6/29 Thursday. The trip
of course started in Bala Cynwyd on Thursday. Mileage 65800. We drove to
Pittsburgh first and stopped off at Mercy Hospital to take care of getting
Miles’ medical forms filled out for school. We contemplated stopping in
Squirrel Hill but knew we would never get out of there if we did. I stopped
off at a Giant Eagle near AGH and picked up veggies and tofu in anticipation
of breaking in the electric fry pan that night. From Pittsburgh we went
northwest towards Lake Erie in Ohio. We got off the major highway and drove
along Route 2 so we could enjoy Lake Erie. I thought we were going to find
a motel right on route 2, but that did not happen. So we went a little
south west of Sandusky to Laraine and spent the night there. The neighborhood
was a little creepy and I thought people would break into the room, but
we got through the night okay. For dinner that night, I made Chinese stir
fry (cut up onions, zucchini, carrots, green pepper, mushrooms, and tofu.
I heated up some sesame oil and threw everything in. I later added soy
sauce, hot sauce, and garlic), I think it would have been better with ginger,
but Miles thought it tasted great.
6/30 Friday. Today we
headed for Sandusky. I really wanted to take an auto ferry to Pellee Island
and then over into Windsor Canada, but the ferries did not leave until
8:30 at night, so that idea was trashed. Instead we went to South Bass
Island, which is a little touristy island in Lake Erie. We met a frum family
on the ferry going over and the husband talked about how people used to
smuggle alcohol during the prohibition from Canada to Ohio, in the winter
when Lake Erie freezes over. It gets frozen enough to drive across. The
cars were convertibles, so in case the ice broke open, there was a quick
escape route. When we got to SBI, we rented a tandem bicycle, and biked
around the island. We noticed thousands of odd looking flying insects called
Mayflies. Frankly I found them disgusting. They fly in from the lake and
land en mass on the sides of building and then die and rot. But it is a
sign that the lake is relatively healthy. While we were biking, we visited
a winery and a cave and that is actually the world's largest geode. IT
was beautiful inside, all of theses crystals jutting out. For lunch, we
ate bagels and humus near the shore. I wanted to wash (netilat yadaim)
in the lake, but there were so many dead fish on the shoreline, the stench
made me want to wretch, so we found a water fountain instead. After lunch,
Miles let me “drive” the bicycle. This lasted for all of 10 seconds, when
I heard him yelling from the back “STOP STOP I CAN'T STEER, I CAN'T DO
THIS”. Miles didn't realize the back handlebars of the bike donut steer.
This proved to be very disconcerting for him. So we switched back. In the
meanwhile, I had a horrible time staying snius (modest). And had to keep
fiddling with my skirt, until part of it got caught in the chain. Well,
the skirt isn't ruined, but I'm going to have to get it hemmed. We finally
got on the road to Ann Arbor around 4 PM and made it to Neil's around 6.
His parents, brother Fred and paternal grandmother, Granny Ann were already
there. Everyone was very excited. The men left for shul around 7:30 PM;
right afterwards, Jen’s mother and her friend Doreen showed up. Mrs. Stiber
and I entertained them for about half and hour and really had them out
the door so we could light candles. Shabbos was really wonderful. I felt
like I was “rent-a-daughter-in-law” but didn't mind since the Stibers are
such nice people.
7/1 Shabbos Saturday. We
got shul in time for the aufruf, actually, there were much more women at
Shul that day. Neil provided a kiddush, and we went back to his place for
lunch. That afternoon, I went to Jen’s Shabbos Kallah. She asked endless
questions about Neil, and told me how jealous she was that I got to spend
Shabbos with him. I met Rabbi Jacobavitz’s daughter and Jen’s sister Jill.
They both know Steven Bekhor so we were updating each other about him.
I told RJ's daughter how happy I was to meet her, since Steven wrote so
highly about the family and how much food they serve him. For Shalos seudat,
Miles went to Young Israel and met his economics teacher from Frisch, Rabbi
Wiel. He embarrassed Miles by announcing him as “ an old student of mine,
who won the economics award”.
7/3 Sunday Wedding
Day. The day started very calmly. Neil got up extra early to
eat, and Miles took him to Shul around 6:30 and them went to the mikvah.
Afterwards, me miles, Fred, and Neil, sat around the table eating breakfast,
except for Neil, and reading the paper. They morning was so relaxing it
was hard to believe he was getting married later that day. Neil left around
2 PM. Miles and I got there around 3 and kept ourselves pretty busy. We
were very glad to see Yosef Birnboim whose plane had to make an emergency
landing in Montana that morning because it caught on fire. While Miles
saw Yosef, he gave him 2 juicy kisses. I helped Tamar walk down the aisle
so Judy could keep an eye on the other kids. Jen and Larry and their baby
Avigail were there. Miles got the third or fourth bracha under the chuppah.
It was an outside ceremony, and the day was positively gorgeous, and the
strong wind blowing made it all seem very romantic. Neil had a strange
look on his face that day, I'm not sure if he was feeling very emotional,
or was just hungry and tired from fasting. The reception was extremely
energetic. Rabbi Wasserman, got on a table and was carried in, something
he hadn't done since his own wedding. I helped lift Jen in her chair. I
really need to do some strength training for future weddings. There was
a lot a shtick and the meal was really nice, milchig no less. We said all
of our Good byes around 10 PM and headed out. It was raining on and off
so we decided to stop for the night in Bellefield, near the airport. Steven
Bekhor (Miles’ friend from JHU), left us three voice mails, none audible,
and all marked urgent. We got in touch him with the next morning, which
is today, Monday.
7/4 Monday. So we did
meet with Stephen. I tried calling him, when we were about 10 minutes away
but there was no answer, Miles and I assumed he was taking one of his classic
hour-long showers. When we pressed the buzzer for his apartment, still
no answer, and when we got to his door, again no answer. However, in about
5 minutes, we heard his voice. Stephen opened in his Kyoto slippers from
10 years ago, which are so worn; there is no slipper part for heels. He
was in classic fluorescent Stephen shorts and an old T-shirt. We couldn't
see his face since he had a towel completely draped over his head. A muffled
voice welcomed us in. Stephen was voraciously drying his hair. He has not
changed at all. He explained his thesis, the geophysics of the parametric
beating of Alfen waves in the heliospehere. He might as well have been
speaking French. We spoke a bout life and Judaism, and his spousal requirements
(Iraqi Ph. D. in humanities, to be met after he has tenure since he needs
to earn about 150 K to properly support a family), and dropping items.
