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What a tour. We feel so lucky to be able to do such a once in a lifetime experience. Our Grand American Tour was so much more than an exploratory vacation. We learned so much about the country, the people, the history and the culture of this amazing country. While so many people outsides and even inside the US feel there is a lack of culture – we realized that this is such a culture rich country with such an outstanding diversity that we are truly overwhelmed with impressions and thoughts. We returned with a very different understanding of the US’s economic development, it’s geopolitical diversity, it’s racial issues, it’s richness and its strategic challenges from a global perspective, being only 5% of the world population. How ever this is still the land of opportunities – and the most beautiful in the world.

Day 45: Heading Back Home

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Monday 10/16 After enjoying the Ocean Blvd a bid more we take I-5 and head home to the Bay Area. It feels like there are more fields of cotton, tomato, wine, pistachios… - and much more beef then ever. A descending airplane reminds us to stop by Harry’s Ranch and buy some way too expensive meat – but isn’t it part of it? While gas pricing is continuously rising we recognize we are close to home. We did a bid over 10,000 miles, shot over 2,800 photos in a bid more than 6 weeks during the greatest vacation in our entire lives. Home sweet home – it is so great to be home again.

Day 44: Santa Monica

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Sunday 10/15 We go back onto I-10 and continue till the very end in Santa Monica, CA. Phoenix is growing like no other town. It takes roughly 20 miles until no more homes are being build and the desert begins. We drive through an almost endless desert till we reach California. Almost instantly the scenery changes and becomes green. We arrive the outer suburbs of Los Angeles and it takes us about 2 hours to cross L.A. until we arrive in Santa Monica. Ocean Blvd. is like Cannes in France. Most of the Ocean facing hotels are booked. We are lucky and get a room in contemporary Shangri La – with Ocean View in the 5th floor. It is simply beautiful.

Day 43: Mesa, AZ

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Saturday 10/14 We do nothing but hang out at the resort’s lazy river and go for dinner at a nice Greek restaurant at Mill Street. Mill street is a very nice and lively street through Tempe with lots of restaurants and shops.

Day 42: Phoenix, AZ

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Friday 10/13 We take Hwy 89 to Prescott via Jerome. Once one of the largest cities in Arizona, Jerome is now the largest ghost town – with roughly 500 people how ever living there. Most of the homes are empty and lots of ghost business is going on. This is a very neat town, definitely worth visiting. Prescott is like many other Arizonian towns a rapid growing community with a lot of home development going on. Wide roads around Prescott keep the city clean – yet it is worth taking the “detour” to see the old town of Prescott. In the afternoon we continue on I-17 to Phoenix AZ. We’ve been here a few month ago and we decided to stay two nights in the Point South Resort in Tempe – a very relaxing place.

Day 41: Sedona

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Thursday 10/12 We completely change plans. Rather than going to Grand Canyon which we have been before and later Bryce Canyon we decided to drive to Sedona, AZ. It is October and the lodges starting to close. The service teams are exhausted from the summer tourism and we feel we better do no more national parks on that trip. We take highway 89 to Flagstaff and Sedona. Flagstaff surprised us with its size and nice old town. This town has changed a lot in the last 20 years, definitely worth a visit. We continue on 89a to Sedona. What a cute town. Very busy and lots of construction right now. We stay at the Amara, a very exquisite resort in down town Sedona. And since we are up for a nice dinner we went to the “Gallery on Oak Creek” – this was an excellent dinner with a great selection of wines. So far we did close to 10,000 miles and shot over 2,700 pictures. There is so much to say, yet so much more to explore. The entries in this blog get more and more factual quick reviews and do n

Day 40: Lake Powell

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Wednesday 10/11 With blue skies and a great morning we decided to take a boat tour on the lake. Even so there is so much less water than several years ago and we have to go along a channel to get to Padre Bay, it is just an awesome ride. What a great day today. We realize that the season is over and the coffee shop closes early and so does the bar. The personnel at the Wahweap lodge is more busy with shutting down the lodge than with servicing guests and so we decide to check out the next day.

