Daily Index

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Day 55, 4:22, Tuesday, October 28, Washington, DC, 10,127 miles,

I am posting this to my blog just as we are pulling into my garage in Washington DC at 4:22 p.m. after traveling  10,127 miles across this great continent. Our journey has now come to an end. (Click here for final map, shown in below posting.)

Fifty-five days ago, a little more than three weeks after we lost our beloved Leben, Erde and I started our trip, my seventh, the sixth for Erde,  by spending a night at the home of friends in York PA, Bill and Leslie Wiles, where we have always been welcome and never leave without a doggy bag. The next day we moved on to Mongaup camp in NY, which is just down the mountain from my old boy scout camp, where my lifelong love of camping was born and where my will requests that my ashes be spread with Leben's and Erde's.  Last year when we were there, there were two resident eagles; this year,  symbolically, there was one.

The next day we moved on to Canada, first to Charleston camp and then deep into the Algonquin Park forest to wonderful and serene Brent Camp for a couple of days.  The treat there for me was to see how the "Leben and Erde" I carved in a table there before  had aged, and it aged well.  I recalled vividly sitting there the year before carving their names with the two of them sleeping peacefully by my side.

Before moving west to Lake Superior, we camped at Champlain Park and then for two days at the supposed jewel of the Ontario Provincial Parks, Killarney, although I think they are all jewels. The rain hit us hard there, but we managed to stay quite dry and I improved my tarping skills.

Next up was the wonderful drive along the eastern shore of Lake Superior with its stunning views of what most people think is an ocean. First we camped at Pancake Bay and then at Pukaskwa, where two years ago Leben became paralyzed.  It was not a sad visit for us there, though,  but a happy one, knowing that that magnificent dog went on to live for two more years, even stopping back at Pukaskwa last year in his wheelchair. After one more two-day stop along the Lake Superior drive at Sleeping Giant park, we moved on to Thunder Bay to pick up a new blower for the Defender's  air conditioner, which I had ordered from Vermont after it failed in New York, and later had installed in Winnipeg.

After Thunder Bay, we headed due west, stopping off for one night at lovely Aaron park, and then across the hot plains and prairies of Canada in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, camping at Birds Hill, where 13 years ago Sonntag and I got caught in frightening lightning storm, then at Lake Audy in Riding National Park, sleeping amidst the bison and bears, and then one other camp best cited for its convenience to the highway than its amenities.

After a night at a pleasant camp in Vermillion upon entering Alberta, we finally arrived at the northern Canadian Rockies at quaint Jasper, where I wrote in my journal that the entire trip to that point was worth it just for the first 45 km drive into the park.   Six days in Jasper’s Whistler camp and then Banff’s splendid Lake Louise were not enough to settle my mind, but they were enough to satisfy my soul, so we moved on in the direction of Vancouver Island.

At the suggestion of a fellow camper, I took route 99 into Vancouver, and proved once again that it pays to not only seek advice, but listen to it.  After one very pleasant  night at Juniper camp at the tail end of the northernmost desert in North America near Cache Creek, we jumped onto 99 and have no regrets.  What we expended in energy fretting over the often treacherous road, we gained back in spirit by a solo bivouac at a wonderful isolated site in the mountains we found along Goat Creek. Wow.

The next day, making the ferry to Vancouver Island after a 225km drive with five minutes to spare, we stayed for two days with Nicholas, Michelle and Rudy, the guardians of Kyra, the beautiful German shepherd we met on last year's trip, who died last November.  Kyra, like Leben, was wheelchair-bound, but there were no bounds to her spirit. Erde especially enjoyed the visit there, as her favorite spot in the house was the kitchen, which she thought of as salmon-central.

We then moved north for two days to Port Hardy where we again stayed at the Quatse camp, drove to Cape Scott, visited Chris Hunter, the most affable barber on the planet, and stocked up on muffins at the Market Street Inn, before moving south to mid-island, where we turned west to the Pacific Shore for two days at Wya and camped right on a bluff on the ocean, spending one night each before and after that at the wonderful ecological reserve called Good Karma Spring that Les and Sue Strachan are building literally with their hands.  Their piece of heaven there is so orderly that the black bear that ambled onto our little share of it just walked on through without so much as stopping for a growl or greeting.

We then headed south and hopped the ferry to spectacular Olympic Peninsula, where for the first two nights we stayed in heavily forested camps named Elwah and Hoh, before moving on for the next three nights to an absolutely wonderful camp on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, which was not exactly at peace with itself when we were there, which was fine with me as it added to the drama.

