2005 International Teardrop Gathering Road Trip

June 5 to July 1, 2005
The Summary

  • Miles with Cousin MINI (My Car): 4,400
  • Miles with Pandora (my Teardrop)in tow: 4,200
  • Interstate Highway Miles: 275
  • Fuel Economy & Speed: 31.6mpg at 48.2mph
  • Duration of the trip:27 days
  • Nights in Pandora: 24
  • States Visited: 8
  • MINI sightings: 6
  • Teardrops in tow sightings: 4

Total Trip

5 June: Sparks to Ely, NV
Roads: I-80, US 50a, US 50, NV 722, US 50 & US 93
Camp: Valley View RV Park
Route Today

US 50 is called the Loneliest Road in America but it is not as lonely as NV 722, nor some roads I drove in WY. This was the first time that I had driven NV 722 an alternate to US 50 between Middlegate and Austin, NV. I can only guess that NV 722 is now like US 50 was when it got its Loneliest Road title. It is a must do drive if you ever cross NV via US 50. The day started out with gentle breezes and cotton ball clouds to Fallon, NV where I stopped for breakfast and for gas. As was common at almost every stop on the trip; I got some favorable comments about my "set up", that is NV talk for a trailer and the tow vehicle. After leaving Fallon I also encountered clouds of butterflies that turned the front of Cousin MINI yellow and required a sponge bath when I arrived in Ely. The gently breeze had also changed to a 25mph wind and the clouds had formed a solid black ceiling overhead. Reno had a very wet spring and it looked like all of US 50 had one also, the grass was belly high to the cows. A sea of grass with only cow backs and heads rising from it. This rain pattern continued in Ely during the night but were not very hard and Pandora seemed to be watertight. I will talk more about my health during the trip but to set the stage I want to go back to yesterday. While I was washing Cousin MINI & Pandora in preparation for the trip I got very dizzy with excessive sweating for the work that I was doing and had to lay down for a while to recover. Then later in the day I suffered from some diarrhea. I didn't think too much about it because I had "cold" symptoms for a couple of weeks prior and considered it part of that, however it did concern me that I might get sick and ruin the trip. When I set up my tent fly in Ely I had similar dizzy feelings but rested a while and seemed alright.

6 June: Ely, NV to Bellevue, ID
Roads: US 93 & ID 75
Camp: Riverside RV Campground
Route Today

I had filled up with gas in Ely the previous evening when I went to get some dinner and left early this morning. The black clouds and scattered rain was with me all the way to Wells, NV where I stopped for breakfast. The Ruby Mountains to the west of US 93 were cloud covered part of the time but I could see that they continued to be heavily snow covered and the spring melt only just starting. This was in contrast to the range after range of mountains that I crossed yesterday, 9 summits to cross NV on US 50, that had only thin white lines of snow left in some canyons. I had my first MINI sightings in the Twin Fall, ID area seeing two within 10 miles of each other (neither responded to by headlight flash greeting). I did a short ride through downtown Bellevue which seems to be 3-4 bars/restaurants, 3 gas stations and 2-3 antique shops and that portion of the Wood River Trail that is in town. It remained cloudy and overcast since I set up camp with a forecast of snow around Ely and rain here. I continued to feel somewhat dizzy after setting up camp but not as bad as yesterday, I am also still congested and coughing.

7 June: Bellevue, ID
I had intended to ride the Wood River Trail from Bellevue to Sun Valley, ID but because of the threat of rain and my physical conditioning I elected to do only about 1/2. I remained warm as I proceeded up grade but when I started the return the wind chill made me very cold. Only a couple of miles before Bellevue I was caught by a Greenspeed recumbent tandem powered by Ben Schumacher and Shawn Stephenson. We chatted for a few minutes before I turned off to my camp. They were in their first day of a 1,000 mile tour through Yellowstone, Glacier and then on to Spokane, WA. He works for Ski Tek and she is a first grade teacher in Bellevue. Most of this information I got out of an article in the local paper, The Wood River Journal, but it was good to meet them and it was also the first time that I have ridden with another trike. After the ride I walked downtown for a cup of coffee and while there it rained very hard - if I had still been on the Trail I would have had a case of hypothermia for sure by the time I got back to camp. I also saw my third MINI while in town, it was the same color as one I had seen yesterday near Twin Falls but I'm counting it as a separate sighting even if it is the same.

