The Victory Lap‎ > ‎

The Blog from the road

12/12/12,    12:34 pm,  Wednesday
A few minutes ago, Lisa and I were married. I just closed down the live web stream (the archive is still on my YouTube Channel (kojener)). I'm standing at the front of the Chapel in Agrace. I hear freinds and family having nice animated conversations in the hall outside.  My witness, Ed, is packing up my cameras, etc, and Lisa is outside looking ravishingly wonderful.  I can't wait to post my photos here to share, but now I'm going to catch a ride (or maybe walk) home to finalize preparations for our Open House and the pig roast.  Thank you all, who came. And thank you all who are interested enough to read this.

Rich Yaeger

The victory lap begins

Day One -- 12/21/2012,   3:15 pm,  Friday (no Mayan apocalypse yet)
Lisa and I are hitting the road in a few minutes.  Just yesterday Blizzard Draco came through the Midwest and dumped (by our own yardstick) about 14" of heavy, wet, white stuff on our heads. Thanks to that, Lisa had to close the daycare both Thursday and Friday.  Unlike most people we have a different perspective on Draco.  Thanks to it we were actually able to leave a few hours early for the journey.  Both of us spent the entire day Thursday moving, and removing snow from our new (large) driveway.  Fortunately before moving into the house I bought a John Deer X300 with a snow blade, weights and tire chains (which came off about a dozen  times causing lots of coldness and wetness).  I tried taking a cool time lapse video of the whole process, but I overexposed a good portion of it. I think it's still pretty cool. You can check it out here.
   Anyway, after a cozy night listening to the whipping wind outside the house I got up to spend a few more hours clearing the drifted snow from the drive, while Lisa, again  cleared the walkways. She also was key in blazing a trail through to the street so that I, on the mighty X300 could start getting a bite of the snow and really move some product.  Once her decision to close The Peanut Gallery for a second day was made, I thought we would be on the road by noon at the latest. I was wrong.  About ten minutes later we got a call from "The Man", who in this case was a lady.  She was from the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and she was coming today for a "visit" to certify the new house so The Peanut Gallery can be legit again.  She would show up 'around' two. Dratz!  Okay, new departure time is going to be around three (if all goes well).  This gave us plenty of time to get the car packed, which we are starting to get pretty good at.  Now, in the Lacy house, it's super easy because the car stays parked in it's spot in the garage (top down) and we can load it in comfort. It worked out great.  With the exception of the temporary fence (a requirement for a license) all was in order.  The fence had been partially blown down by the BLIZZARD but she would not let it go, so I waded into the thigh deep snow to shake it off, bend fence poles upright, and re-attach some bits of fence to their respective posts with bailing wire.  That accomplished; the temp license was issued, she was gone, and we were free to leave on our trip. Which brings us to now.  Updates to follow.

Leaving on the Victory lap


Hello all.  Lisa here.  I didn't have time to post during out trip, so I'm going to try and add my comments after the fact.  All my posts will be in blue.
As Rich mentioned above, we spent ALL DAY shoveling snow on Thursday.  Due to my business, I must have clear driveways and walkways for the daycare parents so they can safely bring their children into the house.  By evening on Thursday, I was confident enough that it would be safe for the daycare families to come on Friday.  Then Friday morning came..  More snow, more drifting, branches down, snow plow plowing in the end of the driveway, etc., etc.  After much going back and forth about opening for the day or now, I decided it just wasn't worth the risk.  After calling the daycare families to let them know I would be closed, I went back outside to continue shoveling.  I was still exhausted from the previous days shoveling, so it was slooooow going.  While taking a break, my state child care licensor called saying she would like to come visit and get some issues settled that I'd had with my license.  The last thing I wanted was for her to fall in my driveway, or have a branch land on her car, or heaven forbid, the end of the driveway get plowed in while she's here and she not be able to leave!  However, I was leaving for vacation and the she was going to be on vacation when I got back, so this was going to have to be the day for her to visit.  At least I could give her my full attention since the kids weren't at daycare.
After a bit of a frustrating visit with my licensor and some last minute packing, Rich and I hit the road.  Needless to say, I wasn't starting out in the best of moods after having shoveled 18 tons of snow in two days and wanting to strangle the state licensing system, but I tried to snap out of my mood and relax.  Traveling together is something Rich and I do well.  Especially driving trips, which is one reason we chose to do a marathon drive instead of fly somewhere.  And good thing we did.  As we cruised along to the family farm, I knew people were still struggling at the airports, trying to get to their destinations after all the delays with the snow storm.  In several hours I would be having a wonderful meal with my new in-laws (whose company I always enjoy), and then I would be snug in bed on the farm- a place that has a nice calming atmosphere about it.  Big sigh, sit back, and enjoy the company of my new hubby. 

