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Carol and Peter Mullen's Travels USA 2009

We are flying from Manchester, UK to Chicago on 1st September 2009 to start our six week road trip across USA to Canyon Country in Utah, New Mexico etc. before returning through Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and down Michigan back to Chicago.

Photos - Click Below

 

Chicago

This is our last day on this trip. We had a wonderful time and covered an amazing variety of landscape and weather in our 8000 miles drive. We met many delightful fellow travellers of various nationalities who enjoyed sharing tales of travel and adventure. We have many good memories to look back upon which will last a lifetime.

 

Sleeping Bear Dunes

The Sleeping Bear Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan are not quite as impressive as the Great Dunes of Colorado but they are very special. We hiked across the dunes to a point overlooking Lake Michigan.

 

Wisconsin Woods

In the northern part of Wisconsin the landscape is predominantly forest and lake. It is a popular region for recreation - fishing, hunting, canoing and lumberjacking. In the winter it is great country for snow mobiling and cross country skiing. After crossing Wisconsin we entered Michigan at Menominee which is located on the shores of Lake Michigan.

 

into Wisconsin

Today we drove across Minnesota into Wisconsin. It was a picturesque route with neat farms and towns among deciduous forests and hidden lakes. The trees are beautiful now but unfortunately we did not take many pictures because of a lack of suitable stopping points.

 

Across South Dakota

Still pretty wintery as we drove 360 miles across South Dakota. We followed US highway 212 all the way across - a pleasant route but surprisingly without warning we were on a 22 mile unpaved muddy, gravel, pot holed section. Why that short section remains unpaved is a mystery.

 

Into South Dakota

We had a wintery journey today from Wyoming to Belle-Fourche in South Dakota.

 

Into Wyoming

We left Leadville and drove out of the Rocky Mountains into Wyoming.

 

Leadville

Leadville dating from the 1880s its mining boom years is a charming old town. We just wandered around taking pictures of the fascinating multi coloured timber houses.

 

Leadville Railroad

We took a ride on the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad. This railroad was built in 1884 to transport people and materials to and from Denver at the time gold had been discovered at Leadville. At that time Leadville was bigger than Denver. Now there is only a short section still open as a tourist attraction.

 

Great Sand Dunes National Park

After leaving Taos we drove north into Colorado and visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This was quite unusual and very impressive.

 

Taos

Fortunately after the rain we returned to nice weather again the following day.

 

Taos, New Mexico

Today it rained most of the day. The first poor day so far on our trip. And it was cool at about 60 deg F. After the scorching temperatures we have been experiencing this felt really cold.

 

Chaco Canyon

We left Utah and drove into New Mexico and visited Chaco Canyon. This was a thriving cultural center of the ancestral Puebloan people from 800 to around 1200 AD. Great houses with hundreds of rooms were built, often oriented to solar, lunar and cardinal directions. Probably climate change made it impossible to exist in this now high desert region.

 

Cassidy Arch, Capitol Reef NP

We hiked up to Cassidy Arch from the Grand Wash. It was quite short but very steep and it was hot. Our thermometer read 103 deg F

 

Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef

This is a stunning 60 mile drive on rough unsurfaced roads through a remote wilderness. The geology is varied and striking - an amazing trip only feasible on high clearance vehicles.



