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Travels with Grama

Road Trip -2015

The plans for this trip started out with us heading to Alaska. It was going to be something completely different for us. All indications were that we might have some trouble finding accommodations so we needed to prepare for that. We considered renting a Cruise America type of camper but I didn't warm to the idea of dealing with the water and sewer chores - and Doreen didn't know how, nor wanted to learn. Also, we wouldn't be able to explore off the beaten trail. OK - scrap the camper idea.

Then one week before leaving Doreen went to Walmart with the idea to buy air mattresses and sleeping bags. It was raining and cold. It felt like a snow storm was blowing in. That finished her. She decided she really didn't want to climb into the back of her car to sleep - in the cold. Truth be known - neither of us could likely even crawl into the back and get out again.

So she phoned me and asked "Do you really want to go to Alaska"? My quick answer was "no". Scrap Alaska. If we can plan to go to Nova Scotia and end up in Memphis, we can plan to go to Alaska and end up somewhere else. We decided that there were only two totally unrelated destinations that we wanted to go on this trip - Hanover, Ontario to visit my family and for Doreen, Hamilton, Missouri to visit Missouri Star Quilt Co. The rest? TBD.

Willie's New Cowboy Hat

Willie is ready to go - all decked out in his spiffy new cowboy hat. When I was in Florida I found a store "All Things Chihuahua" and snagged a brand new cowboy hat for him. After 8 years of exposure to the elements while riding shotgun on the dash of the car, his red hat finally fell to pieces. We think the black suits him better anyway - after all he is a gunslinging desperado from Tombstone.

2015 Mystery Tour Photo Album

Saturday, July 25 - Calgary to Helena, Montana

Highways today were a bit different than usual. First Doreen had to head out to Strathmore to pick me up. We also took some backroads in Montana. Highways included Glenmore Trail (hwy 560) east to Strathmore, then back to hwy 24, hwy 23 and hwy 3 to Lethbridge and hwy 4 south to the Sweet Grass Border Crossing. We travelled I-15 to Conrad then then hwy 219 and hwy 220 south to Choteau, hwy 221 and hwy 287 to Wolf Creek and hwy I-15 to Helena. Google Map

We got off to a slow start today. I had several chores to do around my house before we could leave. Once we were on the road time flew by. The backroads in Montana meant that we missed the elbow to Great Falls and of course being off the Interstate suits us just fine.

Gilman, Montana

The remains of the town of Gilman are one mile from Augusta. The town was founded in response to the homestead boom and hard hit by the calamities of the late 1910s and early 1920s.

The Gilman State Bank folded on Thanksgiving 1923, overextended on loans to farmers who could not repay them, according to bank records. Once a town of 1,400, Gilman soon was no more

Augusta and Gilman

Named for the daughter of a local rancher, Augusta was established on Fred Walrath's homestead in 1884. It prospered as a trade center for a vast cattle and sheep ranching area. By the 1890's, Augusta's main street included dwellings, hotels, saloons, mercantiles and Manix & Vaughn's famed general store. Today, many of those buildings and homes still stand, symbols of Augusta's colorful history.

In 1912, the Great Northern Railway announced plans to build a branch line westward from Great Falls into this area. Instead of extending the line to Augusta, the railroad established a station and community near here and named it Gilman. Many people abandoned Augusta and moved to Gilman. Businesses, including the bank, also relocated to Gilman, precipitating a decade-long feud between the two communities.

Even though Gilman flourished, Augusta stuck it out and refused to die. By 1923, draught, hard times, and the extension of the railroad to Augusta, caused the Gilman State Bank to close and the town to fade away. Many buildings in Gilman were physically relocated to Augusta. All that remains of Gilman are concrete sidewalks and the bank building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Sunday, July 26 - Helena to Cody, Wyoming

Highways today were I-15 to Boulder, hwy 69 to Whitehall, hwy 55 and hwy 41 south to Twin Bridges, then hwy 287, hwy 87 and hwy 20 to West Yellowstone. Once in Yellowstone National Park we followed hwy 287 and hwy 89 and finally leaving the Park on hwy 14/16/20 to Cody. Google Map

Robbers Roost

Pete Daly built a log roadhouse at this site in 1863. Unlike most roadhouses of the time, which provided meals, companionship, and a place to stay for the weary travelers, Daly's was allegedly a hangout for Montana's most notorious criminal gang - the "innocents". It was reputedly run by Henry Plummer, the sheriff of Bannack and Virginia City. His deputies were supposedly members of the gang.

