end of the road

I just kissed Banjo Man goodbye here in the Omaha airport. He is heading back to Rhode Island and has a long afternoon and evening ahead. He won’t arrive in RI until midnight and will spend at least five hours in Chicago.

Southwest is not making this easy.

My flights are delayed, too, but I’m glad to be flying. Nothing has been cancelled yet and I consider that a miracle. Over 1000 flights were cancelled yesterday.

So here I sit at Gate 18, plugged into a Charging Station, ready to head to Texas.

Part of me wishes I was heading home with Banjo Man, but in Austin there are Things To Do, such as picking out new flooring and a couch and possibly kitchen cabinets. There is also an Early Birthday celebration for the Funny Grandson.

I’m going to be busy.

Our family reunion weekend was so wonderful. I have pictures and I will blog about it as soon as I can. I don’t know about the rest of the family, but I felt wrapped up in love from start to finish.

Time to board……

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day 8, center of america

We took a detour Wednesday. At least I think it was Wednesday. I’m not sure any more.

The above photo is of Banjo Man imitating a Da Vinci sketch.

Thank goodness Banjo Man kept his clothes on.

The center of the United States was very exciting. For one of us.

There was a very,very small chapel. I couldn’t resist reading a Psalm. My one and only opportunity.

I may have been praying to get to Nebraska.

We had spent the previous night at an Econolodge in Phillipsburg, Kansas. We were a bit apprehensive when we drove up to the motel, bit it turned out to be wonderful. Like the polar opposite of the motel in Anaconda.

In other words, I did not cry.

We ate at the Sand Trap Bar And Grill, another surprise hit. Banjo Man’s chicken fried steak dinner was the size of a turkey platter.

Anyway, as interesting as the center of the United States was, we had an 11:30 tour booked at the Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud. We would see a museum, gift shop, her childhood home, train depot, her best friend’s home and two churches. Oh, and the Willa Cather prairie.

It was all good, but I was bitten and/or stung by a number of Willa Cather insects. I have the welts on my arm and back to prove it.

Travel advice: When in Red Cloud bring bug spray.

Willa Cather’s childhood home.

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western kansas, day 7

Yes, this is Kansas and there is a lot of it.

The sky is a brilliant blue and everyone is so pleasant. These are hardworking people. We have learned so much about farming in 2021. These folks know what they’re doing.

But…I don’t think I would be happy living here. Too much wind and not enough mountains.

And yet, every town has a quilt fabric shop.

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tuesday morning in kansas

We are moving slowly this morning. In an hour or two we will leave Garden City and head closer to Red Cloud, Nebraska where we will experience all things Willa Cather.

We’ve been touring an amazing part of the country. Yesterday Glen’ s clients arranged a tour of a family-owned farm that also has seed, manure, crop insurance and other businesses.

Our mouths were hanging open.

It has been really fun to be here.

And along the way Sunday? Well, there was this…

Goodland, Kansas and its 80-foot easel.

I didn’t tell Banjo Man where we were going. I thought he should be surprised.

He was.

We picked out a cafe just off I-70. The description on the website said turn right at Wheat Jesus.

Wheat Jesus?

He is rather gorgeous.

And now for the latest thing in hotel breakfasts:

You put your plate on the right side where the pancakes slide out like documents from a printer. Then you push the button. It takes a few minutes, but the two pancakes are tasty and the process isn’t as messy as the waffle maker.

A four year old girl and I were fascinated. I have gone out of my way to talk to or smile at the children we’ve seen on this trip. I worry about the social effects of Covid on the little ones, so I have chatted with the energetic boys in the pool and the kids in the breakfast rooms and a dear little boy in a Subway in Colorado. Eye contact, a smile and maybe even a wave make my day.

My white-haired grandmother persona helps a lot.

Now it is time for fresh coffee and a pancake, so I am going to get dressed and mosey on down the hall to the pancake machine. Oh, would the Funny Grandson love this!

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maybe this was saturday

This is me on the other side of the gate to Fort Fetterman, Wyoming.

It was supposed to be open. It wasn’t.

Damn you, Wyoming!

Banjo Man ducked under the fence and walked up the hill to the fort. He wandered around a bit and took some pictures, but I stayed behind and guarded the truck.

Because I am so tough.

We are in Kansas now and have been since Sunday. I think we will be in Nebraska on Wednesday but I have lost track of the days. I know we are on the High Plains and I am grateful to live in the time of Netflix and not the age of the Westward Expansion and Conestoga wagons.

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day 4, saturday, road trip 2021

Yes, I know I skipped Day 3 but tonight at dinner I drank this.

Day 3 had been fantastic and I have pictures, but I drank tequila tonight and can’t feel my face. I will tell you about it tomorrow.

We went to dinner at Oscar’s Bar and Grill in Limon, Colorado tonight. It had been a long day on the road.

