19 August 2009

Beautiful Rockies on the way to Utah

If you haven't read my "Camporee recap" yet, I encourage you to do so, here.


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After having a good time in Denver visiting buildings, museums, and hospitals, we had a great time today touring the natural wonders of Colorado in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
We left Denver this morning at about 8 and drove almost two hours to Estes Park which is the entrance of RMNP. I took quite a lot of pictures while I was there, and they are all beautiful.
View Rocky Mountain National Park 1

And here are some pictures of the impressive me:
View Ryan in RMNP

While I was at Rocky Mountain National park, a squirrel came up to our car and found some food on the rocks near our car. I felt like naming him “Chuckie” but that seemed too cheesy, so I decided “Charles” would be more appropriate. The squirrel was good at posing for me, and a nice motorcycler who walked by smiled and agreed.
View Charles in the Rockies

Weather has been fairly sunny all day, though the Wyoming winds are a blast. This is the second-to-last night on the road, so I want to make the most out of this last leg of the trip. But you know, after leaving Oshkosh feeling all down, I just wanna go home, and then right back to school again. So we’re in Rawlins, Wyoming tonight – where the road lies.

18 August 2009

On the road, on schedule in Denver

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As I talked about in my video blog on my last post, we are a bit behind schedule as we drive back home. We left Oshkosh Sunday morning and drove as far as we could, passing through Illinois (where drivers are VERY rude) which landed us in Davenport, Iowa. 
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Monday morning we left Davenport and drove to Sterling, Colorado, with a brief stop in Omaha. In Omaha we toured around the Old Market place which had some really cool stores like an old-fashioned candy store and bookstore where you’re practically drowning in books.
View Omaha

Eventually we made it to Sterling, Colorado on Monday night. 

I forget where these pictures came from, but I know I took them in Colorado on our way to Sterling.
This morning (Tuesday AM), we drove from Sterling to Denver. We visited the United States Mint, the Denver Art Museum, and the 16th Street Mall way. There’s quite a bit more pictures here so take a look at all of them.

Finally, I found out there’s an Adventist hospital here in Denver – Porter Adventist Hospital - so we had dinner in their cafeteria. And dinner was quite delicious. Go Adventist institutions!  DSC04214

Time here in Denver is Mountain Standard Time. Today we experienced a nice morning sun, pelting noon rain, and then partly cloudy skies in the afternoon through evening, with a high of 77 and low of  56.
So we’re in a hotel north of Denver tonight – where the road lies for now. 
Very shortly from now, I will post on my adventures in Oshkosh at the Pathfinder Camporee. Please read it, it took me quite a while to write it all (It will soon be the  blog post above this one)

11 August 2009

Oshkosh or bust? We picked Oshkosh

It’s Monday, August 11 and I would like to say WE FINALLY MADE IT TO OSHKOSH! I am so grateful and happy to be here finally.
Let me tell you about what happened yesterday though. 
We left our hotel at about 8 AM and were headed to the Mall of America. Now I was told the Mall was open at 6 AM, and it turns out it was. Except the stores don’t open until 10. And I said ‘Damn’. What kind of a mall is open at 10, and especially the Mall of America, the mall that belongs to me? So we went walking around admiring what we couldn’t buy at all because nearly everything was closed. Except. Except for a Starbucks. Come on, we have like 12,500,4878 Starbucks coffee shops at home.

Man that was a lonely deserted place.
Instead we took a couple of pictures and left promptly for Minnehaha Falls Park, up near downtown Minneapolis. Minnehaha Park is absolutely gorgeous, very beautiful with all the trees and flowers like Central Park. I believe the Mississippi River flows right through it.
After leaving Minneapolis at about 11, we began the last stretch on the road to Oshkosh. And what was a 5 our trip turned out to be a bit longer. Mother’s directions were faulty. Gah. I don’t like that. We stopped at this farm mill or the like and this very nice senior Wiscosinian man helped us out. He said It’s ok, we’re all nice folks out here.” Indeed. We’re very grateful. DSC03964
At about 5 or 6 we entered Oshkosh and drove to the EAA Museum grounds where the Camporee is located. Everybody here is very nice, we were all waving to each other as we drove in, and we say ‘hi’ to each other walking around, it’s just a really great atmosphere out here.
We’ve got several plans today. Our Pathfinders’ activities have to be arranged, camp set up completely, and I’ll be volunteering from noon to 5. More pictures from here at the Camporee (where there appears to be WiFi) soon.
Current temperature (I’ve been told) is 63 degrees and climbing, breezy winds coming from the southwest. Time here in Wisconsin is Central Standard Time.
This Camporee is the largest Adventist gathering of the year, with more than 35,000 Pathfinders and staff here.  I’m very grateful and thankful to God for driving with us safely out here – where the road lies this splendid morning.