day 39: Lake Powell

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Tuesday 10/10 The weather is so so and we relax today at Lake Powel. We check the house boats and wonder if this would be fun with all our kids, but we are not sure. The prices range from $4,000 to $10,000 per boat per week - wow. We hike near the Colorado River, after Glen Canyon Dam. Here the Colorado has a beautiful green color and winds his way through the deep Canyon, carved in dark red sand stone. It’s a great afternoon.

day 38: Durango - Lake Powell

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Monday 10/9 We leave Durango (without riding the train to Silverton) and head towards Lake Powell. We take Rout 160 and short before “Four Corners” take 41/162 towards Monument Valley. This is a wonderful road. We follow San Juan River and have another picnic at the river. While there was almost no water a few days ago, today water is flowing very fast and took the river over its normal size. After “Bluff” we get close to Monument Valley and have one of the most awesome views of the monumental rocks while the sun shines between dark clouds. Heavy rain hit the park so we didn’t go for today but will come back. In the evening we arrive at Lake Powell and stay at the Lake Powell Lodge.

day 37: Mesa Verde

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Sunday 10/8 Again no way to take the train to Silverton, so we go again to Mesa Verde. It is a great day, weather is better and the ruins are very interesting.

Day 36: Durango

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Saturday 10/7 Weather is still not too good and the train to Silverton does not go because of mod slide. So we decided to go to Mesa Verde. Even so it rained here and there and was even very foggy when we claimed up to Mesa Verde, we were compensated with a breath taking view when we arrived on the top of the mountain. Believe it or not but we ran out of gas and couldn’t go to the ruins. But we more than enjoyed the views from up here. The clouds did an awesome play and we shot probably 100 pictures. In the evening we checked in the local Days Inn – it is scheduled to be demolished in 2 days. Next to the motel is a great very local – very nice upscale restaurant called Sweeny – highly recommended.

Ghost of Sandusky

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It is indeed a bid strange. We shot about 1,500 photos so far but one had a strange white shadow. Neither the picture before nor the picture thereafter had any abnormal behavior. We joked: “It looks like a ghost”. After we looked up the Internet, we found out that a German called Tiedeman is known to be a Ghost in the area. So we thought we put it up here for those who believe in ghosts.

Day 35: Durango, CO

Friday 10/6 We planned to take the old train to Silverton today, but it rains cats and dogs. Since Ashville, 2 weeks ago we had no rain. But now we are hit again by a thunderstorm. We decided to stay here for a few days and simply wait until it’s over. We hang out in Durango, and do some maintenance work: write the blog, update maps, hair dresser and other things. One of the things we did was reviewing the pictures we shot. Only one had a strange shadow, like a ghost, it was a picture from Sandusky, OH. After we researched the Internet, indeed a ghost is known in Sandusky, trying to contact Germans… hmmm…. Oh well, unfortunately we don’t believe in ghosts but added the picture to the blog. J We try to get some accommodation for Saturday and then plan to stay here until Thursday when the bad weather is expected to be over. Even so it is not planned but it is actually a welcome stop. We are so overwhelmed with exciting, beautiful and interesting impressions from that tour so far that we

Day 34: Durango, CO

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Thursday 10/5 Checking the weather forecast and talking with our daughter in California where it is very cold, the next thunderstorm is obviously hitting us any soon. We take I-25 towards Albuquerque. Based on the info’s we had is Albuquerque just an ordinary industry type city and we plan to skip it and go straight to Durango. But as so often, people fly in and out of places without having the chance to uncover some of the beauties. As we are so close to town we decided to make the detour and drove downtown. Old Town Albuquerque is definitely worth visiting. Similar to Santa Fe the old town has a lot of little pueblo type buildings, one of the oldest mission in the country and a very nice plaza. While Santa Fe feels very much like an esoteric Mecca, Albuquerque is just a very cute old town surrounded by a very modern city at the Rio Grande. We liked Albuquerque a lot. We go onto Hwy 550 and drive up to Durango. As we leave Albuquerque the scenery changes quite a bid. The rolling hil

