With Cathy’s retirement came the realization that we could use other modes of travel besides flying.  Wanting to see Cathy’s grandmother in Illinois and Butch’s Aunt and cousin in Missouri led to the idea of a road trip.


We did the usual preparation with AAA maps and books.  After giving it serious thought we decided to fly by the seat of our pants.  We informed everyone we planned to visit that we would call them a few days before we planned to arrive.  We felt free as birds until dealing with the post office.  It seems they require not only a start date for holding the mail but also a stop date.  So the post office yanked us back to reality.  Forced to make a choice we chose the first of October to resume the mail (and thus determining our “must return” date). 


September 4th, Friday


Preparation, preparation, preparation!  Over the years we have compiled a comprehensive travel list.  Before a major trip we print off a copy and make additions as necessary.  We spent the day tying up loose ends and packing.


September 5th, Saturday:  Vancouver to Seattle via Olympia


Before leaving the house there is a hectic period making sure the last minute details are taken care of.  Things such as turning down the hot water, emptying the garbage, lights on timers, alarm on and so forth.  We reviewed our list one more time, took one last look around and cast our fate to the wind.


Our first stop was in Olympia where we visited an old family friend of Butch’s – Billy Kohse (and her cat).  From there we went to Seattle to the Chatfield “mansion” on Clyde Hill for our visit with brother Carl and family.  Lathan, our youngest nephew, gave us the grand tour of the place.


We were invited on a road trip to see some property they have Northeast of Seattle.  Carl suggested we all go in the family van which required installing one of the seats.  How hard can that be?  It seemed no matter how hard he and Butch tried they couldn’t get the seat to line up correctly.  Butch asked “Aren’t there some instructions?” Carl showed him the instructions and he could see the problem….they weren’t helpful at all.  After much fussing the seat slid forward and locked into place.  The road trip was on!


When we arrived at the property Carl was faced with his second mechanical chore of the day.  He had driven the lawn mower over a tree root and had bent the blades.  Seomeone else had replaced the blades but couldn’t figure out how to connect the deck to the mower.  While we toured the farm Carl surveyed the problem (which required laying on damp ground covered with straw).  It was obvious where the deck connected.  The only problem was that a cable was left over and was obviously necessary.  Butch asked about the instructions.  Carl showed him the instructions and Butch saw what the problem was….they weren’t helpful at all.   Their complete lack of mechanical ability forced them to use logic and reason to figure it out eventually.  With the lawn mower problem solved we were treated to a Thai dinner.


September 6th, Sunday:  North Bend

A rainy cool day!


Cathy’s day started out well when Carl made her a fancy coffee drink.  This was followed by scrambled eggs for breakfast.  As we were getting ready to load the car it started to sprinkle.  Cathy suggested we load up the car before it began raining harder.  Butch figured it would blow over in a few minutes.  Rebecca went on line to check the weather proving Cathy was right (again). 


We made our way to North Bend where Kaye had our lunch in the oven.  The rain just kept coming so Kaye said it looked like a good day for a nap.  We took her up on it.  Kaye is dog sitting (indefinitely) her son’s dog Sophia.  Sophia is an old large dog that has found new life at Kaye’s.  Kaye, a cat person, has adjusted well to her role as “grandmother” to Sophia.  We watched a Seahawk football game which turned out to be a rerun.  We were tipped off by the presence and visibility of a full moon during the game. 


September 7th, Monday (Labor Day):  Couer D’Alene


Cathy’s day started out well when Kaye made her an artsy-fartsy Chai tea.  This was followed by scrambled eggs for breakfast.  We went out of town east via I 90 and stopped to see the metal horses on the hill.  This was the same stop that Butch had made with his grand-daughter Elizabeth many years ago.



We filled up in Spokane figuring gas would get more expensive the further east we went….wrong!  We arrived in Couer D’Alene and checked in for a 2 night stay.  We walked downtown on the world’s longest floating boardwalk.  It was very windy and some rain producing one of the most vivid rainbows (over Costco) we had ever seen.



September 8th, Tuesday:  Couer D’Alene – a beautiful treed area


Very nice weather today!  We made a road trip around the lake and stopped in a little town called Harrison .  It was just full of bicyclists as there is a great bicycle path in the area.  We stopped at the Couer D’Alene Indian casino for a buffet lunch and even got a golf cart ride to the entrance.  Always curious about Black Jack, we were astounded to find that they didn’t use real cards but some type of electronic wizadry.