After three peaceful days on the Washington State Pacific, we headed south along the spectacular Oregon west coast, camping first at Cape Lookout, where we had to look out for ourselves more than anything because of the terrible storm we got hit with there, not to mention the marauding raccoons who pilfered my food container on my roof rack, and then camping, cheating, really, in  a yurt at the  Umpqua Lighthouse park, which provided us with a welcomed respite from the pesky rains of the northwest at this time of year.

The California coast offered us a variety of scenery changes,  giving us three nights among the beautiful tall redwood trees in Jededia Smith, Richardson and Samuel Taylor parks, but hour upon hour of sheer pleasure - and sometimes fright - as we navigated the stunning coastal highway.  We were also thrilled (or at least I was) to pass through the few little quaint towns that show up along the coast. We didn't stop to browse the shops because the road beckoned, although we did stop at two different vets along the way to deal with a problem Erde developed, but which they successfully cured.

After our customary stop at Coit Tower in San Francisco, we turned the Defender around and started our long journey  home, first stopping at cold Lake Tahoe where most of the parks are already closed, and the bears know the ones that are still open. One of those bears knew not only which park was still open, but who had the food on his vehicle's roof rack, which happened to be me.  After a noisy attempt to get to my food, just five feet away from my head, I shooed the bear away with a long  blow of my whistle at 1:00, and he or she was good enough to comply, damaging only my rear plastic window in a way that is very repairable.

After Tahoe, we headed off on spectacular route 50 to the Nevada desert, spending one solitary night in a spectacular  setting that resembled one of those used for Hollywood westerns of years ago, and spending the next under millions of  stars at Cave Lake in the same great site Leben and Erde and I had 13 years ago.  There were more joyous memories there than there were stars in the sky as my mind spanned the entire time I had the pleasure of Leben and Erde's  company, and I do mean pleasure.

After Cave Lake, we bivouacked at the convenient Green River state park in Utah for the night, where we barely escaped a terrible electric storm, but we were ready for it.  We then moved on to Denver, where we stayed in a lovely state park so I could visit with an old college friend and his wife for the first time since we graduated years ago. And what a pleasant visit that was.

It seems that on these long trips of mine, going in this direction, the trip takes on a different complexion after Denver, as the pace quickens to get home, the camps are closing, the days shorter, the nights colder, and the scenery less dramatic. This trip was no exception. We first camped at a convenient KOA in Goodland Kansas, arriving long after dark, and then  on the other side of Kansas the next night at a wonderful place we found on Perry Lake, where we were alone except for the thousands of birds on the lake and the unwelcome sound of gunfire from the hunters' high powered rifles aimed at the hapless animals whose lives have just as much meaning to them as our lives do to us.

After Perry Lake, we rapidly moved west through Missouri and Illinois to get to Lieber State Park in Indiana so I could reignite the memory of the last night that Leben and Erde and I camped out together, last year. I knew my heavy grieving Leben's death was over when I felt only joy there.

I could not pass by Indianapolis without paying a visit to the grave of the immortal James Dean  in Fairmont Indiana, my third visit there.  Most people have no idea of the influence that authentic young man had on our lives, and I am not only talking about those of who knew of him when he was alive. I also stopped at the James Dean Gallery to say hello to the curators-owners-etc. Dave and Lenny, but Dave was not there. But he was not too far from the cemetery and when he saw the Defender drive by, he recognized it, and came to meet me at the grave for a pleasant chat.

With gravity pulling us home, we made it to Buckeye Lake in Ohio after our visit to Fairmont, for what was going to be our last night on the road.  But en route to DC yesterday, I decided to give Erde a break and stay overnight at the absolutely magnificent, pet-friendly Savage River Lodge in Frostburg Maryland.  I have to consider this as a post-trip stay because the accommodations here do not stack up to what we have gotten used to after 55 days and more than 10,000 miles of road-camping.  The truth is, as wonderful as this place is, and a great place to rest up for the final day home and to write this posting, I would rather be on the long road, in a tent, in any weather, with my dogs.

And so, now the trip has ended and Erde and I are home again. Our lives now will most certainly be different because of this trip, but also because the adhesive  that bonded the three of us for 13 years will not be there.  I tried on this trip to forge a new bond with Erde, and I think I succeeded, if her actions around our many campsites this year compared to last year's actions are any indication.  At the risk of anthropomorphizing, I have no doubt that if Leben could have communicated one request before he died, it would have been, please take good care of Erde. That's the kind of dog he was. On this trip, I certainly tried to do that, paying the price, of course, which I gladly paid, and I intend to continue doing that until the day she joins Leben, no matter what price I have to pay. What a sweet dog she is.

