Saturday, July 30, 2022


View from our rental house at sunset

We have been in our Sun Valley rental house now for two weeks. It is a spectacular place high in the hills on 120 acres. We can see the lights from only one house here that is owned by the parents of our VRBO hostess. I have posted most of my photos to the blog and you can see them by clicking "Photos" above. I will add those taken by Laura Lee to the collection over the next couple of days.

We originally had possibly three couples joining us here at different times, but all had to cancel, so we have had the four bedroom house to ourselves. Our good friends from home Harry and Vanita Morgan are at their condo here and we have had some great times with them. Sadly our friends from Seattle, the Keck's, have not been in town yet, but we may see them before we depart. Monday, my son Daniel with his new bride Jackie and their three children will join us for most of next week. 

Yesterday Laura Lee and I took the gondola lift up the Baldy ski area and had lunch at the Round House high on the mountain. Some nearby lightening shut down the lift so we were treated to a ride down the mountain in a dusty pickup truck. We have done several long walks with dogs, and one serious hike up a nearby gulch. We also completed a roughly 20-mile bike ride from Hailey to Ketchum and back. I used an e-bike while Laura Lee was completely self-propelled.

We have a chicken coop in the back yard which is a new experience for me. There are about eight hens that lay eggs daily. It has become my routine to cook fresh eggs from the yard for breakfast almost every day.

Laura Lee feeding leftovers to the chickens. They eat nearly everything except citrus,
and of course chicken.

One of the highlights of the trip has been attending one of the open-air concerts of the Sun Valley Music Festival. We went last Tuesday with our friends the Morgans who know the tricks of finding a good place to set up chairs on the lawn. We will be going again Sunday night with them to the annual fundraising Gala, the only event where there is a charge for sitting on the grass area. It will be a performance of Carmina Burana and should be spectacular.

We have begun plotting our trip home that starts in two weeks. We will be taking a southern route and visiting parts of Utah and Santa Fe. We've also discovered today that our route will take us through Winslow, Arizona. That should be a fine sight to see. I'll post again soon.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Sun Valley

 We have made it to our rental house near Hailey, Idaho and just down the road from Ketchum and Sun Valley. We have driven 3,196.6 miles and used 155.8 gallons of gas (20.5 mpg...I need a hybrid). Our mileage is generally around 21.5 in flat areas but the average gets dragged down on mountain roads. Gas prices have generally been dropping during our trip except in more remote places where delivery costs are high. The highest we paid the entire trip was today in Hailey where supreme is $6.15 per gallon.

The house is lovely and very remote. We should have spectacular views of the stars on clear nights, but it doesn't get dark until around 10 pm here and last night we crashed pretty early after the trip. The weather is hot with a high today of 90 and a low tonight of 59. We do not have air conditioning but it is mostly tolerable except for late afternoon. That appears to be the time to find some shade and sit outside with a glass of wine.

We loved visiting Jackson Hole. We had three great dinners at places recommended by friends. It was also nice to spend a few days without lengthy drives. The highlight was renting ebikes for a 22-mile ride from our hotel up to Teton Village ski area for lunch. I had never ridden an ebike before and I found it to be a great invention, both to have help on hills and just to cruise very fast.

We had another beautiful drive yesterday from Jackson, up and over Teton Pass, and then through grasslands along more two-lane straight roads with 70 mph speed limits. Our weirdest encounter of the trip was a brief visit to the Craters of the Moon National Monument see video here. According to the National Park Service: "Volcanic activity occurred on the Snake River Plain for many millions of years. But Craters of the Moon was formed by eruptions that started only 15,000 years ago and represents the last period of active volcanism in this area. The most recent activity occurred 2,100 years ago...The Craters of the Moon volcanic field will erupt again, probably within the next few centuries if the recurrence interval of about 2,000 years is sustained. It is likely that the eruption will last several years or decades and possibly several centuries."

Lava Rock Piles at Craters of the Moon

We will be here in the Sun Valley area for four weeks. I will not be posting daily but on occasion if there is something to write about. Thanks for following our journey.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Jackson Hole


Yesterday we had a beautiful drive from Casper, Wyoming to Jackson Hole. Most of the day was across rolling hill grasslands with occasional outcroppings similar to what we saw in The Badlands. In the afternoon we began to see the magnificent Tetons in the distance. Properly, we are in the town of Jackson but the entire area is referred to Jackson Hole because it is situated in a valley among the Tetons. Most of the valley of Jackson Hole is in the Grand Teton National Park or National Forest. Just FYI, these mountains were named by French-Canadian trappers, and the term Grand Teton means "big breast" in french. 

As in South Dakota, the speed limit on the two-laned road yesterday was 70, and it was 80 on the short stretch of Interstate we covered. There was little traffic and only a few small towns along the route. We cannot  remember when we last saw any sign of law enforcement on the highways. Our thought is that no one cares how fast you drive out here and they don't want to spend money to enforce limits that are high enough for most drivers.