When we returned to town it was time for the boat tour around the lake.  The lake is surrounded by big expensive homes with big expensive boats.  There was a large condo development with a world class golf course (including a floating green in the lake!).  We wrapped up the day at our favorite store (Costco of course) and had dinner there.




September 9th, Wednesday:  Couer D’Alene to Helena via Wallace


While scourig the tourist books Cathy discovered the historic mining town of Wallace , ID.   Now that we are in the retirement exploring mode we decided to make that our next stop.  The town is made up of entirely historic buildings and houses.  In fact if a house burns down it cannot be replaced.  We went on a trolley tour around town which included a mine tour.  We found out that the town had burned to the ground in 1910 as part of a huge forest fire.  Being smarter that the average town it was rebuilt using only bricks and stones.  At one time the town boasted of having the most millionaires per capita due to their mining profits.


Arriving at the mine we were issued hard hats.  Butch found this to be very helpful as he clunked his head a number of times going through the mine shafts.  Our guide was named Lenny and was a retired miner.  He explained and demonstrated mining techniques and at one point turned all the lights out.  We now know what “pitch black” is all about.  Lenny told us about his years working in the mines far below the surface of the earth in very hot humid conditions.  Some of the equipment he demonstrated was VERY loud.  We hit the road again and decided to stay in Helena .




 September 10th, Thursday:  Gates of the mountains tour


Cathy, with her usual adventuresome curiosity (and the help of AAA books) came up with the Gates of the Mountains boat tour.  We took I-15 north about 18 miles from Helena .  For the second day in a row Butch’s senior status came in handy as his price was a dollar less.  (After all there is no way anyone would believe Cathy is over 60).


The boat tour was surprisingly full with mostly older folks.  The guide was fantastic – both informative and entertaining.  He told stories of Lewis and Clark’s travels through the area, showed us a canyon where several smoke jumpers perished, explained the geology of the area while pointing out various plants and animals. 


After the tour we headed to Butte .  Butch called his cousin Ruby to give her and update.  He told her we were in “Butt-tee” at which point Cathy hollered that “NO, it is pronounced Butte …”  For dinner we tried a local favorite dish called pastie (pronounced “past tees”) which is essentially a meat pie of sorts brought over by the Welsh miners.  Butch came up with all sorts of alternative stuffings one could use for these.  We couldn’t believe all of the “casinos” – small ones on almost every block it seems like that’s what they call Bars there.




September 11, Friday:  Butte to Livingston via Nevada City and Virginia City


As the date would suggest the day started out as a disaster.  First the bedside clock alarm went off at 5:15 AM waking up Butch.  By the time he fell back to sleep it was time to get up again.  Butch figured the best way to get back on track was to take a shower.  He gathered the shampoo and soap and waited and waited for the water to get hot.  With time to kill until the water got hot we went to breakfast.  After breakfast Butch headed to the shower again but still no hot water.  It was time to call the front desk and whine.  The lady assured us that they were working on it and would make thing right.  So for the next half hour we worked on our journal while waiting for the hot water.  Half an hour later we took luke warm showers for which we got a discount on our bill. 


From Butte we headed east to Whitehead and then South to Nevada City and Virginia City .  You could walk along the main street for free but to get to the majority of the old buildings you needed to pay 8 dollars.  There was no senior discount here.  Looking around it became apparent that Cathy was the only one who wouldn’t have qualified as a senior.  Many of the houses came with “husband benches” on the front porch.  There was a guy in an old western outfit who told several stories of the town.


Next we headed to Bozeman to spend the night.   It’s funny – we spent 8 dollars each to see the old cabins in Nevada City .  On the road we observed that there were old cabins every few miles that we could see for free.  While we were checking out the local Costco in Bozeman we decided to go on to Billings as it was only another 120 miles or so.  On the way out of town we saw the Yellowstone signs.  The good think about an unstructured trip is that we are now going to Yellowstone .  We are spending the night in Livingston catching up on our journal and the laundry.