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Recent Messages

From Jim
Hi Peter & Carol,
Thanks for the advice on woodsmoke and country dancing. This is quite pertinent as I have been invited to join a Morris Dancing group -TONIGHT! Perhaps I should get back to the fire and stop washing. I know what you are thinking -pull the other leg, it's got bells on it. In fact both legs will have bells on them. I asked what attire would be appropriate and was told anything you like as long as you bring along two white handkerchiefs. I asked if a couple of tissues would do as I do not use handkerchiefs and was firmly told no, it has to be white handkerchiefs. Lynda has found me some white serviettes -they will have to suffice. One of the Morris dances I had go at in the past was called the Morpeth Rap, unfortunately I misheard the announcement and ever since I have referred to it as the Morbid Rat. Never a dull moment!
Best wishes
Jim
Response: I think the Morpeth Rap must have been the one we watched years ago in Norfolk. Very entertaining as the troupe turned up with one member short and a gallant but foolhardy fellow volunteered to fill the gap. He obviously had never Morris danced before and just went along with the flow but lagging by a few seconds at each new turn and twist. And this is where the Rap comes in because he endured, all in good humour it has to be said, innumerable blows from an assortment of wooden implements wielded enthusiastically by the more adept members. At least they provided him with a crash helmet. Hope your experiences were less painful.
We are back home now by the way and trying to recover from jet lag etc.
From Doug
Sounds like the weather is preparing you for your homecoming! I have followed your trip in the atlas and via your photos - it has looked great. Hope you have a smooth journey back. Love Doug
Response: We are in Chicago now which is not quite as cold as further north. Hopefully weather in N Yorks is a bit milder and a few days without too much driving would be welcome. We were in the Art Institute today looking at superb art including some fine paintings by Winslow Homer who was the American artist who spent time in Cullercoats in the 1880s and is generally regarded as one of America's finest. Will be home on Thursday and will call you soon.
Love Carol and Peter
From harv
thanks for postcard, missing you both too, must be finishing your trip soon?
Response: Yes we wll be home on Thursday. It has been a great trip but because the weather has turned so cold we are quite looking forward to returning home.
From Jim
Hi Peter & Carol, Still enjoying your photos and comments. Hope you are both OK. Andrew and I became involved in a "Forest School" for trainee teachers last week -Ray Mears eat yor heart out- we spent most of the time in a steady drizzle in the woods trying to light a fire with a striker and some damp tinder. There was a hell of a lot of smoke but we eventually managed it. When we got home we stank of woodsmoke and after two showers and having gone swimming I still had the smell of woodsmoke on my arms. Going dancing tonight - better have another scrub down!
Bye, Jim
Response: Enjoy your dancing. I don't know but a bit of woodsmoke odour would go down well in a bit of country or square dancing or how about a hoedown?
From harv
at least your poles can double as splints and crutches when it goes wrong
Response: Talking about poles - when we were negotiating an awkward traverse in the Arches I said to Mum hold out your pole and I will pull you up. Completely forgetting that telescopic poles will come apart if the joints are not tightly fastened. Immediately afterwards I thought; no that was not a good idea.
From harv
i think the answer is no


re: should we be running down dunes at our age
Response: That wasn't the answer we were looking for.
From harv
really like "more hoodoos" from Bryce, great contrast. Some really cracking shots. Great to vicariously experience these hot dusty places from the armchair.

The US really is one of the most stunning and varied landscapes.
Response: Agree. We had an interesting experience in Taos with a Giclee producer. We gave him 4 pictures from our trip on a USB storage stick and he then massaged the images with photoshop etc and then printed out on his commercial high definition multi ink printer 20 X 14 inch prints. Absolutely superb - amazing definition and colours. He was quite impressed himself.
From Jim & Lynda
Hi Peter & Carol
We continue to enjoy your photos. Thanks for the card from Arches-great pictures. The weather here in the South continues to be dry and sunny, though we are promised some scattered showers tomorrow. We are definitely into drought conditions now and need to conserve water. However there is no hosepipe ban as yet . Regards,
Jim
Response: Hope N Yorkshire is not suffering from same drought like weather (I doubt it!). We are looking forward to typical cool, damp and green conditions after all the scorching sun and high temperatures here.
From Alex
Hello,
Sorry to have missed your call. Rob and I were out. We have been looking at houses for sale in different areas. You are really lucky with the nice weather. I like the look of the Old School House. Wish I was sleeping in one instead of working in it! Glad you are having a brilliant time. Hope to hear from you soon.
Alex xx
Response: Will call soon.
Love Mum and Dad
From Karie
Really enjoying following you on your adventure. Met you at the American Gothic House in Eldon Iowa. Wonderful photographs - and great stories. I admire your passion.
Response: Thank you for your kind comments. It was very nice to see you at the American Gothic House. Happy that you are enjoying our pictures.
Peter and Carol.
From Doug
I am up to date with your tour now that I have solved the slight technical hitch! The photos are absolutely brilliant and I am pleased you are obviously having such a great time. What fantastic landscapes! I especially liked the photo of Carol 'exposed' on the arch! I would be interested to know what songs you sang while warding off the bears - the school song or Keep your feet still Geordie hinny perhaps?
Looking forward to the next update. Fiona and Craig have just returned from Las Vegas and seem to have really enjoyed it. After Venice I have been stuck up the ladder painting the outside of the house! Swap you? United continue to do well. Love Doug
Response: Thanks for your comments. I think it was more along the lines of 'Teddybears Picnic'. We are enjoying the amazing landscapes and sun. We haven't had one bad day so far. Keep up the good work.
Love Carol and Peter
From Gay Heese
So glad you are having a great time all looks very energetic! Thank you for my birthday card, I had a very happy day especially good as Alastair was here! things going very well indeed.
Continue to have a lovely time, will look forward to talking on your return.
Much love to you both.
Gay
Response: Glad that you and Alastair are having a good time together. We are enjoying stupendous scenery and wonderful sunshine - a bit too hot for comfort today at 103 deg F as we were grinding up to another beautiful arch. Lots of love
Carol and Peter
From Alex
Looks like you had a tricky walk in the Devil's Garden! The scenery looks stunning. I like the view from the balcony of the Wild West retreat. Hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday. Wish I was there. Alex xxx
Response: Tried to call you on Sunday at about 16.30 your time but you must have been out. Will try again soon.
Love Mum and Dad
From Jim
Hi Carol & Peter
Loving your pictures. Am trying to ID the caterpillar but I think it is too exotic for me. Andrew is staying with us at present so we are out most days, birdwatching usually. Saw Lapwing, Redshank, Dunlin and various others so far today. Hope all is going smoothly for you.
Best wishes
Jim
Response: Enjoy your birdwatching. We haven't seen a lot of wildlife here. We would see more if we were out at the crack of dawn or late evening but during middle of day when we are out sensible creatures are out of the sun and resting. Lots of lizards, small unidentifiable birds, the odd turkey vulture, various hawks, that's about it.
Love Carol and Peter.
From Harv
Arches are looking good.
Hope you've got an emergency water supply for those 4wd adventures, minimum 20l, etc etc.