Day 33: Santa Fe

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Wednesday 10/4 We go shopping and leave Carlsbad, another nice village for retirement. We do a picnic at a little lake 5 miles off the highway. The little village is mainly a super modern school building and a few shabby homes. It is interesting to recognize this over and over across the country: No matter how little and poor a community is, the school buildings are just beautiful. Back on the highway we drive towards “Ufo town” Roswell. We enter Roswell from south and pass by a huge air force airport. No wonder that there is a possibility that some test equipment crashed in the field. We skip the wearied down UFO Museum and continue the road towards Santa Fe. It is getting dark and we arrive in Santa Fe after sun set. Also here the town is very busy and the only room we could get was a Best Western a little outside town – everything else was booked. We realize that for cities like that reservation is recommended. We walk through old town Santa Fe which is very nice. Old pueblo style

Day 32: Carsbad, NM

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Tuesday 10/3 We get up early and continue I-10 to Fort Stockton, where we take hwy 285 to Carlsbad. While on the road we tried several hotels but Carlsbad seamed to be completely sold out. Our only chance was to get to the Caverns in the afternoon and stay may be in Artesia or so. Luckily we won 1 hour as we got to Mountain time and arrived at the Caverns around 2PM. When drove to the visitor center and entrance of the caverns we were surprised by the breathtaking view from that plateau to the south where it looked like we can view Texas from here. As a lazy elderly couple we didn’t want to walk down to the caverns, so we took the elevator. Wow – 380 ft. down into mother earth in 60 seconds. We exited the elevator and walked a few yards on a self guided tour. After a minute or so we entered the inner part of the caverns. It is hard to explain what we felt. It most be like Armstrong when he left the sphere and stood on the moon. Every explanation is worthless – this experience you have

Day 31: San Antonio - Ozona, TX

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Monday 10/2 We leave San Antonio in northerly direction on I-10 towards Carlsbad New Mexico. After a few miles we toured around some very nice new communities and checked homes and pricing. Like Houston a very attractive retirement area. Homes are about 25% of what we pay in California. We hit the road again and make a detour to Fredericksburg. This is a very cute little German village with German food and a funny German-English dialect. Of course we try a real German lunch. It is amazing how a humans taste can change. The Braten was good but we are just not in German food any more. We drive through the old town of Fredericksburg with its many little shops and restaurants and drive back onto I-10. To our big surprise Texas continues to be so green. For what ever reason we expected a desert scene but there is so much forest and green meadows. Since the sun set and we are tired we stead over in a Best Western in Ozona, a little village on I-10. To our big surprise the motels where almo

Day 30: San Antonio, TX

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Sunday 10/1 After breakfast at the river walk and a river tour I decided to take some time and update the blog while Marita does a tour through town and some shopping. For us San Antonio is the most westerly European City. We are really up for a good Texan steak. We hesitated a bid when somebody recommended a German steakhouse – “Little Rhein Steakhouse”. But it was the best Fillet on this trip so far. We walked off some calories at the river walk again which we enjoyed so much.

Day 29: San Antonio, TX

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Saturday 9/30 We leave towards San Antonio. While we stay mostly on I-10, here and there we leave the Interstate and check into little villages such as Weimar, once in a while. Most of them are pretty much down – almost ghost towns. It’s a pity to see those little villages die out. We arrive San Antonio late evening around 8PM. We called the Menger Hotel and a very friendly lady guided us via cell phone through town to find the place. When we arrive the front desk had the most professional and friendliest staff on our trip. It was late we are hungry and hope to find a restaurant on what is called “The River Walk”. We heard about it as one of the attractions in San Antonio. Wow – what a unbelievable place. It is now after 9PM and there are restaurant after restaurant packed with people – pretty much everything is outside at this gorgeous little river. And again what a high level of service in every restaurant and bar we went to. We planned to leave in the morning but decided to stay on

Day 28: Galveston, TX

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Friday 9/29 Today we don’t do anything but hang out at the beach and at the pool. In the evening we tour around old town Galveston, the Strand and have dinner in one of the many beach restaurants.

