Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Well I guess you can say we had our first adventure of the trip. Around 2:45 this morning we were awoken by the flash of lightning. Actually, we were up going to the bathroom and noticed the lightning. At first we couldn’t hear the thunder and figured the storm was far away. Shortly thereafter we started hearing the thunder, but it still seemed a long way off. Then the rain began. When the sound of the rain on the roof of the trailer was louder then the thunder, I figured it was time to turn on the TV to see what was up.

The crawler at the bottom of the TV screen told us there was a line of severe thunderstorms heading towards various counties. Counties around here are small and there are probably 20 in the Twin Cities area. I watched closely and when I noticed Scott County, which is where we happened to be, was on the list, my heart started beating a little faster. Then the crawler informed us that the storm could have damaging winds. What does that mean? For all I knew it could mean anything from a stiff breeze to a tornado. Next it said there had been reported golf size hail. Hey, I’ve been hit with a golf ball and they hurt.

About this time I told Cathie I thought we should probably get dressed in case we had to head for the shelter. Within the next minute the wind started. The trailer was rocking and the trees outside were bending. At least the power was still on. I looked outside and didn’t see anyone, figuring they must have already gone to the shelter. With the rain going sideways we made a run for it. The storm shelter was about 75 yards away, which seems like a mile, but with the wind at our backs, we made it in record time. As we stumbled into the basement of the RV park owner’s home, we were heartened to see the lights on at the bottom of the stairs. We expected to be greeted by the rest of the parks occupants, but were surprised to see only one other couple and their dog. The lady who owns the campground came down the stairs from the house to welcome us, and told us that her policeman husband had called to say the power was out in Bloomington, a nearby town. After turning on the TV for us, she returned upstairs.

I wondered where all the other people were. It was hard to believe they could have slept though the storm. The TV was telling us the winds were in excess of 70 MPH, which I understood to be hurricane strength. On the way to the shelter we had noticed several tree limbs laying around, I was sure the locals would have enough sense to seek shelter. Then in our conversation with the other couple in the shelter, we learned they too were from California. It was only the Californians that had enough sense to come in out of the rain.

After about 30 minutes the storm subsided and we returned above ground to see all the locals standing around in their pajamas, watching the light show which was now heading east. We scurried back to the trailer, hoping not to be noticed. Can’t wait till some of those Midwesterners come west and experience a 4.0 quake.

If it happens again tonight, I’m still heading for the basement.
Here's a link so you know I'm telling the truth.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wyoming and South Dakota



Well it’s time for this trip’s first installment of Gassaway’s Adventures. So far the trip has been pretty tame, with no real adventures to report. It's different from last year because so far we haven’t spent anytime at the Ford dealership, nor have we had to buy any new tires. (Knock on wood).

We left home early Saturday morning, heading north on I-15. Opting not to stop and enjoy the 110 degree temperature in Mesquite, NV, we spent our first night in Beaver, Utah. The next day we continued north arriving in Evanston, Wyoming in the early afternoon. Evanston owes its existence to the railroad. The first transcontinental railroad came through Evanston on the way west. Trains continue to roll through at all hours of the day and night. The surrounding area primarily consists of rolling ranch land supporting cattle.

After settling in at the local RV park, we drove 25 miles east and visited Fort Bridger. Many of the original buildings still exist, but the vast majority have disappeared, most destroyed by fire.

The next day we took a leisurely drive south along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. It traverses a wide farming valley along the Bear River before climbing up over a 10,000 foot pass.

After two nights in Evanston we headed east. We got off the interstate and stuck to the secondary roads crossing the continental divide at South Pass. Many of the settlers heading west in wagon trains used this pass because of its gradually sloping hills and the lack of any mountains. We also stopped at Independence Rock, which the same settlers carved their names as they passed on the way west carved. There are hundreds if not thousands of names and dates all over the rock, which is several hundred feet high and about one mile around. Yesterday’s graffiti is now protected. I hope it’s not is sign of what will happen to today’s graffiti.

After an overnight stop near Casper, we continued east to Badlands National Park in southeastern South Dakota. The Dakota Badlands are similar to the one we have in Borrego, with the exception of prairie grasslands which surround the area and the wildlife. This is truly, as the song goes, “where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play.”

Also in the area are many cold war era minuteman missile silos and launch control facilities. One near the park has been taken over by the National Park Service and tours our offered. We did not get to see the control center because the tour was booked up, but did manage to view one of the missiles in a silo. An interesting missile fact: The minuteman ICBM missile carries a 1.2 megaton warhead which is about 60% of the power of all the bombs dropped in World War II.

Our next stop on the journey east was Yankton, South Dakota. We stayed in the nicest state park we’ve ever seen. The park is situated along the shore of Lewis and Clark Lake which is formed behind the Gavin’s Point Dam on the Missouri River. The park runs several miles along the lakeshore and consists of over 300 campsites situated within mature trees and surrounded by acres and acres of lawn. There are miles of bike trails, which we have taken advantage of, playgrounds for the kids, and beaches for swimming. This is by far the most beautiful campground/park we’ve ever seen.

We are now in Minneapolis, having arrived in the early afternoon. The state fair is in full swing and we will visit it tomorrow or the next day. The RV park we are in has a storm shelter, which is comforting because there are tornado watches in effect in the area. Perhaps we’ll have an adventure to report in the next installment.


Thursday, August 16, 2007


We leave this weekend and expect to return sometime during the first two weeks in November. As usual we do not have a detailed itinerary, only that we want to be in New England for the fall colors. We will drive north until we reach Wyoming, then turn right. After that it's anybodies guess. We will go with the flow, stopping when we see something interesting and perhaps stay a while. When we grow tired we'll move on. We will travel ac cross the northern tier of the country heading east and return on a more southerly route.

I will post on the blog when I feel like it, usually about once a week, depending on the level of excitement we've experienced. As in the past we are available via e-mail. I finally broke down and purchased a cell phone plan with nationwide calling so feel free to give us a call.