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  1. #1

    Default Back from our thee week roadtrip

    Our first “real” stop was the seven colonies of Amana Iowa where one can find the best place to dine in all of the USA! I don’t care where you choose to eat you will be satisfied. They bring out the food in large serving plates as if you sat down at a traditional family holiday meal. If by chance you empty a dish they happily refill it. One hearty breakfast in Amana and you’re full for the day! Really I’m not kidding the quality and amount of food they give you there is amazing! Then when you consider how low the price was you wonder how they can stay in operation. Do a search on “Amana Colonies” you will get all kinds of links on it. If you ever get the opportunity to visit there you will not be disappointed. We stopped in Amana on the way out and on the way back and will do so again someday. I don’t have any photos of Amana because after eating like we did the last thing on our mind was photography.

    After Amana we headed west to our next real stop Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska. In the old wagon train days the pioneers used Chimney Rock , Courthouse Rock and Scotts Bluff as landmarks as they could been seen many miles away standing majestically above the plains.

    Here is a photo of chimney rock from about 10 miles away.

    The Bluff itself was very cool we drove the road to the top as it winded along the steep edges even had a few tunnels carved through the soft rock. From the top we could see for miles in every direction. We hiked a trail and took some video shots before we left. The park rangers warned us about Rattlesnakes on the trails but we never seen any.

    After Scottsbluff we headed west through Wyoming checking out a number of things along the way when we reached Utah we traveled on a road Rt 39 we nicknamed “dead cow road” There were at least 8 or 9 cows that we saw on the side of the road and I’m sure there were more we could not see. This was a narrow road that had more curves than Eva Langoria! The road was around 80 miles long and I can only assume that the logging trucks that traveled that road must have been the cause of so many of the lifeless cows. The ranches along the road were so big and open as there were Private property signs posted like “no hunting fishing camping for the next 8 miles KCL ranch “. At one point along this road we saw the largest Moose I had ever seen but buy the time I got the camera out it was to late.

    At least I got a shot of a fallen cow.

    On we went towards Salt Lake City we saw a lot along the way Utah is a beautiful state. We stopped at a place called the Saltair it was an old building that used to be a great hotel or something right on the shore of the Great Salt Lake . The building was basically run down and had seen better days. Yet it still was in use as it had a gift shop and a large auditorium were they held concerts and rave parties. It looked like an old Turkish style building. I know I had a photo of it but I can’t find it. We then came upon an awesome sight to behold the great salt flats. Believe me photos can not give you the proper perspective of just how vast this Salt Flat truly is.

    I really was impressed with how vast the Salt flats were.

    Along the highway you could see where people would use rocks, beer bottles or whatever they could to stick on and in the salt and spell out whatever they had to say. This was not easy as the salt is as hard as cement! We stopped at a rest area and I walked onto the flats I managed to scrape up some salt as a souvenir but it was like chipping cement from a city sidewalk. Actually that would be easier.

    Here is a photo from that rest area the fence off section is for pet walking and pooping. The flats look as its nothing but a frozen lake but it is salt!

    Well we were there and to go that far without driving on the Salt fat would be a sin. We took the exit to the Bonneville speedway and started driving on the flats. I must say it was cool. We had better traction on the salt than on the highway! If you hit the breaks you could stop without problem I thought it would be very slippery but it was not. We got back on the road and went a few more miles to the race track. Unfortunately we could not drive on it because they had something going on at the time. Get this the day before they set the world speed record for a motorcycle ……..341 MPH! That morning while we were there they broke the record again 352 MPH …. I can’t believe driving a motorcycle that fast.

    Nevada is a cool place too! Ya everyone knows Las Vegas but I’m talking about the high desert. We drove through some desolate terrain for sure but when you get to an exit the small towns are very interesting. . The bordellos are a common sight offering truckers deals. Every store, motel, gas station and restaurant no mater what size had slot machines. We stopped for gas in one and lunch in another. Later that evening, we had stopped in another small Nevada town for dinner and found a cool motel. Across the street was a casino and we managed to play blackjack for about 6 hours one night only to walk away loosing only$20.00. At one point I was so far ahead, oh well never mind I had fun anyway.