Day Two -- 12/22/2012,   6:35 pm,  Saturday (still no Mayan apocalypse)
It's morning on our second day of our journey.  I'm at the kitchen table of the Farm my mother grew up in, and where I've spent many memorable times.  Lisa is being rushed by me to leave, so she's showering while I update this blog.  Once we got on the road yesterday, all was well.  The roads were clear, although we saw dozens of vehicles in the ditches; including  many Big rigs.  We  had bright sunshine until the beautiful sunset came. The sky was still slightly glowing when we arrived at the Applebees in Onalaska to meet my folks for a free meal.  They showed up about five minutes after we got there. Dinner was great. I gave my mom a framed photo of her putting shelf paper into our drawers over the Thanksgiving  holiday. She gave us our Christmas card in person.   It even has a picture of Lisa and me at our wedding in it. After dinner it was just the short Drive into Minnesota and up to the farm.  When we got there we collapsed knowing that we have before us a whole lot of driving time.

Dinner with Rich's folks was really nice.  Theresa and Don do a lot of traveling (must be how it got in Rich's blood) and they often have fun and interesting tellings of their travels which I really enjoy.  They're just overall enjoyable and I don't get to visit with them enough, so it was wonderful to be able to meet them for dinner at the beginning of our trip. 
As Rich mentioned, he was rushing me to get going.  I like to have my routine in the morning and I don't rush well.  I'll purposely get up at 4am if I have to so I can have time for my morning routine.  As it turns out, I ended up waiting for Rich to finish his blogging and picture updating.  (insert look number 54 here)  Then we had a fun visit with Aunt Kathy (the Aunt who married us), Uncle Robert, Eryn and Adam.  I could have chatted with them all day, but we really had to hit the road.  It was time to pull out the trivia cards, travel game book, the snacks, and music and start our adventure.

Day Three -- 12/23/2012 7:00 pm Sunday :
I'm writing this from my hotel room in Salt Lake City. We just got back here after exploring the area. We had the wonderful fortune to Visit the Temple Square here two days before Christmas. The lights there are really amazing. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with so all the photos are stuck in Lisa's camera.  Oh well, we'll update later.  I suppose a little recap is in order.
     After leaving the Farm Yesterday morning, we drove all day in great sunshine until we stopped at Mt Rushmore.  The only real stop before that was Wall Drug, which I just HAD to show to Lisa.  It was wonderfully empty and it made it very easy to get through it quickly since we wanted to get to Mt Rushmore before they shut off the lights (they do that in winter).  We got there while there was still a little bit of light in the sky, but we did miss the lighting event where they turn the lights up slowly.  No big deal. It was cool because we had the whole place to ourselves. The last time I was there was during the Sturgis motorcycle rally in 2005 and it was a zoo.
    Our cabin was only a few miles from the monument, so we were there right away.  After getting situated we went out for dinner at local place (almost everything around Keystone, SD  is closed for the season) and to bed.   Due to some sort of GPS malfunction which told me my drive to Salt Lake City would be about five hours longer than I had planned for, I panicked and got us up and onto the road shortly after four in the morning.  Somewhere along the lovely scenic drive across the entire state of Wyoming  the GPS changed it's 'arrival time' from around 7:30 pm to around 3:30 pm. Whoo hoo!  I'm not sure what happened but It was nice to drive into Salt Lake City, through the awesome mountains, in bright sunny daylight.  We are staying in the Hilton Downtown just a few short blocks from the absolutely stunning Temple square.  Our only stop along the route today was at Little America, a semi famous truck stop. We both had fried Chicken and Lisa bought me two doughnuts there. This made up for leaving my Wall Drug doughnuts by the five cent coffee urns. This had caused me a minor meltdown later on, when the error was discovered.  As of this writing I still have one left :)

Wall Drug--what an interesting place.  It was a lot of fun.  Now instead of people being aghast when I tell them I haven't been to Wall Drug or even know what it is, I can tell them all about my fun experience there.  One of my favorite parts was doing one of those picture taking booths.  The kind where you make funny faces and it spits out a slip of 4 pictures of you making those funny faces.  After many hours of driving, wandering around and taking fun pictures and having fun pictures taken of us was--well--fun!

