Category Archives: It’s a Dam Big Country

it’s a big dam country — day 1

I’m out to prove that it’s a big dam coun­try.

This morn­ing start­ed out rainy in Duvall.

heading out

head­ing out

Made the first route call based on which dam I want­ed to see. Grand Coulee, very cool, very big, but I’ve Seen It.

So I chose a new (to me) dam whose name I liked. Priest Rapids Dam near Desert Aire, WA.

But first there was the pass to get over. Bleh. Heavy rain, mas­sive road spray and Washingtonian’s who can’t seen to fig­ure out that if the wipers have to be on dou­ble march maybe turn­ing on the headlights/tail lights would be a good idea. The rain turned to sprin­kles around Cle Elum and stopped around Ellens­burg.

First dam of the day — Wana­pum Dam on the Colum­bia Riv­er north of Bev­er­ly WA. There’s nice inter­pre­tive cen­ter fea­tur­ing exhibits about the Wana­pum cul­ture.

wanapum dam

wana­pum dam

There’s also a pic­nic area and this odd rem­nant bit of a gen­er­a­tor(?) There is a ton of red/silver tat­tle tape on thin wires strung across the riv­er just down stream of the dam. Have no idea what for…

Down 243 to Desert Aire. Ummm, what can I say. The Real­tor on the bill­board out­side of town would like to sell you a place in Palm Springs too bad he’s in Desert Aire. Had a pass­able ham and cheese on rye at the Sand­trap Lounge and start­ed out for the next dam.

Unlike Wana­pum you can’t get past the first gate at Priest Rapids.

priest rapids dam

priest rapids dam

I got a bunch of shots from near the gate and then head­ed back up the hill to the high­way.

along the dike wall at priest rapids dam

along the dike wall at priest rapids dam

Stopped at the top to catch a few more and got the fright of a life­time. Buzzed — low — by this.

yikes what was that?

yikes what was that?

(Click on it to see a much larg­er ver­sion — What Was That??)

He flew over going east, rolled up long the hill line and came back around. Buzzed me again. Head­ed to the hills and slid up and over and back down out of sight. Crim­iny. Maybe I shouldn’t be tak­ing unau­tho­rized dam pic­tures…

Trun­dled down 24240 through Han­ford — that’s a des­o­late stretch of land. Scary signs too.

At Pas­co I had to make a deci­sion. Start on a tour of Hwy 12 by head­ing down to Wal­lu­la. Take 124 east through Eure­ka and Prescott to hit 12 at Wait­es­burgh. (no point in that one) or head up the Pas­co-Kahlo­tus road and try to find the Low­er Mon­u­men­tal Dam on the Snake Riv­er. It’s a long lone­ly trip up that way… So that’s what I did.

Knew I’d made the right choice when I man­aged to get this shot by just stop­ping in the mid­dle of the damn road.

red barn

red barn


To get to the dam you make a right turn in the mid­dle of nowhere and fall off the edge of the earth into a canyon.

There are lots of these odd blocks of rock.



Whee. There’s a nice lit­tle park (and privy) near the riv­er. Not much to the pho­tos though. The road across the dam is now closed and you can’t get to the down riv­er side at all.

portion of the lower monumental dam

por­tion of the low­er mon­u­men­tal dam

Arrived in Kahlo­tus and made a right turn onto 260. Made anoth­er right in the mid­dle of nowhere onto 261 and head­ed to Star­buck. Here I learned two things.

1- GPS don’t con­sid­er card­lock fuel sta­tions to be gas sta­tions and do not show them in their lists. Pan­ic!!! The near­est gas is in Con­nell? 35 miles west(!)of here? Feh. Not to wor­ry because:

2- Every lit­tle tee­ny burg in the west has a card­lock and they all take cred­it cards. And they only have 87 octane, off-road diesel, and on-road diesel. I did not have the nerve to ask the guy fill­ing the road grad­er with off-road diesel if that was legal.

Okay and a third thing 261 is one of the best unknown roads I have ever been on. Long gen­tle sweeps with awe­some views and some seri­ous­ly wicked twisty bits that make your lunch ask for a tick­et on anoth­er bus.