    The next day we made it to Reno but our vacations do not include the big cities if we can avoid them so we headed south to Virginia City at one point in history it was the home of the worlds most productive silver and gold mines in the world.

    This place was very cool I loved it there. The whole town had wooden sidewalks just like you would see in the old westerns. Gift shops, saloons, museums, saloons and saloons. Did I mention they had saloons? Everyone we met that were locals were retired hippies. I really felt like I could fit right in.

    Maybe I was just mesmerized by the Moon. After all I am somewhat a lunatic. This town was one of my favorite places on our trip. The people were so friendly and fun to be with. We should have spent a few days there but we didn’t. To bad we missed the camel races they had a few days after we left.

    After leaving Virginia City we drove around the shore of Lake Tahoe then up the California side. This is a beautiful place too! Its also were I noticed the size of the trees. Those pines were big but nothing in comparison to what I was to see in a few days!

    We drove north to Lassen Volcanic National Park. One of the first thing we saw going into the park was this. Clouds of steam and the strong odor of sulfur don’t show in the photo. We went past lakes and even sections of deep snow from the past winter! Yet the temperature was in the mid sixties!

    We camped out that night in the park only to be attacked the next morning by the local wildlife. Trust me these guys may look innocent but >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    They were big time pests! They were never frightened and they kept coming and coming. At one point we had at least 15 of them at our camp site.

    After rudely interrupting our breakfast they moved on to the neighbor’s campsite.

    Before leaving the park we stopped in the visitor’s center. I never expected it but there we had found the best tasting cup of coffee on the entire trip, and to top it off it was free! I know I mentioned we had seen snow in that park but I failed to say that there were spots it was at least 3 or 4 feet deep!
    We headed west to a place named Whiskey town next. Where I met and befriended some guy Ben, he was a look a like to Jerry Garcia. He had told us of some “must see” places and also the make sure you avoid places. Whiskey Town was not a town but a big lake and we didn’t stay very long. We were on a mission to find the giant redwoods! I was surprised to see palm trees growing in northern California and not far from where we saw mounds of snow. We really had no idea how long before we would see the redwoods but everywhere we had been so far was beautiful.

    We stopped in a ranger station basically because we needed to find a restroom. That great coffee was still doing its job with us! While there I was talking to forest ranger who was quite a funny character indeed! He told us we were on the edge of the redwoods and gave us some insight on roads and trails rarely used that we may wish to try. He also told us to explore the area we were in first as we were in the heart of the largest marijuana growing part of the USA. The way he was talking and going on I swear he was a pot head himself.

    Well before we knew it we were in a real forest.

    This photo doesn’t give justice to how massive these trees really are. Mater of fact these trees are the smaller ones. Driving on that road made you feel small as treetops were towering hundreds of feet above your head.

    Maybe this can put a perspective on just how large these tress are. Oh ya this is large but they are bigger that this!

    Talk about a tree house

    This is not a cliff it’s a tree! Big isn’t it? I’m talking about the tree not my belly!.

    Ok the trees were cool we traveled 3000 miles to drive through one. We ended up driving through two of them. It was not that big of a deal but then again how many people can say that they drove through a tree? So ok I did it but like I said after all was said and done it really was not that big a deal. At least it did not give me the kind of thrill I had expected. Although these trees are impressive and I’m glad I saw them. After the giant redwoods we drove north into Oregon. We visited the Oregon Caves National Park. That was interesting as we saw lots of wildlife and the road leading to the cave.

    After the cave exploration we headed towards the Oregon coast. The road we took to get to the coast was one very interesting road. For some time the road followed a river. This river was reminiscent to a movie I saw with Merrill Streep and Kevin Bacon I cant think of the name but Kevin Bacon was a bad guy who forced Merril Streep (an Ex river guide) to take him through some severe rapids. This was not the same river as that in the movie I mention but it sure could have been. We learned that they were salmon fishing later on that night.

