A 21-day adventure by Vee
  • Day20

    Pow! Pow!

    September 23, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    I woke up to the wonderful voice of the fortune teller mechanical "indian" saying something I couldn't make out ... We parked in front of a gas station that had the obligatory trading post attached to it. The man working the gas station last night was very nice, we asked him about the potential of showers, and after determining that our options were too far to reach tonight in the dark, he suggested we sleep here, parked closed to the door. I guess being two girls makes people uneasy about us sleeping in a car.

    Hitting the road again, we were excited to start the "longest remaining section of route 66" which hasn't been converted to a highway. Because of its length on a map, Jack believed we could only make it Kingman by sunset, where we were just told by the nice man was our next truck stop with showers. My shower will have to wait until tonight, apparently. Turns out, the Arizona desert doesn't have too many towns along it's route... I was at Kingman by noon, just in time for a mid-day shower. This shower, at the Flying J, was wonderful! Much like our last experience at the Flying J, we payed for one shower, 12$, no time limit, and we both headed in. The first time, the lady at the cash actually offered us to only take the one shower, and then radio'd the cleaner to bring us an extra towel, she was great. This time, the cleaner was in front of our little shower room, and offered us this second towel as he saw us heading in. I found myself wondering - is this what gendered privilege feels like? I highly doubt two men, walking into the Flying J, get offered two towels and one shower. Just some thoughts. In this line of thought, I'm amazed that I have yet to be mis-gendered ! I wore my baseball cap for the last 2 days, a hoodie, and lose jeans, and I'm still not being mis-gendered. I don't get it. I got so used to having both genders thrown at me that this girl only thing is throwing me off... The only people to have argued over my gender in front of me on this trip were tourists in St-Louis. What is different here vs back in Ottawa? Or everywhere else in the world where if I want to pass as a girl I puff my chest and speak in a higher voice...

    We passed desert, and more desert, lined with magnificent mountains with pointy peaks and shadows of even larger peaks. As non existent the towns were, it was beautiful. We passed some ghost towns, what I would consider looked more like a single abandoned gas station or a motel, was apparently once thriving towns along 66. This route has shown us what the true rural, decaying America looks like when off the main highways. Forgotten old towns, left with populations of the 3 or 4 people braving the dry isolation. Amongst these forgotten towns was the not-so-forgotten Seligman. Two men in this town apparently refused to see it die with the traffic almost entirely disappearing after the construction of the I-40. They fought to start and founded the Arizona Route 66 Association (first of its kind) and lobbied for their section of route 66 to be recognized as a historic byway. One of these men was Angel Delgadillo. He spent most of his older life fighting to promote his town from his barbershop / 66 museum. This town had at least 7 or 8 main street establishments fully embracing the route 66 idea of old 40s charm and nik-naks. I can't really describe this town, but check out the photos. Diners with yards full of completely random things like a phone booth with a scarecrow inside, and old cars with cutouts of Elvis in them, or mannequins hanging out on the roof tops of the bar... My kind of place. Loved it.

    Having made it to Kingman so early, we suddenly got really excited at the possibility of making it to Oatman for a gun show, which according to our guide book, is at 1.30pm. So we sped through Kingman, a relatively large town with plenty of neon signs, old motels and cool looking diners to make it for the gun show! Quick stop over to get Jack a milkshake that she's been craving for days now, best coffee milkshake ever out of a really cool 50s looking diner. The road ahead was twisting and turning around cliffs edges, in the incredible peaks from early. I quickly realized I could not make good timing on this, so we gave up the idea of the gun show and just enjoyed the ride. Stopped at a few view points to stare at incredible views. The landscape isn't like anything I've ever seen, dry sand ground with green scrubs and tiny cacti.

    Making it to Oatman past 1.30pm, I had all given up on my gun show... that is until I saw a sign saying it was 2.15pm. I kid you not - I looked at the sign, then looked at my phone for the time, and my phone said 2.16pm. The excitement I felt at that point in time was unmeasurable! This is the funniest town yet, a town that was a ghost town for a few years until they decided fuck it, let's do something that will attract the randoms of 66. So they transformed whatever was left of the main street buildings and created new ones, all in the theme of the wild west. Saloons, cowboys, wild donkeys roaming the streets (legit, wild donkeys). And of course - a gun show. Two grown men, who go out in the middle of the street, dressed like cowboys (I really think this is their everyday look, but who knows), one pretended to be a sheriff, the other an outlaw. Sheriff brings money to the bank as a trap for the outlaw. Outlaw steals the money. At this point the outlaw is killing time in the street because the sheriff isn't showing up, starts making jokes about the sheriff not doing his job, or getting lost along the way. Finally the sheriff shows back up, obviously confused that he had missed his cue to re-enter the scene. They have a stand off in the street, and POW POW! Sheriff shoots the outlaw. Blanks of course. So terrible, so hilarious. The final shot that was supposed to kill the outlaw was kind of weak, not loud, so the outlaw goes "that wasn't loud enough", shoots his gun into the air for a louder bang, then falls to the ground. Too good. Probably my favorite experience so far. The only downside were the amount of tourists in the town. So far, we've crossed a few route 66 tourists here and there, obviously crossing many at the Grand Canyon yesterday. Here, the streets were full of them. The next "town" with a suggested stop, Hackberry, had a gas station and general store along the main, and only that. Their gas station was overflowing with tourists - bikers on old harleys, tour buses, you name it, stopped at this old gas station taking photos of their old classic cars. Seeing as we've seen plenty just like this in the east end of the route, we skipped it. Where did they all come from?

