This Month in Review (actually 2 months) stretches from coast to coast, through our favorite time zone (Mountain) and even stops for a visit back home in Harrisburg. A pancake syrup spill almost wiped out our notes, (Note to Gab: waffles are perfectly ok without syrup, especially when eaten in a moving car) but they were recovered. We hope you enjoy this double dose of sticky fun!
Miles Traveled (in Altima)
Most Effective Billboard Slogan
“Face It. You’re Too Old to Sleep on the Ground,” Arapaho Motel, just outside of Rocky Mountain NP, Granby, Colo. Can’t say we didn’t think about stopping. And this was before the hail storm. But we continued up the mountain and into the park. We did camp, and were rewarded with a crisp and lovely night.
Best Opportunity to Test Michael’s “Jacket of the Year” (Worst Weather Day)
A mid-afternoon, mid-August hail storm at Rocky Mountain NP caught us off guard. Good thing we had already packed up camp. We watched the heavens open from the comfort of one of the Park’s several Visitor Centers.
Best Day Hike
* Through the Lava Tubes at Lava Beds NM, near Tule Lake, Calif. We had minimal expectations and expected to spend no more than an hour or two at this small park, focusing most of our time at Captain Jack’s Stronghold, the site of several battles between the Modoc Indians and the U.S. Army. While that short hike was indeed fascinating, it didn’t hold a candle to the twists and turns of the several dozen lava tubes located in the south of the Monument. We chose 3 – Sunshine, Hercules Leg and Juniper. We donned our headlamps, put on our boots and crouched and crawled and wound our way through these amazing caves. This is the first time we have ventured into lava tubes or caves unescorted and it was scary and cool. Low effort; maximum reward.
* To Dog Lake and Lembert Dome, in the Tuolumne Meadows portion of Yosemite NP, Calif. This strenuous high altitude hike culminated in a couple hundred yard scramble up a granite rock to what might be one of the nicest lunch spots in all of Yosemite. The top offers a 360 degree panorama of Tuolumne Meadows and the backside of the Yosemite Valley. In case you were wondering, Half Dome is just as impressive from behind.
Most Out of the Way Site
John Day Fossil Beds NM, John Day, Ore. This NPS area consists of three separate units, all found in the middle of nowhere.
Most Curious Billboard
“Come to Dumas, Texas. Home of the Ding Dong Daddy.” Do you know what a ding dong daddy is? We didn’t.
Most Interesting Sign
“Jim Ray Nissan - Home of the Trunk Monkey,” Fort Smith, Ark. Now we love monkeys as much as the next person, probably more. But we aren’t sure if this slogan inspires confidence in a used car dealership. Is a trunk monkey a good thing?
Most Pleasant Surprise
There is an In-N-Out Burger in Reno, Nevada!! In fact, there are two. These two sites were added to the In-N-Out roster in August of 2004, after our current In-N-Out location guide (yes, we have one. So??) was printed. This was a wonderful, glorious, surprise and made us love Reno that much more.
Here’s another surprise. On August, 15, 2005 we were exactly on schedule and where we thought we might be: Reno, Nev. We can count the number of times our actual location has matched our planned location on one hand.
Happy Labor Day! To celebrate the holiday, a local orthodontist in Omaha, Neb. gave away free iPods with the first 100 sets of braces of the school year. It had to be true; we saw it on TV.
Most Vitriol Inducing Site
Plastic bags covering gas pumps as the price per gallon jumped 50 cents in one day and several towns we were driving through started to run out of the cheaper octanes. This is the last thing you want to see over 1,000 miles away from home.
Most Interesting Name for a Roadside Attraction
“Fossil Fuel” is the name of a gas station in Fossil, Ore.
Most Talked About Natural Phenomenon
Up until, August 29th, it was the Perseid Meteor Shower on August 12th. Did you see it? We were fortunate to have clear skies and a campsite outside of Yosemite NP. We saw at least 4 huge shooting stars before our necks started to hurt from looking up.
Hurricane Katrina consumed all our thoughts in the last days of August and into the next month.