8 June: Bellevue to Craters of the Moon, ID
Roads: ID 75 & US 20
Camp: Craters of the Moon National Monument
Route Today

More of the same today - windy, cold and rain. When I woke up this morning there was ice on the inside Pandora's windows where my breath had condensed and then froze. I had breakfast and filled with gas in Bellevue before leaving. Then after getting set up at Craters of the Moon I decided to take a picture of Cousin MINI, Pandora & Catrike Garage (tent fly) and found that the camera battery was dead. It was very cold and windy so I elected to do a driving tour of the National Monument rather than trike it. I also did 3 of the shorter hikes to some great view points but it was really cold. I didn't bring any winter clothes with me I thought June was the start of summer. Got back to camp in time for a hail storm that covered the ground like snow and then rain behind that. When it cleared off I opened up my chuck box and heated a can of soup for dinner, it is too far to go for a restaurant dinner and that is why I'm carrying the chuck box.

9 June: Craters of the Moon, ID to Cody, WY
Roads:US 20, ID 33, US 20, Yellowstone N. Grand Loop, US 14/16/20
Camp:Ponderosa Campground
Route Today

I woke up to heavily iced windows again at 6:00am and it was still only 32 degrees when I started for Cody at 7:00. I also had heavy fog from just west of Mud Lake, ID until crossing I-15 near Rexberg, ID. This is where I stoped for breakfast and filled with gas. During the day I had three road sections that were under construction that required following a pilot car. The last one was on the East Yellowstone portion of the Grand Loop before the East exit from Yellowstone. This one was very wet and muddy and I threw mud all over Pandora from the rear wheels of Cousin MINI. I had 3-4 showers during the day with some heavy hail while in Yellowstone. I also saw my fourth MINI about 20 miles south of West Yellowstone, again no response to my flashing headlight greeting. I haven't shown a flag for the 8th state that I was in on this trip which was Montana because I crossed it in only 8 miles. I also saw my first Teardrop in tow while in Yellowstone, it was towed by a 1950s era Chevrolet traveling west to my east and readily responded to my flashed greeting. This proved, as I had thought, that Teardropers are a closer knit community than MINI drivers. During the first couple of years that I had Cousin MINI almost every other MINI I saw would exchange greetings. The early buyers were MINI/Mini lovers whereas I think the buyers now are BMW wantabees and have more of a BMW rather than MINI attitude - not as much community feeling anymore.

10 June: Cody, WY
Most of my day in Cody was spent at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center with the majority of that time devoted to the Whitney Gallery of Western Art. In addition to the Whitney there is also the Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum & Draper Museum of Natural History. They have a McCracken Research Library also as part of the complex. The Whitney is just wonderful with many original paintings and sculpture by Remington, Russel, Catlin and others. The Firearms Museum is a must see for any gun collector, I spent about an hour in it and was walking most of the time there are thousands of guns from when invented to current. The Buffalo Bill display was good but not as interesting to me as the Whitney & Firearms. However, there was an original Concord Stage from the Black Hills Stage Line that enjoyed very much because I had read The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Express by Agnes Spring not long ago. I am more interested in the Indians of the Southwest than the Plains but went in anyway and was a little disappointed because most of the descriptive signs and videos were too Politically Correct. I think they could have done just as well by just displaying how the Plains Indians lived without the PC commentary. I don't think a lot of rhetoric by pro-gun groups would have improved the Firearms Museum either, fortunately there was none there. I skipped the Natural History because of tired feet and spent the remainder of the day finishing On the Road by Jack Kerouac. A book that I had never read and considered appropriate for a road trip.

11 June: Cody to Devils Tower, WY
Roads: US 14, I-90, US 14, I-90, US 14, WY 24 & 110
Camp: Devils Tower National Monument
Route Today

I left Cody early in the morning after a quick stop at a self car wash to get most of the mud off Pandora. After a stop in Graybull, WY for breakfast and gas it was then over the Bighorn Mountains. The drive through the mountains was spectacular with a 9,000 foot summit and still a quite a bit of snow at even higher peaks. The mountain transit was much more scenic than most of the Sierra crossings that I have done and is a recommended route. From Sheridan to Gillette, a land of rolling hill grass lands and some hay fields, I saw more antelope and deer than I could keep count. I had my second Teardrop in tow sighting on I-90 just east of Gillette, it was towed by a Van (maybe a Chevy Astro) and appeared to be a restoration with green sides and silver roof. It passed quickly going the other way on the divided Interstate and I did not get a good look. At Moorcroft, WY I got into a very hard rain although brief and then some light showers after arriving at Devils tower.

