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Day 2,100 - Spokane, WA (47° 38N 117° 29W)
17:29hrs - February 28th 2013
End of The Road (Trip)

Really! it's the end of the road trip!! after 10,000 miles, 24 states and 91 days, from New York to Spokane. Today we waved goodbye to the indomitable Captain America and our trusty rental car, and checked into a hotel close to the airport ready for our 6am flight back to Florida. The last portion of our epic road has been full of snow, bison, snowmobiles, more snow and friends.

Yellowstone Park was a surprise bonus as we both thought the park was entirely closed over the winter, but Neville spotted a Yellowstone brochure at the southern Utah border that told us there were in fact winter tours out of West Yellowstone, so off we went. We ended up staying there for 3 days and did as many tours as we could fit in which gave us all the wild snowy bison close ups we were hoping for and more. I know it must be beautiful there in the summer, but it gets very busy, so a winter visit has the benefit of fewer visitors, and a much more intimate experience with the park. I also had my first snowmobiling experience which was enormous fun. I always thought it would be a bit too ‘motor bikey’ but it wasn't at all. It was stable and with decadently heated seats and handlebars I was warm as toast, and with the added advantage of being pretty much impossible to fall off, I was good to go. We went out on the first day passing herds of roaming bison and other wintery wildlife along the way to see Old Faithful which was indeed old and faithful, and it felt quaintly patriotic to be there to see one of Americas grand old geysers in person. Next we went up to Coeur D’Alene at the top of Idaho to visit friends that we first met in Belize back in 2008.

This part of the road trip delivered the most hair-raising driving experience of the trip so far. To get to Coeur D’Alene we had to navigate 2 mountain passes in less than ideal conditions, the worst of which was Lookout pass. Even truck drivers hate this road at this time of year, but because of our schedule and the quickly deteriorating weather, we knew that if we didn't make the pass that day we would miss our window and wouldn't get to Spokane in time for our flight, so taking the kind of risk we would do anything to avoid on Dream Time we decide to go for it. We passed the chain up area at the bottom of the pass where trucks were busy chaining up as the snow started to pile up, and watched as 4x4 trucks and all weather jeeps rolled slowly past making us feel pretty inadequate. Quite quickly two snowy lanes turned into one slow icy one, and the further we got up the windy mountain road the colder and snowier it got. When the temperature got down to 27 degrees things got really uncomfortable, and when the light on the dash lit up telling us that the wheels were now spinning on the ice, something we already knew but didn't want to think about, I really started to wonder if we’d made the right decision.

There was a moment of relief when we reached the very top of the pass and I didn't have to worry about sliding backwards into whatever was behind us anymore, but then the even worse downhill portion of the torture began. Options disappeared and any misjudgment or loss of control was unthinkable. We have had our share of challenging and sometimes frightening weather in Dream Time but I have never been as scared as I was on Lookout Pass that day. I couldn’t even look at the road, I had to focus all my attention on the map in front of me, Neville was driving so I had no control which exaggerated my fear, and feeling our chainless car gliding and sliding down the steep downhill road trying to get traction, was something I will never forget. We did make it to Coeur D’Alene that day in one piece but, with a few more grey hairs than I would have liked, and I will never never underestimate terra firma weather again!

Our lovely Idaho friends Nick and Rachel took us in and showed us all over Coeur D’Alene with the main focus being on the wild and free outdoor life that they both love and that surrounds their home. We went tearing off on yet more snowmobiling adventures in the many snowy national parks up there, where you can ride for hours and never see anyone except the occasional other adventurous snowmobiler, and when you get tired you just get off take off your helmet, eat a sandwich and listen to the immense muffely silence that only happens in vast snowy places like that, an amazing treat.

So anyway, what’s next? Well keep you posted...

 
 

 
February 26th 2013 (day 2,098) - WE MADE IT!
Quick Fix: Spokane, Washington- 47° 38.47 N / 117° 29.65 W

 
 






 

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Day 2,091 - W. Yellowstone (44° 39N 111° 06W)
18:22hrs - February 19th 2013
Snowbound

The night before we left the Grand Canyon we had our first real snowfall and our trusty KIA had its first snowy road test, it did surprisingly well getting us safely on our way back down to less challenging altitudes. Our next stop was Los Angeles where we met up with newly transplanted NY friends who have now totally settled into LA life in leafy Sherman Oaks. We got the whole tour with everything from Rodeo Drive to Venice Beach and everything in between, thank you so much Brad and Jen!

