Monday, June 30, 2008

Souh Dakota

We left at 7 a.m. with 540 miles to go - from Buffalo, Wyoming to Sioux Falls, South Dakota! That means we drove the entire width of South Dakota (plus a bit of Wyoming).

While we were still in Wyoming, we noticed in one field a big herd of cattle, and in the center of the cow herd was a small group of antelope - maybe 12 or so - all curled up and sleeping in the middle of everything. The two species obviously don't mind being together - we wondered if maybe it makes the antelope feel safer to be in with the cows. Or maybe the cows just wandered over and surrounded them while they were sleeping!

Filled up at Gillette - $3.83/gal.

It's easy to see how wicked the winters must be out west. In four different States now ( N. Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and S. Dakota) we've seen gates to close entrance ramps to the Interstate, gates that would reach across 2 lane highways if they were drifted, and signs on the freeway that say "Road Closed When Flashing - Return to Moorcroft" (or where ever). There's significant huge wooden snow fencing alongside I-90 by Rapid City - they must get world class drifting. Makes our orange plastic snow fencing look very ineffective.

The Subaru's odometer turned over 100,000 miles just outside of Beulah, Wyoming at the Aladdin exit.

It was interesting to notice that when we crossed the Wyoming/S.Dakota State line, things changed. In Wyoming, we saw herds and herds of antelope with lots of antelope babies, and in western South Dakota we saw fields and fields of wild yucca in bloom and no antelope! The yucca starts and the antelope stops - how do they know where the State line is?

In one cattle herd in South Dakota there were a couple of llamas in with the cows curled up around the waterhole, and in another field we saw an honest to God camel (one hump) in the middle of the pasture with the cows! I'm thinking that cattle are very open-minded...or oblivious.

Our family really enjoyed Wall Drug on our Western Tour in 1975. We were going to stop again this time just for old times sake, but we had a long day of driving and Wall Drug has expanded to a tourist empire - the town of Wall was wall to wall cars and campers, and there was no place to park. Took the picture to prove we were there, and kept on going.

South Dakota is mostly just miles and miles of miles and miles. What a bleak, bleak landscape! At one point today (we were keeping track) there was 400 miles between McDonalds. We like to stop and get coffee and iced tea, but in South Dakota you need a thermos or bottled water. Luckily, the resourceful Richard had a cooler with bottled water.

Out west, if your thresher is out of commission. you park it by the fence along the roadway and just let it sit. Sometimes you put an advertising sign on it. We saw old rusty threshers in Minn, N.Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota. I guess in Wyoming, there's nothing to thresh!

Spending tonight in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


We were in the Park before 7 a.m. at the Western Gate from West Yellowstone. We entered the State of Wyoming soon after entering Yellowstone. I didn't get a picture of the sign - too bad, so sad. Such great scenery, you don't know where to look first - snow-capped mountains, rushing mountain streams, blue, blue lakes and on and on.

At our first turn off, we met an accidental elk.This is one of the virtual cache sites we visited - Dick needs to upload this picture with his log for the find:
We saw lots of burned areas left over from the fires of 1988. The geysers show up well - you can see all of the steam from the Middle Basin while you're driving past.

Virtual caches are the only ones that are allowed in a National Park - we found 7 of them - 2 of them were in the same place! One was at Indian Pond, where new signs were stapled to the post saying Danger - Bears Frequent This Area. One of the virtuals was at the Fishing Bridge. We remembered from our last Yellowstone trip how funny it is that there's no fishing allowed at the Fishing Bridge! This time we wanted photographic evidence:

There is still a lot of snow in the woods - in some places it's right alongside the road - how strange when it's almost July! It's deep, deep snow, too, not just a little bit. We met a couple from Elk Rapids who had camped last night in front of a seven foot deep pile of snow!

I seem to be adversely affected by the altitude - yesterday and today I've had trouble filling my lungs and have to take deep breaths. It's a scary feeling, but I feel much better now that Dick figured out what it is!