The little cabin we stayed in next to Mt Rushmore was pretty comfortable.  The bathroom was a bit tight with the toilet being squished between two walls leaving barely enough room to sit down.  And the shower nozzle in the tight little shower shot the water right into my face.  After some creative contortionist moves, I was able to get washed up the following morning. 

Mount Rushmore was awesome!  Although Rich had, I'd never seen it before.  Like The Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, I couldn't get enough of looking at it.  It was so fascinating.  And how cool that we had no crowds to contend with.  Rich and I and another couple had the viewing area all to ourselves to take pictures of the mountain and of ourselves in front of the mountain.  Even though it was cold, traveling off season sure has it's advantages!

Salt Lake City-- I expected it be boring.  I don't know why.  Just did.  It ended up being one of my favorite stops.  The holiday lights in Temple Square were AMAZING!  When I asked the baggage guy at the hotel what he suggested doing, he said the zoo wasn't too far away (nah, too cold and late for the zoo), and that we should walk up to Temple Square.  I figured he meant for shopping.  I had no idea that there would be millions of beautiful lights.  So it was a pleasant surprise.  When we got to the square, we noticed people going into and out of the Temple, so we walked in to see what was going on.  A wonderful holiday concert!  The Temple was beautiful, the music was beautiful.  Again, another very pleasant surprise.  Walking around the square was like being in an old movie for me.  There were other couples walking arm in arm, families with little ones and strollers, single people absorbing the atmosphere.  To sound hokey, it was kinda magical.  Most everywhere we went on the trip, there weren't any crowds.  It was fun to  be amongst a crowd for this event though.  So many happy, awe stricken faces.  Like I said, one of my favorite parts of the trip. 

Day Four -- 12/24/2012 5:30 am Monday:
   We're just about to head out on the roads, headed for Reno, NV.  Last night when I started looking at road conditions and snow forecasts I was very concerned that we could be stuck in SLC for Christmas, or at least Crhistmas eve.  There is a new storm coming through. We already battled, and beat, Draco.  Now we have Euclid to contend with.  I devised alternate routes that would have brought us to Las Vegas today instead of Reno. Obviously that would have changed EVERYTHING, but it was doable.  This morning the reports don't look so dire, but I will be installing the chains onto my BMW today. I hope they go on easy. I practiced a few times (in my warm, dry garage) and I know I can get them on. My wheels are 18" and there is not enough room for anyone other than an infant to fit a hand between the tire and the wheel well. This makes them very difficult to install. Wish me luck.

Day Five --  12/25/2012 ho ho ho 9:45 am Tuesday:
   We made it to Reno yesterday. I had to put my snow chains on, and they were welcome.   We left Salt Lake City early enough so that we would get to the mountains by daylight.  After some snowy, slow roads we got out of the muck and into nice bright sunshine for a beautiful drive through Nevada and into Reno.  We went to the hotel that I had talked to a couple weeks ago but we found the office door locked with a sign saying "office closed. be back soon", so we went and got a room at Circus Circus, which was very nice.  I did my duty and won a single round of Craps.

Although I was EXTREMELY tired when we got to Reno, it was one of my more favorite stops of the trip.  The hotel, Circus Circus was a lot of fun.  The room was huge with a living room and two bathrooms.  It was nice to be able to spread out a little.  The big event of the night was dinner though.  We somewhat by accident ended up in the ritzy restaurant instead of the steak joint I was looking at going to.  I don't think I've ever been in a restaurant with an atmosphere like that before.  Everyone bending over backward to make you happy and comfortable.  Unknown to me, before ordering our meals, Rich had gone to the Maitre d and asked him to make us a special desert.  The guy ended up being very interesting to talk to, having taken professional photographs all over the world.  And the desert was wonderful!  (once the flames were put out)  It was a very special honeymoon meal.
Afterward, we went out and played some carnival games.  Or I should say, Rich played some games and won me some souvenirs.  The chicken toss game was a hoot.  (A cluck?)
Walking around the streets of Reno at night was entertaining also.  All in all a really fun stop.       

