5/29/2010 07:16:00 PM

As you all know by now I am working in Mount Rainier National Park. If you don’t, are you actually reading this blog? But what is Mount Rainier National Park?

Mount Rainier National Park is the fifth oldest national park in the country behind Yellowstone, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia. It was established on March 2, 1899 by President McKinley. So the park is 111 years old.

The park contains 368 square miles or 235,625 acres (about a football field). Congress has declared hat 228,480 acres of the park as wilderness. The park has over 260 miles of maintained trails (including the 94 mile Wonderland Trail), and 147 miles of roadway (not all paved).

Each year the park is visited by 1.5 to 2 million people. Most visited between June and September.

As the name suggestion Mount Rainier National Park, is focused around Mount Rainier and the surrounding glaciers. Mount Rainier is 14,410 feet above sea level and is an episodically active volcano. Episodically active means that it will erupt sometime in the future but is quite right now. Mount Rainier is the tallest volcano and the fifth highest peak in the contiguous United States. The last estimated eruption was between 1820 and 1894. Mount Rainier is covered in 35 square miles of permanent ice and snow.

5/28/2010 07:19:00 PM

Day 18 – A Slight Promotion and Another Busy Day

     There is one bad thing about working the lunch/dinner shift. No real free time to go hiking (snowshoeing). But I like not having to get up at 5:45 a.m. to get ready to be at work at 6:15 a.m. As we were setting up the food and beverage, Wes came over and told me that they were going to train me as a back-up server. This was great new supposing I have only been here a week. They paired me up with one of the older servers Brian and I was learning from him while bussing his and another server’s tables. Towards the end of shirt, Brian let me do a couple of tables by myself. The only issue I had with my tables was the timing on the food, but according to Brian that will come with time.

     Today’s dinner service was about as busy as yesterday’s without the large parties. Again I was bussing tables. Bussing tables might seem like a demotion from being a hostess but its not. For the most part hostess don’t get tips while the bussers are tipped by the servers so that means that I am making my hourly wage plus tips which means that I will make more money.

     According to the original schedule I was supposed to be off Monday and Tuesday, but before dinner service they told us they made some major changes which sucks because I had already made plans. Monday, my roommate and I were going to Seattle to get a few things and do some of the touristy things and Tuesday I was going hiking with one of the bussers, Tarra. The new schedule wasn’t that different from the old one except that I had to work breakfast Monday morning, and instead of all lunch/dinner shifts mostly hosting, I am working a mixture of breakfast/dinner and lunch/dinner shifts mostly bussing.
     My roommate and I are still going to Seattle we are just leaving latter than originally planned. Tarra and I are no longer going hiking together because she is working Tuesday.

     On another note, my cough has almost cleared which is a good thing, I was getting worried.

     I am working on a entire post dedicated to the people I work with so you might know these people I mention and a little bit about them.

     The Daily Mount Rainier Picture, note how different it looks from yesterdays.

5/27/2010 07:14:00 PM

Day 17 – A Creative Solution and Staffing Woes

     Yesterday, my black dress shoes had caused my feet to hurt due to a combination of hours on my feet and very hard insoles in my shoes. I was getting ready for work, when I thought about my hiking boots having very comfortable insoles. So I took my hiking boot insoles and put them in my work shoes to help stop my feet from hurting.

     Despite the snow, the Saturday crowd was fairly large. Most of the people who drove up are either climbing the mountain, serious hikers, hotel guests, or on one of the many tour buses. Ok, so those groups of people are kind of obvious. Most the climbers and hikers start early in the day so they don’t eat in the dining room. The guest and tour bus people have three dining options if they didn’t bring their own lunch: the dining room, the Jackson Visitor Center Café, or the Hotel Café. Most people choose the dining room, because it has real food and a nice atmosphere. Today, we were really unlucky at lunch because all the tour bus people had brought their lunch and we spent most of the lunch standing around doing nothing.