    There were much more exciting rapids but unfortunately I don’t have the stills.

    We stopped in a ranger station on that road and they told us that if we followed a certain trail we would see some great rapids and they almost guaranteed we would get the opportunity to film grizzly bears catching the salmon as they were maneuvering upstream through the rapids. Sorry to say I was not about to take a three and one half mile one way walk up and down a steep path to see it. We cheated and tried to get a glimpse of it from the high roadside overlook but that didn’t work out we could not really see from that perspective. We were told that on that road we would definitely see a few bears but unfortunately we did not.

    We moved along on this road for I guess about 40 or so miles and came upon this!

    It was in the middle of nowhere. There must have been 200 or so shoes in that tree. It had everything, boots, and sneakers even high heels. {Editor's Note: RTA documents these cultural icons -- here are a few more....}

    Not to far after that we ran into a make shift rest area

    Perhaps 5 or 6 miles down the road we came upon an abandoned car. Every window was shot out! It looked as though it was done recently and I started thinking about the movie Deliverance and swiftly moved on. I stopped at the first place that had any civilization and reported the shot up car. They told me it has been there about a week now and that the authorities knew about it. Soon after that we made it to the pacific coast again. We found a great lodge to spend the night. I spent a few hours drinking in the lounge and made friends with a few of the locals who told us some history about that road. Perhaps some will remember last winter a family got snowed in on a remote road in Oregon. They were stranded there for something like three weeks and the father had to walk out 20 or so miles to get help. Well that was the same road we took. The story got better I found out that after the guy got his family rescued he was arrested as he had outstanding warrants out on him from Arizona. One of the people drinking with us in that lounge was a tour guide who told us that every time they take a tour out they stop at that tree and add to it. He also was very surprised we did not see any bears. He asked if we saw all the fishing boats at the rivers mouth. Yes we did here they are fishing for salmon.

    Although it has similarities to the Atlantic coastline the Oregon coast was much different that the east coast. Its shoreline seemed to lack any abundance of seashells. There is so much drift wood there too! Perhaps it’s from the swift mountain rivers that feed into the ocean. Or maybe the driftwood was from the many logging company’s that were on the coast. It’s very rocky like the coast of Maine. But what I found interesting is it goes from ocean to mountains right away. It was truly beautiful. Anyway after we made friends at the bar they suggested we rent ATV’s and explore the sand dunes of Oregon. God those dunes are big. I had seen the sand dunes of Cape Cod before but these dunes were much larger. So the next day we rented the ATV’s and did just that. After watching a short safety video and going through the renters rules we were off. We rode up and down the beach then went onto the high dunes. Our time was soon up and we needed to head back to return the ATV’s. Well, my wife was too afraid to ride up one particular steep sand dune and decided to go to low route. To bad she did not pay attention to the video they made us watch. She got stuck in the sand and like a fool I went back to help her. We ended up calling the rental office for help and after another hour and a fifty dollar rescue fee we made it back to the rental center.

    After our adventure in the sand we headed north along the coast. We stopped for a short time at the sea lion caves. We were told that the sea lions were not inside the caves due to the heavy waves so we did not take the elevator down into the cave. We stood outside on the boardwalk occasionally catching a quick glimpse of them bobbing within the waves. Apparently there was a small earth quake off shore from Eureka Ca. the day before and that caused the heavy waves. We did get to see some sea lions but not as close as we had hopped. All along the coast road we noticed signs warning of the possibility of a tsunami.

    Somewhere around Newport we found the sweetest motel we ever stayed in. Moolak Shores I believe , it was right on the beach and we spent much of the evening sitting on the deck that overlooked the ocean. It was a romantic setting indeed. (That was an added pressure) The motel was small with only a dozen or so rooms but each one had its own theme we stayed in the nautical room. It was designed to look like we were in the cabin of an ocean liner. With the galley and head as authentic as could be and the ship hatch windows you really felt as though you were on a ship.