From Star­buck a left onto Hwy 12 and I’m head­ed into the last hour of the day. And the first cop. Me, I’m doing 62 in a 60 and nod polite­ly as he goes by the oth­er direc­tion. La, la, la. WTF he’s in my mir­ror with his blinky lights going. Crap — there’s no one out here but me. I pull over. He pulls over. Dude pops right out of the car so fast I’ve bare­ly got the win­dow down.  “License, reg­is­tra­tion, insur­ance.” I’m com­plete­ly clue­less where this is going.  “Where’s your front plate?” Oh both­er. I fum­ble some­thing about I nev­er got one from the sell­er and yes sir I’ll look into it just as soon as I get home. Some more lec­tur­ing and then “I’ll just give you a warn­ing.”

Catch and release. I guess.

Saw signs for two more dams that I’ll have to grab some oth­er trip. The Lit­tle Goose Dam and the Low­er Gran­ite Dam.

Did find this lit­tle odd­i­ty. The pil­lar is obvi­ous­ly hol­low and the lit­tle vent fan on the top was mer­ri­ly spin­ning in the breeze. What exact­ly it is sig­nal­ing and to whom I do not know…

solar powered anttena for something

solar pow­ered anten­na for some­thing


Time to quit for the night… Besides it was start­ing to rain again.

Map here:

It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 2

There were no dams today. There’s a fab­u­lous one on tap for first thing tomor­row but my plans to shoot at sun­set were over­whelmed by my need for din­ner, a show­er, and sleep.

What there was today was US 12 which fol­lows the Clear­wa­ter Riv­er between Lewis­ton ID and Hele­na MT. Total­ly won­der­ful. Except for the 60 miles that are also I-90 between Mis­soula and Gar­ri­son. But even that was pret­ty.

First thing got my morn­ing lat­te and then amazed a cou­ple of  lit­tle boys with the robo-car top down thing. Start­ed from Clark­ston and got hap­pi­ly lost in Lewis­ton — end­ed up dri­ving along the riv­er side park. Found my way back to 12 and start­ed up to Lolo Pass. Had a ter­ri­bly blond morn­ing and for­got to get gas in Lewis­ton. Saved by the Thun­der­bird II Trad­ing Post — which is *not* list­ed in the GPS.

At about Mile Post 12 I was dive bombed again. This time by cliff swal­lows. One of the cool things about dri­ving with the top down and not hav­ing to wear a hel­met is that I get to hear birds sing and water splash, etc. On the down side  I spent a cou­ple of slight­ly nau­se­at­ing miles smelling the greasy her­bi­cide that the Ida­ho DOT was spray­ing on the shoul­ders.

At first the Clear­wa­ter is a broad flat riv­er.

clearwater river

clear­wa­ter riv­er

Across the riv­er the rail­road tracks run just above the water line.

railroad tracks on the clearwater river

rail­road tracks on the clear­wa­ter riv­er

Some­where ear­ly on I saw a sign that said Wind­ing Road Next 99 Miles. I assume that 99 is the largest num­ber that they can get to fit on the sign… No I did not stop to take a pic­ture. Every­one already has a pic­ture.

At Kami­ah you cross the riv­er and run along it’s east bank. There was  a lot of road work here. Replace­ments of under-road cul­verts and build­ing riv­er bank. They were using an inter­est­ing fill in place rip-rap sys­tem. My request to take pics was met with blank stares and a mum­bled but we can’t let you stop here.

For many miles on either side of the apt­ly named Syringa most of the yards were filled with lilacs all bloom­ing their fool heads off.

There is also this remote barn and house on the oth­er side of the riv­er.

barn on the other side of the river

barn on the oth­er side of the riv­er

So how do you get there? Um, like this?

this is how you get there

this is how you get there

Well, maybe it’s how some peo­ple get there. Not me. I’m afraid of heights *and* I hate water.

Here are a cou­ple more beau­ty shots from the run up to Lolo.

The riv­er gets con­sid­er­ably rougher as you climb.

rough water on the clearwater river

rough water on the clear­wa­ter riv­er

These are next year’s fox­gloves.

first year fox glove rosettes

first year fox glove rosettes

At the sum­mit it was 53 degrees and there was still alot of dirty snow lay­ing about.

lolo pass visitors' center

lolo pass vis­i­tors’ cen­ter

There’s anoth­er sud­den state line change when you leave the pass and head into Mon­tana. Instead of being in deep canyons you’re in high shal­low basins. Big Sky indeed. Lots of cows. Just scross the bor­der I saw a kid (15?) ona big red quad with a dog perched on the back and black calf on his lap. He start­ed to wave but set­tled for a nod when he real­ized he’d run out of hands.

