Are We There Yet?

This is the very best part of any road trip. You’re just getting started, everybody is fresh and looking forward to adventure. We’re going to Mars Beach! We’re flying AND taking the car! How cool is that?

Anything is possible, and at the start it’s easy to imagine that fun will be had by all. What could go wrong? When we get there we’ll dig around in the sand and play in the water! And if that gets monotonous, we can drive around and look at things, like outcroppings of rock and crater walls.

OK, some of this is guess work, but that’s part of the fun of going – the spirit of discovery!

After an exciting count-down to the moment when we pull (loudly) out of the driveway, things start to get a little monotonous. The ten little experiments in the back seat start to feel cramped and restless.

It’s going to take HOW long? And what do you mean we don’t really know for sure that there’s water there right now? What fun is a beach where there USED to be water? And I know, you told me it’s a special place that’s colored red, but then why isn’t it hot there?

This is a family trip where we’d better find a way to enjoy the journey, because we’re not going to Disneyland. We’re not even going to Knott’s Berry Farm. It sounds like we’re going to stop in the desert and turn over some rocks, hoping something crawls out from underneath to bite us.

Yipee.

Describe a favorite car trip, or one that you’d like to have.

101 thoughts on “Are We There Yet?”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Being one who values having her feet on Terra Firma, Mars has never been on the list of places where I would want to go, car trip or otherwise! Given the inherent problems with feet on the ground during space travel, I would doubt that I ever go. Meanwhile, my favorite car trip(s) ever would have to be 2 car trips with my uncle as a child. One was to California to see his brother. The second was to Kansas to see his parents. The Kansas trip will be a blog post in itself as I return to writing more. The California trip occurred when I was 9 years old. We travelled for 3 weeks. A trip of adventures and sights I never dreamed of seeing, I thought the entire exotic experience a miracle of good fortune. And in the autumn when school started again, my social status was sky high as the sole member of my class who had actually been to CALIFORNA! I would like to do a return road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains soon.

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  2. One of my clearest memories of child hood was leaving for road trips in the pre-dawn darkness so we would make better time. WE would have this amazing treat-snack size boxes of cereal cut on the perforation with milk poured into the “bowl.”

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    1. Loved those little boxes of cereal – especially since it was about the only time my brother or I got Frosted Flakes (though that inevitably led to the discussion of who got the box of Bran Flakes).

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  3. Good morning to all. I don’t take as many long car trips as I did in the past. Last year we did travel by car to Glacier National Park. That was a good trip.

    One of the best trips by car I can think of is going North to Duluth, then through Wisconsin stopping to see the Madeline Islands and continuing on to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the U. P. I would visit the Porcupine Mountains and then tour the Keweenaw Peninsula. I don’t know exactly how I would return home. I think we have returned home from the U. P. by going South West in Wisconsin to the Mississippi, following it for a while, and then going West across Southern Minnesota back home.

    A trip I would like to take would start in San Francisco and go North along the Pacific Ocean to Seattle.

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    1. oh dear, Clyde – is it really a coffee house? i thought you meant you’d like to get to a state of no pain – which anodyne is in med-speak.
      sorry for the confusion! (mine) and ignorance (mine) :-)

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  4. One of my favorite car trips involved me and my GF traveling north to Winnepeg to get on trans Canada #1. We traveled West to British Columbia and then went down to Washington state . Then we returned to Moorhead useing the interstate highways. Very interesting sights and people in Canada. Take Care.

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    1. Steven, thanks for the mention of traveling in Canada. I find that fascinating in several respects, including an odd one. Canadians are SO much like Americans that I love studying them to detect the little differences and then trying to understand the significance of the differences.

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      1. many of my favorite trips involve the canadian rockies. i love me love em love em, banff and jasper are the best places on the planet. then on to vancouver the trip between banff and vancouver can easily be overlooked but would love to spend a month or two right there. beautiful and looking over your shoulder in ether direction is something outstanding. then down the coast to washington oregon california man oh man makes me salivate. camping on the roll is what i do best. i don’t know if i could pull off the menial jobs for a little more cash like i did in the old days but i bet i could pull it off. like jim i love glacier and also yellowstone where i hope to be going this summer for a couple of weeks. tere are so many places i would like to stop where i have only passed through in the west particularly where the space feels like it welcomes you to stretch out a bit. when i am in new england i feel like i keep bumping into things wheich is great if you are antiquing or looking for cultural ties of one type or another. i had a wonderful long long road trip in the uk where i got to see ireland for a couple of weeks on a drive from 9 oclock (angelas ashes ) wioth the connemera and an intro to ireland 101, to 3 oclock (dublin) take the ferry ofver to wales , zip around wales back road england including the lake district (to die for) and on to scotland cities and the highlands before returning to ireland to finish off the clock face form 3 oclock to 9 ( with cork dingle and derry on the way) maybe the best i have been on. . spain and italy were fun car trips in pre map on the screen days. i love car trips and when my kids are out of here i would be a fine candadate for the shotgun seat in a space capsule to never never land. i don’t get bored and the time to get off into whatever area of chosen pursuit while crusing through the space highways on autopilot would be something i could deal with i think. that or i would find out 10 days in to the 12 year commitment i had made a mistake and would go insane.