     So lunch was very slow, but things were looking up for a decent dinner service. Of the 121 rooms in Paradise Inn, 52 were booked. Dinner service started off with a large party of 10 people and a couple of tables of four. It was enough that we were not simply standing around but not overwhelmed. This changed very fast. Suddenly we had a line out the door, a party of 10 people, a party of 8 people, and like 8 other table come in with in a like 15 min span. On staff we had 3 servers, 2 bussers (I was busing), a hostess, a bartender, a cocktail server, and the assistant manager. We were not equipped to handle this many people in this short time frame. I was literally taking orders, delivering food, and filling water glasses. I did not even have time to clear tables when people left. Finally, things slowed down but we were still busy. After all the customers left we had to change the dining room over for breakfast which means setting up the buffet, removing the table cloths, and resetting all 50 tables. For the buffet, they build this Volcano, basically a ring of rocks with a can of heating gel in the middle and berry compote on top. I have been the designated Volcano builder, since it has to be a certain height and be flat on the top. All this work took us about an hour and a half so I didn’t get off work until 10:30 p.m.

     On suggestion from my mother here is the new daily Mount Rainier Picture. Note how lovely the mountain  looks today.

5/26/2010 07:32:00 PM

Day 16 – Opening Day

     Today was the big day, the opening of Paradise Inn. We opened at 12:00 p.m. Our first lunch service of the season was very slow but we served about 50 people despite the fresh layer of snow. I spent most of lunch standing the dining room door being bored. We finished service a 3:00 p.m. and I was working the dinner serve at 4:45 so I didn’t have a lot of down time between shifts, so I didn’t do anything fun. At dinner, the one manager was going to give me the time off because we did not need all three hostess working for such a light service. His reason for giving me off was that I did such a good job at the other big dinner serve. I avoided this by following one of the more experienced servers about and learning from this while helping to bus tables. This means that I not only got paid my hourly wage but also will get some tips from the servers for busing the tables.

     According to management, I will be getting wireless internet access here at Paradise sometime within the next two week. I am not sure, if it will happen but one can hope.

5/25/2010 08:11:00 PM

Day 15 - Mock Dinner and Snowshoeing

     Today was our last day of mock meals. I was working lunch and the big dinner with a lot of executive staff and other important people. I got up and walked outside to go to work and found there was six inches. I repeat SIX inches of new snow on the ground. I was under the impression the snow was melting away not adding new layers.

     Lunch went off without any major disasters. After lunch, I was eating with another hostess, Libby, and a waiter, Tim. Tim wanted to go snowshoeing before dinner shift. I agreed as long as we were not going too far. We decided to do the Nisqually Vista trail which is a 1.2 mile loop.

     Since the trail is buried under about 5 feet of snow on average, the park rangers had put up poles to mark the trail. Tim and I decided to do a little of exploring and went off the markers. We found the valley where the Nisqually Glacier was located. So we did significantly more than 1.2 miles, but it was still fun. I learned two things on this adventure: 1. I am still not adjusted to living at 5400 feet above sea level and 2. snowshoeing is much harder than it looks. I didn’t take any pictures on this trip because I didn’t want to risk a camera on my first snowshoeing trip in Mount Rainier.

     Dinner service consisted of seating 50 people. The two others hostess, Libby and Emma, and I seated all 50 people. Then we had nothing else to do for the rest of service. Libby and Emma disappeared (I later found them in the bar, probably goofing off). I pretty much kept busy busing tables or delivering food. I tried to always be doing something. Both the managers and Wes said something to me during the night about how good a job I was doing. My motto was always be doing something useful or be looking for something useful to do.

5/24/2010 07:11:00 PM

Day 14 Continued – Ruined Plans

     After I finished uploading my pictures and these blog posts, I was going to hike two very short trails and take pictures, Twin Firs Loop (0.4 mile) and Trail of the Shadows (0.7mile). About the time I got the last post completed, it started to rain. Now I know some of you would say a little rain never hurt anybody, but keep in mind that the temperature was about 40 degrees and a strong wind blowing. In addition, I still have the cough I mention (it still has not gotten better). I decided that I would just head back up the mountain instead of hiking.

     One thing I have learned on Mount Rainier is if it is raining in Longmire (the other big tourist area in the southern half of the park and the closest place to get internet) it is snowing in Paradise. Sure enough it was when I got back to Paradise it was.

