Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 14: Tonasket, WA to Wenatchee, WA

I did not know what to expect when we set out in the morning after breakfasting on hearty omelettes at Magoo's Restaurant in Omak, WA. Driving south through the Okanogan River valley reminded me of the Santa Ynez Valley in California with all of the vineyards, wineries and acres and acres of orchards. In the towns we visited we notice many businesses, with signs in Spanish, advertising products that cater to the Mexican agricultural workers.
We see warning signs advising drivers to watch out for big horn sheep crossing the highway, but don't see any. A runaway domestic sheep nearly darts out in front of us though, followed in hot pursuit by a man with a lasso. Luckily the sheep veers into the bicycle lane.
We opt for an early finish and check in to the Best Western - Chieftain Inn at Wenatchee, WA. It turns out to be the best value for money on the tour so far: spacious room with microwave, fridge and wifi; very nicely furnished; hot breakfast; washer and dryer $1 each: CAA rate $71. plus tax.

Daily Distance: 201 km Fuel cost: $10

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 13: Coeur d'Alene, ID to Tonasket, WA

Checking out of the Shilo Inn we drive west to Spokane where hubby is doing some research. There we walk through Riverfront Park and get some great views of the falls on the Spokane River (above). We have coffee at Atticus Coffee & Gifts - very interesting retail space. Sister store Boo Radley's, unfortunately, is not open at this time of the morning. I wonder what the connection to Harper Lee and Maycomb, Alabama is ?
Quite by chance, we discover the Mistequa Antique Auto Museum at Chewelah, WA, where I'm thrilled to see this little Peel P-50 (below). We saw another of these at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN. It was a pleasure meeting Glen Hafer and we greatly appreciate the time he spent showing us under the hoods of some of the unique cars in the collection.
We had intended to stay at Republic, WA, but find all the rooms in town have been snapped up by bikers. We've been on the road all day and are a bit frazzled so settle for a room at the Red Apple Inn in Tonasket, WA, about 40 miles away. Not the grottiest motel I've ever stayed in but not far off. The ancient proprietor recommends Whistler's restaurant in town for dinner which was just what we needed before crashing out.

Daily Distance: 372 km Fuel cost: $11

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 12: Coeur d'Alene, ID

During our coffee stop at the Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters in Sandpoint, ID, (above) we help rescue a folder of important papers whipped by the wind. The businessman who owned the papers had a lot of questions about the smart car which he thought might be suitable to his needs.
Parked at Petal Talk florist shop we find a first generation smart car (below) which is puzzling as this model was only available in the US as a grey import. We wonder if this is a Zap smart?
For lunch we stop at Owen's Grocery, Deli and Soda Fountain in Newport, WA. Picture a large general store with a massive, circa 1910, wooden soda fountain. We get custom made sandwiches on thick cut sourdough bread for $3.50 each. The atmosphere is wonderful.
Back to the Shilo Inn in Coeur d'Alene where we've enjoyed staying for three nights, just doing local jaunts each day.

Daily distance: 241 km Fuel cost: $10.00

Monday, July 26, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 11: Coeur d'Alene, ID

We're staying in Coeur d'Alene, ID for three nights and are exploring Idaho's panhandle and its history. Today we drive the "Scenic Byway" that skirts the east shore of the lake that shares the town's name. A startled deer bounds across the road in front of us and scrambles up a rocky ledge, turning to take a last look at our car.
At Cataldo we watch an informative film in the Visitor's Centre of the Old Mission. It tells the extraordinary story of how the Jesuits built the mission in the 1850s in partnership with the Coeur d'Alene Indians. Restored in the 1970s, the mission is Idaho's oldest standing building.
Next we drive east on I90 to Kellogg and nearby Wardner, ID, looking for remnants of an old mine. At the entrance to Kellogg we stop for a closer look at this exhibit of mining rail cars and equipment(below). In a bank parking lot, we spot the Brabus smart car pictured above. We visit the "Staff House Museum" and, once again, we view an interesting DVD that gives background to mining in Silver Valley

Daily distance: 212 km Fuel cost: $0

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 10: Missoula, MT to Coeur D'Alene, ID