The Continental Divide crisscrosses the park road - I took a picture of the one at Elevation 8640.

We left by way of the Eastern Entrance Road. This road is steep and full of curves, sheer drops, switchbacks and hairpin turns - it requires the driver to pay strict attention to the road and the traffic. What a view! Around every turn, you are saying "Wow!"
This is an avalanche cannon - to start an avalanche on purpose!

After we left the Park, we had a picnic at Sleeping Giant in the Shoshone National Forest on the banks of the North Fork of the Shoshone River.

The fantastic scenery continues after you leave Yellowstone - it is indescribable! I'll post my pictures when I get home, because, you know, a picture is worth 10,000 words!

We drove through Cody, Wyoming - where they have a rodeo every night at 8 p.m.! We drove through the Big Horn Mountains, which is a remarkable experience in itself. The road is very steep - a 7% grade - the scenery is breathtaking. They have massive snow fences - huge wooden things in row after row to keep the snow off the road.

Filled up in Greybull, MT - $3.99/gal. = 26.6 mpg.

Near the Buffalo Bill State Park I-90 goes through three tunnels - one long and two short. The first tunnel is quite a long one, with interior lighting and the whole bit. The other two are only about as long as the average highway bridge.

We saw cowboys rounding up cattle and driving them across the road - well actually, there was a tunnel under the road for the cows! The men were wearing Western hats and chaps and they certainly looked like authentic cowboys on their horses - except for the one who was riding a dirt bike!

Staying tonight in Buffalo, Wyoming - a really nice little town. We found 4 caches right here in town. One of them was in a very cool birdhouse in a front yard on a residential street - I loved it, and named it The War Dam Eagle Birdhouse, a name stolen from an Auburn Univ. cheer. We enjoyed talking to the man who lived there - his daughter is the cache owner and now lives in Minneapolis.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Magnificent Montana Plus Idaho

We left the yucky Econolodge in Kalispell this morning and drove for 3 hours looking for breakfast!! The 4B's Restaurant in Deer Lodge saved our bacon, so to speak. We had some breakfast bars in the car but we weren't that desperate. On our three hour drive we saw a crane, some deer, and fresh water pelicans, a real surprise.

Impressions of Montana:

1. No matter where you go in Montana you're never underdressed.

2. Montana has magnificent, wonderful scenery, and not much else.

3. Deer in Montana like to stand in the road.

4. Driving on the two lane highways, you are usually by yourself.

5. Lucky Lil has a Casino at every crossroad.

Checked into the Comfort Inn at West Yellowstone, and then slipped over to Idaho to add another State to our caching list. Finally we got to do some back-woodsing in the area of Big Spring, ID. Huge mosquitoes live in the back woods of Idaho! Luckily we had some Deep Woods Off wipes that saved us. Dick found 5 caches in Idaho, and one more here in West Yellowstone. Idaho looks a lot like Montana.

Gas prices in West Yellowstone - $4.25/4.26 - Holy Moly! But then, Tom tells me that he hasn't seen prices under $4.50 for months.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Glacier National Park

Gasoline summary:
Filled at Shelby - $4.09/gal average 23.25 mpg
Dick has figured these statistics:
Speed 75 mph - mileage=21 mpg
Speed 65 mph - mileage=22/23 mpg
Speed 55 mph - mileage=28 mpg

Montana wildlife seen on the way to Glacier National Park - well, not that much. Dick really wanted to see a coyote, and we saw one alongside the road. He was just standing still, watching the road. He looked quite healthy. We also saw a small herd of buffalo - not nearly as many as in T.C. These buffalo were running, though - don't know why, but they were all galloping along the fence line. Our hometown buffalo just stand around or plop down.
Too many pictures of Montana? Maybe - I have 20 more that I didn't publish - I just couldn't get over the beautiful scenery! We don't see many snow-covered mountains on River Road.