    We managed to get so much road done today, not because we skipped anything, but because that's all there was, road. No towns, no stores, no funny museums, just road. The tourists that filled Oatman and Hackberry are no longer in sight. We crossed into California! Our last state... Bitter sweet moment. I'm happy and proud we made it this far. Jack and I haven't killed each other yet, although we've come close a couple times. When you decide to spend a month in a car, sleeping, spending most of your day in this car, 2 feet away from your partner, you are bound to have some not so pleasant moments. I must say, with the exception of a rougher 4 day stint, we found our grove and are having a blast! Our "disagreements" often stem from us getting lost, or commenting on each other's driving skills. Route 66 no longer actually exists as a road, therefore following written out directions or a map leads to many wrong turns and "I think this is it" moments. We've managed to avoid using the internet or electronics for the most part. One of us drives, the other directs, and we switch the next day. At the end of a day driving, I'm ready to take the passenger seat and direct, which has its own challenges and annoyances, which makes me ready to drive the day after! Even setting up the car, we found our system which works. I grab the garbage on my front seat, she gets the cooler and goodies box. She then helps me bring the plywood board forward, and goes to the trunk to set up the box there while I hang the drapes up. The system is the same every night, and we're getting incredibly efficient with it! The car is doing great and continues to feel like home. I haven't felt too rushed or pushed for time, and here we are, crossing our last state line before the end of Route 66.

    The road is entirely empty. It's just us and the mountains and the dry land. The "towns" suggested by our guide book quite literally only had one thing running, be it the closed-at-the-time museum in Goff or Ray's gas station in Amboy. The travel guide even suggested a stop in Essex, what he calls an establishment: It consisted of 5 abandoned mobile homes and a closed gas station. After all this road, we stopped our journey in Ludlow today, or just before it. Who knows, we stopped at the first gas station we saw that was open, but considering today, this might be the town! As far as I remember from my readings, it is legal to sleep in your car in the state of California, so it doesn't really matter where we sleep, but this gas station with our now friends the Truck Drivers, seems like the safest choice. Good night.
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    Helene Drouin

    Déjà en Californie!!! Et bientot l'océan pacifique :) Super le blog!

  • Day19

    Little Detour, Big Reward

    September 22, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Today is an interesting day. For the first time, we planned an actual detour away from the route 66. This means we will actually miss part of it. From Flagstaff to Williams, we will be taking a different route north... to the Grand Canyon of course! It's an hour away, so it seemed like a detour worth planning for.

    The day started off a little odd for us... We slept at a rest stop along the highway just before the exit leading to the Meteor Crater that Jack really wanted to check out. We put our alarm on bright and early, 7am, to give us time to cook our breakfast on the BBQ and arrive at opening time at 8am. Of course, we snoozed, so decided to drive over to the crater without breakfast, and while Jack visits, I plan to cook the breakfast. It's 18$ to get in, and as we've done for a few activities along the way, only the interested party goes in and shares with the other. So we drive up to the gate, and we're parked in front of the closed fence by 7.50am. Employees seem to be arriving but closing the gate behind them. Come 8.10am we ask if they're opening soon and we're told "Yes, at 8am". Confusion continues. We are then told it's currently 7.10am. Heh? We later find out that Arizona doesn't follow daylight's saving time. So we just gained an hour! Right there, in front of the gate, we took out the table, the BBQ, and made some fantastic coffee and toasts we ate with Nutella and yesterday's left over beans from diner. Breakfast on the go!

    Jack was in the crater museum for about an hour while I blogged, or attempted to. I get distracted easily, write run on sentences that I then take out, it takes me about 1.5-2 hours per blog. Ridiculous, I know. I'm typing this one sitting in an I-Hop, with my little portable keyboard and tablet. Thank God for that keyboard, love that thing.

    Jack's crater experience : "It was cool. Very, very cool. It almost looked like a volcano crater, or at least some that I've seen, but knowing that it was from a meteor some 50,000 yrs ago just gave it a different feel. It was well done with a viewing platform from the top and slightly lower, a museum and so forth. They even did moon and Mars training here! It was expensive, but The largest and most well-preserved meteor crater on earth. Or so they say."

    From the crater to Flagstaff were more abandoned, or small towns. One of which was an abandoned old trading post Two Guns and another called Twin Arrows. Both made for fantastic photos. Graffiti, broken walls, and a very vague illusion of what life once was here. These little towns, or settlements, actually have highway exits all to themselves. In Flagstaff, in order to allow for more time at the Grand Canyon, we decided to stick with the route 66 and just drive through the town, no stopping. And we did just that. Passed a few great old neon signs, a few motels and diner circa 1940's, and off we went to the Grand Canyon!

    30$ ! Then again, for the both of us... We quickly forgot that price once we stood at the edge of the canyon. There's a certain feeling standing at the edge of the grand canyon that can't be described into words. This absolutely incredible, massive landscape that we all line up to see or get a better view of, and man kind had nothing to do with it. We keep trying to have higher building, or nicer trimmed parks, or the most high-tech houses, but experiencing the Grand Canyon is taking a step back and admiring something that needed no intervention from us. Spectacular all on its own. With 250 billions years of formation, not much can beat it. Of course, the visitors center had an incredible amount of tourists, understandably so.

    We did the north rim drive, from east to west, starting at the desert view point. We stopped at every single view point along the way, both for the obvious views, and because the more we continued, the less tourists there were, so we got to experience it better. Jack and I got in a little disagreement about her hugging the edges a little too much... Our conclusion, she's crazy and I don't have to watch. At least that was my conclusion. So I had to walk away a few times. Her sense of adventure is something I love about her, but sometimes just a little fear from her would help me through my day. Haha. We did take about 3.5 hours driving and stopping along the rim, but even this seemed so incredibly short. We treating this stop like the others along our way, it's a taste, a sample, and we must move on.

    On our drive back to 66 Jack planned a stop for us at the Flintstones Bedrock City. Amazing. Granted we just came out of the Grand Canyon, but Bedrock! I got to catch up with my homeboys Fred and Bam-Bam, and Wilma... We had to pay to into ground of the Bedrock city, which was a camp ground turned mini amusement park! Instead, being our cheap selves, Jack gave me a boost to try and climb a tree a the fence. I got a great view! Slides and more statues of the gang. Had it not been close to sunset, Jack and I would have had ourselves a ball in here! But, sticking with our plan to try and always be in whatever town we plan to spend the night by sunset, we moved on.

    Glad we did! Williams was the cutest town we've seen yet! They call it the entry gate to the Grand Canyon, and with the amount of tourists roaming the streets, I would have to agree. Assuming tourism money is what's keeping this town as alive as it is, they did great. They had a mini Frontier town, they had plenty of old school neon signs worthy of route 66 mention, they had a couple old diner decked out in 1940s decor, and of course plenty of souvenir shops with the same trinkets over and over again. We had ourselves a nice diner and locally brewed beers before heading out in search of our usual gas station home for the night.
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    Denis Latour

    Paysage incroyable, vraiment . J'espère juste que ma chère fille n'est pas trop près ....