According to legend, the innocents watched travelers stopping here on the Virginia City and Bannack road. If they looked like easy targets to the crooks, there were plenty of places to rob them in the wilderness between the two mining camps. Although not a member of the innocents Daly was well aware of their activities. Most of the members of the gang, including Plummer were killed by vigilantes in early 1864.

This log building is traditionally known as Robbers Roost, it was not, however, constructed until several years after Plummer's gang meet its grizzly end. Unlike its predecessor this building functioned more as a traditional stage stop. Pete Daly lived to a ripe old age and was one of the valleys most prominent citizens at the time of his death in 1915


Small settlements were so numerous and so scattered that contemporaries called the Alder Gulch area Fourteen-Mile-City. It ran the length of the gulch, and included the towns of Adobetown, Bear Town, Central City, Highland, Hungry Hollow, Junction City, Nevada City, Pine Grove French Town, Summit, and Virginia City. Nevada City and Virginia City were the main centers of commerce. Historical Marker

Gold Dredges

The large gravel piles are the tailing of gold dredging operations that occurred here over a 20 year period beginning in 1899. Monster dredge boats literally churned the gulch inside-out, creating huge piles of gravel where only a tangle scrub brush and stunted trees could grow. It was the final chapter in the history of placer mining in Alder Gulch.

Nevada City

We reached Nevada City just after noon. After exploring the old Nevada City Hotel, we took the train ride to Virginia City and back. Once back in Nevada City we got an ice cream cone at the Star Bakery before heading on our way. We didn't have time to stay for the 2:00 pm double hanging.

Nevada City was incorporated on February 9, 1865 and, at its peak, boasted dozens of stores, a miners' store, brewery, blacksmith, butcher, livery stable and Masonic Hall. Cabins extended back six blocks, but by 1876 only a few residents remained. Gold dredging devoured most of the original landmarks leaving piles of tailings as big as barns. By 1920, the highway had cut the town in half. Montana Travel Site

Nine booming gold camps sprawled along remote Alder Gulch in 1863. Nevada City and Virginia City were the largest. In December, 1863, Nevada City’s main street was the scene of the miner’s court and hanging of George Ives. This event was the catalyst for the forming of the Vigilantes.

Nevada City Hotel

Doreen had visited this hotel a couple of years ago when she did a Montana Ghost Town tour. She had always wanted to tell me she'd made reservations and then sit back and watch my reaction when we got there. The hotel is actually very nice and well worth staying the night and taking a step back in time. The hotel also has a row of very old cabins. They also are very nicely done inside. They have sod roofs with cactus actually growing out of them.

Nevada City Hotel was originally a stage stop in the 1860’s. The stage station became the front portion of the hotel and the back portion are buildings from Yellowstone Park. There are 10 guest rooms and two Victorian suites. On display in the hotel is the Victorian parlor furnished in rare antiques. All hotel rooms have private bathrooms. Nevada City Hotel

Star Bakery

The Star Bakery is one of the oldest buildings in Nevada City. It was built in 1863 and occupies its original building. Over the course of its life the building has been everything from a brewery, to a bakery and a butcher shop.

Hebgen Lake Earthquake

The August 17th, 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake in southwestern Montana measured 7.3 – 7.5 on the Richter magnitude scale. It caused a huge landslide that blocked the flow of the Madison River resulting in the creation of Quake Lake. Effects of the earthquake were also felt in Idaho and Wyoming. 26 people were killed.

West Yellowstone

We stopped at Send it Home, the quilt shop in West Yellowstone. I bought my first three fat quarters for a quilt and Doreen bought the Row by Row kit and a fat quarter for Jennifer's quilt. She also bought the licence plate - Caught Quilting.