10 August 2009

Monday morning in Minneapolis

I’m still in my hotel at this early our here in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I woke up early once again but I’ve got some extra time before we go to the Mall of America.  Probably won’t be taking a normal shower for a few days since I’ll be in a campsite where everything is communist –- I mean communal; but I’m sure things will be clean since we’re Adventists, all 35,000 of us camping in Oshkosh. Bet that’s what the Israelites said after leaving Egypt – thought things would be fine doing everything together but they didn’t share so look what happened to them – 40 years in the desert eating nothing but Special K loaf and haystacks.
On the local morning news I heard the PGA tour was going to be here in Minnesota today, actually in Chaska which is a few miles southwest of Minneapolis.  Knowing my parents, we won’t have anything to do with it but a dozen miles is the closest I’ll be to Tiger Woods.
So that’s it for now from the Twin Cities, onto the largest American mall and then finally Oshkosh – where the road lies this morning.

09 August 2009

Slow day between prairies and lakes

DSC03886We left Dickinson, North Dakota early this morning when the streets were all empty and the sun shone golden on the quiet brick town. Don’t you just love the awe and peacefulness of Sunday mornings?
The drive through North Dakota into Minnesota was largely uneventful, except for a few characters we encountered.  There was the nice senior North Dakotan farmer at the gas station, the terribly rude ruffians who flipped me off and cut in front of us, and the man from Oregon I conversed with who was also going to the Camporee. 

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Anyways, the day was once again full of driving but we were able to check into our hotel relatively early in the evening so we walked across the street and enjoyed some Chinese food as a family. Honestly we haven’t eaten at the same table at the same time for quite a while.  
Here’s a picture of that Chinese restaurantDSC03912 Oh wait, that’s a Hooters. Never mind.
So today was an awfully slow day on the road, not much at all to write about. I think our plan is to go to the Mall of America tomorrow morning and then we’ll leave for Oshkosh, Wisconsin about noontime, arriving there in the early evening.

Current temperature in southern Minneapolis is 78°F with some light clouds, nevertheless bright. Tomorrow’s forecast for Minneapolis partly sunny and some rain, although I consider that highly unlikely. Oshkosh is expected to have time same but with an increased chance of precipitation and thunder storm, altogether with a high of 81°F. Time here in Minnesota is Central Standard Time.
Tomorrow night we’ll be at the Camporee in Wisconsin, the main destination of this vacation. I will be volunteering there during the daytime for the the first three days, but each shift is only half the day. For the rest of the day, I think I’ll try my hand at mini-golf, a couple honors, and any other cool stuff I find. Like finding friends from the past, or friends I still have to meet.  Now I don’t know if there will be wireless internet at the campsite, but I do know there will be an email center.  There I’ll try to post a few updates about what’s going on, but I’ll also be updating Twitter via my cell phone.  My Twitter updates can be seen on this blog on the widget on the upper left-hand sidebar. And remember you can email me at neilryan [at] rocketmail . com
Hopefully tomorrow brings more positive excitement, but that’s it for this Sunday –our third day on the road- here south of Minneapolis where the road lies for now.
UPDATE: I just realized something to mention. I’m almost done with John Knowles’ classic book “A Separate Peace.” There are about two more chapters until the end, and I don’t think I’m quite ready to read the end because it seems too painful.  Knowles writes wonderfully; masterfully worded and intelligibly real.