    Denis Latour

    Grand Canyon, probably the highlight ! I envy you, one day it will be my turn.... On my wish list. Great for you.

  • Day18

    Simple Entry, Simple Day

    September 21, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Some days, you just don't feel like writing paragraphs about. Some days can be summed up with experiences. That's today.

    We made it Arizona! Today was filled with desert driving, a ridiculous amount of "trading posts" (souvenir shops on reservations) and abandoned towns, gas stations or shops. The drive was beautiful.

    What we did for the better part of the day? We drove through, and walked through, the Petrified Forest National Park. This was my first glimpse of these beautiful, colorful rock formations with layers of color, in the "painted desert". We learned all about Petrified wood, which is basically wood from millions of years ago, having been moved by water ways and barrier, now uncovered have slowly transformed into rock. Gems inside beautiful rock logs, in the shapes of tree trunks. I never knew something like this existed, but very, very cool.

    We ended the night visiting Winslow, a cute little town that decided to create Standin' on a Corner, "a public park, commemorating the song "Take It Easy", written by Jackson Browne and the late Glenn Frey, and most famously recorded by the Eagles" (thank you Wikipedia).

    It must be added, that we've met great people along the way. Locals on 66 are generally incredibly friendly, but the tourists along the route are also incredible lyrics friendly. We've met an incredible amount of butch looking bikers who were friendly, and chatty, who offered to take pictures of us, who asked for pictures in return. Being in a country were the language is familiar, and communication is easy (compared to Ethiopia), working on my socializing skills has been a good challenge. I can't say I'm any more willing to approach strangers for a chat, but I'm trying!
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  • Day17

    Nature Calling

    September 20, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    Starting with a side note - I'm almost certain I heard a bear last night. There was distant grunting noises moving across what seemed like the road. It went by twice. Almost sounded like a man's snore, but it was moving... Clearly I didn't get out of our tent to find out, I'm not crazy. Second early note - I was convinced they would be showers, seeing as its a state owned camp site, but there was not. I'd love a shower right now.

    We started our hike down towards the Bandelier monument at 7am to beat all the tours (gates open at 9am, that's for the shuttle to bring you to the door from the closest town, before 9am you can explore on your own, but the visitors center is closed). The hike down took around an hour, walking through dry landscapes with little green shrubs. You can see all kinds of rock formations from far.

    The closer we got, the more high flat cliffs would appear with larger and larger crevices, almost cave like. In the park itself, there were plenty of signs indicating against climbing up the rock face, but of course Jack ignored them all and went crazy on how many holes she could manage to fit inside. We crossed a park ranger along the path who explained these caves, along with the settlement in front of it. Between 1380-1490 (something like that), a community had built 4 to 5 storey high brick buildings along the facade of the cliffs, living in both those constructions and inside the cliff itself. It front, on an open space, was a circular construction of over 200 rooms, 3 storeys high, also lived in. Obviously the current state of what was once a big development is now about 3 bricks high off the ground, the rest was imagination working hard.

    We took the little shuttle (now being 9am, and the visitors center being open) back to our campsite to prepare for the day. Because of our avoidance of the visitors center, there was no where along the way for us to pay our park fee of 20$ per vehicle. Gosh darn, we just couldn't give our money to anyone. So we left, having only spent 12$ for the campsite.

    Jack took the drive through the mountains really easy considering the check engine light. We didn't want to stress Ferby out too much. In the afternoon, after we were back on flat land, I gas'd up with the fancy stuff - 91 octane, treated the little guy to some good juice. And sure enough, within a couple hours, the engine light turned off! All on its own! I was so proud of my little Freby, no need for a garage after all, apparently I must have put bad gas in at one point...

    Back to the 66 we go, we aimed for Alberquerque coming down from the mountains. The colors, mostly reds, from the rocks and mountains along the way were absolutely gorgeous. Once in Alberquerque, both Jack and I weren't really into it... It's not a pretty town, There's a court and government district which had "ok" buildings, their historical downtown was pretty boring. This is the first town along our route where people aren't saying hello... It seems ridiculous, but all along the way people have been really friendly and saying hi as we pass. Here, we're ignored. So with no time to lose, we left. On the road again along route 66.

    From this point, we waved in and out of small towns and reservations, checked out a church inside a reservation along the way. There have been many reservations along the route in New Mexico, and I must say, they are some of the poorest looking communities I have ever seen in North America. And we were in Detroit! The houses look like they should be abandoned, some windows even boarded, front lawns full of whatever someone would consider their riches, and yet people are still coming in and out of them. The pueblos weren't paved, some of the only non paved roads we have driven. Taking pictures seemed wrong, recording someone's hardships for our own gain, but sometimes I just couldn't resist. You have to wonder, is it lack of funding? Lack of initiative from the community? Funds going in the wrong hands? Is the trauma of relocation and missionary schools keeping this community from thriving? Much like our Canadian North, how do you help such a large group out of poverty and hardship when you have maintained them at such a level for generations?

    We passed ghost towns, some towns seemed half lived in, half abandoned. All the large road side businesses closed up, with tiny communities behind them. Finally arriving in Grants just before sunset, Jack was determined to grab a Green Chili burger, New Mexico classic. By the end of it, her face was red from the spiciness. I'm just glad I didn't have any. People have described the green chili to us as "not spicy, there's just a kick to them". I wonder what the red chili burger tastes like... After driving through the town, exploring some neon lights, driving through a picture set up of more neon lights, we made the decision to drive to Gallup in the dark, to save some time. As much as the landscape is beautiful, flat planes with colorful mesas at the horizon, it is redundant. Our goal was to see the neon lights in Gallup of all the old motels and shops, but for some reason we both forgot that goal when we saw the Flying J off the highway just before entering Gallup and decided to set up for the night. Considering the probable bear fiasco of last night, I hadn't slept well, so the bed was calling my name! We set everything up, and made it a movie night. I downloaded some movies onto my tablet before leaving, which made this night perfect. Movie cuddles in our little cocoon, laughing at Guardians of the Galaxy.
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  • Day16