Yellowstone National Park

We drove through the Park just for the scenery. Other than to fill up with gas and take a few scenic pictures, we didn't make a lot stops on the route. We went to the Yellowstone Lake Scenic Overlook. The extent of fire damage could be seen quite clearly from the overlook.

Yellowstone Fires

The Yellowstone fires of 1988 together formed the largest wildfire in the recorded history of Yellowstone National Park. Starting as many smaller individual fires, the flames quickly spread out of control with increasing winds and drought and combined into one large conflagration. The fires almost destroyed two major visitor destinations and, on September 8, 1988, the entire park was closed to all non-emergency personnel for the first time in its history. A total of 793,880 acres - 36 percent of the park was affected by the wildfires.

Cody, Wyoming

We had hoped to spend the night at Bill Cody Ranch but unfortunately there was no vacancy by the time we got there. Bill Cody Ranch is located on hwy 14-16-20 in the Shoshone National Forest about 26 miles west of Cody. We went on to Cody and got a room at the Best Western Ivy Inn & Suites.

Monday, July 27 - Cody to Spearfish, SD

Highways today were Alt 14 from Cody to Dayton, I-90 to exit 153 then hwy 24 to Devils Tower then continued after Devils Tower on hwy 24 WY and 34 SD to Belle Fourche, hwy 85 to I-90 and finally stopping at Spearfish, SD. Google Map

Friends & Co Quilt Shop, Cody, WY

Our first stop today was at the quilt shop to collect more Row by Row, their licence plate and fat quarters. I bought two more fat quarters and Doreen bought one for Jennifer's quilt which didn't stay in her possession for very long - see Medicine Wheel below. Friends & Co Quilt Shop

Big Horn Basin Overlook

It wasn't long before we were climbing up the Big Horn Mountain Range and being treated to some incredibly beautiful overlooks. Half way to the top there is an overlook of the Big Horn Basin, a plateau region approximately 100 miles wide. It is bounded by the Absaroka Range on the west, the Bighorn Mountains on the east, and the Owl Creek Mountains and Bridger Mountains on the south.

Medicine Wheel, Medicine Mountain, WY

The Medicine Wheel is located in the Bighorn National Forest about 80 miles east of Cody. The structure is located at an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet, near the summit of Medicine Mountain. For centuries, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel has been used by Crow youth for fasting and vision quests.

The climb to the Medicine Wheel is by foot unless you have a handicap pass which, fortunately we do. We were able to drive and avoid the 1 1/2 mile hike to to the top of the mountain.

There is only parking for 3 cars at the top and they monitor the cars going up and down. The people behind us could not go up until we came down.

Native Americans go to Bighorn to tie items of cloth around the ropes while giving thanks for the creation that sustains them and prayers are offered here for healing. We tied the purple polka dot fat quarter Doreen had purchased at Cody to the fence. I made a wish for a long life and safe travels.

Apparently it worked because the rest of the day we drove under clear skies with a circle of nasty storm clouds completely surrounding us.

County Road 10 - Hunt Mountain

We saw an interesting road that went up and over another mountain on the south side of Alt 14. Of course we had to follow it for a while to see where it went. Turns out it actually goes over Hunt Mountain, peaking at 10,162 fee and connects 22 miles later with hwy 14. We didn't go all the way but far enough to see what was over the hill - nothing - just more gravel (sort of) road.

Devils Tower, WY

Our final stop of the day was Devils Tower. I have intended on several trips to go there but never made it. Today was the day.

Devils Tower was the first declared US National Monument on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt. It rises dramatically 1,267 feet above the surrounding terrain and the summit is 5,114 feet above sea level.

As rain and snow continue to erode the sedimentary rocks surrounding the Tower's base, more of Devils Tower will be exposed. The exposed portions of the Tower still experience certain amounts of erosion. Portions, or even entire columns, of rock at Devils Tower are continually breaking off and falling.

Do Not Feed the Prairie Dogs

Well someone is feeding them - they were very fat! The call them Prairie Dogs but the only difference between them and our common Gopher is that they are are least double the size. They are given a protected environment to live in and are a major tourist attraction along the road. There is even a pullout where you can view them! We saw dozens of prairie dogs putting on quite a show for the cameras.