Most Talked About Unnatural Phenomenon
The hourly “Wilderness Show” at the pool at the Peppermill Casino and Hotel, Reno, Nev. A few minutes before every hour, we would hear disturbing noises, and then remember it was just the animatronic animals coming to life outside. Our 11th story room gave us a perfect view of the fake rock face, home of 2 bighorn sheep, a wolf, a mountain lion a black bear and dozens of pigeons. Unfortunately, from our bird’s eye view we could also see the steel rails and poorly concealed joints which moved the “animals” to and from their caves. It lost a little of its magic, but not much.
Most Beautiful View
My heavens, Crater Lake in Oregon really is one of the most beautiful things we have seen.
Most Unusual Place to Upload www.usa-c2c.com
Michael’s parents’ living room. It felt odd doing our daily travel reports from the comfort of one of our old homes.
Liveliest City Center (Towns)
Harrisburg, Pa. Of course, we are going to give a shout out to our hometown. In the short time we were home, we sampled dinner from some of the city’s newer restaurants on 2nd street, visited some of our old favorites and even found ourselves at the opening social for a statewide conference for Pennsylvania young professionals. Not sure if we blended in at that last event, but it sure was fun.
Grand Junction, Colo. Or maybe Joplin, Mo. We can’t decide. Both towns greeted these weary travelers with smiles, large portions of food and spirited matches of NTN Trivia. It’s the little things, really.
September 6, 2005. Omaha, Nebr. through Iowa, Illinois and Indiana to Columbus, Ohio. We traveled almost 1000 miles in one day – not a common occurrence for us.
Ugliest Capitol Building
Carson City, Nev. Is this the only U.S. state capitol situated in the same block as a casino?
Most Beautiful Capitol Building
Oklahoma City, Okla. Simple, elegant. One can never have too much white marble.
The “Fancy Meeting You Here” Award
The Master Brewer at Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Bend, Ore. shares our last name! We sent an email to Mr. Larry Sidor and received a very friendly response. And a t-shirt!
The “We Got Robbed!” Award
Devil’s Postpile NM, Calif. This is the first time, in the history of the USA-C2C trip that this award has been given to an NPS site. If one were to consult the 2005 AAA Guide to Northern California or inquire at any US National Forest Visitor Center en route to the Monument, one might think that it was free to view this elusive pile of rocks. WRONG. A mandatory shuttle (a/k/a repainted school bus) will take you down to the Postpile for $7 a person or $20 maximum per family. Have a National Parks Pass? So? Have an upgraded Golden Eagle hologram? Big deal. NO passes or discounts apply here. Not even a measly 10% off for AAA. Shame on you, Devil’s Postpile NM.
Most Gluttonous Day(s)
There were several. Remember, we stopped in Harrisburg to say hello. Would you say no to free meals?
Best American Kabuki
Maggie Moo, who posed with Gab during Adams Morgan Day in Washington D.C.
Highest Price for Gas
$3.07 on September 2 at the Citgo, Lansing, Kans.
Lowest Price for Gas
$2.28 on August 2 at the Chevron, Beaverton, Ore.
Pizza Mondo, Bend, Ore. You know the pizza’s going to be good when there is a line almost out the door; you know it is going to be cheap when most of the customers are adolescents dressed in punk attire. We devoured our 15” pepperoni pizza in record time, searing the roofs of our mouths and impressing those seated nearby.
Scottie at the Subway Café, Harrisburg, Penn. who welcomed us warmly and ordered our favorite pizzas for us, even though it had been almost two years since our last visit.
Best Line Cook
The lady at Arthur Bryant’s who returned our jokes and smiles with double portions of the most delicious barbecued meat in the entire Midwest. BBQ doesn’t get better than Kansas City.
Most Helpful Roadside Stop Powell’s City of Books, Portland, Ore. We actually made a return trip to this awesome city to give this place the attention and time it deserves. Hours after our entrance we emerged with 6 (big) new books, a new crossword collection and a magnet all for under 40 bucks.
Ranger Sarah from the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds NM. Not only did she sneak us into the new exhibit slated to open later that week, she led us through it, explaining the placement of the exhibits, what “testable hypothesis” means, the reasoning behind the murals and texture and color of the walls and even telling us a little about each of the Park staff that created each of the displays. We felt like VIPs. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your enthusiasm and knowledge with us. It made the long drive well worth it.