By the time I made it to Mis­soula I was pret­ty wind blown and beat. The Not Ter­ri­bly Attrac­tive ™ floopy hat that was keep­ing the sun off of my face had bat­tered against my right ear for so long that it hurt as bad­ly as it would have it I had for­gone the hat and got­ten the sun­burn.  I put the top up, set the cruise for 80, head­ed in for the night.

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Dam Big World Day 2 in a larg­er map

It’s a Dam Big Country — Day 3

A late start this morn­ing.

First up the Canyon Fer­ry dam about 20 miles south­east of Hele­na MT.

The lake behind it is huge and full of boats and fish­ing and stuff. From the ‘front’ it’s not a very impres­sive dam.

canyon ferry dam

canyon fer­ry dam

To reach the vis­i­tors’ cen­ter (closed) and an entire sub­urb of Hele­na you dri­ve across the dam.

It takes a few min­utes to fig­ure out how to get around to the back side of the dam from the vis­i­tors’ cen­ter. It’s worth a few min­utes of wan­der­ing around to find this.

the back side of canoyon ferry dam

the back side of canyon fer­ry dam

The riv­er down­stream of the dam is pret­ty impres­sive as well.

downstream view of the canyon ferry dam

down­stream view of the canyon fer­ry dam

At the camp­ground ffrom which I took the last pic­ture I was scold­ed by this star­ling.

scolding campground starling

scold­ing camp­ground star­ling

Leav­ing the Hele­na area I took Hwy 12 east. At the left turn of 12 in the Townsend I found the Broad­wa­ter Coun­ty EMS rais­ing mon­ey to buy radios and pagers.

broadwarter cty ambulance doing double duty as a billboard

broad­wa­ter coun­ty ambu­lance doing dou­ble duty as a bill­board

If there’s only one stop sign in town that’s where you stand to get the most atten­tion. (That’s the new guy out there look­ing for mon­ey so that he can have a radio too!)

just about everybody gave them at least a couple of bucks.

just about every­body gave them at least a cou­ple of bucks.

Had a love­ly chat with one of the mem­bers who was orig­i­nal­ly from *Sno­homish*. He said they tried the traf­fic stop thing a while ago to hand out appli­ca­tions for EMS/Fire train­ing and peo­ple kept try­ing to give them mon­ey. So they’re try­ing it again.

Stopped for lunch in White Sul­fur Springs. The wind was real­ly blow­ing. I felt the Shark get light a cou­ple of times.

On the way out of town I found this lit­tle dam. No name, no noth­ing. Just a lit­tle dam with a shal­low lake behind it and not much to speak of in front of it.

some of the dams aren't so big

some of the dams aren’t so big

Much of 12 runs through cat­tle coun­try. These wind­mills broke up the monot­o­ny a bit.

cows and windmills

cows and wind­mills

While I was tak­ing the wind­mill pic­tures this love­ly fel­low was singing at my back.

big sky singer

big sky singer

Final stop for the day before head­ing to the motel was Har­low­ton. I stopped to use the loo at the park and I found a small town rodeo are­na.

These two fel­lows ran over to great me.

a coiple of cattle dogs who, briefly, found me interesting

a cou­ple of cat­tle dogs who, briefly, found me inter­est­ing

But quick­ly lost inter­est. The bulls being moved around behind the pan­els were much more inter­est­ing.

there is a bull in the blue box...

there is a bull in the blue box…

I packed it in for a final run to Roundup.

Okay, maybe not. Small towns are full of sur­pris­es and here not two blocks from the are­na was the last elec­tric loco­mo­tive on the Mil­wau­kee Line set up in a pock­et park.

the last electric locomotive on the milwaukie line

the last elec­tric loco­mo­tive

(Yes, I have a pic­ture of the sign describ­ing the exhib­it. I’ll send it to any train nuts who ask.)

Hmm,  that’s a lot to say about a day that seemed like it most­ly con­tained this:

it's a long way from here to there

it’s a long way from here to there

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Dam Big Coun­try -Day 3 in a larg­er map

It’s a Dam Big Country — Day 4

From Roundup, MT to Mobridge, SD.