     The mysterious bird I wrote about last time is called Steller’s Jay (Thanks to my mom’s BORROWED bird book).

5/22/2010 07:24:00 PM

Day 14 - First Mock Meal

     Today was the first of the six mock dinner services the dining room will do. Overall, I feel it went ok. The managers were not happy with some of the joking around some of the staff was doing, but I was not involved in that. I was working the Food and Beverage Director on the specifics of what he wanted me to be doing. I feel like there will still be a slight learning curve when we actually open, but I will be able to handle it.

     The food in the dining room looks delicious and I cannot wait until we get to taste it.

     For the fourth day in the row, I have not been able to see the top of the mountain.

     As I was sitting here writing this entry, and upload the backlog of entries, this every interesting bird flew by. Here is a picture, I had to run and get the camera. I am not sure what he is but I will look it up when I get back to Paradise and let you know.

5/21/2010 06:36:00 PM

Day 13 - 30th Anniversary of Mount Saint Helen’s Eruption

     May 18, 1980 Mount Saint Helen’s erupted. It has been 30 years to the day. It was slightly weird to learn this. It reminded me that I am living on the side of a dormant but still possibly active volcano and surrounded by several more.

     I did not however get to go visit Mount Saint Helen’s today. I had the corporate training to attend. It was the usually company stuff: company background, harassment information, and diversity training.

     I have gotten to know much of the dinning staff. At this point, I know almost everyone’s name. The staff is really cool and a great group of people. I am looking forward to working with them.

     On another not, I want to section hike Wonderland Trail and have found a couple of people willing to hike different sections with me.

5/20/2010 08:12:00 PM

Day 12 – First Day of Work

     Today was my first day of work. In reality it was a lot of boring training on rules and procedures. The people I work with are great. There are some real characters who have worked in many different national parks including Death Valley, Denali, Glacier Bay, Yellowstone, and many others. My two managers seem nice and are both new to Mount Rainier so they are relying on some of the older staff to help everything go smoothly. A good part of the day was spent folding napkins and polishing the silverware.
The building in which I work.

     A couple of days ago, I told you about this cough I have developed. It seems to be getting better but very slowly. I think it hurts less to cough today than yesterday, and I am coughing less frequently.

     The weather today was nice until I got off work then it started to rain. The only good thing the rain helps the snow melt faster though the weather reports are showing snow on Thursday evening. For the second day in a row, I was unable to see the mountain.

5/19/2010 04:11:00 PM

Day 11 – Ending Location – Mount Rainier National Park

A. Packwood, WA
B. Mount Rainier National Park

     Today was the big day, the day I completed my cross-country trek. I know most of you thought I was crazy for taking the job in Mount Rainier. I also know that even more of you though I had lost it when I decided to drive there. Well to all the doubters, I did actually make in across the country without a major incident. The drive was long, but worth it. I saw more of the country then most people have. I stopped and explored things that most tourists missed.

     I got up to Paradise and the first thing I saw was the snow, it is over 25 feet deep in some places and is everywhere. I walked into Paradise Inn and immediately meet the head of Human Resources. He was nice and started me though the check in process. Once I got checked in, I was assigned my room. My roommate had gotten there last week and already started work. I didn’t meet her until later this evening.
The building I live in.

     After checking in, I got my uniform which consists of black pants, a white collared shirt, and a black apron. I finished signing all the paperwork (it felt very repetitive, mostly name, address, birthday and social security number). I started moving my stuff from my car to my new dorm room. This room happens to be half the size of my UF dorm room.

     I meet a few of the people I will be working with, and had a long talk with the park rangers about the hiking options (somewhere in the many pages of info. I read on Rainier, they lied to me, there are no Grizzly Bears in Mount Rainier). After that I went to dinner, where I meet my roommate. She seems nice and was very glad I am normal (or so she thinks). She is sophomore at University of Maine and is a sorority girl. Like me she is an out-of-state student, but she is a local to Washington.

     Later that night, I was hanging in the downstairs lounge when the power went out. Which is apparently a fairly frequent occurrence; the dorm has its own emergency generator so we at least had back-up lights to read by. As more people got off shift, I got to meet a good percentage of the Paradise Inn staff including the contingent from Singapore and the two Columbians. We spent the rest of the night talking about the differences in the three countries.

