The Badlands -A Thirty Million Year Study Of Erosion 

September 18, 2017

It was the Lakota Indians who populated the area of the Black Hills of South Dakota to first call this place “mako sica” or bad land. It was a story of extreme temperatures,  lack of water and very rugged, exposed terrain. The unique geography was formed when soft sedimentary rock was extensively eroded in a dry climate by wind, ice and snow. This resulted in a vast scenery of sharp spires, deep gullies, and ridges making up the “Badlands”.

It is ruggedly spectacular, multi-colored and seemingly altogether inhospitable.

But on closer look, there is of course a long history of life in the Badlands, both human and otherwise. There is a rich and diverse variety of plants and wildlife. Coyotes,  butterflies, turtles, vultures, snakes, bluebirds, bison and prairie dogs abound.

We personally came across Bighorn Sheep and Prairie Dogs aplenty, and saw more than one sign warning of rattlesnakes.

Much of the land was homesteaded years ago, but it was a harsh life and many of the early settlers gave up their stakes after years of hardship and near starvation. 

Some of their descendants today however, live on area ranches and run good size herds of sheep and cattle. Surprisingly there is a good amount of native grassland which support ranchers without their having to supplement with other feeds.

The area was established as a National Monument by Presidential proclamation in 1939 and designated a National Park in 1978 thus preserving the scenery, wildlife, and indigenous plants found in the over 244,000 acres of the White River Badlands. It’s there for you and me to see and enjoy. We’ve done it, now it’s your turn!

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.


Amber Waves Of Grain

September 17, 2017

I never really visualized the ‘Amber waves of grain’ made famous in the favorite American patriotic song, America The Beautiful till we drove through Eastern Washington, the Idaho panhandle, Northern Montana and South Dakota. It’s miles and miles of wheat fields and prairie grass. Believe it or not, it is beautiful.

It seems like a large part of farmers’ time is spent growing food for their animals -hopefully enough to last through those long cold winters. You see these big rolls of hay harvested, rolled into these circular bales and left out in the pastures for harsher times, all over the place.

BTW, speaking of long cold winters, we hit a 3-day spell of rain and 30-40 ° weather, in mid-September! This is tough to take for us Hawaii-kine guys. Once we left Kalispell, Montana it turned unseasonably cold. We ended up driving longer many days than we really wanted to but the towns we were driving through were small, small and offered not much reason to stop for the night.

But Sturgis, South Dakota is world renown for everything motorcycle, especially Harley Davidson. Luckily we missed the annual Sturgis Rally held the first week every August, or we would not have been able to find a motel, hotel, campsite, or any other place to lay our heads because the population explodes during that time!

A really sweet Indian Motorcycle

The  normal population of Sturgis is around 8,000 but during the rally, sometimes known as the Black Hills Motorcycle Classic it swells to 750,000! Like I said, we weren’t sad to miss those crowds and we’re looking forward to the Badlands National Park tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.

The Pie Hut & Other Finds

September 14, 2017

Before we left home we did some research, namely where to eat! It’s one of the best parts of road tripping after all. We found an online guide to US Hwy 2 which is one of the main East-West (or in our case, West to East) highways crisscrossing these great United States. The online guide is called Moon’s Road Trip USA, the Great Northern Highway 2. It’s gives you a short narrative of the towns you’ll be passing through, the main attractions or not, and then they provide recommendations on bars & restaurants. A quick cross reference with Trip Advisor and away we go.

The Pie Hut was not mentioned in Moon’s however, so it’s a lucky thing I spotted it out of the corner of my eye and amidst all my navigator duties. It required a quick U-turn, but the pies are mainly for the driver, so no harm, no foul. The place was lunch-time packed and they serve awesome sandwices too, but we managed to walk out with a whole strawberry-rhubarb pie!

Anyway The Pie Hut was in Sandpoint, Idaho. That was just for snacking. By dinner we were in Kalispell, Montana and Indian Nickel Charlie’s came up #1 for eats in this town.

At this point we’d only been on the road about 4 days but we’ve figured out they give much bigger portions here on the mainland than at home in Hawaii. With that in mind I ordered a chef salad and Mick ordered a rib eye steak. Lotta good that did. There must have been a quarter pound of cheddar cheese and an equal amount of ham on my salad! 