At the end of our visit, Stephen put on a pair of socks, and I use the
terms “socks” loosely as there were more holes than sock. The were large
enough to fit his foot through. Miles describes it as multiple large holes
that basically enough his foot like my Teva Sandals. I asked Stephen if
he had any other socks, and replied “Of course, about 40”. He is finishing
up his thesis and is looking for a tenure track position or post-doc work.
After we left Ann Arbor, we headed due west for Chicago. We got to West
Rodger Park around 4:30. Miles got to see Shimmy for the first time. He
is huge. Nora came with us to Ken's diner and we at yummy grease burgers
and Miles’ had buffalo meat for the first time. The house look atrocious,
like a big messy bomb went off. Nora and Seth actually contemplated joining
for part of the trip to SD, but Seth is taking the boards and can't leave.
We left Chicago about 9 PM and headed northwest. The driving was wonderful
since we got to see fireworks going off in various towns as we drove towards
7/5 Tuesday. We slept at
nice hotel, Excel Inn last night, 55 bucks. We tried to visit the timepiece
museum but it is permanently closed but will reopen in downtown Chicago
next year. So we headed west for Dubuque. Our first stop was in Freeport
wear the 2nd Lincoln Douglass debate was held and the famous
Freeport doctrine was stated. We continued west on 20, which is were we
are right now, around 12:30 PM. We did a quick detour to Apple River Canyon,
which is indeed a little canyon. Overcast skies right now and LOTS of corn.
We stopped in Elizabeth and visited a fort where one of the many battles
of the Indian Wars were fought. Miles and I both really liked it. Finally,
we got into Dubuque Iowa. First we went to the Casino, Miles bombed out
on blackjack, but we recouped the losses and made a little money on roulette.
Just like when we were in AC. From the casino, we took a paddle riverboat
tour of the Mississippi. Miles struck up a conversation with an older gentleman,
who recommended we go visit the House on the Rock in Wisconsin. We went
up until the locks. Interesting, Dubuque get its water supply from springs,
the old man said it very good water, which I confirmed later on. We then
checked into a Days Inn, and discovered our first lost item. Apparently
I forgot the heating element for the frying pan, back in Laraine. Miles
and I were pretty upset because we were so hungry. So back in the car we
went, first we tried a Target, but it was closed early for the 4th.
Thank G-d, the K-Mart was open, so we bought a 2nd frying pan.
For diner I made baked beans with hot sauce and sautéed onions and
peppers, I heated tortillas, by wrapping them in foil and placing it under
the iron, set on high. This worked very well. After dinner we went back
to the casino with 2 10 dollar vouchers. We won about 20 dollars on the
slots, but miles lost 40 at blackjack.
7/5 Wednesday. Another cloudy
day, I toasted bagels for breakfast with the iron. After much discussion,
Miles finagled his way back into the casino, with more vouchers. We did
so poorly, we ended up losing 12 dollars, but all told we left with 121
bucks of casino money. So now we are on the way to Postville, FINALLY.
We are taking route 52 north through flat but rolling hills (according
to Miles). Hopefully we will be spending Shabbos in Omaha. Miles has just
pointed out the road appears to be colored mauve. We just finished visiting
Postville and had quite an adventure. First we stopped at the kosher deli,
which is the only restaurant in town. Miles had schnitzel and had
a salami sandwich. I asked to woman about getting a tour of the Agriprocessors
plant. She made a call and said a senator was visiting and we couldn't.
Do you think this dissuaded us? NO. I wanted to just drive out to the plant
to take a picture. While there, Miles went to the security office to ask
if we could get a tour, once again we were told no, because of insurance.
We got our picture and were ready to leave. But then, Miles saw a little
rebbe walking I big slaughterhouse boots. He only spoke Hebrew but said
he would take us in. However, the security guard, stopped us, and this
time gave Miles a real talking to. My smooth tongued honey, explained that
we didn't know it was a problem, and the guard invited us into his office.
We spoke for about 40 minutes while waiting for permissions from Shalom
or Hesshie Rubashkin. The gentleman's name is Doug all. We learned a lot
about the business:
30 Rabbis working
400 cows killed/day
Mostly Canadian bulls
20,000 chickens a day killed
Cows is placed in a box, turned upside down and then cut
Box can rotate 14 degrees to point to Mecca, to produce halal meat, but
this is not used
Only 33% of cow turns into usable meat
6 shipments to NY per day, 5 to Houston per week
Each shipment has 40,000 lb.
40 Jewish Families in a population of 2000
300 people work at the plant
Plant is 11 years old
Large ethnic groups: Mexican, El Salvador, Russian, and Ukraine.
Highest per capita Hasidic population in the world,
Mr. All is a security guard, paramedic, Vol. fireman, and head of the zoning
board and will run for Mayor next year.
7/6 Thursday. 4:15
PM. Somewhere west of Waterloo IA, on Rt. 20. LATE BREAKING NEWS!!!! THE
LEVINS OUR HOT ON OUR TAIL!!!!. Last night, we stayed in Dodgeville, WI.
I picked up a voice mail from Rita stating they were in Toledo, OH. Miles
left an innocent message on their answering machine (we are having trouble
getting through to their cell phone), stating we are planning to spend
Shabbos in Omaha, NE. Well, I just picked up another voice mail that they
are in Des Moines and planning to meet up with us for Shabbos. Ok to back
track. After Postville, Miles and I decided to backtrack to Wisconsin to
see the House on the Rock. I'm so glad we did it. Words really fail us
in describing the place. It isn't exactly a museum, or just a house, but
much weirder and more beautiful. Miles calls it a visual playground. It
is a 2.5-mile indoor walking visual extravaganza. Your head is constantly
looking everywhere. The man who built the house, Alex Jordan was a collector
of object d'art, small and large, valuable and cheap. We saw the world's
largest carousel, an incredible collection of automatic instruments, nautical
tchotckes, endless. The house has a very strange architecture, and was
a thrill to walk through. One billboard summed it up perfectly, “Great
to see, hard to explain”. After THOTR, as stated before, we stayed in Dodgeville
in the Pine Ridge Motel. Miles speaking, “When we walked into the motel
office it was extremely stuffy, it smelled of curry, and behind the desk
I saw the barefoot Indian receptionist. Everything my parents warned me
against, but the room was nice the rate was only 38 dollars, so we stayed
there anyway.” For dinner, I made pasta, instead on the usual sauce. I
first cooked the noodles, and then almost one by one put them, cooked,
into a Tupperware, and then drained the water since I don't have a sieve.