During the trip, I am not afraid to admit, there were tears every day, fewer over time, over my loss of Leben, but also vicariously for Erde for  her loss too, which was greater than mine. But one night several weeks ago on the west coast I knew my heavy grieving was getting over when the thought of  Leben popped into my head and instead of tears, I gave off a real firm fist pump and vocalized, "yeah, great dog."  Erde, even yesterday, still sat outside the tent every morning and moaned softly, but her moans, too, in the final days were less. I will understand it, though, if this continues for a long time because I know how great my grief was and is. I found the device of building a fire every few nights, listening to the music I associate with both Leben and Erde very helpful to celebrate the joy that both of them have brought me for 13 years helpful, but Erde doesn't have the luxury of doing that.

As I focused my time and attention on Leben these last few years, I did not see Erde grow old.  On this trip, I suddenly realized I had an old, but still active, beloved dog who is now going to get all the attention she deserves while she is still with me. And i'd be doing this even if Leben didn't request that I do that. And, oh, what a marvelous travel companion she was.

I wish I could think of one word that describes this trip, as well as my sIx others with my dogs. There is no such word, especially since the trip, however wonderful it was,  was spent in large part,  grieving over our loss of Leben.  On the positive side, splendid, wonderful, great, spectacular, magnificent, fine, interesting, exciting, and so forth, are not adequate enough. Maybe it is not a word I am looking for, but an action. And the fact that I have undertaken seven trips might just speak the best action word that can be found. I doubt if anyone has done once what I have done seven times, so maybe there will never be a word to describe these trips.

Of course, the highlight of the trip was being with Erde at a time when we both needed each other.  But after that, the highlight for me was not the road or the campsites, not the the sunrises and sunsets, not the oceans or the mountains, but the people, and their beautiful dogs.  This is why the trip went on for two weeks longer than anticipated.  For Erde, though, the highlight was probably all the dogs she met, more than 50. She probably never thought that there were that many dogs.

During this trip, I met many people who are doing something like my trips, in their own way, yes, even in RVs. I also met many people who for one reason or another would like to do something like this, even in their way, but cannot.  I applaud both.  The people for whom I feel sorry, though, are those who have no desire to do anything like this, even in their own way. Thoreau had some words about them in his book.

Before I started this trip, and on it, I learned of friends' pets that had died, Chance, Cinnamon, Daisy, Fonzie, Kyra, Logan, Osher, Pickles, Scooter, Sidney, Stormy, and Zowey.  Because of the way we "possess" our pets (or do they possess us?), in our grieving their loss, we are alone.  But the grief we each feel when that loss occurs is the same. So on this trip, I felt the same grief as at least a dozen friends, guardians of the above 12 beloved pets. I just hope that the joy I started to feel on this trip is something they also share. And this is why I dedicated this trip and its blog to Leben and these beloved pets. For me, this was not a memorial trip, but one both celebrating the life of Leben with me, and still enjoying the life and companionship of his sister, Erde.

I also dedicated this trip to Pete Seeger, whose music we played every morning on prior trips.  Because he too died this past year, his presence was not felt until the last few days of this trip, when we started to once again to start the days' drive with us This Land Is Your Land. He is no longer with us, but his music is, just as the memories of those we loved who are now gone are still for us to enjoy as if they were here with us.

On these trips, I treat the Defender as a person because it is so essential not only to our enjoyment of these trips, but to our safety, too. It has taken me on all seven of my journeys with my dogs, almost 75,000 miles, over 350 days. (Erde has now spent almost a year of her life in a tent and in the Defender, and enjoyed every moment of it. )  Oh, a few things happened here and there, but they were all usually traceable back to my judgment.  If I had only one word to say about its performance on this trip, it would be, Bravo.  If it were not for the Defender, I would not be taking these trips.  (Why Land Rover is discontinuing the Defender after this year is beyond my understanding.)

I have no idea how this trip, as with the others,  will change my life from here, but it will.  These trips are nothing like buying a plane ticket to some exotic place, hopping on the plane and staying in fancy hotels before flying home. Those trips are wonderful, but for those who have done something like our trips, you know what I mean. They become part of you, not just a memory of a fun time, which these trips most certainly are not, until you get home and talk about them. On this journey I met a few hardy souls who do know what I mean, maybe more so than I.)

