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Cross-Country Journal -- September 2003

   

Monday, September 1 -- Here it is the first day of September and we have thoughts of leaving the lake in 11 days.  We had first thought we might go through Canada and drive west and south to Colorado Springs.  Tom needs to visit North Dakota so that he will have been in all 48 states on the continent.  I drove through North Dakota when Jaimie and I came back across country.  But the weather suddenly seems fall like and we are now thinking south.  Down towards South Carolina.  We will have to watch the weather channel and see how that seems.  We are kind of spoiled and are looking for nice warm weather.  Gail and Tom left after breakfast and Anne Marie, Steve, Bill and Tom played golf. 

Tuesday, September 2 -- Down to Tom, me and Linda. it was a very quiet day but the weather was perfect.  We all enjoyed the day.  Linda took a swim around Elmhurst and I followed her in the paddle boat.

Wednesday, September 3 -- We did some mundane things this morning.  Linda left since it was overcast and Dad returned from Rochester.

Thursday, September 4 -- The propane gas furnace in the motorhome stopped working.  The fan turned on but no heat.  I called the manufacturer and we did some telephone diagnostic work using my voltmeter.  It turns out that the fan-on detection switch was not tripping internally.  The switch itself had failed somehow so that it did not detect the fan air motion even though the fan was running.  If the system does not detect air motion, it will not ignite the gas flame and hence, no heat.  They sent me a new switch and after installing it the furnace works fine again.  This was just another in a series of breakdowns that seem to come with the territory of motorhome life.  The frequency is lessening.

The weather switched back to ideal.  I did a little cleaning out of my overhead area.  We both decide we should clean out the motor home and maybe get rid of some things or leave some things at the cottage.  It seems like we have several things left to do and our days are counting down fast.

Friday, September 5 -- It was a little overcast this morning and Tom decided to work on the door casings around the bedroom doors. I decided to tackle the overhead area in the back bedroom.  There had been ants and there was still saw dust coming down from the overhead boards. I started removing stuff and found lots of saw dust and so many ants. It was quite a battle but no ant survived and I burned up the old wood they had been living on.  I went out to lunch with Janet and Marilyn at Foxy's.   Tom spent time tracking down our bracket for the Jeep.  It had been shipped to the PO Box in Rochester instead of the cottage.  I will get it when I go back to Rochester on Monday.

Saturday, September 6 -- We watched Penn State lose their football game.  We started cleaning out some of the things we were going to leave in a trunk at the cottage.  Mostly winter things.  Why did we have so many sweaters and coats still traveling with us?  I finished cleaning up the back bedroom and got rid of some old blankets and pillows.  Tom organized his closet with some wire cubes and I want some too!

Sunday, September 7 -- We loved watching the Bills defeat the Patriots!  Wow, they looked great! 

Monday, September 8-- The guys golfed in the morning and the Fed Ex truck called for directions. Tom had ordered form LLBean.  The driver was worried about driving the big truck down the cottage road (it was a van) and I was able to say we had driven a 38 foot motor home down the road so it should be no problem. Pep and Shadow got baths.  One of them smelled kind of fishy. Dad and I drove back to Rochester and I was happy to get the bracket for the Jeep from UPS.  I also need to get two diodes for the lighting hook up for the Liberty. 

Tuesday, September 9 -- We returned to the cottage and went out to dinner.  We enjoy going to Foxy's and dining with a view of the river..

Wednesday, September 10 -- We dropped off the Jeep to get the bracket put on and then went to the floating restaurant for breakfast.  We had decided to go on the Uncle Sam tour of the islands.  We hadn't done it in quite a few years and it was a perfect day.  Sun, no wind, nice temperature. I loved seeing all the big old cottages and the islands. It was great although we did remember some of the same jokes on past tours.  The tour guide had everyone looking at the bottom of the river for the international line between the US and Canada.  Even Tom was looking.  Janet had made an apple pie to share.  First apples of the season.  I have a hunger for some Empire apples.  Maybe we will find a fruit stand. 

Thursday, September 11 -- A nice day at the cottage.  We pulled out the paddle boat and washed it out.  After a tour of the lake the big boat was pulled out and winterized.  It is being stored in a barn down the road. 

Friday, September 12 -- We cleaned out the refrig and the cupboards.  The supports got put in and plastic on the beds.  The cottage is ready for winter.  We went to Clayton for a nice dinner.  The end of a great summer at the lake.

Saturday, September 13 --We disconnected the water and got the cottage winterized.  We drove to a gas station outside of Watertown and hooked up the Liberty for the first time.  Tom had spent lots of hours getting the lights hooked up for towing the Jeep.  They work great.  We left Dad around Mexico and continued down 81 to Cortland. We watched Jill catch for a game of Cortland vs Elmira.  She played great and was hitting every time at bat!  After dinner we went to "camp" at Donna's.