    Little Break from the Road

    September 19, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    I've been trying to catch up my blog for some time now, and decided to skip ahead to today, as to finally write in the moment. I'm currently sitting in the light of the moon in the mountains of the Bandeliere National Park, which we plan to visit tomorrow. To back track a little, Jack has been looking for an excuse to drive up to Santa Fe ever since Stu spoke highly of it in Chicago. As we arrived at the New Mexico visitors office yesterday, the lady told us the original Route 66 did the loop up to Santa Fe, which was later bypassed with the I-40 going straight to Albuquerque from Santa Rosa. This was Jack's excuse, given to her on a silver platter, route 66 did go to Santa Fe. In her defense, both Texas and now New Mexico have been very "drive" oriented, and by that I mean I think we stopped 4, maybe 5 times throughout Texas, and we haven't really stopped in New Mexico other then Tucumcari and Santa Rosa. So by the looks of it, we can afford the detour, time wise.

    Our two stops yesterday - Santa Rosa and Tucumcari. Tucumcari was the first actual town we saw in New Mexico, seeing as we passed about 3 ghost towns on our way in. These ghosts towns consisted of a few boarded buildings, a few foundations of what used to be buildings, and a house or two with people living in it. That's right, we passed a town of population ranging around 5 for the last 50 years. So, Tucumcari, demonstrated one heck of an effort in keeping the route 66 traditions alive. Tons of old signs along the main route, old motels including the famous Blue Swallow Motel.

    Much like my beloved SuperTAM was closed (cafe and superman museum in one), Jack's dinosaur museum was also closed. I thought she might cry, again much like I almost did. Small town dinosaur museum, how can you not want to stop by? Then Santa Rosa, large in area, small in population. We dropped by the Blue Whole, natural massive water pit that was 60ft wide and 80ft deep. Water was freezing so we went to their local lake (more like a pond) for a quick swim, it's brutally hot out during the day. And you know those curiosity showers at the beach side, usually used for sand removal? Well we showered in them. Like really showered. Shampoo and soap at the beach side. Why not?

    Seeing as, like the rest of New Mexico, there isn't much to see along the route to Santa Fe, it took us an hour and a half to get there from Santa Rosa. I was panicking because I didn't realise that for an entire hour of that drive, we wouldn't cross a single gas station along the highway. My gas light turned on by the time I saw that gas station, boy was I happy to see it!

    New Mexico, much like Texas, has been vast lands of nothing... Very dry soil of course, more green bushes then Texas, but still dry. We can see the beginning of mesas, giving beautiful texture to the land that was so, so flat in Texas.

    Santa Fe was very interesting. The old historic center was filled with white rich folks and fancy old vacationers. Expensive restaurants around the Plaza. Old churches to visit.

    Then you have the Rail Yard area of town. Not too far, along the rail road tracks, is a bunch of hipster, earthy folks with bars and cute shops. We happen to be there during the AHA Festival, which gave way to a band on stage and booths filled with art exhibits. I've suddenly entered the gay world! Who knew, the south had gays. Had our diner siting on a patio, enjoying the live band before walking around, and driving out to find a Days Inn to park our car and sleep for the night.

    We returned to the Plaza in the morning to see what it was like during the day, and not much different. This was after I brought my friend Ferby (the car) into the garage! The little sucker decided to turn on the engine light yesterday, and seeing as we are doing quite a bit of mileage, I wanted to have it checked out. The wonderful, wonderful man Roudy at the shop plugged his little computer in - Code P0326. Apparently, I asked too much of my motor. Seems as though I may have put low quality gas, or more likely - I didn't turn off the "eco drive" when going up hills. So he cleared it, and said not to worry if it happens again, just to eventually have it checked again, make sure it's the same code, and to turn off eco drive when going up hills.

    Apparently, us catching up on time meant we needed to delay ourselves again. So we decided to make a further detour to Banderliere National Monument. At this point, I know very little about it, other then there's really pretty mountains along the way, and an old community used to live in the rocks. So I took my "eco drive" off as recommended. Sure enough, while going uphill, the check engine light came back on. I assume it might be the added weight in the car... Who knows. I'll have to have it checked again. Roudy said I needed to buy a stranger a cup of coffee in his name as his payment, so I guess I'll have to buy two!
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  • Day11

    Good Museum Guides make my day

    September 14, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Water tower
    Circle Inn Malt Shop

    Wagon Wheel Motel
    Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q
    Shelley’s on Route 66 - Grabbed a quick coffee to go at this old school diner. They showed us that even coffees have abnormally large proportions in the states… Their pops here are like a litter big! Who drinks that much?
    Murals - We stopped in front of the old publishing office to take a look at our first mural of Cuba. As we admired the painting a lady came out of the building and handed us a guide to all the murals in town. Now keep in mind, the town consists of one main street, going down about 5 blocks, with very few places of interest coming off to the side of this main street. Non the less, this guide explained all the murals, corner by corner, all 12 of them! Pretty much one at every corner, both directions,
    Crawford County Historical Society Museum - We stumbled upon a tiny little museum during out mural walk, and like all things free, why not! A very passionate historian, also retired teacher, walked us through the museum. What we thought would be 5 minutes quickly turned into 1 hour. He chatted away about living in the 1800s, then early 1900s. A small little section on route 66 showed just how packed and busy town centers were back when route 66 was the only way to travel. Tunnels to cross the road safely were more common then you would think.

    Tallest rocking chair - What’s there not to like about a ridiculously large rocking chair? Why did they build it? Why not. You can't really climb it. So you can't really sit in it. There's a huge gift shop next to it that's actually closed down. It was attached to an Archery thing which I would have loved but that was also closed down. Maybe that's for the best with Jack's clumsiness, I’d rather keep both eyes.

    Somewhere on the highway - 4M Vine Yards - We stopped before noticing this was suggested by our guide book. It was advertised as a store to buy Concord grapes, and it turned into a small town experience! There was "antiques" for sell, which was pretty much the contents of a hoarder's garage with little trinkets of glass everywhere. There was a full wall of jellies, and to buy them you just address the 4 people sitting behind a wooden counter, chatting away. That's beyond the stuffed deer head above the counter of course.