Then I used a car of recipe ready chopped tomatoes, added, black pepper
and garlic powder and re-heated the whole thing. Miles really liked it.
For breakfast, I made PB&J tortillas. We got back on the road, and
headed for Waterloo to visit the John Deere Factory. The tour was free
and about 2 hr. long, it takes you from start to finish on the assembly
of a tractor. It was nice but we wouldn't go back or recommend it, unless
we knew someone was a tractor enthusiast. I also got in touch with Aviva
Kelsey; unfortunately, Mike had to go back this weekend to Frederick because
his grandfather died. But I think we will see Aviva and Natan for a little
while tomorrow. Right now we are headed due west on Rt. 20. I don't know
whether we will stop in Fort Dodge or Continue to Sioux City. We ended
up in Sioux City that night at the Palmer House Motel. I made omelets with
salsa. After dinner, we went out to explore downtown Sioux City. We drove
by the historic district but didn't find it too interesting. We went to
the waterfront, Missouri river, and ate frozen cheesecake by the river.
Since we were fairly close to the casino, and Miles needed wash his face
off, we decided to walk over there. Once in the casino, we played craps
for the first time, and didn't lose too much money.
7/7 Friday. We headed
for Nebraska today. We took 75 south into Omaha. We stopped in a little
town called Tekumsah and Miles bought a straw cowboy hat, this way he won't
have to take off his kipah if we think the town locals might get spooked.
We got into Omaha around noon, boy it was hot, like back awful, headache
hot. We met the Chabad Rabbi, Mendel Katzman and got the name of our hosts,
Leon and Dani Shrago. We then went over to visit Aviva. Their apartment
is very sparse, but it's getting them through the summer. Aviva is REALLY
looking forward to going back, although Mike really likes his job. Natan
is also looking bigger, which is a nice relief from last summer. We did
our laundry today, and boy did we need to. Smelly sweaty clothing that
been cooking for a week in our trunk smells awful. Now I know why laundry
hampers have ventilation holes. We got to our hosts around 6 PM. The Shragos
(805 120th St.) have three children. They own a local supermarket
chain, Bag n’ Save. Shabbos was very nice. Miles davened at someone house,
and in the morning, we went to the Chabad. Even though Shabbos was very
long, we were able to pass it with pleasant conversation, Miles also met
the number 2 guy to Berkshire Hathaway, Forrest Something. That night we
stayed with Aviva. Stephen Bekhor sent us the following email:
“Friends, I am pleased to hear that you are enjoying
your excursion. Notable absences do, however, appear on your itinerary.
For one, you did not travel to Indianapolis or Saint Louis. Moreover, it
seems that you are averting the Badlands National Park. Please explain
these exclusions from your itinerary. I also suppose that you will be delighted
to rendez-vous with Miles’ parents. By the way, why is it that I am the
sole individual from your old circle of friends who appears on your mailing
list? Have you lost contact with the others? I shall recommend that Josh
contact you before he leaves for Romania.”
Miles and I are preparing materials for our reply
to Steven, when he writes it always feels like a final essay exam.
7/9 Sunday. We headed out of Omaha fairly
early. We stopped at the Kosher Restaurant, the bagel bin, and had breakfast.
It's another bright sunny hot day. We crossed into South Dakota around
12:30 and did three sets of 3 cheers. We are currently headed to Mitchell
to see the Corn Palace; we might even make the Bad Lands today. Total mileage
is 68019. We saw the corn palace, which was indeed covered in ears of corn.
It was an incredibly hot day. We also went to the Hot Air Balloon Museum,
which was not that interesting to us, but I imagine its good for enthusiasts.
After Mitchell, we bit the bullet and took the interstate to Kadoka since
the rural roads are not clearly defined on the map. While traveling to
SD, we took rout 37, which was pretty bad since it is under construction
and we had to take multiple detours on dirt/gravel roads. We also ended
up with two chips on the front window. We got into Kadoka around 4:30 and
went to the petrified garden, it wasn't worth the money. That night we
stayed at the Hill Top Motel for 38$. I wanted to make veggie moussaka,
but the eggplant I got was rotten. In fact, all the veggies I bought in
Mitchell were bad, but I was able to salvage the mushrooms. So I first
cooked up thinly sliced potatoes by putting them in some water till they
were soft, and then I put them off to the side. I then sautéed onions,
garlic, peppers, mushrooms, and added zatar, I poured chopped tomatoes
and the potatoes back in and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Miles
thought it was good.
7/10 Monday. Today we went to the Badlands,
it was incredibly scenic. There are many stop offs on the scenic loop,
about 20, but we only went to 7. The air in this part of the country smells
sweet; it reminds me of honey made from barley. Miles also thing honey.
We saw some cute prairie dogs along the way. We also took a 10 minute helicopter
ride, it cost 40$. The ride minimized the heights of the buttes, so I couldn't
get a real appreciation for the landscape, but we did like being in a helicopter
for the first time. After the Badlands, we went to the motherland of all
tourist traps, Wall Drug, there were a lot of tourist shops and cheap entertainment
for kids. We had the free water and used the rest rooms. It's a good place
to take kids or to buy expensive souvenirs. We are on route 90 right now,
headed for mt Rushmore mileage is 68377. We got to Mount Rusher and found
it quite enjoyable, except for the parking fee, about 10 dollars. We ate
lunch near the foot of the mountain. Miles had raisin bran cereal and I
had yogurt. After lunch, we got suggestion to visit Custer state park,
using the scenic loop. The tour guide said we could see many animals along
the road. So off to CSP we headed. I need to preface the next paragraph
by stating that my reactions were based on watching too many episodes of
Fox’s “When Animals Attack”, and the revealing article on stupid tourist
in national parks in WSJ. The drive started very pleasant. The road using
a bridge structure called pigtails, which allows the cars to ascend rapidly
by using a loop de loop structure. After about 30 minutes, we encountered
a 4 car traffic jam, caused by burros looking for food in the middle of
the road. I asked miles to keep the windows up, since we have sooooo much
more to offer the burros, but did he listen? NO. So, some old burro saw
all the food in the back seat and just poked her head right into the car
through Miles window, liking the car door, and steering wheel, I hope the
pictures come out. Miles started to close the window and she got the message
and took her head, but left a nice juicy kiss on the window before she
left. About 5 minutes later we saw a herd of buffalo of to my left, including
some babies. I freaked out, insisting that miles keep driving since I was
sure we looked like sardines in a pretty blue shell. Miles insisted on
opening the windows and took some picture. We proceeded to argue on the
safe distance to keep, I thought 30 miles and miles thought about 30 feet.