Not much hap­pened today. I got up. I had break­fast at the local din­er. Sat at the counter and talked to the locals. Two of three had fam­i­ly in Seat­tle and envi­rons. Fun­ny old guys.

Put gas in the Shark. Drove. East­ern Mon­tana, a chunk of south­west­ern North Dako­ta, and a lit­tle slice of the very north­ern bit of cen­tral South Dako­ta.

It’s all pret­ty much rolling and full of cows.

Oh, and birds. Damned birds. I could have quite a nice col­lec­tion of pheas­ant tro­phies if I hadn’t been afraid of the dam­age the bug­gers would do to the front grille.

And a seag­ull. Swear to god — right out there in the mid­dle of Mon­tana. A seag­ull.

Okay so the seag­ull was weird but then I found this. The Van­dana School. There used to be a town of Vanan­da but it’s been gone a long time.

vananda school

vanan­da school

Even­tu­al­ly I start­ed to see trees that had some new green on them. Every­thing has looked so dead since I left Ida­ho.

About 35 miles west of Bow­man, ND I stopped at Mar­marth and took pic­tures of a large met­al cow­boy sil­hou­ette on a hill. At the oth­er end of town there is an equal­ly large dinosaur. In between there’s not much of any­thing left. I sup­pose I could have stopped and tak­en pic­tures of the aban­doned brick build­ings on Main street and the rot­ting Rail­road Depot but some­how I didn’t feel right tak­ing pic­tures of a dying town when the few res­i­dents were walk­ing to and fro on a Sun­day after­noon.

cowboy sillouette says 'C7-' if you look really closely

cow­boy sil­lou­ette says ‘C7-’ if you look real­ly close­ly

Short­ly after the town of Bow­man I start­ed to see the first crop­land since the Palouse in east­ern Wash­ing­ton. Looks like they’ve been hav­ing a very wet spring in the Dako­tas as well.

water lying in the low ground

water lying in the low ground

To make your Sun­day com­plete­ly sur­re­al I offer this charm­ing bit of amer­i­cana. The scrap met­al dinosaur out­side of the Grand Riv­er Muse­um on Lem­mon, SD. High­light of my day.

scrap metal dinosaur

scrap met­al dinosaur

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Dam Big Coun­try — Day 4 in a larg­er map

It’s a Dam Big Country — Day 5

Yipes, it’s a late on tonight.

A big day. Three dams and approx. 400 miles.

Start­ed in Mobridge, SD. (Left my pil­low behind in the motel — not a good start)

Then missed the first turn. From hwy 12 to hwy 83. But I found this in the lit­tle turn around…

100th meridian marker

100th merid­i­an mark­er

Click on the image to read the full text. It’s worth it.

Oahe Dam

The day warmed up quick­ly. It was 83 degrees when I reached Oahe Dam at 1:30.

The intakes for the pow­er house are stuck out in the lake.

intakes at the oahe dam

intakes at the oahe dam

You can see the pow­er house (one of them — there are eight cylin­ders) and the trans­form­ers.

powerhouse and transmission lines at oahe dam

pow­er­house and trans­mis­sion lines at oahe dam

Big Bend Dam

The sec­ond dam of the day was Big Bend Dam. Anoth­er Army Corps of Engi­neers dam on the Mis­souri. You’ll notice a fam­i­ly resem­blance between all of today’s dams.

Here’s a lake­side view of the spill­way gates.

lakeside view of the spillway at big bend dam

lake­side view of the spill­way at big bend dam

And here’s what the back side of one of those gates looks like.

spillway gate mechanism at big bend dam

spill­way gate mech­a­nism at big bend dam

It was 4:30 when I fin­ished up at Big Bend. I haven’t had a chance to take pho­tographs at either down or dusk. Dawn isn’t going to hap­pen — not a morn­ing per­son. Dusk on the oth­er hand… The Fort Ran­dall Dam was just about the right dis­tance (100 miles — more or less) and the tim­ing would be right for some inter­est­ing light.