    St James
    Vacuum cleaner museum - I'm in heaven ! I've been looking forward to this museum for ever! I wanted a small town eclectic and nonsensical museum, but I actually learned! All because the museum curator was passionate about his vacuums! I learned all about how the first "electric suction sweeper" would plug into your light bulbs outlet (wall plugs were invented 10 years after the vacuum). This first hoover weighed about 60lbs and cost 75$ back when a brand new Ford cost 300$. He explained how back then, you often only had the one light bulb with electricity, that's why they made sure the first electric sweepers had their own head lights! I got a video of the hand crank vacuums that came before the electric. I had a blast reading all the old advertisements, incredible what they got away with in the 30s and 40s (see my Facebook picture album on this exhibits for amazing examples). Tom, our amazing curator, seemed a little on the gay side... And I really had to resist asking what it was like in Missouri to spend all day talking about vacuums and being gay... lol. That being said, this wonderful man shared our views on feminisms, and pointed out all the best offenses. You know a museum is done well when you go in hoping to laugh, and you come out fascinated by vacuums !
    Mule Trading Post - The most eclectic gathering of souvenirs, random items and "antiques" that are pretty much whatever someone has in their garage out on a shelf.

    Totem Pole Trading Post - Another one of the same concept stores along 66, still mostly have the same stuff, "antiques" that fill shelves with dusty glass trinkets and route 66 memorabilia. Think same as Mule Trading Post, with the addition of fireworks in this one!
    A modeled Stonehenge at the School of Mines - It was a university's art piece of some kind... Jack wanted to stop because of her interest in the original Stonehenge, but quickly lost interest because "it doesn't have the spirituality".

    Devil's Elbow bridge - basically a really pretty bridge in nature. The best part, and probably one of my favorite and most uncomfortable moments yet, was the Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ pit. Grungy looking wooden bar in the middle of no where. You walk in, and you've suddenly entered a biker bar with what is clearly regulars drinking together at the bar. You don't know if you're going to get beat up or made fun of... Jack being Jack, walked right up to the regulars and said "hi yall" as I sat quietly at the first chair I saw away from the regulars. There's hundreds of bras hanging from the ceiling, stickers all over the walls, an impressive amount of RIP photos and info about what seemed to be all young bikers. It took all of 2 minutes within our arrival for who we found out was the owner of the place to ask to see Jack's beastises. Yep, 2 minutes and this tall, massive (in every direction), leather wearing dirty looking man asked Jack if he could have her bra or have her prove she doesn't have one. And my discomfort starts. This bar was an experience of it's own. The waitress later came around with our food (side note - absolutely amazing pulled pork sandwich that even the vegetarian devoured) and said "try not to worry about those idiots, they mean no harm". As we leave, one man points out I have yet to say a word, asked if I was scared, I responded "I just don't say much". Haha, terrified would have been my honest answer.
    Hooker's Cut - I enjoy the name. Basically, back in the building route 66 days, this was a super impressive place because of the amount of rock they had to cut through to build the route. I guess back then it was super impressive, today it was just pretty.

    St Robert's
    The only road side park in Missouri - Jack was driving, looked away for a second and missed it. I think it may have been 40 feet long along the road, with a single park bench. The other states have had plenty, so this was confusing.
    Old motels signs

    Uranus, MO - I have not clue if this is an actual town, or just what they called this shopping plaza, but it was a massive Plaza with burlesque, strippers, tattoos and a gun shop. The best part - across the street was a bulletin board saying "pornography pollutes body, soul, mind" by the Pulaski Christian Ministerial Alliance. Coincidence?

    Frog's rock - painted rock on top of a hill along the highway, couldn't stop.
    Square around Pulaski County museum in the old Court House - shops, cute store fronts, most memorable thing was a little sign in a store window stating "Warning Protected by (insect picture of a gun), We don't call 911", ˋMERICA.

    Munger Moss Hotel - Cool sign in the front with towns and their distances, midpoint cafe (at the midpoint, duh) is 645 miles away. My first Gemini giant, now 406 miles behind us.
    Starlight lanes bowling alley
    Laclede County Museum and Route 66 museum - For some reason, every tourist info center have suggested this museum to us, it's housed in the county library. It was the size of a volleyball court I would say. The whole thing. With about 5 displays, and not the most interesting ones either... We've seen such better museums, this just confused us. Completed of course by an extensive salt and pepper shaker collection which would put my mother's to shame.

    Redmon's Travel Center - Didn't stop, advertised "The World's Largest Gift Store". I don't know how proud I would be of that... It seems like every town has a "world's largest" or "world's best". Who regulates these?


    Storefronts on both sides - Our guide book actually says this place made the Guinness Book of World Record for being the only town "with 2 main streets and no back alleys". It was said that they created an entrance on the back side of their stores when route 66 was built behind, as to attract the business from their locals and traveller's along 66. I was expecting super cute, long strip of shops. I got 3 buildings with maybe 2 of them still open with doors fronts on both streets. Disappointed isn't the right word, mostly sad how they advertise this town with such great emphasis on their two sides stores, but non exist anymore... Much of route 66 has been a game of imaging what once was...

    Steak and shake with curb side service - I thought this meant they would deliver to our car, but I was wrong, My lazy self was very excited at this possibility but it turns out they're only referring to their order window you can walk up to. Pfft, walking.
    Gellioz Theatre - Pretty, old, but closed.
    Shrine Mosque - Very ornamental, we'll painted, worth dropping by to stair at...
    The Rest Haven Court
    Route 66 Rail Haven
    We ended the evening having melted cheese and local beer at a great little bar, sitting on amazingly comfy couches.

    To catch up a bit of time, since we've been feeling like progress in distance has been a little slow, we drove out to Carthage after dark (which we try to avoid since you can't see anything along the way) to spend the night at a truck stop. Luxury!

    Side note - It's been getting easier to find truck stops or Walmart in which we can legally spend the night in our car thanks to my wonderful app RV Parky. Jack couldn't care less about parking legally, but she let's me do my thing because she knows I sleep that much better when I'm not worried about getting caught or woken up in the middle of the night by a flashlight hitting the car window.
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    Denis Latour

    Yes keep using your RV Parky app. Is there an app for avoiding bikers bar !!!

