<![CDATA[Connecting US 20 - Our Blog]]>Wed, 18 Apr 2018 00:18:31 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[On the Radio]]>Tue, 06 Jun 2017 02:26:16 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/on-the-radioConnecting US 20 was on KLCC radio today. I can't post a direct link but if you go to KLCC and use their Search feature to search for "us 20", one of the first links to come up will be our interview. Hope you enjoy it.
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<![CDATA[Day 40:The Pacific]]>Thu, 01 Jun 2017 18:02:23 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-40the-pacificDay 40: The Pacific

The last day of our Connecting US 20 adventure started in Eugene, OR. Sal and I took another side trip off US 20 for an in-studio interview with KLCC Radio’s Music, Arts, and Culture host Eric Alan. We had a great time talking with Eric and look forward to the broadcast of our interview early next week. Eric is going to notify us when the interview will air and is going to post an extended version on the Web after the original interview airs. We’ll pass along the info when we get it.

From Eugene, we backtracked up I-5 to Albany where we left US 20 the night before. Traveling the stretch of US 20 from Corvallis to Newport that we have covered so many times Sal and I talked about our trip, what we learned, and what comes next. It was a good time for reflection as we drove from the sunny Willamette Valley to the clouds and mist of the Oregon Coast.

We arrived in Newport at 3:52pm, 8 minutes ahead of schedule. A group of Coast friends (Kathy, Rand, Rhonda, Jill, Nolle, and Tom) and Sal’s daughter Tessa and her 4 children awaited us. Let the celebration begin!

The next hour and a half was a blaze of color and activity. Using the colorful cheesecloth, we celebrated around the “US 20 Boston 3,365 Miles” sign in Newport. A professional photographer friend (thanks Jon!) was there to take the “official” pictures of our return. We'll get those in a few days and will publish when we do. Meanwhile, we’re posting some of the ones a friend and I took.

From the sign, we moved to Nye Beach to complete our Atlantic to Pacific journey. More celebrations with cheesecloth and the finale with our toes in the Pacific. (Still processing the video so like the “official” photos we’ll post the results in a day or so.)

We arrived back in King City a little after 10pm, the end of a long day and our bicoastal adventure.

Thanks again to our Facebook Friends for following our adventures. Your positive comments and support throughout our trip gave us fuel to keep going. Super thanks go to Barbara Sherman at the Regal Courier for her great articles, the Newport Visual Arts Center and Oregon Coast Council for the Arts for all their local promotion, to the Libraries and our library hosts for their gracious assistance, and to the many interesting people we met along the way. All affected us in positive ways.

Last but certainly not least, thanks to our dear departed Gracie Strom, who inspired our sense of community and to whom this project is dedicated.
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<![CDATA[Day 39: Event in Burns, OR]]>Wed, 31 May 2017 15:36:09 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-39-event-in-burns-orPicture
The day we’ve known was coming finally arrived: Our last #connectingus20 event. As I mentioned yesterday, this was a bittersweet time for us as we prepped for our guests. No dread or other bad thoughts, just a little sadness that our great adventure was coming to an end.

We had 8 guests for the event in Burns. For this event several of our guests brought books they had written. One of our initial goals was to have authors adorn their own books and we had 3 guests that did just that. Their amazing talents were evidenced in the beauty they created around their books. Before Burns, we had only had 2 authors who adorned their own books. Yesterday we had 3 authors attend and adorn their books. It was fun to talk with the authors about their books and learn a bit about their process.

Many thanks to our host Claire and the Harney County Public Library for promoting our event. The support of folks like Claire is instrumental in the success of the events. We couldn’t do this without their help in gaining local visibility.

It was hot and beginning to sprinkle as we loaded up the car after our event. By the time we were 30 miles out of Burns we were in a dust storm. 30 miles further and we were in yet another thunderstorm, our 3rd hard rain/high wind storm in 7 days. We finally drove thru the storm and when we came out the other side it was 20 degrees cooler than when we left Burns. Felt a bit like stepping back into early Spring weather after 2 days of summer.