Day Six --  12/26/2012 6:30 am Wednesday:
After eating leftover pizza in the morning and THEN gorging myself on Circus Circus' buffet (yum!) I had to take a bit of a nap before we left for Vallejo. I didn't think there would be any travel issues. The last time I checked there were no restrictions (chains required) on the roads.  Well that all changed. By the time my belly was ready for travel it was almost one in the afternoon.  What could have been a three hour skip acros the Sierra Nevadas, turned into a seven hour slog over Donner Pass.   It was another day with chains on my tires, although unlike Nevada, we were not all by ourselves with our very own state police escort, it was a full scale traffic jam all the way over, probably sixty miles of SLOW going in horrible snow conditions. It was definitely a WHITE Christmas.  We finally rolled into our hotel in Vallejo around nine pm. After a quick trip to a "Jack in the Box" restaurant it was lights out.
   This morning we are taking the (7am) ferry from Vallejo to San Francisco. We'll spend several hours doing the touristy stuff, take the ferry back and them probably try to meet up with one of Lisa's former day care families  who now lives in Berkeley. After that it's the drive down to Kernville, to hang out on the Kern River.

Day Seven --  12/27/2012 10:30 am  Thursday:
Uhg!  It was another day in chains!  I'm starting to feel like a convict or something. The morning in SF was just about perfect. In the matter of just a few hours we: Rode the ferry to The City, had coffee in a public square in the financial district, rode a cable car, wandered around chinatown, visited Lombard St, ate clam chowder in a bread bowl, got some chocolate at Ghirradelli square, saw street performers and MORE!  The day started off rainy, but with the help of a chinatown umbrella, we were rewarded with sunshine.  After the ferry ride back to Vallejo we went to my old base, Mare Island, which is now closed down. I was able to show Lisa my old living quarters, where I learned my radar system that I worked on in the Navy, and other interesting things on the former base. After that we drove down to Berkely to visit a former day care family and their new baby, whom Lisa lulled into a lovely slumber within moments.  The live in a wonderful little neighborhood near the university and it was a pleasant visit.   Then we began the drive to Kernville.  We took hwy 99 because I have a lot of memories from the little towns along that stretch. The weather steadily got worse with rain and for a few moments I thought about taking the 'less' dangerous canyon road (hwy 178) to Kernville instead of the more dangerous hwy 155.  To take 178 it would have meant going all the way to Bakersfield, and then back up the canyon hwy.  I decided to go ahead and take hwy 155 and got off of 99 at Delano in the dark and rain.  The first twenty miles or so were fine. Nothing but  pitch blackness and a misty rain.  Pretty soon we saw a sign that said "Chains required, ten miles"   About two miles, and a lot of altitude, later we decided it was already time to put the chains on.  I'll save you the drama here, but needless to say the next sixty or so miles were done at somewhere between a brisk run (for a human) and a crawl.  With nonstop switchbacks, no lights, heavy, blowing snow, 13% grades both up and down, no plowing, etc it was genuinely treacherous.   After finally getting below the snow ling, we were several hours late and Lisa was half catatonic, but we were safe and sound. It was definitely an adventure.
   The B&B (The Kern River Inn) was a welcome reprieve. The proprietor, Virginia, had waited up for us.  Considering check in is usually from noon to three, and we showed up after eleven pm, she was pleasant about it, she even had cookies for us.  The room (named Big Blue after the biggest local 19th century gold mine) was wonderful, with a big soft bed, a awesome shower and windows overlooking the roaring Kern River.
  Now I've got to drag Lisa away from chatting about cats and dogs with Virginia, get the car loaded, head down to Bakersfield to show Lisa my old abode, drive to Malibu, then to Santa Monica (the terminus of Rt 66) and then through Beverly Hills, Hollywood, etc on our way to the WigWam motel in Santa Barbara.  Hopefully there will be no more chains needed.