    Helene Drouin

    "Jack's clumsiness" .... what do you mean ??????

  • Day10

    Sullivan, United States

    September 13, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    Back on the route, exiting St Louis around 3pm, we stopped at the route 66 famous Fresh Donuts shop and Ted Drewer's Custards. The latter serves frozen custard called "concretes" upside down to show its thickness. Is this where the Blizzard got his serving points? So so good. What I've loved the most about all these little shops along the route is they're locally owned, small shops that perfectly portray small town America.

    State 66 State Park visitors center - Got a great map ! Also did my dishes of our morning's cereal in their washroom sinks. Glamorous life on the road.

    Exposed mining tunnels

    Meramec Caverns - So many things to say. We were warned the Meramac caverns were very touristy, and not as "rock" oriented as the other caves in the area, but when on route 66, let's do it ! The tour starts off showing off its large disco dance floor complete with a disco ball coming down from the ceiling. Remember, we're in a cavern. So a disco ball coming down from the ceiling means a wire bolted into the cavern's rock top. It was put there because the cave was and is privately owned, and it was used as the social hall for dances and gatherings of the young. The cave is so big, cars would drive in and park inside the front portion of the cave. They tell the story of Jesse James who evaded the police by finding a different way out then the massive front entrance. The guide took about 5 minutes describing the details of a Lassy episode which was shot in the cave. In that 5 minute description, there was a 1 minute blurb about Lassy having to spend the night in the cave. There was a fake movie set still in place out on the rock formations. In the hour long tour, he spoke about the rocks and stalagmites for a total of maybe 15 minutes. And what cavern tour would be complete without a 5 minute movie clip playing against the stalagmites depicting different "American" (said with enthusiasm and an accent) things, with Céline Dion belting out the National anthem in the back ground?

    We had food, trying to waste time for sleep time. We planned on sleeping in the walmart parking lot, but opted for the truck across the street instead. Picture my mighty accent, in line with 18 wheelers. So cute.
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    Love the hats! Sylvie McD


    Thanks, girls! Love reading your blog while having my morning coffee. Keep the posts coming. Didn't realize how much there was on Route 66. Sylvie McD


    Looks so cool! Your blog is great Vee. Nice enough to see you are safe and having a great experience. Mom

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  • Day9

    St Louis

    September 12, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    Another night in the car, another morning of wipes and curbside tooth brushing. We slept in Girard so that we could visit Doc's Soda Fountain and Drugstore Museum in the morning. The Coca-Cola memorabilia that covered every wall and table, was mind-blowing. My mother would appreciate! And what better combination to a soda shop then an old pharmacy? Continuing the soda counter, it turned into an staged old style pharmacy, with powdered chemicals and old recipes. It was actually really cool to try and figure out what the ingredients were used for, how they mixed them all... Brings an appreciation for being able to access any medication that I want in a pretty plastic package prepared for me by a pharmacist. Moving on...

    Turkey tracks in the pavement - This made my day. No, my week. You take a detour off the current route 66 to follow the old, winding 66. At the first turn, you are helped along with a themed turkey sign pointing you the right way. God forbid you would lose your way on 66 without seeing the turkey tracks ! In the original poured concrete of the route 66, there it was, well outlined by thick bright white lines, were about 3 feet long of turkey tracks. That's it. The advertisement though, impressive !

    Million dollar Courthouse - Apparently this town has a very scandalous past, with a court house for which plans submitted suggested a total cost of 50,000$, with a final cost of 1.3million$. They later found out that one of the fancy, famous hotels in the town center (owned by the mayor, nonetheless) used some of the materials bought for the courthouse to build it's hotel. Why not?
    1869 County Jail - closed to visitors, which didn't stop us from attempting to shove our face against dirty windows to see nothing interesting.

    Henry's Ra66it Ranch and Route 66 Emporium - Absolutely amazing. No words can describe how perfectly hilarious this place was. Bunny things everywhere, bunnies in large cages outside, "Little Red" (the star bunny) hanging out on the counter inside. Rich, the man who now runs Henry's, told us the story of when one of his bunnies, Montana, told him she wanted to run for president. Naturally, he did t-shirts and buttons, and she was happy and doing all the photos required of her... but then her mood changed. She just wasn't interested anymore, so she pulled out of the presidential race. Poor Montana. I think Rich needs to interact with people more often, too many of his bunnies speak to him. I absolutely loved him.

    Pink Antique Mall and Dinner - Oh boy. Pink, large things, statue of a beach boy looked 25 feet tall, pink and blue diner, antique store that was so full of stuff it was falling of the shelves... just perfect ! And to top it all off, the Harley Davidson Giant, the 4th and last of the giants, not holding anything this time. The store had a section of antique relics of their slave trading days, with some real thought provoking items. Original signs of "colored people swimming pool", "colored people washroom", and what stayed with me the most was a set of metal hand cuffs with the inscription on one cuff "Negro women or child only" and the other cuff "Property of Georgetown County Plantation police". Yeah, yikes.

    Largest Catsup Bottle water tower - Catsup = Cheap Ketchup. Why not?
    Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site - Jack was super into the history behind these mounds. There were explanation boards showing what they look like under ground. They unearthed all of these, showing full rooms and corridors under these mounds. And yet, for some reason, someone decided "now that we can see all the beauty and work behind these, let's cover it all up with dirt and grass again". So that is what we starred at for about an hour. Different shapes, different sizes, of grass mounds. I don't get it.
    Jack who edits this needs to add..."Well, first, these are the largest pre-Columbian settlement in the Americas. Which is crazy. We're talking 600-1400 C.E! Anyway, so these mounds represent funeral rites and their hierarchy and a bunch of things we still don't fully understand. It was incredible to think that people settled here, had a huge city, then everything just got erased with time. Except these mounds. Alright, back to Vee..."
    Vee: yawn.