Sunday, September 14 -- Donna told us she was thinking about using up all her partly used paint cans on her garage interior walls.  Say no more and Tom and I painted up the garage.  The back door is hot pink and Tom added some flowers and smiley faces.  The garage looks great.  We had dinner and enjoyed a movie.

Monday, September 15 -- Donna had a new garage door installed.  Her house looks great.  We decided to head west after watching the approach of Isabel on the weather channel.  We leave tomorrow.  Back on the road after a summer break.

Tuesday, September 16-- We got up early morning and headed down Route 17 and left NY State.  The driving seemed to go well and we entered into Michigan in late afternoon.  We are staying at a Passport campground near Dundee, MI.

Wednesday, September 17 --We got up a little late and after doing some dumping, the first since we left Binghamton in July, we stopped at Cabelas, an outdoors store and bought new walkie-talkies.  Ours always seemed to have dead batteries so these are rechargeable.  We played with them a little bit as we drove down the road towards the Upper Peninsula.  The Mackinac Bridge is a very long bridge connecting Michigan with the UP.  It was something.  I didn't want to look over the edge but it was something to see Lake Huron on one side and Lake Michigan on the other.  We ended up in another Passport campground which looked out on the shipping channel.  It was a little out of the way but not a bad spot for $8. 

Thursday, September 18 -- We got up and headed towards Lake Huron.  After looking out at lake Huron, we headed to Sault St Marie on Lake Superior.  We saw some big boats and saw one of the biggest going through the locks.  We drove to a light house on Lake Superior and I added to my collection of pebbles.  We stopped and saw two waterfalls in a state park.  The UP is very natural and feels like you are in an unspoiled forest.

Friday, September 19 -- We woke up to some rain drops.  After cleaning the windshield of bugs we were ready to go.  We finally got the Liberty hooked up easily.  We read the book and found we were putting it into neutral wrong. It turns out to be easy after reading the instructions.  We drove along Lake Michigan.  We stopped at a roadside stop for coffee and breakfast.  Pepper got to put her feet in the lake.  We moved to a Passport stop along Michigan.  This one had paradise and resort in it's name and we realize that is not always a good sign.  This campground was very run down with terrible spots but we had a view of Michigan and geese.  Definitely need to watch where you walk.  We drove north to Munising, Michigan on the shores of Lake Superior.  We were going to take a boat ride along the lakeshore to see the Pictured Rocks.  Superior was too rough so we drove into the park and stopped at the look out.  Very impressive cliffs. 

Saturday, September 20 -- We drove down some of the shore of Lake Michigan.  We headed toward Green Bay but turned to go across Wisconsin. We saw many beautiful dairy farms.  We stopped at a state park just inside the border of Wisconsin. It is a very large park but there were no electric spots in the regular campground.  There were spots in the picnic/beach parking lot area with electric and since Tom had driven all day it was good to stop.  We took Pepper out for a walk to see the lake and collapsed.  We had just entered Verizon coverage so our phones worked if we stood in just the right spot.

Sunday, September 21 -- A full day of NFL ticket.  I took Pep for a walk around some of the park.  The regular campground is very nice and has emptied out but we are just going to watch football today so it isn't worth thinking about moving.  We agonized through the Bills game. 

Monday, September 22 -- We decided to drive towards the Mall of America.  We ended up driving by and continuing towards route 94 and North Dakota.  Jaimie and I had driven this route in 1999 when she came back from Portland after interning at Intel.  We had stopped in the visitor center of Teddy Roosevelt NP, had gotten our Passport book stamped, asked how far would we have to drive to see buffalo and when they couldn't pinpoint their location (we knew that would be the answer)  we drove out of the park.  Tom and I wanted to actually visit the park!  It is a very scenic drive across ND and we ended at a very nice Passport park.  When unhooking the Jeep we noticed lots of the lights stayed on.  Even the low fuel (and we thought we had gas).

Tuesday, September 23 -- Tom had gone online and found there was a Jeep dealer in Dickinson a couple miles from the campground.  He called and they said there were swamped but would have a technician look at it.  They thought it might be just a loose ground wire but when that wasn't it they continued to work on it.  After waiting a while Tom talked them into loaning us the shop car.  It was a 1988 Olds with over 200,000 miles and a check engine light on but they said it would run so we were off to Teddy Roosevelt NP.  We first stopped at the southern unit, bought this years park pass and started the 24 mile loop road.  It is a badlands area with many prairie dog towns and we did find the buffalo.  Most of the herd was in the river valley.  We also saw a flock of wild turkeys.  We left the southern unit wondering about the northern unit which is about 50 miles away.  We could make it there and back and still get to the Jeep dealer before closing.  We didn't know what was different about it.  When we got the call saying they had fixed the Jeep we had decided to forget about the northern unit.  There had been a wire behind the radio that had been rubbed and shorted out things.  It was great to have the Jeep back all fixed!  When I paid for another night at the campground the host told me how she thought the north unit of the NP was the best one.  I knew she was going to say that!  Guess we might have to return to ND some day but the weather was changing and we wanted to head south.