Since I was a kid, the name Idaho has conjured up images of potatoes. Neither of us had been in the state before but when researching for this trip we discovered that the Northern Region or panhandle is as mountainous and rugged as neighbouring states Montana and Washington. Mining is the chief source of revenue here, followed by tourism.
On our way out of Montana we stop at Alberton, MT, after seeing a billboard advertising a store with over 50,000 used books. Shortly after arriving at the Montana Valley we realize they're not exaggerating. After staying in Jamestown and reading about Louis L'Amour I decide to try of of his Westerns and buy, "The Quick and the Dead". I also find "Absent in the Spring", that Agatha Christie wrote under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.
At a rest area just before the Idaho border we chat to a kind couple who are volunteering for an organization that builds homes for the needy in Wallace, ID. I think it's a wonderful idea that non-profit groups provide coffee, cold drinks and cookies to travellers at rest stops in exchange for donations for their causes. Between speaking to this couple and the owner of the book shop we get a clearer picture of what life is currently like for folk in small towns in this part of the US.
We enter Silver Valley and stop at Wallace which has pitched itself as a historic town. Many fine buildings line the main street including this one, the "insurance building".

Daily distance: 272 km Fuel cost: $10.00

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 9: Great Falls, MT to Missoula, MT

We enjoy clear skies and gorgeous scenery on our way from Great Falls to Missoula. Part of the fun of a road trip is getting off the interstate and exploring stuff that's not in the guidebooks. We pass these defunct lime kilns (above) and stop at this bridge to watch the pelicans and other birds.
We stay at the same Best Western in Missoula that we did two years ago. At that time it was undergoing renovations and now it's a really happening place.

Daily distance: 394 km Fuel cost: $22.51

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 8: Lewistown, MT to Great Falls, MT

Morning started with nothing going right; couldn't book next hotel online; phone in room not working; hotel's decaf carafe dispensed only cold water; gloomy skies and temperature in the low 50s F. Then we stopped at the Shade Tree Cafe (above) in the tiny town of Denton, MT, where I had the best french toast I've had in years.
As we headed north the sky started to clear and things started looking up. Fort Benton, known as "the birthplace of Montana", was established in 1847 as the last fur trading post on the Upper Missouri River. We stroll the river bank and read many of the historic markers including one that tells the story of Shep the faithful sheep dog (below) which reminds me of Edinburgh's Greyfriars Bobby.
The guest laundry happens to be next to our room at the Quality Inn in Great Falls, MT, so we have a good clean up and sort out.

Daily distance: 254 km Fuel cost: 0

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 7: Minot, ND to Lewistown, MT

Up early and on the road by 7 for a marathon drive. Dark skies and rain for the first few hours (above).
Stopped in Williston, ND, browse the main street shops and had coffee at the Daily Addiction. Over the border into Montana the scenery changes dramatically and we find ourselves running low on diesel between towns. With the help of Flo (our GPS) we turn off the highway in Winnett, MT, and find the most decrepit service station in the west. Thankfully, it had diesel and at $3.09 US gallon it was not the highest price we've paid on this trip. Shortly after that we pass an all black smart on the highway
At Lewistown, MT, we check into the newly restored Calvert Hotel and go for a walk, checking out the local library where hubby does some valuable research. On Main Street we stop at the Bon Ton Soda Fountain which has been operating since 1908. The decor is 50s malt shop with interesting historic photos and memorabilia on the walls (below). It started off well with a cheerful young waitress bringing our ice tea. Then we waited ages for our orders to arrive, noticing that people who came in after us got their food before we did. When our meals finally arrive, my mine was not what I ordered. I thought the server was going to burst into tears when I told her but to give her (and the cook) credit the correct meal was brought out relatively quickly.

Daily Distance: 741 km Fuel Cost: $22.20 US

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 6: Jamestown, ND to Minot, ND

Near our hotel in Jamestown, ND, is an attraction called Frontier village which is home a herd of buffalo including White Cloud, an albino and her one albino and four brown calves. I saw some brown buffalo peacefully grazing but didn't catch a glimpse of either White Cloud or Dakota Miracle, her son. The world's largest buffalo (above) was constructed in 1958. The good folk at Jamestown are currently running a contest to name him. Makes you wonder what took them so long. Jamestown's other claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Western fiction writer Louis L'Amour who lived in the town until age 15. At the time of his death in 1988, at age 80, all 89 novels and 14 short story collections penned by L'Amour were still in print.
Driving along county roads lined with crops we stop to look at the American White Pelicans, Double-breasted Cormorants, gulls, Canada Geese and many varieties of duck on the sloughs and lakes.
At Minot we are ecstatic to get a room at the Comfort Inn, the first place we tried. As was the case during our Wild West Tour in 2008, the "oil men" stake claim to most of the hotel/motel rooms in parts of North Dakota and Montana.
About 40% of Minot's population are descendants of Scandinavian settlers, primarily Norwegian. Scandinavian Heritage Park is a beautiful tribute to the craftsmanship and contributions of folk from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. Among the many impressive buildings and monuments is the Gol Stave Church (below), a full-size replica of a famous Norwegian church that is now in a park in Oslo.

