Day One Cabin to Indiana Dunes NP

Mostly just a travel day, but with a short hike at the end. Going through Chicago is never fun, but gave us the quote of the day from Jane: “Oh my gosh we are getting passed by an Oscar Meyer Weiner!”

Passed by the Oscar Mayer truck

The Indiana Dunes National Park is the newest National Park. It is located right along the shore of Lake Michigan, with plenty of beaches and sand dunes to explore. Here we are on the beach, Jane is pointing at downtown Chicago, which we could just make out through the haze.

Downtown Chicago from Mount Baldy

It was a very nice campground, but no electricity so we decided to cook over an open fire. We had bought a bundle of wood at the gas station but it was very wet, so it was a struggle but we eventually had enough coals for some turkey burgers. It was a very nice night to enjoy the fire, but we have a long day of driving to get to New York so it was an early night.

Relaxing campfire

Where does all our stuff come from? Going through the Canal.

I grew up in farm country so I’m pretty familiar with how food gets to the grocery store. But what about all the other stuff we buy at all the other stores? Well here is a clue for you…

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One thing this trip through the panama canal has made me realize is just how amazing, complex, and expensive the global shipping system is. Have you ever wondered how much it costs for a ship to go through the Panama canal? Take a guess? Our cruise ship cost about $370,000 and larger ships can cost over a million!

I can’t even begin to guess the value of everything in those containers but just think about it. Cars, wood, electronics, furniture, carpet, gas, oil, grain, it all makes its way around the world in giant ships. In Colon there is a huge duty free area where buyers go and order containers of various things. Oh, I like these shorts I’ll take 2 containers of medium 1 of large, etc…

Going through the Panama canal you really see where this all comes together, literally, to fit through a bunch of locks that are a thousand feet long and 160 feet wide. Plus the new locks for the even bigger ships.

Our route through the canal started at the Gatun locks. These take you up 85 feet to lake Gatun. You can see our ship the Celebrity Millenium in the background just entering the first lock. The white and blue ship is a car carrier heading the opposite direction.

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Here we are in the lock looking backward you can see a tanker heading out.

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We then travelled across the lake (formed by damming the Chagres river) to the Pedro Miguel locks which stepped us down about 50 feet and then on the the Miraflores locks which took us down to the Pacific Ocean.

This sequence just shows us at the Miraflores locks dropping down the final step before we head out. IMG 1129

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Panama City in the background.

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The whole thing is such an engineering marvel. And not done with new technology! Much of the canal has not changed since it was built over 100 years ago. No pumps are used, it is all gravity fed. Which means that in order for the locks to work they are draining the lake. Of course it is refilled by the river, but each ship uses about 52 million gallons of water to traverse the locks. The rainy season has not been very rainy this year so the lake level is down which means some ships can’t go through, or they have to unload some cargo before they go. One interesting addition that helps conserve water is that now we can use water from the side going down to halfway fill the side going up. This is a nice bit of recycling that saves about 50% of the water.

A Day in Panama

After docking in Colon we joined our tour group for the day to see some of the sites in Panama. This tour included stops at the new locks – Wide enough for the “neo” class ships that do not fit in the original canal. It also included a stop and boat ride on Lake Gatun where we visited the village of some indigenous people and looked for wildlife along the shore.

I had this idea (probably from childhood) that the Panama canal was one long canal. Which is not true at all. The canal is actually a series of locks that bring the ship up into lake Gatun then you cross lake Gatun and go down some more locks to bring you back to the ocean. So, the constraints on the ships are really the size of the locks. In 2016 they opened a new set of locks at each end to support the really large ships. Now the main constraint is really on the depth of the water in the lake.

Here is a view of both sets of locks on the Atlantic side:

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The left side is the new lock which runs one way, They go one way for half the day and then the other way the other half of the day. the right side is the old locks which run both ways most of the time, but they can shut it down and switch to one way traffic if they have maintenance to do.

Here is a view of the village we stopped at.

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A nice addition to cruising is pickleball at sea! We just got on the ship so its too early to tell if the court will be busy. Playing on a metal floor definitely gives a different feel.

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The Joys of Winter Flying

This morning I got Wordle in 2! Here is Proof:
Wordle 564 2/6*

Since I won’t post this until tomorrow, I’ll tell you my first guess. It was DELAY. I know there are better words but my personal practice on wordle is to sit and think about my day for a few minutes and then try to come up with a good starting word that is somehow related to those thoughts. Sort of a Wordle meditation. I have rules, I’m not going to use double letters, its not going to be super obscure, or use letters that are too rare. Although QUEST would not be out of the question.

Now you may be wondering why DELAY was my word today. Well, it all started yesterday afternoon, in Minnesota, under a winter storm warning. I could see traffic on the I-35W bridge over the Missippi was slow from the window in our condo, then I couldn’t see the bridge at all. Not good. We were scheduled to fly back to Palm Springs at 6:07PM, so after some discussion we put on our backpacks at 2:40PM and headed for the light rail station near US Bank stadium, about 8 blocks or so. The going was slow and we didn’t know how the trains were doing but we were pretty sure it was a better option than Uber or Lyft. We got to the station at 3:07 and had about 10 minutes to wait for the Blue Line toward the Mall of America. Things were running much smoother than anticipated so we arrived at the airport way ahead of our typical 90 minutes before departure. We knew we needed some extra time to grab an early bite to eat since dinner time would come somewhere over Denver.

About halfway into our dinner the Flighty app told me that our flight had just been delayed. I was a little surprised because I had been following the progress of our plane and I knew it was already at the airport. Must be a crew issue I thought. So we stretched out our meal, watched the people for a while and then headed to our gate. Sure enough we were waiting for a crew that was now “flying around the weather.” That sort of flying continued for some time as small delay after small delay started to add up.

Finally, a crew was located, and we started the boarding process. After about 20 minutes on the plane we saw the captain and co-pilot arrive and they announced that there would be a bit more delay as they did their inspection and pre-flight paperwork. Then there was more waiting until an announcement was made that the ground crews could not keep up with the freezing rain and they were closing the airport! I’ve never seen this happen in Minnesota!! We are hearty, we don’t shut down our airports for mere rain and sleet and snow. That kind of behavior is reserved for wimpy east coast sorts. 🤪

It seems that as we were sitting on the plane another plane had slid off the end of the runway. Ok, that might be a pretty good indicator that its time to close up shop for a while. So we had to get off the plane again. The gate agent assured us that the airport would open again around 10 or 10:30 PM and that we would be underway as soon as possible. Ummm I wonder what that means? You can’t just shut down everything and then get 100’s of delayed flights through de-icing and on the runway in a few minutes.

