Our trip west begins on our 48th anniversary and it is fitting since we have spent so much time traveling! Ashland, Kentucky and Champaign, Illinois were our first two stops. We forgot how vast the corn and soybean farming is in the midwestern states...fields stretching as far as one can see on both sides of the highway, thousands of acres...mile after mile...state after state!
We arrived at the Prarie Flower Campground just in time to see up, change and head for the High Trestle Trail. We parked in Madrid and ate dinner at the Flat Tire Lounge.
Then we road the trail to Woodward, and returned in time to see the blue neon lights.
Since the campground had no water hook ups and we gave up dry camping with our tents, we decided to move on west. We decided to go to Yankton, SD, to avoid bad weather. On our way we saw lots of garage sales. Why you ask? Well, it was the Highway 141 Garage Sale, a 100 mile-long garage sale that occurs the first weekend of August every year!
Yankton is quite a metropolis by SD standards. It is on the Missouri River, hypes Lewis and Clark and has a neat recreation area on a lake named after them.
Interior (SD) was our destination today. It is adjacent to the Badlands NP. So after we set up camp, we got to drive on the Park Loop Road. It’s always neat to see the unique landscapes in the Park!
Today we traveled the back roads to our campground in Hill City (SD). It’s Bike Week in Sturgis and it draws hundreds of thousands (record is 700,000) of motorcyclists from all over the world! How do the small towns in this region cope with the crowds? Well, some like Hill City close Main Street to everyone but motorcyclists!
We arrived in time to set up camp before a late lunch. Then we headed to Custer and Rockford to check out the Mickelson Trail parking areas. The first is urban, the second is really, really remote!
Today, we rode the Mickelson Trail. In the morning we rode from Custer north to the Crazy Horse Memorial. It is really well maintained packed gravel. This part of the trail departed from the highway and was very pretty.
Back in Custer for lunch, Gretchen befriended two of the other kind of bikers!
In the afternoon, we rode the trail south towards Pringle...with pretty spots away from the highway.
Back on the Mickelson Trail today, we started at the Mystic Trailhead. There were other folks on the trail at this remote spot! There are three tunnels in this area. First we rode north up hill to see the first tunnel.
The trail went through a beautiful canyon with several trestle bridges, the one below was at least 150 feet above Castle Creek.
We returned to Mystic in time for lunch, then road south uphill to see the other two tunnels.
What is amazing is this 100 mile railroad was built in 1890 using horses, hard human labor, some explosives and primitive tools in just 255 days. It included 4 tunnels and 100 trestle bridges!
Beautiful day to ride a bicycle!
We decided to tour Custer State Park today, one of the oldest (1919) and largest (72,000 acres) in the nation. We drove the wildlife loop, a vast prarie grassland where we saw buffalo, burrows, deer and pronghorn.
The State Game Lodge is an impressive place that served as the Calvin Coleridge summer White House in 1927.
The Iron Mountain Road weaves up through ponderosa pine forests with two tunnels that frame Mt. Rushmore.
The Needles Highway is spectacular with views of rock pillars around every corner.
We were so glad we took the tour today. It was a day of eye candy, and we encourage anyone in the area to take the tour.
We ate a piece of rhubarb pie at the Purple Pie Place the other day and it was wonderful! So, we stopped in Custer to buy one for the road!
Today was a long day of driving across Wyoming and Montana. We stopped in Big Timber for the night.
The KOA staff suggested we go to the Timber Bar for dinner. It was a happening place and we had to wait for a table. But, the locally sourced burgers were super. Glad we stopped in Big Timber.
Tomorrow we drive the rest of the way across Montana before dropping into Idaho to our next campground.
We rode the Trail of Hiawatha today! It is a beautiful bike ride; 15 miles downhill witn 9 tunnels and 7 bridges over a little less than a 1000 foot drop in elevation.
The trip begins and ends with a ride through the 1.66 mile Taft Tunnel. Riding this unlit, 47 degree F tunnel is quite an experience.
The bridges vary in length but they are all quite high!
The trail surface is very rocky, not well maintained at all. Every mile reminded me of why I quit biking on Forest Service roads fifteen years ago!
Is the Hiawatha a great biking experience? You bet! Would we recommend it to everyone? Absolutely! Would we do it again? No way!
We rode the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, from Harrison along the lake toward Plummer. The area was very hazy due to the wildfires burning in Idaho and Washington but it did not smell like smoke.
After crossing the Chatcolet Bridge, we climbed through a pine forest until we reached the top of the mountain at 13 miles, then we turned around.
It was a beautiful ride, all paved and we really do enjoy riding in 14% humidity! We not in Virginia anymore!
It was an easy drive to Prosser, WA today. We’re in wine country so we did a wine tasting at Alexander Nicole; the 2011 Washington Winery of the year. Their wines were really good!
We drove out into the country to find Bill’s Berry Stand, a real bust! But along the way we saw grapes growing to the horizon, orchards everywhere, and acres upon acres oh hop fields! We’re in a very dry area so all of the crops are irrigated!
We rode the Sacagawea Trail Loop today, twenty miles starting in Richland. It is a beautiful setting as the route hugs both sides of the Columbia River. The only problem was the signage. It was the worst of any trail we have ridden. We were constantly trying to determine if we were on the trail after every unmarked intersection or bridge crossing!
After cleaning up and washing the car and clothes, we headed to 14 Hands Winery for a tasting. We like their red blends and the tasting was a treat, since all the wines were reserve ones only sold at the winery or via their wine club.
We drove in the haze through the Yakima valley and the rugged landscape to the north on our way to Seattle. We got settled in our campground, then Greg came and picked us up. We went on a walk in Bothell, picked up dinner and went back to eat at the camper. Looking forward to spending a few days with you Greg!
Today we went to the botanical gardens at the University of Washington including the Japanese Garden.
After lunch at Belle Epicurean we drove around some of the posh neighborhoods bordering Lake Washington before heading to Kubota Gardens. The 20 acre gardens were developed by a Japanese immigrant and eventually acquired by the city for a public park!
After Gretchen and Greg got their steps for the day, we headed back to his apartment for Happy hour. We were glad Greg gave up drinking for he had an excellent bottle of wine on the shelf which we loved!
Dinner at The Cottage in Bothell ended our day; a fun day exploring many new ( for Gretchen and me) parts of Seattle!