The Devils Tower from the campground and from the park entrance road.A picture of one of the town (prairie dog town) citizens. Here I again used my camp box for dinner although a restaurant was not too far away I didn't want to unhitch and re-hitch or drive to it in tow. Cousin MINI & Pandora are both small but when hitched together it becomes a bit of a problem to get around and park them in town. I usually unhitch after I have set up camp to avoid the problems. The Campground Host stopped by to visit, see my "set up" and ask me if I had seen a green 1950s Chevy with a TD. I said that I had and he told me it had been at Devils Tower a couple of days before and that it had been playing leapfrog with a yellow Chevy towing a yellow TD. I will probably see one or both of them in Minden, NE.

12 June: Devils Tower, WY to Deadwood, SD
Roads: WY 110, 24 & 34; US 85, I-90 & US 385
Camp: Wild Bills Campground
Route Today

was into rain again within 30 minutes of leaving camp this morning and heavy clouds when it isn't raining. Near Alva, WY I saw a huge bull elk standing in the middle of the road facing toward the left. As I got closer to him he moved off the road to the left but then quickly turned around and crossed the road again in front of me to the right. If I had not slowed considerably he would have destroyed Cousin MINI, Pandora and maybe me. He was big enough that he would have then have just wandered off considering it a job well done. I stopped in Deadwood, SD for gas and then had breakfast at Big Al's. It was still quite early in the morning for downtown Deadwood and the host, cashier, server and buser were all the same guy. When he spoke to me I detected an accent and asked him where he was from - he was a summer work exchange student for Sofia, Bulgaria. We then had about an hour long conversation about Bulgaria, my experience there, the economic prospects then and now, his studies etc. I then proceeded to my camp about 6 miles south of Deadwood where I set up in a light rain that continued off and on all afternoon.

13-14 June: Deadwood, SD
It poured rain from 5:00am until 10:00 in the morning of the 13th and then light showers until after I went to bed. Pandora had a bad leak around the hatch hinge during the heavy rain period. It had not leaked during the previous rains that I had been in but those were relatively light compared to the 13th. I had thought about bringing my sealer but left home without it so will hope that I don't get anymore heavy rains again until I can get it sealed. I had set up in a low lying area and found myself surrounded by a 1" lake which soaked in by the morning of the 14th when I moved Cousin MINI to a graveled area. Did nothing on the 14th but drive back into Deadwood for breakfast but Big Al's was still closed. Then back to camp to get everything dried out and also let the Mickelson Trail dry. It had been my intention to ride portions of the Trail on the 13th & 14th but the rains put that idea on hold. I had 3 dinners and one breakfast at the general store of Wild Bills Campground but I do not recommend it. If it had not been raining as hard and as much as it did I would have been somewhere else. This is also the only camp that I would not recommend, most of the places that I selected were rather "basic" but Wild Bills had just been sold and the old owner had let it run down a lot. I'll give the new owner a couple of years to get the place back in shape before I'll ever think of stopping there again.

15 June: Deadwood to Custer, SD
Roads: US 385 & US 16
Camp: Big Pine Campground
Route Today

I stopped in Hill City, SD for breakfast and then began a Catrike ride from the Mickelson Trailhead there toward Custer. The ride direction that I selected was not the best choice that I could have made considering my conditioning. I road only 6 miles but it was all up hill with an elevation gain of about 750 feet. This was enough to convince me that the 10 miles that I had hoped to do was probably not wise and I turned around and coasted most of the way back to Hill City. There I got the Catrike loaded back into Pandora but by the time I finished that easy task I was extremely dizzy and had an upset stomach. It was then almost all I could do to walk 50 yards to a restroom and change clothes. I then sat in the shade for about 15 minutes before trying to walk back to the car with vision so blurred that I couldn't see well where I was going. I made it back to the car and took my blood pressure which was 76/47 and a 110 pulse. After waiting maybe 10 minutes I took it again and it was 72/47 with 106 pulse. I then returned to the shade of a tree near a water fountain for about an hour before I felt well enough to drive. I then continued on to Custer where I was able to get camp set up by working at it slowly and keeping my head up as much as possible. It seems that bending over at the waist to drive in tent stakes or to clip in the tent fly to the footpad exacerbates the dizzy feeling. I now approach the task from a more kneeling position and that has helped.