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      2. I managed to do some driving in England on the wrong side of the road. Well it was the right side of the road there. I did some damage to a hub cap from getting too close to the curb on one of those very narrow English country roads.

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      3. i got closer going faster. toasted the front wheel their passengers side front wheel and sent it to the fix it up garage. they brought me a new one and said it happens all the time,

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  5. Any trip in our old green Ford station wagon (it was that old sort of weird institutional green that cars were painted in the late 60s and early 70s). It had a seat in the back end that faced out the back window – closest I ever got to a true rumble seat when I would have fit in one. And great fun watching where you had just been. Loved that view of the road disappearing behind us (with occasional glances forward to see where we were headed). We took a number of trips to the Black Hills of SD in that car – including stops at Wall Drug (way more fun, I think, when you’re 8 and have $5 of your own money to spend), Rushmore, and “Bedrock City” in Custer, SD. At the other end of that trip was a former mining camp that rented cabins by a little creek. And a donkey named Goldie who ate sugar cubes out of my hand.

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    1. On the way to the black Hills you should stop at the Reptile Palace and take a side trip to the Corn Palace.

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  6. About 25 years ago, my husband and I drove from Winnipeg to southern Virginia in late April to attend a family wedding. It was snowy and cold in Winnipeg, and it got warmer and warmer as we traveled through Minneapolis, Chicago, Columbus, OH, West Virginia and finally the wedding, which took place in a little town near the Dismal Swamp. I remember how wonderful the lilacs smelled as we traveled south, I had never been to the southeast Atlantic coast or the Appalachians. We saw Washington, DC, Colonial Williamsburg, Chesapeake Bay, and friends and relatives in Wisconsin and Ohio. Now we have road trips out of necessity since nothing is close to anything where we live, If I wanted to fly from our town to Fargo, a 300 mile straight shot on the interstate, I would have to fly there via Denver and Minneapolis.

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  7. welcome, Steven W. Illg!
    one our best car trips was really a Ryder moving van trip in summer of 1979 – to Hub’s first job and our first “real” home as graduated folks. we had no money, couldn’t qualify for a credit card (wow, times have changed there, huh?) and had to qualify to pay cash for the rental of this (i think) 10 foot van. (to be honest, i don’t know what we put into the van – we had a little table but only folding lawn chairs to sit on) The truck was an automatic (ugh) and going to Virginia (the state) thru all those hills and mountains was a real challenge. Steve didn’t drive, so we did the 1000 plus miles in 2.5 days. the last day was the West Virginia Turnpike and then down to Blacksburg. someone had given us a cheap little CB receiver (this was ’79) and as we crept up the steep inclines with at least three PIE trucks behind us, we could hear (on the receiver) them cursing us, they decided to form a convoy and one would pass and run interference so that the others could pass. as the first PIE truck passed we heard “Good Lord! That be a Woe-man driving that Ryder!!” ha, ha. the trip went well except Steve was very disappointed to discover that Waffle House restaurants didn’t serve but one kind of waffle. and we had a flat tire, but just as we arrived in Blacksburg and parked. so it was very exciting adventure. and our cat yowled the whole way. :-)

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      1. In Belgium you can buy several types of waffles, including some that are not sweet. Waffles there are used like we use bread, to wrap up other ingredients and provide a meal that is convenient to eat. There are many waffle stands serving all kinds of waffles.

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    1. i just had a corn side dish that delicious near as i can reme ber it was
      can of corn
      can of cream corn
      stick of butter
      8 oz sour cream
      8 oz chefdder cheese
      box of jiffy cornbread mix.
      casserole it and enjoy

      good stuff

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  8. I shuddered when my former wife suggested we take a vacation trip in her brand new Honda Accord. That was 1990. Our daughter was 13. One of the lessons I had learned from the general culture is that one of the most hellish experiences possible is a long car trip with the family confined in a small car, unable to escape each other.

