Happy mid-August to you all, thanks for checking in on the weekly Burho blog today. We’re starting this while on the road, driving through Yellowstone National Park en route to the Grand Tetons…and to hitting 20,000 miles since starting our trip! Phew, that’s a lot of miles!
Last week left off with us just finishing up the annual Burho family reunion and saying goodbye to the final cousin departing the cabin. That left just four Burhos remaining, and we packed our to-do list full in preparation for our own departure.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were all huge Bertha projects days. We seem to always have a long list of things to do to spruce her up, and what better place than at the cabin, where Jim Sr has all the tools we could ever need. Between those three days Jim and his dad installed a new back up camera monitor, rewired the dashboard electronics, secured the transmission wires that vibrate loose every few thousand miles, changed the oil, sealed the roof leaks, welded the motorcycle stand in the trailer, cleaned and fixed up both bicycles, and repaired quite a few other odds and ends. Meanwhile, Heather did some spring cleaning, including reorganizing bins, wiping out all the cabinets, vacuuming the nooks and crannys, and scrubbing down the outside of Bertha, as well as washing Eeyore. It was a taxing couple of days, especially as we all came down with colds – we actually had planned to leave on Saturday, but our pace was slowed due to not feeling well, and trying to enjoy the last bit of our time together.
Between the to-do listing, Jim and his dad continued to find time to fly their drones together a few more times. We had a nice post-dinner visit with the neighbors, Sue and Russ, who provided us with fresh veggies from their garden and homemade yogurt and granola for our journey. We were also able to squeeze in a few final game nights, playing both Hearts (Heather took that win with a landslide) and a few rounds of Marbles (also known as Joker’s Pursuit). We played quite a few rounds of Marbles during our visit last year too, and the senior Burhos took home the overall win in 2016, but the junior Burhos evened the score this year, leaving us in a tie for 2018. There were a few extra gorgeous sunsets and cozy moments on the patio as well. The last few evenings were nice, relaxing, and quiet. One evening, after a heavy project day, the girls turned in early, while Jim Sr showed Jim Jr a presentation he had put together about his flight from Bimini, FL to Anchorage, Alaska back in 1977 in his first Airplane, a 1965 4-place Mooney. An epic journey for the fairly new Air Force pilot, just he and his dog, Turk; Jim Jr was wildly impressed at the details and pictures of the journey that he had only heard bits and pieces of growing up.
Sunday morning we were finally ready for departure, with everything repaired, organized, and sparkling clean. We had a lovely final breakfast of french toast, sausage, and eggs with the senior Burhos, before saying our goodbyes and hitting the road. It’s always such a wonderful time at the cabin; it’s hard to leave!
Our first destination for the day was Fargo, ND – 230 miles away and the mark of our 38th state in Bertha. We made great time (Bertha drives like a champ, she’s really really killin’ it) and got there just as we were ready to stop for lunch. We parked downtown and headed toward the famous Fargo theater, surprised to find that downtown Fargo was actually really cute and pretty hip. We were there just long enough to walk the main drag, snap a few photos, and eat some yummy sandwiches before we were back on the road.
Next stop: Bismarck, ND, another 200 miles. It was again a smooth ride, with Jim doing most of the driving, but allowing Heather to spell him for a nap during the afternoon. Our timing was just perfect; we pulled into Bismarck just before the sun started to set, which would have made driving west rather uncomfortable with the sun in our eyes. Finding a nice spot for dinner, we feasted on a Greek Salad and a Thai Chicken Pizza before heading to downtown Bismarck. The only area we knew we wanted to see in town was Art Alley – a commissioned alleyway where artists paint their masterpieces on the walls. It was really pretty spectacular, and definitely worth the stop.
As the sun set, we felt we had another 100 or so miles left in us for the day, so we set our sights on a beautiful Walmart parking lot in Dickinson, ND. We made it there around 10pm, took some quick showers, and settled in with 520 miles under our belt for the day – our biggest driving day ever!