The drive to Eugene was still a beautiful one. We’ve driven this route many times before and it never fails to impress with great scenery, highlighted by the views of the mountains near Bend.

We’re off to KLCC in a bit for an interview about our US 20 adventure. Sal and I are looking forward to passing some of what we learned to KLCCs listeners.

Afterward, we’ll drive the final stretch of US 20 into Newport and complete our drive of the 3,365-mile route. We’re hoping to see many of our friends and supporters in Newport as we complete the journey and dip our toes in the Pacific to complete the coast-to-coast drive. Party time!

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<![CDATA[Day 38 - Birds and Desert]]>Tue, 30 May 2017 17:15:10 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/may-30th-2017Picture
Our planned low-key day turned out to be one filled with learning and beautiful scenery.

While figuring out what to do yesterday, I remembered that the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was near Burns. The Refuge came to national attention during the now-famous occupation of the site by the Bundy family and their miscreant followers. We were curious what the refuge was really like, so we headed south to check it out.

The refuge is a gorgeous place, an area of ancient sea/lake beds surrounded by mountains. The damage done to the Refuge by the Bundy miscreants has largely been repaired. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to damage the great little museum on the grounds and we were treated to beautiful displays of birds that are found in/near the refuge. The sheer number of bird types was amazing. I’m posting a few images so everyone can get an idea of what the museum was like.

After wandering around the grounds for an hour or so, we wound up by a small lake at the edge of the visitor area. There were 4 people there who knew an amazing amount about birds in general and birds of the Refuge in particular. We talked with them for quite a while until the mosquitoes feeding on us got to be too much to handle.

Back on the main road we drove south to the village of Frenchglen. Quaint little town, one of the few towns in the vast eastern Oregon desert. Drove back to Burns and had dinner in a little family-owned Mexican restaurant. Nice ending to a low-key day.

We have the last event of #connectingus20 today at the Harney County Library. After the event, we are headed to Eugene for a radio interview about our trip with KLCC radio on Wednesday followed by a scheduled 4pm arrival in Newport that same day.

This is a bittersweet time for Sal and me, as this phase of the project winds down. It’s been a great adventure, made even better by the comments and encouragement we’ve received from our Facebook Friends, blog readers, and our library hosts. We truly appreciate you.

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<![CDATA[Day 37: Welcomed by the Police]]>Mon, 29 May 2017 15:09:50 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-37-welcomed-by-the-police​Our last day in Idaho dawned warm and sunny. We got a mid-morning start and made good time getting to Boise. US20/26/30 all run concurrently west with I-84 from Mountain Home to the south side of Boise. Was fun to drive 80 miles an hour again for a while. Navigating thru Boise on US 20/26 was a bit tricky but my navigator Sal got us thru. 

US 20/26 takes a winding path as it leads north and west out of Boise with US 20 finally separating from US 26 near Parma, ID. A short drive down US 20 got us to the Snake River. On the other side was Nyssa, Oregon, where we were welcomed to Oregon by the Nyssa Police.

We were taking our Oregon border picture when a Nyssa police cruiser drove by. As he was driving by, the officer said “You can’t take a Welcome to Oregon picture without ME!” He did a quick u-turn and pulled in behind our car. The officer walked up to where we were standing near the sign and said hello. He was making sure we were okay and was curious why were taking a picture there. Sal replied we had driven 3,000 miles to take that picture. We talked with Officer McGinnis for a while about the project and asked him to take a picture with us. He kindly agreed. After the picture he told us "Welcome to Oregon" and wished us safe travels. What a fun way to start the Oregon leg of our trip.

Today is a day for reflection and remembrance. We plan a low key day in preparation for our last library event of #connectingus20 on Tuesday.
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<![CDATA[Day 36: Event in Mountain Home, ID]]>Sun, 28 May 2017 15:16:55 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-36-event-in-mountain-home-idPicture
Our next-to-last event was a great success. The day dawned bright and sunny, a big change from the previous day. We had 8 guests that participated. It was an extra special day, as a friend of Sal’s from her radiation treatment drove 4 hours to see her and a lady who knew Sal’s mother Gracie came to say hello and pay her respects. Several young people added to the fun. The young ones always serve to make our events more fun with their creativity and unbridled enthusiasm.