We have seen some interesting animal life in the west. There were buffalos in the Custer State Park and grazing along the highway yesterday. There are huge numbers of "Pronghorns" that wander around with no fear of traffic or people. I didn't know the meaning of Pronghorn but they are also known as American Antelopes, even though they are not technically antelopes. We are out where "the deer and the antelope play."

With plenty of time before our Saturday check-in, we decided to spend four nights here in Jackson and drive Saturday to Sun Valley to check into our rental house. It is beautiful here and we are enjoying not having to load and unload the car daily. 

We are in a retro spot called The Virginian Lodge. According to the Lodge's website:

In the 1960s, Founder Glenn Napierskie saw many visitors to Jackson Hole sleeping in their cars. He built The Virginian Lodge as a place for these families to stay, have fun, and build memories. Today, the same holds true. We want the travelers, drifters, locals, and adventure seekers who pull into our lodge to feel well taken care of and welcome to enjoy all that the area has to offer.

We are taking it easy today and have a bike ride planned for tomorrow. We are told that we need e-bikes because it is so hilly here. I've never ridden one but I know I will need all the help I can get. 

UPDATE: Anonymous comments.

I appreciate all of the kind comments below, but nine of the 12 are shown as coming from "Anonymous". I don't mind if someone really wants to be anonymous, but most of these sound like they are from friends. You can enter your name or sign in with Google before making a comment, or just do what a couple of people did and write your name at the end. To the two people who suggested the same restaurant, we are going there tonight. Thanks!

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Custer, South Dakota

We are in Custer, South Dakota for our second night. Including a good bit of sightseeing yesterday and today, we have covered 2,290 miles since home.

Yesterday we drove north from Nebraska up to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Much of the drive was through what is called the Sandhills of Nebraska, a vast area of grazing land with long mostly-straight two-lane highways. As we approached Interstate 90 in South Dakota, we suddenly came upon the dramatic landscape of the Badlands, with towering spires created over millions of years by erosion caused by water and wind. There was little to no traffic (or even towns) for much of the drive. We made good time -- speed limits are high in Nebraska and even higher in South Dakota. They were 65 or 70 on the two-lane roads and 75 on the interstates in Nebraska. Once we hit I-90 in South Dakota the speed limit was 80. 

 Visiting Badlands National Park was very special, and we tip our hat to our good friend Bill Thompson who directed us that way. The views are hard to capture with a cellphone camera, but trust me, it is worth seeing. 

This morning we headed over to Mt. Rushmore, again recommended by Bill, and then had lunch and a short one-mile hike with the dogs around a lake in the Custer State Park. I know everyone has seen pictures of Mt. Rushmore, but we had to prove we were there to check it off our list. 

And so all is going well. Tomorrow we plan to travel into Wyoming likely spending the night somewhere near Casper. After that, we plan four nights in Jackson Hole before heading to our rental house near Sun Valley next Saturday the 16th.

Friday, July 8, 2022

A Long Time Ago

We are in North Platte, Nebraska and we have covered 1,745 miles since home, including a couple of side trips. 

I was pleased that our trip brought us to this place for a brief stop. In the summer of 1975, I was looking forward to my last year of law school, but I was also acutely aware I would have no more free summers for a long, long time. So I leased a well-used "Sportscoach" motor home from a dealer in Atlanta (who couldn't sell it and wanted to make a little money rather than have it sit on his lot). I paid him something per mile and handled all the maintenance and fuel for about two months. I talked my good friend Alan Matthews into joining me and my dog Auburn for a trip out west. I wrote about that trip and Alan's untimely death on an earlier blog, and you can read the entry by clicking here.

As noted in that post, one of our stops was in North Platte. We came here intentionally to see my friend "Smooth" and his first wife Tish. I'm not sure where Smooth's nickname came from but the first time I met him he said: "My name's Rusty Wallace but my friends call me Smooth." And so I did.

At the time, Smooth worked in a dangerous job as what was called a "connector". As steel beams were being put in place in a building, he would walk out on a horizontal beam, grab a new beam lifted by a crane, and temporarily connect it wherever it went. Others would come along later and connect it more permanently. The dangerous part was walking out on a beam with no safety strap (and no net) while a crane was swinging a heavy steel beam over to him. Smooth described his job as "hanging iron". He was in North Platte helping build a power plant that became known as Gerald Gentleman Station. We saw it from a distance this evening.

Gerald Gentleman Station

During our visit, Smooth took us to Ole's Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge, where we enjoyed some Rocky Mountain Oysters and beer. Laura Lee and I dined there tonight and shared that dish as an appetizer. Google it if you have never heard of Rocky Mountain Oysters. 

Smooth was a dashing and infectious young man, with always a hint of danger about him. I found him fascinating. He told great stories, wrote great songs, and played them on the guitar. We became good friends and I was best man when he married Tish, but we have sadly not stayed in touch in recent years. Silly, because he lives only two hours away from me in Charleston.

It was good to visit the North Platte area 47 years later, to see the power plant still standing with steel beams well-connected, and to eat one more time at Ole's. I have good memories here of people who were dear to me. Tomorrow, we head north to the Badlands in South Dakota.