We were disappointed in Glacier Nat'l Park because Logan Pass was closed, and so we couldn't drive the whole Going to the Sun road. We did see spectacular views, though, and we even saw some snow still hanging in there along the road. The views are super - really different for lowlanders like we are.

Wildflowers were everywhere in the park - we saw so many different kinds! Alpine Sunflower (Old Man of the Mountain), larkspur, Indian paintbrush, bear grass, flea bane, and on and on.

I still can't believe the kind of road signs that we saw: Avalanche Area, Earthquake Area, Falling Rock, Fallen Rock, Wildlife in Road - that's how we know we're not in Michigan anymore.

After we drove as far as we could from the Eastern entrance, we backtracked, and followed the road along the Flathead River. We had a great picnic at the Izaak Walton picnic area, found a cache at Paolo Creek, saw snowsheds on the mountainside along the railroad tracks, and saw whitewater rafters on the river. It was a glorious drive.

We went in the Western entrance and drove as far as we could. This end is not as scenic at the other side - didn't get many pictures BUT! We had some real excitement when a bear crossed the road in front of us, and began grazing only about 20 feet from the road. I got a great picture! It was the highlight of the day!

We're staying tonight in Kalispell. This town is a little down at heel - with horrible traffic. We could live in Great Falls - we couldn't live in Kalispell.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Montana, Montana

Filled up at Dickinson, N.Dak.- super unleaded with 10% ethanol for 3.99/gal. We averaged 21 mpg going 75 mph through North Dakota yesterday. They also sell something called Red Dyed Diesel, which I found out on the radio is only used in Off Road Vehicles.

Here's a unique North Dakota MacLand service:

Sometime today we switched to Mountain Time - not sure when.

Have you ever heard of Theodore Roosevelt National Park? Neither had we. After driving though flat, flat flat North Dakota at 75 miles per hour, all of a sudden, we were in canyonlands - the Badlands of N.D. It's a huge geological formation - very impressive and awesome out here in Western North Dakota, which is referred to as Rough Rider Country. Who Knew??

Entering Montana, our Nuvi told us to leave the freeway and take a Montana Highway toward Great Falls. This was a 2 lane highway, with two way traffic, and the speed limit is 70! We found out why, though. Most of it is as straight as an arrow, and there's no traffic. Dick counted 10 cars in 30 miles!

For some reason, railroad cars are stored on the tracks alongside the highway - there were hundreds of them - no kidding - and they weren't boxcars or tankers or anything normal - they were called All Purpose Spine Cars. Google tells me that those cars are used to carry trailers or containers. Montana is ready!

Eastern Montana is flat, flat, flat. We saw some antelope and deer, and lots of cattle and horses and sheep. We filled up at Circle, MT just because we could tell from the map that it might be the last chance for a long, long time - nobody lives here! We only needed a quarter of a tank, but Dick didn't want to take any chances. Dick asked the gas station man about a good place to eat and he mentioned one that was 140 miles down the road!

We stayed at the Quality Inn in downtown Great Falls. We went looking for caches and found seven of them right around town in the usual places - fire hall, Boy Scouts, neighborhood parks, etc. One was unique - it was near the Mercy helicopter at the local hospital. While we were searching for the cache, the helicopter took off and flew away! It was quite an experience. It was a fun afternoon of caching.

The Missouri River flows through Great Falls - I actually never expected to find the Missouri River in Montana. So much for my geography expertise! The Falls are not that Great.

We liked Great Falls.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

North Dakota - Land of Strange Scapes

Lots and lots of miles and miles today - from St. Cloud, MN to Dickinson, North Dakota.

Minnesota is agriculture, agriculture, agriculture - ag, ag, ag. Huge, big storage silos by every farm. The farms are all beautiful and lush looking. It's amazing to see. It makes Michigan farming look a little hard-scrabble.