Antelope and Deer

A treat today were the hundreds of antelope and deer grazing in the pastures along the road. When we stopped the antelope near the road were watching us but did not seem afraid. One deer jumped across the road. With a screeching of brakes, we just missed hitting him.

We captured this sunset just before we got to Belle Fourche.

We tried to stay in Belle Fourche for the night but the hotel was full. We ended up having to drive to Spearfish where we got a room at the Hampton Inn.

Tuesday, July 28 - Spearfish to Cedar Falls, Iowa

Today was all about putting some miles on. We have to get to Ontario by Thursday morning. Not too many highways - I-90 and hwy 85 to Deadwood, then Alt 14 back to I-90 at Sturgis. We stayed on I-90 all the rest of South Dakota and 154 miles of Minnesota. We then headed south on State 13, US 65, and I-35, hwy 18 and hwy 218/27 to Cedar Rapids. Google Map

Dakota Quilt Shop

Our first stop was the quilt shop to pick up our fat quarters. Doreen got a Row by Row kit there as well. They didn't have any license plates so she missed out.

Deadwood, South Dakota

We didn't take in any tours or wander the streets but since I had not been there before, we just drove through town for a quick look and headed back to I-90. This week is the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The bikes have taken over the whole area. It was quite a site.

The rest of our day was spent pushing across South Dakota and Minnesota at 80 mph. We arrived in Cedar Falls, Iowa about 10:00 pm and got a room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Wednesday, July 29 - Cedar Falls to Mississauga, Ontario

Another day of making time. I needed to be in Toronto Thursday morning for a meeting so we were on the Interstate all day. We did, however, still manage to visit two quilt shops. Highways included US 218, I-380, and I-80 to Chicago (with small stops on US 67 in LeClaire and State 26 and US 34 in Princeton), then I-94 and I-69 to Sarnia and finally 402 to Mississauga. Google Map

Expressions In Threads, Le Claire, Iowa - July 29, 2015

Le Claire is fairly large but we found the shop without any problems. We purchased our fat quarters, their Row by Row pattern and a licence plate. We also bought the material for the back of my quilt. We spent more time in the store than we had planned, but it was well worth it. They had racks of quilt panels but Doreen held herself in check and didn't go through them. Lucky for us or we could still be in the store. Expressions In Threads

Quilter's Garden, Princeton, Illinois - July 29, 2015

Quilter's Garden is right on main street so we had no trouble finding it. I think we could have spent all day in this beautiful shop. We picked up our material, Row by Row and license plate as usual and then also bought kits for some unique table runners. They have a huge map to pin all their visitors. We were the first from Calgary which was cause for celebration for them.

Their Row by Row features the covered bridge on the north side of town. I thought it would be great to get a picture of the bridge but the road to it was under construction and closed.

The Red Covered Bridge (Wikipedia)

The Red Covered Bridge

The Red Covered Bridge is over Big Bureau Creek, north of Princeton. It was originally built in 1863 and is one of five remaining covered bridges in Illinois, and it is still open to traffic. The bridge was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on April 23, 1975. The sign on the Bridge says "Five dollars fine for driving more than twelve horses, mules or cattle at one time or for leading any beast faster than a walk on or across this Bridge."

We passed through the border at Port Huron/Sarnia. We decided to travel to Mississauga tonight so we could avoid traffic in the morning. We ended staying at the Courtyards Mariott just off hwy 401. It was 1:30 AM before we got settled.

Thursday, July 30 - Mississauga to Hanover, Ontario

Highways today were very convoluted. First we had to go into downtown Toronto and back out. We started on hwy 401, hwy 427 and Gardner Expressway south into Toronto. On the way out we were on the Gardner Expressway, hwy 427, hwy 401, hwy 1 (Mississauga Road), hwy 7, hwy 25, 125 and hwy 124 to Brisbane, hwy 24 , hwy 109, hwy 9, and finally County Road 10 at Clifford to Hanover. Google Map

While I was at my meeting in downtown Toronto, Doreen waited in a nearby restaurant. Getting in and out of Toronto was relatively easy but traffic was really heavy until we headed north towards Hanover. After we got off the freeways, we spent a relaxing time zigzagging on the backroads to my hometown.

