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Yellowstone 8/21/18 (Heading Home)

Leaving LeClarie, we headed south back to Galesburg where we left the car two weeks earlier.  The rental car agency shares the parking lot with Amtrak, so it was easy to transfer the luggage and leave the rental.

We couldn’t resist and had to make one last stop as we were heading home. As we’d headed to Galesburg two weeks previously, we’d scouted the location of a small farm-based store in Fithian, IL selling - what else - cheese!  Ludwig Farms is located at the end of a series of small back roads, ending up in a parking lot across from cow barns. We, of course bought some of their artisanal cheeses to enjoy once we get home.

The trip back to Fishers was uneventful and we arrived around 4pm. The car was unloaded, suitcases emptied and the first load of laundry was in by 5pm.  Although traveling is great fun and always an adventure, it is still great to be home and sleep in one's own bed.

One the few souvenirs I look for on all my trips are patches.  I have been collecting since I…

Yellowstone 8/19-20/18 (Mississippi Riverboat)

Departing our hotel in Davenport, we made the short trip to LeClaire, IA.  LeClaire is the birthplace of  Buffalo Bill Cody (it’s been a Wild Bill sort of trip) and home to American Pickers ( popular TV show on History/A&E channels.

The Twilight Riverboat has three stories and upon boarding, we were assigned a table on the middle level.  We would have this table for all of our meals, but were otherwise free to move about the boat.  Various seating was provided outside including comfortable rocking chairs on the fore and aft decks.  Some seats were under cover, something needed on day two of the trip as the weather was a little bit damper with intermittent rain showers.

The boat also had a gift shop, bar and live entertainment during the afternoons (a single guitarist playing riverboat favorites).  The food was not fancy, but mostly tasty and appeared to be enjoyed by all aboard.  It is cooked on the boat with many of the recipes being from the owner's family.

As the boat saile…

Yellowstone 8/18/18 (Sioux Falls to Davenport)

Today was mostly spent driving from point A to point B.  About 7 hours and 450 miles after leaving Sioux Falls, we arrived in Davenport, IA.  The evening was spent rearranging clothes for our overnight on the Mississippi and catching up with the friends that flew home from Rapid City.

It seems that we took the best option in Rapid City, compared to some others in our tour group.  Glenda and Howard traveled home through Chicago; Howard's sister Bea was getting back to Washington, DC through Minneapolis.  None of them made it home the same day.  Spending the night in a local hotel, Bea made it home early the next morning, but Glenda & Howard did not depart for Indianpolis until late the next day.  They were very happy with the stretch party limo that picked them up at the Indy airport!

Speaking of airports, back at O'Hare, our fearless tour manager, Deb was also unable to make her connection home.  However, all the local hotel rooms were gone, and she spent the night on a co…

Yellowstone 8/17/18 (End of Tour)

Today is the last day of the organized tour portion of our trip.  But before heading to the airport, we went to visit Bear Country.  Bear Country is similar to a zoo, but you view most of the animals from your vehicle - in our case, the tour bus.  The animals are segregated in areas where they are free to roam and interact, while natural predators are kept in different areas.  The largest area is reserved for the black bears, by far the greatest in number; I'm unsure of the actual number, but there were probably 50-100 bears roaming, while quite a few were sleeping in the large enclosure.

After the drive through the open section of the park, we had about an hour to wander the rest of the grounds.  More like a traditional zoo, there were baby bears, racoons, and several types of wolves.  Half way through the circuit, there was a snack bar where we rested and had a small snack before completing the loop.

Back on the bus, we headed for the Rapid City Airport.  After bidding farewell …

Yellowstone 8/16/18 (Mt. Rushmore)

Since we were not moving from point A to point B today, we had a little later start with all aboard being at 8:45am.  We drove only about 20 minutes before we got our first glimpse of Mt. Rushmore.
Although the faces carved in the mountain are impressively large, the park itself is relatively small.  It does not take long to explore the broad walk path.  Most of the walk of presidents was closed for repairs.  After 14 years of work, the project was completed in 1941.  Ove 40 scupltors helped Gutzon Borglum complete the 60 foot high faces.

Lunch was on our own at either Mt Rushmore or our next stop, Crazy Horse.  We chose to have a small snack at each location and made our way to the gift shop and food area.  Choosing to share nachos, we sat with a view of the mountain as a backdrop and enjoyed the day.  The bus pulled out at 11:30am for our next stop only 30 minutes away.

Crazy Horse is the worlds largest mountain sculpting project.  Started in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, it …

Yellowstone 8/15/18 (Sheridan to Rapid City, SD)

Today is another early morning (departed at 7:30am) and an even longer tour day.  First stop, the Little Bighorn Monument in Montana.  As we were leaving Sheridan, a fellow traveler noticed a beauty salon with one of the best names ever: Curl Up And Dye!  On the way to the battlefield we watched a film that discussed using current day forensic science to understand what really happened at Custer’s Last Stand, which is one of the most studied battles in history and still remains a mystery.

The landscape today was mostly rolling farmland with fields filled with hay bales.  Both square and round bales were visible as far as you could see.  Cattle and horses freely grazed in the fields.  As we crossed into Montana, we learned that it has more elk than human inhabitants.

Entering the Monument, it is hard to miss the rows of white headstones.  Custer National Cemetery is a part of the monument.  It also is the only battlefield to have individual grave markers spread throughout the monument …

Yellowstone 8/14/18 (Yellowstone to Sheridan, WY)

We were waiting for breakfast when the restaurant opened, as all aboard was scheduled for 7:30am.  This meant that we could catch the sunrise over Yellowstone Lake.  And it did not disappoint.  In fact, it was so spectacular that the resturant staff, including the chef, came out to take a few pictures.  One mentioned that they have only seen one other sunrise with any color this summer.

Today is long bus day as we need a cover a lot of miles, hence the early start.  We headed out the east entrance and through the Sylvan Pass taking in our last few views of geothermal activity and beautiful stands of lodgepole pines.  Late morning and lunch will be spent at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, WY.

Just after coming out of the Sylvan Pass, we stopped at the Pahaska TeePee. Now a resort, it was the home of Buffalo Bill’s hunting lodge and hotel built in 1904.  Today you can stay in a small cabin and take trail rides.  We only made a pit stop here, but we did note that they still have a worki…