All posts tagged: road trip

Observations From the Road (The “We Made It [Well, In One Sense]” Edition)

Arriving in Seattle Sunday evening, Claire and I celebrated making it cross-country with a dinner in the revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle. We did the Atlantic to the Pacific thing! I can check off one bucket list item. Who hoo!! Of course, we’re just one day into the second half of our tour. Now that we’ve done the width of the country, we still have the length to go. Southern California or bust! So this edition of Observations From the Road is the “We Made It (Well, In One Sense)” edition. Sunday was a long day on the road – from Kalispell, Montana to Seattle, Washington. Three states (Idaho is in the middle there, for those who are geographically challenged.) That’s why this post is being finished on Monday morning. The trip was made longer by an hour-long back-up on I-90 in  Washington State.  There might have been an incident, but we suspect it was tied up as people gawked at the forest fire smoke that was coming over the mountains.  More on that …

Going to the Sun

Wow! On a picture perfect August day, Claire and I visited Glacier National Park, The Crown of the Continent. It was an experience we’ll never forget. We had always envisioned this day – at the midpoint in our cross-country road trip – to be one of the highlights.  But as first time visitors to this park, we just couldn’t have imagined how wonderful it would be. Knowing that we wanted to beat the crowds, we left our hotel early and drove into St. Mary, the eastern gateway to the park.  On the advice of several friends, we planned to focus our visit along the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road – a National Historic Landmark and a National Engineering Landmark. According to the National Park Service website: The road officially received its name, “The Going-to-the-Sun Road,” during the 1933 dedication at Logan Pass. The road borrowed its name from nearby Going-to-the-Sun Mountain. Local legend, and a 1933 press release issued by the Department of the Interior, told the story of the deity, Sour Spirit, who came down from …

Observations From the Road (The “Jeez, Montana is a Big State” Edition)

On Friday morning, as we began our second week on the Not All Who Wander Are Lost tour, Claire and I drove the 20 miles up from Fort Peck to Glasgow, Montana where we reconnected with U.S. Route 2.  Now mind you, we had driven two-and-one-half hours in Montana the day before just to get to Fort Peck – which is in the eastern part of the state.  So imagine our surprise when we clicked on the Google maps direction finder to head west to Glacier National Park from Glasgow and the young lady on the smart phone who has become our traveling companion says: Go west on U.S. Route 2 forever. Well, I may be exaggerating a bit. It was actually something like 259 miles. But after a long day of driving through Montana’s plains along the original Hi-Line (New York City’s High Line is late to the party), it seems like forever. This Hi-Line refers to the northernmost route of the Great Northern Railroad and U.S. 2, near the Canadian border. But, as …

Observations From the Road (The “Prairie” Edition)

Having been warned that we will lose cell and online coverage as we enter the mountains portion of our trip over the next couple of days, I’m writing my next set of Observations From the Road (Prairie Edition) from my outpost here on the front porch of the historic Fort Peck Hotel in Fort Peck, Montana.  (The beautiful and flat part of Montana, as their website describes it.) You can catch earlier parts of the “Observations” series here (the Central Time edition) and here (essentially the Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana edition). Fort Peck dam was built in the 1930s as a WPA project, and this building was originally constructed to house the workers.  It was converted into a hotel in the 1930s, and has served sportsmen, patrons of the Fort Peck Summer Theatre Playhouse, and wayward travelers like Claire and me ever since.  The rooms are small and simple but the lobby (where I wrote last evening’s post) is down home and friendly with a well-stocked bar.  The only disappointment was that the dining room …

A Jewel on the Prairie

Some of the most amazing finds on the road occur in the most unlikely places. When my colleague Jenny Buddenborg learned I was traveling cross-country with Claire – and taking in North Dakota in the process – she directed me to one of America’s hidden gems:  a college campus in Bismarck, North Dakota designed by Marcel Breuer, one of the masters of Modernism. The University of Mary is a small, Catholic school located on rolling hills about 7 miles outside of Bismarck. The university’s website picks up the story from here: In the 1950’s, when the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation founded their original priory and later planned for the first campus buildings for Mary College, they asked Breuer if he would create the architectural designs. To their delight he accepted and conceived expansive structures of native prairie stone and exquisite concrete shapes, notable for their interplay of light and shadow. Breuer called it his “jewel on the prairie.”  After an hour touring the campus this morning, I wouldn’t disagree. Thanks to Jenny and the …