My family was totally surprised as they were expecting us next week. Thankfully my sister, Sherry and husband Jim were able to put us up for the next couple of nights. The small motels in Hanover are a tad dated and aren't given to high ratings.

Friday, July 31 - Saturday, August 1 - Hanover, Ontario

Friday, July 31, 2015

We spent the day relaxing and visiting with family. I had a short swim and tour in the paddeboat for an hour or so. In the afternoon we went into Hanover, Doreen got a haircut before heading to the Mennonite quilt shop just outside of Mount Forest.

Creekbnk Sewing Machine Shop

After driving for several miles down country backroads, we found the shop. It is on a working Mennonite farm. The shop has a large classroom area, a longarm machine, sewing machines, and a good selection of all things "quilting". We made our typical purchases and was pleased to see their Row by Row had a Mennonite style horse and buggy appliqué. Creekbank Sewing Machine Shop

We went out for Chinese food for dinner. Jim took us on a tour around the countryside and the lake roads before heading home. Doreen did some laundry. Jim and Sherry headed to bed while my Mom, Doreen and I watched a movie and visited until midnight.

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

Today we headed north to Wiarton to visit my Dad's hunting partner, Ab and my father-in-law Mel. While my Mom and I visited, Doreen found Mother 's Fabrics in Wiarton. On the way home, we all went to Shoreline Quilts in Port Elgin then headed back to Creekbank Sewing to pick up some more Row by Row kits.

Sherry had dinner ready when we got home and after dinner everyone went out on a houseboat tour on the lake. Later, we headed into town to gas up and wash the car to get an early start in the morning,

Mothers' Fabrics, Wiarton, Ontario

The shop is right on main street and easy to find and Doreen bought their Row by Row kit and a fat quarter for Jennifer's quilt. They have two licence plates - Sew Clever and Frayed Nerves. I purchased both of them.

Shoreline Quilts, Port Elgin, Ontario

This is a great shop right on main street Port Elgin. We ended up spending a bit of extra time browsing. Doreen bought her fat quarter, the Row by Row kit and their license plate - Row 2 Shoreline. I bought 4 fat quarters and and my Mom (Birdie)ended up buying two panels. which we ended up taking home for Doreen to quilt. Shoreline Quilts

Sunday, August 2 - Hanover to Kalamazoo, Illinois

Highways today were crazy as we zigzagged our way out of Ontario. We started out on CR 10 at Hanover, 109 at Clifford to Teviotdale, and 9/8/21 to St. Jacobs. We then backtracked to Elmira and took hwy 86 to Listowel, hwy 23 to Elginfield, then 7/19 to the 402. We crossed the border at Sarnia and picked up I-69 then and finally I-94 to Kalamazoo. Google Map

Quilters Nine Patch, Elmira, Ontario

It was Sunday so we were glad they were open. This quaint shop had a good selection of fabric - especially the 30's fabric. I found my fat quarters right away but Doreen took a bit longer. They didn't have a lot of really bright themes. She also bought their Row by Row and license plate. Quilter Nine Patch

St. Jacobs, Ontario

The quilt shop in St. Jacobs was closed. We visited the gift shop where I ended up buying a new light summer quilt to take home. We wandered for a bit, had lunch before heading out. The charming Village of St Jacobs is also home to a population of approximately 4,000 Old Order Mennonites who farm the surrounding countryside.

St. Jacobs was settled in 1820 and officially named in 1852. St. Jacobs was first known as "Jakobstettel" which means "Jacob's Village". The St. was added to the name simply to make it sound more pleasing and the pluralization was in honour of the combined efforts of Jacob C. Snider (1791–1865) and his son, Jacob C. Snider, Jr. (1822–1857), founders of the village.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

We had a reservation for the night at Kalamazoo. It was quilt late by the time we got there. Just minutes after we got registered and into our room a major storm hit. We were glad we were off the highway.

