Tag Archives: Mount Rushmore

Shall We Stay or Shall We Go On?

After completing 5/8 of a life on the edge of each other’s nerves – we had towed the trailer 11,654 miles and put 20,122 miles on the odometer in the car. In a country that is 3,000 miles wide by 2,000 miles top to bottom that’s pretty good going. We’d drawn a very drunken diagonal line down across the U.S. map from Washington State to Florida and back along the southern border and west coast. A two-year-old with a crayon could have scrawled a tidier route. But in the process we perused 26 of the 48 states on our agenda of looking for the perfect place to live in the continental U.S.A.

We decided this was definitely a plastic 'gator put out for the tourists in the Everglades when her real brothers and sisters were in hiding.
We decided this was definitely a plastic ‘gator put out for the tourists in the Everglades when her live brothers and sisters were in hiding.

Some states only merited a quick drive straight through to the next state. I won’t tell you which ones as all us patriotic Americans are proud of and proprietorial about our own states and I am sure we didn’t do them justice by not stopping to poke around. Other states kept us fascinated for days, sometimes weeks. But we were just tourists. Visiting The Everglades, Monument Valley, Mount Rushmore or San Francisco for the first time is a real kick but they are not areas we would consider living due to weather, remoteness or cost of living. And we were just so enthralled with the sight-seeing sights in this diverse and stunning country, we often didn’t bother to do our homework on towns as potential homesteaders.

One our favorite campgrounds: Monument Valley UT
One our favorite campgrounds: Monument Valley UT

The next stage of the route would take us east across the top of the country, up into New England and down the east coast with a bit of the inevitable to-ing and fro-ing. Getting in the way of the search was a spacious apartment in sunny and probably-too-expensive California that was calling us.

I was longing to get our furniture out of storage and put my underwear in a drawer instead of having it stuffed in a shoe box and to hang up my clothes instead of playing lucky dip in a jam packed locker. Jewelry was tangled up in a box and fine chains and long necklaces formed a monkey’s fist of silver and gold, beads and crystals. I doubted I would ever wear them again. I wore the same jeans and hoody for days out of sheer inertia.

The same rotation of clean clothes came off the top of the stack day after day rather than create an avalanche of tee shirts to put together a new look. We dressed, hobo unchic, in cotton clothes that were washer/dryer-ready-to-wear. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. Unmentionable articles of underclothing aside, we sometimes scrutinized and sniffed our outerwear for an extra day’s service before consigning it to the laundry bag. My prissy nature came out when faced with dirty laundramat machines that may have seen dog blankets, greasy overalls, muddy trousers and almost certainly much worse.

Books and files were hidden deep within a hell hole under the bed instead of being to hand on a bookshelf. Wrenching my right shoulder to lift the mattress and locker lid and hold it up, I then wrenched my left shoulder to haul out the printer, two sleeping bags and a bag of wrapping paper and ribbon (yes, of course ribbon is essential on an RV) to gaze at a cardboard box of books through a gap just big enough for my head. As I grunted and strained with the weight of the mattress and locker lid on my shoulders himself would ask, “Can I help you with that?”

“NO!” I would bellow in frustration and risked decapitating myself with the trap door of the dungeon. A feeble flashlight that doubled as the oven light barely glowed much less illuminated the book titles so reading choices were often made by feel. Sometimes I thought oh stuff it and lay on the bed listening to my iPod until whatever inkling of motivation to do something creative or productive or even vaguely educational passed.

Should we stop somewhere to live in an apartment and try to regain our sanity or continue to play happy trails?

We’re Off to See the Wizard!

After our unnerving drive to Laramie on a back road through a mountain pass we drove the Happy Jack Road as much for the name as the monoliths (or were they just socking great piles of rock?) lining the road to Cheyenne.

(Click on pics to enlarge. Escape! to return.)

Ok. I got that wrong. Click on a gallery pic to enlarge, click arrow to see others in gallery and escape to return. Click on a single pic to enlarge and back arrow (top left) to return. Don’t bother clicking on the slideshow pics. Nothing will happen except pause, forward and back. Clear as mud?