Oh and did I mention the gambling?
About 25 years ago when we last travelled this area I don’t remember any casinos, but now they’re everywhere. We didn’t go into the casino at Nickel Charlie’s, but I won a free beer (great microbrews everywhere too) at the bar in the “One Shake-a-Day” game. You roll six dice. Five of a kind wins the pot ($412 at that time). I thought the odds heavily favored the house, but what the heck, it’s only 50c so we each took a turn. Mickey went bust, but I rolled 4 threes & a six. Voila! One free microbrew for the lady.

Unfortunately the next day was the day we’d planned to make The Drive To The Sun into the West side of Glacier National Park, but there are several forest fires all over the place and they just closed the park and evacuated West Glacier. Bummer! I remember the spectacular views from years ago so this is very disappointing. We woke up today with the plan to drop down and try the East Glacier entrance, but the weather had changed. Now besides the terrible visibility from the smoke, it was now rainy & cold. Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes with travel. Tomorrow we’ll start toward Mt. Rushmore (may take us about 3 days), and hopefully it’s still there with all the lefty-prog America haters tearing down our historical monuments trying to change us into their socialistic, communist paradise.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.

Frank’s Diner- Once An Old Pullman Car, Now Spokane’s Favorite Breakfast Spot

September 13, 2017

Car NO. 1787 (downtown car), a Pullman, served as a presidential car until it was replaced in 1931.

Stranded in Seattle at the height of the depression, NO. 1787 found a new home. Frank Knight, the brother and sometime partner of Jack Knight of Spokane, bought the presidential car and converted it into a diner car in 1931. They spent $1 million dollars in refurbishment and have done a great job. Today they hold the distinction of being voted the best breakfast in the Spokane 18 years running!


Their fried green tomatoes

The counter area of the dining car

We’re sort of boring, me anyway, and usually end up getting the same old thing for breakfast: 2 eggs over easy, toast and hasbrowns since they don’t normally serve rice with eggs like we get at home. But from the photo of the fried green tomatoes above you can see I should have splurged. By the way, you also get your choice of gravy and/or fried onions on the potatoes which I did partake of. Yum! Oh yeah, there were a few pancakes thrown in too.

Needless to say we skipped lunch.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.

We Arrived at Seatac (Settle-Tacoma Airport) Early

September 11, 2017

This may be a first. We arrived in Seattle almost an hour early, which is good because the flight was not all that comfortable. Alaskan Airlines does NOT provide blankets or pillows ~even in ‘clasé primero’. This is very disappointing for me because I’m always cold on airplanes. And of course the food as usual, in first class sorta sucks.

I have to say good ole Hawaiian Air is much better, but the bummer is having to going through Honolulu (adding at least 2 hrs to your total time) as opposed to Alaska which flies direct from Kona to Seattle. On Hawaiian Air you get FREE meals, no matter which side of the curtain you find yourself, every bit as good as in 1st class on Alaskan. And by just buying “extra comfort” seats you get a blanket & pillow too. Lesson learned.

So we get to the hotel, just a quick over-nighter till we pick-up our rental car the next morning. Short story – we miss the fresh air provided by wide-open windows that we get to experience every night at home in Waikoloa. Naturally the windows in the hotel don’t open. The AC is either too cold or not cool enough and the only blanket on the bed is a 3-inch thick down duvet. Bottom line:  not a terribly comfortable night.

Nevertheless the next morning about an hour outside of Seattle proper we’re amongst big beautiful trees. The sky was clear blue, at least until we descended Steven’s Pass (less than 5,000 elevation at the crest) where the smoke from the local fires reminded us of the vog at home, ugh!

Still we’re on the open road and we’re managing to cope with the situation among the pretty big beautiful trees, and all of a sudden it got a lot easier:

That’s right, Washington State has pretty much a carté blanche on all things pakalolo, as the sign says. At home I’ve recently been using a fairly mild CBD oil to help me sleep, (Hawaii has legal medical marijuana) so I figured, what the heck and we stopped. Show a photo I’D and that’s all there is to it.

Front Street in Leavenworth

The rest of the day was good and when we reached Leavenworth, WA with a wide variety of local micro-brews and lots of good German food we decided to spend the night. And a good night it was.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.

Calling All Adventure Seekers ~ “Budget Travel To Destinations Your Mother Would Rather You Stayed Away From”.

June 24, 2017

They call themselves Young Pioneer Tours, renowned and rated as one of the best North Korea travel operators and the one that lured young, impressionable Otto Warmbier to his ultimate death. Warmbier traveling on his own picked up the tour in Beijing. To quote Esquire Magazine, North Korea is not just another piece of pop culture. This despite what adventure you may be seeking or what you’ve seen of Dennis Rodman yukking it up with Fat-Boy. The obvious, stated by The Washington Post is that “the gulag of the Soviet Union, the concentration camps of Nazi Germany — they have been roughly replicated in North Korea. The whole world knows this…and yet the regime lives on”.