    The trip was ambitious: from Saint Paul we went to the Custer battlefield (Molly and I are scholars of that curious event). Then to northwestern Montana for a few days in Glacier Park. Then through lovely northern Idaho to Washington State where we stayed with friends on Whidbey Island. Turning south, we experienced the Oregon coastline, eventually staying with Kathe’s brother in central Oregon. Next was San Francisco, after which we turned sharply inland and headed for Yellowstone Park, where we had rented a rustic cabin in the heart of the park. We then zoomed to the Badlands of South Dakota, and then home.

    To my amazement, the trip was a delight. We laughed ourselves silly at times. We drove through Yellowstone early in the morning when the place belongs to bison and elk, with nary a tourist in sight. In Muir Woods we discovered a tree entirely covered in butterflies. I saw my first bobcat. We listened to books on tape. The nearly three weeks we spent on that trip became a sort of foundation of shared memory that we continue to enjoy today.

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    1. yep, thats what im talking about. perfect.
      except for staying with those relatives. sounds like a day you are supposed to be somewhere in particular. that can screw it up. but in order to get the yellowstone cabins you have to commit up to a year a head of time.

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  9. Morning all. I have a couple of nightmare car trips — but they do make good stories after all these years.

    When the teenager was 8, we flew to Portland, Maine and rented a car for a week long sojourn through blueberry country. We stayed at 4 different places, visited museums, played at a blueberry festival in Machias, ate something with blueberries at every meal and trekked up many lighthouses. Fabulous trip — teenager and I have always traveled well together!

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  10. Favorite car trip of childhood was the annual trek to Minnesota for Christmas. That was when Christmas really started for the pastor’s family I grew up in. After church, we would pile in the car and go to my paternal grandparents to have dinner with the entire family (4 uncles, 5 aunts and 14 cousins). But that is another story.

    The trip itself involved listening to old Jack Benny Christmas shows on the radio and having bag lunches with that were heavy on the Christmas baked goods. There were very few other cars on the road and nothing was open.

    I still get a thrill if I am driving northbound on 169 north of Mankato when there is snow on the ground. There’s the Jolly Green Giant, we’re almost there!

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      1. Near LeMars by the time I was in college, but the trip of childhood was from a little town called Coon Rapids. This was long before I could drive, so I honestly don’t know the rest of the route we took.

        I do remember the old time radio shows though-loved ‘em.

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      2. if you ever get a chance to hear kevin klings tales for the charred underbelly of the yule log ( i thingk thats the name of it) at the guthrie ( december 5th this year 28 bucs, 20 sr) do it. the tales of iowa christmas are wonderful

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  11. I’m SO glad I’m not going to Mars.

    I love road trips (and train trips), but I believe my favorite would have to be the one in the VW van with the 3 cats (I can relate to the yowling cat, BiB). I was leaving New York to try out my life as a single person again, following a 2-year fiasco-of-a-marriage. I drove in early October through the most brilliantly colored flame-red forests imaginable in western NJ and Pennsylvania.The rest of the trip – through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa – was less dramatic but still beautiful. I got acquainted with turnpikes, and those horrible roadside “rest-stop restaurants”. Of course, being euphoric to have my life back, I didn’t care… it was the start of the next grand adventure.

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      1. I once traveled 200 miles with a cat knocked out on tranquilizers, as he was a terrible traveler. Alas, he fought the tranquilizers as if they were poison, and from his perspective the 200 miles were like one interminable hangover. He yowled nonstop. I felt so sorry for him, but by the end of the trip I was ready to put him on top of the car so we wouldn’t hve to hear him so loudly.

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      2. i had one cat who joined me on a trip i think it was in a field in montana. jumped int hecar and purred for the entire trip. named m and m after the tiger marks on its for head. another jumped in my car as i pulled in my dtriveway one january night on a -20 evening. both great cats and no problem in the car but others need a beer case to keep them in for the trip one vet told me. they freak and dark seculusion helps. that sure is a distinctive howl isn’t it?

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  12. It might be easier for me to list where I don’t want to go because I’ve been to so few places. I’ve never had any desire to go to Mars, Las Vegas or Detroit. I should be interested in LA and/or New York City but I’m really not. These places seem too big, impersonal and scary to me.