    Gateway Arch - Obviously super tall. What I didn't know is you could ride a trolley to the top! I didn't do it, but you could ! It's unfortunate that the park all around was under construction, so we really didn't get to hang out or enjoy the space. Arch and nothing else.
    St Louis Zoo - Absolutely amazing and free! My favorite word, free ! They had Kali, a polar bear, who kept just swimming in circles and coming up at different kids for photo ops, its was hilarious. The zookeeper says that because he grew up with humans (his mother was hunted when he was a baby), that he loves the attention. I felt like I was part of the group of mothers who were waiting for their kids, standing at the window. Jack sat down in front of the window and refused to leave for about 10 minutes. She made a friend. She still talks about it.
    River boat cruise in the Mississippi River - In all honesty, complete waist of time and money... 20$ for a boat to go up the Mississippi river, describe what we're seeing along the way. Well, describing is a lose term: He would name the building materials, tell us how long it took to build, and how expensive it was. That's about it. He kept describing things that were on the other side of the boat, so we assumed we would get more of the descriptions on our side of the boat at our return. But no. So we saw nothing of his described things...
    Forest Park - Considering the size of it, and wanting to stay good on our timing, we drove around it. Walking would take us all day. Beautiful, huge park. Not much to add. Oh, and free!
    I must add - The City Museum was closed. I was so, so sad. It's closed Mondays and Tuesday, which were the 2 days of our visit. This placed looked so cool, with slides and climbing things, and ball pits for adults... So so sad. Timing sucks.

    In case you haven't kept count, we still haven't showered. I've been dying for a shower but for some reason they're harder to find then I had hoped. Route 66 isn't following a major highway so I haven't had access to truck stop showers. The towns are so small there's no chance of hitting a gym or something. Having arrived in St Louis around 5pm, everything of interest was closed, so we needed to spend the night near St. Louis. We decided to do the 30 minute drive to the "Dr Edward A Babler Memorial Park" a state park which cost us 13$ for the night. We still slept in the car of course, too lazy to set up the tent when we're this comfortable in the car. But we did shower ! Probably what was a 20 minute shower. It felt so good ! So back to St Louis we go to continue our exploration tomorrow morning (and the next blog!)
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  • Day8

    My Friend Abe

    September 11, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Alright, please forgive me. I will be working from memory, which is quite poor, considering my lack of updates... My attempt at defending myself is I've been fighting a cold (I can't figure out who to blame, Jack who came back with the back-end of a cold, or my sister Gen for having the same symptoms as me) and so everytime we pull over for the night, all I can think of is sleeping... On/off Tylenol for what I assume is a low grade fever, I haven't really felt like pushing back sleep to type. But! Feeling good tonight! Let's do this.

    We woke up in our car, completely alone in the truck parking lot, in Dwight, IL. The luxury life of sleeping in a car kicks in - bring out the wet wipes, brush your teeth with bottled water, spitting in the grass... hope your deodorant lasts for the day. My beautiful locks pulled back into my "man-bun" considering unwashed overnight curls are a horrific site to see (refer to my morning selfie on facebook).

    Jumped right back onto Route 66 where first stop was an old Amber-Becker Texaco Gas station, complete with a cool make-pretend set up inside the station with an old car, memorabilia from the 40-50s, and even a button to press with a voice-over head about the town and the station's history. This was the first, and far from the last old style gas stations along the route. Just down the block was the perfect spot for breakfast - Old Route 66 Family Restaurant, with a dizzying amount of Route 66 memorabilia filling the dinning room. It seems like half the fun of going down 66 is seeing just how proud people are of being on it... or just how much they want to use the promotion of being an "original Route 66 diner".

    Probably more for my enjoyment then yours, I'll continue by listing off everything we did and saw, starting with the town name, simply because I want to remember it all ! You can skip through whatever you want, and I'll elaborate where I feel the inspiration to do so.

    Standard Oil Filling Station - this station is the image used for Illinois' Route 66. It is the "gem" of the IL portion, a perfectly restored station, again with a magical talking button. The restoration, like many along the route, was done by volunteers.
    Historic Subway Tunnel - You have to try and imagine a time, where in 1910, route 66 was the only road to take, it was the only option. Apparently the traffic on the route was bumper to bumper through many small towns, like Odell. They had to build (or dig) a tunnel underneath the route for people to safely cross the street and get to church and school (the only 2 buildings in town!). In the 15-20 minutes Jack and I spent parked in this "town center", we saw 3 cars, one of which also stopped to admire the station (fellow 66 tourist). The interstates literally transformed these towns from having non stop, bumper to bumper traffic, to having one car pass every 2 minutes. Mind blown.

    Bob Waldmire's Land yacht - why not? The man had a bus. He had a boat. He combined the two for a ridiculous looking road boat thing. I'd live in something like that in a heart beat. Everything a girl needs.
    Murals were painted throughout town. They even give a map outlining a route to see them all. Great, huge walldogs (I learned a new word!).
    Route 66 Association of Illinois and Hall of Fame Museum - This is what I wanted !!! This is what I envisioned from 66. This tiny, jam-packed "Hall of Fame" museum had everything from old stop lights, to a VW van from a route 66 travel guide writer, to photographs, to plaques for "Joy Henderson, Archie's Standard Service Station Owner and Operator, The best friend your car ever had", and more! Completed of course by a wonderful little old lady asking you to sign her guest book. With pleasure!
    Pontiac Automobile Museum - Why does Pontiac have a museum on Pontiacs? For obvious reasons! It was perfect.

    Old Route 66 Walkway

    Court House Square - Bloomington was our first experience with what we soon discovered is a common town set-up for IL. In all small towns, route 66 goes into the town and into the town square. And in every town square, there was a beautiful, usually government or museum type building, with a surrounding square of older styled brick store fronts. This town has a ridiculously beautiful State Courts building: why a town like this needs such a ornamental, large building for what is now a museum on Abe Lincoln, no one knows. But this was beginning of the Abe Lincoln obsession. Illinois had, what I think, is unhealthy obsession with American flags and Abe Lincoln. The flags never diminished, but the Abe references eventually did.

    Funk's Grove
    Sugar Creek Nature Reserve - I thought this road trip was about sitting in my car, doing nothing, having things to look at through the window. But Jack being Jack, we went for a walk in this nature reserve. The sun has been bright and beaming pretty much since we've left, and this was no exception. That being said, it wasn't until we started walking that I realized how nice it was to get a good breath of fresh air, away from the road side. This was a welcomed break from the streets and car sounds and smells.

