Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leaving Las Vegas

Today, we leave Las Vegas. Finally.

We got such a great deal on a hotel for Jeff while Clarinda stayed on the Strip with her college friends that after they all went back to their homes, we decided to stay an extra two nights.

And then another night.

And another night.

Now, we're itching to get back on the road to see where it takes us.

Well, we have a pretty good idea. In fact, Clarinda has made lots of notations in the atlas, so we won't have to stop and consult Mr. Google too often.

Clarinda will most likely blog about her portion of the stop in Vegas over at Enjoying the Course. She walked the Strip about a bazillion times and ate some amazing food.

Our time together in Vegas was spent off the Strip.

One evening we did bike to the Strip and then walk to NY, NY Clarinda's favorite hotel. It was a great little excursion, and while we did bring the camera, we forgot to put in the memory card, and it's internal memory was full. Fail.

We were so disappointed. :-(

Other than that little excursion, we basically spent the rest of our time in Vegas lounging by the pool.

And planning where to go from Vegas.

Liberty got her oil changed while we were in Vegas, and she got diagnosed with a few things that make us not so confident about taking her down through Mexico and into Belize.

So, for now, our plan has changed a bit.

Instead of only going to Weeki Wachi in FL, we're pretty set on driving all the way south through the FL Keys -- instead of ultimately heading to Belize. 

Even though Liberty's got some troubles, we've decided to continue road tripping across America, and we'll see where we end up. For now, we've all but decided to return to Vegas, but who knows...? We'll see how Liberty holds up.

For now, we're taking things one day at a time.

Starting with a visit to Hoover Dam.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Visiting Jeff's Dad

One day during our stay in Bridgeport, we made the drive up to Tonasket to visit with Jeff's father. On the way, we drove through Okanogan and caught the tail end of Okanogan Days.

Where Sallie got to meet a couple oxen.

Which pretty much freaked her out.

She also met a couple doggie friends.

Which she loved.

From there, we continued to Tonasket, where we got to reconnect with Jeff's Dad.

There was a bit of a language barrier, but it was nice for Jeff to see his dad and for Clarinda to meet him. He had a beautifully landscaped yard with some really gorgeous flowers.

The picture above was in front of his dad's favorite bush, because it stays in bloom the longest.

A few more shots from his backyard.

Sallie, of course, found a few spots to roll around in.

Definitely an afternoon well spent.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Leaving the Pacific Northwest

Today, we'll be leaving the Pacific Northwest and heading down to Las Vegas.

Visiting family has been a great start to our adventure.

Our first stop, and our longest, was in Bridgeport, WA. A big, huge THANK YOU to Bill and Mel for welcoming us into their home for more than 10 days. Enjoyed many days of great conversation. It was fun to reconnect with them and all their kids.

Clarinda also enjoyed going for several runs in and around Bridgeport. Her favorite run was to the Chief Joseph Dam. You can read about it here.

A major reason for stopping in Bridgeport was to drop off our china set and free up some room in Liberty. Well, we also purchased a few items. There was still quite a bit of Tetris going on when re-loading Liberty to continue on our way.

We left Bridgeport on Thurs and headed to The Dalles, OR to stop at Jeff's sister's house to drop off a painting and some DVDs.

We drove through Chelan and stopped to take some pictures of the gorgeous lake there.

And a little video.

It was a really pretty drive the rest of the way to The Dalles - though Clarinda did doze quite a bit.

The most stunning was driving up to this view.

And crossing into Oregon was one of the prettiest state crossings - from crossing the Columbia river to seeing Mt Hood in the background.

This was also the scariest part of the drive.

The Columbia River Gorge area is known for its wind, and that's no joke! Liberty was being whipped around like a huge kite. There was one point when we were really afraid of losing Lily and Lloyd (our bikes). Have we introduced you to them yet? We'll have to do that in a future post. The wind whipped the straps of our bike rack so violently, that we were really afraid that the straps were going to disengage. We'd be sad to say good-bye to our bikes, but even more devastating would have been having to say good-bye to Liberty. We're not sure she would survive running over two bikes while driving 45-55mph.

Finally we made it to The Dalles, OR.

Unfortunately, while we had an address, we'd failed to actually look up directions. So... we pulled into a gas station right off the freeway and asked for directions. We were a little hesitant because the cashier didn't seem very confident, but the directions turned out to be perfect!

We easily found our way to Jeff's sister's house, where we stayed the night. Thanks, Trudy! Clarinda and Trudy even went for a run/walk the next morning. It was too brief of a stay but so great to see them again.

From there we went to spend a couple hours visiting with Jeff's mom.