We decided to bag it. Lets just get on the delta app and click on that nice little button that says reschedule. It really is not that big of an inconvenience for us to wait another day or two to escape the cold and snow. As I was talking to another passenger I said the hardest thing for me was that I had to cancel my tee time for tomorrow. Yeah, first world problems I know. Unfortunately the little button on the app didn’t work. Probably because we had already boarded… The app helpfully suggested an 800 number to call to straighten out the problem. Unfortunately the sole purpose of the voice on the 800 number is to convince you that using or the app on your phone is really by far the better option than waiting on what was a very long hold queue due to extremely high call volume. Delta if you are listening this is an area for improvement in what I must admit is quite a good app under most circumstances.

I went up to ask the gate agent what we could do? If we simply walk away now can we rebook later tonight? first thing tomorrow? Can you release us so that we can rebook ourselves? Instead she got on her terminal and rebooked us for this morning at 8:55. Thanks helpful gate agent! I wish I had caught your name. Next stop light rail station!

The path to the light rail station at MSP involves two fairly long escalators. At the bottom of the first we were intercepted by transit police. Crap, I thought they have closed the light rail and we are going to have to wait hours for a very expensive Uber in this weather. Nope, just a short delay due to a suspicious object on the tracks. Maybe no more than 5 minutes, unless it really is a bomb. Luckily the bomb dog was back up the escalator in no time apparently having no interest in said suspicious object. To make a long story short we were home and ready for bed before they reopened the airport!

At 6:40 AM we begin to retrace our steps to the airport once again. This morning the sidewalks are actually worse than they were 16 hours ago.

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Here we are on our way back to the light rail stations in the snow.

Back at the airport, we stop at the first kiosk we see to get new boarding passes which thankfully had our TSA PreCheck status on them! Then up to security. Man am I glad we have PreCheck! A stop at Caribou for some coffee and bagels and then down to the end of the G concourse. Flighty and Delta agree we are still on time, but it is snowing like crazy. We find some seats in the gate area and then realize that we are sitting next to someone we know! From Decorah Iowa! She and her husband are on their way to spend a month in Palm Springs. Chatting with them passes the time, and soon the agent announces pre-boarding – well it takes her a few tries as one of their mics makes them sound like the adults in the Charlie Brown TV shows – this is all looking too good to be true!

Soon enough we board but with all of the changes we have lost our nice aisle seats and are consigned to a middle and a window. The window is moderately interesting as we can see that about six inches of snow have accumulated on the wing! This is going to take some serious de-icing! As we are trying to get to our seats the nice lady on the aisle asks us to be careful as her cat is in a carrier under the seat! Hmmmm, I am extremely allergic to cats! The allergist at mayo said I am the most cat allergic patient he’s ever had. We have a short conversation about that and she is very needlessly apologetic (she didn’t know she would be seated next to me!). But she informs the flight attendant and they discuss an option of her moving across the aisle and up a row to a seat that hasn’t filled yet in an effort to put more distance between me and the cat. Although the flight is booked full it looks like there is definitely some room for maneuvering.

In an amazing stroke of luck, the flight attendant returns in a few minutes and asks if we would be willing to move back two rows and occupy exit row seats! Well that would certainly improve my odds of not finishing the flight with itchy eyes and wheezy lungs! And the nice cat lady gets a whole row to herself as a bonus.

After getting settled into our lovely exit row seats the pilot informs us there will be a short delay. We are waiting for a couple of connecting passengers, so please everybody stay in the seats you were assigned… Ummm, but the flight attendant said it was OK to move. A further delay was announced as the baggage carts are having a hard time getting around in the snow. Yes, indeed when you see one of the giant pushback tugs towing the baggage carts you know there are some real problems with traction.

Finally the boarding doors are closed, and we breath a big sigh of relief. We are warned that the waiting is not over, and de-icing and takeoff is still a ways in our future. In fact during the pushback process we apparently get stuck and we are rocked back and forth a few times before we finally get back far enough to fire up the engines. De-icing does take a lot of time! It turns out we had two coats, one to remove the ice and another to prevent more ice which turns the wings an interesting color green. That is to provide a visible signal of which parts of the wings have been treated and presumably will let them know when the chemicals are no longer doing their job, and reapplication is needed. Anyway, after de-icing we get to watch a parade. A parade of yellow vehicles plowing and brushing and throwing down all manner of chemicals on the runway to try to keep it safe for really large vehicles going hundreds of miles per hour that need to stop fast. You can kinda-sorta see them in this picture out out window…

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We are second in line for takeoff for at least 15 minutes! I don’t see any planes landing, I see an SUV driving down the runway with flashing lights. I’m waiting for the announcement that we are going to have to return for more de-icing or even worse, return to our gate. But then the engines fire up and we begin to taxi to take our turn! As I look down the runway I realize that we are taking off blind! Visibility isn’t even good enough to see the far end of the runway, maybe not even halfway… and then the pilot does one of those power takeoff maneuvers when he stands on the brakes and revs the jet engines to get more power, like we are on some kind of aircraft carrier.

Seconds later we are hurtling down the runway into the snow and fog then clouds; eventually we break through and see some blue sky and are on our way! On our way to sunny Palm Springs, with no snow on the ground, and where our friends are surely complaining that it is only 64 degrees!

So long Minnesota… I’m seriously re-thinking my quick visit back in February! Will the grandkids hate me if we just FaceTime? Do I really need to go to Minneapolis to see the musical version of To Kill a Mockingbird? If I don’t see Minnesota until April can anyone blame me? Oh and the Wordle answer was LAYER, as in Ogers are like onions, as in always dress in. I’m going to call that nothing but skill.

Westward Ho!

Instead of camping our way to California this Fall we decided to make it a four day drive. We stayed in, gasp, hotels! This is really our first driving trip where we have used hotels since the pandemic. The verdict? Its nice to pull your accommodations with you!

Our first night was a very nice lodge in Spearfish Canyon South Dakota. Although the lodge was nice it was kind of a bummer because we had a nice hike planned, but I had injured my foot just a couple of days before we took off and I couldn’t walk more than a few yards without a lot of pain.

We did see some pretty cool sheep on the hillside!