5/16/2010 03:50:00 PM

Day 10 - Ending Location - Packwood, WA

A. Spokane, WA
B. Packwood, WA

     It is kind of amazing that I am almost done with my drive. Once I got of the interstate 90, and on to the U.S. highway that would take me to Mount Rainier, I stopped at some overlooks and took some pictures of Mount Rainier and the other various sights. Such as a waterfall.

5/16/2010 10:00:00 AM

DAY 9 – Ending Location - Spokane, WA

     Today was my last big day of driving, only 8 hours and I would be in Washington, the state. I had a little (a lot) of trouble getting up and getting ready to leave for my drive. Something in Yellowstone set my allergies off, and I developed a cough. The allergy troubles combined with the constant changes in elevation has lead to a constant pounding of my head. Other than these two problems, I was ready for my last big day of driving.

    I checked out of my motel and headed out of town. I got about a mile out of town when I realized I forgot to get gas so I had to turn around and go back to West Yellowstone to get gas or I wasn’t going to make in to the next town.

      The driving was pretty uneventful and the scenery was similar to what I had been seeing since I got into Western Wyoming, with less snow. I was getting excited because my GPS was showing the state border approaching. I thought I was about to enter Washington, somehow I forgot about the Idaho panhandle. I got to the state line, checked my GPS, and it was showing Oregon. “I am confused I thought I was entering WA.” This was one of my more blonde moments.

     I choose the wrong day to go to Spokane, WA. Apparently there is this huge martial arts tournament going on and three-quarters of the hotels I called were full or only had a couple of rooms left for an outrageous price. Finally I found a hotel with a room at a reasonable price.

5/15/2010 09:51:00 AM


      Yellowstone is well known for its Buffalo herds. At times they can be massive, however on this trip the largest herd I saw was about 30. Background information
  • Can weigh up to 2,000 lbs
  • Can be the size of a small car a.k.a similar size to my Honda fit
  • Can run over 30 miles per hour
  • Injure more people than bears almost every year
     Enough with the background information, for those that don’t know this is my second trip to Yellowstone National Park. The first trip I was between 4 – 7 (I don’t remember the exact year), but I don’t remember a lot. But what I do remember are the huge herds of buffalo and the traffic jams they create. In Yellowstone there are really two things that create traffic jams (three if you count the road construction on the one section). The first is a rarer animal siteing such as a bear or wolf. The second and perhaps more common traffic issue is a buffalo in the middle of the road.

     I was in the park all of 10 mins before I encountered my first buffalo traffic jam.

     This was the first of many buffalo traffic jams. My personal favorite was the one where the buffalo was just standing in the middle of the road. He had this air about him than said I am standing in the middle of the road causing problems because I can and there is nothing you can do about it. Another favorite was the buffalo that would walk down the road in the opposite direction of traffic. These were always funny. It is instances like this that kind of make me wish I was a buffalo so I could spend my life disrupting traffic in every way imaginable. If I was a buffalo, I would try to arrange buffalo at 30 yard intervals in the road to create an obstacle course.

      After you have been in the park for over an hour, you have probably seen more than 50 buffalo. After about the second herd of adult buffalo, it gets boring and the pictures all start to look the same. It got to the point where I would say “Oh look more buffalo” and just keep driving. After visiting Mammoth Hot Springs, I decided to drive out to Roosevelt and Tower Falls. As I was driving out there, I kept seen herds of buffalo. I didn’t take any note of these herds until I noticed one herd had about 15 baby buffalo with it. That got my attention, and I was suddenly re-interested in buffalo. I pulled off the side of the road and am about 100 yards away from the buffalo and the babies (calves if you want to get technical). As I am getting the camera out of the car and changing lenses, what I assumed was the bull buffalo (this could have be the lead female, because buffalo keep pretty separated herd of male and female unless its breeding season though I didn’t know this at the time) move himself about halfway between me and babies. I was a little nervous about this but I think the buffalo and I came to an understanding, I would stay where I was and take picture and as long as I didn’t come any closer I was fine.

