Our Tour of the Northern UnitedStates

May 18 - June 15, 1999
Last updated on June 15, 1999

May 12, 1999

Windmill in
                  Buzzards Bay, MA.On May 18, 1999 Joanne and I will transfer from Cape Cod, MA to West Texas.  Instead of making the transfer a four-day 2400-mile "Point A to Point B" drive, we decided to make it a 5000+ mile tour and see some sites while we're on the road.  Our main goal is to drive to Helena, Montana to meet family members I have not seen since I was a toddler (in other words, I've never met them).  We simply plotted our course to West Texas via Helena and chose points in between to visit along the way (or slightly out of the way).  Our biggest challenge is traveling with our pets, two cats and a turtle.  We decided to carry our baggage on a "wheel-free carrier" outside the car (pictured below).  That way we can fold the rear seat down and give the cats free run of the trunk and backseat area.  Sometimes they get a little scared while traveling.  Having the trunk available for hiding will prove to be a good idea.  We're keeping the turtle in a 20-gallon aquarium with her usual mix of potting soil.  The trick for her is that she requires full-spectrum lighting during the day and a 24-hour source of steady heat so she can thermoregulate (Yes, it takes more than a box to care for a box turtle).  Therefore, we bought a voltage inverter so we can power her household lamps and heat sources from the car's electrical system.  We'll keep her in the trunk so her perceived light and heat will remain consistent.  A thermometer with a limit alarm will warn us of hazardous conditions for her.  The voltage inverter also makes it possible for us to use the laptop computer without worrying about its battery life.
   

Our Intended Route: 5200 miles
                  (local driving not included).Our planned stops are:

Brewster NY, Pittsburgh PA, Lexington KY, Springfield MO, Kansas City KS, The Badlands SD, Mt Rushmore SD, Helena MT, Salt Lake City UT, Denver CO, Holloman AFB NM, and Carlsbad Caverns NM.

      

May 21

Hitch Haul Carrier
                  with Travel Organizer.Our first day didn't go as smoothly as planned.  The movers arrived about three hours late.  They didn't leave until about 5:00pm.  Luckily, I was able to check out of housing before the movers actually left.  Otherwise, we would have had to wait until the following day to check out.  We were finally on the road by 7:00pm.  We stopped at the ship to check out then drove the remainder of the 220 miles, arriving in Brewster, NY around 12:30am.  We ran into rain after three hours of driving.  Naturally, it rained while we were on the dark two-lane roads instead of the interstate.  That slowed us considerably.  I had wondered if the outside travel bag (above) was waterproof.  I knew I didn't get Goretex for $40.  Still, only the side containers and a few other items got wet since the bag was in the car's draft.  We spent some of the day drying out those items and repackaging the cat food and litter.  We've prepared for future rain by wrapping all of our baggage in plastic trash bags or Ziploc bags.

     Our stay in Brewster was fairly relaxing.  It was good to see an uncle.  Brewster is one of a few places where the cats must stay outside.  It rained most of the day so it was fairly cool.  There are lots of trees at Dick's place so parking in the shade was easy.  "Hotel Jetta"  served the pets well, staying below 72-degrees all day. "Hotel Jetta" is pictured below.  The inset is Mae walking in the grass.


Callie and Cookie
                  perched in and over the trunk. Inset is Mae wandering
                  in the rain.Our next stop was Pittsburgh, 450 miles down the road.  What a nightmare!  It's been years since the last time I drove in the area.  There was construction and detours everywhere.  We didn't get to Grandma's place until 6:30pm.  She invited us to stay with her and we gladly accepted.  That allowed us to spend more time with her and avoided a late commute to the hotel.  The cats stayed locked up in the bathroom, but that was much larger than the car (they were in the car for 50 straight hours).  One thing that really amazed her was the amount of stuff that came out of our car.  "Are you sure you're not driving a pickup truck?", she asked.  I guess it was sort of like the little circus clown car with dozens of clowns piling out of it.  Here's a snapshot of the things we're carrying in our car.  The packed Travel Organizer is inset.

All of this
          comes with us for 22 days. The Travel Organizer is inset.

Clay with his
                  Jetta TDI Next, we drove 375 miles to Lexington, KY.  Driving with the cats is possibly like traveling with kids.  Okay, probably not.  But they do get bored and demand attention.  They also fight over any inch of space that the other may be occupying.  "I want the sun... I want the lap...It's too quiet... It's too hot..."   We stayed with an internet friend, Clay, while visiting Lexington.  He and I share an interest in diesel-powered Volkswagens.  He showed me his two modified VWs.  My friends think I'M a techno-weenie.  This guy's got LOTS of goodies on his cars.  His GTI-VR6 is frightfully fast.  I have so many wants and so little money... the story of many lives.  With 120 cars being stolen each week near my next duty station, it's probably good that my car is not an eye-catcher.

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