San Fransisco was one of my mostest favoritest stops!  We got a lot accomplished in a few hours.  I love going through China Towns, and I'd never been on a cable car before.  Everything about SF was fun.  From the sight seeing to the food to the weather.  Yes, even though it rained a little, the sun came out at just the right time. 
Seeing Rich's Nave base was interesting.  The pictures I had in my head from the stories he'd told me and the couple pictures he'd shown me, are now clear and complete after seeing the actual place.  I may have had more fun seeing the base than Rich I think.  The buildings themselves were very interesting.
Seeing my previous daycare family in Berkeley was wonderful!  They are much more than just a previous family, but good friends.  I hadn't met the littlest new member of the family yet, so it was wonderful to get to cuddle with him a bit.  And of course the little man I had taken care of had grown many inches!  It was difficult to leave.  A couple day visit is definitely in order for the future. 
I--NEVER--want--to--go--through--the--mountains--again!  Well, at least not at night, during a snow storm, with 13% grade.  I have to say that was one of the scariest things I've ever been through.  Yes, I trust Rich explicitly with his driving.  But there's only so much anyone can do in those conditions.  I'm not good with heights and drop offs to begin with.  I'm not sure if it was better to not be able to see the edges we were so close to, or not.  I was never so happy to be to a destination in my life.  The B&B was a warm welcoming sight.  The room was so homey and comfortable.  Another stop I would like to spend a couple days at.  Without going through treacherous mountains first..

Day Eight -- 12/28/2012  8:30 am Friday :
Yesterday was great!  We slept in and then got out of Kernville.  We spent a bit too much time chatting so we had to skip the Kern River museum which we were told was pretty good.  The Canyon Road (hwy178), which is normally a fairly intimidating drive, toward Bakersfield was child's play compared to our adventure the night before.  I kept the driving level turned down to four or five for Lisa's benefit, although I would have loved to crank it up to 8 or 9 for fun.   Oh well, Lisa said next time we're through here I could go alone. We'll see.  Once in Bakersfield we stopped for lunch at a Jack-in-the-box. It was less for the food than it was for another shot at getting a new "Jack" antenna ball to replace the lost one from our route 66 trip. It was fun to see the huge shopping area that was built after I moved to Bakersfield  thriving.  When I moved there in 1996 there was nothing there, and during my time there a  big shopping center sprouted up. It had a Walmart, Target, Best Buy, several chain restaurants (including Jack-in-the-Box) etc.....  These were all less than a mile from my house, but due to the layout of my neighborhood, it had no effect on traffic or anything in the neighborhood.  After eating we went to see my old house. I was happy to find that it looked better than when I left it . I also knocked on the door and spoke with the guy I sold it to back in 2003. He's still there and loves the place. The landscaping (and Christmas decorations) looked much better than I ever had it. He told me he hasn't changed anything with the house except to pull out some plants in the backyard who's roots were causing damage to the sprinklers that I had installed years ago. It was real nice to chat with him for a few minutes and get some nice photos of the old place at 8511 Winlock St Bakersfield CA 93312.
   After that we hit El Cinco (Interstate five) and headed toward Malibu.  I have to pat myself on the back because my timing was perfect. While I had to cut out the drive down Mullholland drive, the more tame route from the highway toward Malibu was spectacular in it's own right.  Still at least a thousand feet above sea Level Lisa was treated to her very first view of the Pacific Ocean (SF bay does not count).  A few minutes later we arrived at the Pacific Coast Highway and made a left turn toward Malibu. Just then the sun was only a few degrees above the salty horizon.  About a half hour of driving with our jaws open toward Santa Monica we got to the pier, parked got our feet sandy in the beach and watched a perfect California Sunset.  We then went and 'did' Santa Monica Pier, including a awesome ride on the Ferris Wheel, which is "Lisa Approved" for sensitive amusement park ride people, thank  to it's large 'bucket' style gondolas.
   Once it was good and dark we hit the road again and followed the old route 66 on Santa Monica Boulavard passing through Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and more until we finally got to Rialto and checked into our WIGWAM!!!  Unfortunately we didn't get a look at the famed "Hollywood" sign, so we'll have to catch that some other time. I have to admit, while I LOVE sleeping in a WigWam, they are not the most practical shape for modern living, and they lack certain ammeneties, like clocks, counters, quality heat. But while Lisa suffered (after the luxury of the Kern River Inn, the WigWam stood no chance) I basked in the experience. I woke up early and took a bunch of night time photos of the place, which is splendid with palm trees, well mown grass, and stars.
   Now it's after nine in the morning, Lisa's giving me a nice back rub as I type this, she's been showered and I need to wash up so we can head to Las Vegas. See Ya.