September 12, Saturday:  Yellowstone to Cody


It is a beautiful day! It is sunny and in the 60s. We mapped a course from the North end of Yellowstone through to the Main attractions. Oh by the way we were very excited that the senior Park pass worked and saved us the $25 fee.  It was as if the Park service bought us lunch!


On with our trip through Yellowstone . It turns out that the road to Old Faithful was closed for the season so Old Faithful will have to wait until our next trip. Our first attraction was the mammoth hot springs . It was a perfect day for photography and Butch took full advantage of it. He hadn't hiked very far up the hill until he realized that we were not at sea level any longer.  In fact it was over 7000 feet high. Next we drove around the upper mammoth hot springs road and had several more photo opportunities. We went to canyon village for lunch and saw some bison in the route.


After lunch we saw a couple of films about Yellowstone at the visitors followed by ice cream.  Butch got peppermint ice cream which was quite soft and required him to eat it quickly.   That is when he started eyeing Cathy's ice cream to see if she required some assistance. We next went to the lower falls loop and the grand canyon of Yellowstone with many more photo opportunities.  We headed south to the fishing Bridge at Yellowstone Lake and then left by the East exit.


We were pleased with Cody , Wyoming -- a much bigger tourist trap than we had imagined. We went to check in at the Comfort Inn and found that they only had two rooms left that were smoking rooms.  That is when Cathy was approached by the old guy in the golf cart renting cabins behind the motel. He explained that the owners of the Holiday and Comfort Inns also owned the cabins and that we would have access to both motel amenities.  Finding difficulty with summer help, the owners worked out a deal with a group of RV owners -- trading space rents for a few days a week work.


We took the cabin and settled in to see the highly recommended gunfight show in town. Every night in the summer they had a staged gunfight next to the Irma hotel. The streets were lined with folding chairs which were rented for one dollar a piece. The money went to charity (probably).  After the gunfight we felt in a cowboy mood so we went to Bubba’s barbecue for dinner. We had delicious baby back ribs!




September 13, Sunday -- Cody to Gillette

We thought about another night in Cody but decided that one night in a rustic cabin was quite enough. The only memorable part of the day was stopping at the Shell waterfall. We also drove through some beautiful and picturesque canyons on the way. The high winds and idiot drivers made it a tedious drive and by the time we reached Gillette , Wyoming we were ready to call it a day!




September 14, Monday – Gillette to Rapid City , South Dakota

Devil’s Tower en route.


Today was another warm sunny day with temperature in the low 80s.  We were traveling between Gillette and Devil’s Tower when we made a pit stop. It turns out the rest stop was surrounded by old military bombers and other aircraft. We also spotted some antelope across the field.


When we got to Devil's Tower we remembered the routine from Yellowstone . First get up the Park pass and drivers license and then go into the park without paying!  After entering the park we followed the road up to the visitor center.  Devils Tower is encircled by several trails. We hiked up around 100 yards or so where they had strategically placed some benches.  An old gentleman sat next to Butch on the bench. Butch asked him how it was going. He said he had walked one of the trails and now was regretting it. That settled it for Butch -- this was the end of the trail for him.


When we returned and drove on Interstate 90 there were some billboards saying

 to get cheap gas before leaving the Wyoming . Their sign worked. We decided to top off the tank before heading to South Dakota .


When we got back on the freeway we had not gone far before we saw a sign for Deadwood.  We didn't realize that the town of deadwood was before Rapid City . Instead of making it one of our day trips from Rapid City we decided that we might as well go see it now. Deadwood is the first town since Couer D’ Alene that had those annoying parking meters everywhere. We did drive the full length through town and back and then we saw the road sign for Sturgis. Again this was not far away. We used our imagination and pictured Sturgis full of Harley motorcycles. As we wound through town we noted that gas was 10 cents cheaper per gallon then Wyoming ! 


Next we got back on Interstate 90 for our final leg of the journey to Rapid City .  We found the exit for the motel and pulled off.  There it was -- the Sleep Inn.  We entered the lobby with armed with our reservation number. The young lady behind the computer could not find us. We gave her the reservation number and she still couldn't find us. This now required calling the Choice hotel office to sort this out.  They found our reservation and we should have been at the Comfort suites across the street.  WOW - how embarrassing. Luckily a new customer arrived to distract her while we slipped away. The reservation system works a lot smoother when you show up at the correct motel.




