Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Driving Day

The day did not start out driving, but reflecting. Before sunrise, I drove north of Jackson about 20 minutes and placed myself along the Snake River across from the peaks and awaited the rising sun. Worth the wait. Once light started to appear, I did not move, but, simply took it in. I feel small.


Then it was on the road.  Travelled west into Idaho where there is some of the most beautiful agricultural land (much of it for sale).  Wheat, alfalfa, potatoes, corn, depending on altitude.  Much of it is along the Snake River which provides water.  It was hard to keep eyes on the road.  Here is an example of a farm.

Further down the road, there was an opportunity to snap a picture of the Snake River itself, carving its way through the landscape.

Finally, Nevada, long, hot drive.  Nevada is something to see.  Huge, vast, spectacular.  And despite the emptiness, also beautiful.  The long hills are miles up and miles down.  This picture was taken on Hwy 93 just south of the ID/NV border town of Jackpot. Clever name..... but not worthy of a visit.

On arrival in Winnemucca, I found that the rubber donut exhaust hangers on the back had broken.  So spent some time this evening cobbling up a fix until I can replace them.  Utilizing hose clamps and #9 wire.  There will be no pictures.  Just hoping I can get to a dealer for factory parts.  Don't want the exhaust on the asphalt.

Finally, I have to mention the Martin Hotel.  Not a hotel anyore but a Basque restaurant.  Old building (1898) in a shabby end of town by the tracks.  But inside some of the best food and friendly people, both staff and patrons. When in Winnemucca, don't miss it.

Tomorrow, off for a loop around Lake Tahoe on the way to El Granada on the California coast to visit our girls, Sherean and Vanessa.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Slight Delay

The day started out at 5:00AM, my originally planned departure time from Newcastle, WY.  First thing noticed was the smell of gasoline and there was a pool of fuel at the back of the car.

So a wait for breakfast and advice from the ladies at Donna's Diner to take it to Rich's Automotive.  Opens at 8:00.  No luck, booked solid.  However, the fine folks at the Chevy dealership got it in.  Was the fuel pump.  Fortunately, Aaron had stowed a spare among the parts I brought along.  By 10:30 I was on the road.

The drive today was great, but I did not take many photos.  Wyoming is a vast and diverse state.  The drive from Newcastle to Casper was wide open spaces with a huge coal mine and quite a lot of oil production.

The drive up the Wind River was gorgeous, especially the contrast beween the irrigated agriculture and the rich browns of the cliffs and mountains.

Here is a picture.

Finally, about 6 hours late, I arrived in Grand Teton NP, just in time for this.

Sundown on the Tetons.  One of the best things I've ever witnessed.  Can't be captured by a camera.  I did not move.

Wrapped up the day with Mexican food and drink,

More tommorrow.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thirteen hours more-or-less behind the wheel. Not as young as I once was.

I must confess to being a bit tired.  Departed Lyon County, IA at 2AM and finished up here in Newcastle, WY about 4:00.  Regrouping now before going out for something to eat.

First stop today was the Badlands.  Highly recommended for anyone coming this way.  Nature is amazing.  Three pics from my trip through.

Plus! the obligatory stop at Mt. Rushmore.  More impressive than I expected.  The sheer magnitude of the project and the realization of what was in the artist's eye.  Amazing.

And finally, my last real stop of the day, at Devil's Tower.  Perhaps the best of all the beauty I saw today.  A volcanic outcropping, but still, it should not be there.  Stunning.

So, today was a sight-seeing day.  Tomorrow it is off to the Grand Tetons.  Should be spectacular.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Time for a Look Backward

Some of you may want to know why the car is in every pic.  Many following are fans of this body style of Mercedes, called R107 and want to see car pictures.  I'll start tomorrow putting some in without.

This was a day of spending a couple of hours looking backwards.  Some may know that I spent 23 years in Minneapolis, leaving almost 10 years ago.  This is my first employer in Minneapolis, Northrup King - or rather where Northrup King was.  It is now an art district.  This building is actually quite huge.  Many acres under roof.  It stretches way back.  NK was at one time the largest seed company in the world.  If it was planted, NK sold it, except rice for some reason.  Some of you reading this were also employees of NK, working for me at one point or other, perhaps here, or in Washington, IA.

Sadly, I'm going to have to end this entry as the wireless connection is quite poor here and I'm unable to load any more photos.  Sorry!  More tomorrow.