We left at O-dark-thirty on day two of our adventure and had the pleasure of scraping ice off our windshield for the first time in a very long time! Today’s drive would take us across Wyoming to a lodge just outside of Dutch John Utah. The area is better known as Flaming Gorge. It was very pretty but our lodge was quite remote and felt even more so because we were clearly in the after season. Only one restaurant in the area was open.

Even thought it was isolated, we had a very pretty view out the picture window of our cabin. Here is a nice Sunset shot!

And to follow up, here is a sunrise photo from the same spot.

A long drive down I 15 brought us to Cedar City Utah for our third night. We headed up to Brian Head, a ski area and did a short little hike. My foot was feeling better by this time, but we still didn’t want to do too much. I love this shot of the show against the beautiful red rock! Our hotel was a Baymont tonight, and I’m not sure why, but the hotel had a some special “mini-rooms” even the door was about ¾ of a normal width. This was our room for the night. The saving grace for the hotel was that it was near a brewery and a really excellent pizza place! I had a chicken pizza with white sauce and pistachios! Truly amazing.

Our last day was the final push to Indio. But we made a quick stop at Kolob Canyon to take a short hike. Maybe some of the most spectacular views yet.

This was a great way to do the trip out this year. We averaged about 6-7 hours of driving a day with time at the end of each day for a short hike or some site seeing.

Superior Fall Colors

Timing the fall colors is a tough game to play. It’s hard to predict when they will peak because there are so many factors at play. Jane did all of the research and tried to make a reservation for next week, but could not find a good campsite. So we reserved for this whole week thinking we would use part of our reservation. Then I found out I had other commitments at the end of the week so we had to push our time further forward.

The results speak for themselves.

We arrived on a very gloomy and rainy Sunday afternoon. But discovered our campsite was just 100 hundred yards or less from the shore.

Bean and Bear

The next day was cool and clear so we did the 7.5 mile bean and bear hike near silver bay. The colors we almost there but not quite. Still it was a very beautiful hike, although Jane lost her Yellowstone hat from the vantage point where we took this photo.


A shorter hike on another clear day, but further north near Lutson had amazingly vibrant fall colors.

Temperance River

On our final morning we took the short hike to the Temperance River gorge. It had a beautiful waterfall, and we enjoyed watching an Arctic Loon try to fight its way upstream.

Devils Tower

The road home runs through Devils Tower National Monument. A monument who got its name from a misunderstanding between the Native Americans name “Bear Lodge” and the white people.

Nothing about this tower says evil/devil. But apparently after the army slaughtered all of the bison the area was a stinking pile of carcasses and the army colonel described it as Devil’s Tower. There is a movement to change it back, predictably opposed by Wyoming members of congress. You can read more about it on the park service website

As is our usual practice we spent the last night on the road at a KOA so we could have a nice easy way to clean out our tanks for the long trip home. This KOA shows a movie every night — Close Encounters of the Third Kind. You may remember that this monument featured in that movie.

This is a popular spot for climbers. Except for the month of June when it is not open for climbing out of respect to the Here are some climbers coming back down.

The title picture for this post was taken at 6 AM as we pulled out of the park to being our 13 hour journey back to Wisconsin. This was a fantastic trip, made even better by our traveling companions. Where will we be five years from now? Who knows, but it will be an adventure.

Yellowstone Scenery

Although there was a huge flood in Yellowstone just over a month ago there was very little of the park that was closed to visitors. We took full advantage of that and saw everything that the park had to offer. When most people think of Yellowstone, they probably think of Old Faithful, but there is so much more to the park than that. We did a few longer hikes, and a lot of short hikes. We saw beautiful rivers and waterfalls and canyons. Even the meadows along the river were amazingly beautiful. I am very grateful to the Hayden expedition, congress, and to President Grant for making Yellowstone the first national park in the world.

The grand canyon of Yellowstone was really grand, and maybe my favorite of the trip. There are two huge waterfalls, upper and lower. Here is a view of the lower falls — which are 308 feet tall! For comparison Niagara is 167 feet but Iguazu falls are 360. I looked it up so you get to read it!

We started out our visit to the grand canyon of Yellowstone at artist point, supposedly named for some paintings made by the artist Thomas Moran who was part of the Hayden expedition. Moran painted the falls to present to congress because after discovering Yellowstone they knew that it needed to be preserved and wanted to persuade congress to preserve this place for future generations.

Thomas Moran's painting of the lower falls

But this is a mistake, he actually made the paintings from the north rim. Nevertheless its a great view point and you could definitely be inspired to paint there.

Lower Falls from Artist Point

Upper Falls

From the north side of the canyon You can take a ¾ mile hike down to the brink of the upper falls. Its a 600 foot elevation change but you get to stand and look right over the falls.

Brink of the falls

Sometimes you can happen upon something really nice just by taking a short little offshoot of the main road. These are wonderful stops without the crowds that you see at some of the main attractions.

Fire Hole Falls

Tower Falls

Yellowstone river

This has been a wonderful trip. Tomorrow we leave Yellowstone and begin the two day trek back home. We will make a stop at Devils Tower tomorrow night, and then have a marathon day back to the cabin in Wisconsin on Friday.

Mud Pots, Hot Springs and Geysers

Educational Post Alert (EPA)! Did you know there are four kinds of geothermal features in Yellowstone? And that Yellowstone has more than half of the worlds geysers ? Thats geysers not geezers , although there are a lot of geezers here, I’m pretty sure its not more than half of the worlds population.

The first couple of days in the park we visited a lot of thermal features I’m going to take them by feature rather than going in order. We will go from most boring to least boring. As a bonus for sticking with us you will get to see wildlife photos.

Let’s begin with Fumaroles. You might think these sound like some nice Italian pastry stuffed with sweet cream filling, but you would be wrong. Fumaroles are gas vents. And when I say gas I mean sulfur gas. You can encounter these things all over the park and you usually see them and hear them before you actually get to them.

Dragon's Breath

Next on the list are the mud pots. Mud pots are boiling pools of, well, mud. In the springtime when there is more runoff and rain they tend to be kind of thin, but by late summer and early fall they are very thick and muddy. These are also quite odiferous, but kind of fun to watch them bubble away and spew mud into the air.


Third are the thermal pools. These can be quite beautiful actually. They look like they would be wonderful to sit in like a hot tub. But they are actually way too hot for that and their PH is quite acidic. They also contain lots of interesting kinds of bacteria that only grow at higher temperatures. In fact the colors in these pools are from mats of bacteria that thrive at different temperature levels. Not only are they pretty, but they are scientifically useful in that they help make DNA replication much faster!

