Richard and Suzanne and Duncan's Big 2006 Road Trip #2
Stage 1 - Southwest to Midwest
Phoenix, AZ to Trout Creek, MI

Day 1 - Monday, August 21st, 2006
Phoenix, AZ to Safford, AZ
182 miles

Here's our log for the second trip this year - hope you enjoy it!

Although we'd spent several days packing and preparing, somehow the Travel Preparation Temporal Distortion Field affected us again, and even after getting only 5 hours sleep trying for an early departure, our scheduled 10:00 launch got pushed back to noon and to after 2ish as a few final things needed to be taken care of. But at 2:30, we were in the truck and pulling out of the driveway to start our next adventure.

Our eventual destination on this trip is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, then Madison, Wisconsin, and then a last several days in far NW AZ. However, to try something a bit different, we decided to take a slightly unconventional route for our first leg by starting off in a southeasterly direction along US 60. An unfortunate side effect of our relatively late start, though, was that our escape from the Phoenix metro area wasn't as clean as we'd hoped, and we found ourselves trapped in very heavy traffic on US 60 out in the eastern suburbs. However, several miles of bumper-to-bumper eventually gave way to open highway, and after snagging a late lunch (or early dinner?) in Gold Canyon, Truckasaurus was happily making its way up and down the hills of east-central Arizona.

In Globe, after a quick filling of truck and emptying of Duncan, we joined US 70 as it rolled southeastward across the San Carlos Apache Reservation. This stretch of road was much more relaxing that the earlier chunks of 60, and we settled into our accustomed travel routines. In Fort Thomas, one of the small towns stretched out along US 70 as it makes it way through the Upper Gila River valley, there's an impressive monument to Melvin Jones, the founder of Lion's Clubs International, who was born in Fort Thomas back in pioneer days - making Fort Thomas, we suppose, the "original Lion's lair". Duncan had fun wandering around the monument as his parents stretched their legs and adjusted to life on the open highway.

Our original plan was to make it out of Arizona and at least as far as Lordsburg, New Mexico this first day, but as the sun disappeared behind us under the dark clouds, we decided instead to stop early in the town of Safford, where we took the last available room at the Tour Rest Motel in the center of town. Interestingly enough, a few years ago on a shorter (undocumented) trip we stayed in the very same room at the very same motel, and so the idiosyncrasies of this room were easy to figure out once we remembered our earlier experience. Then a relatively early turn-in to rest for tomorrow's travels as the rain began to fall on the tiled roof outside.

A monument to the Original Lion

Day 2 - Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006
Safford, AZ to Roswell, NM
392 miles

This day began with an early alarm clock ring, as we were already nearly half a day behind schedule and wanted to make sure we got an early start. We'd gotten out of our daily travel routine while living our "normal" life at home over the past month or so, so it took us a little longer to get ready than anticipated. To save a bit of extra time, Richard toodled the truck out to fetch a McDonald's breakfast and get some $2.69 gas at Whiting Brothers, while Suzanne prepared Duncan for a busy and fun day of travel. Then into the truck, a quick thanks to our Tour Rest hosts, and eastward we went into the steady rain, which was driving just as hard into us as we were driving into it.

About 40 or so miles down US 70 from Safford is a small town that was smart enough to name itself after our kid (121 years early), and so Duncan and the rest of us splashed into the town of Duncan, Arizona, where we stopped at the local hardware store / grocery, splashed in the puddles, saw the big jet plane at the town park, and posed in front of all the signs displaying Duncan's moniker.

Then a short drive east on 70 took us over the New Mexico border (oops - our first hour lost), and another half hour of rainy cruising brought us through Lordsburg and onto our old friend I-10. Here the rain finally ceased and the miles passed quickly (except for that "shortcut" down a flooded road, but that's another story) into Deming, where the local DQ sold us a quick & yummy lunch.