I hope to add more reflections, explanations etc. to this blog in the future.  But I said that last year, too, and did nothing but plan a new trip.

In the meantime, thanks for following this trip with us.  I hope this blog did it justice.

Ed, from home.


Day 55, 4:22, Tuesday, october 28, Washington, DC, 10,127 00 miles,

The final map of our journey (in black line).

Day 54, Monday, October 27, Savage River Lodge, Maryland, 9902 miles so far, 168 to go

After the dust settled, and we got cozily settled in our tent, which cooperated nicely last night in my setting it up, the rest of the evening went just fine. In fact, i slept solidly for almost nine hours and did not move once all night. I have no idea how Erde slept, but i am sure she was comfortable, as that is her default mode.

We got on the road by 9:30 for the 435 mile drive to DC, still undecided about whether to stay overnight at the wonderful Savage River Lodge in Frostburg Maryland, which would cut the trip almost in half.

The drive was beginning to get pleasant again, as we hit the fall colors coming out everywhere.  The second worst thing about driving at night is that you miss the scenery. The worst thing, of course, is the animals on the road at night.  I don't care for myself, but for the animals.  In fact, the road kill i saw today was far worse that in any other place on the continent I have driven, and i have driven a lot of it.  There was at least one hapless victim every mile.  A lot of places have learned how to manage that by building fences, but not so much here. Again, civilization showing its bad side.

At about 2:30, i had to make a quick decision on which highway to take, 70 on to DC or 79 and then 68 to Frostburg MD and the Savage River Lodge.  I knew my gut instinct would be the right one so i kept my options open. I opted for the latter and that's where we are now.  And what a great decision that was. I was last here with Sonntag in 2001 when it first opened, just weeks before he was put down, and the place is like a good bottle of wine that gets better as it ages, or perhaps I should say, like a good dog who gets better with age. Erde seems to enjoy it too, probably because it is a reminder for her that civilization still exists beyond the boundaries of our tent and the Defender. to top it all off, it is the most dog-friendly place on the planet.  In fact, every cabin near us has at least one dog in it.

Time to call it quits for the night.  One more posting to go for this trip. How sad that it is ending, but i can already feel the joy of having done this trip with Erde under the circumstances of both our great grief over the loss of her brother, my buddy, Leben.  If there was one expression i said out loud to myself over and over on this trip, it was, "Oh, how i miss that dog." Erde knows what my other favorite expression was.

Our camp at morning. I find it amazing that i can see much better in daylight.  The night was pleasant enough after we settled in the tent, as it always turns out. No other tenters, just RVers, but good RVers since none used their generators.

Erde getting ready to call it quits for this trip...

But then, as soon as we pulled into Savage River, she perked right up. I haven't seen her do this in a very long time.

The Defender, Erde, and my drying tent at our fancy cabin at Savage River Lodge, an absolutely wonderful place. This one night is costing me more than 20 nights of camping, but it certainly is worth it.  

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

As it is happening, Day 54, Monday, October 27, western PA rest stop

Had a great night's sleep last night in our tent at the KOA in Ohio after all.  Fortunately, the camp was quiet this year, as opposed to last year when we arrived it looked like a circus with so many people, activities, etc.

 We are now in Pennsylvania trying to figure whether to go directly to DC or to stay overnight at the Savage River Cabins in MD for one last night on the road.  I find that the best way to make decisions like this is to make them at the last opportunity on the road, so we will.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

Day 53, Sunday, October 26, 9641 miles so far, 380 miles to go

Woke up at 8 to the sounds of guns going off in the dustance.  I wonder if sports hunters get the same feeling   of joy from killing innocent animals for sport, fun really, as i get from my own animals ' companionship. Who changed the Fifth Commandment to "Thou shalt not kill, until 8:00 a.m."?

Despite the morning guns and the stress of the day before, we had a pleasant night at Lieber State Park in Indiana, the site where Leben and Erde and I spent our last night camping together, last year. What a nice park, and it was quite busy with tenters.