16-17 June: Custer, SD
Roads on 16th: US16, US 385, SD 244, US 16A & 16
Camp: Big Pine Campground
Route Today

I slept in longer the morning of the 16th than any so far on this trip, I'm usually up by 6:00am and some mornings soon after sun up. I decided that more Mickelson Trail riding was not a good idea after yesterdays problems. Stopped in Custer for breakfast prior to making it a tourist day and visiting Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore National Monument. My advise to anyone seeing the two Memorials is see Rushmore first, my seeing Crazy Horse first left me a little let down because Crazy Horse is just so massive it makes Rushmore seem so much less.

The sculpture from US 385, then from the visitors parking lot and last from the visitors building but with telephoto.

The sculpture from the visitors building and with telephoto.

I am also so impressed by the Ziolkowski family that is completing Crazy Horse, they seem to have the commitment to take generations to finish it if that is what it takes. Their commitment to not accept any government funds is also a huge plus in my opinion. I hope to live long enough to see at least a semi-finished Memorial. They are now "blocking in" the horse and I would like to see it in as finished a state as Crazy Horse is now. It took 50 years to finish Crazy Horse, I'm hoping 20 years or less to finish the horse. My cold has developed a persistent cough the last 3-4 days. When I say cold that is what I thought I had but I am now convinced that I am allergic to pine tree pollen.

You can't see all the pine tree pollen this picture but there was plenty of it on car and trailer.

I have thought about it and I always have a slight "cold" in Reno in the spring now here in Custer I'm in a camp that is all pines and the pollen is thick enough on top of Pandora that the roof looks yellow. The afternoon of the 17th I sat in the shade reading and my windbreaker was covered with pollen in just an hour. While in Custer for dinner on the 17th I stopped to talk to a female National Guard trooper about what was going on around Custer. She said that they were having war games with units from all over the US (she was from NY) including Army, Navy, Marine and Seabee. From what I have seen on the road it seems to be Transportation and Engineering units. At dinner I detected an accent in my servers speech once again and found that she was also a work exchange student from Poland, almost all of the servers there were exchange students. I also saw my 5th MINI just west of Custer on the 17th, again no response to my greeting. After dinner I hitched Pandora for an early departure tomorrow and then checked blood pressure at 108/59 with 100 pulse. The pulse is too high and has been so since taking a new medication at a 40mg dosage since late April. I was going to go through Lincoln, NE on my way to KS and ride a Trail there. Until I get the blood pressure issue resolved I'm not going to do much riding and have revised my schedule to arrive at Al & Kays one day early and the ITG one day early.

18 June: Custer, SD to Valentine, NE
Roads: US 16 & 16A, SD 36 & 79, I-90, SD 240, 377 & 44; US 83
Camp: Riverside RV Campground
Route Today

I left Custer through Custer Park again, had crossed through on the 16th, and then to Rapid City, SD where I filled with gas. I didn't see a breakfast stop in Rapid City so I had breakfast in Wall, SD prior to driving through Badlands National Park.

Just a small part of The Badlands National Park with the Badlands as a background for Cousin MINI and Pandora.

I stopped at a few of the overlooks in the Park and was impressed by the views but I'll always remember the Badlands as where Cousin MINI, Pandora & me(?) received a great compliment. As I was leaving through the Interior Entrance to the Park (SE Entrance) there were about 30 Harley-Davidsons and their riders parked at the entrance paying their fees. Maybe 10 of them had paid and were standing by their "hogs" while the remainder were lined up to pay. Of the 10, there was one stereotypical rider (big, lots of hair, leathers, etc) that saw me approaching the exit and began applauding me as I exited the Park. Choked me up - I almost turned around but didn't know what to say, I've had a lot of compliments but this one just grabbed me. When I arrived at the Valentine Camp there was no one around and after 10-15 minutes of looking for someone I took a shower and then tried again. The "management" is rather loose but I finally did get checked in and set up. After dinner I got my first taste of Nebraska culture; the Campground had a go kart track and Nebraskans love go carts. They also have legal fireworks in Nebraska and that is an even greater love than go karts. Everyday while camped in Nebraska I heard fireworks going off to the point that I started to tune it out but then would notice that they were going off.