Worst Acting in a National Park Service Film
Hot Springs NP, Ark. The instructional How to Take a Bath video takes one step by step through selecting and then enjoying a bath package at one of the still functional bath houses in the Park. If the actors’ wooden and uncomfortable expressions are any indication of what we can expect for our money, we think we’ll pass.
J-Town Billiards, Joplin, Mo. These half pound handfuls were real, hand-molded patties. Thick and juicy and full of flavor. These are the best burgers we have had since Harrison, Neb.
Great Basin NP, Nevada. Our quiet spot next to the swiftly running glacier stream was exactly where we wanted to end our day. The weather was more mild than we anticipated; the views were prettier. A perfect place to sit and read a book. What makes it even better? The Ranger told us the water from the campground faucets is among the purest and best tasting in the United States. We don’t disagree.
Greatest Altitudinal Difference in a 24-hour Period
Reno, Nev. to Great Basin NP, Nev. From sea level to nearly 13,000 ft. Bring a sweater.
Worst Driving Experience
Through Arkansas during the last week of August, as the sounds from our brakes evolved from a squeak to a very unfriendly and metallic grinding. A quick trip to Midas and a new set of brake pads did the trick. Phew!
Route 50, America’s Loneliest Road stretches across Nevada desert and into the horizon. What appear to be lakes are actually salt flats; that hill in the distance is really hundreds of miles in the distance. This wasn’t our longest day, but it felt like it.
Most Appropriately Named Town
Sulphur, Okla. Inhabitants claim water from the sulphur springs have medicinal purposes and several filled their bottles and took their daily swig from the local fountain. We tried. We really did. But it smelled like, well, sulphur. As did the whole town.
Hillsboro, OR • Portland, OR • Bonneville, OR • Hood River, OR • The Dalles, OR • Government Camp, OR • Fossil, OR • Kimberly, OR • Dayville, OR • Mitchell, OR • Bend, OR • Elk Lake, OR • Crater Lake, OR • Klamath Falls, OR • Tulelake, CA • Reno, NV • Carson City, NV • Lee Vining, CA • Mammoth Lakes, CA • Tuolumne Meadows, CA • South Lake Tahoe, CA • Reno, NV • Eureka, NV • Ely, NV • Baker, NV • Delta, UT • Nephi, UT • Provo, UT • Heber City, UT • Vernal, UT • Dinosaur, CO • Rangely, CO • Grand Junction, CO • Clifton, CO • Montrose, CO • Gunnison, CO • Leadville, CO • Georgetown, CO • Grand Lake, CO • Estes Park, CO • Fort Collins, CO • Denver, CO • Colorado Springs, CO • Capulin, NM • Amarillo, TX • Fritch, TX • Cheyenne, OK • Oklahoma City, OK • Moore, OK • Norman, OK • Sulphur, OK • Ada, OK • Fort Smith, AR • Hot Springs, AR • Gould, AR • Little Rock, AR • Leslie, AR • Silver Hill, AR • Harrison, AR • Eureka Springs, AR • Pea Ridge, AR • Branson, MO • Springfield, MO • Diamond, MO • Joplin, MO • Fort Scott, KS • Kansas City, KS • Beatrice, NE • Omaha, NE • West Des Moines, IA • Peoria, IL • Brownsburg, IN • Columbus, OH • Zanesville, OH • Wheeling, WV • Bentleyville, PA • Shanksville, PA • Harrisburg, PA • Dillsburg, PA • Washington, DC
John Day Fossil Beds NM • Crater Lake NP • Lava Beds NM • Devils Postpile NM • Yosemite NP • Great Basin NP • Dinosaur NM • Colorado NM • Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP • Curecanti NRA • Rocky Mountain NP • Alibates NM • Lake Meredith NRA • Washita Battlefield NHS • Oklahoma City N MEM • Chickasaw NRA • Fort Smith NHS • Hot Springs NP • Arkansas Post N MEM • William J. Clinton Presidential Library • Little Rock Central HS NHS • Buffalo NR • Pea Ridge NMP • George Washington Carver NM • Wilson’s Creek NB • Fort Scott NHS • Homestead NM of America • Flight 93 N MEM •
USA-C2C.com is an independent website, not affiliated in any way with the National Park Service, the National Parks Foundation or any of their partners.