North Dakota is different - bigger farms - probably owned by corporations, fewer trees, less livestock, and strange, strange terrain. Some of it is flat, some is rolling hills, and then all of a sudden you see pyramid shaped rock formations!

There's an old movie called Sea of Grass, and we saw some of that today. The grass along the fence rows is sometimes higher than the fence. When it blows in the breeze it really does look like waves. I-94 runs pretty much straight through the center of North Dakota from Fargo to Bismarck to Dickinson and beyond. It seems ironic to me, since we spent 1957-1991 never living more than 3 miles from I-94 - it always has been our main artery.

We filled up in Jamestown, N.D. - unleaded with ethanol - $3.99/gal. When the speed limit is 55, we are getting 28 mpg. Speed limit of 70 - only 22 mpg. In N.D. the speed limit is often 75! It'll be interesting to see what effect the ethanol has on the higher speed limit.

Staying in Dickinson, N.D. tonight - nice place. For some reason, all of the local motels are filled up and so we were glad we had reservations! Can't imagine what the occasion is for so many people to be in Dickinson - maybe it's because towns along I-94 are few and far between in these parts!

Dick found 4 geocaches, and we visited the "Enchanted Highway". Check it out at and scroll down to see the pictures - it's unbelievable!

If you look closely, you can see Dick at the base of the sculpture waving his arms to provide some scale:

We have seen farm equipment so humungous that it belongs on a set for Star Wars. At many of the exits, there's a single sign that says No Services.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wisconsin is a Beautiful State!

Today we drove across Wisconsin from Marinette to the Saint Croix River boundary with Minnesota. Lush green forest, beautiful big farms with many silos and outbuildings, dairy herds, herds of sheep, parks, rivers, rolling hills, outcroppings - I thought it was really enjoyable. The little villages we stopped by were in such good repair and well-maintained - it was a real pleasure to see them. We had a picnic in Stanley, and filled up with gas in New Richmond ($3.97/gal.) Wisconsin has a town named Menominie, too, but they spell their's with an i - e.

We entered Minnesota at Stillwater - what a fun town that looks like! It's touristy - full of shops and outdoor cafes - it was active and busy today. We could see where the St. Croix River was flooding a little bit - not too badly - but a big part of the river walk was under water.

The rest of today's drive was almost all on the Interstate or Minnesota divided-highways all the way to St. Cloud. This is where we're spending the night. Dick found three caches in Minnesota. Tonight we have a free night at the Comfort Inn. Yaay

Monday, June 23, 2008

Westward Ho

We're not exactly pioneers in a covered wagon, we're just two old fogys in a Subaru. We're heading off to Glacier National Park to do some geocaching and some sightseeing. This is part of our quest to find a cache in every State of the Union! I think we'll add at least five States to our total on this trip.

We started out today by filling up with gas at $4.04/gallon in T.C., going across the bridge and through the U.P. The Upper is one of our favorite road trips.

We always see something unusual. Today it was humorous road signs. My personal favorite was the yard ornament store called Birdbath and Beyond! Dick's was "Honest Injun's Tourist Trap", and we both liked "Just 40 miles to Carwash"!

We had a picnic at Fox Beach Park, paid $3.89/gallon in Menominee, and spend the night in Marinette, Wisconsin.

This is a statue along the Menominee River in Marinette's Stephenson Island Park.
Dick found three caches in Wisconsin.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Melanie's Shower

Melanie's Bridal shower was so, so nice - it just couldn't have been any nicer. Everything was so well planned - the tables, the paperware, the beautiful food, the was so enjoyable!

Sharon and I got there a little bit early, but we had fun meeting people and talking to Barb. We sat at a table with Shelly, Drew, Melissa, Autumn, Brooke, Chloe, sometimes Barb, and sometimes Melanie. We had a great time! Drew is a very charming little guy - he's a ton of fun.

We had a good weekend visit with Sharon, and she drove back to Lansing after the shower.

Happy Anniversary to us - today was our 51st.