About 5 minutes later, the traffic stopped again because a buffalo kept
crossing the road. I got right in front of our car, I was so nervous, I
was screaming, I was ready to drive the damn car myself, from the passenger,
and miles kept taking pictures. After that all we saw was some deer and
a ram. When we got to the visitor center in the park, we were able to ask
the rangers some questions. She confirmed my thoughts of the safe viewing
distances, although she thought 100 feet away was good. Turns out a motorcyclist
was charged at already this year. I told the ranger to expect some calls
that night because we saw so many people getting out of their cars to get
closer to the buffalo. After Custer we continued west on 16 to Gilette,
Wy. We encounter a horrible thunderstorm. It was beautiful and scary, with
lots of lightening. Miles thought the clouds looked like the ship from
Independence Day. It did seems like the storms clouds were in a ring structure,
the rain itself wasn't too bad, although for a short time we drove quite
slowly, with the flashers out. Had we gone in another direction, I think
the rain would have been much worse. Since it seemed much darker of to
our left. Since I found a natural food store in Rapid City, I was able
to get falafel mix and techina. We stayed at the mustang motel, off of
90 in Gilette. We enjoyed a very nice dinner of falafel, techina with hot
sauce, cukes and tomatoes, in pita bread, with 1 minor mishap. I burnt
my left pinkie finger in the oil, so Miles picked up the slack and finished
making dinner. We picked up voice mail from Ta and Rita, who were in Lander
, WY that night.
Mileage is 68617. We are on Route 14 headed north to Sheridan. We visited
an open coal mine this morning, it was pretty good tour, especially for
free. We are going to go to Cody tonight to watch the rodeo. Its supposed
scorcher today, 90 degrees, it's very sunny out,, with very few clouds,
and cars. We got to Sheridan about 6 PM. We finally found a room at the
Wigwam Inn. We ate a quick Dinner of beans and corn tortillas. I put in
some hot sauce and mustard into the beans just for kicks. The rodeo was
fantastic, we saw bronco riding, steer wrestling, calf wrestling, dual
steer lassoing, and the piece de resistance, child care Wyoming style.
They invited all kids under 12, and able to walk to chase a calf around
the arena. About 100 kids assembled for this. The goal of the game was
to pull a ribbon off the tail of the calf, the grand was a hot dog. The
sight of 100 children running in circles, not unlike the horses in the
pens behind the stands, was better than cable. Kids jumping at the calf
to get the ribbon kept falling into the dirt. The bull riding was the best.
Most the riders were wearing some kind of protective vest, to protect the
upper torso. But no one wore helmets, I find this surprising since their
heads seemed mighty close to the bulls feet when thrown off. We stopped
at Wall-Mart to get a new camera since the old one broke.
7/12 Wednesday. We headed
into Yellowstone today. We got to see a lot of the land that was ravaged
in the 88 Fires. The fallen timber looked like matchsticks strewn across
hundreds of thousands of acres. With even more trees left standing, but
completely stripped and dead. Interspersed are all the new trees. Our first
was stop was the mud volcano. It smelled horrible, but looked fantastic.
There are all types of colors to be seen due to bacteria, algae, and mineral
deposits. We then visited the upper and lower falls. The lower falls are
larger , I think taller, but not wider, than Niagara. It was very majestic.
After lunch, in the lounge of the Mammoth Hot Springs, we went to the hot
springs, we saw fantastic structure, pools, terracing from the mineral
deposits, and crumbling terracing from springs that have dried up. Miles
said some parts looks familiar and others didn't. We went to the upper
part of Mammoth, and saw how the springs are overtaking the landscape.
Part of the boardwalk was closed off because the springs have started flow
on there. As minerals deposits filled up spaces between the slats in the
boards, the water can flow further onto that space. We saw quite a number
of animals, We saw a large bison wandering around the parking lot of the
lower falls, people probably got within 5 feet of this. I should mention
that tourists was injured, by being gored by a bison, earlier that week
and had to be transported away. Miles would like to add that he was a Australian
gentleman, who probably did not know any better and thought the bison was
just a lazy kangaroo. In addition to the bison we saw a lot of elk, male
and female, and deer. After Mammoth Hot Springs, we visited Norris Springs
and waited about 40 minutes to watch one of the geysers go. It was OK but
not that spectacular. We were in the park from 10:30 to 8:30. We headed
into West Yellowstone, MT. That night and stayed at the Lazy G Motel for
53$. There were numerous signs banning cooking in the rooms, so we ate
7/13 Thursday. We slept
a little and had to rush this morning, I tried using evaporated milk with
the cereal. I don't think I’ll do that again, maybe its ok in coffee. We
mailed off a bunch of checks to pay our credit card bills and headed back
into Yellowstone. We went to more thermal springs, including old faithful,
which was pretty amazing. The interval was 81 minutes, when Miles last
went it was 31 minutes. We toured the historic Yellowstone inn which looked
like a tinker toy log cabin. After Old Faithful we got out of there. I
started calling places in Lava Hot Springs, and just when I thought we
weren't going to be able to stay there for Shabbos I landed an apartment
for 45 a night (Idaho Apartments). I think, nope I just confirmed, that
the apt has no TV, no Phone, and no A/C. This is what I get for being desperate.
