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 Rockford.

    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:

    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.
     7/11 Tuesday.  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 tuna instead.
    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:

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 dinner.

    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 one 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.

Final Note: We got home about 5 PM. When we crossed into the Pennsylvania boarder, I danced in the car seat, it was great to be home.