Morning Glory Pool

Prismatic Overlook

Mammoth Hot Springs

This pool deserves some special mention. It is right in Lake Yellowstone. It gives anglers the option to catch their fish and cook it without even taking it off the hook. It is called the fishing cone.

Fishing Cone

Finally, the most famous and dramatic of all of the features are the Geysers. Geysers are especially fun when they erupt. Old faithful, here at Yellowstone erupts every 35 minutes to 2 hours. We enjoyed seeing old faithful twice, once from a viewpoint up on the hill quite a ways away, and the other time right up close. We also witnessed several other smaller eruptions and different geysers around the park.

Old Faithful Overlook

Old Faithful Selfie

OK, you made it this far, here are some animals. By far the animal we have seen the most is the Bison. We have seen them in the field, near the road, on the road, rolling in the dirt, everywhere. We did not pet them. We also saw this nice herd of Elk in the distance. But no bears. We did get to observe some black wolves, but trust me they are so far in the distance that they don’t really make for sharable photos. We also saw a coyote out on the road in the middle of the day, which is quite unusual.

Grand Teton Icons

What do Oxbow bend, Schwabacher landing, the Moulton barn and the snake river overlook all have in common? These are all iconic sites to see in the park. We set out early again this morning to beat the crowds and the heat to see them all. Although today was not a day for long hikes we did enjoy several short walks to see the sites.

The first stop was an early morning stop at Oxbow bend. A great place to spot wildlife, but even though we were there early in the morning we didn’t see any mammals. The coolest thing we saw at Oxbow was an Osprey carrying off a trout to its nest. A trout is perfectly streamlined for flight underneath a bird of prey.

A little further down the road we had a fantastic view of Grand Teton in the beautiful morning light.

Our next stop was at the Snake River overlook. This is the place where Ansel Adams took his iconic photo that put Grand Teton on the map. There are more trees now than when he took the photo in 1942. We did our best to recreate the photo using 2020 technology and filters.

As we were heading to the truck we overheard one young dad tell his three kids “Look kids there are some iconic Grand Teton crows”. The only thing I can imagine that would inspire a statement like that was if they too had been listening to Gypsy Guide in the car.

Further on down the road we went, this time our stop was Schwabacher landing. We were in luck! There was a mama moose and her baby eating and drinking in the river. This time I had our good old Canon SLR with the long lens so we were able to get some really good photos of the pair.

Once again we were really hoping to see a bear so we spent more time at a little more secluded pullout at Schwabacher but didn’t see anything but more birds.

The last of our iconic stops was on mormon row where there are some well preserved barns from the 1890s.

After seeing all of these iconic sites we decided to continue on into Jackson and wander around the town a bit. It was a Saturday so we happened to hit the farmers market for some great fresh bread. Other than that Jackson seemed pretty much like every other western tourist town.

Grand Teton - Cascade Canyon

The first ferry across Jenny lake leaves at 7am she said. We decided to shoot for the 7:30 crossing, which turned out to be a brilliant move. First we avoided lots of crowds, and second, we were up into Cascade Canyon in time to see a group of bull moose waking up!

One of the nicest hikes in Grand Teton is the Hidden Falls, Inspiration point, and Cascade Canyon combination. It is about a 480 foot climb for the first mile and then it evens out for the walk through the beautiful glacial canyon. By leaving early we avoided the people coming down the trail as we were heading up and it was generally a lot more peaceful.

Jenny Lake Ferry Ride

The first stop was hidden falls, a beautiful waterfall on cascade creek that feeds into Jenny lake. The lake temperature is 60 degrees at the surface, “but gets a little more chilly if you dive down.” Not much chance of that happening.

Hidden Falls

A further climb leads you to inspiration point. On the way up this climb there are a couple of places to stop and take in some of the peaks in the Teton range. Including this picture of Teewanot. The contrast of the morning sun against the storm clouds over the peak was awe inspiring already. And yes we did hear thunder, but thankfully we did not see or experience any lightning!

Teewanot - sounds like astronaut

When you arrive at Inspiration point you have a fantastic view of the lake. I love this shot that shows the ferry leaving the dock leaving a feather-like wake.

Jenny Lake

After inspiration point the trail levels out some, and so we were just enjoying a nice walk back into the Cascade Canyon. We caught a few raindrops as the storm clouds passed over us, but not enough to get wet. We happened to talk with a couple of guys coming down the trail who told us they had just seen a couple of moose laying in a meadow about 5-10 minutes up the trail. We were lucky enough to spot them when we arrived! It was a bit disappointing to see nothing but antlers, but It looked like they were beginning to stir so we decided to hangout a while and see if anything happened. During the wait we amassed a huge collection of very bad photos of moose antlers behind plants in the deep shade.

But sure enough after a 15 minute wait one of them stood up. This caused a second one to rouse itself as well. Eventually they ventured into some light bright enough to get a few decent photos. Although 99% of our photos are taken on iPhones these days we were glad to have brought along our old Sony A6000 with the telephoto lens to get a better closeup.

Thats Mr. Moose to you.

This little encounter reminded us how lucky you are to see wildlife while hiking along. The animals are so hard to spot if they are not up and moving. We often wondered how often we passed some kind of wildlife that was just quietly lying behind a bush a few feet away.

We continued further into the canyon now in hopes of seeing a bear (at a very safe distance). The closest we came to a bear was a surly teenager who ruined his grandma’s entire day with his behavior. A side note here - it seems that leaving early is a good strategy because it is mostly people our age on the trail and some families with younger happy children or cute babies in backpacks who get up early in the morning. We noticed a lot more teens on the trip down in late morning.

Cascade Canyon

We arrived back at camp in time to make some lunch. I guess I really worked up an appetite because caesar salad with chicken never tasted so good. We voted for a lazy afternoon of reading, and checking out the beach. Around 4:00 we took a short drive up Signal Mountain to take in the views of the “hole.” Fun fact: The term hole was a common term to describe a high altitude valley. Further fun fact - the term “dude ranch” specifically the term dude was a pejorative term in the late 1800’s to refer to a city dweller who needed to be pampered and was very likely unable to look after themselves in the wilderness.

Mexican food so good…

Today (Day 2) was a day of driving across South Dakota. What do you see when driving across South Dakota? Billboards, lots and lots of billboards. Wall Drug, of course. But lots of others too, apparently the Firehouse Brewery is trying to be the new Wall Drug. They have signs and bright red fire trucks every few miles. Here are a few of our favorite slogans.

Mexican food so good that Donald Trump would build a wall around it!