From Yellowstone, we drove through Grand Teton, which wasn't as spectacular,
except for the Rocky Mountains, which looked larger than life. We drove
into Jackson. We stopped there to get some lunch food, its very commercial
and touristy and high faloutin, We are now going south on 26, and will
pick up 34 to go into Idaho. Mileage is 69219. We got in Lava Hot Springs
about 7:30. It was much smaller than I expected. We drove down Main street
and very quickly found Ta and Rita. They were staying right across the
street from the springs. We found our apartment, the street names are very
strange, we were on S. 1st East Street. No wonder I didn't understand
what the woman was saying. Our apartment was pretty good, 1 bedrooms, Cable
TV, private bath, and a decent kitchen. Miles finally nixed the idea of
koshering the oven due to too many questions and not enough time. We unloaded
the car and had pasta for dinner, we found that Barilla Sauce is now kosher,
and miles liked it better than using the recipe ready tomatoes. We went
to the Blue Moon bar and had beers and played pool.
7/14 Friday. I had a lot
to do for Shabbos. We went food shopping Pocatello and spent about 90 bucks
on food. Ta found Mogen David wine for sale in LHS (Rabbi Ralberg heksher).
I was unhappy because the Albertson’s I went to didn't have hekshered soy
cheese. But Rita found a natural food store inside a Fred Meyer, which
is like a WallMart. I even got canned beans, so I didn't have to soak.
We got back around noon, and I started work on the kishka, I found a recipe
for easy veggie kishka on the internet, and boy it was easy, I don't think
I’ll ever go back to buying frozen kishkas now. I turned on the oven to
bake the kishkas, and it smelled of steaks, which bothered me, but I cooked
it anyway. Miles went off to dunk in the hot springs. When he came back,
he could also smell the “treif” aroma, and we both agreed I should burn
the oven out before using it again. Next time, I will burn the oven out
the night before. I finally finished preparing for Shabbos around 6, so
Miles and I went tubing on the Porteneuf River. It was a lot of fun, and
not too cold, except when we got out. Around 7 I went back, and Miles when
to the hot baths. We took in Shabbos around 8:30 PM, Licht benchen was
8:46. I served, along with Rita’s help and talent:
Grapefruit salad with some Orange Juice
Veggie Casserole with soy cheese
Fruit for dessert.
I used up so much aluminum foil because I think
I was even triple wrapping for the oven.
7/15 Shabbos.. Miles and I davened,
and then walked around town. We finally met up with Ta and Rita and sat
with them until 12:30, while they were switching rooms. We ate lunch around
1. I served all the leftover from dinner, plus the cholent. It was definitely
missing the beef, and kishka could have been more greasy, maybe I needed
to add more ketchup, but Miles thought it was still first class. Rita said
LHS would never be the same. We slept till 5 and then walked around again,
I also read a little bit. We had shale sudat, again left overs with a fruit
salad, and cheese and crackers. We made havdalah, and went to bed.
7/16 Sunday. I made breakfast
using a lot of leftovers, and we then went to Chesterfield, which is an
old Mormon ghost town. This is what Ta loves to show people around LHS.
It was nice to look at. When we got back to LHS, Miles and I went tubing
again. We both got kind banged up. I've got a nasty bruise on my hindquarters,
Miles has various abrasions, so we hobbled over to the hotsprings to soak.
I really liked it. I got a pool all to myself, in a weirded little snius
get up, no body bothered me. We also walked around again, and went to a
store called Aura Soma Lava, it was closed, but the owner said she would
open it up for us. I told her not to bother. She noticed my tichel and
said “ Your hair is wrapped up in an interesting way, are you Amish? Mennonite?
I finally said “Jewish”, she then said to Miles, “I see her head covering
but not yours, where is your yarmulke?”. Miles was able to lift his cowboy
hat up, and out himself. She asked what sect we were, and Miles said “Fanatics”.
She smiled and said there was a congregation in Pocatello called Emanu-El.
I think it might be J for J, but who knows, its just a congregation, no
Rabbi, no building. For dinner it was just me and miles. I made eggplant
parm, which Miles adored and venerated. He said I haven't cooked this well,
since before I started the job at Mercy. Miles thinks I'm rising to the
challenge, he wants me to feel this challenge all the time, so he said
when we get back home he's going to tie one hand behind my back, or blindfold
me, or tie my feet together so I can only jump around the kitchen. We ended
the night by going back to the hot springs till they closed. It classic
Levin Fashion, Miles lost his keys, and I didn't bring mine, so we were
lucked out. Luckily the landlady was still up.
7/17 Monday. We packed
up the car and are now headed west for Washington. Miles sent an unsigned
post-card to Yosef stating, “We're coming”. Maybe we'll call him tomorrow.
Right now we are on 84 taking the Interstate to save a little time. Its
11:30 AM, mileage is 69624 and we have a long way to go, next major stop
is MT Rainier. It's 5 PM Pacific Time now, we are about 30 miles away from
Pendleton where we will spend the night. We saw a lot of burnt landscape
when entered Oregon, the hills looked like black and gold mixed together.
We also stopped for lunch at Three Island Crossing State Park in Idaho,
it's part of the Oregon Trail and was one of the few places settlers could
cross the snake river. In Oregon we stopped in Baker City to see natural
gold displays at the US bank, it was small but I liked it. Miles just told
me we are in the Umatilla Reservation. Mileage is 69982, our starting mileage
was 65800, unbelievable. We stopped in Pendleton at the Relax Inn for 42$.
We had a simple dinner of tunafish sandwiches and then went off the WildHorse
Casino. Its an Indian casino and didn't offer much. However Miles played
blackjack and for once, didn't lose all his money. He actually ended winning
10$. After the casino, we saw the movie X-Men, which we both liked.
7/18 Tuesday. I forgot
to call Ephraim to wish him happy birthday, I hope to remember tonight.
I also need to send a thank you note to the Shragos. We got a small surprise
last night, Sarah and Levi will be in Seattle with Yosef this Shabbos,
so I guess that cements our plans. We were planning to go on an underground
tour of Pendleton, but it started earlier than I thought so we got in the
car and headed for Mt St. Helen's. We crossed over into Washington around
noon, and found there was a dam, McCrery nearby (we took the interstate
to 375 north). We saw the fish ladder and the dam, I really liked it. There
was a lot of salmon there and I felt like holding up a bagel and cream
cheese and yelling to the waters “This is your destiny, Come to me!” We
had planned to take 14 west to the western entrance of the volcano, but
I got a little confused so we ended up on 82 headed to Yakima, but by the
time we hit an exit to turn around, I read that the eastern entrance was
far more dramatic, so now we are on 12 west, just a little past Yakima.
