden at the grave of the hider's two year old son.

Welcome to Minnesota!
Welcome to North Dakota!
And welcome back to South Dakota once again!
We then drove to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. Pretty much a tourist trap but who doesn't love those!
And after the Corn Palace, I finally got to go to a Cabela's. I'd always wanted to go to one and so far we'd seen a few on our road trip but had to pass them up because we were always pressed for time. But today we had some extra time and we spent some time (but no $$$) checking out the displays.

Tomorrow, Wall Drug, Badlands NP, and Mount Rushmore.

July 21, 2009

Day 37 - Driving Through Iowa

Today, we said goodbye to the Peebles, Hawaiian-style.
We then started our drive through Iowa, the first two hours in a storm. Stopped at the World's Largest Truck Stop on I80, since we had seen it on the Travel Channel. Thought it would be bigger, like the size of a mall or something. Guess things on TV look bigger!

Finally got out of the rain and had lots of sun along the way. Stopped in Nebraska to grab a cache and finished our day in Sioux Falls, SD.

Tomorrow, grabbing caches in Minnesota and North Dakota, and maybe the Corn Palace!

July 20, 2009

Day 36 - GPS Adventures Exhibit and Softball

The GPS Adventures Exhibit was being held at the Putnam Museum in Davenport and even though we had already seen it in CT, we decided to take Aunty Betty with us to see it again. Lots of fun but the layout is still confusing. I could see muggles getting frustrated and just leaving instead of completing it.

Jenn and Aunty Betty
Later, we watched Jenn's cousin's Marisa and her Dirt Devil teammates win their softball game 11-8, which puts them into the semifinals.

Tomorrow, driving to South Dakota.

July 19, 2009

Day 35 - John Deere, Caching Along the Mississippi, and a Flat Tire

Today we joined Jenn's aunty Betty, uncle Jon, and cousin Marisa for brunch at the TPC at Deere Run. While enjoying a nice meal, we watched Tom Watson as he tried to win the British Open. We watched him unfortunately bogey the final hole which left him tied and needing to go to a four-hole playoff. We left before the playoff started but later in the day found out he lost to Steward Cink.

We then headed to Moline, IL, and the John Deere Museum. Lots of cool equipment to look at and play on.

Dave on a Sugar Cane Harvester
Jenn on a John Deere Lawn Mower

Afterwards, we headed off to the Mississippi River to do some caching. We took Betty and Marisa along, to show them a little bit of what geocaching's about.

Walking towards the next cache
We didn't do too well, finding three and DNFing two. Our luck got worse when as we were backing up from our parking spot to head home, another driver told us our rear left tire was flat. We all got out and yep, it was flat.

So we called AAA, and within half an hour, the tow truck arrived to change our tire to the spare.
We then took the Prius to Walmart for four new tires. The tires that were previously on the car were getting close to the point of needing to be replaced so we decided to just get them all replaced now, since we still have to drive back to California.

Before dinner, David played with Smudge, the Peebles' friendly cat.

After dinner, we once again headed out for ice cream, this time to Whitey's.