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Day 22, 6400 Miles, 14 States, 12 National Parks...


That's the stats from the road so far...  I will touch briefly on the weather this post after a long post last time, and then get into the road trip.

The Weather:

We saw a cool down this weekend with a cold front that brought some high winds on the lake Saturday.  High pressure will build back in this week with temperatures in the 80's to near 90 returning.  

There has been smoke around the area blowing in from the CA fires.  We could see a brief break midweek with some East winds, and then the smoke could return later in the week as high pressure shifts East.

The Winter:

I don't have too much to post this week.  We are waiting to see how things line up as we head towards the fall.  No changes in the thinking on a weak/moderate modoki El Nino for the Winter. 

I have been reading a lot of posts in the weather world and looking at a lot of long-range forecast models.  As we know from past Summers the long-range forecast models are horrible at forecasting the Winter.  I prefer to look at what has happened historically under similar patterns, and then see if any models support that pattern happening again.

Unfortunately right now the 14/15 and 06/07 seasons are falling into the analog years.  Ugh...  Here is a look at the Canadian long-range pattern forecast for mid-winter.


That looks a lot like a classic weak/moderate modoki el nino pattern.  So no hype for this Winter the way it looks right now...

The Road:

During the last post we had just arrived in South Dakota after leaving Yellowstone.  Last Sunday we went to Wind Caves National Park.  The main point of the park is that it is a huge underground cave system.  So we spent most of the time underground touring the cave.


There is some interesting Native American history with the cave, and early settler history.  The Cave system is so big there are still doing expeditions and mapping new areas! 

One of my favorite parts of the tour was looking the the natural entrance that can predict the weather.  The cave system is so big that when low pressure systems move in it blows out air, and then sucks in air when high pressure systems move in.


The next day we headed up to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  They have a badlands area that is actually older than the badlands area in the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  With the painted hills and petrified forest areas, it almost felt like a piece of Arizona in North Dakota.

painted hills

We had fun staying in Medora and exploring the old town and Teddy Roosevelt's cabin.  I didn't know the story before, about how he traveled on a train to North Dakota after his wife and mother passed away on the same day.  Then he fell in love with the West as he explored and eventually created 23 National Parks when he became president.

Here's the kids getting in more history lessons!


While we are driving I'm always telling the kids things from history that I know.  They roll their eyes now.  My wife said maybe I shouldn't start off by saying, "Hey kids, I have a history lesson for you", before I start my rant.  Ha ha.

From there we traveled towards Voyageurs National Park.  We stopped for the night in the small town of Bemidji, Minnesota.  Then the next morning we headed up to Voyageurs National Park. 

Most of the park is surrounded by water so it's best if you have a boat.  All we have is a 2 person kayak...so we spent the day driving around to different areas where you could hike out to different lakes in the park.  Here is a cool lake we stopped at to have lunch on a ledge above the lake.


After stacking up 11 National Parks in a row, we now had a long drive to the next one in Ohio.  I have always wanted to drive through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  There is a mountain up there called Powderhorn.  They only had 150" of snow this year, but some Winters they can see 300+ inches of snow from the lake effect snow bands!  I'd love to ski it someday.

We stayed the night Southeast of Duluth on Iron Lake.  We were able to get in some time kayaking and fishing.



Before this trip I had never stayed in any of these campgrounds.  It's fun seeing the different areas and making notes of good ones.  Iron Lake was at the top of my list!

We then drove over to Munising to camp on the beach.  I was excited to go to the beach, but of course by the time we got there it was rainy, cold, and windy...  Here is a look at Grand Island from the site.

grand island

We have somehow stayed behind the cold fronts and had cool weather most of the trip.  Here is a look at a big thunderstorm we drove straight into.  High winds, blinding rain, and hail.  I think we only got 6 miles to the gallon driving through this storm, it was a white knuckler!


What do you do when it's raining?  Go shopping for supplies and out to dinner.  Just so happened it was Lux's 4th birthday so we took her to Red Lobsmer as she calls it, since she kept asking the last 3 months to go there for her birthday.  Mainly because she likes to look in the tank at the lobsters at the entrance, haha.

red lobster

The next day we drove down to Houghton lake just to stay for the night, and then onto Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio.  We spent the day there yesterday.  My wife loved the park.  She loves the deciduous forests since she grew up in the pine trees of CA.  She said it was her favorite park, but I think she was biased because she loves the color green.

There was plenty of that, here is a pic of her in the ledges area where we explored the rocks.


Here's another look at the ledges...


There are also some cool waterfalls to explore and take a dip in...


You can always find me talking to an old ranger about the history of the area.  I got a long talk about the history of the Canal system that allowed you to go from New York to New Orleans back in the 1800's. 

Overall the park was surprisingly fun and beautiful.  There was even a little ski hill, and I mean LITTLE...  Not on my top 10 list of ski resorts to hit, haha.

ski hill

Saturday we drove to the Poconos in Pennsylvania.  That's where I learned how to ski as a kid.  We stayed in a nice wooded campground in the town of Dalton.  We drove through Heart Lake where my uncle used to have a cabin that we would spend time at when I was younger, and sometimes ski Elk Mountain.  

Today we drove through some old towns in Northeast Pennsylvania and Southern New York as we cut over to the NY state thruway up to Northeastern NY.  We saw the largest concrete bridge in the Eastern U.S. which was the highlight of the drive.  Then up to Ausable Chasm campground near Port Kent where we will take the ferry tomorrow morning over to Vermont!

We did walk over to the Chasm to take a few pictures.  We didn't pay the $100 to go inside the gated trails.  Seems kind of crazy after accessing free trails in National Parks for 3 weeks...  But it was a beautiful view from the bridge.

waterfall chasm

Here is the map of the trip so far as of day 22, 6500 miles, 14 states, and 12 National Parks into the trip!


Avery is still doing a good job as co-pilot when my wife is sleeping.  And yes she is still eating very well with nightly leftovers...  She even met her twin last night!


That's all for now.  I hope you are all enjoying following along as we are waiting for Winter to return soon!  I'm enjoying all the emails and comments from your trips and comments on mine from places you have been.  Thank you!  We will hit Acadia National Park this week which is the last park until we take a 2 week break in NJ.  I'll update on that next weekend.

Stay tuned...BA