And then back into WA to visit with Jeff's cousin, Rebecca. We sat around and chatted, helped with her son's birthday party, and chatted some more. What a fun visit!

Plus, one of the softest, most comfortable beds EVER! Her daughter is so lucky. :)

Vegas is next on our agenda. We'll be taking our time with the drive and should arrive in Vegas sometime Tuesday afternoon.

Here's our tentative route:

If you're familiar with this area, and know of any must-see stops, feel free to leave us a comment below, and we'll do our best to provide some pictures.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lulu's Market and Deli - St Paul, MN

After checking out of our apartment, we had a few errands to run before heading out on our adventure. After a trip to Clarinda's parents' house, the auto store, and the bike store, we were pretty hungry.

While out and about, we stumbled upon Lulu's Market & Deli.

It looked like a cute little place to grab some food and enjoy our last day of beautiful MN weather. well, beautiful that day, at least.

We ordered hummus with pita chips and fried cheese curds.

We were very pleasantly surprised to find that the pita chips were freshly made - right in the store! They were the perfect mix of crunchy and chewy and tasted oh, so good with the freshly made hummus. It was a delectable treat after the stressful few days we'd just had.

Clarinda:How do you like the cheese curds? Are they better than those at the State Fair?
Jeff:Yes, I think they might be.
Clarinda (laughing):That's just what their menu said you'd say.

from their menu...
CHEESE CURDS You know 'em, you love 'em. Hand battered delicious fried cheese. We're not sayin' they're better than the State Fair, but you might. Served with a side of Red Sauce.
Although we ordered food, we also glanced around the market briefly. Such a cute little store with many of the essentials you might need from food to personal items to cleaning supplies. It had a very clean, fresh look and feel to it with nice wide aisles for shopping and plenty of seating for dining.

The folks working there were pretty friendly and accommodating. They even allowed me to order and got the food started while Jeff made a quick jaunt over to Liberty, parked 1½ blocks away, to grab his wallet. There may be a few parking spots in back, but mostly it's street parking. Though it's just a block off Snelling Ave, it's a fairly residential area and doesn't appear that parking would be too difficult - but, again, we stopped in on a late Thursday afternoon.

All-in-all, we were very impressed with Lulu's Market & Deli and would definitely recommend it to anyone - especially any of our Twin Cities followers.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Camping bug

School's out for summer! At least I think that's probably true for most schools by now ... or very soon, at least.

Since leaving MN, it seems we'll perpetually be on summer vacation. :) Not that we're complaining.

For many families, summer vacation means playing outdoors, enjoying nature, and, perhaps, camping trips.  There is nothing better than grabbing your camping tent and heading for the hills or lakes or wherever. There is definitely something to the peaceful serenity that comes from camping.

Leave your worries behind and ENJOY all that nature has to offer.

But, it's also important to be prepared. There are lots of very cool toys available for camping nowadays. Seriously, it doesn't need to be all rough-and-tumble, but you can actually be quite comfortable out in the woods.

We've used lots of camping gear to outfit Liberty for our trip, and there are a lot more camping goodies out there that we'd like to get when we're able. Whether you need a new tent for camping or simply some camping creature comforts, look no further than

You know where we're going; where will you be heading this summer?

Monday, June 4, 2012

On the road...

From here on out, we could probably title all our posts this way. :-)

We officially headed out from the Twin Cities the morning of June 1st. Our first destination was Bridgeport, WA. We have family there - and a place to store our china set.

Since we were carrying an extra big tote, space was very limited in Liberty. It was awkward and not very spacious at all, so we tried to get to WA as soon as we could. We only stopped for gas, potty breaks, and for Clarinda to run in each state.

Sallie has an incredible ability to sleep in the most uncomfortable looking positions.

We almost made it all the way through North Dakota the first day of driving. We're trying to be as conservative as possible with our fuel consumption, so we're trying our best to drive around 55mph.

Yeah, we're that van.

We woke up Saturday morning, and as I was walking Sallie, I realized that we'd parked at the beginning of a bike trail. I tried to convince Jeff to take a bike ride before hitting the road again, but our desire to get to WA outweighed all the work it would take to dismount the bikes, etc.

Despite being in a hurry, we were able to snap quick videos as we passed each state line. Here we are crossing into North Dakota. You can see this and other videos on our FB page.

After this segment, we'll be avoiding freeways, but for this first segment, we stuck to I-94 and I-90. Being on the interstates, we were no strangers to this route. Still, we were both amazed at the beauty around us. 

We've been at Jeff's brother's house now since Sunday afternoon. We'll likely be hanging out here for about a week before heading south to the Portland area.