I don’t even remember if the name of the restaurant was mentioned. But I would love to eat there to support the owners.

There is wisdom in wine.

There is bacteria in water

Love it, let’s have a glass of wine to celebrate the author of that sign.

I have to say that South Dakota is not a good value; it is pretty expensive scenery at almost $1.00 per mile! The reason that today was particularly expensive was the headwind. We were driving straight into a 20 mph wind gusting to 40 mph at times. Our gas mileage is normally 9-10 mph while pulling our camper, but today we were averaging 5.3. Yikes! I was beginning to think that today was our day for mechanical troubles until we stopped to fill up. I could hardly push the door open against the wind. Although relieved to understand why we were getting such poor mileage, Knutson’s van performed perfectly and with a diesel engine they were only using about a quarter of a tank to our 25 gallon fills.

We made it to the Badlands in the late morning and took the scenic drive through. The last time I was on this road, I was on my bike, so it was a different experience to see it from the truck.

The gang in the Badlands

The Badlands are so interesting with millions of years of geologic history on display. They have a map that shows what things looked like all those years ago and clearly this part of the world was under water.

After we got through the Badlands our final 100 miles for the day brought us to Custer State Park. I think it must be one of the most beautiful state parks in the country. Our camp sight was beautiful, if a little small to back into. We set up camp at the Sylvan Lake campground and after a round of beers in the shade we headed out for the short hike around the lake.

Dinner was wonderful, we had some delicious french dip foil sandwiches. Holly had made them with cheese and roast beef and then wrapped them in foil, we put them over the fire and they came out perfectly. Meanwhile we took on the task of trying to figure out the problem with the gas supply to the grill and griddle. By process of elimination we determined that it was the quick connect coupler on the camper that had to be clogged. The protective cover had either come off or we had forgotten to put it on, so it wasn’t too surprising that road grime was interfering with the flow. We took it off and washed it good with soapy water. That cleared it all up and so we are back in business to cook with gas. However we are having fun improvising our cooking over the open camp fire.

Unsurprisingly holly and Brian had not slept very well their first night in their van, so we called it a night relatively early.

The Adventures Begin

Every five-ish years we have a special trip with our good friends Brian and Holly. We were all married on the same weekend in June, but one year apart. Brian was my college roommate and my best man. So to celebrate our five year anniversaries we do a trip together. We have been to Door County, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, you get the idea. Every time we go it is an adventure.

This year is our 36th anniversary and their 35th. A few years ago we rented a 32 foot RV and visited Banff and Glacier. This year, we decided to keep the national park theme going and are heading to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Since we have a travel trailer, Brian and Holly decided to rent a camper van and we would drive and camp together.

We were about an hour down the road when we got the following text from Holly.

So we pulled off in Saint James and parked behind the Caseys. After turning off the van and restarting the engine everything seemed fine. So we continued on down the road. We got all the way to Heron Lake when it happened again. So we pulled into the Conoco station and they called their rental company. Once again restarting the van fixed the problem. After the third time we decided to pull over in Worthington and get some help from the rental company. The first thing we learned was that the roadside assistance provided with the rental was completely useless. They said they found one place that could help us, in the little town of Lismore, that could get us in on Wednesday! Discussions ensued with the owner of the RV who seemed pretty knowledgeable and correctly diagnosed what the problem was. Meanwhile the rental company got busy trying to locate an alternative RV to bring to us. The RV was in “limp mode”. When the RPMs exceed 2700 the turbo is not able to keep up and goes into a mode where you cannot accelerate.

At the owners suggestion we continued toward Sioux Falls, with a stop for gas in Luverne where gas was just $4.09. While we were in town we made a quick stop at Papik motors where we were able to get the error code read, which confirmed the diagnosis. A little further down the road we got word that we should head to Chris’s Auto Repair in Sioux Falls. If you ever need some work done on your car in Sioux Falls I would highly recommend, they are the nicest group you will find. They did some more diagnostic work to figure out exactly what needed to be replaced. Unfortunately they couldn’t get the part until Wednesday, so the owner dispatched his mechanic to make the four hour drive to Sioux Falls with the part. We now knew that we were not going camp in the badlands, so we found a couple of sites at the very nice Lake Vermillion recreation area.

While waiting for the mechanic, we had happy hour and made some burgers. We were planning on grilling, but for some reason could not get the grill to light! Another mystery to figure out when we get settled in Custer. The induction burner and frying pan worked out just fine, so we had our burgers and enjoyed the views of the lake.

At around 9:00 the mechanic arrived, well it was actually not the mechanic but someone’s teenage son. Whatever! He got the job done and the RV has been running like a champ all day today.

Driving to Page

Today was mostly just getting from Zion over to Page Arizona. We had to take the camper through the tunnel, which was interesting because they make the tunnel one way traffic whenever there is a camper or bus that needs to go through. The road is just a little too narrow for comfort and although two campers could probably pass each other many mirrors would be broken. From there we went through Kanab and then onward toward Page Arizona.

About 20 miles outside of Kanab we came to a sudden stop. There was a huge lineup of cars on our side of the road and no oncoming traffic except for the few cars we could see turning around. With no cell service it was a total mystery as to what had transpired ahead. We assumed it was an accident of some kind. But how long would we have to wait? After sitting some time the paramedics from Kanab came by heading toward the accident, so we knew it would be quite a while. Jerry and I decided to take a little hike up the road to see if we could find any information or even just to see if we could see the start of the backup. After walking about a mile we started chatting with another person who said that there had been a lot of smoke and the word was that a camper had tipped over and caught fire. Rescue crews were looking for volunteer vehicles to help clear the road. But nobody knew how long it would be before we could get underway.

We met people with timed reservations at Antelope canyon, and others on their way to Lake Powell every car on our walk back wanted to know if we had learned anything. We we tried to tell what we knew in ever decreasing detail. A few minutes after getting back to the car we could see the front of the line start to move. It was just about 1 hour delay. Luckily we were not on any time schedule. We could clearly see the problem when we got to the front! We hope everyone survived! This really made us think about the dangers of driving in remote areas, no cell service in this area? We can only imagine how long that RV burned before word got to the authorities and someone was able to respond 20 miles from the nearest town!

The other unfortunate thing about the day was that the wind was just howling 20 mph with gusts of much more. At our campsite we could hardly close our door with both hands! Needless to say we were not going to sit around in the camper in the wind, so we headed down to see horseshoe bend. It takes a bit to walk down to the viewpoint and on the way there we had convinced ourselves that the wind was letting up a bit. But when we got to the edge of the canyon overlooking the bend we were sand blasted! You could hardly stand it with the bits of sand and gravel whipping around and stinging your skin.