Friday, June 20, 2008

CQ's Loss

This event actually happened at 4 p.m. June 18th. We are all still in a kind of a fog - except for Jana, who is taking charge of the situation and planning for a smooth transition. What a remarkable display of responsibility!

Messages of support can be received at at least until June 30.

Here is the official CQ announcement - I'm thinking that they will live to regret this action:

Subject: Announcement
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2008 16:40:59 -0400
From: Mike Riley
To: CQ Everyone

As you know, much of Congressional Quarterly’s recent success has arisen from the success of, a deep, rich and powerful Web site that is fueled by the news, analysis and information we provide on Congress, politics and public policy. As we move into the future, the role of is going to become ever more central to our ongoing success, and we will be well served to focus much effort on improving and enriching our online offerings and products.

To make that happen, we will rely even more heavily on our Innovation Department, with our success depending on our ability to think smart, work collaboratively, innovate spectacularly and act quickly.

With those goals in mind, I am consolidating the Innovation Department under Ken Sands. The first step will involve merging Editorial Product Development, directed by Jana Steiger, into the Editorial Operations of This consolidation, which should allow us to move more effectively, will create a single operation to be run by John Dineen. This change will take place on July 1, 2008.

The position of Director of Editorial Product Development will be
eliminated. This means that Jana Steiger, who has brought great passion, talent and creativity to her various roles in a long and distinguished career at Congressional Quarterly, will be leaving our midst. Her last day in the office will be June 30, 2008. She will be sorely missed.

In the coming months, we plan to spend much time and energy focusing on imagining the next generation of, and this consolidation is a necessary first step to take us down that road.

Michael Riley
Congressional Quarterly
1255 22nd St NW
Washington, DC 20037

Necessary? I strongly question the necessity, but I am notoriously prejudiced!

Jana has been receiving hugs, calls, and emails of encouragement, some of which are here:

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan
Sent: Thu 6/19/2008 4:45 PM
To: Jana Steiger
Subject: WTF

What's going on?


-----Original Message-----
From: Joe
Sent: Thu 6/19/2008 4:54 PM
To: Jana Steiger
Subject: RE: Announcement

I hope they're giving you a massive severance package. And I hope you're able to thumb your nose at all of this, and take a job somewhere else, at an insane salary level.

But your value can't necessarily be measured in dollars, either.

Should I be angry? Or happy for you?

-----Original Message-----
From: Katherine
Sent: Thu 6/19/2008 5:01 PM
To: Jana Steiger
Subject: oh

i am sad beyond words.

-----Original Message-----
From: Kit
Sent: Thu 6/19/2008 6:05 PM
To: Jana Steiger
Subject: Let me know

If you need help with getting a resume designed or a portfolio website built or anything I can help you with let me know

I'm on vacation next week but after that I can help

-----Original Message-----
From: Jesse
Sent: Thu 6/19/2008 7:04 PM
To: Jana Steiger
Subject: FW: Announcement

Jana! Oh no! I don't even know what to say. This is unbelievable.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave
Sent: Thu 6/19/2008 7:51 PM
To: Jana Steiger
Subject: [Fwd: Announcement]

Hi Jana,

This is very shocking news. I'm not sure how we're going to be able to
do what we do without you here. I don't really understand this change.
It seems strange and I have lots of questions.

Even though we haven't interacted much since I moved, I consider you one
of my best friends at CQ and I'm going to miss you. Regardless of people
rearranging departments, were there any other positions at CQ that
interest you?

Thanks for always being so nice to me!


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul
Sent: Thu 6/19/2008 7:57 PM
To: Jana Steiger
Subject: When the Napkin Hits the Table

Hi Jana ---

Really sorry that I missed you today --- I've been out and about. Do you want to get together? I'm out of the office tomorrow, but in the area and available --- and around all next week.

Don't want to say too much over email, but I think that this deal really, really sucks.