After Deming, our driving continued as we finished up our stretch on I-10, exited back onto US 70, traveled nearly nonstop (except for a red light or two) thru Las Cruces, and cruised up and over the pass and down into the vast valley of the White Sands Missile Range, the site of many a scientific breakthrough in hi-speed aerodynamics (it's not brain surgery, it's rocket science!) Past the observation stations and undulating waves of white sand we rolled onward, until on the other side of the sandy expanse (right after the friendly chat with Homeland Security) we stopped at the White Sands National Monument visitor center, where the exhibits told the interesting story of how all this white grainy stuff came to be in this place (has a lot to do with gypsum, actually) and Suzanne & Duncan's National Parks passports were officially stamped.

After our White Sands fun, we bypassed Alamogordo on the "relief route", hung a right at Tularosa, and then climbed into the cool mountain air of the Mescalero Apache Reservation. The A/C switched off and the windows rolled down as we thoroughly enjoyed the 60ish temperatures following the latest summer storm. No time to visit the many casinos or chainsaw carving shops on this part of US 70, though - we wanted to try to make up a bit of our lost time. The mountains eventually ended and we made our way onto the open plains of eastern New Mexico and descended our craft into the city of Roswell, which we last visited on our 2003 trip. This town again seemed like a good place to dock ourselves after a long day, and so we proceeded downtown past the many "alien-ated" buildings and shops, and discovered a most excellent meal at the new and appropriately themed "Cover-Up Cafe" (where all the recipes are secret!) Then back in the truck for a short drive to the giant neon birdie advertising the Crane Motel, where we rested under its majestic glowing wings.

Doings of Day Deuce

Day 3 - Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006
Roswell, NM to McLean, TX
293 miles

After our stay at the Crane, we levitated ourselves out of Roswell and onto US 70 for the diagonal drive toward Clovis. Highway 70 is a quiet 4-lane road most of the way across New Mexico, and we watched the miles tick by quietly & comfortably, carried by Truckasaurus' very experienced drivetrain. In Clovis, Duncan romped and frolicked on the fun playground at Hillcrest Park, and we enjoyed the breezes in the shade (though it was a touch warm in the sun).

We veered off US 70 and onto US 60 just before the Texas state line (oops, there went another hour), and moooved diagonally through Bovina, Hereford (beef capital of the world!), and all the other cow-enhanced towns of the Texas Panhandle, until we encountered US 87 and dropped into the friendly downtown of Canyon. On the town square there's an interesting three-way business - the Rock & Roll soda shoppe, clothing boutique, & beauty salon. Now we didn't have much need of fashionable threads or to get our hair done, but we can always use a handy helpin' of ice cream, and so we ordered our savory scoops off the 33 RPM menus (actual old records, in fact) and listened to cool tunes on the (free!) jukebox. We finished up our snacks while wandering the other shops of central Canyon, including the local hardware store, where we bought a few odd items for home, truck, and garden, and then spun around the square outbound, stopping briefly for some good 5-buck pizza being sold by the students at West Texas A&M.

I-27 carried us swiftly northward into the metropolis of Amarillo, and then a turn east took us back onto I-40 and its more-fun counterpart Route 66, a highway quite familiar to our long-time readers. This part of the trip was uneventful - until just outside Conway little Duncan started to indicate in his pre-verbal way that he wuzn't feelin' too good 'bout then. As we tried to analyze the situation, Duncan did his part to convey the message more clearly by reintroducing us to several of his earlier meals, which precipitated an urgent exit from the highway and a lot of wiping & scrubbing.

After the situation was stabilized, we continued into the late afternoon Texas sunshine past Groom and Alanreed, where we saw many of the local volunteer fire departments congregating around the local motel (and we don't think it was for a social occasion, unfortunately). We were hoping to make it into western Oklahoma before the end of our day, but given Duncan's condition and some other considerations, we decided to cruise into the small town of McLean to see what lodging was available. Lodging there was under the arms of the big green Cactus Inn sign, where "Gritty" the kitty welcomed us to the establishment and we were escorted to their "suite" room, offering high-speed internet, satellite TV, and a big spacious comfy room. As we chatted with the Sheplors, the owners of the Cactus, an amazing coincidence was revealed - their son lives less than one block from us back in Phoenix! Turns out they've been down our street more often than we've been down theirs!

