Monday, June 20, 2022

FINISHING IOWA AND NEBRASKA!

Getting back into the swing of things post-Covid, we headed off on our second solo road trip. Ironically, we were both still recovering from Covid at the time of this trip. Nonetheless, we were troopers, and soldiered on. We knew going into it that this was going to be rather uneventful trip overall. So it worked out well, not having a ton of things to see.

We set out on Friday night. Our destination was the Hampton Inn in Marshalltown, Iowa. We got into Iowa, worked our way around Cedar Rapids, and headed west on HWY 30. We entered Tama and Marshall Counties. The latter is where we spent the night.

On Saturday morning we set out for western Nebraska. We headed mostly west for the entire day. We continued west on HWY 30, picking up Story, Boone and Greene Counties. At the city of Scranton, we went south on HWY 25 until we crossed into Guthrie County, near the city of Bayard. We then went west on HWY 141, up into Carroll County. A few miles later we turned left, went about 1 mile down a dirt road, and crossed into Audubon County. We turned around, got back heading west on HWY 141, then entered Crawford County. When we reached HWY 59, we turned south and went about 4 miles until we crossed into Shelby County. With Shelby County picked up, we had completely finished the state of Iowa. Next up was Nebraska!





We crossed the Missouri River at Decatur and went west on HWY 51. After crossing through Burt County (a wonderful county that we had previously visited) we entered Stanton County. The next three counties (Wayne, Pierce and Madison) all came quickly, as they all came together at a point (including Stanton County) just northeast of the city of Norfolk. So we worked our way around the city to pick up all three.




We then went west on HWY 275 and reached Antelope County at the city of Tilden. When we reached the city of Elgin, we went south and entered Boone County. We then went back to Elgin and went west on HWY 70, crossing into Wheeler County. We then went south on HWY 281 and reached Greeley County. We then turned around to go back and head west on HWY 91, all the way to Garfield County. A few minutes later we took a side road for a few miles to Valley County. We then continued west on HWY 91 and HWY 2 for a couple of hours. When we got to Loup County, we drove through the small town of Taylor - which featured vintage figurines of people standing up all over the entire town. It was charming, and a little odd. Continuing west on HWY 91, we drove through Blaine, Thomas, Hooker and Grant Counties. After Grant County we entered Sheridan County (where we’d previously been) in order to pick up Garden County. We took a dirt road to the south, passed a small lake, and crossed the border into Garden County. The county sign had tipped over. So we picked it up for a quick photo. I’m sure the wind knocked it over a minute later. But it stood long enough for the picture.















At this point we finally had our first major stop of the day. Just north of the city of Alliance, we pulled over to visit Carhenge – a recreation of England’s Stonehenge – but made out of old cars. It’s definitely a sight to behold.                                                    




After Carhenge, we headed straight to our hotel – the Hampton Inn & Suites Scottsbluff. On our way we picked up two new counties – Morrill and Scotts Bluff.


On Sunday morning we set out to visit Scotts Bluff National Monument. We spent a little time touring the grounds, then drove to the summit for some nice views.

                        

                        




After Scotts Bluff National Monument, we went south on HWY 71 all the way to Kimball. We picked up Banner and Kimball Counties on the way. At Kimball we hopped on I-80 and started our long trip back. After heading east for 12 miles or so, we crossed into Cheyenne County. We continued east for about an hour, before getting off and heading north on HWY 61 towards the city of Arthur, and thus, Arthur County. Once we got to Arthur we went east on HWY 92 for quite awhile, picking up McPherson, Logan, Custer, Sherman, Howard and Merrick Counties. When we finally reached HWY 30, we headed northeast toward the city of Silver Creek. Once we reached the city, we took a few dirt roads to the west and entered Nance County. From there, we basically hugged the Platte River to pick up our last six counties of the trip. We drove on both the north and south sides of the river for several miles, weaving back and forth, picking up Polk, Platte, Butler, Colfax, Dodge and Saunders Counties. Saunders County was our last county in the state of Nebraska, and the last new county of our trip. With Iowa and Nebraska, we have now completed 23 states.                                       











When it was all said and done, we had picked up 46 new counties. So what's up next? We have a driving trip to Florida planned for the end of the months. So stay tuned! 


    
                                  
NEW COUNTIES - 46
                 TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2022 - 49
                 ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 2254



Tuesday, April 12, 2022

HAWAII ISLAND HOPPING!