And to finish yesterday. Spent a  bit of time cruising around Minneapolis visiting places that at least had some importance at some point.  This is the house I owned when my son Aaron was born.  Very glad someone has fixed it as a couple of years ago the porch was falling down.

This is the "big house" the largest I ever had.  Can't see much of it for the trees, but that is what makes it great.  Tudor style on a tree lined block.  Site of much partying when young and crazy(er).

This one is of Elliott Hall, the site of grad school trials.

Finally, the end of my travels yesterday, the Grand Falls Casino and Resort in Lyon County, IA, where I am a teeny tiny investor.

Sunday, it is off to Wyoming via who knows what.

Ready to Head West

Last evening was a feast at the home of our old friends north of Duluth.  A feast with a bacon theme.  Let's see, Corn Cakes with Bacon and Goat Cheese, Devils on Horseback (Garlic-Stuffed Dates wrapped in Bacon), Spinich/Creamed Cheese/Bacon Rollups, Bacon Wrapped Rosemary Shrimp, Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil, Bacon, and Blue Cheese..... Bacon Wrapped Filet of Beef, Bacon-Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Bacon-infused Bourbon even. My wife, MJ, who came by air ti Duluth, was Executive Chef.

So much consumed that the Mercedes will list to port on the road today.  Many thanks to the wonderful friends from the north country who gathered for the fun.

The day yesterday began with breakfast at Billy's.  Billy's is a roadhouse along a county road north of Duluth.  Great food and friendly people.

Gassed up in prep for the drive south and west today.  I must say, the car is thirsty.... and the gas much more expensive in Minnesota than in Florida.

One final thanks to our pals up north for the hospitality.  They may have a newer Mercedes, but up north, they don't get the months if driving I get in FL.  It is very cool here north of Duluth this morning.  It was 53 at wake-up time.  There will be top down driving between here and the next stop in Larchwood, IA.  Larchwood is in extreme NW Iowa and offers a stop before heading west on I90 toward the Badlands.

So, more promised tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Port of Duluth

Had an opportunity today to explore Duluth a bit.  Posting here some pictures for those requesting more car pictures.

This is an ore vessel that once sailed the Great Lakes loaded with taconite ore from the Iron Range.  Big, but not as big as the 1000' monsters they use today.

Access to the harbor from Lake Superior is through a lift bridge.  Goes up and down to allow passage of ships.

Lake Superior is vast.  Here is a view of the West end of the lake.

Great food and wine enjoyed with friends tonight at the Kitchi Gammi Club.  My '72 350SL and friend Cheryl's '09 SLK300 in front of the club.

Will be in Duluth one more day before heading West Saturday morning. Looking forward to some great driving.

Northern-most Point

The day yesterday was a work day on vacation - spent in the office of one of my employers.  Last evening, the journey has reached its Northern-most point, about 30 minutes straight North of Duluth, MN in the mixed pine forests - home of deer, moose, wolves, bears and my friends.  They live in this perfectly picturesque environ.  Lovely and warm in the summer, lovely and brutal in the winter. The drive up from Minneapolis was a typical drive during the summer MN road construction season.  Stop, go, merge, slow, bump, caution.  I35 needs a longer construction season because it is crumbling.  MN is a high tax state, so I have no explanation for why an artery carrying so much traffic is allowed to deteriorate so much.

Had my costliest gas stop so far - $68.00.  I will probably notice the pain more when the card bill comes next month.  But..... I refuse to resort to dollar meals at America's fast food favorites in order to afford the gas.  Fortunately, a Hungarian feast and great friends were awaiting my arrival. 

So, another fast-paced day with a single pic of the Northern-most dusk arrival.  There will be more later in the day today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Friend Reconnected

Ah, the post is late due to a long day yesterday.  Travel from Southeast Iowa to Minneapolis, this driving mostly on two-lane state highways.  My home state still feels like home and I was able to spend a bit of time with my sister, nephew and brother-in-law.  Iowa sweetcorn and pork eagerly consumed. 

This picture is on the road and the rain was as heavy as promised in the pictures.  The new top was tight - no leaks. Yes!  The wipers though, could not keep up.  But the rain eventually ended and gave way to perfect roadster weather which I surely relished.

And here is a town after the rain -  tiny town with a big name.  The town slogan is "Where the River Runs North".  OK.

