Athens, OH


It’s been awhile. But it was nice returning to always hilly Athens, Ohio. The place has changed without changing and yes that does make sense. To me anyways. Besides walking aimlessly around campus (where I regaled Corey and Henna about my storied years at Ohio University) we also spent time hiking in nearby Hocking Hills State Park. If only I had spent more of my college years there instead of at The Pub…..


cemetery at OU

A short walk from campus is an early 19th century cemetery where several escaped slaves and Revolutionary War Veterans rest.


OU Graffiti

What is one person’s graffiti is another’s college tradition


Henna in the Tiny House

Our tiny house for two days. Only 3 miles from Court Street it was nonetheless deep in the hills and a fun place to wait out the rain.

Sign at Hocking Hills State Park

Waterfall at Hocking Hills State Park


Narrow Gorge

Early Spring rain made for high waters and running waterfalls. 

OU Green Gate






Detroit, MI


new artist

Where once was a good size home is now a giant artist easel


Detroit is like any other post-apocalyptic city except that instead of zombies they got themselves some hipsters. Across the abandoned landscapes (whole city blocks with nothing more than a bunch of crumbling buildings and maybe one decent brewery) they nest, biding their time before the next art gallery moves in.



Greek Pride parade in downtown Detroit


on the water

Along the waterfront on Detroit’s People Mover



Our digs in Detroit. We were a bit nervous moving in and then quickly fell in love with the artist loft.






Our view off the back deck



Corktown mural done

Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood which at one time was home to thousands of Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine. Today it is home to a distillery, a great Udon noodle place, a used record store, and other similar fun places.


Detroit’s pretty cool. Never thought I would say that. For two nights we crashed in the upstairs of a former bar that has since been converted into an artist’s loft. Our landlord was next door in a former bank with windows only on one side of the building. From the street it all looked just another couple of abandoned buildings sitting in the ruins of a once great city.



The Conservatory located on Belle Isle Park. Belle Isle Park’s main attractions (which include the country’s oldest aquarium, the conservatory and a nature museum) are only open a few days a week. So mostly tourists wander the island to gawk at building they are not allowed to enter.


In 1950 Detroit had approximately 1.8 million citizens. Today there are a little more than 650,000 people remaining in the city. That type of wholescale flight is going to leave a few empty buildings (by most counts at least 70,000). And into this void come the artists, urban planners, chefs, urban farmers and other dreamers all looking to lay claim on a new vision.  

Rise up!

They got tourists too. Some wander off to the obvious sites like the former Motown Studio and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Others roam the hinter land in search of art, food, used records and the other necessities of life. We did a little bit of both and cannot wait to return to take in some more. Long live Detroit.



One of the most impressive museums in the world, the Detroit Institute of Arts houses Diego Rivera’s “Detroit Industry” frescoes as well as collections from both European masters and more contemporary artists. 





All Politics Are Local


Just outside of Redwood National Park I talked to an expat from California now living in Idaho. Redwood National Park, by the way, does not have as many old growth Redwoods as you might think. The area was heavily logged well into the 20th century. Often when hiking through the park the most impressive thing are the massive trunks that line the groves like tombstones. Although this wholesale slaughter of trees certainly created a whole lot of jobs, it also deprived future generations the thrill of walking through an intact forest of towering trees that have stood since before Christianity’s birth.



Fire partially hollowed this Redwood but miraculously it survives. Climate change, however, is beginning to weaken these ancient trees.



Our friend credited Idaho’s low crime rate to it being a “constitutional carry” state. Not directly stated, but certainly implied, was that Chicago would be wise to do the same. This is a definite trend with us as people often feign concern about our safety when told we are from Chicago. Ironically this concern is often expressed to us while we sit around a fire, possibly surrounded by grizzlies, with a coming thunderstorm and wolves howling in the distance. I might tell them that if you measure safety by homicides per one thousand then Chicago is not even the most dangerous city in Illinois (that honor belongs to Rockford.) By that same measure Chicago is much safer than other mid-western cities  including Milwaukee and St. Louis. But still they press on with their Fox News talking points and remain convinced that Chicago’s biggest problem lies with the liberal, politically correct, and mostly left handed establishment. Which makes you wonder how they would respond to me giving answers to problems they did not even know they had.



Feeling small in an ancient forest


A Few of Our Favorite Photos from 2017 (so far)


Park Avenue Hike, Arches National Park


Arches National Park

Been home now more than a week and the trip has pretty much completed its orbit from experience to memory. But if I squint just a bit I can still just see a bit of trip light over the western horizon. Here are a few of our favorite photos from that time still not so long ago.

great basin national park photo

A Bristlecone pine tree at Great Basin National Park- one of the oldest living things on the planet this tree is likely two thousand years old!


Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills of Kansas- Corey and Henna stop to smell the flowers


Somewhere between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. About an hour after taking this photo we were hit by several falling rocks including one that damaged our windshield.


In Naturita, Colorado we do the unthinkable. We spend the night in an RV. Was pretty comfortable actually. 


Morning in Baker, Nevada


Great Sand Dune National Park. As good as it gets.

Back Home


Henna walking toward Moulton’s Barn in Grand Teton National Park which was part of a Mormon settlement that existed into the mid 20th Century.


Chilling after a long day driving from Missoula, MT to Gros Ventre Campground (Grand Teton National Park). We spent one night here then six more at Signal Mountain Campround


After almost 7,800 miles, 48 nights (and 29 spent in a tent), 8 national parks, 3 nifty sand dunes, 3 bear encounters, 1 chipmunk encounter (the sucker ran up the mesh of the tent a few inches from my face), 1 poorly scripted fake gun fight (Dodge City, KS), 6 nights spent on the California/Oregon coast, 1 attack by falling rocks (between Silverton and Ouray, CO), and 1 prophet (outside of Kansas City, he warned of rain on the 4th of July) we are finally home. And by home I mean a place where every short walk results in several long conversations. Our home home. We do though have more stories to tell of our unscripted 2017 Great Summer Trip. Like the former Japanese American Internment Camp in Southeastern Colorado we visited. Or the funky opera house in tiny Eureka, Nevada. And of course more talking politics with strangers. But for now we leave you with a few more photos to look at while we unpack.


The long gravel road leading to the Granite Hot Springs outside of Jackson, WY


In the background is Mount Rainier and in the foreground is the White River which flows down from the glaciers


Sunset at Gros Ventre Campground (Grand Teton National Park)


Moose Falls near the south entrance at Yellowstone National Park


Curious mammals looking out at Hayden Valley (Yellowstone National Park)

Henna Almost Loses a Shoe and Other Good Times in Denver



The treacherous seas that lie within Denver’s City Park. Note Henna’s shoe floating away.



Denver’s City Park is just a short drive away from the capital building. At 330 acres it is an impressive green space and includes a zoo, many trails, and a small lake. If one is foolish enough to do so, you can also rent a paddle boat or, as Henna and I did, a water tricycle. Lighter than the more conventional paddle boat, the water tricycle is a bit difficult to navigate in tricky waters. And the seas were indeed rough the day Henna and I set off to explore the outer watery reaches. So much so that Henna lost her shoes (she set them aside on the boat prior to setting off and then later they fell off the side). Did I mention the tricycle is difficult to steer? We did quickly save one shoe but the other drifted ever so slowly away from us. Try as we could, and believe me we did try, we could not capture the overboard sneaker. Luckily it drifted back to shore where Corey was able to spear it with an oar. Bad shoe.



Corey and Kristine at Mile High Stadium which is home to the Broncos as well as Kristine’s employer

Despite nearly twenty years of travel under our belt, we had never actually spent more than a few minutes in Denver. But lucky for us, our niece/cousin Kristine moved to Denver a few months ago and there was no way we would miss the chance of hanging out with her. Although it is hard to gauge a city after only a few hours, we think we like Denver. Not love, but like. Remove Denver from the mountains and you would have a serviceable enough city but not somewhere people would go out of their way to visit. But so far as we know Denver is not moving further away from the Rockies and for this reason alone it is a pretty cool city.



Several days a week food trucks are allowed to set up near the state capital. Baggo games are also encouraged.



Talking Politics With Strangers


Downtown Books in Craig, CO

After spending much of last summer explaining why there was no way America would ever elect Donald Trump, I was hoping this time around to gain a little insight into how America did just that. Yes, many more Americans did actually vote for Hillary than Donald. But so what. The electoral college ain’t going anywhere and for at least the next four years either is the duck.

But political conversations with strangers are a dicey proposition. The ones I did cajole usually resulted in voiced opinions not too dissimilar from my own. A retired fire fighter from Boise, for example, credits his city’s high quality of life with its progressive values (he called it a shiny blue dot in a sea of red).

Other pleasant surprises included the beat up pick up truck that passed us on Route 50 in Nevada. It had the same Human Rights Campaign sticker that we have. And then last night in Rock Springs, Wyoming there was not one but two gender non-conforming individuals working at our hotel. Parts of red Montana, like Missoula, swing further to the left than Chicago and even in remote Idaho we saw a highway adopted by the local Democrat chapter. People nowhere fit an exact mold.