Ahhh, the bed at the Kernvile B&B was heavenly.  It was very nice to sleep in a little.  The Bed and Breakfast owner, Virginia, had a really nice breakfast ready for us when we came down from our comfortable room.  The other couple staying at the B&B had eaten earlier, so it was just Rich and me at the table.  It was nice.  We got a chance to chat with Virginia a little bit.  And as Rich mentioned, I chatted with her some more before we left.  Although I love staying in little quirky motels when Rich and I travel, I do like to have a comfy bathroom that has space to spread out all my shower gear and stuff.  I like taking my time in the morning and getting ready leisurely as I sip a cup of coffee.  If our departure time is 6am, I'll sometimes get up at 4 or 4:30am so I can have my "me" time in the morning.  The exact opposite of Rich who can get up and be ready to hit the road in 10 minutes.  The bathroom at the B&B was awesome!  It was warm, roomy, modern, and had fabulous water pressure in the updated shower.  Ahhh, heavenly.  After my heavenly shower and a nice breakfast, we did a little exploring around the B&B.  We were short on time, so we didn't go far.  Just across the road to the river and down to the corner store.  But the river was beautiful and the store had everything you could ask for!  It was lots of fun. 
As Rich mentioned, he kept his driving dialed down a couple notches.  Even so, I still wasn't recovered from that mountain drive and anything but a flat, dessert road was going to give me some anxiety.  But the drive to Bakersfield was nice, and seeing Rich's old house and stomping grounds was fun.  Like the Navy base, it was nice to see the real thing after years of trying to picture it in my head.
The drive to Malibu was fantastic.  It started out with a nice flat, dessert-y stretch (yea!!) and then ended with some breath taking scenery.  The homes..the landscape.. so neat to see.  Between the Navy and the job Rich had afterward, he has been all over the world and seen so many things. Compared to him, sometimes I feel like an awe struck child when I look at the ocean, or gawk at the architecture and landscape and even the people of places we visit together.  But the combination seems to work.  Rich is comfortable going just about anywhere, and I have a travel companion, and often tour guide, I can trust and who seems to get a kick out my mouth hanging open all the time as I experience things he's already experienced and often times "lived."  Since Rich lived in California for 10 years, much of the visit went that way.  But it was the first time either of us had been on the Ferris Wheel at the pier!  As Rich touched on, I'm not a thrill seeker.  Ferris Wheels aren't thrilling you may say?  Well, my ears seem to have trouble keeping up with any kind of movement.  And I don't know what part of my body seems to always balk at heights.  But ever since the Ferris Wheel ride at The Navy Pier in Chicago ("Oh my gosh!"), I've started to actually look forward to Ferris Wheel rides.  As long as Rich can't rock the car too much.  But I've gotten side tracked.  Back to Santa Monica-  It was great fun to be at the end of Route 66.  We chatted with a vendor selling Route 66 items about the Mother Road.  It was fun to compare notes about our experiences.  Shortly after out chat with the vendor, we hit the road again to head to our Wigwam. 
The Wigwam--talk about quirky.  If I hadn't been so exhausted when we got there, I may have enjoyed the Wigwam as much as Rich.  But alas, the bathroom was freezing and not one shelf to put my toothbrush on.  However, it was DARK inside!  I love, love, love having it pitch black when I sleep.  Sleep.  Things always look better after some sleep.           

