We’re about halfway through our month long trip. It is amazing how fast the time has flown by. We did some fairly big mileage days just to get from Oregon to New Hampshire but we did manage to sneak in a few of the sights along the way.
Not long into driving on day 2 we spotted a moose down in a swampy area off the highway. That was pretty cool. It was my first moose sighting since we left NH 9 years ago.
Our second day of driving was a big one. We headed over to Yellowstone, and based on comments from friends, we opted to come in the north entrance through Gardiner. Having Codi with us limited the number of things we could see/do since dogs aren’t allowed pretty much everywhere outside of campgrounds and parking lots throughout the park.
We did a scenic drive over to Canyon Village, saw bison, elk and other wildlife (no bears though) and worked our way to Bridge Bay CG for the highlight of the day.
We learned several months ago that Mia’s cousin Kristi from San Francisco, along with her husband and kids, would be Yellowstone at the exact same time as us. We knew we’d be seeing them but with 400+ campsites what are the chances it was going to be easy? Well…..they were literally the campsite right next to us. We really couldn’t have planned it any better.
To add to the humor of it all my nephew had just recently competed in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco and he, along with his girlfriend and my niece (his sister), were also supposed to be camping at Bridge Bay (weird huh?). My niece though ended up being really sick and they got a hotel in West Yellowstone where she hunkered down while Alex and his girlfriend explored the park. We played text/phone tag with intermittent cell coverage but never were able to connect with them face to face. That did turn out to be a bit of a blessing though because Elizabeth had COVID and the other two were now exposed. Alex ended up getting sick just after getting back to NH. So yeah, a bit lucky (for Mia and me) there.
We left Yellowstone the morning all hell broke loose there. Road and bridge washouts, landslides, houses floating down the Yellowstone River. Thank goodness all family and friends were okay!
Mia and I had another fairly big day of driving the following morning as we were headed to South Dakota and Roubaix Lake just outside of Deadwood. It was a nice drive with the two highlights being the Big Horn National Forest and a side trip to Devils Tower (made famous by the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind). Deadwood was a bit of a shock. Seemed like every other store front was a casino and it was a bit too touristy.
We arrived at our campsite after sunset. Here is where #vanlife pays off. No tent to setup! Just pull in and you are all set. We were treated to a spectacular thunder and lightning show for the next few hours. We even had hail for a bit right at the start. Again, glad to not be in a tent.
Today was to be the most touristy of our days so far. We hit up both Mt Rushmore and Wall Drug along the way to Minnesota. Today kind of just became a drive to “get it done” day.
The beauty of snow capped peaks, mountains galore and trees was left behind today as we entered the rolling plains of South Dakota and into Minnesota. While pretty in their own special way I do know that I much prefer mountains and trees to the never ending rollers and flat terrain of endless grass.
The next morning was an early one. We had a big day to get up to Marquette, Michigan and our first “rest day” (no travel). This was our first chance in many moons to also hit up a Dunkin Donuts since they don’t exist in Oregon.
Our side trip to Marquette was in order to visit Mia’s friend and former co-worker Jennifer. I learned through my research that Marquette is home to the Noquemanon Trail Network. Truly a world class trail system with over 200 miles of trails.
We opted for a cabin at Rippling River Resort since we’d be here for two nights. Great location with a section of the southend of the NTN trails coming right through the campground.
I went out for a nice trail ride in the morning before Mia and Jennifer took off for an afternoon of hanging out together. Codi and I chilled out at the cabin and enjoyed not driving for a day.
From Marquette we headed down into Southern Michigan and Hayes State Park as our next stop over. It was not far off the highway which is basically how I ended up picking this one. Ended up being a very nice campground with electric hookups and showers too. The water had an odd sulfur smell but the water was hot and the pressure was good.
The next day was full of anticipation. We were headed into western New York for our next to last stop and would be officially back in the Northeast. First we had to get through Ohio though. The highlight of today was outrunning a band of severe thunderstorms with a tornado potential thrown in for good measure!
Being back in the rolling hills and greenery of NY was fantastic. The Fingers Lake region of NY is really nice. Taughannock Falls State Park was a good stop over We took Codi down to the lake for some swimming upon arrival and then the next morning walked the 1 mile gorge trail to the waterfall.
From New York it was a mere 350ish miles back to Concord, NH and the area that will always be considered Home, no matter where we are actually living. We’re here for just over a week before resuming the road trip portion of Rhodes Trip 2022. We’ve spent time with family, attended a high school graduation, ridden bikes on old stomping grounds and eaten at old haunts. It’s been nice to be back.
Thanks for reading