    Walking on the beach while staying at that motel we saw lots of seaweed that was washed ashore. The seaweed was much different than we are used to on the coast of the Atlantic. Another thing that I found surprising was that as far north as we were we still saw some palm trees. I never expected to see any of them on this trip.

    The next day we continued north checked out Fort Clatsop National Memorial and then crossed over the Columbia River. I do not know how long that bridge was that crossed the river from Astoria into Washington State, but it had to be at least a few miles long. We headed onward towards Mt St Helens. She is not only beautiful but she is one angry mountain. She erupted more than twenty years ago but she is still steaming today!

    Just off the highway on the road that leads to Mt St Helens there is a movie theater that shows the Mt St Helens story every hour. We stopped to see it and found it very interesting as it helped us understand how extreme the volcano and the devastation that followed it were. Not to just the local vicinity but for hundreds of miles away.

    We even saw Bigfoot while we were there! I guess they put all the volcanic ash to good used because there was a twenty five foot statue made from volcanic ash of Bigfoot outside a souvenir shop. Many nick knacks made from volcanic ash were for sale there and we did what tourists do, we bought many of them.

    Mt St Helens was cool but it was the biggest rip-off on the whole trip. We have a Nat’l Park pass that will give you free admission (ok it’s not free the pass cost $50.00) but the pass is not valid at Mt St Helens. They had 5 or 6 Visitor centers there along the 60 mile road to get to it. Each visitor center charged you $3.00 to enter. All they were was glorified gift shops! Still I just got the extra “golden eagle” pass that covered that and other cover charges we may encounter along the way. We did see lots of wildlife along the road.

    The night before I received a call from my cousin who is a long haul trucker. He was headed into Seattle as were we. So we decided to change our planed route to hook up with him for either dinner or breakfast. We were going to try to meet up with our very own site moderator Judy.

    So from Mt St Helens we shot over to Mt Rainier only we used the wrong park entrance and really never saw the best parts. We did see the snow covered mountain but that’s about it. No wildlife no gift shops just steep winding roads. Then we headed towards Seattle. God, it was terrible the traffic was like driving in Boston! I got irritated real fast. Well anyway we did hook up with my cousin but decided to bypass the city of Seattle and all hopes of having coffee with Judy. I wish we did get to meet her and see Seattle because there lots of stuff there we wanted to see. Oh well …..

    After we left Seattle we headed East again, our trip was almost over we could no longer go west and from here on in we were headed back home. The Pacific North West is beautiful but the traffic was like it was in the big cities of the east. Were drove on to Idaho and perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in the country Coeur d Alene, nestled within the mountains on a great big lake. Shortly after that we reached Montana and the really big mountain passes. Sure we stopped in many places between. I purchased a very cool cowboy coat like Clint Eastwood would wear in a store in Sheridan WY. Idaho and Montana are beautiful places to see but we were being drawn by some mystical forces to a place I find unique. Devils Tower WY.

    I really don’t know what the attraction to Devils Tower is because there are many other places we saw more exciting.

    But there is something special about Devils Tower that can not be explained. Perhaps its how it stands out for miles or how it changes colors throughout the day or how it seams to draw away any tension and worries you have inside you. The American Indians come from all over the country to is as it sacred ground to them.

    In this photo you may be able to see small hand sewn bags tied to trees. The bags are filled with trinkets and have been placed there by Indians as special offerings to god. (Tampering with them is grounds for arrest and fines)

    Whatever the reason may be we are attracted this place.

    Devils Tower is in the North Eastern part of Wyoming and only 20 miles or so from North Western South Dakota. Where Sturgis, Deadwood, Mt Rushmore and many other attractions are. We decided to check out Spearfish canyon. There along the canyon is one of the locations they used for the movie “Dances with Wolves”

    From Idaho to SD. We encountered off and on rain and snow. At times in the higher altitudes the snow was very heavy but it never discouraged us.