We scaled the heights of the Rocky Mountain National Park in the car (sans trailer) where we barely made it from the car to the Visitor’s Centre and back, altitude sickness at 12,000 feet making itself very apparent to us, unfit as we were from the confinement of trailer life.

In Deadwood, we saw Wild Bill Hickok get shot dead in the #10 Saloon – moved to this venue to relive his murder for the tourists day in day out after the original saloon burned down. He revived himself to pose for photographs with the kiddies, and me.

We wuz there!
We wuz there!

A multitasking mum of three – one on the hip, one by the hand and one loitering by her side – offered to take our photo in front of Mount Rushmore, the four stony-faced presidents carved into the Black Hills.

We tiptoed through the out-of-this-world landscape of the Badlands constantly watching where we put our feet and looking for rattlesnakes.

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In Golden, Colorado we toured the Coors Brewery and drank free beer. Yay!

Then there was Denver. Sublime to the ridiculous comes to mind. The Denver Botanical Garden

was an absolute delight – full of color, and a single, whopping water feature flowed throughout the garden, springing up in fountains and tumbling in waterfalls. Even Jimmy didn’t get bored. We spent a quiet and restorative Sunday morning in one of the few independent bookstores left in the country. That was sublime.

The Bump and Grind Café provided the ridiculous.

How to describe Bump and Grind? Alternative? Bohemian? Grungy? No, wacky. Sunday brunch is traditionally served by transvestites – that being the only traditional thing about the restaurant. Dressed in my brightest pink top and wearing plenty of eye makeup to be part of the scene, I was looking forward to the experience, not quite sure how, or more to the point why, Jimmy had agreed to go.

I had visions of the girly boys in Brazil who are mistaken for beautiful women. We were both in for a shock. The waiters at Bump and Grind had made no effort to make themselves look attractive. Mini-skirts barely covered you-know-what. Exposed hairy legs – some skinny, some chunky – topped huge clumpy high heels. Make-up was slapped on giving a clown-like appearance and ratty wigs looked as though tiny birds could colonize them. Broad, spotty backs exposed by halter tops were only slightly less disconcerting than the see-through fabric at the front and to top it all off were the detachable falsies which frequently slipped out and bounced across the floor. They were shoved back into place amongst great hilarity.

The restaurant was packed so we weren’t the only voyeurs. No, make that I wasn’t the only voyeur. As I took it all in, Jimmy perched uncomfortably on the edge of his chair, not daring to turn his head every time I gasped. Our lofty, base-voiced waiter touched Jimmy’s shoulder affectionately every timed he passed our table. What an experience! We’d love to go back to Denver, but sadly the Bump and Grind has closed.

Moving on to Dodge City, Kansas I was a little perturbed to read in the camp brochure, “If you feel threatened by the weather anytime, day or night, please feel free to come to the main building.” I was thinking Kansas. Dorothy.

Our second night there, I was sure we were “off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz” when we were woken by the wind slamming into the side of the trailer, rattling our teeth. We lay across the bed, noses at the window, entertained by lightning. The buffeting wind turned our bed into a rocking cradle as if by an unhinged and vicious auntie. A tornado was about to rip through the campground and between flashes I was mentally cataloguing what I would grab on my way out the door to the promised haven of the main building. We foolishly stayed put and tracked the storm across the horizon, mesmerized by nature’s force.

Eventually the wind died down, we tired of the 3 am show and went back to sleep. Bit of an anti-climax for you. I hope you weren’t picturing our trailer whirling through the heavens.

When we arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, to experience it’s incredible Gateway Arch – the beginning of the Louis and Clark Trail – Jimmy had driven the 250 miles from Kansas City trying to see the road through his eyelids due to extreme sleep deprivation. In addition to wild weather keeping us awake, I’m sure the train drivers have a sadistic streak as they do their Whoo! Whoos! all through the night.

Next? A creepy encounter in Kentucky.