When you come over to Perth, we'll try and show you some moderately difficult stuff, although I'm not a big fan of the really rough tracks - the repair bills are too big! When it goes wrong it happens very quickly.
Look after yourselves
love harv

Response: We have no ambitions about extreme 4wd all we want is to have access to interesting places offroad with more confidence than we experienced with last year's Cadillac, Love Mum and Dad
From Jim & Lynda
Hi Peter & Carol
Looks as though you are having a good time out there. Love the shots of the Botanic garden in Chicago. Went to Cornwall. Weather was great (amazingly) as we were ready for rain but really sunny days. Did not make to Helston so cannot tell you what has happened near your former house. Visited Eden project, Lost gardens of Heligon and Newquay Aquarium. All very interesting. Did lot of walks on the S W Coastal path very scenic. Got caught up in a 4 hour traffic jam just outside Exeter on the homeward journey. Keep well, best wishes,
Jim
Response: Glad you had a good time and fine weather in Cornwall. Those coastal walks really are superb. When we visited the Eden project it was quite new so expect the plants etc. will be much more impressive now. We have now arrived in Utah and are planning to visit the Dinosaur National Monument so should be interesting.
From Alex
Looks like you are having a fantastic time. I am enjoying looking at your photos. I suspect their cool summer is our baking hot summer. I liked the statue of the buffalo charging off! Hope to hear from you soon.
Alex xxx
We saw a real buffalo yesterday in yellowstone. It wandered right up to us as we were standing on a boardwalk admiring a geyser. Fortunately it seemed totally disinterested in humans but we could almost have touched it.
From harv
we got back from bali a couple of weeks ago - had a good time.

perth's been a bit wild since, gusts up to 100km/h the other day.

hope you're having a good time - air command looks good - remember we saw the blackbird at mildenhall.

catch up soon - harv
Response: I had forgotten that we had seen the blackbird at mildenhall but not surprising as it was their European base for their spy missions at the time. Apparently when on operations flying at 16 miles high at mach 3 when the russian migs tried to intercept which they did on many occasions the blackbird just outstripped any missiles fired at them. They did not need armaments nothing could touch them.
From
Hi, hope you're both having a great time, loving the photo's. Do you have skype on your laptop? Sorry i've not been in contact sooner, had a recent drama which is all ok now, i'll tell you about it privately. Love Matthew, Nicky, Poppy & Toffee....
Response: No we do not have skype on the laptop but will call you using our phone card. Will try tomorrow about 5 pm your time.
From Alex
Hope you are having a lovely time! I think you may have rung earlier tonight but ran up to phone and you just stopped as I picked it up. Hope to speak to you soon. Looks like the weather was nice in Chicago.
Love Alex xx
Response: Sorry. We did ring tonight for quite a long time but missed you. Will ring tomorrow. Love Mum and Dad