Day 18 – Like a Kid in a Candy Store

On 4 of my long distance trips I thought about going to Hershey’s Chocolate World. In 2011 I crossed it off the list because it was too far off route. In 2016 I arrived after it closed. In 2018 we arrived while it was open but by the time we found the parking lot it was closed. This year, success! There are lots of interactive things to do there and of course lots of candy treats. It could easily be a full day for a family trip with the tours and custom candy bars and 4D movies, then move outside to the roller coasters and rides in the park. Plus lots of other things to explore in the area like a car museum and antique shops with the mountains of Pennsylvania to the west.

So we started our day wandering around Hershey’s Chocolate World then into the RV to cover some miles. Then we got to the adult candy store in New Hampshire. A place I affectionately refer to as the liquor barn. Now to finish those last few miles to home. See you soon Canada.

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Day 17 – Doh!

Started the day with a treat at the Krispy Kreme factory. Or store…whatever. Neat to see the machine making the donuts and the sorting and packing process. Then it was time to cover some ground. We got out of Indiana, through Ohio, and into Pennsylvania with some rain and what looked like maybe some wet flakes in the mountains of west Pennsylvania. We reached our goal for today a little earlier than expected. See you tomorrow.

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Day 16 – ? Really?

As promised, not a lot to write about today. We put some miles on today after a little GPS snafu yesterday. We have seen a lot of flooding since we left the Badlands through South Dakota and Iowa. Even as we crossed the Mississippi today it was looking a little more mighty than usual. Also of note we drove past where the World’s largest popcorn ball lives, got back to Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack in Iowa City, and found Notre Dame.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

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Day 15 – Badlands Are Done

This morning I scraped myself out of bed to catch the sunrise and be somewhere cool for the morning golden hour. Got it.

Then we finished off the rest of the Badlands National Park. If you are going and really want to see it all you should take at least 2 days to do it. It was just as good the second time and I was sad to have to leave but Chuck keeps talking about going home. 🙂

Now we’re on the road for home but we’ll try to find something cool to share each day until we get there.

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Day 14 – B B B Badlands to the Bone

This morning we set out from Rapid City in search of the elusive Wall Drug Store and after only 157 signs showing us the way we were able to find it. We shopped the shops and looked at the oddities (the decor, not people). When our curiosity was fully satisfied we continued across the I-90 to the Badlands National Park for some more natural adventures.

The Badlands did not disappoint with the bison greeting us about 200 feet before the gate to enter the park. Once inside the first step is to take a left at a dirt road. Pro-tip, do not take your old motor home too far down this dirt road. After the prairie dog town the road gets very rough. Also, yes, there is a prairie dog town. And lots of bison. Tomorrow morning we will finish the Badlands and head east once again but for now here are some pictures.

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Day 13 – Stone Faced

Today was mostly a travel day but we finished it up with a stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

After a drive trough the oil and ranch lands of Wyoming and past a huge coal mine we found ourselves once again among the trees and mountains heading into the Black Hills region of South Dakota slightly south-west of Rapid City. Here we first found the Crazy Horse Memorial and gained entry. After looking in awe at the scale of the statue we went inside to watch the video about the history and future of the sculpture. It is expected that it will take several generations to complete as it is being done without government funding, all of the money to work on it comes from the admission fees and donations. The video and displays are very informative and demonstrate that despite the wrongs of the past people are willing to work together to make sure we all have a future.

Next we went to Mount Rushmore. It we under renovation so we couldn’t get close to the sculpture but it was still an experience for Chuck and an interesting comparison to the efforts being made just 17 miles away.

Along the way we passed through some towns with some great character. Notably Custer and Keystone in South Dakota, both very tourist oriented but quaint and friendly in their own ways.

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Day 12 – All About the Tetons

Today we left Idaho Falls to head east into more mountains. The first climb took us to Jackson and the Grand Tetons National Park. Again the drive through the mountains was beautiful and offered lots of photo opportunities and the National Park signs were informative. For the Tetons themselves I dug out the tilt-shift lens for a little experimentation, pics below.

Heading east we crossed the Continental Divide with a peak elevation of 9658 ft above the sea. A rapid decent brought is to 6900 ft and the town of Dubois where we learned that Jackelopes are real. And now we are resting in Riverton before continuing the trek home.

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Day 11 – Craters for Everyone

After our Salt Flats disappointment yesterday we moved on heading to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. It started early and lasted most of the day checking out the lava fields leading to the “monument” and climbing hills…so many hills. It really is an incredible sight and very informative. They did a great job with signage and their efforts to research and preserve the area.

We also drove through Arco where there has been a lot of research around nuclear energy. It was the first town to use electricity generated from a nuclear power plant and a lot of research on nuclear submarines was done in the desert. Go figure.

Here are some pictures. I’ll see you tomorrow.

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Days 9 and 10 – Salty Idaho

Day 9 was day 2 of the Deep Blue roller derby tournament. Took some pictures and met some people. This was the first tournament I have been to where they had to sweep the track after every period and had to stop one game to sweep the pine needles away. It was a great experience to go to an outdoor roller derby tournament. After the tournament we packed up and headed east dropping the rental car off in Reno and putting in some miles towards the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Day 10 we woke up in the parking lot of our favourite campground chain, got some gas and dumped the tanks, took on some fresh water then hit the road. About half way to the salt flats we stopped at the California Trail Interpretive Center to learn about the migration to the west first as settlers then as gold hungry prospectors. Losing track of time we spent almost 2 hours there.

As we made our way east we noticed that the wind was getting stronger. Turns out going really fast across a salty surface in high winds is not a good idea so they had made the decision to not run any cars on the Bonneville Speedway today. We had a good chat about how the weekend went with one of the race stewards but were unable to see any of it ourselves. Chuck got to check out the surface and see a little of it but no vroom vrooms. So because we spent less time there than expected we moved on and I was able to get the last of the “lower 48” states crossed off my list. As of today I have been in all of the contiguous United States (no Alaska or Hawaii, yet). Now were here trying to not get blown away by the wind (a store employee rode a shopping cart across the lot like a sailboat). More cool adventures tomorrow so come on back.

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Day 8 – Finally the Derbz

No travel today, just the reason this year’s big trip was to here. The Deep Blue 2019 roller derby tournament. My first time shooting an outdoor roller derby game or tournament. I may or may not have gotten a sunburn…spoiler, I did. But it was a lot of fun and all new teams except for my Lumbersmacks so the players don’t really know yet what a big deal I am. The Smacks first game was a nail-biter ending in a narrow loss. The second game wasn’t as close but the Smacks threw all of their hearts into it and I couldn’t be more proud of their effort.

Also here are a couple bear pictures from yesterday.

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