And most importantly - I spent last evening reconnecting with a friend of 32 years that should never have needed reconnecting with.  We all have them.... fine people that we grow apart from due to life, kids, marriages, moves........ Tragic really.  No more.  We talked about life and love, kids and craziness, marriages and remarriages, moves and movies...... and challenges, and sadness, and joy --- but mostly we laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed.  Sorry about the missing years, Mary.... won't happen again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sabbatical Interrupted

Not a productive day as far as content for a blog goes.  I found myself distracted by an unexpected trip to the ER.  It appears that the hotel room I was stayed in last night was literally toxic resulting in heart palpitations and trouble breathing.  ER found nothing amiss, and after a few hours in the ER, I felt fine and returned to the hotel.  The illness returned within an hour of my return to the room- so I bailed and went down the road to another accomodation where I enjoyed a couple hours of sleep, so please forgive the absence of any car pictures.  Operating on very little just now.

I do have one pic taken at the Missouri/Iowa border along the Des Moines River.  I must point out this was found on the Missouri side.

Everything needed for contentment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rain, Fog, Sun

No snow though.  The day started with some fog in the pine forests of north GA, which became rain in Tennessee.  Stayed in the car for the most part - and ended up driving further than expected.  Got one picture, though a bit boring. 

Though I've taken the freeways from Florida to Iowa many times, I continue to be amazed at the beauty of the countryside.  While it is beautiful, at the same time, I was reflecting on the struggles pioneers must have had in the Tennessee hills.  Must not have been so beautiful to them.

I ended up on the west side of St. Louis suburbs.  A name brand frontage road motel like so many out there.  Only been on the road a couple of days and I find myself reaching for what day it is.  Perhaps my mind has been everywhere but the present.  Yes, it has.

Not the purpose of the trip. Resolved..... fix that as the week goes on so that I am in the present, especially for the parts of the journey that are new ground - which is the last three weeks of it.  Tomorrow I get to spend time with my Dad.  I'm of the fortunate ones who can say my Dad is the finest man I know.  A gentleman.... and gentle man.

I promise to populate the blog with more pictures in the future.

From the Road,

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day One • Short, But Fun

First day of the Rolling Sabbatical.  Was unable to start until mid-afternoon after returning home from Boston and the wedding of my old friend Dave and the lovely Lisa.  Dave, being the nautical type and former submarine Captain, arranged for the wedding to be at sea, well, in Boston harbor on a pretty big and lux excursion boat. Very nice and a good time was had by all.

The trip so far has been great with the car running perfectly and the drive great fun with only a bit of rain.  The picture is as the sun was about to set on South GA.  I've made it to Atlanta, which is not bad given the 3:30 start.

I did find the fellow in the fast food line packing a pistol on his hip and arguing with the young lady behind the counter about the speed with which he was receiving his spicy chicken nuggets a bit disconcerting.  Judging from his vocabulary and grammar, I would question whether or not he should be packin'. But packin' he was.

Early start to reach Illinois tomorrow.  More later.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The General Route

This is about where I'll be going - starting Saturday.  What an amazingly beautiful country to see.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rolling Sabbatical Prep Update 8/15

Apologies to those who just don't care....but I'm having some fun getting things ready for the Rolling Sabbatical, so I have to recap for those interested.

Aaron has completed so much in preparation of the car - Thank You.  Let's see - new radiator and hoses, transmission mount, transmission hoses, new, modern ignition system, auxilary air valve (won't run without), and on and on. Me?  Well..... stereo speakers - gotta have tunes.....fixed an armrest.......  OK, so it is nice to have a pro in the family.

Just a couple more things.... new top going on Wednesday..... oil change..... fill the gas tank.... drive....

Did I mention, by the way, 12 mpg..... don't tell Al Gore. 

Rolling Sabbatical

Welcome!  My jottings have moved from Facebook to Blogger.  You'll find the first post the same as you saw there.

Just five days until the beginning of my rolling sabbatical across America.  Will sample 22 states in 30 days.  I'll take time to stop and chat with the natives, take some photos, and celebrate the freedom and circumstances that make the trip possible.

The trip will be solo - just me - and Dieter of course, my 1972 Mercedes 350SL.  A much-closer-to-60-than-50 man in a 40-year-old car.  My Mercedes tech wizard son Aaron has made it as road worthy as possible, so I am very confident that the road trip will be uneventful in that regard.

The intent is to post to this blog as opportunity or inspiration dictates. I would say something ridiculous like twice daily, but that won't happen so I'll avoid the shackles of some schedule to post.

With that, we'll begin the final prep... more a bit later.