The Mountain Home library is a beautiful facility with a long history. (See our Mountain Home web page for more info about the history.) They are very proud of being one of the few remaining libraries with a history going back to the Carnegie libraries of the early 1900s.

This library is quite modern, with multiple creative workstations and a set of 3D printers to see the results. They make this technology available to all their library card holders. They even have an in-house coffee shop featuring the slogan “No Barristas, Just Librarians”. 

The library also has an extensive doll collection from around the world. A (very) small sample is attached. 

We appreciate and thank our host Kurt for his promotion and support of our project. And we appreciate our guests, who are the ones that make our events fun and inspirational. 

Sal and I took a short drive after the event back over part of US 20 we covered the day before. Seeing the gorgeous landscape without angry clouds made a big difference.

We are headed to Burns, OR today for our 12th state and final event of this trip.

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<![CDATA[Day 35: Travel Day That Got a Little Wild]]>Sat, 27 May 2017 15:21:37 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-35-travel-day-that-got-a-little-wild
This day was a travel day from Idaho Falls, ID to Mountain Home, ID, a distance of just over 200 miles. Short day, into the hotel early, smooth sailing on low traffic roads.

Or so Sal and I thought. The only part that proved correct was the low traffic part.

It was raining lightly when we pulled out of Idaho Falls. It started raining a lot harder as we left the city limits. We drove in and out of rain for the next hour or so. Stopped in Arco, ID for a “pit stop” and a drive thru the nation’s first city powered by nuclear energy.

Rained off and on for the next two hours of so with a few sun breaks. Got to see some beautiful countryside when it wasn’t raining. We were moving toward a very large storm that looked like it was passing to the north and would be gone by the time we got to where it was. 

Wrong.

When we hit the edge of the storm it was raining so hard we could barely see the road ahead. It was in the mid-30s outside and we could see ice in the stuff hitting the windshield. A truck passed us with fresh snow on the windshield. I thought to myself “uh-oh, trouble ahead”.

A mile or so further and the rain turned to sleet/snow mix, rapidly accumulating on the road. The stuff hitting the windshield sounded like thousands of BBs. Couldn’t see more than 25 yards or so. Everyone in our lane slowed to about 25mph and cautiously maintained the distance between our vehicles. We drove in this for about 30 minutes. Trucks passing in the other lane threw up a heavy slushy spray that left us temporarily “blind”. We witnessed numerous lightning strikes before and during the storm, something unusual in a snow storm.

We slogged on thru the mess. As we reached the edge of the storm we also started rapidly losing altitude and before long emerged into bright sunshine.

This was our 3rd wicked storm on this trip. Hope it’s the last.

Event in Mountain Home today, our next-to-last one.
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<![CDATA[Day 34: Event in West Yellowstone, MT]]>Fri, 26 May 2017 15:03:45 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-34-event-in-west-yellowstone-mtPicture
Day 34: Event in West Yellowstone MT

The day dawned cool, cloudy, and wind free, different from the day before when I toured Yellowstone by myself. Sal and I drove the lower part of the Grand Loop Road on our way to West Yellowstone, MT. It was the only way to get from Cody to West Yellowstone without going around the park, a six-hour drive at best. Besides, any opportunity to visit Yellowstone is a good one.

We were short on time, so we only visited one geyser/hot spring area. As I mentioned yesterday, Sal was just here a few years ago. She, her daughter, and her granddaughter Zeda had spent 5 days in the park, so she was revisiting areas she’d recently been to. That didn’t distract from her enjoyment of seeing the park again. 

We crossed into Montana about 1:45pm, our 10th state so far. Shortly afterward, we arrived at West Yellowstone.

Our event in West Yellowstone was great fun. 10 guests joined us, a mix of adults and young people. This was an enthusiastic group that enjoyed the program and interacted with us and each other throughout the event. The adorned books (video) were quite creative and gave us more beautiful art to work with. As with other events, the part our guests enjoyed the most was the cheesecloth toss at the end of the event (video). Sal volunteered to be the covered person this time. She did a fine job of bursting free at the end, accompanied by clapping and laughter. 