19 June: Valentine to Beatrice, NE
Roads: US 20, US 281, US 6, NE 33 & US 77
Camp: Victorian Inn
Route Today

I did my morning gas and breakfast stop in O'Neill, NE and was able to only get 89.5 octane with 10% Ethanol as the premium fuel (I usually run 91 octane no ethanol). At O'Neill I also turned south into a headwind from the southeast and immediately noticed that my gas mileage was also going south due to the lower octane and headwinds. I had looked at the Road Atlas that I had with me and decided that I would try to camp at one of the State Recreation Areas near Crete, NE. When I got to Crete I stopped and asked where I could camp and got directions to two places near by. I found the first one easily but it had no overnight camping provisions that I could see and I did not feel comfortable staying there. The directions to the second one had me running in circles and I returned to Crete and got re-directed. I then found it easily, sort of, but signs at the entrances that I found were for day use only with a permit required to be purchased in Crete. Never did find an entrance to the campgrounds but a permit was also probably required. I wasn't going to waste any more time and gas so proceeded to Beatrice, NE and after finding no RV camping available I checked into a motel. This was a lesson learned, for each state that your traveling through: know the requirements for camping in state parks/recreation areas, have a state map not just the Road Atlas.

20 June: Beatrice, NE to Nortonville, KS
Roads: US 77, US36, US 75, KS 16, KS 116 & US 159
Camp: Al & Kay Henry's
Route Today

I filled up with gas, 89.5 octane with 10% ethanol again, before leaving Beatrice but put off breakfast. It was a short drive to Nortonville and when I called on the 18th Al told me that they would not be home until 1:30pm. In spite of that I was in the habit of getting on the road early and arrived in Nortonville about 11:00am with the intent of using the library internet and then having breakfast. As I was walking to the library front door a local woman was returning a book and told me that the library was not open on Mondays. I responded that in that case I would go up to the cafe and have brunch; to this she also responded that the cafe was not open on Mondays. It so happened that the library was not closed but the librarian or assistant was there and she allowed me to use their internet while she and the other woman visited. When I finished they gave my detailed directions to the town Senior Services Center where I could get lunch and also directions to the Henry's farm. I still had a couple of hours before Al & Kay were to be home so I elected to go into Atchison, KS for lunch and get some cash from an ATM. The lunch part went very well but when it came to finding an ATM I had a bit more of a problem. I stopped at what I considered 3 banks that would have had ATMs here in Reno but the first was a drive-in only, the second had no ATM and the third had one but it was not working. The last one did direct me to a stand-alone ATM that was completely separated from the bank that gave me some money. In the process of finding an ATM I saw most of the old downtown Atchison that is now a pedestrian mall, with a statue of Amelia Earhart and a lot of small shops - something I wish Reno would do with their downtown. I then drove back to Al & Kay's and found them at home. In the course of our conversation it seems that they had been having lunch just around the corner from where I had lunch in Atchison at about the same time I was there. We filled the afternoon with a lot of "catching up"; talk of people that we rode bicycles with across the US in 1990 and the Natchez Trace in 1992. I was also given a tour of the farm although Al & Kay are now retired and lease out their land to others. They have also left the last four winters of KS for the warmer climes of Yuma, AZ and Algodones, Baja Mexico. Kay then provided a home cooked meal that I have not had since the Christmas Dinner with John & Janis; my cooking or Casino Employee meals just don't compare.

21 June: Nortonville, KS
I got up early and gave Cousin MINI & Pandora a good bath, removing the remaining mud from East Yellowstone and bugs from 5 states. Then after Kay's fine breakfast we did a tour of Nortonville and their bicycle training route to Atchinson. In Atchinson we visited the Lewis & Clark Memorial that honors war dead from the Civil War to Current. It is also a monument to the landing made here on the banks of the Missouri by Lewis & Clark on July 4, 1804 and their naming of Independence Creek. From there we drove through the old homes on the bluff overlooking the Memorial, most of them built in the 1860-1900 period, and toured the birthplace home of Amelia Earhart. Atchison has an Amelia Earhart Festival each year also that I was a month early for. We then completed the Atchison tour at the restaurant that Al & Kay had been in yesterday where I had a slice of gooseberry pie a la mode (first gooseberry pie in more that 20 maybe 30 years). Back at the farm Kay cooked up another fine dinner and I got another great nights sleep in a "regular" bed - 3 nights in a row now, something I can almost get used to. However, the bed that I have in Pandora is as good as what I sleep on at home and I may even sleep better on the road than I do at home.