For more buffalo pictures please click here

5/15/2010 12:03:00 AM


     Since I only had two days to explore Yellowstone National Park. I had to pick and choose what activities I wanted to do carefully. So my activities were carefully planned to get the maximum viewing for my time.
     I have decided since there are so many things to tell about Yellowstone. I am going to break each thing into its own post such as an entire post is going to be devoted to bison (buffalo). Keep an I eye out over the next couple of days for these various posts.

5/12/2010 09:55:00 AM

Day 6 – Ending Location - West Yellowstone

A. Starting Location – Jackson Hole, WY
B. Visit – Grand Teton National Park
C. Ending Location – West Yellowstone, MT
     Today started just like yesterday with a later then normal start. The only difference was that today was on purpose rather than an accident. First thing I did was pack up my bags and check out of my hotel. For there, I drove into Grand Teton for my final adventures there. 
     My first stop was the visitor gift shop, I need to get my National Park visit log stamped and pick up a patch for my collection. From there, I was considering going hiking on one of the shorter mostly snow free trails. But when I got to the trailhead it was starting to snow and with wind was gusting to about 20 or 30 miles per hour. Most of this trail was though dense forest, and for safely I decided it was best no to hike the trail. I did however take time out to build a mini snowman. I wanted to build a bigger one but the snow wouldn’t pack together.
     Right as I pulled out of the parking lot, I noticed a beaver lodge. I decided that since I had nothing better to do, I would hang around and watch. I spend over 30 minutes stilling there watching this lodge hoping one of the beavers would come out but alas they did not. For talking to one of the three people who stopped and asked what I was looking at, I found out that a Grizzly Bear had been seen eating from the carcass that I saw the wolves eating from.
     I drove up to the site and spend an hour sitting there watching the carcass, but nothing showed up. No Grizzly Bear, no Black Bear, and no wolves. I was sad, but I then spent the better part of the day hoping from turnoff to turnoff and scanning the woods for animals. Today was not for seeing animals; I didn’t see anything cool or interesting until my last turnoff before leaving.
     I was sitting in my car, scanning this field with my binoculars and didn’t see anything so back my car out of the space and notice 5 or 6 birds follow my car out. I had never seen any birds like these so I had to stop and take their picture. These birds had been clearly feed my humans because they came right up to meet. As I am taking their pictures, another car pulls into the parking lot, this is not just another car it is one of the park rangers. The ranger gets out of his vehicle with a angry look towards me. I am thinking, “crap he thinks I am feeding the birds”. Once he steps out of the vehicle the birds take off toward him hoping he will feed them since I am not. As they fly towards him, he realizes that I wasn’t feeding them; I was just taking advantage of the opportunity to photograph them. The ranger walks over to me and we chat for a little bit. Since I didn’t know what type of birds these where I ask him, and he tells me he has never seen them before so I get out my BORROWED bird book (Mom at least I am using it regularly and you now have an excuse to get a new one). I find out that these bird are called Yellow-Headed Blackbirds (though this name is very obvious I still had to look).

     After this, I headed out of the park and started the three hour drive to West Yellowstone. If you look at the map, it would appear that I took a very long route that is out of the way. I did, but I didn’t have a choice the roads out of the North end of Grand Teton as still closed from winter. This drive involved crossing the Teton Range. The highest point of the pass is 8,431 feet in elevation. It was kind of scary driving up the huge mountain, but the view from the top of the pass was worth it.
     The pictures do not do the pass justice. From there I made it safely to West Yellowstone, and am ready to enter Yellowstone National Park tomorrow.

P.S. Pictures are coming just bear with me.
P.S.S. Do NOT expect a blog post tomorrow. I am staying at Old Faithful Inn and will not have internet access.
P.S.S.S. I have add a page on things I have learned that I will update as I learn new things. Click Here

5/11/2010 09:51:00 AM

Day 5 – Grand Teton National Park

     Today was my first day in Grand Teton National Park. My day started later than I planned, due to my sleeping though my alarm. Thankfully, I didn’t sleeping though the whole day, I only slept until 9:00 a.m. I got the park and my first stop was the visitor center to see how the road conditions were. I asked one of the rangers about a good 6 to 8 hour hike that I could get to in my without four wheel drive and snow tires. He suggested the Jenny Lake Loop to Hidden Falls. He told me the roads that were open were snow free, so I would be good on that concern.
     I drove out to Jenny Lake and immediately encountered snow on the hiking path. I have never experienced hiking in snow and needless to say I was underprepared for the difficulties in hiking in snow and 7,000 feet. At certain points I was knee deep in snow.