Many thanks to our host Steve and our enthusiastic and engaged guests. Sharing stories, laughing together, and understanding our message of support for libraries and the services they provide to their communities are the fuel we need to keep us going on this project.

West Yellowstone is a popular tourist spot and we enjoyed our brief tour. We crossed into Idaho about 15 minutes after leaving West Yellowstone, our 11th and next-to-last state. Having only seen the dry southern part of Idaho, I really enjoyed the lush green alpine countryside as a contrast.

Overnight in Idaho Falls. Headed to Mountain Home, ID later today.

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Sal at Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone
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Making safety pin chains
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Adorning books
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Main Street, West Yellowstone MT
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<![CDATA[Day 33 - Yellowstone]]>Thu, 25 May 2017 14:25:50 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/may-25th-2017PictureSmith Mansion, near Wapiti
The long-anticipated exploration day in Yellowstone arrived sunny and warm, at least in Cody. It was a fun day, another full of “wow” moments. Due to time constraints this morning I'll post more pics this evening.

Cody is about 60 miles from the East Entrance to the Park. It was a nice drive west, with some interesting sites just getting there.

The strange house is perched on a hilltop just past Wapiti, about 40 miles from the park. One is never quite sure what will turn up riding America’s byways.

Buffalo Bill dam was the tallest concrete dam in the world when it was finished in 1910. Still in operation today, it has been renovated several times to keep it serviceable. There is a huge reservoir behind the dam and much of the shoreline is state park, which becomes the Shoshone National Forest as we get closer to the East Entrance of Yellowstone.

Made it to the entrance about 10:30am. Handed the ranger my “America the Beautiful” pass and ID to gain entrance. (Anyone 62+ should have an AtB pass. One time $10 fee gets lifetime entrance to National Parks. Yellowstone is $30 just to enter if you don’t have a pass.)

One of the first scenic treasures after entering the east side of the park is Yellowstone Lake. Am going to stop here and do more posts about Yellowstone later today. Sal and I have an event in West Yellowstone, MT in early afternoon and have a long drive ahead. Please stay tuned for more.

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Looking across the face of Buffalo Bill Dam
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Buffalo Bill Reservoir
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Looking down the dam
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A small portion of Yellowstone Lake
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Murky water near the shore is where a thermal vent and the lake meet
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<![CDATA[Day 32: Travel Day to Yellowstone's Door]]>Wed, 24 May 2017 14:39:29 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-32-travel-day-to-yellowstones-doorPictureThe road ahead. 10am, no traffic
Day 32: Travel Day to Yellowstone’s Door

Sal and I pulled out of Casper mid-morning in beautiful sunshine. Looks like it’s going to be that way for the next few days. Glad to see it; touring Yellowstone in the rain didn’t sound like fun.

On our way to Cody, WY we passed by/thru several interesting areas, the first being Hell’s Half Acre, just west of Casper. The formations in this relatively small area (320 acres) reminded us of what we saw at Bryce Canyon 2 years ago.

Continuing on west, we turned at Shoshoni to follow US 20 north/west, traveling first thru Boysen State Park and past picturesque Lake Boysen, then thru Wind River Canyon a few miles north. This gorgeous, rugged landscape found us going “wow” and “look at that” for many miles. Simply beautiful country.

Our final stop on our journey toward Cody was Hot Springs State Park just north of Thermopolis. The park claims to be the world’s largest mineral hot springs. Not sure how they arrived at that but we’ll take their word for it. This was a good warm up for today’s activity, exploring in Yellowstone.

I remembered that my family passed thru Thermopolis and Yellowstone when I was 12 years old. It was a bit eery driving the same road I traveled with my now-deceased parents and my sister in the summer of ’62. Time truly does fly by.

We had planned to stay at a hotel near the park entrance but a series of snafus with that hotel caused us to go back to Cody for 2 nights. It’s a half-hour further to the park but a much better lodging situation.