Fort Ran­dall Dam

Yes the light was good. Here’s the lake­side of the spill­way.

lakeside view of the spillway gate at fort randall dam

lake­side view of the spill­way gate at fort ran­dall dam

Unlike most of the dams I’ve vis­it­ed so far this one has side­walks along part of the road that cross­es the dam. I walked out. I was sur­round­ed birds, swal­lows. Thou­sands of swal­lows. They’re nest­ing in the sup­port struc­ture above the spill­way. And 7:30 in the evening is the per­fect time for bug hunt­ing. I spent half an hour watch­ing them wheel around me.

swallows nesting in the fort randall dam

swal­lows nest­ing in the fort ran­dall dam

Ran­dom thoughts from the road today:

I spent 4.5 miles on I-90 today. I remem­ber what I like about inter­states. Qual­i­ty pave­ment.

Pheas­ants con­tin­ue to pur­sue the hon­or of com­mit­ting sui­cide by Mer­cedes-Benz. I con­tin­ue to deny them.

After 1000 miles of cows I saw some sheep today.

Some of the things folks are dri­ving in the fields around here don’t fit on the road. Not even with shoul­ders. My car is real­ly lit­tle. Trac­tor dri­vers always wave.

The lit­tle town of Plat­te, SD is very much alive. All the store fronts are occu­pied and none of the gas sta­tions are aban­doned. I have hope for this coun­try.

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Big Dam Coun­try — Day 5 in a larg­er map

It’s a Dam Big Country — Day 6

I’m tak­ing a day off from dri­ving. I arrived in Pano­ra, IA yes­ter­day after­noon much in need of rest. I’ve done laun­dry, washed my car, sort­ed some pic­tures, played with my mother-in-law’s dog, and eat­en way too much. It’s all good.

Here’s were I was and what I did Tues­day the 19th (Day 6).

I start­ed the day in Pick­stown, SD hav­ing got­ten some very nice shots of the Ft. Ran­dall dam at dusk the night before.

There was only one dam on the list for the day, Gavin’s Point Dam near Yank­ton, SD. About 70 miles away. This is anoth­er of the Corps of Engineer’s Mis­souri Riv­er dams. Though this one is alto­geth­er too civ­i­lized. They mow the bloody dam. All of it. With John Deere rid­ing mow­ers. There were four of them out when I was there. (Lawn mow­ing is the offi­cial state sport in Iowa. Yank­ton must Just a lit­tle too close to the bor­der to have escaped from the mania.)

yipes, that's a lot of lawn

yipes, that’s a lot of lawn

There is a pow­er gen­er­a­tion unit in the midst of all that lawn.

gavin's point dam

gavin’s point dam

Just after I left the Gavin’s Point dam I got into Iowa. No, it’s not real­ly all this flat. Yes, all the roads are straight and all the inter­sec­tions are per­fect right angles. (almost)

road in iowa (which is irrelevant)

road in iowa (which is irrel­e­vant)

At about 4pm just as I was dri­ving through Guthrie Cen­ter — the next town west — I got a call from my MIL who’d just got­ten home. “come on over” So I did and who wouldn’t have a bet­ter day if they saw this lit­tle bug­ger jump­ing up and down in the dri­ve­way.



Day 6 Route:

View It’s a Big Dam Coun­try — Day 6 in a larg­er map

It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 7

I think I should decide whether it’s a big dam or a dam big coun­try…

Today was a rest day (on the sev­enth day and all that)

I spent some time explor­ing Pano­ra.

There’s a neat lit­tle his­toric vil­lage. The orig­i­nal rail­road depot was moved down here when the rail­road left in the 60s.

railroad depot panora, ia

rail­road depot pano­ra, ia

Here’s a glance through the lug­gage room door.

a bit of the past

a bit of the past

There’s a nice caboose (Mil­wau­kee Line liv­ery.)

milwaukee line caboose

mil­wau­kee line caboose

The door is open and you can have look inside. This is the desk area.

small desk in the caboose

small desk in the caboose

On the west edge of town is the Rac­coon Riv­er. There are two dams on the Rac­coon near Pano­ra. Most com­mon­ly known as the Big Dam and the Lit­tle Dam. With all of the trees in full leaf there is no way to get a look at the Big Dam except from a boat on the lake.

The Lit­tle Dam on the oth­er hand is acces­si­ble from both sides of the riv­er at the park.