 

In February, we took a 10-day island-hopping trip to Hawaii. We left Milwaukee early Monday morning. The second leg of our flight was delayed for over three hours in Las Vegas, so we ended up arriving in Honolulu (Oahu County) pretty late. We picked up our Chrysler Pacifica minivan, drove straight to our hotel, the Hampton Inn Oahu/Kapolei, and went to bed. 

On Tuesday, we were ready to start our Hawaiian trip in earnest. Our first activity of the day was a visit to Pearl Harbor. We were part of the first tour of the day. After Pearl Harbor, we drove to the southeast part of Oahu, then followed the coast on up. We made stops at the Lanai Lookout, the Halona Blowhole Lookout (which wasn’t blowing much that day), Waimanalo Beach, and the Byodo-In Temple. After lunch, we drove to the Kualoa Ranch and took their ATV Tour. The tour led us into valleys where several movies (including Jurassic Park) had been filmed. After the tour, we drove to the north shore of the island and stopped at Waimea Bay Beach Park to watch the surfers ride the big waves. From there, we drove back to our hotel.















On Wednesday, we drove along the western coast of Oahu until the road ended, and then we turned around and drove to the airport to hop a flight to Kauai. Upon landing, (Kauai County) we picked up our Buick Enclave and headed to our resort – the Grand Hyatt Kauai—and grand it was! I highly recommend this resort. We were upgraded to oceanfront rooms and treated to the sight of passing whales from our hotel room.




On Thursday, we drove to Eleele and hopped on a Capt Andy's boat for a sunset dinner cruise up and down the Nā Pali Coast. The sights on this cruise are indescribably amazing.








 On Friday, we took a Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tour, which was the highlight of our vacation. It took us over the entire island, showing us waterfalls, Waimea Canyon, and the Nā Pali Coast again. Later that day, we drove to Waimea Canyon State Park and Kokee State Park to get a less-elevated perspective. That evening, we changed hotels and checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay.








On Saturday morning, we returned to the airport to take another flight—this time to the island of Maui (with an Oahu stop on the way). We picked up our brand new Chrysler Pacifica minivan (only 9 miles on it!) and drove to the Courtyard Maui Kahului Airport, our hotel for the night.


On Sunday, we drove the famous Road to Hana. Along the scenic drive, we stopped to spend time at Wai'ānapanapa State Park and set foot on the famous Black Sand Beach. From the beach, we drove into Hana for lunch. After eating, we checked into our hotel, the Hana Maui Resort. Interestingly, our room did not have air conditioning or a TV—they have a more relaxed “old school” feel—but they did have Wi-Fi!








                                        

On Monday morning, we drove south and visited Haleakala National Park, where we hiked the Pīpīwai Trail to the bamboo forest. While most tourists who take the Road to Hana turn around and go back once they reach the end, we continued in the same direction and went around the southeast side of the island. Initially, the roads are very narrow, but they eventually open up to a more normal highway. This happens to be my favorite place in all of Hawaii—it’s quiet and isolated, and tourists are few and far between. If you ever want to have a little piece of Hawaii to yourself, this is the place to go. Near mile marker 28 and the Manawainui Gulch, I buried a note near a large rock. Maybe someone will find it someday. Or maybe I’ll retrieve it myself on a future trip. On Monday afternoon, we took our final island hop and landed on the Big Island (Hawaii County). Our home for the next three nights was the Kohala Suites by Hilton Grand Vacations.










On Tuesday, we drove across the island on Saddle Road to Volcanoes National Park. While there, we walked through the Thurston Lava Tube and drove the Chain of Craters Road. After visiting the park, we continued around the island, stopping at Punalu'u Beach and Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park.






Wednesday was our last full day on the island. Early in the afternoon, we drove south to the Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park. Before finding the main entrance, we used a different entrance that featured one of the worst roads we’ve ever traveled—which says a lot! From there, we continued into Kona for a brief drive down Ali’i Drive. Later that afternoon, we drove north from our resort, stopping briefly at the Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site and the awesome Waipi’o Lookout—childhood home of King Kamehameha. Our final two stops of the day were a couple of waterfalls: Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls.







On Thursday morning, we got up early to catch our flight back to the mainland. Due to weather issues back home, we didn’t land in Milwaukee until after 4:00 in the morning. It was a long final day to end a long, fantastic trip. Along the way, we picked up three new counties. So, what’s next? We have a Memorial Day weekend trip planned for Iowa and Nebraska, a summer trip to Florida, and a September trip through the Dakotas. Stay tuned!

                                              

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 3
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2022 - 3
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 2208