     I made it about half way to Hidden Falls when I slipped on a snowy embankment and twisted my ankle. At that point I decided it was safest if I turned about and head back to my car. The close I got to the car the more my ankle hurt and it got the point I was just saying to myself “one more step and I am one step closer to being done.” At one of my rest stops, I heard this twig snap and looked up and there was an adult moose. The moose just looked at me like I was crazy and continued to eat his twigs.

     From Jenny Lake, I drove further into the park. The next stop was a overlook on the other side of Jenny Lake. At this overlook, I met an older gentleman, who was looking for someone to go snowshoeing with. My ankle was feeling better so I went with him about a mile. 
     Yesterday, this gentleman had found three wolves feeding on a kill further into the park. I followed him out to this spot and we started watching. The first thing I noticed was a heard of elk near the spot he had seen the wolves. As I was watching the elk, they took off running and I noticed a gray wolf bounding behind them. The wolf didn’t catch an elk, but it was still cool to see. The wolves then spent over an hour feeding on the same kill as yesterday.
     After the wolves, I spent the next two hours exploring the park and just viewing the sights. I will try to post pictures soon. But I have to go through 442 pictures. 
Animal Count:
  • Moose – 3
  • Elk – to many to count over 100
  • Otter – 2
  • Wolf – 1 (A ranger confimed this was a wolf, it was wearing a radio collar)
  • Muskrat – 1
  • Coyote – 2 (I am not entirely sure they were not wolves but coyotes are more common)
  • Bison – 15
  • Many types of birds

5/11/2010 02:26:00 AM

Day 4 - Ending Location – Jackson Hole, WY

     Sorry about updating a day plus a little late, but I was exhausted yesterday and fell asleep sorting my 370 pictures.

A. Cheyenne, WY
B. Jackson Hole, WY
     Last night my mother told me about these interesting rock formations called Vedauwoo. I decide since I was about 3 hours ahead of schedule I could afford to stop and see the rock formations. There was only one problem; I couldn’t find directions on how to get there on the internet. My mom told me they could be seen from the interstate so I watched for the formations. I could see them just off interstate, but had no idea how to get to them until I saw the next exit was for Vedauwoo Road. I got off the interstate and discovered an amazing place.
     Vedauwoo is well known in the rock climbing community for its climbing, but I was impressed by the amazing rock formations. To see more of my pictures from this day please click here. Most of the rock formations are located on a dirt/gravel road. As most of you know, I live on a mile long gravel driveway, so the dirt/gravel road didn’t even faze me. Even with my new car. A couple of the locals I meet while on the dirt road were impressed I made it that far with my little car.

     After Vedauwoo, I got off the interstate and continued my journey on one of the US highway (I am not sure of the number). This was an amazing drive starting with the crossing of the Continental Divide - twice. From there, I drove though the most amazing rolling hills that slowly turned into mountains or large hills. One of my favorites was the Split Rock.

     Yesterday, I traveling though the Great Plains, I had thought about what it would be like to be a early settler and traveling cross country on the Oregon Trail. What I didn’t realize that I was at times following the path of the Oregon Trail. As it turns out, Split Rock was a well know landmark on the Oregon Trail.