    I want to drive all the way around Lake Superior. I think I’ve gone more than half way around the lake, but not through Ontario. The driving trip I’ve taken repeatedly – because it is there and I can – is up the north shore to Grand Marais. My second favorite trip is Wisconsin 35 from Red Wing to Nelson, WI. This drive might be one of the most scenic road trips you can take in a day (if you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin). You can cross back over the river at Nelson to Wabasha and return on Highway 61. Jim mentioned my third favorite trip: the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan, especially along Lake Superior. I’ve been all the way to Sault Ste. Marie. Some of my favorite places were the Porcupine Mountains (Greenstone Falls Cabin), the Keweenaw Peninsula (especially Estevant Pines) and Munising (Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore). This past summer I enjoyed a delightful road trip in northern Wisconsin when we went to Steve’s cabin. The beaches around Cornucopia are lovely. The drive from Port Wing, WI, to Bayfield and Washburn is delightful. I think I saw fewer tourists there than along the North Shore in Minnesota but I’m not good at making estimations.

    My dog Bailey (RIP, Bailey) enjoyed going for long drives with me but Pippin can’t stomach it – quite literally. He is NOT a good traveler. It makes me sad because I want a traveling companion and kindred spirit so badly. Pippin just can’t do it. Poor guy.

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    1. ah, the drive around Lake Superior-that does sound lovely.

      Does anyone else remember the series of car ads, where they are going from somewhere (I think in Alaska) up North to Tierra del Fuego on a road trip?

      I confess that sounded like something I would like to do (and I don’t even like driving that much, but riding is worse as I, like Pippin, do not stomach that well).

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    2. Ditto twice, Krista. I’ve wanted to go all the way around Superior for some time, just never gets to the top of the travel priority list. And I love coming up the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi.

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    1. I think this is a Joy Of Juxtaposition. It doesn’t have the purity of a true Baader-Meinhof.

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  13. Greetings! My favorite car trip was when my family drove to Fairfax, VA from Green Bay, WI to see relatives and do Washington, DC when I was a teenager. I kept a diary and I think I was in charge of the map and tracking how much we spent on gas. We went camping along the way, of course. The scenery was much more interesting once we got out of the Midwest and more into Pennsylvania. But it was summer — hot and no AC so the car got a wee bit ripe. I don’t care for car trips, but I really enjoyed Washington, DC, Mount Vernon, Smithsonian, Manassas, etc.

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      1. Only 6 of us, I think, in the station wagon. 3 of my sisters stayed home and had their own “adventures.”

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  14. I’ve done lots of road trips by car. My favorite, I think, is the one where husband and I set out to show a Danish couple who had never been to the US before, why we love it here. When Jørgen and Eli, whom we had never met, arrived in Minnesota, they had already spent five days in New York City; we wanted to show them another America.

    After a couple of days of showing them the Cities, we headed north to a friend’s cabin near Eveleth. From there we made a day trip to Duluth to show them our inland ocean, Lake Superior. Then north along the shore visiting Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls along the way. In Grand Marais we veered back inland through Superior National Forest to visit the Ely Wolf Center and Dorothy Molter’s cabin which, after her death, was moved from the tiny island in Knife Lake where she lived most of her life. From there we drove to Will Steeger’s homestead for a short visit. It was early evening by the time we headed back to the cabin for dinner. In the car on the way back we reflected on what a beautiful day it had been, and I made the comment that the only thing we needed for it to be a perfect day was for the Northern Lights to appear. While we were grilling our chicken, darkness descended and the most glorious Northern Lights shimmered and waved over the quiet lake for hours. We ate our dinner on the boat dock that jutted out into the lake, sipping Champagne.

    The following day we drove to Itasca State Park to see the headwaters of the Mississippi. From there, west into South Dakota and south to Sioux Falls where we spent the night. The following day we drove to the Black Hills, visiting Wall Drug, the Corn Palace and Mount Rushmore on the way. In the Black Hills we were lucky enough to spot a large herd of Buffalo and lots of other wildlife. We spent the night in a small cabin near Spearfish. We continued north and west into Wyoming, where we wanted them to see Devil’s Tower and the large prairie dog colony near the entrance to the monument.

    We made our way back through the southern part of South Dakota, stopping for a picnic lunch in the Badlands. All of our lunches on that trip were picnic lunches, sometimes in tall grass along the road, sometimes at a picnic table at a scenic outlook. Back in Minnesota we visited Blue Mounds State Park and Frederick Manfred’s one-time home turned Interpretation Center, saw the tall grass prairie and another large Buffalo herd. On to Pipestone National Monument and their beautiful gift shop. Nearing the eastern part of Minnesota we dipped south into Iowa to visit the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville, Iowa, a fascinating little place. Antonin Dvorak spent the summer of 1893 there, and it was here he wrote his “American” String Quartet and from where some of the inspiration for his New World Symphony came.