We bade good evening to the folks and settled in - but all did not go as well as planned, for as Richard was rasslin' the 12 volt refrigerator out of the back seat for the daily trip into the room, one handle cracked in two and the other snapped off entirely. Grrr. Undaunted we were, for the toolbox was deployed, and after a bit of drilling and taping, once again we have proved that baling wire and tape can fix almost anything. :) Then a late evening doing a few days of dishes, scrubbing out the car seat, and trying to make our little guy feel a little better, and we collapsed into our Cactus Inn bed dreading the early check-out time awaiting us the next day.

An interesting third day

Day 4 - Thursday, August 24th, 2006
McLean, TX to Tulsa, OK
312 miles

Our day began early at the Cactus Inn, as we made a valiant effort to do all what needed to be done and still get on the road early, but it seems the time got the better of us again and we finally departed about 10:45 or so, nearly an hour after "official" check-out. Apparently Gritty the kitty put in a good word for us, since the Sheplors were very nice about it. Due to our tardy departure, the many-pointed balls in front of the Barbed Wire Museum farther east in McLean failed to snag us again (next time - really!), and we merged onto I-40 to begin the day's travel with some high-speed trippin', entertained by the colorful chatter of the truckers on the CB (Duncan, disregard that last comment you just heard!) Then a short drive thru Shamrock to admire the U-Drop-Inn Dinoco, er, Conoco station, and then a few last Texas miles before exiting into Oklahoma on an old 4-lane alignment of historic 66.

Rumors had reached us of some odd doings in the small town of Erick. As we heard the noises escaping past the sign-studded facade of the Sandhills Curiosity Shop, we realized the rumors were unimpeachable fact, as we walked in near the end of yet another unforgettable performance by Harley & Annabelle. Their uniquely engaging style of performing was very much appreciated, and they even serenaded us a with a personal rendition of "Route 66", which elicited much happy applause from Duncan's little mitts.

Then some sign inspection, a bit of chat about sights and places, and we were given a first-class kiss-off by Harley & Annabelle as we rolled north on Sheb Wooley and turned right on Roger Miller and left Erick behind. Then a few miles of old 66 brought us to and through Sayre and farther eastward into this OK state. No time today, alas, for the museums in Elk City and Clinton, but we did cruise each burg's business district to see the interesting sights. Then back on the Interstate eastward, to see what sort of other stuff might await.

There's a new place to eat in Weatherford, and it's closely modeled after one of the older buildings on old highway 66. Lucille's Roadhouse is an all-new diner/steakhouse that's been built to look just like Lucille Hamons' classic roadside establishment a few miles east in Hydro, but with all-new conveniences (ahem by Suzanne: one critical missing convenience is a changing table, folks...!) Lunch was good, and pie was gooder, and after improvising a changing location for little Duncan we were back on the road and passing the original Lucille's along the bumpety original concrete pavement of 66. We were planning on following old 66's alignment over the seemingly-endless trusses of the Canadian River bridge, but the large orange "BRIDGE OUT" signs skeered us back onto the superslab and over the river eastward.

In the interests of time, we skipped the parts of old 66 that wander through El Reno and Yukon, and we remained for a piece on I-40 as we entered the Oklahoma City metro area. A big sign yelling "$2.68" lured us into the Pilot truck stop for a full tank of unleaded, which of course ensured that we would find fuel just a few cents cheaper a couple miles north on local streets. Oh well... We cruised thru OKC mostly on freeways, having remembered that we faithfully followed the old alignment of 66 on previous trips. Then north on US 77 into the endless dim red lights of Edmond (are those LEDs workin' right?), and then eastward thru many more challengingly-timed signals until we were past I-35 and out of the worst of creeping urbanity.