So maybe outdoor hiking is not a good idea today either. Maybe we should go into page to the brewery and distillery? That turned out to be a great call. Good beer, decent pizza and some really nice gin — made with botanicals. Yes, I am on vacation I had gin and beer.

Back at the camper the wind had calmed down so we settled in for a rousing game of “Mexican Train” dominoes. It was a game full of twists and turns, just when we thought we had it figured out Jane staged a dramatic last minute victory.

Zion Narrows - I Know how to Save a Life

Suddenly floating

Down the river goes my wife

Someone grab her hat!

It was a beautiful morning in Zion National Park, we were up early to get to the outfitters to rent our waders/dry suits for the hike in the Zion Narrows. This is a hike we have wanted to do since 2009 when we brought the kids with us to Zion. It was worth the wait and is definitely in my top 10 list of hikes.

The water temperature was 56 degrees and the river was flowing at 46 cubic feet per minute. So it was not too high, but it was rapid enough that a lot of the time we really needed our poles to stabilize ourselves. I was under the impression that the entire hike was in the river. Thank God it was not. A lot of the hike involves zig zagging back and forth to get to dry land to walk on a trail for a short distance before going to the other side to do the same.

I felt like an explorer as you could not see very far ahead, so at every turn there was another turn just up ahead and you never knew what was coming up next.

Our goal was to make it to the split and then walk a little further upstream to “Wall Street” where things get even more narrow. Which we did, we also explored a path to a waterfall. But that was not too productive, as there was a mini waterfall and boulder in our way. So we headed back.

When we arrived at the deepest crossing that also had a very strong current that was when things went awry. I was walking just ahead of Jane when I saw her start to float by! She had stumbled and done a slow fall into the deeper water. I was able to grab on to her and get her upright but not before a bunch of very cold water had gone over the top of her dry suit bibs! Her hat started to float downstream but luckily some nice young person was there to stop it. When we got out of the water on the other bank we looked back to find that Ann had stumbled in the water as well.

The dry suit did an excellent job of keeping out the water for most of the trip, and now it was doing an equally good job of keeping the water in! Which meant that every time jane got into a little deeper water the pressure on the suit forced the cold water inside the suit to squeeze up! Not comfortable. At this point our hike became a march to get back to the trailhead as quickly as we could to get the women out of their wet clothes. Unfortunately Ann fell one more time in the water and then took a tumble on some rocks on the land and bruised her elbow and banged up her knee.

Despite it all we still enjoyed some awesome scenery along the way. When we arrived at the trailhead it was quite a process to remove all of our wet gear. I pulled open the cuff on Jane’s dry suit and a gallon of water came pouring out. We still had a one mile hike to get back to the busses which was just about enough time for their wet clothes to dry out.

We were all amazed and surprised at the casual nature of the outfitters in town. Here is some stuff, try it on and let me know if you need a different size. Signing the waiver of liability was totally on the honor system, and paying seemed to be an honor system thing as well. How they knew what we had taken or paid for, or even returned is a mystery. I guess a dry suit is not something you are likely to steal, but it felt nice and refreshing to not have to sign and number and carefully check in and out each piece of gear!

This is a hike we would definitely repeat with our family if we ever get back here again.

We arrived safely back at our campsite where we packed up some drinks and our swimsuits and headed to the east side of the park. We needed to get inside the geofence area to get in the daily lottery for a chance to hike the Wave. They only allow 64 people a day into the Wave so it takes some luck. After driving even further than we wanted to we finally got enough cell signal to enter. It was kind of funny with four of us and four different generations of iPhones each with different signal strength trying to get the app to work with only a single bar of LTE signal!

After finally succeeding in getting two of us in the lottery we gave up and headed over to Ann and Jerry’s hotel to use the hot tub! That felt great. Jerry offered to buy us all dinner if we could go to a sports bar where he could attempt to turn us into Phoenix Suns fans.

Winter Wonderland at White Sands

I was looking down at my phone or something inside the car when we made the transition. I looked up and saw this sight!

Plowed Roads!

It looked like we had suddenly been transported to Wisconsin in the middle of January! Instead we were at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Not far from the Missile Range and the test site for the Manhattan Project.

We did some messing around on the dunes, enjoying the beautiful contrast between the white sand and the clear blue sky!

From White Sands we went back to our campsite at Leasburg Dam and hooked up to head further west. We had opted for a KOA in Wilcox AZ for the night so we could have all our tanks clean and empty for the final drive to Indio.

Little did we know that Wilcox is some kind of wine Mecca for the state of Arizona. Who ever heard of an Arizona wine anyway? We had to give them a try so after making camp and doing a little work with the good WiFi. We headed to the Coronado Winery to test a few wines and enjoy some of their food. The wine was actually really good, I ended up buying a bottle of their Rose to take with me and Jane bought a bottle of the Sangiovese.

Its been an incredible trip and all we have left is about six hours of driving on I-10 tomorrow! Depending on how early we get on the road we will be in Indio by early to mid-afternoon. Lots to look forward to there, and looking forward to reconnecting with all of our Indio friends, golfing partners and pickleball players!

Big Bend National Park

After a beautiful night at Seminole Canyon, we were on our way to Big Bend National Park. This is a good time to see this park as Big Bend is definitely not on the way to anywhere. The park is huge, and very remote. It borders the Rio Grande and has some spectacular hiking.

Getting into our “pull through” site was our first adventure. It was on the wrong side of the road for our camper so first we had to drive down the road the wrong way. The site is on a hill and half of the site is very sloped so we had to pull up to the level area and leave the pickup blocking the road until we were leveled and unhooked. Thankfully the rangers around here are very friendly and understanding. One even told us that he would block traffic for us when we left if he was around to make it easy for us to go the wrong way. I love a friendly rule breaker!

After some sandwiches for lunch I worked a bit and read with the idea that we would do the hike to the Window sometime after 4:00. This turned out to be a great decision as we ended up in shade for most of the hike and on the way back we had just beautiful light on the mountains. This hike was downhill from the start and uphill all the way back!

This was the end of the hike where we could see the plains below the window from our valley!

On the way back we had several opportunities to enjoy the beautiful lighting! This one is my favorite, I really love the reflection of the mountains beyond in this tiny pool.

I also loved the contrast in the lighting, from the shadow we were walking in to the canyon walls still in bright, late afternoon sunlight!