Maybe the best conversation (political or otherwise) happened today at a lovely coffee/book shop in Craig, Colorado. Seated next to us was the former mayor who explained to us how Craig, principally a ranching and coal mining town, was more politically aligned with Wyoming than it was with nearby Steamboat Springs. The mayor, another blue dot in a sea of red, was as articulate as he was personable. A soothing cup of coffee at the end of a long ride and a reminder of how great conversation can be.

A marker on Route 789 (WY) commemorating the Overland Trail

All The Civilization You Need



Hanging out at Taggart Lake located within Grand Teton National Park


About sixty miles south of Grand Teton National Park is Pinedale, WY. Their official slogan is “All the civilization you need!” Not so sure about that one, but the town does have a nice deli, a brew pub, and the very interesting Mountain Man Museum.

It was a wonderful week spent camping at our favorite national park. On Sunday we rolled into the less popular Gros Ventre campground then bolted the next morning to Signal Mountain. We arrived on August 7th which, given the fourteen night maximum stay, meant we could have planted ourselves right smack dab in the solar eclipse path. That is in fact exactly what many of our neighbors did. But after six weeks traveling the country we were itching to get back to our non canvas home.



This bridge outside of Pinedale is designed to help give antelope safe passage across the highway during their annual migration



Although at times smoky from the nearby wild fires, we do love the Tetons



Henna watching the sunset a short walk away from our campsite



Natural Bridge near the south entrance at Yellow Stone National Park



This raven was not amused by the crazy crowds at Yellowstone







A Few Thoughts While Sitting on My “Porch” in Missoula, MT



Noel’s Front Porch (Missoula, MT KOA)


It’s not exactly a porch. I am actually sitting on my former camping chair (Henna stole it from me just before we left town) just in front of my car and facing the campground road. Across from me are two adorable little girls helping their dad/grandpa take down the tent. Every few minutes someone walks by and we wave hello to each other. Just now another family walks by with a puppy and the two girls go nuts. Did I mention that I already skimmed the “Missoulian?” It was delivered to my tent sometime before I woke around seven. Although a bit transient, this is really a nice little town.



Northwest Highway/ U.S. 12 along the Lochsa River in Idaho


So if you take Northwest Highway (which we take several times a day when we are not camping across America) and go through Park Ridge and then Des Plains and then choose Rand Road and then keep going through Wisconsin you will, after a few days, eventually reach us. And maybe, just maybe, Corey and Henna will be awake.



The Magical Campground and Other Wonders of Coastal Oregon



The magical campground in Garibaldi, Oregon which is located on the grounds of a former mill. Besides being a fountain of free crab meat the place also supposedly never fills up due to its large size.

I call the big sprawling campground in Garibaldi, Oregon (about 55 miles south of Astoria) magical mostly because of the free crab meat. Patty, the caretaker/campground angel, brought us over four whole soft shell crabs as a thank you for visiting Oregon (and also because her grandson, like us, lives in Illinois). Already cooked, she cleaned the shell fish in front of us and we were good to go. Then the next morning our fisherman neighbor gave us another crab for the road which we later clumsily cleaned for lunch.

Besides crabs, coastal Oregon gave us plenty of good conversations including one with our (we hope) future selves. It happened at the farmers market in Newport, Oregon where the food stalls were all a family affair with little kids helping their parents serve up delicious eats like kimchi and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Twice in Newport we told someone that we were from Chicago and they immediately mentioned “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” My parents remember a time when people associated Chicago with Al Capone. In the 1990s it was Michael Jordan. Now it’s Peter Sagal.

Anyways, while sitting at a picnic table eating our Japanese noodles and grilled cheese sandwiches, this couple sat down next to us and we began to talk about campers. They had made the leap from tent camping to recreating in a modified, fully self-sufficient Sprinter camper. They also exuded a genuine calming aura that lulled us completely out of our petty trip related concerns (specifically where we were going to spend the night) and into the present. Just prior to lunch we contemplated paying $60 to camp at the KOA in Astoria. This would be by far the most we ever paid for a campground but given the scarcity of campsites over the weekend it seemed a better choice than maybe paying twice that for a motel. After talking to our new friends we knew that was crazy. So instead we ate lunch, strolled the waterfront (one side of the street Ripley Believe it Or Not museums and t-shirt stores, the other a working dock), and then meandered down the road. Later we discovered the magic campground and met Patty. I cannot think of a better way to finish the Oregon coast.


Corey on the Coast

Corey hanging out by Seal Rock



The Peter Iredale which ran aground at Fort Stevens State Park a century ago



respect the ride photo

Always remember to respect the ride. Photo courtesy of Google images (and taken in Portland)