Monday, August 3 - Kalamazoo to Columbia, Missouri

Today was another crazy day of zigzagging across Michigan and Indiana. We started from Kalamazoo south on hwy 131 which changed to hwy 13 once we were Indiana. We followed hwy 13 until we hit construction and road closures. We had to take a crossover road past Tippecanoe Lake to hwy 15. We followed it south until we hit another construction closure and crossed over on hwy 16 to hwy 19 south.

We finally gave up on the backroads and took the four lane state roads hwy 24 and hwy 25 south to Delphi where we turned west on hwy 18 to avoid the large cities. That lasted exactly 2 miles before construction closures rerouted us 11 miles north back to Monticello and hwy 24. We stayed on hwy 24 to Kentland turning south on the four lane hwy 41/63 until we hit I-70. It was time to stick with one highway and we finally stopped for the night at Columbia, Missouri. Google Map

Field's Fabrics, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Field's Fabrics, based in Grand Rapids Michigan, started in 1953 and now has seven retail store locations throughout the West Michigan area. This store was right around the corner from our hotel. I was huge and hundreds of rows of fabric. It didn't take long for us to find our fat quarters. I bought their Row by Row and license.

The Quilt Shop, Middlebury, Indiana

This shop is right in the heart of Amish Country. There was a horse and buggy parked outside the shop. The shop has several beautiful hand made quilts for sale. We bought our fat quarters and their Row by Row. They were out of license plates. Doreen also bought a 20 fat quarter bundle called "Lancaster". It was hard not to get inspired in this shop. The Quilt Shop

Tuesday, August 4 - Columbia to Junction City, Kansas

With the exception of many many tiny side roads and some backtracking, highways today included west on I-70, north on hwy 87 to Glasgow, hwys 5 and 24 to Carrolton, north on hwy 65 to Chillicothe, west on hwy 36 to Hamilton and continuing on hwy 36 to Troy, then south on hwys 59 and 4 to I-70 finally stopping in Junction City. Google Map

Sew Sweet Quilt Shop, Brunswick, Missouri

This shop was right on main street. Even though we knew we were going to get our Missouri Row by Row, we decided to stop. We're glad we did. The shop is absolutely beautiful with two full levels of fabric. We purchased our fat quarters, the Row by Row and some backing material. We had a hard time leaving. I was more interested in the beautiful wooden floor and spent more time talking renovations than quilts. Sew Sweet Quilt Shop

Missouri Star Quilt Company, Hamilton, Missouri

Hypothetically, we're not sure if Missouri Star is in Hamilton or Hamilton is in Missouri Star. With the exception of a few other shops, restaurants, and offices, the entire heart of main street is Missouri Star. They have six separate stores - the main shop, the solids and fillers store, a seasonal shop, batiks boutique, reproduction fabrics, and novelty fabrics.

A bus load of ladies arrived just after we did and Jenny- the owner of Missouri Star was there for a meet and greet. Unfortunately, Doreen - who knew who this lady was - wasn't able to get through the throng of fans and meet her personally. We browsed through four of the shops. We purchased our fat quarters and the Row by Row kit. They were out of license plates. Missouri Star Quilt Company

Out Back Quilt Shop, Troy, Kansas

This shop was just inside the Kansas border. We managed to get there shortly after 4 pm so we were able to pick up our fat quarters and Row by Row for Kansas. Doreen was able to pick up a licence plate. It was nice visiting with the shop owner. She showed us four license plates she had just received a a present from a friend who travelled in Alaska.

We decided to get ourselves down to the I-70 and put on some miles. We hit a heavy rain storm just before Topeca but by the time we got to Junction City it had cleared. We decided to stop early. After supper at the I-Hop, I died Doreen's hair and we hit the sack early.

Wednesday, August 5 - Junction City to Salida, Colorado

We used today to put on a lot of miles. We stayed on the I-70 to Limon, then south on hwy 24 to Colorado Springs, hwy 21 to Fountain, I-25 to Pueblo and finally US 50 to Salida, Colorado. Google Map

Na-La's Quilt Shoppe, Fountain, Colorado

We decided to go to this shop because the address was on Main Street. Only problem was that we couldn't find Main Street. Fountain was quite big so we had to stop at a gas station to get instructions. Then - easy peasy! We bought our fat quarters, Row by Row kit and another kit for a pouch and their license plate. We were there a bit longer than we planned but it was worth it. Na-La's Quilt Shoppe

Arkansas River Valley

U.S. 50 closely follows the Arkansas River to Salida. East of Salida, the highway enters a deep canyon, dubbed Bighorn Sheep Canyon. The major industries in the canyon are fishing and river rafting.