22 June: Nortonville, KS to Minden, NE
Roads: US 159, US 36, US 281, NE 74 & 10
Camp: Pioneer Village Campground
Route Today

Kay cooked up another great breakfast this morning before I hit the road once again. I stopped for gas in Washington, KS and finally got some 91 octane back in the tank; Cousin MINI has run alright on the low octane stuff but much lower gas mileage. Soon after the intersection of US 36 & 281 I passed the Geographical Center of Continental United States but missed the turn to actually visit the site. On US 281 just across the Kansas border, I passed through Red Cloud, NE the childhood home of Willa Cather winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1923 and Nebraska's most famous author. I think I have told you before that I am reading all the works of Pulitzer Prize winners and she is one that I have completed. When I arrived in Minden I had completed about 2,700 miles verses the 1,400 or so a direct route would have covered. After checking in and getting set up I gave both car and trailer another washing so they would look good for the Gathering. I was dizzy and wore out once again by the time that I finished what seemed like only a little work. I rested for a while and then visited the early arrivals for the Gathering that officially begins tomorrow. I also talked to Dave Locke, the builder of my Teardrop, about the hatch leak, hubs and pitting fenders. My closest camp neighbor, Ernie Cole from Fair Oaks, CA, is on his maiden voyage with a Teardrop that he just completed a little over a month ago. He is justifiably proud of what he has done in building his own Teardrop but I have no real interest in building talk, fortunately we were able to converse on a range of subjects and he was great company at the Gathering. Any Gathering is going to be primarily focused on the subject of building Teardrops with "using" Teardrops a secondary consideration and I just need to recognize that and go with the flow. I took no photos of all the Teardrops at the Gathering because there were "official" photos taken at registration, however all were not included, but many others were taking pictures. There were also two bicyclist camped near me that I spent some time talking to. They had just meet the previous day but were going to ride together for a few more days - one was going from Atlantic City, NJ to Los Angeles, CA the second from KY to WY. I thought I might see them on the road again as I went through WY but did not.

23-26 June: Minden, NE
The four days at the Gathering were mostly repetitions of each other. I would have breakfast (once at Pioneer Village Restaurant, 3 times in downtown Minden), then visit the Pioneer Village, walk through the camped Teardrops, sit in the shade and read or visit with other Teardropers, then have dinner (everyday at the Pioneer Village Restaurant). On the 23rd I had breakfast at the Village Restaurant and then went directly to building #1 in the Village. I describe #1 as being the biggest collection of junk I've ever seen under one roof. There are 10,000 items showing the developments in transportation, lighting, guns (does not come close to the Firearms Museum in Cody) and many other facets of life including an Arts section that has 78 Rogers Groups of Statuary. The Rogers Groups were of most interest to me because of the skill displayed in their creation but also I have never seen, or heard, of them before. During my pass through the camped Teardrops I saw the green Chevy with Teardrop that I had seen in Yellowstone. When I asked the owner (from WA) if he had been in Yellowstone he immediately asked "Do you have a MINI with a Teardrop?". The yellow Chevy and he had finally been in the same place at the same time and he found out that they were slowly going to MI and probably would not be at the Gathering.

Two pictures of the “square” in Minden, NE. It is touted as one of the largest squares in the country. The first picture shows the Opera House on the north side; the second shows the court house in the center of the square taken from the west side.