Day 27: Houston / Galveston, TX

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Thursday 9/28 After a quick breakfast we are curious about a thing called “Home Finder Center”. It is an information center about a gigantic home development called “The Woodlands”. We wanted to know what it is. New homes between 3,700 and 6,000 sft range from $250,000 to about $700,000. The homes here are probably a 10th of the price in California. The Woodlands represent “Boom Town”. The whole area around Houston is booming like nowhere else in the country. Las Vegas? A slow moving village in comparison. After we kind of digested our initial shock of living conditions here versus other places in the country we are heading towards Galveston at the Gulf coast. We don’t expect a lot since people told us it is nothing special, the gulf has oil platforms all over and it may be dirty. What a surprise when we get there. Galveston is a great beach community. The beach is perfect, the sand like powder and absolutely clean. Of course we have perfect weather conditions now in late September an

Day 26: Lousiana - Houston, TX

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Wednesday 9/27 In the morning we take I-10 out of New Orleans towards Slidell where we do a Swamp Tour. This tour is certainly one of the highlight of our trip. We are guided deep into a tropical yesterday. It feels like 2 Million Years back in time. After a few minutes the first alligator is approaching us. Captain Nolan guides us and a few other people deeper into the swamp. We are going towards a very small arm – looks like unapproachable. But we just push through the vegetation. About 100 yards further it opens up again and we are in the middle of an entirely green covered area. As the boat goes forward we see the water in the back which closes right after us. It is beautiful and hard to explain with words – even with photos. After about 3 ½ hours we return to civilization and back to current time (2006). We hit the road again and head towards Houston Texas. We pass by other villages which still lay there, destroyed from Catharina. By sun set we arrive Texas. And right immediately

Day 25: New Orleans, LA

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Tuesday 9/26 On our way to New Orleans we stopped by Brookhaven. Jackson Street has some very nice, very large plantation homes we just liked to see. And on the road again we drive south on 61 to New Orleans. Further south we missed the junction to hit the 10 and then cross Lake Pontchartrain, using the large bridge across the lake. But that was actually fortunate. We continued the 61 which is build on concrete posts and guide is to some of the swamp land. This was a very nice ride. In the afternoon we arrive at New Orleans. From I-10 we still see the devastation from Hurricane Katharina 1 year ago. Some areas look like the hurricane was yesterday while other areas are pretty much rebuilt. We missed an exit and drove through one of the poorest areas. People sit on the street and talk or wait for better times. Nobody is busy cleaning up the dirt. We enter Bourbon Street, which welcomes us with a sweet smell of trash. Now we realize that this town is not devastated by Katharina but by t

Day 24: Nashville, TN - Vicksburg, MS

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Monday 9/25 In the morning we decided to see Graceland since it is on our way towards Mississippi. As we were guided through Elvis mention we learned a lot about him and his music. Even so I wouldn’t call myself an Elvis fan – I was glad we stopped by (All the true fans forgive my ignorance). Mid day we drive down 61 towards Vicksburg. We even went a while on SR 1 and drove through hundreds of cotton fields. This road is far of any major traffic line. We mostly cross tractors and big trucks moving the large cotton bars. This is an interesting piece of America. Unlike many farm states where people complain about their lives and express some sense of jealousness Mississippi seem to prepare them for the future. This state unlike some of their neighbor states is self-confident and forward looking. In the evening we arrived in Vicksburg, a cute little town at the Mississippi River. We looked for a very hard to find place called Cedar Hills Mansion. It is one of the oldest homes in Vicksbur

Day 23: Ashville - Memphis

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Sunday 9/24 We leave Ashville very early in the morning. No more rain and we head towards Nashville Tennessee (Picture left). We arrive in Nashville this Sunday around lunch time and it feels like any other city on a Sunday at lunch time: a bid dull. We spend some time at the old fort and drive through down town where are the bars and restaurants are. It feels like we should come back on a Friday or Saturday. So we decided we hit the road again and try to make it to Memphis right in time to have fun in down town where some musical festival takes place. 3 hours later we arrive in Memphis. A very nice town. Much nicer than what people told us. There is a beautiful city center, with a trolley and coaches who brings you from place to place. Peabody near Beale Street is the heart of Memphis with endless restaurants, bars, pubs and shops. We walk from our hotel 6 blocks to where the action is. Laud music guides us in the right direction. Probably 20 or more live bands play in the various p