Yellowstone explorer today for me while Sal stays behind to work on her art and prepare for our show opening. She was here about 4 years ago with her daughter and granddaughter vs. 37 years ago for my last visit, so she’s a bit less interested in exploring today than I am.

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Looking west over Hell's Half Acre
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A small part of Lake Boysen
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Wind River Canyon
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Tepee Fountain at Hot Springs State Park
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The "falls" at Hot Springs State Park
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<![CDATA[Day 31: Event in Casper, WY]]>Tue, 23 May 2017 15:04:08 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-31-event-in-casper-wyDay 31: Event in Casper, WY

Another rainy day. Thought we were out of the rain for a while but I was wrong. We did get some clearing about 4pm, just in time for a high elevation side trip.

We held our first noontime event at the Natrona County Public Library. Don’t know if it was the rain or event time but in spite of the Library’s promotions we only had one person attend. This has been Sal’s biggest fear all along, that we would have an event without good attendance. Interesting that this situation came up in the largest town we visit in the West. Like every other event, we learned from this one, namely that the best chance for success is to partner with another event going on at the library.

We still did the safety pin chain creation and adorning local-interest books. This resulted in another beautiful group of adorned books that will become part of our exhibit at the Newport Visual Arts Center opening June 9. 

Thanks to Betsy at the Natrona County Public Library for all her help with our event and her suggestions of restaurants and tourist activities. Betsy has lots of Northwest connections (native of Corbett, OR, U of Washington grad) and we had a great time talking about our NW home.

After the event, we had “linner” at FireRock Steakhouse (yum!) and took a side trip to Casper Mountain. I commented yesterday about gaining 2,500 ft of elevation in a day traveling to Casper. On Casper Mountain we gained 2,500 ft. of elevation in less than 30 minutes. Gorgeous views from up there. Casper has lots year-round sports options and Casper Mountain is a winner for winter sports.

Headed to Wapiti, WY today, just outside the SE entrance to Yellowstone National Park. This will be a beautiful drive to one of the most scenic areas of the US. Sunny forecast for the next 3 days; YAY!
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Prometheus, the Great Teacher
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Casper off to the north of Casper Mountain
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This is Cowboy Country
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<![CDATA[Day 30: Travel with a Side Trip]]>Mon, 22 May 2017 15:35:12 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-30-travel-with-a-side-tripPictureBack in the West again
Day 30: Travel day with a side trip.

Day 30 dawned clear and warming, a blessing after 4 straight days of continuous rain and cold. I got up early and went out to photograph the town. Valentine is definitely the City of Hearts, with heart images everywhere. The town is so connected with hearts that the post office processes about 10,000 pieces of mail a year from outside Valentine so the mail has a Valentine postmark for Valentine’s day.

Heading west out of Valentine we soon found ourselves gaining significant elevation. After taking 3 weeks to get from sea level to 2600 ft in Valentine, we got to 5,100 ft in one day, with lots of ups and downs between. I remembered western Nebraska having some beautiful country from previous trips across on I-80. US 20 had even better scenery and we got to enjoy it more since we were going 15mph slower than we would on the freeway.

Before leaving Nebraska we took a 100 mile detour to Alliance, NE to see Carhenge. Sal put this on our “must see” list soon after she found it on Atlas Obscura. Carhenge is one of the few tourist attractions in this part of the state and is just different enough to draw visitors to this rather remote town. We didn’t have as much time to play at Carhenge as we hoped due to the intense rain storms passing thru the area.

Crossing into Wyoming about 2 hours later was a symbolic milestone for us. Happy to be back in the High Country and the West again. Sal and I love the Intermountain West; feels like we belong here. Arrived in Casper just before dark after driving thru mile after mile of gorgeous countryside. 441 miles today; back in the land of long drive days.

We have an event in Casper at noon today, then the opportunity to be local tourists for the rest of day. Looking forward to both.

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<![CDATA[Day 29: Valentine, NE Event]]>Sun, 21 May 2017 12:53:41 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-29-valentine-ne-eventPicture
Day 29: Event in Valentine, NE.

