If it’s Tuesday, it must be South Dakota

Madison, Connecticut, the last stop before I fly to Barcelona on 21 August. Days dwindling down fast now, it’s been a good few months but I’m looking forward to being in France again and to returning to some sort of a routine, at least as far as work is concerned.
The road trip is already receding into the distance, half a dozen or more (more I’m sure) states in half a dozen or more (more, I’m sure about that too) days. We left Marilla still asleep in Park City, Utah and made an early morning getaway. Wyoming was all vast stretches of grasslands punctuated by rock formations in silhouette against the sky. Trails of dust on the horizon, endless lines of boxcars. Billboards offered entertainment. Little America had ice cream for 79-cents. Joe couldn’t resist.


Before turning in for the night in Hot Springs, South Dakota–gateway to the Black Hills,home to more than 37 sandstone buildings, and, due to it’s therapeutic waters, a once thriving spa town– we saw Mount Rushmore and got very lost in Custer National Forest…or park, without consulting the map, I can’t remember. Lots of notices warning that buffalo are dangerous animals and in Rock Springs a neon sign above the Blue Bison restaurant but no actual buffalo until the next day when we spotted them roaming (that’s what buffalo do, right?) across a field. I don’t think they were the wild kind though.


According to their website, Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota has been luring travellers off the highway since 1931. The billboard signs (Western clothes, frosty mug beer, free coffee for vets) started showing up around Rapid City but apparently have been spotted as far away as a London tube station. We were lured: a buffalo burger (as close as I ever got to one) and fries for around ten bucks. Joe bought a shot glass for a friend who is collecting them from every state she’s never visited. Spent the night in the Cloud 9 Motel, $95 plus tax which seemed a lot for a place with nothing around but corn fields but someone said that South Dakota is a booming.


More corn as we crossed  from South Dakokta into Minnesota. Fields and fields and fields of corn. And then more corn, None as high as an elephants eye though and still very green. Other highlights included black cows and a visit to the Spam Museum–aka the Guggenham. We passed on the Corn Palace.  Next stop Wisconsin. Some places I want to visit mostly because I like the name. Sheboygan on Lake Michigan is one of them.  The lake looked like an ocean and it was cool and breezy on the beach, pretty though. Sheboygan also claims to be the bratwurst capital of the world, I took them at their word. Drove through Green Bay, Joe sampled cheese somewhere, then we crossed into Michigan.

I’d seen Lake Michigan once before in Chicago, but hadn’t seen any of the other Great Lakes. As a school girl in England, I’d learned an mnemonic to remember the names: On Her Majesty’s Service, Elizabeth. I told Joe about it, but he wasn’t impressed mostly because he’s not a fan of royalty. I’m not either but it’s the only way I can remember Ontario, Huron, Michigan Superior and Eerie. My goal on this trip was to see them all.  I take pictures through the car window as we cross over the Mackinac Bridge into  St. Ingac, Michigan.  The bridge connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.  The Mackinac Straits over which the bridge crosses link lakes Michigan and Huron so I was able to   check one more off my list. A ferry over to Mackinac Island looked like fun, but we didn’t have time. Someone told me it was mostly fudge shops over there, so probably just as well that we didn’t go.

Heading north, along the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The map indicated that Lake Superior was close by but couldn’t see it for trees.  Cross over the International Bridge into  Saulte Ste Marie, Canada–another place we visited mostly because I liked the name.  Actually there’s a city with the same name on the American side and we’d intended to stay there the night, but I mistakenly booked a motel on the Canadian side so, ever the intrepid international travellers, we crossed the border.

Not much in Sault St. Marie despite the name. We talk about possibility of heading east to Toronto before crossing back into the States, I want to do this, but Joe decides it will be easier to take the southern route. Disappointed, I console myself with a caloric splurge at Tim Horton’s, a sausage biscuit and a doughnut.  More calories than I’ve eaten on the whole trip.  Joe declines a bite–he watches me eat, smirks and, self-righteously, I thought, says something snide about dieting. We cross back into the  States. The guy at the border asks why the car has WA plates, why Joe has a CA license, why I have a WA license, where I actually live, whether we’re actually married, how I got into the United States in the first place.  Cars line up behind us as the interrogation continues. Joe tries to explain. I try to explain. “Holy Moly,” the guy finally says. “You guys have a story.” And we didn’t even mentioned France. .

We drive through Detroit, ooh and ah at the mansions, including the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House Grosse Pointe, etc. then quickly find ourselves in considerably less desirable areas, return to the freeway and spend the night in an anonymous place just before Toledo, Ohio. 

In Toledo, we manage to miss the Victorians we’d read about on the west side of town, cross a bridge over the   Maumee River. drive some more then have lunch at an Irish pub Sandusky, Ohio. There are fried bologna sandwiches on the menu, we share a cheeseburger. Back on the road, we skirt Cleveland, cross into Pennsylvania, then New York State. Glimpses of Lake Erie on the left look like an ocean. A huge storm, as we drive into Buffalo.  The plan had been to see Niagara Falls, but a torrential downpour along with flashes of lightning proved a deterrent .

The following morning, the sun was shining and we drove to the falls.  Seems impossible, but we actually managed to get lost trying to find them.  We prevailed.  They were magnificent.  Joe said they were better from the Canadian side, but we didn’t have time for that.  
IMG_1482Back on the road and a beeline down to Cape Cod, MA where we spent several great days before leaving for CT where the road trip wrapped up.  Joe is now headed back to CA, I’ll soon headed to JFK en route to Barcelona, then France.  Here are a few pictures from the past few weeks

IMG_1571Joe takes a canoe ride, disappears on the horizon, I alert the lifeguard, Joe reappears.  There’s a much longer version of this story, but I won’t go into it here.

IMG_1509At Woods Hole on Cape Cod, Beautiful place, I could live there.  Ate a lobster roll, I’d been craving one since we arrived on the Cape.  Definitely beat Tim Horton’s.IMG_1578More lobster at Vince and Deanna’s.  It’s a tradition.IMG_1601 IMG_1602 IMG_1603 IMG_1605Stormy weather at Hammonasset Beach.

OK, that’s it for now.  Sorry for  typos, inaccuracies, omissions, but if I don’t put this out now, I never will.  Next stop Barcelona!

By La vie en France

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