08 August 2009

Out of Montana, into the Badlands

After like 10 hours out on I-90/I-94 from Deer Lodge, Montana, we finally made it to North Dakota. Now I just have to say, the eastern half of Montana is one heck of a beautiful place. 

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The sky really is bigger and wider out there.  I was just blown away because outside my dad’s driver window were dark clouds about to start pouring while on my passenger window were clear skies and a beautiful sun. That is a big sky.  The towns in Montana are rather wide apart, but I guess that means your land is bigger too. Like a home on the range. And like I was saying yesterday, a smile and polite words will take you far – Montanans are quite nice folks.
View Montana to North Dakota

This morning we left the cabin in Deer Lodge and drove on Interstate 90 east. Originally we had planned to go to Bozeman Adventist Church but the directions I looked up were faulty. But upon driving out of Bozeman, we saw the Montana Conference headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I couldn’t believe it. Wandering around for like half an hour and then once we leave we see the Conference headquarters by the highway. Man. Are all Adventist conferences along a highway?
There we were, driving out on 90 and we came to a rest stop. And there at the rest stop was the other half of my Pathfinder club, including our club director Uncle Art, about to have lunch.  So we took a couple pictures and Uncle Art wants to see these pictures online tonight so here’s a shout out to the entire convoy -

Current conditions in eastern North Dakota are clear, and I understand there was supposed to be thunder and rain but we avoided that. Temperature is 54°F with some sun and rain as we drive east. This half of the state is still in Mountain Standard Time.
I’ve been thinking about how relaxed or pleasant life is out here for these Americans. They must enjoy their lives. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to find that sort of peace someday, where the deer and the antelope play.  Well, we’re slowly moving (practically crawling) out of the country and into more populated places as we’re about to enter Minnesota. But we’re still in the breath-taking beautiful west, a place I’ve come to wonder and appreciate partly in tribute to some of my favorite classic actors like John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, a place wild but won. Even this town where our motel is  hails itself as “Dickinson - the Edge of the West” – and that’s where the road lies tonight.

07 August 2009

Now in the windy ‘Big Sky Country’

It's the first day on the road. After leaving home at 6 in the morning, we drove all day long through Spokane, in and out of Idaho, and finally here in Montana where I am right now. View Larger Map
So far I haven't seen any blonde wig-wearing teen girls who sing horribly and go by the name 'Hannah' in these parts.
Weather has varied widely; from the regular grey Washington skies to pelting rain in Idaho to the very very windy Montana country. I don’t see why the sky is bigger in Montana, looks like the same sky I see at home, just not that many trees in the way. Yet that gives me reason to look forward to nighttime when I can see the stars without any light pollution, the way man is supposed to look at the sky.
View Roadtrip 2009 - Home to Butte

Tonight we're lodging in a small town north of Butte. The lady at the desk said it was a "sleepy 'ol town" with all the shops closed relatively early. My dad and I went driving around the whole length of the town – all three quarters of a mile of it. Almost all the shops were closed at 5. Walking into a Safeway that's been around since 1902, I felt like an elephant in a giraffe convention. I must have obviously looked like a tourist, which makes you feel funny. But that's nothing a smile and polite words can fix, and I hope that works for the next two weeks. Tomorrow morning we'll be leaving  to attend church in Bozeman.
Time here in Montana is Mountain Standard Time. Current temperature is 58°F with some sun despite overcast conditions.
I’m going to go sit outside and have some of the bottled Italian lemonade I bought at that Safeway, and just look out across the rolling hills - that’s where the road lies tonight.

04 August 2009

Reading list for the road

There were a number of books I had planned to read this summer, but I couldn't get to them all. I'm supposed to be reading British literature but instead I got a bit hung-up with some American bildungsroman.
My books I'll be reading while on the road are -

The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. (fascinating science on string theory)
A Separate Peace by John Knowles.
The Sound and the Fury  by William Faulkner. (I doubt I'll get through this one)
and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, accompanied by Cliffs Notes on Great Expectations by Debra Bailey.
I'm also debating if I should bring episodes of Frasier to watch in the car.