     From Split Rock, the terrain continued to get more rugged and I started to see more of the local wildlife. The two big ones were wild horse descend from the original Spanish ponies and Pronghorns. Finally I entered the last leg of this stage of my cross-country trek. The only places that stood in my way were the Shoshone National Forest and Teton National Forest. As I started into Shoshone I started driving up the large mountain. The higher I got the more snow appeared on the side of the roads. Thankfully the roads were cleared. At some points there was about 5 feet of snow on the sides. About 40 miles from Jackson, the sun was shining and it started to snow. Yes, SNOW. It was gorgeous, nothing interesting happened in the Teton National Forest. After leaving both forest, I got my first view of the Tetons of this trip. In reality this is my first view because I don’t remember the last visit. I stopped to take some pictures but my timing was bad since I was on the east side of the mountain and the sun was setting behind where I was shooting.
     If you want to see my most of my pictures, please see my facebook page here.
Updated Cop Count:
Kentucky - 5
Indiana - 6
Illinois - 0
Missouri – 7
Iowa – 1
Nebraska – 3
Wyoming – 4

5/09/2010 12:16:00 AM

Day 3 - Ending Location – Cheynne, WY

A. Start Location – St. Joseph, MO
B. Goal – Big Springs, NE
C. Actual – Cheynne, WY

     Last night I discovered that the infamous outlaw Jesse James was shot and killed in St. Joseph, MO. The house where he was shot has been turned into a museum and since I had some extra time I decide to swing by and see Jesse James’s house. I was not able to tour the museum because it doesn’t open until 10:00 a.m. and I didn’t could afford to wait for it to open and still make my driving goals with daylight left. But here is a picture from the outside.

     After the quick stop at the museum I was on my way. When I planned my route across country, I didn’t realize that I would be driving though Iowa until I saw the sign that said welcome to Iowa. About 10 mins. later I passed the welcome to Nebraska sign. About a mile later, I spied a sign for a Lewis and Clark Visitor Center. I decided that I had time and went for a visit. It was a small but interesting museum. The guy behind the counter thought it was interesting that I handed him my UF college ID but signed the ledger with my home as Knoxville, TN.  The picture below is a replica of the keel boat used by Lewis and Clark.

     After the museum it was just at lot of rolling hills and beautiful but empty landscape until I got to the western part of Nebraska that borders Colorado. Once I got close to Colorado, I started seeing larger hills and some rock cliffs.

     Overall, the driving was good I only drove 9 hours today with about 7 hours on the agenda for tomorrow. The wind was less of a consistent issue today; however the road contentious were worse. They were worse in the sense that the road was not smooth and this meant that my car would make funny noises due to the road. At one point I got on the interstate and was going to get off at the next exit to figure out what was causing the loud funny noise, but it stopped right after the road surface changed.

Yesterday, I posted the cop count, here is the updated list:

Kentucky - 5
Indiana - 6
Illinois - 0
Missouri – 7
Iowa – 1
Nebraska – 3
Wyoming – 0

5/08/2010 11:36:00 PM


     My mother felt a little left out with me starting this blog and posting my thoughts so she decide to start her own blog. Which can be found here.

     Her latest post claims that I STOLE several items from her. I quote “The dastardly child has stolen my only i-pod cord, a new jar of peanut butter, and 2 boxes of girl scout cookies (thin mints no less).” I feel that it is necessary to refute several of her claims because I did not steal any of those items.

  • The iPod cord was an accident. It got mixed in with some of my other cord and got packed.
  • The jar of peanut butter was a swap. I got a new jar of peanut butter and she got the jar of peanut butter back that I stole when I went to college (is might have less peanut butter in it, but I can’t remember).
  • Ok, I did steal some Girl Scout cookies but not 2 boxes of them, it was a HALF box. My mother is getting old and can’t remember that she ate the cookies and is trying to blame me.
     In her post she does state that is only the things they have found so far. I can only remember one other big item I BORROWED with the intent to return.