The next morning, we got a relatively early start as Jim had set a goal; he had been researching the highways in North Dakota and decided he wanted to ride his bike on the wide shoulder of I-94W. So while Heather grocery shopped in the Dickinson Walmart, Jim hit the road on Cosima, revelling in the wide open spaces. He rode a crazy fast 40 miles with a tail wind at his back, amber waves of grain swaying on either side of him, and herds of cattle and bison just off in the distance. It was the perfect ride, with perfect weather, perfect roads, and perfect scenery. Heather hit the road about an hour behind him, passing him around mile 30 while blasting Bertha’s La Cucaracha horn. We met back up safely at our agreed upon meeting spot, just outside of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was so hard to be that close to a National Park and to not go in! But we’re on a mission and must press on!
After some lunch and a shower for Jim, we hit the road again – this time aiming for Billings, MT. As we pulled into Billings, we went straight to a wide open, green park where we set up camp for a couple of hours. Heather headed to the park to get in an hour of yoga while Jim made delicious fish tacos for dinner and worked on his athlete’s training plans. After Jim cleaned up dinner (total husband points for cooking AND cleaning up) and Heather got a shower, we hit the road for a night drive to Cody, WY. Heather did most of the day’s driving, a rarity, so that Jim could get some work done on the road. Unfortunately, we’ve learned that Montana and Wyoming aren’t so great for internet reception (a bonus if you’re trying to be one with nature, a bummer if you’re trying to be productive on a road trip), so Jim wasn’t able to get as much work done as he’d hoped. The night drive through the mountains was slower going, but we made it to Cody around 10pm, with another 420 miles under us for the day – 980 miles total over the past two days!
This morning was another early start as we enter the third out of four huge driving days. We pulled out of the Cody, WY Walmart this morning, in complete awe over the number of fellow RV’ers parked there with us. Normally, there are maybe 2 or 3 others, but this time there were at least 30 RVs in the parking lot! We’ve officially entered into the path for next week’s solar eclipse, and it’s obvious that we aren’t the only ones vying for a prime location to watch it.
The drive from Cody to Jackson Hole today takes us directly through the middle of Yellowstone National Park; it’s a slow, windy, mountainous, and very scenic drive the entire way. We hadn’t planned to spend any time in Yellowstone, but figured we should make at least one stop while in the park. We took a small detour to explore a geothermal location, but in all honesty, it was nothing exciting compared to what we saw here last year. But we did get to drive alongside beautiful Yellowstone Lake and have lunch next to the Yellowstone River, Jim taking the drone off for a quick moment in order to get some gorgeous aerial views of this natural wonderland. And we got to witness a traffic jam led by a bison!
After leaving Yellowstone, the drive to the Grand Tetons is surprisingly short but comes with some breathtaking views. The Tetons are something that everyone should see once in their lives; sure, you can Google some pretty spectacular photos, but seeing them in person is something special. We pulled into the park in the afternoon, found a great parking spot, and set out for a short run. We both had taken the week off of running due to our colds and the never ending to-do list, so this run was mainly to ease back into training and to enjoy the majesty of the Tetons at the same time. Not to mention it felt great to stretch our legs after so much driving!
We had planned to drive more this evening, but after revisiting our schedule, we decided we’re more than on target for our Idaho arrival on Thursday. We found a nice parking spot in downtown Jackson to have dinner and do a little work with solid internet. After dinner, we took a walk to the ice cream shop and revisited this town we so enjoyed last year, but under different circumstances…this is the place we spent 10 days waiting for our front end to be repaired after Bertha’s brakes caught on fire coming over the Teton Pass last July. We love it here and are thankful we found the time to stop through once again.
We’ll be arriving in Idaho on Thursday to meet up with a group of other RV’ers and prepare for the eclipse on Monday. Stay with us as the journey continues and happy eclipse to you all!
Total RV Trip Miles: 20,131 (we hit 20,000!)