We didn’t get back from the hike until after 7:00 so after a drink and a bit of rest it was dark by the time I started the griddle for supper. We had decided on fried burgers. I haven’t made a burger on a flat top in forever, but let me tell you, it was great! Nicely browned on the outside and we toasted some buttered buns right next to the burgers! It took me right back to my childhood having burgers at the Cafe in Storden Minnesota with my grandma Sundahl.

This morning we were up and waiting for the sun to clear the canyon wall so we could position the solar panels for the day before we took off on our sightseeing tour. It was great.

We followed the Ross Maxwell road (an early park super) and it was beautiful! The highlight of the trip was the view of “the notch” No! not the one on the iPhone or the new macbook pro, but a gigantic notch between the mountains carved out by the Rio Grande! This was our first view of it from about 10 miles away!

When we got closer it was great to get out and walk into the canyon. The drought is so bad that the Rio Grande is very low .

So low, in fact, that we were definitely in Mexico for a few minutes!

End of the Line - Riding the Delta

Yesterday was the official end of my Mississippi River ride. I rode way out on the delta to Venice, or the southernmost strip of land in the state of Louisiana. A few parts of the ride were scenic but a lot of it was still just along the highway. Thankfully the traffic heading out that direction is pretty light, so even though it was a four lane road I could have one lane to myself.

I got off to a bit of a rocky start as I thought I was just going to follow the highway, but a mile into the ride I checked the map only to discover I was off track. So I did a U-turn and headed back to my missed turn onto a nice side road. After a mile or so on the side road I could see a bridge ahead and the dreaded orange highway signs. The bridge was out! My only option was to go back to the highway I had left and continue as I thought! The highway bridge

The Gulf and the River Meet!

Miles later, and just a couple miles short of the end I could see our pickup sitting beside the road. Jane was waiting for me to give me the news that the road ahead was under water. Not deep, but definitely not bikeable.

So we put my bike in the bed of the pickup, and fittingly drove the last two miles to the southernmost point in Louisiana where I did pose for my final photo op.

To recap, Jane and I covered 2,550 miles from the headwaters of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca to this pretty un-flashy finish line. I didn’t ride every mile of that but I rode the majority of it for sure. I learned a lot about the limitations of my body and the day after day grind of riding a long distance.

The drive back to our campground outside of New Orleans was pretty uneventful. We had to take a ferry across the river at the cost of $1.00. It runs every 30 minutes and appears to take about a dozen cars each trip. Definitely not a money maker when you consider the crew of three!

View from the ferry

We really enjoyed looking at all of the large houses up on stilts! We even saw two entire high school buildings built on stilts! Very new, so we were guessing these schools were built with money from FEMA after Katrina. Here is a nice example of one of the fine houses we saw.

As I write this we are about an hour away from our campground in San Antonio! We have covered more miles today than we would do in a week while I was biking! We left early this morning under the cover of darkness and its been quite a trip. The severe weather that is affecting the entire country made no exception for our day of travel. We had to pull over to a rest stop outside of Beaumont Texas to wait out a severe thunderstorm. It was an early lunch but it worked nicely to park in between an 18 wheeler and a fifth-wheel camper.

We enjoyed 3 fun nights in New Orleans which I will cover in a separate post! We have about a week of travel left before we arrive in Indio with more adventures yet to come. We are looking forward to a visit to the Alamo tomorrow and some of the great national parks in the state of Texas.

Google Maps — You. are. Fired.

Due to my back pain I rode with Jane today from the Mississippi River state park to Lake Chicot state park. I’m not too sad as it was 80 miles of highway riding through flat (and mostly harvested) cotton fields was not so appealing.

After crossing the river into Arkansas we were ready to get to our campground. Google maps wanted us to turn right, so of course we did. The road sign for the state park said to go straight but hey, what do they know. A hundred yards later we were screwed…. We were on the North Levee road with no way to turn around. Think Gravel, dust, and steep grades on both sides of the narrow gravel road.

Crap! 7.2 miles and then we are supposed to turn left onto Audubon Trail. Which then goes to our campsite. What else can we do except take it nice and slow, raise as little dust as possible, and hope that nobody comes from the other direction!

Well, 7.2 miles later we get to our turn for the Audubon trail and that is exactly what it is! A trail! The road goes left but at the bottom of the levee is a gate, chained closed. I hop out to investigate and see if it is locked and what is on the other side of the gate. Well it isn’t locked but the other side of the gate has not seen any traffic in a very very long time. We would be driving in a pasture, with a barely discernible path. 100% something you would never pull a camper on!!

At this point our only option is to curse Google in the most colorful language possible, and try to very carefully turn the camper around by backing into the turnoff. Jane very skillfully backs the camper onto the ramp and then begins to pull to go back the other way. The wheels begin to spin. No way!! stop and go and spin, stop and go and…. the traction catches and we are turned around. Now all we have to do is drive another 7.2 miles back the other way on the same dusty gravel.

By the time we get back to the main road, the truck is beige instead of nearly black. The camper is covered in dust, and neither of us is in a very good mood. We follow the signs toward the state park and I thoughtfully suggest deleting the Google maps application from Jane’s phone. This way is about 17 miles longer than Google’s way but it is much better and we arrive safely. The ranger gives me a knowing chuckle when I suggest that maybe the park should have a notice to ignore Google maps when trying to get to the campground. We are not the first! Nor will we be the last I suspect.

We will follow the instructions to try to get Google to make a correction.

In the meantime for the search engine side of google here are some key words that may help the next unsuspecting traveller.

Arkansas Chicot State Park, directions, Audubon trail, north levee road, ignore google!! Audubon trail is NOT a road!!

Zooming to Tennessee

My back felt better this morning, and with 52 miles on the schedule it felt very doable. Especially with all my new ointments to soothe my muscles and keep my rear end happy.

The challenge for the day was that in addition to riding, and needing to move to the next campground, I was also supposed to participate in the Concordia College October board meeting. What to do? Most of the morning was scheduled as committee meetings and the student learning committee had no important votes to make today, so I decided I would ride during that meeting and attempt to participate via zoom as I rode. It mostly worked fine! I was able to listen to 90% of the meeting as I had at least two bars of Verizon LTE for the majority of the ride!

The only part I could not participate in was during opening introductions when I happened to be down in a very pretty valley — I guess they call them hollers down here in Kentucky? In any case I didn’t have service for a while.