    Except here, we did not want to walk the garden of presidents. It was cold and windy and there was a mix of rain and snow.

    There is so much to see in South Dakota, we did stop in Deadwood for a few gifts but didn’t stick around because ……. We had already been there 3 times, it has become too commercialized after HBO and we were on a mission to see ……………….

    The Bad Lands National Park is relatively close to Rushmore and Deadwood but on our previous trips out that way we never got to see the Bad Lands. We made a point to check it out on this trip and we were happy we did! Just before we entered the Bad Lands we stopped in “wall Drug”. Wall drug is a great big tourist trap but it is worth stopping at. The advertised on signs 6 or 7 hundred miles away. Wall Drug is an interesting place to visit and you can not help buying something there. Fortunately the tourist season is over at this time of year and everything was marked down in price! The same at Deadwood too! Anyway the Bad Lands are very cool to see.

    The colors in the rock don’t show that well as the day was overcast.

    It was really windy in the Bad Lands. That me in my new cowboy coat it came in handy while I was there. I walked to the cliff edge to take this photo.

    After leaving the Bad Lands we stopped in on this original prairie house.

    After that we were surprised to find what is to be the next National Park. It is in the works and because it is not an official park yet everything there is free! T shirts, cloth patches, badges, pins that kind of stuff that they usually charge you for.

    It was a minute man missile site. In the visitor center they had a movie about the history of the missile and the cold war. They explained how the missile is launched.

    We then followed the Park Ranger in our own vehicles (remember the park is not really official yet) to the missile site.

    We got to see the missile too! We did not see the launching area as that was not open yet perhaps it’s a good thing too as it was another 20 miles away. This missile has been deactivated but there are 500 others scattered throughout the mid west that are active and are more powerful that this ever was.

    Believe it or not that missile was about 200Yds from I90 and you would never know what it was if we were not told. The park ranger said every missile was hidden in plan view just like that one. Only difference is the active ones do not have glass tops and you could not get within 200 feet of them. In the first photo you can see a white tower shaped like a missile. That is a motion sensor and if it picks up any activity ….. Well let’s just say you would be dead meat!

    After that the trip was not as exciting. We were on our way back home and it was a bummer. We still stopped in Amana again to eat sleep and eat again. We also learned of a good short cut avoiding both tolls and traffic around the Chicago and Gary Indiana area. We stopped at an Indian casino also but most important we had a great time.

    We never get tired of the roads or the sunsets!

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-29-2006 at 01:43 PM. Reason: Added some white space & some photos

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default An outstanding report!

    Quote Originally Posted by uclid View Post
    Our first “real” stop was the seven colonies of Amana Iowa where one can find the best place to dine in all of the USA!
    I really enjoyed reading this report.

    Virginia City has long been one of my favorite places too. Did you happen to go down the stairs into to Fly's Bar? It is a locals "only" hang-out where the truly zany characters hang-out when the tourists have all gone home...

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-29-2006 at 01:49 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Now I AM curious!

    Great trip report. I felt like I was there with you. Sorry we couldn't get together while you were in Washington. Please don't mistake the I-5 parking lot of Seattle area as if it was the whole state.

    And I'm thrilled you found a shoe tree!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-29-2006 at 01:46 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Great Trip!

    It sounds like you had a lot of fun while out on the road and saw lots of neat things.

    That's one area of the country that I've never made it to.

    I personally want to see that missile. :)


  5. Default Long Road Trips

    As a young adult I took a couple extended road trips fly fishing across Montana. I would suggest it to anyone. Some of my best memories.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default What were your favorite streams?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpassage View Post
    As a young adult I took a couple extended road trips fly fishing across Montana. I would suggest it to anyone. Some of my best memories.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! I have yet to fly fish -- although I have fished in a few other disciplines over the years -- what streams/locations stand out in your memory?



  7. #7
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest


    Amana is one of Americas great places to visit.
    Are the appliance factories still there?

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