"Strictly Enforced", said the speed limit signs on each side of the town of Arcadia, and so Richard carefully monitored the large LED readout on the truck's DMI to ensure he wouldn't be the latest to make a contribution to that town's municipal budget, then back onto the wide-open 2-lane of Oklahoma state route 66 as it twisted and turned alongside (& occasionally over) the Turner Turnpike. We were going to stop briefly at the historic storefronts of downtown Chandler to do a bit of shopping in the local stores, but the big bold "NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS" signs kinda discouraged us, and so we continued on.

Several miles down the road, our stop in Stroud at the Rock Cafe didn't exactly coincide with our feeding schedules, so we just popped in to say hi and to see how many more artworks & autographs were inscribed upon the washroom walls (ours was still there and relatively unmolested, thankfully). Dawn Welch, the Rock Cafe's proprietor (aka "Sally" in the recent movie "Cars"), wasn't in, so we couldn't give her the message that Harley had asked us to pass along across the state to her (no, it wasn't anything inappropriate or classified), and we continued on eastward thru Depew and Sapulpa as the late afternoon sun tried its best to glow into the rear-view mirrors.

Evening fell upon us as we entered Tulsa town, and so our earlier plans of seeing the sunset at the Blue Whale and booking a room in Claremore or Miami had to be revised. We decided to go back to a place that had treated us well on past visits, and so we turned into the driveway past the wonderfully colorful neon sign of the Desert Hills Motel. Although the lobby now sports a close-up photo of a chunk of epidermis of a certain Ronald Jones of Bartlesville, we didn't let that disturb us too much, and so we paid our room bill and remote control ransom money and settled in for a (hopefully) restful night.

66 in Oklahoma - fun for everyone!

Day 5 - Friday, August 25th, 2006
Tulsa, OK to Jefferson City, MO
340 miles

It's hard to drive with a full-grown elk in your lap. But we'll get to that part of the story later.

After checking out of the Desert Hills, our first stop for this day was at a beloved bluish roadside icon just north of Tulsa in the port city of Catoosa - the Blue Whale. Once Duncan saw his big new blue friend, he was a runnin' right for him - only problem is, the green grass and the green water the whale's swimming in sorta look the same to a small child, and fortunately Richard was able to swoop in and hand-deliver Duncan to the safety of the whale's innards before this fun moment was able to come to a smelly wet end. While we were doing the Jonah bit, Blaine Davis, the son of the original builders, came on down to say hi, and we had a most pleasant chat about the history of the whale, its importance in tourist lore, the whims of Oklahoma weather, his recent travels, and other things.

After our Catoosa craziness, we proceeded northeastward on OK 66 thru Claremore (did that light turn yellow too fast?) and the flag-festooned streets of Vinita while we pondered our next activity. We turned off the big little road just south of Miami and traveled along for a few miles on one of the truly original extant stretches of old 66, measuring a whopping 9 feet wide between the white concrete curbs (to accommodate both directions of travel). This small throwback to the very early days of auto travel was a fun diversion as we bumped along past the munching moos and well-kept ranches of far northeast Oklahoma. Once we reached Miami (pronounced Miamuh, just like the town back in Arizona), we slalomed up the main street of town past the historic buildings and winged our way to our lunch stop, demarked by the happy yellow bird of Waylan's Ku-Ku Restaurant. The belly-filling food was as good as the signage and architecture, and we left Miami both nutritionally and aesthetically satisfied.

Unlike our earlier trip this year, we chose this time for a small sampling of Kansas as we nipped the far southeast corner of the state and looped thru Baxter Springs and Galena. Then on into Missouri and to and through the town of Joplin as the weather changed from somewhat sunny to downright drenched. Due to the weather and our tardy start, we skipped that nice stretch of 66 between Joplin & Springfield and stayed on I-44, plowing thru the hard rain and dodging the plentiful semi-trucks also heading eastward. Fortunately, the rain eased up a bit east of Springfield, leaving behind much cooler temperatures and revealing a sign off the main road for "Exotic Animal Paradise". Sounds interesting - let's take a look!