The headwaters of the Arkansas are about 50 miles north near Leadville, in Climax. The Arkansas is the second-longest tributary to the Mississippi-Missouri River system.

Salida, Colorado

We stopped in Salida for the night. It was after 7:00 and we didn't want to miss the rest of the drive through the mountains by driving it in the dark. Most of the hotels had no vacancy but we managed to get a room at the Gateway Inn.

Founded in 1880, Salida was originally a railroad town and was a significant link in the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. After World War II the railroad began pulling back its operations in Salida. Many residents in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s worked either in local ranching operations or commuted north to Leadville to work in the mine. Today, the most prominent business in Salida is tourism, consisting of skiing at Monarch Ski Area, whitewater rafting, kayaking and outfitting, particularly on the Arkansas River.

Thursday, August 6 - Salida to Moab, Utah

Highways today were hwy 50 west to Sapinero, hwy 92 north to Hotchkiss, hwy 65 to I-70, and finally hwy 128 to Moab. Google Map

We changed our plans four times today. First we were going to head south to Bluff and hwy 261 but we couldn't get a room at Bluff. Then we decided to skip going below I-70. Then we figured we had time to take hwy 128 down to Moab and back up to I-70. But, once we were in Moab we changed our minds one final time. We got a room at the Archway Hotel and booked ourselves on the Canyonlands by Night river cruise. It all made perfect sense at the time.

West Elk Loop Scenic Byway

The Byway follows the narrow alignment of long gone railroad grades, the faint wagon tracks of the earliest explorers and the ancient pathways of Ute Indians. West Elk Loop Scenic Byway

Blue Mesa Dam

Blue Mesa Dam is a 390-foot-tall earth fill dam on the Gunnison River in Colorado. It creates Blue Mesa Reservoir, and is within Curecanti National Recreation Area just before the river enters the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Blue Mesa Dam and reservoir are part of the Colorado River Storage Project, which retains the waters of the Colorado River and its tributaries for agricultural and municipal use.

Canyonlands by Night

This is the second time we've been on this tour and it was just a magical as the first. There have been a few improvements since the last time but essentially the tour is the same. We're not 100% sure, but we think we had the same guide. I came to the dinner for the beans. Doreen came for the beef and we were not disappointed.

The backdrop for this popular show is a star-filled, Southern Utah sky and high red rock canyon walls. The hosts are knowledgeable, humorous guides who love sharing the wonders of their own backyard with others, along with Indian legends, geology and history as the rock walls come alive with powerful lights, adding color and beauty. This is a sound and light show beyond comparison. The adventure begins with a Cowboy Style Dutch Oven Dinner served on the banks of the Colorado River.  Canyonlands by Night

Friday, August 7 - Moab to Idaho Falls, Idaho

Highways today were hwy 191 from Moab to I-70, hwy 50 at Salina to Scipio, I-15 south to Holden, hwy 50 west to Delta, hwy 36 to just north of Tooele, I-80 to I-15 and finally stopping at Idaho Falls. Google Map

It's Sew Moab, Moab, Utah

We slept in until 10:00 so we went to the quilt shop before leaving town. It was supposed to open at 10:00 and we waited until almost 11:00 before giving up. It's Sew Moab

Mom's Crafts and Fabrics, Delta, Utah

We were happy to find a store in Delta so we have our fat quarters and Row by Row from Utah. This fantastic store is owned by Peggy and her daughter Lyla. We'll have to remember to stop here when travelingl south. Peggy designs and sells her quilt patterns. She is currently working on a series of small quilts about table runner size for every month. These little quilts are quite unique. Mom's Crafts and Fabrics.