September 15, Tuesday: Rapid City


Today is sunny and warm with a high in the upper 80s. The comfort suites have the best breakfast buffet yet. It's a good thing we are here for three mornings! We checked our map, plotted our route, and headed to Mount Rushmore . The sign said $10 fee so we handed the attendant the senior pass and license and smiled. She smiled back and said “That doesn't work here, $10 please”.  She told us it was a private concession that ran the parking structure. We figured that we would fix them and pass on the parking permit to someone at breakfast. It turns out that the pass included a description of our car and the state license - foiling our plans again.


Mount Rushmore is every bit as spectacular as we imagined. There were two movie theaters in the visitor center. One of the movies was narrated by Tom Brokaw and explained how the sculpture was conceived and developed. It turns out that the sculptures were made by blasting away the granite with dynamite. The exact dimensions were re-created from models of the sculptures.  We sat in the amphitheatre and just took it all in for while.


As we were leaving an ice cream sign ambushed Butch.  His resolve melted away when he saw several people with waffle cones piled high with ice cream. Of course Cathy offered no resistance to the idea.  The gift shop had caught Cathy's attention which left Butch in charge of the ice cream. It turns out that they only had four flavors and none of these were chocolate. Butch collected his waffle cone heaped with ice cream and went to one of the outside tables where he could see Mount Rushmore . Luck was with him -- he had gotten two flavors and he liked the one on top the best.  By the time Cathy had returned he had removed all traces of the top scoop. Things would have worked out a lot better for Butch had he not included this fact in the journal.


The next stop was Custer State Park . The trip consisted of two segments -- the Needles Highway and the wild life loop road. The Needles Highway would have made a good one way road.   However there was two way traffic in addition to the occasional bike rider.  At one point we came into an area with parked cars that appeared to be a parking lot.  It turns out that he entrance to it, was hidden behind a large rock. We found more photo opportunities as we continued down the road.


On the wild life loop we saw and photographed antelope, Buffalo , and donkeys.  As we came back to the main highway we decided to call it a day. We had seen a TV ad for red Lobster’s endless shrimp special.  We discussed our options and all Butch can say is that he has had his fill of shrimp for the day.




September 16, Wednesday: “Cowboys and Indians” (Deadwood and Crazy Horse)


Today is a warm sunny day again! In fact it is almost too warm but we know better than to complain.  We had heard good things about both Deadwood and Crazy Horse. It was too tough to decide so we took them both in. Deadwood was first on the list. We parked the car and paid for a couple of hours on the meter. Next we toured a saloon owned by Kevin Costner. He bought it when making the movie, Dancing with Wolves, and it now has many pictures and movie outfits from his film career.


On Main Street several companies offered tours. We chose the one that left the soonest and were on our way. Butch was pleased to save yet another dollar with his “old fart’s discount”. It turns out the main focus of the tour was wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane’s graves at the cemetery.  After the tour we had to head back to the parking lot where our meter was expiring. This is too bad as we wouldn’t have minded spending more time around town. It makes you wonder how much money the parking meter cost the town merchants.


From Deadwood we had a fairly direct route south to the Crazy Horse Memorial. We paid the $20 entry fee, parked the car and went to the visitor center to view the orientation film.  It described how the monument was conceived and gave the history of the sculpturing process to date. Talk about a lifetime project! The sculptor started the project in 1948 and has gone to great lengths to maintain control and not allow the government to be involved. 


Some folks we had talked with recommended the bus tour so we bought our tickets and boarded the bus.  The bus drove around a quarter of a mile down the road, parked and had everyone off to take pictures of the Crazy Horse Monument . After taking half a dozen pictures we wondered why everyone was so excited by the tour. That's when the bus driver started explaining everything that was going on up there. Dynamite was their main sculpturing tool similar to Mount Rushmore . They used GPS for exact measurements correlating to the model. When asked how long it would take to finish the project he guessed another 45 years! On the way back to Rapid City we added two new animals to our list -- we saw a wild turkey and some big horn sheep.