Turns out this place (which unfortunately is closing for good at the end of September) is a drive-thru animal park, where a wide variety of critters freely roam the 250 acres as a small road winds past their happy habitats. We began tamely at the petting zoo, where Duncan made the acquaintance of a gang of goats and other barnyard buddies, and then walked past the lounging lemurs, bouncing baboons, and big kitties out back. We then jumped back in Truckasaurus for the drive thru the main part of the park, waved through by the "guard llama" resting in front of the the gate. The first part seemed rather calmly enjoyable as we passed the bear and ape enclosures (sign: don't pick up hitch-hiking monkeys!), but then as we ventured deeper into the wildlands and the ostriches looped their heads into the open windows (give Duncan back his hand, please!), we realized this was going to be far more personal and interactive than the average zoological garden. The zeedonks were playful and the bisons' large tongues were slimy but fun as they snacked on the treats tossed by all three of us, but some animals behaved, well, like animals as heads, necks, and other appendages were extended well into the vehicle looking for yummy treats (Madam Elk, you're a wonderful ungulate, but please get your head out of my lap!) Not to worry - it was all fun, and no appendages or other articles were damaged or missing (although a few will need some cleaning later).

After we finished scrubbing most of the zebra slobber off our hands and other surfaces, we returned to old 66 and I-44 and rolled on up past all the "WALNUT BOWLS!" billboards into Lebanon. By now it was late afternoon and we pondered staying the evening in this historic town deep in 66 lore (and outlet stores, too), but we chose instead to keep going onward, helped somewhat by some tasty food & helpful advice from the folks at the Swiss Inn drive-in. Also, Lebanon is the location where we're saying goodbye to route 66 for this trip, and we turned northward on Missouri route 5 into the heart of the Ozarks.

This took us up to our old friend US 54, which wound 'round the hills & hollers surrounding the Lake Of The Ozarks and its associated amusement activities. Osage Beach and Lake Ozark looked most inviting, but there was a big powerboat race happening this weekend, and we chose to keep on rolling northward as the sun set over the busy water - but we did have to stop at least once, as the neon & chrome brilliance of an most cooly-constructed Andy's Frozen Custard shop lured us in for some exceptionally good frozen treats to keep us going for the last miles of the day.

We decided to bunk down a few miles north in Jefferson City, the capital of the state, helped quite a bit by some friendly advice from a friend who lives there. And so we rested behind the historic brick of the Budget Motel, where the room was cozy, the bed was soft, the ice was plentiful, and the rates were affordable. And one more incident - while we were approaching Jefferson City, Suzanne read Duncan the classic book/poem "Five Little Monkeys (Jumping On The Bed)". It seems that Duncan interpreted this not as a cautionary tale but as an instructional manual, and he sure enough fell down and bumped his head. No doctors were consulted, though, and it seems that he's survived this latest bit of behavior just fine. Then a night of rest, punctuated only by tremendous rumbles of thunder (and some rumblings from a temporarily unwell Dunkie for reasons apparently unrelated to bed-jumping or head-bumping).

P.S. Due to all the fun, today's a 2-picture day! Enjoy!

'OK' - 'MO' fun for us!

The crazy critters of Exotic Animal Paradise

Day 6 - Saturday, August 26th, 2006
Jefferson City, MO to Waterloo, IA
337 miles

After the night's rest, we bopped out of the Budget Motel right at check-out time and drove up and down the damp & very hilly streets of Jefferson City. We rounded the dome of the Missouri state capitol with its commanding view atop the bluffs lining the Missouri River, then through the arch bridge, a loop onto US 63 (our host US highway for the next two days), and north to Columbia. We traveled thru Columbia on old Route 63, where we found fuel for us & the truck. We mobiled thru Moberley & Macon on this busy road, continuing until we reached the Adair County seat of Kirksville. As we were passing the town park, we saw that there was a fun sort of commotion going on, and so we pulled off the highway to investigate. Turns out it was the local United Way's Family Fun Day, and so we visited with the folks while Duncan bounced himself silly in the inflata-house (1 ticket). Then a play on the playground, some running up & down the grassy slopes, a cupcake from the Girl Scouts, and back in the truck happily for some more northbound travel.

