2012 Summer Vacation

Vacation is a wonderful time of the year.  Here at Kreinik we traditionally close down for July 4th week so that we can have down time to relax and recover.  The past three years my wife Myla and I have gone on driving trips to see different areas of North America.  Four years ago we went to walk on the ocean floor in the Bay of Fundy. Two years ago we sought out the source for thimbleberry jam on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Cooper Harbor. This year it was time to visit five states in the US that I had not seen.

We first went to the Aspen Music Festival with extended family—great fun, great food and great listening.  We saw Maroon Bells, the most famous topographical site in Colorado (twin, snow-capped peaks with a maroon hue) and attended a very wet, rainy rodeo.

We aimed the car towards Nebraska and found Carhenge, the Druid sister to Stonehenge except built with old Cadillacs and Valiants from the 60’s and 70’s.  That it was in western Nebraska where the land is very flat.

Into the South Dakota Bad Lands with its largest area of stabilized sand dunes, we meandered to Hot Springs, drank some mineral water, and viewed the local historical museum to learn about the pioneers, Custer and the Lakota Sioux.

The stone monument to Crazy Horse was stupendous, but we felt that it will be at least another 50 years before completion. Why the Black Hills were chosen for the monument on Mt. Rushmore, I have not yet figured, but it, too, was magnificent.   A side note, Mt. Rushmore was named after a New York City Attorney. Charles E. Rushmore sent out to this area in 1884 to check legal titles on properties. On his way back to Pine Camp he asked Bill Challis the name of this mountain. Bill replied, "Never had a name but from now on we'll call it Rushmore." Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_named_Mt_Rushmore#ixzz216EDtp2E

We went on to North Dakota.  Here we met other people from West Virginia, which shocked us and them, as it is pretty far from our home state. The city of Bowman had a museum on the dinosaurs from 650 million years ago, on local pioneers, and on the regional Indians. We like visiting museums and learned a lot about Native Americans on this trip.

Across the barren southern portion of Montana, we were surprised to find that the Little Bighorn was not in ND or WY, but in Montana.  It was amazing that Custer rode hundreds of miles on his charge to halt the Sioux.

Many recommended along the way that we enter Yellowstone via Bear Claw Pass (the northeastern entrance) - an 11,000 foot pass with lots of switch backs, precarious cliffs, Alpine lakes and breathtaking scenery.  We reached the top of the world and were even with the peaks far to the west. These glacial-capped tops were beautiful, but alas, we did not drink any of the snow melt.  Myla stepped carefully onto the glacial snow for the experience. The road high atop the park led into the plains of Yellowstone, the buffalo, waterfalls, bears and fumaroles. Traffic stopped everywhere to “photograph” buffalo roaming next to the cars. Getting “close” was not my idea of smart; we had seen photos of the animals turning and goring folks.
I always wanted to experience Old Faithful, and there it was, spouting away.  The audience of hundreds from around the globe sat patiently to watch Old Faithful do its job.  Mother Nature was applauded.  We came across hot springs, mud volcanoes, incredible rock formations and wonderful views of the history of the park system and the park rangers.  Thank goodness that park rangers are protecting the park against unthinking visitors and vandals. We were constantly reminded of the active volcano beneath our tires and feet.  It was very comforting to find that the caldera was only the size of Rhode Island.

We next drove onward through the Grand Tetons and then the high desert plains of Wyoming. I had no idea that the center of Wyoming was a massive desert. This arid desert we discovered was the Arapaho Indian reservation. In Riverton WY, we saw the bar used by the Hole in the Wall Gang and Butch Cassidy.

To get to Thermopolis WY, the largest hot springs in the world, we traveled through a gorgeous canyon where the Wind River had cut through the strata, showing hundreds of millions of years of layers that formed the mountains around us. The roads department had marked the highway with age markers along the river basin on the way to the springs.  We soaked in the springs, giving us the chance to relax in the warm sulfurous waters. A tip: if you soak in the water, make sure you bring soap.  Until the hotel in Casper, WY, we smelled like rotten eggs. One of my other goals was to visit a customer in the olive oil business in Caspar, but he was not available.  He uses Kreinik threads to decoratively wrap the necks of his olive oil bottles. Hopefully, we can visit on another trip.

Our last stop was the factory tour at Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, CO.  Two things to notice here is the dress made from tea bags and the peppermint room.  I sometimes have sinus problems and the Peppermint room was an intense jolt to my lungs.  If you like factory tours this modern facility is fascinating, and you get to test all the teas you wish.

Our trip covered 2200 miles. We tried the fare offered all though the high plains including Buffalo and Elk burgers.  I loved the tasty buffalo burger but cannot say much for the Elk.  Not being into wild game, I found the Elk to taste like sweet ground beef liver.  Check out my Yelp restaurant reviews.

Our only regret, as on the other two trips, we never spotted a moose.

Hawaii and Alaska are my only two States left to experience, and then I will have traveled all 50.  That, though, is another trip or two.






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