The Road Trip’s started and things couldn’t be going better! Saturday morning March 3rd we met up with friends at the Smoke Shop in Ballard for a good greasy spoon breakfast of Chicken Fried Steak and eggs. By 8am we had hit the road, goodbye Ballard - we’ll miss you! Off to St. Maries, Idaho to visit Jennifer’s friend Lisa Spinelli and her husband Mike and daughter Macy. The roads where clear and dry with the only problem being the “Service Engine Soon” light coming on just after we got gas in Ellensburg. But with the Van running nicely and all the gauges in the green we just ignored it and kept right going.

First stop on the day was to see the world’s largest Radio Flyer wagon. Story is that this larger than life childhood symbol of hours and hours of fun is an amazing stage for views of the Riverfront park with stairs at the back end and the handle is a slide for the quick escapes.

* * Created for the Centennial Celebration of Children - 1989

* * Dimensions - 12’ high x 12’ wide x 27’ long.

* * Weight - 26 tons.

* * Made of steel and*reinforced concrete.

* * Will hold as many as 300 people supporting 100 lbs. per square foot.

* * 43” high edges

This park was beautiful and if you are ever looking for something to do, head on over to Spokane and spend the day wandering around the park, checking out the Spokane Falls, enjoying a carousel ride, and eating a picnic lunch in the park. They’ve done a great job with this city park. Within the park we found an unexpected “Worlds Largest” thing that surely must get on everyone’s list.

The Garbage Goat - I can’t imagine there is a larger one anywhere in the world. This piece of art will actually eat up garbage! The Garbage Goat in Riverfront Park was designed by Sister Paula Turnbull, a Catholic nun, for Expo ‘74 as a recycling/environment statement. This corten steel sculpture of a goat will eat small pieces of trash with the aid of its vacuum digestive system. Don’t throw your garbage on the ground, feed it to the Garbage Goat.

Back on the road we headed into Idaho and then down 95 to St. Maries where we found a very large statue of Paul Bunyan, not as big as the one on the California coast and no Babe the Blue Ox in sight. Never the less, it’s a huge piece of art unexpected on our travels. Finally, we found some snow on the road as we pulled into the Spinelli’s for visiting and dinner - a great couple with a wonderful 2 year old daughter Macy. Thanks for the visit!

Monday morning we hit the road for Billings, Montana - but our first stop was in Kellogg, Idaho for the worlds largest Miner’s Hat. Originally built as a local diner it now houses a reality office that hadn’t opened for business yet, so no tour of the hat/diner/reality office. Into the mountains we went with clear roads and sunny skies. As we motored along with the “Service Engine Soon” light still on we realized that our cruising plans had started a bit early.

We’ve been telling everyone that once on a boat in the Chesapeake we’ll cruise there until things start warming up. “We’ll follow 60 degrees North” is the phrase - as the temps warm up to 60 degrees we’ll follow it North. But right now, all through Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Montana it’s 60 degrees! Expecting snow, ice and cold temps we’ve been shocked and blessed by some amazingly warm and sunny weather. Looking ahead to Wednesday in Boulder the temps are forecast to hit 70 degrees!

Besides the world’s largest blue sky, our route through Montana didn’t offer us anything in the way of the world’s largest attractions. We stopped at the headwaters of the Missouri River and contemplated the city of Gallatin, Montana. Formed in the 1800’s as the last stop for freight on the Missouri River, boats had actually brought freight all the way up the river and transferred it into stage coaches for the completion of its’ trip. Soon the railway replaced the stage and river boat freight lines and without a train station in Gallatin the town quickly fell apart. Now a beautiful park, you can visit the site of the town and view what’s left of the old barns and buildings. Amazing country Montana.

After lunch and a swim for MacIntosh in the Jefferson River we hit the road again for the afternoon drive through Butte, to Billings, Montana, our first Hotel night on the trip. “Service Engine Soon” light still blaring at us, wind at our back we chewed up the miles with Montana’s 75 mph speed limit and $3.20 gas.

Now MacIntosh is a pet, not a working/hunting lab but our companion who is usually spoiled by sleeping indoors and waking us up in the morning with hugs and tongue licks. Tuesday morning was extra special for MacIntosh as our room had 2 double beds and he had one all to himself, imagine that! We woke up MacIntosh with hugs and kisses Tuesday morning, packed the van and hit the road for our trip South to Boulder, Colorado and Jennifer’s college friend Lori Ostrow. Surprisingly hilly and at a high altitude the Van burned a bit more fuel than normal as it pushed up the hills against the building Southerly breeze. But not to worry as gas in eastern Wyoming is only $3.09 per gallon! It’s octane is lower, at 85, but with the high altitude the van still runs great and before long the “Service Engine Soon” light went out - who woulda thunk?

The “largest thing” for us to visit on our drive through Wyoming was found in the Town of Douglas just South of Casper. The Worlds Largest Jackalope - yep a Jackalope. Now a Jackalope isn’t a real creature to most of us, but in Douglas it’s as real as that house down the street. The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore (a so-called "fearsome critter") described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers and sometimes a pheasant's tail (and often hind legs). Reportedly, Jackalopes are extremely shy unless approached. Legend also has it that female Jackalopes can be milked as they sleep belly up and that the milk can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It has also been said that the Jackalope can convincingly imitate any sound, including the human voice. It uses this ability to elude pursuers, chiefly by using phrases such as "There he goes! That way!" During days of the Old West, when cowboys gathered by the campfires singing at night, Jackalopes could often be heard mimicking their voices. It is said that a Jackalope may be caught by putting a flask of whiskey out at night. The Jackalope will drink its fill of whiskey and its intoxication will make it easier to hunt. In some parts of the United States it is said that Jackalope meat has a taste similar to lobster. However, legend has it that they are dangerous if approached. It has also been said that Jackalopes will only breed during electrical storms including hail, explaining its rarity. With these cautions in mind we felt it was prudent to only have our pictures taken with a replica of a Jackalope - a statue in the middle of town.

The Tuesday drive over once safely in Boulder, Colorado we visited Lori had dinner and made plans for a daytime hike and tour of Boulder’s fine happy hour establishments while enjoying a bluebird day in the mile high city. Bluebird and 72 degrees! We had to dig down low into our bags to find our summer cloths. Expecting winter conditions all across the country we had packed cold weather cloths on top and in our shore bags. Time for shorts and flips - should be an amazing visit to Colorado.