There are a lot signs out that the fire risk today is high. We're seeing
a lot of logs and they are being watered down, I guess because of the fire
risk. We can smell the cut lumber and it smells good. Mileage is 70200.
It very dry in this part of the country and high Latino/Native American
population. We also got in touch with Yosef, he said we are definitely
coming for Shabbos and it even isn't a option, I've offered to make meals,
we are really looking forward to this. We finally did get to see the Volcano.
On the way there, we found a little pull-off that overlooked one of the
lakes in the area, very private very romantic, we this little patch of
lake front all to ourselves. We also got to see our first rock slide. As
we rounding the side of a mountain, I saw rocks coming straight to my door,
with big puffs of dust, the rocks missed our car by about 12 feet, thanks
to Miles’ skillful maneuvers. Behind us I could see lots of rocks falling
onto the highway. A little bit after this, we saw a truck with a plow headed
in the opposite direction, and there wasn't any snow around. A little bit
after this, we got our first glimpse of Mt Rainier, covered with snow,
poking through some clouds, it was a dominant feature in the landscape,
I love looking at it. So onto Mt St. Helen's we headed, it took a long
time to get there. On Route 99, we found a pile of snow, which was literally
cool. We got out and touched and stood on it. Miles even threw a snowball.
When we finally got to the volcano site, it was awesome, there has been
a growth since the explosion 20 years ago, but we were able to still see
deadened trees, a little bit like what we saw in Yellowstone, but different.
There was a lot of pumice stone where we were, at Windy Ridge, in fact
it totally desolate, no vegetation, and this area used to be a forest.
When we walked up 250 stairs to Windy Ridge, we could see where the entire
side of Mt St. Helen's Collapsed or was blown out, covering the valley
floor with debris and mud, it made lakes into Mud Holes . Next time we
will go in through the Western approach. One of the annoying things is
that Rt. 99 dead ends at Windy Ridge, and we had to go back the way we
came. However, once we got to 25, wee took south towards cougar. We were
not able to find a room until Portswood, we stayed at the Lewis River Inn
for 61$. I was exhausted from the trip, and felt car sick, so Miles made
instant veggie chili for himself and I ate a few crackers. Somehow we found
the energy to go to a Casino, where we lost 35$.
7/19 Wednesday. Miles
and I have realized there are a lot of stores out there that use the n’
in their name such as Pittsburgh's Shop n’ Save, Omaha's Bag n’ Save, Chehalis
has the Shop n’ Kart, Pendleton OR has the Pay n’ Pack. We thought today
was the fast day, and got a slow start. But before we left the hotel room,
I checked Chabad.org to see when the fast over and realized we were a day
early. So we had a slow start. We went to Castle Rock to see an IMAX movie
about the explosion of Mt St. Helen's, which was really good. Miles also
got his hair cut, the shortest I've ever seen it. High and Tight , like
a marine. From Castle Rock, we took 12 to 101 up to Port Angeles to take
a ferry to Victoria. On the way, we found a casino, and promptly lost $60.
When we got to Port Angeles, the next ferry wasn't leaving until 9:30 PM,
and that would put a sever kink in our plans to eat, so we took a place
at the UpTown Motel for 75$. I made pasta, which miles liked and then fried
some bagels in olive oil and zatar…YUMMY. After dinner, wee went walking
around the Port. This is the first time I saw the Pacific Ocean. Miles
tried valiantly to get us in trouble by walking in private areas, through
a lumber yard, but no one seemed to care. We got up close to a freighter
called, The ohio, or something like that. The scent of wood was really
familiar, and it took me almost 30 minutes to figure it out, it smelled
like the attic and the playhouse in my Grandparents old house in Troy.
Wow, what a strong memory scent is. We got in touch with Yosef, and formalized
plans, we will stay by him starting on Thursday.
7/20 Thursday, I finally
sent Eph a card, and the thank you note to the Shragos. We took 101 to
104, and are trying to get to Seattle by 1 PM for a tour. We will meet
up with Yosef later on today to break the fast. Mileage is 70689.I hoped
for a shortcut by catching a ferry from Kingston to Edmonds and I hoped
right. We caught an 11:30 ferry, and took it across Puget Sound. We got
to see two dolphins in front of the ferry…very nice. We got to downtown
Seattle just in time for the Underground Tour, which literally tours the
underground of Seattle. The tour spoke of the past sewage problems, we
both enjoyed it. This tour focused on how the current street level was
raised one story above the original street level. After the tour, we went
up the space needle, saw Mount Rainier and read the wall st. journal. After
the space needle, we went to visit Yosef in his office. We've read about
these kinds of offices in the WSJ, it was good to see one in real life,
it seemed like an advanced day care center, replete with toys and candy,
and a lot of TVs. There was even a large bouncy ball and a free video arcade.
We left with Yosef and went food shopping, we broke the fast with Pizza.
A few hours later, we picked up Levy and Sarah.
7/21 Friday. We got a slow
start on the morning, but met up with Levy and Sarah and Pike Market. We
got to see the fish sellers throw fish to each other and the flower markets
were amazing, but we forgot to pick up a bouquet for Shabbos. We grabbed
Yosef for lunch and went for veggie Chinese, some of the dishes and like
the Sweet and Sour pork and the shark fin soup were good, but the steamed
salmon was not. After lunch, we went on a duckie tour, mixed reactions,
probably not worth going on again, but we did get to go in the water. By
this time, it was almost 5, and the Shabbos jam started, Sarah was coming
with a cold, so she stayed out of the kitchen. We got back around 6 and
Yosef was cooking right up until licht benchen. His house is amazing, it
has a great view of Seward Lake, Mt Rainier, and Paul Allen’s house. His
back yard has all sorts of plants including grapes and a pear tree, and
a basket ball court. For Shabbos dinner, we ate by his friends, Elyse and
Andy Jacobs. Andy works for Microsoft. When we got back from dinner, his
roommate left the screen door open, and the there were thousands of flies
in the living and dining room. We tried sweeping there off the ceiling,
which sort of worked. But it was all pretty gross, and the dead were streaking
across the white walls as we swept them away.