Young Pioneer’s Facebook page had this to say after Warmbier’s demise:

“The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier’s life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists. Now, the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high.”

Ya think? Warmbier, the 22-year-old university student was medically evacuated from North Korea on 13 June and flown to the US. Warmbier had been jailed in North Korea after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after allegedly went into a staff-only area of the hotel and tore down a propaganda banner hanging on the wall, intending to steal it. He was returned to the US after 17 months in a state of ‘unresponsive wakefulness’ – effectively brain-dead where he died on June 19th. His parents have elected not to have an autopsy.

Is it a coincidence or are there freighting similarities between Young Pioneer Tours and Young Pioneers under the old USSR? That group of Young Pioneers according to Wikipedia, was a mass youth organization of the Soviet Union for children ages 10–15 that existed between 1922 and 1991. Young Pioneer camp was the name for the vacation or summer camp organized by the Communist Party for children in the 20th century these camps existed in many socialist countries, particularly in the USSR. The adolescents then typically join the Young Communist League. Prior to the 1990s there was a wide cooperation between pioneer and similar movements of about 30 countries, and not all of them communist. There were/are similar groups in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Nepal, Portugal, Sweden, and the US, where individual state districts continue the Marxist-Leninist tradition of supporting local youth chapters including the Texas, New York, Ohio, and Connecticut districts.

Is the attraction for this type of “adventure” the result of the garbage multiculturistic naiveté instilled in young people these days? I’m not sure, but whatever it was didn’t work out so well for young Otto.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.

Last Thoughts, Comments & Photos of Thailand

March 10, 2017

We are home now from our Thai adventure, but there are a few thoughts & many images I’d still like to share before I revert back to the usual conservative political commentary that I normally spew. It was a great trip but an absolute killer two days of flying home. Too damn long in airports and in the air but given the distance I guess it can’t be helped. This will be my last Thailand post.

Imagine dinnertime approaching and you don’t feel like cooking (me nearly every night). I don’t mind cooking, but every night? Ugh! So what if you could just step out your door, walk a few steps (a block or two at the most), and have a variety fresh-cooked, hot & cold food to choose from? You can, street food is everywhere in Thailand!

If you don’t like what you see just walk a little further. There are people prepping and cooking almost everything imaginable along every street from morning till night. When it’s over 90° a fresh squeezed, iced pomegranate or tangerine juice (for a little over a dollar) goes down really well.

Ice cold pomegranate juice

There’s all kinds of meat on skewers; chicken, shrimp or pork either small pieces or minced and mixed with various spices & condiments and then fire roasted. Spicy green papaya salad is another favorite. And there are quite a few unidentifiable choices. You either go for it or you don’t.

This lady has a selection of curries and some roasted pork

Seafood from the night market

Khaw Soi -a dish I made in my cooking class

Typical condiments which accompany many meals

Being in Chiang Mai for ten days (still a city, but much smaller than Bangkok) gave us enough time to find a few favorite spots to eat. One was an open-air restaurant as most of them are, called Ugo. It was a good place to people-watch and the food was great. One of the regular waitresses at Ugo spoke very good English. We complimented her and asked where she learned to speak it so well. Turns out her mother sent her to Catholic school from 4th grade on specifically because they had a rigorous English requirement. I asked her if she was Catholic. “Oh no, I’m Buddhist” as are 93% of the Thai people.

Chicken wings from Ugo

A refreshing & cool cucumber, apple & mint drink also from Ugo

We did spend the majority of our time in cities but also got away a bit too. There just wasn’t enough time but we did visit a village of hill tribes where the people still live in the old way. Following are some photos of the hill tribe people and where they live.

Nearly 50% of the arable land in Thailand is in rice

A Kayan Hill Tribe “long neck lady”

Typical thatched homes of the Hill tribe people

And finally the ancient town of Ayutthaya about 80 miles north of Bangkok and the old capital of Siam, and Baan Thai House, my favorite spot of the trip.

Our room at Baan Thai House. Note the light-leak around the doors. The teak building if very old.

A peak-a-boo view of our cottage over the pond

We had a great, busy three weeks, saw many interesting things and experienced new and different foods, but as always it’s great to be back in Hawaii.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

~Psst, tired of politics? Check out Travel in the Categories drop down menu (right side panel) for my blogs posted from interesting locations during my travel adventures.

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