Day 22: Ashville, NC

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Saturday 9/23 We leave the Outer Banks in the morning after passing by a huge white dune. We cross over the water and follow SR 64 towards Raleigh where we catch I-85 and I-40 towards Ashville NC. The way goes through rolling hills, lots of forest and unfortunately heavy rain – but this was the last rain for a long time. When we arrived Ashville it was around 9PM. All we got was a room at a quality Inn (with $135, the most expensive Quality Inn on that trip). We had dinner down town at a nice little street restaurant, the New French Bar which was awesome. This town rocks. We leave around midnight and the town is still filled with people walking the streets and going from one pub to the next. There is still live music and the average age seem to be barely 21. Ashville is known for hospitals and recreation – but down town is a hip place for young people like we haven’t seen before.

Day 21: Outer Banks, NC

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Friday 9/22 We stayed at the sea ranch, left the windows open and sleep with the sounds of ever breaking waves. We spend the next day on the outer banks and simply enjoy the beach and Atlantic Ocean. We had dinner at the pelican which was the first time on the whole trip we had a really bad experience with the food – not recommended.

Day 20: Outer Banks, NC

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Thursday 9/21 After a great breakfast in the Golf Club we tour Colonial Williamsburg. We are so happy that we decided to stay here. There was so much to see that it would definitely not fit in the blog but we will describe the details later in the book. One of the most interesting take away for me was the fact that not only people live here to demonstrate the life from back then but also build everything with the tools and in the traditions from the 1600s – and also teach others those techniques like to build wagons or wheels. That way not only the houses and many artifacts but also craftsmen’s techniques are preserved for the future. In the afternoon we drive further towards Virginia Beach, stay there for a picnic and then take 168 to the Outer Banks where we stay in the Sea Ranch. Thanks to the suggestion from our friend Kurt Keese we decided to do a little detour and have 2 days at the Outer Banks. It is a beautiful place south of Virginia Beach.

Day 19: Annapolis, MD

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Wednesday 9/20 We are leaving the “Flag House” to bring our car to the Jeep dealer. We return later for breakfast. Howard, who run’s the Inn told us a bid more about his business as interim manager and we had a great morning together with Allan and Ilene another guest couple from Philadelphia. We depart from a couple of new friends. We go onto SR 311 towards York Town where we tried to catch a sunset sail tour. But as we approach York Town we just couldn’t even find the town or the harbor. No signage. We turn around and go back to Williamsburg. What a need little town. We decided to stay in the Williamsburg Inn right at the “Colonial Williamsburg” the old town with all the restored houses and people dressing in the cloth from the 1600s. We dine in the “Kings Arm”. An excellent dinner with Duck and vegetable prepared like back then – very interesting and really good.

Day 18: Annapolis, MD

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Tuesday 9/19 Due to the repair of the sun roof, we stay one more day in Annapolis. In the morning we see one of the tall ships leaving the harbor. They ship get’s pushed from the pier – sets sail and off it goes. No motor and just a light breeze. A wonderful picture. Walking by the harbor and seeing all those great sail boats is difficult. Not only because we are sailors and our ship is in California but also because the idea of doing a large tour along the US coast is shaping up. Oh well – there is so much to see. We very much enjoy the day and just hang out and relax. Annapolis moved to the top of our list of places to go for vacation.

Day 17: Washington, DC

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Monday 9/18 Today we drive up to Washington. We enter the city via SR 50 and sure enough as we come in town we see the prominent and beautiful Capitol. It is much more impressive as any of the pictures we saw suggested. The city is very busy with preparing for a big event next weekend and therefore many roads are closed. We walk to the Capitol building and later drive down to the White House. So here is made world politics. It is impressive. On our way back to Annapolis, all of a sudden our glass sunroof broke in thousand pieces. We went to a local Jeep dealer and ordered a new one. This also causes us to stay 2 more days here – but honestly: we love to stay. So far we made close to 1,000 pictures.