September 17, Thursday: The Badlands, Wall Drug, and the Corn Palace driving from South Dakota to Sioux Falls


Finishing up our stay in Rapid City we headed east to Illinois . We reached the Badlands National Park and once again Butch's “old fart” Park pass came in handy.  We were really impressed with mother nature's sculpturing abilities and without the advantage of dynamite!  It was time to get the movie camera out as it was too panoramic just for photos.  Even though it is called the Badlands loop it actually moved us eastward in the correct direction. 


Next on the list was Wall Drug.  This came highly recommended though it was baffling to us why anyone would get excited about a drugstore. It turns out that it is a whole block of a store filled with cowboy items, gifts, etc. etc. You could spend all day just “rooting around”. And also there is free ice water that was not really all that cold or good.  We see why they gave it away but it is the original well founded by the owners.


The last highlight of the day was the Corn Palace in Mitchell , South Dakota .  Every year ears of corn are used to create different patterns on the Palace. Quite interesting!


We then moved onward to the east. We came across a hay spill on the freeway -- only in the Midwest !  By the time we arrived at Sioux Falls we were done for the day.




September 18, Friday: Sioux Falls to St. Louis , Missouri


We found out why they called Iowa corn country!  There were fields and fields of corn that already appeared to be dried up. Butch wondered why they never had lightning caused popcorn fires. Apparently the timing of picking the corn depends on what the purpose is for the corn. There were also lots of soybean fields. 


When we arrived at Kansas City we turned the GPS on and found we were back in Costco country!  After gassing up the car we walked through Costco sampling the various vendor snacks (one of our favorite pastimes).  We were also back in Cracker Barrel country. Butch got a steak that came with a salad and baked potato and Cathy had pot roast with corn, mashed potatoes and fried candied apples. They also have fried okra on their list of side items.  The fried apples served as a good dessert and Cathy saved half of them for Butch. (Butch suspected that in fact she was just full.) Having finished dinner before Butch she headed to the gift shop. Butch was just getting started on the apples when the waitress asked if he wanted a dessert.  He said that the apples were dessert but whipped cream would sure be good on them and so she brought him a bowl of whipped cream.  You think that Butch would learn to keep his mouth shut rather than share this with Cathy after-the-fact!


September 19, Saturday: on to Olney , Illinois – home of the white squirrels

Our furthest point east!


Today is cloudy and cooler than it has been.  St. Louis is a freeway nightmare so we routed around the city.  We then drove through lots of farming country on our way to Olney. We also noted quite a few oil wells. We found Cathy's grandmother Genevieve and she is thriving in her new environment living with her niece. She especially is fond of their dog “Dinky”.  We took her up to Effingham to visit great uncle Ray and Lavange who seem very content living near their son Arthur. 


We stayed the night in Olney in the Holiday Inn which turned out to be no holiday at all. There was a wedding reception going on and the music carried through to our room until past midnight. In the morning Butch went to whine about the noise and that's when he found that it was not truly a Holiday Inn chain motel but rather a cheap knockoff -- probably made in China !  There are lots of locusts in Olney and what a racket of noise they make!




September 20, Sunday: Olney to Missouri


Today is rainy and damp, making us homesick for the Northwest.  Having run out of clothes it was time for a trip to the laundromat. Since we were efficient we combined doing the laundry with Egg McMuffins and 7/11 coffee. When the laundry was completed we headed off to spend some quality time with grandmother Genevieve.  It was interesting listening to her share a lot of stories from her past. They had prepared a small feast for lunch. This meal is the dinner meal and is traditionally the largest meal of the day. The last meal of the day is supper (which is a smaller amount of food).  Our observation is that folks in this part of the country feed you a lot to show how much they love you. It's your job to eat a lot to love them back!


With our stomachs full it was either take a nap or hit the road. So we went on the road again.  This time we put fear and common sense aside and tackled the freeways through St. Louis . After a tense half hour we emerged on the other side of town. We found a Costco, gassed up and made the rounds for the free samples of food. We took Interstate 44 to Springfield and settled in for the night.


September 21, Monday: Aurora , Missouri visiting Aunt Minnie and cousin Carol Ann

The Thunderstorm in Kansas !


Driving through Missouri was beautiful with lots of rolling wooded hills.  Cathy spotted a couple of the new animals including a coyote and an armadillo (which was road kill).  Our route to Aunt Minnie took us through Mount Vernon -- the town where our search for her culminated about four years ago.  Butch had found his uncle's obituary here listing the name and location of Aunt Minnie. 