Day Nine -- 12/29/2012 4:20 am Saturday :
I'm on the twenty first floor of the Aria resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  We got in around seven last night.  It was a good day of driving Route 66 and NOT seeing any snow whatsoever.  We slept in, in our WigWam.  Man those things can sure block out the daylight.  Other than being pretty chilly in the early morning (I did get up before dawn to take some WigWam Village photos) it was a wonderful Southern California sunny day.  I really couldn't believe how beautiful the view of the mountains was from Rialto.  In fact the only snow I saw all day was the stuff on top of the mountains (that we were nowhere near).  Thanks to the internet we found a very good restaurant for breakfast, Corky's Kitchen and Bakery.  The food, the service, the speed, and the atmosphere were all great.  The prices were good too.  After leaving there with food still on our plates we put the top down on the BMW and broke out our old friend the Route 66, turn by turn guide book that is pretty much our bible when we're trying to drive the 'real' Route 66 on as much original pavement as possible (That means NOT the interstate along the same route).  With the temperature just over my cutoff for driving with the top down (about 50F) we both bundled up a little and hit the Road.  Our initial plan was to just pop off the interstate for the good stuff so that we get to Vegas a little early to enjoy our five start hotel instead of just sleeping there........But the mass horde of humanity driving on the interstate toward our similar destination was so unpleasant (compared to the relaxed vibe of cruising 66) that we quickly decided to stay on the older pavement of the Mother Road.  We made a stop at the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville.  It is a very good museum, and has all sorts of great stuff including very knowledgeable folks working there.   The amount of cool stuff they have there is just amazing. So many stories.  After that it was just tooling along taking photos and enjoying the  sunshine and company.  Just outside of Barstow, CA I made a small navigational error.  To save a little time I was going to hop on the ole' Super slab (I40) just after Barstow. Route 66 at that point is mostly just a frontage road for the interstate anyway and the book says that the pavement is not in the best of condition, so for multiple reasons the plan was to get on I-40 Eastbound for a little while until there is 'better' Rt-66.  Somehow I ended up getting on to Interstate 15 instead. Barstow is the place where I-40 and I-15 split. 15 goes straight to Las Vegas, and 40 Goes toward Needles and is the path of Route 66.  Our plan was to take 66/40 almost all the way to Needles, then turn onto Hvy 95 which heads straight North to Las Vegas.  It ended up being a happy mistake because I discovered the error before the 15 and 40 diverged too far and it gave us reason to take some cool side roads through the desert.  I think it may have been that I was excited to set up my camera on a tripod in the back seat to take a photo every thirty seconds in order to make a time lapse video of the drive. Or at least until it gets dark and cold forcing the top to go up, leaving no room for the camera.  As I Write this I haven't even looked at the photos yet to see how they are. If  it works out, I'm sure I'll embed the video here.  Once we made it back to the I-40 corridor we decided to just stay on Route 66 until Ludlow, where we'll gas up, top up, and hit the super slab until getting to hwy 95 that leads to Vegas.   That's exactly what we did.  Once here and checked into the hotel we made an attempt to walk around a little, but knowing that I wanted to get to bed early for the long long long drive today to Tucumcari we didn't go very far. Again exploring Vegas in detail will have to wait for another trip.  Other than the TV not working, and the fridge being all mini-bar with no place to store our stuff, the room was nice.  I know I'd rather sleep in a WigWam, and Lisa would probably rather be in the Kern River Inn, but it is comfy and has a pretty good view of a LOT of glitz out the floor to celing window. Well, it sounds like the shower is available, so I'm going to finish this entry now.