We had our 8th event of the trip in Valentine, NE. In spite of cold, sleet, and rain, an enthusiastic group of artists came to our #connectingus20 event. This was the first library we put on our itinerary. Sal’s love of hearts made this an absolute must stop.

We started off as usual with connecting safety pins into chains. Our guests warmed quickly to the task and produced some nice chains for themselves, some of which made their way into the art created in the second part of the event. Sal explained what part 2 was about, adorning books as art. Our host Anna had pre-selected some great books on Nebraska history and culture for us, so our guests selected a book they liked and created a colorful theme around their book. The creativity shown by combining these simple material never ceases to amaze.

Part 3 was the playful part of the event. Using her skills as a laughter coach it only took Sal a few minutes to have everyone dressing up and waving large bands of color around. Kimber volunteered to let the other guests cover her with cheesecloth. This is a new element in this part of the event we added after watching how much fun everyone had covering a volunteer at our Clyde, OH event. Kimber was patient while being covered in layer after layer of colorful cheesecloth. She put on quite a performance when it was time to exit her “cocoon” to the laughter of everyone. Great job, Kimber!

Thanks to Hedda from the artist’s group and to the team at the Valentine Public Library for promoting another successful event. And thanks to Janette for suggesting Coachlight Inn; their BLTs are yummy!

Off to Casper, WY today with a stop at Carhenge, a great find out of Atlas Obscura.

6,439 miles so far; 1700 or so to go. Back to long driving days in this sparsely populated part of the US.

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<![CDATA[Day 28: Travel Day to Valentine, NE]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 14:09:55 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-28-travel-day-to-valentine-nePicture
Day 28: Travel day to Valentine, NE.

We left Cherokee mid-morning in pouring rain. We're on the fringes of the big storms going on in the Midwest. Fortunately, we're only getting the rain, not the brutal winds hitting the eastern half of Iowa.

Crossed into Nebraska about an hour after leaving Cherokee, still in the rain. Went from smooth 4-lane road to not-so-smooth 2-lane road. Not bad travel though, as traffic was light and moving at a good speed.

One of our travel aids is Bryan Farr's book "Historic US Route 20". I have a copy on my iPad and it's providing some interesting ideas for side trips and little "gems" we might have missed otherwise.

One of those gems is the Ashfall Fossil Beds near Orchard, NE. This 15-mile side trip took us 12 million years back in time to the days of a huge volcanic eruption in what is known as Idaho today. As the ash rolled in, it killed the animal life around a large watering hole, covering the bodies in ash and creating a rock casket around thousands of animals.

While on the site, we were fortunate to meet up with a student paleontologist, Colton, who explained the some of the fossils and talked about the one he and a partner found and how they excavated it. 

This was a great history and geology lesson in a place we least expected it. 

We arrived in Valentine, "The Heart City" in the late afternoon. We have an event at 12:30pm today, then off to do some more exploring in the area.

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Story of the ash that killed thousand of animals
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Colton and his fossil. We really enjoyed talking with him.
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Fossilized rhino head
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Some of the excavated fossils. These are the remains of a massive die-off.
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<![CDATA[Day 27: Event in Holstein, IA]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 02:36:31 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-27-event-in-holstein-iaStubbs Memorial Library in Holstein was the site for Iowa's #connectingus20 event. We were a bit concerned about whether guests would come because of the late substitution of Holstein for Fort Dodge. (Turns out this substitution was a blessing after what happened in Fort Dodge 2 days ago with the storm.) 

Our concern was unfounded. Thanks to our host Emily and willing library patrons we had a fun event that produced more beautiful book art. Having community elders, young parents, and middle school students as a mix created an interesting and dynamic environment. 

One of the best things about this project is that each event is a unique experience. Area natives give perspective to  stories of local people and events. Others tell personal stories of how they came to live in that place or about events that stand out in their memories. We appreciate the sharing and friendship that come with each visit.

Sal and I are blessed with the opportunity to experience firsthand what America is all about and to celebrate the similarities and differences between the places we visit. In spite of what we are sometimes lead to believe, America is still a place full of people of good will and honest intentions.