Little Sahara Recreation Area

Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the park is about 30 miles north of Delta, Utah. We've driven by this area many times. Doreen drove into the area and toured in 2014 so we decided to take the drive so I could see it. The three dots in the middle of the picture are dune buggies.

Sand Mountain

The sand dunes are huge. Dune buggy enthusiasts were camped in the open sand areas. The whole area is criss-crossed with dune buggy trails. Riders can enjoy riding on 60,000 acres of sand dunes, trails and sagebrush flats. Sand Mountain's 700–800 foot wall of sand challenges experienced riders and the most capable machines. We watched the riders going up and down. It looked like a lot of fun. I would have jumped on a dune buggy in a hearbeat if given the opportunity.

Homeward Bound

As we continued our our way north we passed through Salt Lake City quite quickly and that was the end of the good news. In hindsight we could/should have stopped in Salt Lake City but it was still early and we were now in home mode.

No Cell Towers

Towers were suspiciously missing across the entire United States - even in the large cities. Doreen had paid for a roaming plan so there was no reason not to get a tower. I wasn't able to get a tower either. We suspect that all Telus customers are being blocked and that leads us to believe that the US Providers and Telus cannot come to some sort of agreement.

Having a phone is not just a convenience. The problem is that without a phone our comfort and safety are jeopardized. Across the plains we came upon a very serious accident. One car was upsidedown. Cars stopped to help. Everyone was in a panic. One look told us there would be very serious injuries. We tried calling "emergency". The bluetooth understood the word command but was unable to connect. Zero Tower! This is an issue we will definitely be addressing with Telus.

No Vacancy

Had we been able to get a cell tower we would have been able to book a room. The only time we had a tower on the entire trip was in Idaho, Montana and Canada. As soon as we made a call in Michigan we lost the towers again. I hate to whine and point fingers but I blame Telus for the uncomfortable experience that follows.

By the time we pulled in to Pocotello the entire town was sold out. Fortunately, since we were back in Idaho and relatively close to home we finally had a tower. Doreen phoned Holiday Inn, Best Western, Hilton and Mariott. There was no vacancy for at least 200 miles. To add to our misery, it was pouring rain. We were screwed.

The Lumber Seat Syndrome

Doreen read on another site that "the only true way to experience America to its fullest is to grab a friend, hop in the car and drive wherever your journey may take you." That's pretty well our motto but what we didn't plan on was the half laying, half sitting, hump where the hip and seat meet. Apparently lumber seats are NOT made for sleeping. There's no way to get around it. She also read on another site that "Sleeping in your car comfortably can be a valuable life skill". Sorry, that's not a life skill I want to master.

Hotel Automobile

There wasn't much we could do but accept our fate. OK, so this is a new twist. In all 15 years travelling together we have never had to resort to staying in Hotel Automobile. Doreen bought two little travel pillows at the truck stop. I pointed out that we did have my brand new quilt complete with pillow shams from St. Jacobs. At least we would be fashionable and warm.

Giggle and Bear It

Just the thought of what two old broads looked like sleeping under a king size quilt complete with matching pillow shams gave us the giggles - at which time Doreen promptly piddled her pants. She had to run to the restroom in the truck stop. When we finally finished all our laughing, moaning, groaning, tossing and turning, we tried to settle in for the night - or what was left of it. We both slept a little bit but nothing that could be considered as a good rest. Doreen wasn't able to stretch out because the pedals were in the way. My lumber seat didn't adjust and I wasn't able to get the hump out of my back. I had to sleep in a "V" position with my feet on the dash - under the frilly quilt of course.

Saturday, August 8 - Idaho Falls to Calgary, Alberta

The night in Hotel Automobile ended at 7:00 am. Rested wasn't in our vocabulary. A visit to the restroom (which included clean undies) and we hit the road. Only a few highways today. I-15, hwy 4 in Canada, hwy 3, hwy 23 and hwy 24 to my home. We were home just after 6:00 pm. Google Map

The No. 1 Ladies Quilt Shop, Dillon, Montana

What a delightful shop this is right on main street Dillon, Montana. We stopped in Dillon for gas so took the extra time to visit the quilt shop. We picked up our fat quarters and Row by Row.

Next - 2016 - Spur of the Moment