Only a few miles north of Kirksville lurks the state of Iowa, and we zigged and zagged our way through the south side of the state on US 63. A little orange-signed detour in Ottumwa took us 'round the John Deere works, then on through Oskaloosa and its statue of Mahaska on the town square. A few miles north, we were realizing that we could use some groceries and other chow, and so we made the right turn in the small town of New Sharon and pulled to a stop in front of the Eastern Market & Deli. This little grocery store had just what we needed, including friendly folks & a little dog out front (name's Nemo) who covered Duncan in smooches as we exited. This was also where we stuck the Iowa-shaped sticker on the map on the back of the truck (we missed this state last year somehow), completing our coverage of the Midwest on our second trip round the lower 48. Then to Vic's Dairy Creme on its last open day of the season for sandwiches and frozen fun stuff, and on out of town. Just a few miles later on US 63, we passed through the town of Montezuma - home of SIG Manufacturing, the firm that made oh so many of those model aircraft that drained away Richard's loose change in younger days. They were closed, of course, being so late on a Saturday, but the sight brought back memories nonetheless.

After such an excellently enjoyable day, we hoped things would go just as well for our evening's stay. However, the city of Waterloo was where we met our... well, you get the idea. We'd had very good luck on our trips in finding nice or otherwise interesting places to stay on short notice; however, Waterloo offered only the unavailable (weeklies or sold out), the "a little-too-interesting" (comment by desk clerk: "your woman won't like it"), or the unaffordable. We finally settled for the Travel Inn, where we paid extra for a ground-floor nonsmoking room only to have fumes from the hallway seep in at inopportune times. But it was a room, and so we settled in and got a few hours of shut-eye nonetheless.

Day 6 - fine fun times on US 63

Day 7 - Sunday, August 27th, 2006
Waterloo, IA to Rosemount, MN
184 miles

After a short night, it was a long morning in the Travel Inn as we took care of some deferred housekeeping activities and took advantage of the high-speed internet to send pictures home & update the website. Out of the hotel at elevenish, and we left Waterloo in our rear-view and continued north on US 63 into the topside of Iowa. Just north of the church in Lourdes (according to the sign, God loves them "bear-y" much!), we pulled off on an abandoned stretch of old 63 to let Duncan romp in the grass and to stretch ourselves a bit too. Went great until we found out this old road was still actually used as a driveway by a local family, but they just swerved around us & waved and let us continue our Iowanjoyment.

A few miles on, just south of the Minnesota line, we were sucked to the side of the road by the bright signs in front of the historic brick building housing NE Iowa Liquidators in the tiny burg of Chester. Here we strolled the aisles selecting a few useful thangs while letting Duncan scamper to & fro and burn off some additional endless energy (and we re-re-arranged the bobbers Duncan re-arranged in one of his passes). Then a curve in the road took us into Minne-land, and then on to Spring Valley, where a stop at a classic half-century-old A&W drive-in (complete with big fiberglass dude in the back eatin' area) gave us great carhop-delivered items. Then on in and thru Rochester (Mayo on the side) and a switch over to US 52 for the final miles into the Twin Cities area.

We entered Rosemount right on schedule (amazingly!) and pulled to a halt in the driveway of Suzanne's brother's house to again enjoy the hospitality of Mike & Joan. Burgers and brats were burned, Duncan entertained us all with his happy antics and a bonus episode of "Hunt The Kitty" ("Don't ride the cat, Duncan!"), and we had a very pleasant time swapping stories long into the evening.