In the News: We found out late yesterday we have another article about #connectingus20 coming out in June's Regal Courier. Thanks again, Barbara Sherman!

On to Valentine, NE today. Sal loves hearts and Valentine's Day, so a visit to Valentine is a must.
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<![CDATA[Day 26: Travel Day]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 14:20:36 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-26-travel-dayDay 26: Travel day from Galena, IL to Cherokee, IA. 

Left Galena in late morning. We're so glad we had the opportunity to experience such a warm and welcoming town. 15 minutes out, we crossed the mighty Mississippi at Dubuque, IA and headed into miles and miles of straight, 4-lane limited access highway. This was a pleasant change after all the 2-lane US 20 we encountered to this point.

\We stopped in Ft Dodge, IA for a late/early dinner we term a "Linner". We noticed large amounts of debris and numerous stoplights that weren't working. It turns out a huge storm had passed thru the night before with 110mph winds and driving rain. The storm hit Ft Dodge hard.

We got to experience some midwest storm weather ourselves as we drove west. Having watched a good many "storm chaser" shows, it was obvious we were in severe thunderstorm/tornado formation weather. We got thru okay with only hard rain in a few spots and lots of wind for about 100 miles.
 

We have an event today in Holstein, a small town about 20 miles south. Had to stay in Cherokee because the only hotel in Holstein is full of workers from a nearby US 20 construction project.

No pics from yesterday so I'm posting a few from my museum day in Auburn, IN.
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1936 Cord 866 Speedster
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1950 Hudson Commodore Coupe
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The unmistakable shape of 59 Cadillac
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1961 Corvair Greenbrier van
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<![CDATA[Day 25: Tourist Day in Galena, IL]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 14:50:12 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-25-tourist-day-in-galena-ilPicture
Day 25: Tourists for a day.

We spent our second day in Galena, IL being tourists. This is one of the fun parts of the Connecting US 20 project, getting to see the great towns along the way and having a chance to talk with people in the community.

I got out in the early morning to take some pictures of the town in the morning light. Galena is a beautiful town and I wound up taking WAY more pictures than I originally intended. Sure am glad we don't have to develop film any more; I would have burned thru about 20 "rolls" yesterday. Yay, digital!

Sal worked on art from the Galena Library until a little after noon when we went exploring together. Had lunch in a local restaurant called the Market House (chicken and dumplings were yummy). After wandering around in the heat for a few hours, we headed southwest out of town and found a ski resort with a spectacular view of the Mississippi River at the end of Blackjack Road. Didn't expect to find either a ski resort or the Mississippi; what a pleasant surprise.

We visited 2 preserves of Native American burial mounds on the way back to town. More great views and a quiet reverence that added to the tranquility of the area.

Last stop for the day was at U.S. Grant's home after the Civil War. The town was so grateful for its native son war hero they GAVE him a mansion on a hill overlooking the town.

The pictures give an idea of what this picturesque riverside town holds in store. We really enjoyed our time here.

On to Cherokee, IA today. We are running just ahead of another batch of big storms. We got caught in one on Monday night and don't wish to have THAT experience again.

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Houses along Bench Street, one block off Main. Most date to the early/mid-1800s.
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Main Street, looking West
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View of town from the levee
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General/President U.S. Grant's home after the Civil War
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<![CDATA[Day 24: Event in Galena, IL]]>Tue, 16 May 2017 13:16:55 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-24-event-in-galena-ilPicture19th Century "Video Player"
Day 24: Event in Galena, IL. Travel today found us traveling thru an area of abject poverty followed by unexpected beauty a few hours later.

We left South Bend a bit behind schedule with the specter of Chicago looming in front of us. From all accounts I could find, Chicago’s South Side was a place to be concerned about and that US 20 was difficult to follow thru Chicago. We didn’t find either to be true.

The difficult part of the journey was thru northwestern Indiana and the 40 miles or so leading to Chicago. Driving thru Gary, IN was the most depressing situation we have encountered so far. It is a scene of abject poverty; burned out buildings, boarded up businesses, trash and debris everywhere. Factories that once employed thousands now silent. The only businesses that seemed to survive/thrive in the area were the oil refineries. Ahh, the smell of petroleum so early in the day.