My moth­er-in-law remem­bers play­ing there as a child and spend­ing time ‘park­ing’ near the dam as a teenag­er. There was less water flow­ing over the dam then and it was com­mon to dri­ve a car out onto the dam and wash it.

dam on the raccoon river

dam on the rac­coon riv­er

The dam was orig­i­nal­ly built from logs. They’re still under there.

close to the water

close to the water

The last place I went was to the ceme­tery. Some of the graves date from the 1850’s.

the panora cemetery

the pano­ra ceme­tery

Memo­r­i­al day is next week­end and peo­ple are start­ing to tidy up and dec­o­rate the graves.

older section of the cemetery

old­er sec­tion of the ceme­tery

Much of my MIL’s fam­i­ly is buried here as are Jim’s grand­par­ents.

harlold and may harriger

har­lold and may har­riger

Bonus Memo­r­i­al Day link — from Aidair IA (down the road about 30 miles)
The 11th annu­al ver­sion of a giant paint­ed rock ded­i­cat­ed to US vets.

It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 8

Most­ly dri­ving today. A few inter­est­ing detours. Some planned some not.

I left Pano­ra around 9. Made my way to West Des Moines via some love­ly park­ways to nowhere. Found a Barnes and Noble with a Star­bucks and got an iced lat­te. Offi­cial­ly sum­mer now. Tried to plan a rea­son­able route for gen­er­al east­er­li­ness and failed. So I decid­ed to go with the “what’s about 100 miles east of here?” game.

That would be Pel­la, IA home of Pel­la Win­dows. So I stopped, ille­gal­ly, and get this quick shot of the corp head­quar­ters for my friend Paul who works for Mil­gard Win­dows.


headquarters of pella windows

head­quar­ters of pel­la win­dows

This was my first view of the Mis­sis­sip­pi riv­er in Fort Madi­son. Then the GPS rout­ed me away from the riv­er and I end­ed up not cross­ing until Han­ni­bal, MO.

first look at the mississippi river

first look at the mis­sis­sip­pi riv­er

I stopped for lunch at a Taco Johns. In Can­ton, IL maybe. There were some sad look­ing train bits on a dis­con­nect­ed sid­ing.

I don’t know whose liv­ery this pur­ple is/was but It must have been an attrac­tive car at one time.

purple railroad car

pur­ple rail­road car

The Caboose seemed to be doing a bit bet­ter. They have so much more charis­ma and so much less sur­face area to paint.

caboose in a parking lot

caboose in a park­ing lot

Today I saw the first police I’ve seen in four days. (Not count­ing the Pano­ra offi­cer who waved at me while I parked in the lot at the his­tor­i­cal vil­lage.) The first one was marked and as I came up behind him he pulled into the cen­ter medi­an and U-turned back the way we’d come. The sec­ond was an unmarked white unit with the inte­ri­or light­bar. I was doing 72 (cruise con­trol) in a 65. Dri­ving right, pass­ing left, etc. He came up on me as I was pass­ing a tanker truck. Pass com­plet­ed, I pulled over, and he pow­ered on past at 80-some­thing. Clear­ly the time had come to get off the road for the evening.

sleepy good-sheep

It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 9

I’m get­ting a lit­tle ner­vous about mak­ing my date in Pitts­burgh. Today I did 350 miles. The first 200 miles took 6 hours. The last 150 miles about 2.

So here are the high­lights of the first 200 miles.

I start­ed on the west side of Decatur and head­ed through town on Hwy 36. At the cen­ter of the old­er sec­tion of town I came across 5 church­es in 3 blocks — all with steeples or bell tow­ers. If you haven’t done much west — east trav­el you may not have noticed that the surest sign of hav­ing crossed the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er is that all of the build­ings on Main Street are brick. Not just the banks, but the bar­ber­shop, the gro­cery, and the tire store.

Tus­co­la, IL has sev­er­al grain ele­va­tors and at least three sets of RR tracks. Here are two of the ele­va­tors.

grain elevator at Tuscola

grain ele­va­tor at Tus­co­la

grain elevators at Tuscola

grain ele­va­tors at Tus­co­la

This is one of the small­er planters I saw today.

john deere planter (eastern illinois)

john deere planter (east­ern illi­nois)

In South Dako­ta and Iowa get­ting stuck behind a planter on the road was not big deal. You nev­er had to wait more than a cou­ple of min­utes to get to a clear bit of road to pass and there’s almost nev­er on-com­ing traf­fic. In Illi­nois and Indi­ana you can wait a long time for a pass­ing lane and even longer for for a spot with no on-com­ing traf­fic.