Day 16: Annapolis, MD

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Sunday 9/17 We just relax in Annapolis. The first day after about a week of rain with all day sun and blue skies. Annapolis is really vacation. A cute town with one restaurant after the other, all with outside tables and service. It is a perfect September day, 78F low humidity and a very lively vacation town. Also a good day to update our diary while hanging out at the porch, watching sailors and their girl friends come and go. Here are a bunch of nice restaurants – but the insiders tip was Phillips. And yes – it was a perfect dinner. We stay in the Flag House, which is a very nice Bed & Breakfast run be equally nice people. The Inn keepers are on vacation and Howard and his wife are perfect hosts.

Day 15: Pittsburgh, PA - Annapolis, MD

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Saturday 9/16 From Somerset we drive down SR 711 towards Falling Water – the only publicly accessible Frank Lloyd Write home that is preserved in it’s original design and interior d├ęcor. The home is in the middle of a forest about 2 hours from Pittsburgh. It was built in 1936 for the Kaufmanns, a department store owner from Pittsburgh. Falling Water is s Mecca for all fans of Frank Lloyd Write and contemporary architecture. The well architected home with guest house and servant tract was built in the 30’s for about 30,000 Dollars. Rather than building it facing the present waterfall it was actually built over it. Back on 711 we are heading towards Washington DC and Annapolis where we decided to stay for a few days. We plan to make trips to the capitol and explore the area from here. The weather is getting a bid better but heavy rain showers in Washington. We arrive Washington at around 7PM. The highway is like a race track. Average speed seemed to be around 80mph – cars, trucks, poli

Day 14: Cleveland, OH - Pittsburgh, PA

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Friday 9/15 We arrive at the border to Pennsylvania and go to the visitor center. A sign welcomes us: "smile - you are in Pennsylvania". Yes it feels good. We check the visitor center and are advised by a very friendly and helpful lady to swing by Pittsburgh if we can. OK – so we change our plans and instead going I-80 straight to Philadelphia we go to Pittsburgh. Unlike other industrial towns Pittsburgh is very lively and very much into cultural events. Groups are playing misic on the street and everybody seam to be busy to arrive in time at the theatre or opera or what ever the event is. People are pretty elegantly dressed. They only thing that was very surprising to us was the fact that stores close at 5PM have some store hours on Saturday and are completely closed on Sunday. Now we understand the hectic in town. It very much reminded us on the days where we were in stress ourselves back in the days when we lived in Europe to buy what we needed for the weekend – never go

Day 13: Valparaiso, IN - Cleveland, OH

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Thursday 9/14 After a great breakfast at Bob Evans we hit the road again. We take Hwy 30 through the Aimish Land, or how they say life on the past lane. Very interestiPhotos ang. There are many homes with no currency. Every energy is based on what they create and natural gas. We stop at a local store. An Aimish coach with a horse is tied to the wood bar and aimish dressed people are inside. We feel a bid misplaced but are treated very friendly. The only light: a gas pipe with a little white sock generating a very bright white light. We've never seen such a "lamp" before. We continue slowly through that area. Photos and some more info will follow. Back on I-80 we are going towards Ohio. Toledo - Sandusky - Cleveland. Posters say "we can do better" or "we need to try harder". We stay in a Marriott at the Airport and leave Ohio early in the morning.

