Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The last week and a half, in brief (very)

We arrived in Seattle late (but not too late) the Sunday we left Berkeley, and left the next Saturday morning. Crammed lots of family time, and a little family time, into those few days. No rain, shockingly.

On Saturday we got up at the absolute crack of dawn (which is VERY early in Seattle in June), drove on I-90 to Spokane (someone in front of us got pulled over, which is the closest we've come so far to a speeding ticket), then switched to US-2 and got as far as Shelby in one very long day. This was via Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Sunday we got up early-ish and visited Havre, Montana, where my grandfather grew up, and I took the underground tour, Havre Beneath the Streets. Then we drove south-ish into Wyoming and spent the night in Newcastle, Wyoming, near the border with South Dakota. The motel owners were a friendly (Asian) Indian couple with two very friendly dogs.

Monday we did quick drive-bys of the Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore monuments to avoid paying for them (I was fine with $8 to park at Mt. Rushmore, but $20 to see a monument that isn't even finished yet seemed a little steep)...thank goodness for telephoto zooms. Skirted the edge of Badlands National Park through the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. Visited the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, Nebraska. Spent the night at a campground in Nebraska's Sand Hills, within hearing range of lowing cows. We were the only people there, which is either very good or very scary depending on how you look at it:

[Animal noise]
Justin: What was that? Was that a wolf?
Juliet: I think it was a cow.

Tuesday we got up before dawn after very little sleep--neither of us has camped in years, so it kind of hurt, but at least we finally used the tent and sleeping bags we brought with us--and drove east, back up through South Dakota, and into Minnesota, to see Justin's ancestral homeland around St. Cloud. We saw the farm on the Mississippi River, now a regional park, that was in Gomma's family for nearly all of the twentieth century, in Rice, then drove down the road to Clear Lake, where several generations of Schwabs are buried, starting with Phillip Schwab, who came to America in 1861, was immediately press-ganged into the Union Army, and once the war was over got as far from the damn Yankees as he could. Ate dinner at Mickey's in St. Paul, a diner in a train car, and spent the night in a motel in Red Wing, Minnesota, after a bit of driving in Wisconsin.

Today we finally gave ourselves the chance to sleep in and followed the Mississippi southward as closely as possible, zigzagging back and forth through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. Ate lunch at a beer-and-brats garden and bought too many books at a wonderful rare bookstore in the charming riverfront town of McGregor, Iowa. We're spending the night at the Abbey Hotel in Bettendorf in the Quad Cities, which, as its name indicates, is a converted abbey. Very cool.

This obviously wasn't the most direct route, but neither of us was really enthusiastic about North Dakota, the most obvious route between our two grandfathers' hometowns, so we slipped down into South Dakota and Nebraska for a while, which took some time.

I have been putting pictures on SmugMug but I'm only up to Nevada so far, and there's a lot to go.

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