5/07/2010 11:23:00 PM

Day 2 - Ending Location – St Joseph, MO

A. Start Location – Berea, Ky
B. Goal – Sweet Springs, MO
C. Actual – St. Joseph, MO
     Today was a long day. I drove just over 11 hours for Berea, KY to St Joseph, MO. My day was supposed to be Berea, KY to Sweet Springs, MO, and 9 hours of driving.
     It summer vacation and I am still getting up before 10:00 a.m. Though it didn’t help that Haleigh had class at 8 something, so I got up with her and left just before her class started. I made really good time until right before Lexington, KY. Everything was going great until someone ahead of my slammed on their breaks and brought both lanes of traffic to a screeching halt. Thankfully, I had left plenty of following room and was able to stop safely. I look-up into my rear view mirror and the guy behind me is looking scared and looks like he is going to rear-end me. As I was watching him try to stop all I could think about was “not my new car” and “please don’t hit me I have barely gotten to use it.” By some act of God, I wasn’t rear-ended. Looking back, I should have been less worried about my car and more worried about how I was getting to my job if my car got wrecked. But I was fine and so was my car so everything was good until I entered Indiana. Once in Indiana, the wind picked up with gust that could push my car around. It was kind of scary getting knocked about and watching the tractor trailers get battered around too.
     St. Louis, MO was a disappointment. I wanted to stop and take pictures of the St. Louis Arch from across the river, but there was no were to pull off or an exit that a sign pointing to a observation deck, so I didn’t get any pictures. After, St. Louis, the driving nice, except for the wind gusts and the dark ominous sky, though it never did storm.

Another intresting thing I found was the cop count in each state:
Kentucky - 5
Indiana - 6
Illinois - 0
Missouri - 5

5/06/2010 09:41:00 PM

Day 1 - Ending Location – Berea, KY

     Today was my short drive day, it was only 2.5 hours. It was a easy drive though Knoxville and up to Berea, KY to visit Berea College and my best friend. I arrived on campus around noon, and meet Haleigh for lunch. After lunch see took me on a tour of the campus and we explored several places Haleigh hadn’t been in. My favorite building was the Dimitrie Berea Gallery. The Gallery is very small but had some very interesting pieces.

This piece was a very interesting giant wooden head. It appeared to be carved from a single tree trunk.
     The next four pieces were created by the same artist, Donnel Lytle. Note the Yellow Rubber Duck in all three piecies (the duck in the first piece is in the lower right cornor and is hard to see).  These were my favorite paintings in the gallery.

     The final really cool pieces of art in the Gallery were three maskes, named logic, intuition, humor.
The logic mask had various mathmatical forumilas on it. The humor mask had a very long statement that was very humors that ended with "to conclude I continue."

                                                Logic                                                    Intuition 

5/05/2010 06:11:00 PM

Last Day in Tennessee

     Today is my last day in Tennessee and home. It has been a fun and busy week at home. I have to say completely packing and unpacking twice in a two week period. I had to unpack all my college stuff and decide what percentage of that stuff I wanted to take with me. I am leaving about one-half to two-thirds of my college stuff at home.
     As a good college student, I procrastinated on buying a sleeping bag. I waited until this afternoon to make a decision on which bag to buy. I decided on a Eureka! Cimarron Mummy Bag. Since I am expecting to see temperatures in a very wide range from single digits to upper 50’s. I decided on a bag that would cover most that range at a reasonable cost. The Cimarron bag is rated for +15°F, weighs 4 lbs 1 oz, and is a hideous color. However the color does not affect the usefulness so it is irrelevant.

5/04/2010 10:32:00 PM

Trip Woes

     I never realized how much work went into planning any trip. I am having some slight issues with figuring out how I am going to drive across country and visit my best friend, Mammoth Cave National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park along the way.
     I finally figured out how to drive across country. I decided that I would rather have the extra day at home so I decide to skip visiting Mammoth Cave on this trip. Here is the plan:

  • 06-May-10 – Visit Best Friend 
  • 07-May-10 – Drive
  • 08-May-10 –  Drive
  • 09-May-10 – Drive
  • 10-May-10 – Grand Tetons National Park
  • 11-May-10 – Grand Tetons National Park
  • 12-May-10 – Yellowstone National Park
  • 13-May-10 – Yellowstone National Park
  • 14-May-10 – Drive
  • 15-May-10 – North Cascades National Park
  • 16-May-10 - Arrive at Work
     Now the only problem, I face is packing my bags so I can drive across country. I am having serious trouble in deciding what I want to take and what I need to take. I have literally taken over a third of my parent’s house.
     Besides trouble packing, I have been having issues deciding on what sleeping bag, do I want. I am having issues balancing weight with the temperature rating. I think I have decided to go with a 15 or 20 degree bag depending on price.
     In other news, I finally got Verizon to send me a replacement phone. It only took four trips to the Verizon store and one phone call.