Wednesday, September 24-- We drove down a two lane road to reach SD and Rapid City.  This means Tom will be the driver but it was very scenic and we enjoyed seeing some more of ND.  We drove by an open range in a field with a sign "Open Range".  Very funny.  We actually drove by the geographic center of the US located near Belle Fourche, SD.  We stopped at a Flying J in Rapid City and made a call to Hart Ranch, our first Coast to Coast campground.  I had joined this camping membership Monday, after calling a membership reseller in Orlando.  I had spoken with him a few times and finally decided to do it.  We had heard mixed things about Coast to Coast but after talking to someone in the campground located in Monument I decided it could be a good thing.  All the membership info is being sent to Jaimie's house but we wanted to start staying in these $6/day campgrounds ASAP.  This campground is beautiful and we hope our experiences will be so nice.  They checked us in, assigned us a very nice site and we feel this one does deserve the name of resort!  We set up camp and then drove over to view Rushmore. The lighting wasn't the best for the pictures so we drove by after taking pictures two mountain goats.  We drove by Crazy Horse monument.  The face is totally finished but not much further along than 12 years ago.  I wanted to drive on the Needles Highway which goes through Custer SP and Tom thought it wouldn't be too out of the way to return to the campground.  The park is huge, the highway amazing and we found they were rounding up the buffalo on Monday.

Thursday, September 25 -- We drove to Badlands NP.  We took back roads and saw some huge cattle ranches. We drove to the bottom grassland area of the park, looking up at the badland cliffs.  After driving through the town of Scenic I decided towns and campgrounds named scenic and paradise are not often what you think of with those names.  We drove the Badlands loop road and then over to Wall.  I wanted to take a picture of Tom on the same bench where a picture was taken 12 years ago.  We found the same bench and even more "stuff" had been added to their collection.  We drove back into the Badlands and then took a dirt road over past a prairie dog town and located some of the 130 buffalo in the park.  After leaving the dirt roads we treated the Jeep to a car wash.  Unfortunately we couldn't open the sun roof and have it wash out all the dust that had collected inside.  Another perfect day.

Friday, September 26 -- After listening to cows mooing last night we awoke to cloudy skies.  We decided to go to Wind Cave NP.  The NP also has a wildlife area.  So more buffalo, prairie dogs, etc.  The cave was different from many that we have visited since it is mostly a dry cave.  We went on the Garden of Eden tour.  It was great.  Not sure how the early cave explorers did it.  No paths, lights, map.  This cave has many twists and turns.  We drove through Custer SP to get an idea of where the buffalo round up staging areas will be on Monday.  We saw a nice group of Big Horn sheep and the begging burros. 

Saturday, September 27 -- This is the day to visit Mt Rushmore.  We drove the Iron Mountain Road and when driven in the direction of Mt Rushmore two of the tunnels end with a framed sighting of the presidents.  We were told that they had put in a parking ramp and new visitor centers.  For $8 you park at the ramp and the pass is good for one year.  We were very impressed with the walkway to the viewing area and the displays in the visitor center.  The carving is quite a remarkable achievement and is truly one of the most impressive manmade monuments.  There is a trail which winds around the base of the mountain which gives many different views of the different presidents.  The trail ends in the artist's studio.  Back up 100 or so stairs to the visitor center.  There is a nighttime program where they light the monument up.  We were beat and decided to drive the Needles Highway again. 

Sunday, September 28 -- We needed a day of rest and since it was football Sunday what better day!  The Bills played a frustrating game.

Monday, September 29 -- We got up early and drove to the north viewing area for the Buffalo Round up at Custer SP.  It was very cloudy and windy.  After getting a spot by the fence and waiting awhile we decided to spend more and more time in the Jeep which Tom had moved close to the viewing area.  The buffalo were being difficult and we saw a few groups traveling in the wrong direction.  Somehow  they got them together and herded them to the corrals.  We went over and watched some of the sorting. 

Tuesday, September 30 -- We drove over to Wyoming to pick up interstate 25.  We got a stone in our windshield while I was driving.  We arrived in Colorado Springs.  We are staying at Lake of the Rockies and Jack and Ellen were already there.  We saw their motorhome and then went over to visit with Jaimie and Mario and go out to dinner.