Thursday, July 7, 2022



We are in Lincoln, Nebraska staying right next to the 15,500-seat  University of Nebraska Pinnacle Bank Arena and close to the 85,000-seat Memorial Stadium. The University area seems quieter now than I'm sure it is during the regular school year, but we are in an area of many bars and restaurants. We drove up today from Kansas City through Missouri, a corner of Iowa, and finally into Nebraska. We have covered 1,450 miles since leaving home and are well into our fifth tank of gas.

We travelled Tuesday from St. Louis to Kansas City, home of our dear friends Bruce and Liz Pendleton. We went straight to their lovely home where our dogs Rhett and Belle could play with their dog Winston while we visited. The weather was hot, but not the 101 degrees of the day before. We walked the dogs around the neighborhood and had a great dinner with the Pendletons. After getting a taste of Kansas City, we wished we had planned a longer stay. It is full of interesting spots and great museums. We shall have to plan more time there next trip. Thanks Bruce and Liz for your incredible hospitality.

Tomorrow we will be crossing the southern part of Nebraska, with a planned stop somewhere near North Platte. I have a history there during a 1975 motor home trip which I will cover in more detail after seeing the area again.

The weather has cooled significantly and the highest temperatures we saw today were around 85 degrees. The severe heat warnings are now in the Topeka, Kansas area down into Texas and across to Alabama. Let's hope we remain north of it all.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

St. Genevieve

We arrived yesterday in St. Louis and we have stepped up a few notches from the Hampton Inn to spend two nights in a dog-friendly Four Seasons Hotel. We have a 17th floor room looking out at the St. Louis Gateway Arch and also giving us a spectacular view of last night's fireworks display. We walked the dogs late afternoon in the Gateway Arch National Park, had a peaceful dinner in the hotel, and came back to the room in time for the show.

Today, we took a planned side trip south along the western shore of the Mississippi River to St. Genevieve, Missouri. This lovely small town contains well-preserved examples of French Colonial architecture. These houses were built by "Acadians" who migrated south along the river, eventually all the way to Louisiana. Acadians were descendants of French settlers in Acadia, the French colony on the Atlantic coast of North America in what is now the Maritime Provinces of Canada. As Acadians eventually ended up in Louisiana, the word Acadian came to be pronounced as "Cajun".

We visited St. Genevieve not only because of my wife's interest in architectural history, but because the architecture of our house in Georgia was inspired by a specific preserved house museum in St. Genevieve, built in 1792 by Louis Bolduc. We had never seen it in person until today. Those who know our house will recognize the resemblance, especially the roofline.

Louis Bolduc House

The Samford House

Our trip is going well. Including our side trip today, we have travelled 974 miles over four days and just started on our fourth tank of gas this afternoon. Our dogs have settled into a routine, and we have discovered they are fine if we leave them alone in a room for a while so that we can have a relaxing dinner. We had worried they would bark and howl and disturb other hotel guests, but they have been downright angelic. We think they would rather travel with us than be left behind boarding somewhere. Tomorrow we move on to Kansas City where we will have a brief visit with our friends Bruce and Liz Pendleton. Then it will be on to Nebraska Thursday.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Road Trip

Having sold the boat this blog is named for, I am too lazy to go to the trouble of renaming it and starting over. And so, I am using it to record the road trip that is underway right now. We are spending about two weeks driving with our two large dogs to Sun Valley, Idaho, where we have rented a house for a month beginning July 16. We are packed tightly into my Volvo, and staying nightly in hotels with two dogs is proving to be challenging. The dogs are taking it in stride but young Belle decided to begin whining at 4 am this morning. Laura Lee took her outside briefly but she did not want to stay in her kennel. Eventually I got up with her at around 5 am and here she and I sit in the dark trying to let LL and the other dog Rhett get some more sleep.

We first drove Saturday from home to Chattanooga, TN and had a pleasant evening at a dog-friendly hotel downtown. Dinner was on a patio with each of us holding a leash as we tried to enjoy a flatbread and a little wine. Yesterday we had a reservation at the Kentucky Dam State Park Resort near Paducah, KY. It appeared on the website we would have a cute cabin near the lake, but it turned out to be a serious dump amidst a beautiful area. So we abandoned the idea and drove about 30 miles further. We are ensconced in a Hampton Inn along the Interstate outside of Paducah. We have travelled 650 miles of our roughly 2,600-mile trip west.

Today we plan to depart the Interstate system and head over to Cairo, Illinois where we will begin driving north on a section of the River Road which follows the entire Mississippi River from Louisiana to Minnesota. We will take it up to St. Louis today and come part way back down the other side of the river tomorrow to visit St. Genevieve, Missouri. It is there we plan to see the collection of preserved French colonial houses including the one that our present home is modeled after. I have written before about the Civil War history of some of this area in a previous boat blog that still lingers online here.

As we get into scenic areas today and tomorrow, I'll start posting some pictures. Thanks for checking in.