Navigating thru Chicago turned out to be simple. The road was well marked and with my sign spotter Sal Strom, we got thru the dreaded Chicago with ease. Was worried a time or 2 that one of the potholes would swallow our car; otherwise, it was pretty smooth sailing.

Once we cleared Chicago, we were back in green hill country. We didn’t expect to find tall hills in this part of the country so we happy to find rolling hills and beautiful farm country. When we finally arrived in Galena, we were amazed at the town. Will publish some images in the next few days. Let’s just say we were surprised at what we found.

We were running a bit behind due to some delay in Gary (sat for nearly 20 minutes waiting for a train to move off the US 20 crossing). We arrived at the Galena library at 5:23pm for a 5:30 event. Our experience at doing these kept stress to a minimum as we set up for the event. We eventually had 6 people attend, 3 of them local writers whose books were adorned in the second part of the event. We had a great time talking with our guests and learning lots of fun facts about the area.

Thanks to Larissa at the Galena Public Library for inviting the authors to our event. Connecting with them and their literary works added much to the richness of the event.

Being tourists today, following up on suggestions from Larissa and our guests.

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<![CDATA[Day 23: History and Art]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 13:44:15 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-23-history-and-artPicture1932 President Roadster
Day 23: South Bend, IN. History and art.

South Bend was home to Studebaker Corporation for many years. The Studebaker history museum is one of the last remnants of the company. Studebaker had a long history of vehicle production, starting with wagons in the 1880s and ending with cars in 1964. Even though company finally expired in the mid-1960s, they left behind a large fan base and a rich history.

The vehicles in this post are a small sample of what the Studebaker museum holds. I'll do a broader survey as time permits.

While I was at the museum, Sal Strom worked on the book art created in New Carlisle, IN. The ladies in New Carlisle created some gorgeous pieces that became part of the mosaic of this project.

Late afternoon we cruised over to the Notre Dame campus. Impressive, beautiful, picturesque; hard to describe in mere words.

Then we went looking for dinner, which turned out to be an exercise is closed restaurants, places too noisy even for Sal, and nearly empty restaurants only taking reservations that would not seat us (this was at 7pm). Finally wound up at Chili's on the far side of the city from where we were staying.

Hope all the mothers on our list had a great Mother's Day with many more to follow.

We're off to Galena, IL later this morning. Navigating Chicago on US 20 is rumored to be an "interesting" task. We'll find out firsthand in about 2 hours.

Picture
1922 Children's Hearse
Picture
1937 President Phaeton; simply gorgeous
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<![CDATA[Day 22: Event in New Carlisle, IN]]>Sun, 14 May 2017 13:06:50 GMThttp://connectingus20.com/our-blog/day-22-new-carlisle-inPicture
Day 22: Event in New Carlisle, IN. Short drive day for an early afternoon event.

Our event in New Carlisle was a different format than the ones we usually do. We were part of a Woman’s Day event at the New Carlisle Public Library, an event with about 15 participating organizations. Instead of a group who came for our entire 3-part event, individuals and small groups came past our table at random intervals over a 2-hour period for book adornment.

No safety pins this time; only cheesecloth and book art. We had about 25 ladies that adorned books during the event. We got some quizzical looks as we explained what we wanted them to do, but everyone got in the spirit and created yet another batch of amazing colorful art adorning the books. Sal kept busy talked about our project and guiding the book adornments while I performed my dutiful role as photographer and assistant project manager. The event lasted 2 hours and we were busy almost the whole time.

The library itself is a large, beautiful building that serves many constituencies. They offer a variety of programs and have broad public support, a true public service organization. They even have their own pair of guinea pigs. Thanks to Roanna for making this a fun and unusual opportunity to talk about our project and create new art.

Overnights Saturday and Sunday in South Bend, IN. I’m going to the Studebaker National Museum today for my last car museum while Sal Strom busily works on processing the art from New Carlisle.

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