Although was got on the road late and had about 350 miles to do today to get to where we wanted to be tonight, Buckeye Lake State Park near Columbus Ohio, i decided i had to pay a return visit, my third, to James Dean's grave and the Gallery run by Dave L and his partner Lenny, so off to Fairmont IN we went. We got there at about 2 so did not have much time to spend thrre.  I chatted with Lenny, who was there alone as Dave was off restoring a house and did not have his cell phone with him. I first met the two of them on September 12, 2001, when i decided to hang around Indiana for a while before returning to DC after our 2001 Alaskan journey. As it turns out, Dave later saw my Defender rolling down the street and tracked me down at the Dean grave site, and so we had a chance to chat there.  He told me that there has been a surge of interest in James Dean recently, especially among young people who were not around when he was alive.  I was not surprised to hear that because of the tremendous impact he made personally on the several generations who were around. I don't think any actor has had such staying power as Dean, probably because he was authentic. I know the affect he had on me, which is why i feel obligated in a way to remind myself of that by coming here. It is the only thing i have to do on my return trips home.  If you are a Dean fan, this is one place you must visit sometime.

About an hour before getting to Buckeye Lake State  Park, which i knew was open and knew would not be full on a Sunday night, i decided to check the internet to make sure they had camping there even though the AAA maps show that they do. As it turns out, they do not, but i decided to head for the nearby Buckeye Lake KOA and avoid the KOA near Columbus that i thought i stayed in last year and which i did not like. Well, as it turns out, this was the KOA near Columbus we stayed in last year, and if i did not like it then, i really do not like it now.  We are in what they call a primitive tent site for $43, more than i ever paid for a site, but i think they need to call it inhumane, nor just primitive. Once here, It was hard to find the tent sites in the dark, there are no lights in this area, there are no picnic tables, and you have to watch every step you take or you will land on something or somewhere you do not wish to be.  But, as usual, we made the best of the bad deal, and will move on quickly tomorrow. My guess is that now i will stay at a luxury cabin resort in Frostburg Maryland (where Sonntag and i stayed in 2001) for one night just to have a memorable last night, but also to cut back on the driving tomorrow.

I estimated before this trip started that we would do 10,000 miles if we reached Jasper and San Francisco.  If things go as now planned, it likes like we will hit 10,020, right on target.

That's my posting for today.

Photos for the day

Our pleasant camp at Lieber State Park in Indiana.  This (214) was also our last camp last year, so it holds a special memory for me.

Fall colors on leaving Lieber

Erde going for a walk with James Dean outside the Dean Gallery.

The farm house in which Dean grew up with his aunt and uncle.

Erde and David L, the proprietor of one of the two Dean museums in Fairmont. David was busy restoring a home when he saw the Defender go by and recognized it as mine, so he stopped by the cemetery to see me.

The rock by Dean's grave with fans' remembrances.  People put lipstick on and kiss the rock, too. Erde does not wear lipstick, so she dd not. This was Erde's 3rd visit there.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

As it is happening, 5:00 pm, Day 53, Sunday, October 26, rest stop in Ohio

This was not the highlight of Erde's day. Stay tuned for today's posting for the highlight.

Tonight, Buckeye Lake near Columbus Ohio.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

The trip so far, Day 52, Saturday, October 25, 9295 miles

How sad it is that the loop is closing.  But so are many of the camps, so it is time to bring this wonderful journey to an end soon.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

Day 52, Saturday, October 25, Lieber State Recreation Park, Indiannapolis, 9295 miles, 700 to go

Terrible day: fog, heavy fast traffic on 70,  heat, dull scenery for 500+ miles, got lost in Kansas City due to fog, bright sun blocking destination signs, confusing destination signs, terrible accident seconds before us, almost 2 hours of driving in dark on 70 with lots of fast trucks and lots of restricted lanes due to construction, tent not cooperating, lost another hour with time change, etc.

I will never come back this route again. And i will never, ever drive in the dark again.  There are at least 10 reasons for the latter, which i will enumerate here later.

The saving element for all this trouble is that we made it to Lieber camp in Indiana where Leben and Erde and i camped together for the last time last year. we got our same site, 214, so it reignited some good memories.  Brandy, the attendant here, was marvelous in making us feel at home when we arrived at 8 in the dark.

My new North Face VE 25 is showing its limits. After the trip ends, I will provide more details. 

Its 11:30. Way past bedtime on the road. Erde is already sleeping, luck dog.

Our formerly lovely camp at Perry Lake Kansas this morning. Fog, though, has a certain beauty, if you are not driving in it.

I70 in the fog when visibility was good. If the fog did not affect us, the bright sun did. The fog lasted almost 200 miles.

Here's the guard rail the tractor trailer took out.