Day 12: Valparaiso, IN

Wednesday 9/13 We stay one more day in Valparaiso in our hotel and hope the weather is getting better. It is still grey and raining. We use the day to relax, update the blog and recap our tour. So far it was a wonderful experience. We feel we learned a lot about the different areas and the equally different people. As we talk to waitresses or Inn owner, people on gas stations or just people we bump into – all theses states are different countries under one country. Live in Wyoming with all the vast nature and wild live is so different compared to the agricultural focused Iowa or South Dakota and again so different to Wisconsin or Illinois. The further east we come the rougher are the people. Ordering a coffee in Milwaukee is very different than ordering a coffee in California. There is no friendly voice that explains you where you find cream and sugar. Without any word you get your cup, you pay and go. Once in a while we do the “Where do we retire” Game. The rules are: “pick any place

Day 11: Milwaukee, WI - Chicago, IL

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Tuesday 9/12 From Milwaukee to Chicago along the scenic “Lake Front Drive”. We dropped off here and there to go closer to the Lake and followed the Sheridan Road. Here are homes like nowhere before. There are literally hundreds (100+) of exclusive mansions. No I’m not exaggerating – there is one large home next to the other on 1+ acres of land 10+ rooms. They are built in the style of King Louis or one of the British or Dutch dukes. And even those range in the $500k area. And when we enter Chicago we are greeted by a super modern city at beautiful Lake Michigan. As we review the trip so far we begin to understand what Gov. Schwarzenegger means when he said “Let’s recreate California”. Compared to so many States we feel we are behind. Those northern states are cleaner and way less expensive to live in. The streets up here are very well maintained. Given that there is no high tech industry that delivers technology world wide and there is worst weather conditions to deal with – Californi

Day 10: Minneapolis, MN - Milwaukee, WI

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Monday 9/11 We watch the 9/11 tragedy review in NBC and start a little later today. We remind ourselves that this nation is about freedom. It is not about capitalism or democracy per se. It is not about wealth, ownership, technology, development or all the other attributes people explain America with – all this comes as a gift as long as we maintain freedom. Most of us rather die than compromise freedom. Our buildings, our people, our advanced civilization is based on freedom – and that can’t be taken away by terrorists no matter what they try – no matter how hard they try to hit us. Back on I-94 we go towards Milwaukee. Unfortunately it is still raining, grey sky and foggy. When we enter the city we a greeted by the Miller Stadium to the right which is very impressive. Also Milwaukee is very impressive metropolis with outstanding homes north of the city at the lake shore. These homes are majestic. Not like the small homes in Palo Alto or the more modern homes in Woodside – they are b

Day 9: Sioux Falls, SD - Minneapolis, MN

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Sunday 9/10 It continues to be very foggy and rainy. We walk down the Sioux Falls which are great to see, walk through and just imagine the water would be clean. Around lunch time we hit the road again and drive I-90 further east and try to reach Minneapolis in the evening. The rain is getting ever stronger and sight is really bad. Since we are taking it easy, we slowed down, and drove exactly 50 using the auto pilot. Trucks are passing by with an enormous air pressure when they approached us. I’m sure some thought “Look at those Californians, not used to rain ho ho ho…” We stopped at Cracker Barrel for a late lunch/early dinner. As we approached Minneapolis, it stopped raining and cleared up a bid. Minneapolis - Wow, what a city. Very modern, very clean. Glass towers right and left well mixed with older but very well maintained brick office buildings. This city feels like an emerging modern business metropolis. Also there is a nice city center with bars, restaurants, shops. We dro

Day 8: Keystone, SD - Sioux Falls, SD

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Saturday 9/9 RAIN!!! The first day the weather turns bad. On the road again, we drive back to Rapid City and go on 90 east. The fog is so thick that we decided to skip the Bad Lands. We drove pretty much all day with less exciting weather towards Sioux Falls. As we approached Chamberlain it got brighter and we stopped by the Missouri river before we crossed him. This was a long ride. Boring? Not at all - it is so different. It also helped us a bid more to understand the mental and social discrepancies between the Native Americans and the Euro Americans who took over the land. We arrived late afternoon and found a very nice and very contemporary restaurant - some you won't expect in South Dakota. Excellent Pizza.