There is a spot in Indi­ana — Dana to be exact. That con­tains per­haps the world’s high­est coef­fi­cient of WTF-itude.

Dana, ID is the boy­hood home of Ernie Pyle.
There is a muse­um in Dana. Next to which is pos­si­bly the most illeg­i­ble pub­lic mur­al I’ve ever seen.

mural depicting the adventures of ernie pyle (I think)

mur­al depict­ing the adven­tures of ernie pyle (I think)

On the grounds of the muse­um is this paint­ed giraffe. Yes he is wear­ing two dif­fer­ent uni­forms, GI in the front and high school bas­ket­ball in the back. Love the sweat socks.

painted giraffe

paint­ed giraffe

fromthe rear...

from the rear…

With this even odd­er expla­na­tion. I mean giraffes? Pigs I under­stand, cows I’ve seen done, even hip­pos, but giraffes?

sign explaning the giraffe

sign explan­ing the giraffe

But wait — there’s more — at the right edge of the park­ing lot across the street from the muse­um is this sign.



Uh huh… let the enten­dres (dou­ble and beyond) begin.

One of the love­ly things about being far enough back east is that there are woods. You know, clumps of trees, often sur­round­ing a creek or pond. Like this lit­tle spot that I stopped at for a snack break.

nice spot for a picnic

nice spot for a pic­nic

It was 81 degrees and get­ting very mug­gy at 11 am.

A cou­ple of hours lat­er I stopped for lunch in Danville, IN. There’s an Ital­ian place across from the cour­t­house called Frank’s Place. For­give the mob­ster por­traits on the walls. The Cae­sar sal­ad with grilled chick­en was love­ly. My last stop was at the Cour­t­house Grounds for an iced lat­te.

On the actu­al cour­t­house grounds was one of the nicest vet­er­ans memo­ri­als I’ve seen this trip.

world war I and II veterans memorial

world war I and II vet­er­ans memo­r­i­al

The side­walk place­ment isn’t ide­al but the design is just right.

Ran­dom bits from today’s notes.

I can’t see a sign for Terre Haute with­out remem­ber­ing my Dad’s dread­ful ‘ter­ri­bly hot’ puns when we stopped there on a road trip to Col­orado in per­haps 1968?

On I-70 near Day­ton OH there is a sign that says Xenia Urbana 1 mile. Clear­ly just the right name for a space hook­er with a heart of gold for my next space opera.

The last 150 miles were on I-70 between Indi­anapo­lis, IN and Colum­bus, OH. Pure urban/suburban inter­state hell. I still don’t under­stand how I blew past not one but two cops at 12 over the lim­it and didn’t get a blink. No, there was no one going faster than me at the time and yes, the sec­ond time I was re-emerg­ing from pass­ing an idiot in an Excur­sion on the right by using a friend­ly UPS freighter as a block. (Dude had the sweet­est smile…)

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Big Dam Coun­try — Day 9 in a larg­er map

It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 10

A day late — because the inter­net con­nec­tion isn’t con­sis­tent.

Final­ly home. Old home that is.

I rode the inter­state from Colum­bus to Pitts­burgh. The first unbro­ken inter­state stretch of this trip. Ugh. I just want­ed to be here (Pitts­burgh) rather than there (Colum­bus) as fast as pos­si­ble.

No road pic­tures today. Instead a few shots from around my sister’s house.

First up — the house. There are a lot of steps from the street to the house.

wolfe house

wolfe house

Nar­row city street park­ing. Yes it’s a two way street, and yes there is park­ing on both sides of the street. You learn to adapt.

my little car, my brother-in-law, stuff

my lit­tle car, my broth­er-in-law, stuff

My sister’s gar­den is a lot fur­ther along than mine.

small white iris

small white iris

The old­est of my sister’s girls Sarah and their dog Mylie.

niece sarah, dog mylie

niece sarah, dog mylie

Sum­mer sun­sets in Pitts­burgh are always pret­ty. Sarah took this pic­ture while we all were sit­ting on the front porch talk­ing.

pittsburgh sunset (taken by sarah)

pitts­burgh sun­set (tak­en by sarah)

Tomor­row I’ll spend the day out and about — the sec­ond old­est ceme­tery in the city is just down the block and there are some won­der­ful views over the riv­er from the next street.