The white truck in front of the blue pickup is actually the truck that smashed into to first one, shown jackknifed across the highway.  Literally, we missed this by seconds.  You can see from the tire tracks what happened after the trucker took out the guard rail.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

As it is happening...Day 52, rest stop 3, somewhere in Illinois

As i predicted, driving through St Louis was an extreme hassle.  Even more so than before because of the new bypass they put in recently.  Following the directional signs as i do religiously, i came to one that had the I-70 symbol, but with two arrows: one arrow pointed up and the other to the right.   You go figure.  Our road signs are getting dumber. The designer must be using an ipad.

Still have 70 miles to Terra Haute and then 40 beyond that.  We'll make camp at about 7, as usable daylight disappears. No big deal, we will deal with it as we do every other problem thst pops up daily.

We will have done over 500 miles today, which i have done only once before,  in 2001 when Leben and Erde and i were trying to make it to the start of the Alaskan-Canadian Highway and ran into a 200 mile detour.  This is the last time i will try this, on this last leg anyway.  In fact, because of this terrible drive today, to make it easier on Erde, whose trip it is, i will add an extra day after tomorrow and stay at a nice cozy cabin I know of in western Maryland for our last night and write my last posting of the trip there.

The dd and Erde are well rested so it's time to hit the road.

Photo...our only rest in Illinois.  This is the highlight of our days on our last leg.  Oh, for the mountains of the north, the beaches of the Pacific , and the wide open deserts of the southwest.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

As it is happening...dsy 52, Saturday, October 25, somewhere in Missouri on I-70

Rest stop 2 for Erde today, one more to go.  It is hot today, a reminder  that i made a good decision to head north two months ago.

We are coming up on St Louis soon, which is the worst city to drive through on I-70.  The highway weaves through the city like strands of spaghetti, and you are constantly weaving left, then right, then left, etc. to stay on 70. after that, we have almost 200 miles of Illinois to drive through before we get to pleasant Lieber State Park in Indiana, where we stayed last year, so i know the road well and am not worried about driving in the dark there. In fact, last year we found it in the dark, 12 miles or so from the highway,  we bivouaced there because the lousy KOA in Indianapolis would not allow dogs in the cabins.

Where we are now is the stretch of, 70 i was on in 2001 with Leben and Erde when 911 took place.

Probably will not have time for a posting tonight as we will get into Lieber State Park late, so here are sone highlights.

- really nice night at Perry Lake. Wow.

- dense fog greeted us this morning and visibility was at times five feet.  Terrible driving, especially on I70 in the fog,  mainly because you could not see the signs for directions.  I missed a turn for i70 in Kansas City and it took 45 minutes to find my way back.  Saw that a truck with new cars went off the road into a ditch.

- terrible accident just down the road from us seconds before us. a tractor trailer hit the guard rail and then jackknifed back on to the highway and a truck behind him smashed into him.  As i passed it, i do not rubber neck so i could see if anyone was hurt. Enough to shake me up though, just seconds before us.  No emergency vehicles had arrived yet.

- tomorrow we head for Buckeye State park in Ohio, and then to DC.  Very sad that this trip is ending. What a magnificent celebration journey it was (except for Leben's absence), and a wonderful opportunity to get to know Erde, almost like for the first time. What a sweet dog i have. I could continue the journey longer, but i think Erde is tired, so it's time to leave the road for this journey.

- time permitting, i may detour in Fairmont, IN, tomorrow for Erde to visit the grave of her role model in life, James Dean.

Time to get back on the road.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

Day 51, Friday, October 24, Perry Lake, ACE Rock Creek Park, Kansas, 8761 miles so far, 1200 to go

After a very stressful night of getting into the pleasant Goodland KOA in the dark, and not retiring until 11, i was hoping to get a good night's sleep, but that was not the case. But since i have a long drive today, i forced myself to sleep late and woke at 7:40.  after a pleasant conversation with the lovely couple who own the camp, Richard and Alicia, we got on the road at 9:40. 

Although i was hoping to get a cozy primitive cabin last night, now that i am an expert at setting up camp in the dark, and quickly, i decided to stay in State Parks for the rest of the trip.  But because i hate driving at night, especially trying to find camps for the first time, i will leave earlier in the morning, which may cut my remaining postings short.

Our goal today is to make it no farther than Oak Ridge Missouri, 450 miles away, but also to be off the road as soon after 5 as possible. I know there's a KOA in Oak Ridge, so unless a good state park appears before there, that's our goal.