    The last leg of our car trip, planned to show our new friends the beautiful drive along the MIssissippi River from La Crosse to Red Wing, was a wash out, literally. It rained so hard that we had to pull off the road several times because we could not see beyond hood of my old Saab. The beautiful vistas of Lake Pepin and bluffs lining both the Minnesota and Wisconsin side of the river completely obscured by torrential rains.

    Despite that last day, this was a memorable trip. We sang, told stories (Jørgen and husband’s father were close friends, and Jørgen and husband had both gone to the same school, although not at the same time), listened to music and created memories that sustain us still.

    I hope you’ll forgive that I’ve carried on at such length. This was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me, I just couldn’t help myself.

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    1. If I ever get to a foreign country, I hope someone like you will show me around, PJ! Love the part about the picnic lunches, esp.

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    2. When you come from a country as small and crowded as Denmark, you have no idea of the vast, open spaces of the prairie; you just can’t imagine them. Driving miles and miles without seeing another car, or encountering a town, is not possible anywhere in Europe.

      Jørgen’s reason for coming here was to deliver one of his father’s handmade kites which husband had requested as a memento when Jørgen’s dad died. When we reached the Missouri River in South Dakota, we stopped at a large scenic overlook where wind gusts were swirling up from the river. That’s were husband and Jørgen launched the kite on the first of its many American flights. I think Jørgen and Eli left the states with a much better understanding of the vastness of this place and why American’s have a completely different relationship to space than Europeans.

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  15. It’s hard to pick a favorite car trip. The world is a beautiful place when you have time to just sit back and contemplate it.

    The Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River is really a treasure. I take an annual trip with some friends to Alma to look for tundra swans in the fall. Tundra swans have been growing harder to find - they are scouting out different habitat – but we are in the habit of taking the trip every year, so we go even if the swans are not cooperating. Alma has a park called Buena Vista perched high on the bluff with panoramic views of the river valley. When you look down on the town below the cars look like little matchbox cars. Even the trains and the barges on the river look like toys.

    Nelson is also a regular stop – good place to buy cheese. I have some smoked gouda from the Nelson Cheese Factory in the fridge right now, as a matter of fact.

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      1. There’s a dairy farm on the way to the park that has had the same two horses for years and years. They always stand near the road as though they like to see who’s driving by.

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      2. They probably recognize your car by now, if you go every year.

        I love that place, too, and oddly enough I didn’t know about it till after we moved from Winona, which is practically across the river.

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  16. Yaa for the Nelson Cheese Factory!
    We make day trips there on occasion…

    The Pine Cheese Mart on Hwy 52 just South of Pine Island is a regular stop. No ice cream but I get cheese and cheese curds there. They also have wine and beer making supplies but I don’t do that. :-)

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  17. Kinda OT – does anyone here know of how to find the best prices for airline travel? I’m looking out what’s available for daughter to come home for Christmas break (I know, I know, should have done that ages ago) and I’m shocked at the prices.

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      1. i think it is tuesday on expedia that is generally one of the best for the new available deals but with christmas 3 weeks away you may want to look into some of those vsacation club deals. you can get a plane ticket and hotel cheaper than a plane ticket. if you are able to be flexible with dayts that helps too. southwest doesn’t participate in expedia they offer the savings direct. there is a cheepy in milwaukee if there is a chance to do that and someties its cheaper to fly to chicago midway often but sometimes ohare and then do a cheapy chi to minneapolis.

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  18. i think about bob dylan, count basie duke ellington satchmo and all the musicians who never knew anything but the road. dylan has been quoted as saying he likes the motel life where he just keeps moving. the idea of staying in a house. he tried it in woodstock new york and in minneapolis and it was not a good experience with all the weird groupies camping out. he is never anywhere long enought to attract a crowd that becomes an issue. the jazz greats commented on how it just became a way of life and their kids just got to be accustomed to being the kid of a dad who stopped in 3 days a year on his way through town.. i did years as a sales guy where 30- 50% of my time was on the road and i never minded it at all except for not being able to be the baseball coach and missing key events and having to request induced birthing so i could be off to china or indonesia. i love travel and am never at a loss to find interesting stuff everyehere i go. i would like to do tibet for an exrtended trip and also india new zealand brazil and siberia. i should get over to kosovo where my daughters fiance is from before he leaves to come here and let him do a tour guide thing.

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  19. Hi There Dale,
    Very interesting, Even when the dates on the cans are the similar just one can will be skinny and soupy and the other can will be thick and pasty? Why the inconsistency in the exact comparable product or service. Are individual batches in reality that numerous?
    Nice One!

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