I’d had to get cranky with Banjo Man a few times. He thinks the GPS works immediately. He thinks the search engine on my phone works perfectly and easily in response to any question that pops in his head. He is frustrated when he has to wait more than ten seconds for an answer.

He demands directions from the GPS and then doesn’t believe them.

He eats constantly, meaning he wants me to find his chocolate or sunflower seeds or Triscuits or oyster crackers every fifteen miles or so.

I told him I felt like a vending machine.

He knew he’d pushed me too far today and wanted to make it up to me and go to dinner. I honestly would have been fine with my Honey Nut Cheerios again, but Banjo Man insisted.

I ordered a shot of tequila and a glass of ginger ale and lime. I mixed them.

It went straight to my head. Which was a very good feeling after 380 miles on the road with the Tapeworm.

Back at the hotel parking lot I tried to unlock the truck by pushing the security alarm button. Banjo Man’s face???? Priceless! I laughed til I cried, doubled over in front of the brand new La Quinta by Wyndham, while the alarm blared.

By the way, they accept pets here. One couple has two WOLVES. I kid you not.

So, Colorado. Land of weed and pet wolves.

And John Denver, too, and doesn’t that feel like a hundred years ago?

Good night.

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photos from day one of 2021 trip east

Hiway 200.
Snow on the Missions.
Clark Fork River.
Anaconda in the morning.

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day 2 of the 2021 trip east

Thursday was much better than Wednesday, but then again we had nowhere to go but up.

Here’s a deer in the parking lot of our motel.

After the non-breakfast in Anaconda and after I pulled myself together, we hit the road. First stop? The Madison Buffalo Jump State Park. There was a long gravel road, which upset Banjo Man (“Does anyone know what a grader is????”). But a pretty significant bluff from which buffalo plunged to their deaths for thousands of years loomed in the distance.

This is our third buffalo jump. We find them fascinating.

The most interesting part of this one was that circles of stones used by the Indian women for their tipis were still visible.

We didn’t hike up to the top, but it was a beautiful day for walking the lower trail.

Later on we stopped in Bozeman to tour the Museum of the Rockies. We had hoped for more Plains Indians exhibits, but the dinosaurs were the best we had ever seen.

Successful Christmas shopping.

The day ended with dinner at Montana Club in Billings, a restaurant very close to the lovely, spacious, warm Hampton Inn. I spent some time in the pool and the hot tub before crawling into bed and sleeping for nine hours.

Banjo Man ate his weight in BBQ ribs and declined a swim, preferring to check email and get in bed early.

Things were definitely looking up.

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day one, to anaconda

We got a late start on Wednesday, but it was actually sooner than I expected.

I have some great photos, but I have spent half an hour trying to load them here and nothing works. I used to be able to download photos from my Kindle to WordPress, but I suppose those old brain cells are dead.

Banjo Man unfortunately stumbled upon the Trip advisor website back in August and discovered all sorts of tempting reasons to stay there.

I argued, but I lost.

Which resulted in driving too many miles when we were already exhausted, staying in a funky, vintage, very cold motel, scarfing down pizza at 8:30 pm and “eating” at a supposedly fantastic breakfast place that didn’t actually serve breakfast.

I am not kidding. Why didn’t we find a real cafe? You’d have to ask my husband.

The only way Banjo Man could stop my tears was to sincerely promise never to go on Tripadvisor again.

So…the Mission Mountains were topped with snow, the sky was blue and the road long. We shared a turkey sandwich from the Pantry as we left Clark Fork and headed towards fall and winter in New England.

Stay tuned, as I pick all the other motels…..

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one last look

Yes, I am looking for arrowheads.

No, I did not find any. Which is sort of the way it goes. But it was good to be down at the beach for one last time before we pack up and leave tomorrow.

Leaving is always difficult. We shipped fabric and books home instead of hauling them around in suitcases. We have given away the food that we won’t eat and have taken all the garbage to the dump. The refrigerators are shiny clean and look remarkably organized. My last chore tomorrow morning will be to vacuum and then wash floors.

Packing wasn’t easy. Why is it that the older I get the less makeup I carry and the more medical supplies and medications I have to stuff into various ziplock bags? It is quite shocking. My under-the-seat rolling airplane bag has morphed into a mobile first aid station.

Our plan is to drive to Anaconda (Montana) tomorrow. It’s about 275 miles from here and will take us about 5 hours or so. For some odd reason Banjo Man was surfing Tripadvisor.com and discovered that Anaconda has a funky vintage motel, a highly rated pizza restaurant and a patisserie for morning breakfasts.

So nothing would do but we spend the night in Anaconda and sample its delights.

I will keep you posted as to how that goes. I’m a little skeptical, as I prefer the Best Western in Missoula with its next door MacKenzie River Pizza, home of the pear and balsamic flatbread.

But Banjo Man wanted an adventure, something different, a slo-mo road trip that would encourage whimsical stops along the way to Nebraska.

I have been left to wonder what exactly it is that we haven’t seen in 51 years of traveling the West.

I will let you know how this works out.

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