7/22 Saturday. Miles, Levy
and I made it to services, and were rewarded with a fleischig cholent,
yay for us. We ate lunch at Yosef’s house and hung out there for the rest
of Shabbos. After Shabbos we watched the Big Lebowski.
7/23 Sunday. Sarah made
a nice big pancake breakfast. We talked about me going out to Pittsburgh
for a few days to help her with wedding stuff. We finally got to EMP the
Experience Music Project. Its basically an interactive museum devoted to
Popular Music. We were mixed on this. The display galleries were eh, but
we really liked this pseudo roller coaster ride and a paticipatory lecture
of dance of the 50’s and 60’s given by a woman named Cheryl Johnson, who
studied under Cholly Atkins, who was the main Choreographer for Motown
from 50’s-80’s. We learned a bunch of dance for the back up singers for
The Respect song. It was great, even just seeing her dance was good. We
made a steak bbq for dinner, and sent Levy and Sarah back to Pittsburgh.
7/24 Monday.. We are finally
on the road again, to Portland, we are taking 5 south to 8 to 101 to go
down the coast. Mileage is 70805. On the way to Portland, we saw the largest
spruce tree in the US, pretty awesome, I think you could drive a car through
it. We also hit the Pacific Ocean today as we drove along the 101. The
water was freezing but we managed to stick our feet it. Miles thought he
could beat the tide but it came in rather fast and his sneakers and socks
got wet. We stopped at the smallest Casino, Shoalwater, on the Shoalwater
I.R. It kind of reminded me of the shul’s bingo, the way the customers
and dealers talked with each other. I won $2.75 in the slots and Miles
lost $23.50 at blackjack. We got into Portland through rt. 26. The construction
in town was unbelievable. We stayed at the Downtown Value Inn for $50.
This was undoubtedly the worst hotel we were in, ala’ moldy soaps and blood
stains on the sheets. The only reason we stayed there was we did not know
how to get out of town, and I did not discover the stains until morning…gross.
Dinner was simple, we had cold cereal.
7/25 Tuesday. We took 5
to 205 to 213, and are working our way to Mackensie pass and then onto
Salt Lake City. We stopped in Silverton to see the Oregon Garden. This
is a work in progress and this year is the preview year. It's a large open
botanical facility. It was neat seeing all the landscape and planting and
weeding going on. Two of plants we really like was the monkey puzzle tree
and the spaghetti grass. From Silverton we got back on interste 5 and went
down to Eugene where we picked up 126 east. We stopped for a quick bite
along the Mackensie river. Miles carved an L into a tree there . We took
the Mackenzie pass, and did indeed see the lava, is was amounts of black
rock that we climbed onto. From Mackezie, we picked up route 20, from Bend
and headed into Burns. We stayed at the Comfort Inn for $60. I made beans
and rice, and we had rice pudding I found in the local supermarket for
desert. We went to the Big Camp Casino in the Burns IR, we only lost $10
this time, out of 47$ played, I think Miles is truly getting “better” at
Blackjack. From the Bend to Burns we passed about 5 “towns”, spaced about
20 miles apart, usually these places consisted of one building, no homes,
no nuthin’. In one town the only building was boarded up. The landscape
has returned from a foresty one to wide open plains of sagebrush, there
are a lot of buttes or mesas in the horizon. Today we also saw the beginnings
of a forest fire. Lots of white and gray smoke rising way up.
7/26 Wednesday. Mileage
is 71511. We are now on route 78, still in Oregon, we been really spoiled
by cool temps the entire trip, except in Nebraska, so now we are preparing
for the worst. The air conditioning is on for now, we'll see how long we
can keep it on without taxing the car. The day went by very quickly as
Miles and studied two shuirs on the three weeks. We took 95 south into
Nevada, and stopped in Winnemuca for lunch, surprise surprise, there were
casinos. There were slots machines in supermarket. I picked up some food
for lunch and we ate in one of the Casinos. For the first time, since Dubuque,
Miles won at Blackjack. We got on route 80 and headed east. Stopping in
Wells for another Casino, and miles won again. On the way we could see
forest fires, north of Wells, we heard on the radio, there are very bad
fires in Nevada, I don't if what I saw was the worst of it. We are going
to make it into Utah tonight, traveling at least 350 miles today. We almost
made it to Utah. We stopped in West Wendover to stay the Rainbow Hotel
and Casino, which is about as close as we got to Las Vegas Glitz. We got
a very fancy suite for 49$ with a big Jacuzzi, next to the king size bed
and steam bath/shower. Miles blew his biggest load yet, $80 bucks, most
of it lost in 7 card stud. I made sweet and sour meatballs with rice. I
got veggie meatballs awhile ago, at health food store in Rapid City, SD
and yesterday I found Contadina sweet and sour sauce, so I made some rice
and heated the other two together, pretty good. The casino was overwhelming
with the neon lights, clinky sounds, bad band, and mirrors, everywhere,
it was disorienting to walk around there.
7/27 Thursday Mileage is
72021. We are in Utah, on Route 80. We already stopped by the Bonneville
speedway in salt flat, it was white and flat and you see until the road
and sky met, turning white together. Apparently I fell asleep during this
time, and Miles took gross advantage of it by testing the speed limitations
of the car, he said he went past 100 MPH. It's getting hot.
We got into Utah around noon, and proceeded to the Chabad House, which
to our dismay, was closed and had a for sale sign. Miles left a voice mail
for the Rabbi and we gave ourselves 2 hours to let him call back. Unfortunately,
it looks like Miles left his tzitzis in Wendover, leaving him only to wear
his kipah. We took a tour of Temple Square, which is the headquarters of
the LDS. Two missionaries asked Miles about his kipah. We saw two newly
married couples coming out of the main temple. It turns out on the summer,
there are about 50 ceremonies a day. The ceremony is held in a small room,
only close family members attend. When I told our guide we had almost 250
people at our wedding, her eyes popped out of her head. We then went to
the family history library, but time was closing in on us and we didn't
find much. By 2:30, Rabbi Zipple did not call back, so we made arrangements
to spend Shabbas in Denver. We got on route 40 and headed into Colorado.