Day 7: Buffalo, WY - Keystone, SD

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Friday 9/8 We get up early and leave for our next target: Mount Rushmore near Rapid City, SD. We continue I-90. The land get’s flatter, yet more green. We called I-90 rabbit death road. If we would have counted it would probably be 100 dead rabbits on the road. That was depressing. The rolling hills went on and on and we saw more and more farms right and left of the Interstate. We arrived in Keystone and Mount Rushmore at lunch time. Even so the picture is so well known – it is impressive to see it in reality. Since every hotel offers Internet access we decided to stay here in Keystone in the Mount Rushmore President’s View resort. A relaxing lunch break allowed us to watch tourists leaving and entering their respective busses from New York, Chicago and California. We used this afternoon for updating the blog, uploading photos, do some laundry and relax. It’s our first week now on the road. 1,809 miles so far, about 600 pictures taken and the second time we have Internet. We saw so

Day 6: Cody - Buffalo, WY

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Thursday 9/7 Our original plan was to get up early, drive to Buffalo, WY and relax for the rest of the day. But after we heard about the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, we had to go there. And we spend the whole morning. This museum is good for a 3 day tour. Extremely well done, it shows the history of W.F. Cody aka Buffalo Bill, Indian History, literally thousands of guns (over 2,800), Art and other things from the area. This is a ‘must see – can’t skip’ if you are in the area. Overwhelmed with impressions we left towards Buffalo. A ride through ever alternating mountains and deserts. Wyoming gas is less expensive then in California or Nevada, except Buffalo. You have to buy gas before you get there – it is 50 cents more expensive than Sheridan 20 mile s away. We decided to stop over in … about 10 miles outside Buffalo. Johnny … a Vietnam Veteran is running the place – a beautiful secluded lodge right at a creek with a little fish pond. After a great dinner we went to our cabin, turne

Day 5: Yellowsone - Cody, WY

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Wednesday 9/6 We started the morning with a quick trip to Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. It is really a grand canyon. It’s a bid hazy so that the photos won’t be really good – but we carry the pictures in our heart. From here we start the tour going north towards Mammoth and its terrace springs. The geysers make it like we are on another planet. It looks like ice, salt, copper and many other ingredients out of a chemical kitchen. Some of the many little ponds are dried out but it still looks very impressive. We continue towards Old Faithful, pass by many other geyser spots with incredible colors and end this day tour through Yellowstone at the West Thumb, the place we were too lazy to stop yesterday. We liked those geysers most. They were very approachable, so clear and deep it was just amazing. Since we couldn’t stay another night in the park, we had to proceed – actually as planned – to Cody, the next town after the east entrance of the park. We called the Mayer’s Inn, that we will

Day 4: Jackson, WY - Yellow Stone

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Tuesday 9/5 In the morning we have a continental Breakfast with great cake at the Jackson Inn and leave for the Great Teton Park. How ever we do a nice little detour about 5 miles after Jackson straight into the tundra north of Jackson - now we really appreciate the 4 wheeler. From far we saw a large herd of buffalos and following a trace we come closer and closer. We keep a distance of about 1/2 mile and shot down the engine. There is nothing but the wind, the smell of the herd and about 50 buffalos that ignore us. The wind comes west so they won't smell us - but we surely smell them. We just sit on the roof of the Jeep and watch them. This is so wonderful, our greatest experience so far. We return to the road and go further north towards Teton Lake. The Tetons are so majestic and impressive because they come strait out of the ground and raise to their full size with no other mountain or even hill in between. We follow the lake, have a break at the lake and continue to Yello

Day 3: American Falls - Jackson, WY

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Monday 9/4 We left the Giesbrechts with the feeling like we are leaving some of our relatives. After a great breakfast with superb waffles we went back onto I-86 east. The 3rd gas station on our tour was in Idaho Falls. Gas is getting a bid less expensive than in California. We continued to pass potato fields and seed producers. And I have to say we heard often people belittling Idaho and their potato farmers, but being here it feels more like a professional breed of people who developed very sophisticated methods of optimizing irrigation, seeding, growing and harvesting in every possible way. In Idaho Falls we pass by high tech tractor dealers and many seed and produce manufacturer who probably looked very different just 10 years ago. After turning onto HWY 26 we pass by many corn fields which are looking like gold – isn’t California the Golden State? The further east we come the more mountain we see and the greener it gets. More and more trees and higher up into the mountains. Qui