We arrived in Aurora and spent about an hour or so talking with Aunt Minnie and Carol Ann.  Carol Ann took us out for lunch after that.  As we were leaving they warned us that we might be heading towards some severe thunderstorms.


As we worked our way along southern Kansas we ran into a serious thunderstorm.  The day turned to night and a deluge of water hit us along with thunder and lightning.  Cathy's first concern: tornadoes! We tried to keep the tail lights of the car in front of us in sight.  That proved to be a losing battle as the rain got heavier. The windshield wipers were totally useless. What luck -- shortly we came to town. Well, not really a town -- the grocery store, gas station and restaurant were all combined into a very small building. We only had about 10 feet to the front door and we were both soaked by the time we got in. There were about a half a dozen booths inside, all but one was filled with locals. We took the last booth to wait out the storm. It was really intense. The sky would light up and within a few seconds we would hear the roar of thunder. In a little while the sky had lightened up and Cathy regained her composure. We hit the road again. It was still raining, but at least the windshield wipers could handle it. After being on the road for a half an hour we were pretty much through the worst of the storm. It turned into one of those annoying driving experiences when the windshield wipers are never quite the right speed.


The GPS worked well in locating Cathy's aunt and uncle’s house in Arkansas City (“ Ark City ”).  The only catch was that there was no driveway. We came at their house from the back and found Uncle Ron waving us up to the house. He looked the same as always.  We hadn't seen Aunt Kathy or Uncle Ron for 18 years! We had a lot of catching up to do and had a really nice visit. We brought a DVD of old family movies with footage of Uncle Ron as a teenager. Unfortunately the DVD turned out to be worthless but it took about a half an hour to figure this out. We tried it in his DVD player, a computer and our Mac. They all had the same message – “unreadable”.  Oh well, we’ll send another in the mail.  We hit the road again and stayed somewhere north of Arkansas City for the night.





September 22, Tuesday: travel day!


Today we traveled to Pueblo , Colorado via Dodge city .  The scenery does not change much as we travel through Kansas . The land is very flat, of course, and there is a lot of farming including fields of sunflowers.  In this part of the country it is advisable to have a good book on tape.  The day's most memorable event was when our path took us through Dodge City . We had lunch at the Dodge City bar and Grill. The walls were lined with pictures of Dodge City history and also some about the Gunsmoke TV series.  Although it was not actually filmed in Dodge City , the Gunsmoke TV series was based on this location. By the time we reached Pueblo , Colorado we decided to pack it in for the day.


September 23, Wednesday: to Grand Junction via Delta Colorado . A visit with Chet.


We punched in Chet’s address and found that it was about 180 miles away.  We turned the GPS off and headed out on Highway 50. This was the scenic highway to our destination. We drove about 80 miles and came upon a road sign saying we still had about 160 miles to go. Our suspicion is that the GPS measures mileage as the crow flies or we really picked the long way around.


When we arrived at Chet’s we were greeted by enthusiastic barking from the dogs.  We took a little tour and said HI to the pig, horse and several goats.  We had accumulated some questions about farming -- especially hay. Chet cheerfully explained about the different sizes of bales and the importance of moisture content.  He then took us to Butch's Cafe where he had lunch and we had a couple of cold drinks. As we were getting ready to leave, Cathy went to wash up and spotted some delicious looking homemade pies. Since the bill was already paid it probably saved her a couple of pounds of weight gain. We hit the road and made it as far as Grand Junction before calling it a day.  Driving through Colorado had been quite beautiful with aspens changing colors in the mountains.




September 24, Thursday: Arches National Park


It is yet another warm and sunny day. For the past several days we had been hitting the road hard and visiting relatives. We felt it was time to get back into a sightseeing mode and Southern Utah had a lot to offer. We dusted off the “old farts” Park pass and headed to Arches National Park .  The park is truly a photographer's dream. Even Cathy was participating in the picture taking. Our digital camera will take over 1000 pictures on a memory stick. In fact, halfway through the afternoon we had to swap out the memory stick. After the park we headed to Richfield , UT to spend the night.