Observations From the Road (The “Central Time” Edition)

Claire and I were driving through the heart of Central Minnesota today when the Pokey LaFarge paean to Middle America – Central Time – popped up on the iPhone playlist. Yet another omen! The Missouri is my right arm, the Ohio is my left But I’m livin’ on the Mississippi River where I like life the best I don’t mind the west coast, and I don’t mind the east coast Oh, baby, but I ain’t gonna live on no coast. I’m just a plain ole Midwestern boy, Getting by on Central time So thanks to Pokey’s reminder, here are a few (more) observations from the road – in the Central Time edition. Some oddities really are worth seeing – We went an hour out of our way today to see the largest ball of twine rolled by one person, and it was SO worth it.   As the great post on the Roadside America blog puts it, “One runs across more than a few balls on the obsession landscape…But special tribute must be paid to the Mother of the moss gathering …

Main Streets, Baseball, and Rhubarb Crisp (?)

Main Streets and baseball. What could be more American? More  importantly, can you have a bad day when these two things converge?  Not in my book. But how did the Rhubarb Crisp replace apple pie?  Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out. We began our first Tuesday – Day 5 on the Not All Who Wander Are Lost cross-country tour – in tiny Spring Green, Wisconsin. For a town of 1400 (I love town signs that post the population), Spring Green had much to offer.  The downtown has a variety of interesting shops and services, and my friend Oakley Pearson – who drives through this area each year on his way home to Minnesota – recommended the Spring Green General Store for breakfast.  Claire and I took him up on that recommendation, and after a great bowl of oatmeal (see, we can eat healthy food), we’re glad we did. Business was hopping with a great mix of patrons. I stopped by one table to tell the guy wearing the 1952 Vincent Black …

A Remarkable Afternoon at Taliesin

Some days on the road are magical. Yesterday – spent at Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Taliesin – was one such afternoon. Our cross-country road trip includes a couple of places that are clearly what one could tag as a busman’s holiday. Thanks to the generous offer of my good friend Jeff Grip of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Claire and I were met at Taliesin – Wright’s Spring Green, Wisconsin, home – by Effi Casey, a member of the Taliesin Fellowship; a graduate of the architecture school at Taliesin; the widow of the long-time dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Tom Casey; and an accomplished violinist who serves as the Director of Music at the school. We were also joined for the afternoon by Floyd Hamblen, a member of the Taliesin Fellowship who serves on the faculty of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, is a practicing architect, and lives year-round with his family at Taliesin. I’m pictured with the two of them inside Effi’s home on the grounds, known locally as …

You Want Nutrition, Eat Carrots!

Here we were, just two unsuspecting East Coast types, stopping off in Madison, Wisconsin, for a short two-hour visit with Claire’s college friend Kyra and her father Dennis, followed by lunch along State Street. Why we even went for a hike on the beautiful trail around Lake Mendota off the Union Terrace. We were feeling very righteous. Then, we met Ian’s By the Slice Pizza. And Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream. And tonight in Spring Green, we met Phil and his wonderful selection of local beers at Arcadia Books cafe. Oh. My. Goodness. These folks put cheese on ANYTHING. Claire, of course, had to try the Mac and Cheese pizza.  As she noted, it was ONLY one slice…but it was a slice of pizza WITH pasta on top. Then we ran into the Serious $&@! – you don’t believe me, just check out the sign below. We can’t say we weren’t warned. And here at Arcadia Books – a wonderful book store/cafe in Spring Green – I’m working on a Moon Man Pale Ale from New Glarus …

From the Silly to the Sublime

Today we played tourist in Chicago – a great city with way too much to see in one lifetime, let alone one day. Work takes me to Chicago three or four times a year, so with the exception of a 90-minute architectural tour taken by boat on the Chicago River – something everyone should do once (or more) in their lives – I turned Sunday over to Claire’s interests. We left Aunt Susan and Cousin Zoe’s home in Evanston and took the CTA ‘L’ train into the city.  When we stepped out from the below-ground station at Lake, Claire started looking around and said, “This feels like New York.” What she meant as a first time  visitor was that the crush of people, the canyon walls of buildings, and the energy felt like a big city. The pep in her step was quickly evident, as we headed out to Millennium Park. Why Millennium Park?  Because what self-respecting tourist to Chicago these days doesn’t want to take a selfie at Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (or – …