I’m going to claim that this is the first time ever that a Concordia regent has participated in a board meeting, virtually, while riding 52 miles.

Tonight we are camped out at Reel Foot Lake State Park. We have a beautiful spot right on the lake.

Getting into this spot was quite the trick! First we had to back down a lane and then make a sharp turn around a tree, while avoiding another tree with the pickup! Thankfully I married a pro backer upper, and with my expert hand signals 👉👈 we were settled in no time!

A relatively early arrival allowed me to participate in the afternoon session from the comfort of our couch, and thankfully we have a good signal at this campground!

West Memphis to Mississippi River State Park

This is one of the most beautiful state parks with really nice campsites.

After riding nearly 60 miles today, my back was so sore that I knew my long distance riding days were numbered. The rest of the way will be finding some shorter, more scenic/nicer routes to ride to fulfill the spirit of this trip.

The truth is that riding 100 miles on the edge of a highway through flat farmland lost its appeal. This really is the part of the ride where things get kind of flat and boring. I’m looking forward to that last days ride to the Gulf.

Beautiful Fall Day at Mississippi River SP

Meanwhile we had a nice campfire and enjoyed a really beautiful night in the park.

Our campsite

Using the night mode on my iPhone

A Dogged Ride to Fort Pillow

Today I saw fields of cotton ready for harvest for the first time in my life. What a sight! Acres of white “flowers” against a backdrop of green.

After breaking camp at lake Reel Foot and riding for a while with Jane I got on my bike for the last 52 miles into our destination of Fort Pillow. Less than 100 yards from starting my ride I was chased by two dogs. Of course this was going to happen as I had just commented to Jane that of all the things so far the last couple of weeks I was glad that I hadn’t had to cope with dogs! These two were just a dramatic foreshadowing of my day to come. Following the MRT took me through lots of pockets of rural houses on very lightly traveled roads. But every house had at least one dog and all of them wanted to greet me in some way. None of them attacked, but when you are on a bike it is never fun to have dogs running beside you or in front of you, you just don’t know what they will do.

In addition to the cotton fields I also saw a lot of Kudzu forests. Kudzu is an invasive plant species introduced from Japan. It can grow a foot a day and loves to cover the native trees giving the forests that have been taken over by the Kudzu quite an interesting look!

Kudzu forestMore Kudzu!

Today’s ride was also super hilly! The final few miles up to the campground at Fort Pillow almost did me in! I’m very happy that this should be one of the last hilly rides, the rest of the way to Louisiana should be pretty flat.

I’ve read quite a bit about the civil war but had never heard of a general Pillow. Turns out he didn’t last long and neither did the fort. Less than a year from completion the fort was abandoned by the confederacy. It was a very nice campground, and it was a beautiful Fall night. A good chance to have a campfire and enjoy some well earned steaks after a hard ride!

Tomorrow Jane and I plan to do an easy ride on a bike path on the way to Memphis, then I’m planning to take a couple days off as we rest up and take in a few of the sites in Memphis. Hopefully some BBQ on Beale street is in my future.

Trail of Tears State Park

From Fort Kaskaskia we drove to the Trail of Tears State Park. This park marks the spot where thousands of Cherokee were driven across the Mississippi river in a forced relocation to reservations in the west. Over ¼ of the Cherokee died on the trip. A shameful part of our past.

The campground here is small and remote, except for the railroad tracks that run right next to the campground and river. For some reason the engineers feel it necessary to blow their whistles in the middle of the night for the tiny trail that crosses the tracks from the campground to the river. Needless to say this was not our best nights sleep.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We were only about 10 miles from Cape Girardeau a beautiful river town, with murals on the cement flood wall that tell the story of the town. On our way into town we stopped at the Cape Bicycle shop to stock up on some supplies. I had a great chat with one of the guys in the store (owner maybe). He gave me some good riding advice, and some recommendations on where we could get a good pizza and some local brew. Minglewood brewery was the place. We were able to hang out, enjoy some beer, tater-tot nachos, and pizza while watching the US Mens national team. I would recommend both Minglewood and the cycle shop if you are passing through.

After a pretty bad nights sleep, my back was hurting, so I just did a short ride around on the park roads.

Jane had taken off with the truck to do a hike and I had left my helmet in the truck. So I didn’t want to go on the highway and I didn’t want to go far or fast anyway, so a gentle ride to stretch my muscles was all I wanted. Jane’s hike was like a trip through the jungle, she had to use her walking sticks to clear away the spider webs!

One of the things the guys in the bike shop told me, which of course Jane already knew, was not to ride across this bridge!!

Do NOT ride or walk your bike over this very narrow bridge.

Since it was a day to ride in the truck, I did not! Instead we rode together to Columbus Belmont state park. After setting up camp I had just enough signal to participate in the afternoon plenary session of the Concordia board meeting.

Our campground host was very welcoming, and was willing to deliver a nice load of wood for just $5. This was great as we made some pork satays over an open fire along with couscous and chickpeas.

Hannibal / Hamberg to Pere Marquette

I awoke with heavy legs this morning! The plan was for Jane to drive me back across the river, retracing part of my ride from yesterday. Then, to drop me off so I could ride to the State Park. Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned.

A mile or two into the ride, maybe even less I noticed that I had a flat. Not so bad, I haven’t had any flat tires for quite a while now. So I pulled over to make the change only to discover that I had left my pump in the camper! Thankfully Jane was only a few miles down the road, and I had cell service. She came back with the pump and another tire and a bit later I was changed and on my way.

Less than a mile down the road I was flat again. Grrr… Maybe it was the tired legs, or the heat, or whatever but that was the last straw for me. On the phone again to Jane. “I guess I was not meant to ride today.” So back she came again. As I was waiting I took the whole tire off and once again felt inch by inch to see if I could find something. Finally I found a tiny sharp spine that had somehow worked its way through. I had missed it the first time around but not now. Still, when Jane got back I put the bike on the rack and hopped in the truck.

I sat there stewing and angry about flat tires for quite a few miles before I finally decided that maybe it was time to pull off, fix the tire and ride the rest of the way.

Fixing a flat

The first part of the abbreviated ride was from Hamberg, which was on some beautiful country roads. Here I am as Jane decided to follow me for a few miles just to be sure.

The second part of the ride was along a pretty busy Illinois Hwy 100. Not so great, but here I am crossing the Illinois river about 15 miles short of Pere Marquette State Park.

We put the Instant Pot to work to make some ribs which we finished over our campfire and some cheesy rice. Tomorrow is scheduled to be a day of rest.