September 25th, Friday: Bryce Canyon National Park


Our destination today was Bryce Canyon . We consulted the maps and decided the most efficient route was to take I-70 to 89 south to the park.  We traveled quite a ways and did not come to the sign for Bryce Canyon . Then we realized that there was no sign for Highway 89 either. This added 50 miles to our already high mileage day -- thanks Utah !


We have to love the senior pass -- it saved us $25 at this park! After stopping at the visitors center we headed to the south end of the park. We had been here over 20 years ago but had forgotten the grandeur of the park. The still camera could not do the Canyon justice so we used the movie camera for a more panoramic view.  The movie camera also takes still pictures and has a powerful telephoto lens and an eyepiece viewfinder. On sunny days it takes the guesswork out of what is in your picture.


We saw the best viewpoint on our last stop. A trail led from the parking lot to the Bryce viewpoint.  The point is at the end of a ridge that drops to the canyon floor on both sides.  Going to the end of the point was worth the trip -- a world class awesome view of the pillars (“voodoos”) and other colorful formations.  Hopefully our many pictures will do it the justice it deserves. 


As we left the park we saw a cowboy a restaurant called Ruby's. As we got out of the car we noticed a steady line of old folks headed to the restaurant from a bus. Timing is everything. We weren't that hungry so we postponed lunch and headed down the road. Next we found a minimart gas station with a Subway restaurant inside. We split a five dollar foot long meatball sandwich. Butch thought of using the bathroom but decided to wait until after we were done eating. As we finished up, Butch noticed a group of boys in football jerseys walking up to the minimart.  It turned into a steady line of football players. I guess going to the bathroom would have to wait for something further down the road. Once again, timing is everything. Of course it was a boys football team so Cathy didn't have any trouble going to the bathroom. When we reached Interstate 15 Butch headed into the first restroom we came to. Luckily there was not a football team around.


With the boring Interstate 15 freeway it seemed like a good time for Cathy to drive.  The first thing she wanted to know was the speed limit and it took less than a mile to get her answer -- 80 miles per hour! Just south of Salt Lake City we ran into road construction and heavy traffic.  Well, it's not really road construction -- they just seemed to close lanes here and there. We saw a Comfort Inn sign at the next exit.  We asked all the right questions -- do you have a breakfast?, a pool and spa?, and WiFi?  We were feeling good that we had her bases covered and signed up for a room. We got our key cards for room 215. Realizing we were on the second floor we asked about the elevator. Whoops!  We missed that one -- I guess we didn't have all our bases covered after all.


When we went into room 215 we heard a chirp and then another chirp. Chirps are not very relaxing. The smoke detector obviously needed a new battery. When we asked to have the battery replaced we were moved to room 216. Apparently they felt that it would be easier to move us rather than replace the battery. In room 216 it didn't take long to realize the toilet didn't work. The third time is a charm. Room 217 seemed to be in working order.




September 26, Saturday: on to Pocatello Idaho to see Butch’s brother Bill and Carol


Traffic was heavy around Salt Lake City Saturday morning.  We were sure glad that we pulled off Friday evening and avoided rush-hour traffic!

 Bill had come across some relics from their father's past and they spent some time going through these.  For dinner he grilled some steak and sausages. It sure was a treat to have a home-cooked meal! After dinner we all took the dog and went to the park and walked down the river path.




September 27, Sunday: Pocatello via Boise , Idaho to Ontario , Oregon


After a leisurely morning Carol made us a picnic lunch and we went up to Scout Mountain .  It was a pleasant drive -- the weather was beautiful and the trees were starting to change colors. After eating our sandwiches we walked to a lookout where we could see Pocatello in the distance.  All and all we had a great visit!


Ralph and Donna Ayers were always good to Butch while he was in the Air Force at Mountain home, Idaho .  In fact, they even gave away their second daughter to him. It was like the old Air Force days for Butch -- we stopped to visit and were invited to stay for dinner. After dinner we did a little catching up and then it was time to head into the sunset.  We made it as far as Ontario , Oregon for our last night in a motel.



September 28, Monday: Onward to home!


We made it home today without incident. We had left September 5 and returned the 28th for 24 days total on the road.  We traveled 6600 miles through 10 different states. We listened to four books on tape and took thousands of pictures. Butch's senior park pass got us in to at least five parks free of charge. We are sure we saw at least 1000 cornfields and visited a number of relatives (9 different families in all).  It was certainly time well spent!