On the 24th I rode my trike the few blocks to downtown Minden and had breakfast at "the" cafe there. I then continued to ride around Minden for a few miles just to see what the town was like before returning to Camp. At the Village I went through buildings 2-12 & 22-25. These were: 1st log cabin in Webster County, a stocked General Store, Franklin County Land Office, Fire House, Lowell Train Depot, Country School, Sod House (built in 1950s), China House, Church (still used, two Gathering participants got married there on the 25th in 1800s period costume), working steam powered Merry-GO-Round, Horse Barn, Pony Express Station & Barn, Home Appliances and Hobby House. I rode into downtown again on the 25th and first stoped at the Donut Shop where I not only had a donut and coffee but was invited to sit with a couple of locals. One was an old farmer that had maybe two words to say and the other was the owner of a commercial print shop. Before I left another guy came in that had just passed my trike at the front door and said "Those people out at the Village not only tow weird trailers but they ride weird bicycles too". Entering just behind him was the Chief of Police that I was also introduced to; a friendly small mid-western town in all respects. After riding through the northern section of town I continued my visit to the Village with buildings 13-17. This included: Homes and Shops (20 rooms showing kitchens, living rooms & bedrooms since the 1830s, plus various shops), Antique Farm Machinery, Antique Tractors & Trucks, Livery Stable and Antique Cars. On this final day of the Gathering,the 26th, I said goodbye to Ernie, who was preparing to leave, and had breakfast at the Village Restaurant then went directly to the Village to complete all the buildings. I had put off seeing the bicycle display until the final day and was looking forward to it. I was very disappointed, the development of the bicycle is represented but there are very few examples. The collector was into powered vehicles - a huge collection of steam tractors, tractors, trucks, cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles and even lawn mowers - light on human powered vehicles. Last day buildings 18-20 included Chevrolet and Other cars; Fords, Studebaker, Motorcycles, Snowmobiles & Bicycles; Ag Building & Steam Tractors. Buy the time I returned to camp it was almost empty with only a few of us remaining until Monday morning. The gathering was worth going to without question but there is enough Teardrop politics and cliques involved that I will never be a very active participant in Gatherings. There is also the issue of my Teardrop not being a real Teardrop, as judged by these cliques, because it has no galley. I also have no interest in cooking with a Dutch Oven, another clique, nor participating in Pot Luck meal sharing. I may attend other Gatherings but now know what to expect and can adjust accordingly.

27 June: Minden to Bayard, NE
Roads: NE 10, US 30, US 26 & NE 92
Camp: Chimney Rock Pioneer Crossing
Route Today

I was on the road early once again with my breakfast and gas stop (89 octane this time without any ethanol) at North Platte, NE. While I was waiting for breakfast to be served a guy came in and asked who owned the Teardrop, when I admitted to it he wanted to know where he could get one. He was a local of North Platte and saw me parked so decided he would stop and inquire about it. I gave him a brochure from Lock Nest Teardrops and he was on his way to work again.

Two pictures of Chimney Rock from my campground in the early morning sun.

After I got to camp and set up I went into Bayard to do my laundry before in rained again, it was clouding up once more and the forecast was for thunder showers. I returned to camp and went to the Office/Store for an ice tea just as it started to rain. As I, Store Manager and another local were sitting under the porch roof watching it rain we saw a tornado appear to touch down just north of Chimney Rock and maybe 20 miles away. We continued to watch it until it disappeared and scaned the sky rather well to see if there were any more. I heard on the 28th that it had touched down near Scottsbluff, about the distance from Chimney Rock that we were estimating, but had not done any damage. Another one that we did not see that was further away had done some damage to farm buildings and equipment but no homes. I found no leaks in Pandora after this shower, Dave Locke had his caulk with him in Minden and he re-sealed the hatch hinge for me while we were there, the future will tell if it is completely fixed.

28 June: Bayard, NE to Lander, WY
Roads: NE 92, US 26, I-25, WY 220 & US 287
Camp: Sleeping Bear RV Park
Route Today

It was a long drive to Landers today with a stop in Torrington, WY for breakfast and then in Douglas, WY for gas. I think that the appearance of the country from Casper to Landers was what make the trip so long; it was all windy, dry, sage brush, cliffs and big hill country. I have been following the Oregon, California, Mormon and Pony Express trails since Minden and find it difficult to imagine covering this country by wagon or handcart. It made me think that if the people of the United States at that time would have had the entitlement attitude that is present now they would have never started the journey. Furthermore, the children of those non-pioneers would still be sitting on the east coast with there hands out begging for support from the government. I say my 3rd Teardrop, towed by a Jeep, just after turning onto US 287. I couldn't see the Teardrop as it approached and we passed each other quickly and I didn't get a good look but don't think they had been at the Minden Gathering. I passed a tandem bike about 20 miles before Lander and knew they had been fighting the headwind all day so stoped and waited for them to catch up to me. The tandem captain's first words, strongly accented British, were "Wouldn't you know it, only a MINI towing a caravan would stop." The couple were from England and doing a trip from Yorktown, VA to Astoria, WA (the Transamerica Trail). They assured me they had all the water they needed and were doing fine but hating the wind and looking forward to stopping in Lander. After I got set up at the camp and by the time I took my shower another thunder storm hit for about an hour. This is not usually considered tornado country but they had a sighting about a week previously. I didn't see one today, but the winds did reach 54mph which collapsed a tent that was pitched near me and rocked Pandora considerably. They local Chamber of Commerce claims that they have very mild winds and average only 108" of snow each year - I'm not sure that I believe either of those statements. But even if true, an average of 108" of snow could mean over 15' during a big snow winter.