The highway 70 was fast moving, posted 75 mph, with little traffic. In fact, the wide open flat lands all around were quite beautiful without the signs of "civilization."

At noon we took a break at one of the nice pet-friendy rest stops Kansas offers. I did my homework and discovered a nice state park not to far from Topeka and a short trip off the highway in Perry,Kansas, 50 miles short of our goal.  At the next rest stop at 2:30, i filled in the blanks in my planning snd decided finally that that was our goal, and to get there by 5:00, with almost two hours if usuable daylight left.

At 5:03, we pulled onto the road to the park. There are actually two parks next to each other, the state park and the Rock Creek camp run by the army corp of engineers, and we settled on the latter, and what a great decision that was.  We are alone on this wonderful lake with only 12 lights viible in the distance across the lake, which seems to stetch for 15 miles. The only sounds are from thousands of different kinds of birds on the lake, an occasional train whistle in the distance and the too-frequent sound of hunters' guns going off close by. With the lake named Perry, thank goodness we are in this part of Kansas and not near Holcomb, Kansas.

As hoped, we finished setting up camp and dinner precisely when we lost usuable daylight shortly after 7. We even had time for Erde to take her customary dip in the lake. It's her trip, so Erde does what Erde wants to do.

Because we cut the trip short today, Erde have a 500-mile drive ahead of us tomorrow to get to Lieber State Park in Indiana where Leben and Erde and i camped last  on our trip last year. I want to reignite some memories there. My hope is to get on the road by 8, pay my fee for tonight, and get into Lieber by 6:00, so i have to end this posting now.

Sounds of gunfire continue nearby.....i had better get my head down. Maybe this is why the park is empty.

Photos for the day..
Our pleasant camp at the Goodland KOA...

The flat and wide open plains of Kansas...i cleaned the windshield today, so these photos might be spotless

Erde enjoying a rest break on the road in Kansas...on tgese days of intense driving, every two hours of driving we take a 30-minute break at the next rest stop that comes along.

Erde taking a well deserved dip in Perry Lake. Her ritual is always the same, just like us humans.

Our wonderful camp on Perry Lake, wonderful except for the hunters's guns popping nearby, even at night, especially for the hapless animals caught in the guns' sights.  Erde has on her red kerchief and blinking red light. I put on my red shirt. Who can find Erde in this photo?

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

As it is happening...noon, Friday, October 24, somewher in kansas

At a very pleasant rest stop on I70 somewhere in Kansas.  Despite the flat landscape, there is a beauty in all of this.

This is one of the best rest stops for dogs. Usually, pets are relegated to some crappy section off to the side somewhere with no picnic tables in the shade for dogs or humans.  My hat is off to Kansas, and not due to the winds.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

The Trip so Far...day 50, Thursday, October 26, 8382 miles so far

Goodland, Kansas

We're slowly closing the loop.

Next stop...?

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

Day 50, Thursday, October 23, KOA, Goodland, Kansas

Again, not a lot of time for postings on this last leg of the trip...details later, but here's a summary.

Got together with my old college and grad school classmate, Bob Kolesik, and his lovely wife, Dorothy. That's one of the pleasant things about these long trips where you pass through a good part of the continent.

Couldn't get together with Shane today so i moved on.

Goal was to reach KOA just off the highway in Goodland Kansas but dark set in at 5:45 or so.  I hate driving in the dark on these trips...new roads, poor visibility in the Defender with equipment  all around, etc., and  trying to find these camps on strange roads at night is terrible.  

After Denver on this return leg, scenery plummets to an interesting level of zero...so i try to make time on the road, but i lose an hour every two days. I try to stay in the cozy but primitive KOA cabins to save an hour a day but by the time i found this KOA the office was closed so i had to pitch the tent and lost time.

Tomorrow we shoot for Kansas City, Missouri, or somewhere near that..  This is when we begin to hit heavy traffic, which destroys all the benefits of the trip, although we had a dress rehearsal in San Francisco, Sacramento and Denver.  Oh, for life on the trafficless road.

Our camp at Chatfield State Park, Denver. Notice how the sites are set up for those mobile mansions, thus site, 42 by 18.  Only three sites of the 50 were available.  The others were occupied by two tinters and the rest, you guessed it, RVs.

Chatfield park from the road.

Erde and her new friend Coco at a rest break...she probably met 50 new dogs on this trip. I take a rest stop for Erde every 2-3 hours to make the drive interesting for her.


Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

Day 49, wednesdsy, October 22, Chatfield State Park, Denver, 8135 miles

Placeholder posting...I'll fill in details later. Not a lot of time on this last leg of the trip.

Made it ti Denver and pleasant Chatfield State Park after dark at 6:30. Not an easy park to get around in in the dark, although lights from Denver helped.

Plan to visit with  college and grad school classmate and his wife tomorrow.  Maybe I'll see if i can contact Shane Phillips, who was Kessie's guardian before me.  Kessie was Sonntag's magnificent sister. Sad story all around, but with a happy ending of sorts. Details later.

Some photos...
Our camp at Green River State Park, Utah

A view of the Rockies foothills and canyons and Colorado River at 75mph

Magpies are all over around here...not timid at all

The two-mile tunnel at 55mph...i was glad that the camera's battery went dead shortly after this. Not a smart thing to do, drive and shoots photos

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

As it is happening..2:30, Day 49, Wednesday, October 22, near Aspen, en route to Denver

Erde and Ed taking well deserved breaks on the road with the Rockies and Colorado River as hosts.

Photo by Bob.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

The trip so far...Day 48, Tuesday, October 21, Green River State Park, Utah,,7725 miles

Today we head Denver and from there home, still days and thousands of miles away.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

Day 48, Tuesday, October 21, Green River State Park, Utah,,7725 miles

Placeholder summary posting. Details later.
- woke to a glorious morning, got on the road at 9:30 for a long drive of more than 300 mies to Moab
- discovered that the shoe tree we saw in 2001 is gone, but another one replaced 100 miles away
- spectacular desert scenery ended in Utah, but on I-70/50 it was replaced by equally spectacular scenery of canyons, etc. wow. What a drive.
- 2:30... oops, there's a storm i see headed where we are headed
- decided to bivouac at 6:39 for the night at Green River Stare Park because we lost an hour and i want to beat the storm. We'll make up the extra 40 miles tomorrow, or sometime
- see other postings for the info on the storm.

Photos for the day...

Cave Lake..

Our camp at Cave Lake with its balcony view

The Defender navigating the canyons from Cave Lake. I felt like i was about to be ambushed by some Indians or Calvary

Erde sticking close to home on a break

The wonderful drive along 50... Imagine three days of scenery like this. I never tired if it.  Best drive of whole trip.

US 6, on which Jack Kirouac started his own road trip, and which is near where i grew up in NY, runs for a while with US 50, which runs right by my door in DC, still 2600 miles distant.

The new shoe tree...

Finally, Erde wandered from the Defender on a break when she found something of interest to her.

Spectacular scenery along I70/50 ...taken at 70mph

I need to find out why they call this Ghost Rock..

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.

Day 47, Monday, October 20, Cave Lake State Park, Ely, NV 7386 miles

Placeholder posting...details to be provided later.

Summary of day
- wonderful night at Petroglyph Rec. Area. Wonderful is too weak a word to describe this place.
- wonderful drive through the desert to Ely. On the way i found the place where we almost bivouacked in 2001. 
- arrived in Ely at 1 and did errands and chores, oil change, laundry, restocking, etc.
- arrived at spectacular Cave Lake State Park outside of Ely at 5:30 and got the same great site, 29, we had in 2001
- spent a long time just looking up at the billions of stars and galaxies in the sky
- lit a celebration fire and thought of the sheer joy Leben and Erde brought me over the 13 years since we were last here in 2001.

Our wonderful camp in the desert at Petroglyph Rec. Area. The cowboys never had it so good.

The view from the hill behind our camp...breathtaking.

Another view...also breathtaking

Erde leading the way back to camp after the day's hike.  She always loved to take the lead, and her tracking skills are just as keen as they have always been.  All i said to her was, Erde, let's go home, and off she went.

What kind of tree is this?

I love to just watch this beautiful dog sleep.  After 13.5 years of giving me joy, happiness, laughs, companionship, etc., she deserves all the sleep she wants to get. What an absolute joy she is to have on this trip, in my life.

A close up if what i mean

Our camp was right at the base if those two hills...

Why do i need to go to NY for opera when i can cone here in Eureka?

Our camp site with a wonderful balcony view if the sky at Cave Lake.

The sun setting from our balcony at Cave Lake, just as i remembered it from 13 years ago.  We have the exact same site.  After this, the stars came out, millions, maybe billions, of them. Awesome.

Ed and Erde, On The Road

P.S. Sorry for any errors in this message or posting.  The iPad spellcheck is not known for its attention to detail.