Las Vegas was the next sparkly destination for us and with a great recommendation from Brad we stayed at a hotel that delivered everything I had imagined Las Vegas would deliver. Everything around us had that 24/7 feeling with nonstop consumption and indulgence as the apparent goal. Our room was a surprising calm oasis with magnificent views high above the Bellagio fountains, a chance to catch our breath before launching back into Vegas chaos one more time. We even went to Cirque de Soliel Zarkana (first time for us) and it was truly breathtaking, only problem, now I have to see all of them! Also as a side note we had to  switch cars in Vegas as the KIA had heroically reached its mileage limit with us and needed to go back to the garage for some much needed KIA R&R. Bye little KIA, and thank you! 

Next on the wild west  list, three days at the snazzy Sundance Resort in Utah for a bit more snow, some long awaited snowboard lessons for Neville and a cozy log cabin with a real fire and a hot tub for me.  Sundance really is a perfect little ski resort complete with the famous Owl Bar from Wyoming for the cowboy in you. Then onto Antelope Island just outside Salt Lake City to do some Buffalo/Bison spotting and then onto Lava Hot Springs to soak in outdoor thermal hot springs in 25 degree weather! boiling, freezing boiling, freezing. Pretty sure it’s good for you! Today we are driving up to Yellowstone, in winter, lots of snow, yay!  We are going to put the new car through its paces, see what its made of. Weather says snow for the next 4 or 5 days so wish us luck!  Does Bigfoot still live there?



 



Quick Fix: 34° 51.05 N / 114° 37.49 W

Arizona
February 9th 2013 (day 2,081)

A Historic Road Trip
It began as a dusty wagon trail in 1857, but by 1938 it was a fully paved road that became known as the 'Main Street of America' - an iconic stretch of highway that wound its way through small towns, past cities, across deserts and over mountain ranges, ultimately cutting through eight states to join Chicago with LA. Easy Rider was filmed on it, Bobby Troup, and many others, sang about it, even McDonald's served its very first burger next to it. It became a nostalgic part of American pop culture, and while it was officially decommissioned in 1985, no road trip across America would really be complete without driving on it, or at least a portion of what's left of it. Today we drove on one of its longest remaining sections, and we got our fix on route 66. - NH






 

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Day 2,080 - Sedona, Arizona (36° 03N 112° 08W)
20:56hrs - February 8th 2013
The Wild West

Our last two weeks from Houston Texas, to the Grand Canyon in Arizona - our road trip across America, has delivered the America I recognized from the TV I watched as a child. The landscape has morphed into cowboy and Indian vistas complete with giant saguaro cacti, building size boulders and wide blue yonders. It’s all beautiful, huge and quite often full of vast empty loveliness.

Neville's birthday at the end of January coincided with our stop in San Antonio, TX where we had a romantic River Walk dinner and a visit to the Alamo to celebrate. Next was El Paso, Texas and the closest to Mexico we have been since 2008, we didn't visit this time but did peep over the many fences on the border to wave hello. After that came New Mexico and Silver City, we stayed out of town at Bear Mountain Lodge, originally a nature conservancy area, and went for long walks in the perfectly quiet snowy hills. Neville, still in flip flops of course, made a snowman.

After that came Arizona and the indomitable Tombstone "the town too tough to die” with the mandatory visit to the OK Corral and haunted Bird Cage Theatre. It happened to be Superbowl Sunday so we watched the game in Big Nose Kates Saloon, complete with sheriffs and cowboys drinking and serving beer, so fun. We even stayed at the Stampede RV Resort where we were cheerfully given the honeymoon cabin! After that came Tucson where we stopped at the school that Neville went to when he was eight years old, and I saw my first Saguaro cactus, very cool!  Next stop was the very groovy Sedona, where it was just hard to know where to look next as it was all soooooo pretty. 

But for the last two days we've been in the Grand Canyon and it completely defies accurate description, so I’ll just defer to the photos that show maybe 10% of the awesomeness here, and hope that you get to see it for yourself to understand what I mean.

In seven short weeks we will be back on Dream Time in the toasty South Pacific, so I'm going to enjoy this snowy freezing chillyness up here at 7,000 feet, next to the surprisingly gigantic and enormous 6,000 feet deep Grand Canyon.

Thank you USA! We can’t wait to see what’s next!

 
 


 



Quick Fix: 32° 48.96 N / 108° 18.58 W

Silver City, New Mexico
February 2nd 2013 (day 2,074)

Suspicious Travellers?
Ordinarily, unless we're exploring the friendly Isles of Oceana, we don't usually offer rides to strangers. But a few days ago, in El Paso, we met a colorful character and decided to make an exception. An hour further down the road, however, we were stopped by border patrol. An officer questioned us, asking where we were going and if we were both US citizens. Remarkably, even though we answered with English accents, were in a rented KIA from Florida and driving to Idaho, and had a four-foot Captain America piñata in the backseat wearing dozens of New Orleans Mardi Gras beads, a cowboy hat and birthday sunglasses, we didn't raise any suspicion! Welcome aboard Captain America, we're glad to have you along for the ride. - NH