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5000-Mile Road Trip 2009

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Ellen Homontowski
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5000-Mile (plus!) Road Trip
to Milwaukee, WI from La Verkin, UT
The 21-day Scenic Route for our 1-year Anniversary :)
June 16-July 6, 2009

This trip could only happen because of how we work as a team.  I created a "mobile" office for Jim and we worked while driving besides several days at various accommodations, so it wasn't all play!  Here's a "brief" summary of our adventure:

First stop, Salt Lake City where we took a couple-hour hike in Mill Creek Canyon.  We then stayed with relatives and had a fabulous dinner...thanks Doug and Cheryl :)  *click on photos to enlarge*
     

The next morning we headed up to Wyoming and experienced a very wet time in Jackson, but I managed to get some interesting photos of Grand Teton National Park between the rain showers.  Thanks to Suzanne and Dan for their hospitality we stayed dry that night and had a great dinner at their restaurant The Cadillac Grille.  After rising extremely early to get some famous Oxbow Bend photos on the Snake River (again in the rain), we made it to Yellowstone National Park where it finally cleared up.  A short 2-mile hike waiting for Old Faithful to erupt was followed by a breathtaking excursion looping up to the overlook of Biscuit Basin, then over to Mystic Falls.  Wow!  Also the drive through the east entrance/exit was quite scenic.  A return trip to this area is a must!

Cody was our next stop, then on to Devil's Tower, Wyoming (where Close Encounters of the Third Kind was filmed).  Per the recommendation of a local in Cody, we drove the northern route through the Big Horn Mountains where Shell Falls were extremely rewarding!  Then on from Devil's Tower we made it through Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota a bit later than anticipated for photos, but were able to put up our tent before dark.  Onward to experience the rest of the tourist attractions along the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway such as Mt. Rushmore, Needles Highway and the rest of Custer State Park; then on for a brief view of Crazy Horse.  That evening we made it to Wall (famous for Wall Drug) and walked the town after getting some spectacular dusk photos around the Pinnacles Entrance of the Badlands.

The Badlands were very colorful this June!  The next morning we hiked about 4 miles in almost all solitude in the Cedar Pass area.  Keeping our momentum, we traveled on to Mitchell, stopping at the Missouri River for Jim to take a muddy dip because he just had to.  In Mitchell we heard of a secret local campground on a beautiful lake where we stayed that night.  Onward the following day to Sioux Falls; Garretson (Palisades State Park & Devil's Gulch), then quickly breezed through southern Minnesota making our next stop in La Crosse, Wisconsin to take a refreshing dip at a nice beach on the Mississippi River.

By this time we've been on the road for over a week and our next stop was Devil's Lake south of Wisconsin Dells.  We hiked for 3 hours on the bluffs all around the lake, stopping at the south shore for a quick swim.  What a beautiful day!  Afterwards we finally made it to Milwaukee and got some work done at our friends' home (thank you again Kerry and Jenny!) for a couple days before Summerfest's opening night 6/25.  My brother Dan and niece and nephew, Brianna and Jonathan aided us on getting the early stamp for the world's largest music festival, and my friend Julie joined us that evening also (thanks you guys for all the help :)), and what a great place the County Clare Irish Pub & Inn is!  The next couple days were barbeque fun with my brother Dan's family--thanks again for the suite, Dan & Gail :)  So now it's our 1-year anniversary, 6/28/09, where we joined friends Rick, Jill, Grant & Jory, and Steve & Nancy at Rick's place on Tichigan Lake for a grilled lunch and pontoon ride to the sandbar where live music was playing on this huge raft.  What fun dancing in the water!  Thanks again Rick for your wonderful hospitality!

Surviving that party and another Fox River pontoon cruise the following day (after working in the morning again), we made it to my brother Quin and Sandy's home for another fabulous dinner (thanks!) and by midnight spent the night at my friend Roger's place (thanks Roger!) in White Lake to break up the driving to northern Wisconsin for our next adventure.  After breakfast we headed up to Copper Falls State Park but needed to work on a job (via laptop again, in the town of Mellen's church parking lot where we had a good signal) prior to arriving at the park.  It rained on and off that day but we still took a great hike in Copper Falls State Park and I managed to get some "good" Bad River and waterfall pics.  Northwest bound to Ashland, Wisconsin where it was still chilly and rainy, we crashed in a little motel along Lake Superior (Jim dipped his feet because again, he just had to).  Jim was anxious for the next day in Minnesota north of Duluth, to descend 1/2 mile underground to the Soudan Mine (State Park) and physics lab which was quite an interesting, informative day.  From there we made a couple brief stops in northern Minnesota along beautiful Highway 2, and ventured through North Dakota after our night in Grand Rapids.

Through on and off rainstorms again (and lots of mosquitoes!) our first pit stop was Rugby, North Dakota which is the geographical center of North America, where we enjoyed a power walk around canola fields.  After spending the night in Minot further west we took our next short hike at Lewis & Clark State Park along the Missouri River that had some very interesting petrified wood along the trail.  Continuing on Highway 2 we had a long swim at a less-populated beach on the refreshing Fort Peck Lake in Montana.  Again, through more rainstorms and mosquitoes we had to crash indoors at Shelby to prepare for the peak of our orgasmic trip, Glacier National Park in Montana.  What a park!  We walked the short loop to Running Eagle Falls (spectacular!) from the Two Medicine east entrance, then were recommended to hike the 6.2-mile, 2350' elevation gain, Scenic Point Trail that just took our breath away!  Although by the time we finished was late in the afternoon I still managed to get some fairly decent photos (tons of waterfalls!) on the Going-to-the-Sun Road from Saint Mary to the park headquarters exit at West Glacier.  We will definitely return to this place again!

Being the 4th of July there wasn't much availability in lodging so we drove as far south as possible to Missoula.  Following breakfast we ended the day in Twin Falls, Idaho after meandering through Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (click on pics below).  And with a very early start on the 6th of July we made it back home to La Verkin!  What a fabulous trip!  Now to find ourselves a camper!

~Ellen & Jim

Idaho (no, You Da Ho!)

Storm on the way (left) to Craters of the Moon National Monument (right)

Flowers growing in the lava

Sinkhole (right)

Twin Falls bridge overlook at dusk

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Trip Sequence: (click on "state" links for each page)
  1) Wyoming 2) South Dakota 3) Wisconsin 4) Minnesota-North Dakota 5) Montana 6) Idaho
(above)