Daily Distance: 330 km Fuel Cost: $11.01 US

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 5: St Cloud, MN to Jamestown, ND

Big companies, like Walmart, McDonald's and Starbucks, tend to suck the life out of the historic downtowns in communities across North America. Alexandria, Minnesota is a fine example of what can be done to fight back and stem the tide of chains and franchises. Its main street is lined with antique sellers, book stores and specialty shops. We spent a pleasant time browsing and chatting with the locals. Their train station (below) has been turned into a lovely eatery and a bike trail, that runs from St Cloud to Fergus Falls, goes by its doors along the shore of Lake Agnes. Big Ole the Viking watches over all. (above)

Daily Distance: 452 km Fuel Cost: $21.00 US

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 4: Clintonville, WI to St Cloud, MN

At the FWD (four wheel drive) museum in Clintonville, WI, we are given a personal tour by Bill Hupke. It's hard to imagine that there is anyone who could have given us a more thorough tour than this gentleman who worked, as did his grandfather, father and son, for FWD. In Bill's 46 years with the company he was involved with various projects and had many roles. The museum occupies the machine shop where brothers-in-law Otto Zachow and William Besserdich built the first successful four-wheel drive car in America which they dubbed the "Battleship" in 1909 (above). Today FWD is part of Seagrave Fire Apparatus LLC and the production of fire equipment continues at their Clintonville plant. The reason for our visit is to see the Butterball Special (below) a post-war British race car built and driven by Archie Butterworth. It features in hubby's research on the Brighton Speed Trials - winning the standing start kilometre in both 1949 and 1951.

Daily Distance: 510 km Fuel Cost: $10.02 US

Monday, July 19, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 3: Fond du Lac, WI to Clintonville, WI

To Road America at Elkhart Lake, WI for the Kohler International Challenge where vintage race cars compete in various classes.The Can-Am group is a highlight and makes you realize why many spectators wear ear plugs. A tribute to Mark Donohue (1937-1975) features many of the cars he raced and a book signing (“Mark Donohue: His Life in Photographs,” by Michael Argetsinger). Above is one of the AMC Javelins driven by Donohue for Roger Penske in the Trans-Am series.
Hubby spotted this smart car awning and we wondered why it was at Road America but there was no one to ask about it. On visiting the web address I found that it is the official French language Canadian smart car site but there's no mention of racing cars. Puzzling. Can anyone help?

Daily Distance: 213 km Fuel Cost: $16.76 US

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 2: Whitehall, MI to Fond du Lac, WI

Drive to Ludington, MI where we park at the dock for the S.S. Badger. Unlike other ferries we've been on, staff drive vehicles onto the ship while passengers walk on. The Badger, which began service in 1953, was built to carry rail cars across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, WI. She is the largest car ferry ever to sail Lake Michigan and is currently the only coal-fired steamship in operation in North America. The journey takes about 4 hours, and you lose an hour changing time zones. Photo above is Trudi being driven off the S.S. Badger at Manitowoc, WI.
We stop to wash some mud off the car at a lakefront park in Sheboygan, WI and a couple in an American smart car pull up to say hello. We very much enjoyed chatting to Edward and Carol who tow little "Smartie" behind their RV when wintering in California. It was interesting to compare the two cars and share stories.
Daily Distance: 201 km + ferry Fuel Cost: 0

Crazy Daisy Tour Day 1: Toronto to Whitehall, MI

On the road early. Breakfast at TA Truck Stop, Woodstock, ON, gets us in the road trip mode. Spotted this 007 2CV at Cordeiro's Auto European Ltd in Strathroy where owner Michael tries to sell us another smart car (he's got two of them).
Border crossing at Sarnia/Port Huron takes about an hour and a half as hubby travels on a UK passport. No hassles, just a lot of travellers to be processed.
Check in to Super 8 at Whitehall, MI and the desk clerk says, "I'll put you on the second floor. The bikers are all on the third floor. They'll all come back drunk tonight and trash the place". We didn't hear a peep. Only evidence of bikers we saw in the morning is shown below.

Daily Distance: 625 km Fuel Cost: $12.98 CDN, $12.50 US.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Smart car goes electric

100 Smart Fortwo Electric Drives are being leased to people in London and the west Midlands, part of a larger government scheme that will see 340 electric vehicles loaned out and data on their usage collected.

Read and see more here.
With thanks to Peter F.