We stopped to get some food in Vernal, so found a fridge in the supermarket
that sold worms for fishing. About 6 miles before the Colorado boarder
we stopped at a scenic viewpoint to take a picture. We got back into the
car and 30 miles later, when we were gawking at the beautiful wildlife,
including a bear cub, some deer like animals, beautiful mesas, we realized
we left the camera at the viewpoint, so we raced back, and found the camera
was missing. So back in the car. At Dinosaur, we took 64 south, riding
into the night. We stopped for a little bit to stare at the stars. I've
never seen so many stars in my life, we could almost make out the constellations.
We stopped finally in Rifle, around 10:45 for the night, at the Winchester
motel for $53. We had a light snack of celery and ranch dip instead of
7/28 Friday. Mileage is
72565. We are Interstate 70, headed east to Denver. The route is very scenic,
going through canyons. The fire risk is very high today. There was a lot
news night, a hostage situation at JFK, although it ended quickly with
no one hurt. Everyone is very worried how someone with a gun got through
the metal detectors. We just got through the high part of our trip, literally.
Vail Pass at an elevation of over 10000 feet. We are seeing a lot of bicyclers
around here.We got into Denver around 1:30 and lunch at the Mediterranean
Café, decent veggie food. We went to a movie, and then bought flowers
for Shabbos, and then we went to the Engles. Rabbi Engle is the Shaliach
for the Denver Chabad, he and his wife, Leah, have 10 children, of whom,
we met 7. R. Engle reminded us both of cousin Davey. We stayed at the Enlges
for Shabbos, and had a really nice time. For services we davened at East
Denver Orthodox Synagogue, which is like Shaarei Torah, and growing, the
women's section was filled to capacity. I would like to note that they
served a cholent kiddush, making this 5 straight Shabbosim, without missing
a cholent. We left motzei shabbos, and headed east.
7/29 Saturday. We spent
Saturday night at the Preferred motel in Limon, CO for $42.
7/30 Sunday. We took Instate
70 to 40 to 287 to 50. On the way, in Colorado, near the Kansas, we found
an old Japanese Interment Camp called Amache. We walked around for a few
minutes, the only physical remnants were the cements foundation of the
some of the structures. Otherwise it was completely grown over with brush.
Hard to believe there was an interment camp here, in America. Mileage is
72980, we are on route 50 in Kansas now, we'll go south down to Oklahoma
today, This upcoming Shabbos will be the last on the road. I've already
started to clean out the car. We spent most of the day driving, heading
towards Oklahoma City. Once we were in OK, we took 270 to 3. We stopped
to look at old wagon tracks of the Sante Fe Trail. WE also went through
Dodge City in Kansas. Probably good if you have kids. We visited the bombing
memorial. I had been at the bombing site in the summer of ’95, just a few
months after it happened. I was stuck by the mementos that people had left
at that time. The bombed out area was surrounded by a wire fence, and all
around the fence, people found scrap cardboard and wrote note of support.
Other left small toys and stuffed animals. When we returned, there was
still some wire fencing, and again, people left the same kind of mementos.
I saw a lot of key chains, trinkets, and such. Most of the notes contained
the message of “G-d bless you”. The memorial was striking, we got there
around 9:30-ish, at night, and there were plenty of people there. I found
it just as moving as I did 5 years ago. We spent the night at a travelodge
on the west side of the city, for 41.50. I made noodles and sauce.
7/31 Monday. We got a late
start, but still made it to the cattle auction in the stockyards. It was
great!. First we had to walk a catwalk to the actual building, below us
were hundreds of pens, filled with bellowing cows, doing their thing. We
walked inside the auction room, 100 seat stadium style seating, in the
lower center, were a professor would lecture, there was a dais, where the
auctioneer and two assistants sat. In front of them was a semi circle,
a dirt pathway, were the cattle was let in. On the TV screens, they showed
how many cattle were coming in, and total weight, and price the previous
group sold for. The auctioneer would begin his chant, and it was just I
expected, I can't even replicate what he said, but it sounded real cool.
On average the cattle would sell for a $1 a pound, depending on how muscular,
good looking they were, and how fat they were. Each auction would only
take a minute. We stayed for about 20 minutes, headed for Arkansas. We
took old route 66 to Tulsa, and took 412 into Arkansas, we are continuing
of 412, going east, the scenery is lush and green. Mileage is 73750. Today
for lunch, we opened the salami, not an easy undertaking. We stayed in
Hardy Arkansas, at a Day's Inn for $57. I wasn't feeling well so Miles
actually made dinner. As a side note, we had to throw the electric fry
pan away, as one of the handles broke, which it made it impossible to stand
study, luckily we had the extra fry pan that we bought all the way back
in Dubuque after we discovered I lost the electric cord. We had some fancy
rice (garlic flavored, from a box) and chickpeas flavored with Zatar.
8/1 Tuesday. Today was a
big driving day, we continued on 412 until Missouri, where we picked up
164 and took 55 to 155 into Tennessee. We took 155 to 51 to the Western
Kentucky Parkway (which became the Blue Grass Parkway) and at Lexington,
we picked up I-64, and got all the way into West Virginia..5 states in
day! We would like to note the similarities between traveling on the Blue
Grass Parkway and the PA Turnpike. Although there were no tolls, the construction
style was the same. Lots of barrels before and after the site. It took
us down to one lane for 5 miles, and the construction was on the other
side of the road, just like home. We stayed at the Hamilton Inn for $32
on route 60. I made chili for dinner. First I fried some onions in olive
oil and added sazon; I then added the fake ground meat, hunt’s tomato sauce
with jalapeno peppers, hot sauce and black pepper. We finally broke open
the applesauce for desert. Miles thought it was spicy and good.
8/2 Wednesday. It's 10:10
AM right now, and we are a little west of Charleston, WV. The big question
for today, is will we make home before the clock strikes midnight. I told
Miles that if by 11 PM tonight, we are less than two hours away from home,
we can keep driving. We'll see what happens. It's 2:30 PM now; we are almost
in Hancock, MD. I think it's a given that we'll be home tonight, it's a
just a matter of when. Miles and I want to get off the Interstate once
we get into PA, taking route 30 right into Philly. That will probably slow
us a down, but not too much.