29 June: Lander, WY to Duchesne, UT
Roads: US 287, WY 28, US 191, I-80, US 191 & US 40
Camp: Camper World
Route Today

Highway 28 over the Wind River Range to South Pass is a spectacular drive but I missed some of it on the west slope due to fog cover. My breakfast and gas stop was in Rock Springs, WY (the end point for the KY to WY cyclist I saw in Minden) and where one the most scenic of drives began. Soon after leaving Rock Springs on US 191 you enter high mesa country east of Flaming Gorge that has gorgeous canyons with the road twisting, turning, going up, going down - Oh how I wished to be free of Pandora and have the road open!

Two pictures of Flaming George dam and bridge from the west side of the canyon.

Flaming Gorge is no more scenic than the country leading up to it but it is a bigger canyon. Therefore, in American fashion, if it's bigger then it has to be better and deserves the additional hype and special designation. The scenic drive continues through the Unita Mountains until Vernal, UT then rather bland until Duchesne. I drove through Duchesne looking for a RV campground but after seeing none I stopped at a cafe and made inquiry. I was directed to Camper World about 5 miles west on US 40 which turned out to be a membership campground that wanted $25 for the night from a non-member. When I seemed a bit disappointed in the price the manager took pity on me and said she would let me stay for $20 because I would be out before they got the membership rush for the July 4th weekend. If I had arrived tomorrow I probably wouldn't have been able to get a spot at any price. There is a lake overview across US 40 from Camper World that I walked to and on the way back I saw a bicyclist stop and walk down near the lake. I waited for him to come back up and talked to him for a few minutes. He was riding with a supported group (Global Exchange/Bike Aid) of about a dozen from San Francisco to the Atlantic. I'm doubtful that he will make it - he is riding a city bike with one chainring and maybe an 8 or 9 cog freewheel. He was two weeks into the ride and has hand and knee problems with a lot of the Rocky Mountains to come not to mention the steep climbs in the Appalachians.

30 June: Duchesne, UT to Ely, NV
Roads: US 40, US 191, US 6, I-15, US 6/50 & 93
Camp: Valley View RV Park
Route Today

Highway US 191 & US 6 continues to be a great drive through the Wasatch Range until joining I-90. It was there at Spanish Fork, UT that I stopped for gas and breakfast before starting the desert crossing of Utah. There is not a lot to say for US 6/50 across Utah to Ely except they get you there. I stopped for gas again on my way through Ely so I would not have to backtrack later in the day or tomorrow morning. I got set up, showered, relaxed in the shade for a while and entertained some visitors that wanted to talk about my "set up". A usual daily activity during all my stops along the way, I enjoy the company and talking about MINIs and Teardrops. If you don't want company then don't ever buy either one. The best compliment of the day was from a guy that was simply walking past on his way to the shower and said "Now that's a camper, not like these land yachts parked around ya".

1 July: Ely to Sparks, NV
Roads: US 50, US 50A and I-80
Route Today

My final day is the flip side of my first so to speak. However, this day I stopped in Eureka, NV for breakfast at the Owl Club (a must visit if it is only to see the bar area). Soon after leaving Eureka I saw my 4th Teardrop in tow behind a pickup, the Tear appearing to have high ground clearance for off road use. I also saw my 5th MINI of the trip soon after that, it had a fully loaded roof rack the first that I have seen, and they maintained the record of no greeting reply. The flip side also included a difference in the insects that I encountered. If you will remember, on day one I passed through butterflies that today have been replaced by a swarm of locust also known as Mormon Crickets locally. The mess that a butterfly creates is considerable but nothing compared to the locust. The NV highway department set up portable electric warning signs near Middlegate that warned of "Slick roads for 14 miles". I spent three days trying to get Cousin MINI and Pandora clean after finishing the trip and continue to see pieces of bugs that I have missed. At trips end I unhitched, pushed Pandora into her normal resting place and unloaded Cousin MINI. This required some 5-6 trips up and down a flight of stairs and I did it all in no great hurry but took maybe 30 minutes. I was feeling dizzy and tired once again and took my blood pressure, finding it to be 84/50 with 116 pulse. So the trip ends on that note, I have an appointment at the VA on July 6th with a new doctor and will be reporting on that visit as well as other news in a future Long Letter.