The small joys of travel

Day 8 - Monday, August 28th, 2006
Rosemount, MN to Trout Creek, MI
378 miles* (estimated)

You've heard the phrase "deer in the headlight"? We'll get to that in a bit.

We woke to rainy skies, enjoyed a yummy breakfast of leftovers from yesterday's BBQ, and enjoyed the amenities of the Carlisle home as we prepared for our last day on the road for a while. We left the Twin Cities area on MN 55 and turned south on highway 61 as it curved and cut along the rock formations lining the Mississippi River. We cruised thru Lake City (birthplace of waterskiing!) and looped around Lake Pepin, created by a wide spot in the mighty Mississippi, crossed at Wabasha over into Wisconsin, and then retraced north along the east bank to pop into the small town of Pepin, where our overly-experienced wiper blades were finally retired at a visit to the local gas station/hardware/auto parts store. Pepin is also notorious for being the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and so we dutifully visited the museum, whose exhibits documented the history of both Wilder and less-wild characters from the area. Then we cruised up county road CC to the actual site of the "Little House In The Big Woods" - now clear-cut farmland for the most part, but with a few woodsy spots as a reminder of the way Wisconsin was in primeval times.

After all the things were done and seen, we continued on along other twisting county roads past the cornfields and dairy farms of rural Wisconsin. We dropped into Bloomer as the fuel gauge plummeted toward 'E', and Richard regretted not topping off the tank back in Iowa, as it was clear we were now in the land of three-buck gas. The Holiday station was visited, and $80 later the tank was full again, and we continued along Wisconsin route 40 past the darkening fields filled with even darker cows. As a brilliant sunset displayed under the clouds to the west, a few cute motels with cool neon signs appeared in the Ladysmith area, and we considered stopping for the night and continuing on in the morning. However, we knew we were only a couple hours from our final destination, and we wanted to save a few bucks by not paying another motel bill, and so we decided to continue onward. We posted a deer watch, reduced our speed, turned on the auxiliary lights, and continued into the moonless night. We saw several of those hoofed critters along county GG and state route 77, but fortunately they stayed clear of the traveled way as we passed. Then a hurtle through Hurley, and we're finally into Michigan at the town of Ironwood and onto US 2.

A bit before this time, the truck's speedometer suddenly dropped to zero and the odometer ceased to roll. Now we were somewhat sure we were still moving, given the hum of the engine and the thumping of the tires, and so we made best estimation of speed and distance until a few miles(?) later the speedo started showing again and the odo re-commenced to spin. These intermittent hiccups in the speed data continued for the remainder of the evening, even after Richard crawled under the truck and checked, wiggled, and yanked on all the speed sensor & transmission connectors. An annoying problem, but tolerable, and in the immortal words of "Apollo 13", we figured we'd had our glitch for the mission.

But fate had other plans for us.

Just before Bessemer, we were calmly rolling along when a sudden flash of movement appeared to the left and before Richard could even complete the perception part of the perception-reaction formula,


We screeched to a stop, and witnessed the sad sight of a rather large dead doe in the left lane, and a busted-up front end on our trusty Truckasaurus. Just to make matters worse, another truck hit the unlucky animal, turned around, and started screaming at us that it was our fault we "made" them hit the deer and mess up their precious vehicle! Those rude dudes sped off, however, before the Gogebic County deputy showed up to help drag off the poor deer and file the report, and it was around midnight Central time when we finally verified the truck was somewhat functional (initial damage report: one crunched grill, one somewhat crumply left fender, and an annihilated headlight) and we warily continued on eastward.

And just to make matters more interesting, it then got foggy on our way down M-28 - very, VERY foggy. The one-eyed truck and its occupants very slowly made its may through the murk as a day that had become very long stretched later and later into the next. We finally passed US 45 in the dank darkness and about 10 miles later we made the turn down the dirt driveway and threw truck into park in front of the ancestral Carlisle homestead at 2:40 AM EDT - a very long day indeed.

Scenes from the more pleasant parts of the day

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