Day 10-- 12/30/2012 4:50 am Sunday :
It's very early on Sunday morning. Lisa is in the shower of room 4 of the famous Blue Swallow. I hear her iPod through the thin door. It's on shuffle and is now playing Johnny Cash's "Jackson". The previous song was "76 Trombones".  Kung fu panda is on the tube.  Again, we got up early yesterday in Vegas. I think it was absolutely worth it because we drove up Las Vegas Blvd in the dark and toward Lake Mead along Lake mead Blvd (hwy 176)  for sunrise.   It was wonderful. We were completely alone on the road and the slow sunrise happened along our entire drive to Hoover Dam. Of course, at the Dam we were again almost completely alone. It was great to be able to drive slowly over the dam and stop without worry to take photos or just stare in awe.  The new hwy 93 bridge is very very impressive, and the work done to the area to highlight both the dam and the Pat Tillman bridge was accomplished wonderfully. It's one of the very few 'improvements' that actually seem to improve things. Good job America.
   On the road  (hwy 93) back toward the Route 66 corridor (I-40) we decided to go ahead and drive the real 'Route 66' until we get to Seligman, AZ instead of losing our souls on the interstate  We knew it would add several hours to our already 10 plus hour drive, but it's Route 66, how can we skip it.  So that's what we did.  There still remains the section between where we cut up to Las Vegas (hwy 95) and where hwy 93 comes back down from there. This, again, leaves us something to do at a later date. It would actually be a nice day trip from Vegas someday. I really want to see Needles again. The last time I was there it was on my way to Bakersfield when I first moved there in 1996. As I was driving a U-haul back then I recall seeing all the roadside stuff and wanting to visit them all.  After Seligman we put our noses to the grindstone and drove like mad to get to the wonderful Blue Swallow motel in Tucumcari, NM before nine pm.  The new owner, Kevin, a very nice guy, was ready for us and took all the time we wanted to chat about the hotel, route 66, and sell us goodies. I'm very happy to have a new Blue Swallow  T-shirt both because I'm out of clean clothes, and because I love T-shirts, and this is a great one.  Ok, it's time to go now, We just almost burnt down the place by setting our muffins (from San Bernadino) a little  close to the powerful Gas heater in our room.  We're off to Kansas City. We decided to take Route 83  instead of the awful Interstate. Apparently it has it's own mythology that I'm sure I learn all about.  A quick Google search brings up all sorts of stuff. Interesting.   It also looks like we're going to have to cancel our trip to Quincy, IL and head straight home.   There is another snowstorm that will be all along our planned route, plus this will get us home a day early so that we can dig out the Lacy house. Okay, I really gotta go, Lisa has her coat on.... See ya

Day 11-- 12/31/2012 10:55 am Monday :
We've just crossed into Iowa and have stopped for a quick meal and gas at the Amish Welcome center's Maid Rite restauraunt.  Just a couple hours ago we left my cousins', Eryn and Adam,  place in Kansas City.  They welcomed us with bed, conversation, and wonderful hospitality. It was great to finally get a chance to sit down and talk with my new cousin Adam.  After a nice nights sleep we got up in time to see Eryn off to work and eat a delicious breakfast of Waffles and bacon prepared by Adam, who is quite a culinary guy. It was greatly appreciated and we left with hesitation, but we had to get ahead of the snowstorm that had just started to drop some really pretty big snowflakes. So we did.  According to the radar (thanks to free Wi-Fi here at the visitor center) It seems that we've gotten to the North of this storm (if it qualifies as a storm or not, I don't know) and we should have clear sailing to home, which is where we are headed. The only debate is weather to take I-80 once we get to Des Moines, or to continue up to Hwy 20 before getting on hwy 151 toward Madison.  We'll decide when we get there in about an hour.
   Yesterday (which is what this entry is supposed to be about) was nice. Another long day of driving, we took a combination of 83, 54, and 56. Instead of just driving straight thought to KC we couldn't help but to arrange a detour to go to Dodge City to visit Boot Hill and the museum there. It was worth it.  The only real cost (beyond the $10 each, admission) was that we got to KC around 9 pm instead of 5 pm. Big whoop! If we wanted to get places quick we would be doing things differently.  Okay, The foods gone, the malts are about empty, Lisa is wandering the gift shop here, and the hands on the clock are spinning.  I really want to get back to Madison before dark so that I can gauge how much work it will be to clear all the snow that has fallen since our departure.  This is my chore for New Years Day. 

Day 11-- 12/31/2012 6:20 pm Monday :
We Just got home. The driveway is plenty clear, it won't be a problem at all. We're unloading as I type this (well, I guess Lisa is unloading right now, not me:)  The drive home was fine, no adventures at all. It was nice once we were a bout half way through Iowa, it really started to look like home. Even after seeing so much of the country in the past eleven days I'm so happy I decided to make this part of the country my home. It is truly the best part of the country. I really believe that.  Signing off for now.  BTW Happy New Year!!  Lisa and I will probably walk over to the Atomic Koi for a drink or two, but I myself expect to be in bed at the dawn of this next yearf


Day 11-- 1/1/2013 xx:xxam Tuesday :
blah blah blah (Sorry about the blahs,  someday I'll write something here, but probably not for a while)  I do plan to make a Google map using actual GPS data from the trip.  If you have any questions, ask.