    Dixie Plaza (original truck stop)
    Arcadia - You have to understand the mind set here - there's a town square. And in this town square, there are about 10 total establishments. By that I mean there were a total of 4 building, but large ones with multiple business fronts... I would say about 3 of them were actually inhabited, the others bordered shut. 1 of those 3 inhabited central establishments - an arcade of course! Full of old classic games like Pinball and Pac-Man. Had myself a blast ! Although I won't lie, I died in all of 2 minutes in pacman...

    Smileyface Water tower - photo op !
    Palm's Grill Cafe - It closed 5 mins before we arrived, at 5.05pm. The beginning of what seems like an ongoing run of bad luck for business hours. When one is on a road trip, one has no control over the time at which one is in such area. Having business hours of 1pm to 5pm isn't ideal. This cafe was meant to be our food stop, we've been trying to avoid big chains in favor of diners, especially those with a cash machine from the 20's! Ah well, too bad.
    Bunyon Giant - Town of 1600 people, tiny little rural town. What does it need? The second Bunyon giant, holding a hot-dog of course ! The hands seemed like he was once holding the axe he is known for, but apparently someone looked at him and said "A lumberjack with an axe? No, no, a hotdog, a hotdog is what he needs".

    Telephone booth on City Hall - That's exactly what it is. A telephone booth, four glass walls and accordion doors and all, on the roof top of old City Hall. Why not? That seems to be my favorite response on this route, why not?
    Logan County Court House - We didn't go in, but this was where Abe Lincoln worked as a lawyer. And the obsession continues. There's portraits on a bunch of the business fronts, wall murals, the whole shabang.

    Fairland Dinner - Ice cream !!!

    Illinois State Fair Grounds - Why have state fair grounds so huge when it only runs once a year? Why not! Why include a 30ft tall Abe Lincoln statue? Why not?
    Lincoln's Tomb - This place looked like a museum, massive marble building size of a tomb. I expect nothing less for mine.
    Illinois State Capitol - To be honest, it was very fancy and ornamental, but it's building style is the same as every other town's state Capitol, big rectangular building with a dome high in the middle. White house, state capitols, all the same.
    Original Service Station 66
    Lauderbach Giant - holding a flag of course. Still not an axe. Nor a tire despite being in front of a tire shop. No, an American flag. 'MERICA!

    Original Route 66 brick paved road - the town got together to try to find a way to insert themselves in the list of places to see along the route 66... So they restored a portion of the road to it's original red bricks. Pretty cool feeling.

    Memorial to union workers
    Burial site of K-9 police dog - So unlike the other towns where their center squares revolve around a building, this one revolved around a park. In this park was the memorial, but more importantly, the burial site of a police K-9, complete with a beautifully engraved portrait of this brave police officer. His name was Mike.

    Whirl-A-Whip Ice cream

    We slept on the side streets of Girard's main square. Probably about 5 cars around this square. With our drapes, we're pretty good at not being noticed, and we did just that, stayed unnoticed. *evil laugh*

    Wow this was long, I'll make the next one shorter...
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    This looks so much like the gas station at the Cumberland Museum. Julie has a wedding picture in front of it with a similar looking car! Sylvie McD

  • Day7

    How epic

    September 10, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    I saw it! The giant astronaut holding a rocket! I saw it!

    After a quick breakfast in New Buffalo, we heading right out on the road to Chicago! It's still raining, so our plan to enjoy the beach for the morning quickly changed into getting some road done! Because of the time change, we got to Chicago by 10am! Granted, we spent an hour figuring out parking and trying to go further from downtown to pay less but realized 10 mins of driving gave us 2$ off of 30$ parking and we'd have to take the subway... So we drove back downtown, parked right underneath the Millennium Park itself! 35$, apparently we were lucky enough to be there during a special event pricing day!

    First stop - Tourism office of course. They led us to a free walking tour on which Stu gave us a private one hour tour of the downtown architecture. The buildings are absolutely amazing! The history, the lobbies, fantastic. You could tell Stu was really excited about it all, which was great! There were quite a few large art pieces, and Jack kept impressing Stu by guessing the artist 3 out of 4 times! She's smart like that. I guess she owes her art knowing to her parents, merci!

    The tour finished at the famous large kidney bean in Millennium park. We took the obligatory selfie reflected in the bean, then sat down and had a sad realization. We liked Chicago, but there's just too much to do and see, and we have a long road ahead. We decided we would finish walking around the park, and head out for route 66 right away! No time to waste! We'll be back Chicago. Sorry dad.

    Stu explained to us that Millennium park was a "millennium project", so they aimed to finish by 2000. Instead, they went way over budget and finished in 2004, but it's now the biggest tourist attraction in Chicago, so money well spent. It was beautifully kept with statues around every bend.

    Now onto the good stuff : Route 66! We had to circle around downtown Chicago twice, got lost, used the GPS, but we were determined to start at the starting sign! No cheating! The photo was taken while we were on foot, but I did get a video of us driving by the sign for the skeptics who might have thought we cheated!

    Illinois has fantastic signage for route 66! Stu (who has done the route) said the signs basically disappear after Illinois, so we have that to look forward to. I got all the must take photos along the way including my awesome Gemini Giant, the Polk-a-Dot diner, and plenty more wonderfully funny signs. Since we hit most of the must-sees around 5pm and later, we didn't get into any tiny quirky museums, but I'm definitely looking forward to that along the way! It felt like we stepped into a time machine. Everything we're passing looks like it's from the 40s or 50s, with every business along the way including 66 in their names.

    Side note for the gay-curious - Jack and I have been very well welcomed so far... I've rarely been miss gendered, we've been referred to as "ladies", as in "anything else ladies" or "how you doing ladies", with full acknowledgment of our being a couple... It's been great! I remember going to Montreal a year ago and getting comments left right and center. I hated it. But not one so far. I'm assuming that will change further south we go, but I'm enjoying it for now!
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    Guy Lalonde

    Cute. How much did you spend in gas driving back and forth to save on parking? Too funny. One more thing my love: NEVER apologise to your father for not sleeping in your car overnight in downtown Chicago! ;-). XO


    Thank you for sharing your trip. I love reading you! Josée

    Vee L

    Dad - I was apologizing for wanting to return! Lol

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