1968 Summer Trip Journal – Part 2

[I threw together the featured image in Paint. It is called Tornado Sky, and represents my recall of the colors I saw the evening before the storm hit.]

6/16/68 Sunday 8:00 PM PDT
mileage: 48788
Rancho Overnite Camping, Lovelock, Nevada.

We got out of Berkeley around 11:30. Most of the trip was hot, except when we went though the Sierras, where it got a little cooler. The road was a good divided freeway most of the way, and our speed averaged close to 50mph.

9:10PM

After driving through desolate Nevada for 5 or 6 hours, we finally found a place to stay near Lovelock (and also railroad tracks). The complex includes a service station, motel and bar. We do have showers here. At first the men wanted to go to a public pool in Lovelock for a swim instead of a shower, but we found the pool closed (open 1 to 7 PM). Dad bought some ice cream and sherbet so we had, at least, a dessert. Tomorrow we plan to plow towards Yellowstone via Craters of the Moon.

6/17/68 Monday 10:30 PM MDT
mileage: 49335
Heise Hot Springs Campground, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Today we drove for almost 11 hours and almost 550 miles. The terrain was just like yesterday and also the temperature. I suggested we push onward to this place, and we did. This is a nice little place with hot and warm pools. Sherman and I were able to get in a swim. Liz found a kitten and tried to repair its damaged tail. First she tried a bandaid with bacitracin. Mom finally convinced Liz to put out the kitten, but she’s still fussing about it. Liz got sunburned very badly today and is fussing about that too. She wants me to hurry up and turn out the light. [Love you, my sister!]

6/19/68 Wednesday 6:00AM MDT
mileage: 49548
Bridge Bay Campground, Yellowstone, Wyoming.

Yesterday we got up later and got a late start. We traveled through the Grand Tetons on our way to Yellowstone and had a picnic lunch there. We finally got into the park and started looking for a site. We passed the first one because we couldn’t turn back to see it, so went on towards Lake and found this one. We were one of the last people to get a spot. I wanted to go farther and get a campground closer to showers at Lake, but it seems we aren’t going to use showers anyway.

Dad and us kids went away for a while while Mom stayed and worked on dinner. We saw the Mud Volcano Area. It’s an area of hot springs where the acid in the springs reacts with the soil and makes a muddy looking stuff in the pools. Some of the stuff was real mud churned up by rising gasses. Anyway, it was all rather strange and very smelly. We went up farther and saw some more springs then to a lookout where someone had spotted a bear. Only I could see it with my telescope, but it really wasn’t much to see.

We finally got back to camp and had dinner, then someone wanted a fire. This stalled us a bit, but we finally got to bed. Today we are to explore further the marvels of Yellowstone.

6/19/68 Wednesday 9:30 PM MDT
mileage: 49842
Spencer’s Camper Court, Shell, Wyoming.

Today we saw the rest of Yellowstone. We traveled all the way around the big loop. We saw most of the geyser basins and many other interesting things. We got back to camp around 4 and ate a dinner of canned stew. It tasted pretty good; of course, I was very hungry. It was 5:15 by the time we got out of there. We started east out of the east entrance and continued to this point. The land much of the way was desolate and dry, but later most of it became irrigated fields. This is the cleanest campground we’ve ever seen, but we aren’t! I hope to take a shower and get to bed by 10:30.

6/20/68 Thursday 9:15 CDT
mileage: 50334
Tiny’s Park Campground, Presho, South Dakota.

Today we traveled 492 miles. This is only 8 miles short of what we had planned. Friday and Saturday will surely be hard days of driving. We went over a pass today which we had heard many scary tales about. It didn’t turn out to be very bad, however. It was possibly one of the easiest passes we’ve ever been through. The rest of the driving through Wyoming and South Dakota was pretty bad. The roads, for one thing, were very bad. And the scenery was also awful. Only once in a while was it pepped up by a pronghorn or a pheasant sighting.

This place is fairly nice. Its bathrooms are clean and it has a store and a laundry. It is treeless, however, and there are lines waiting for a shower. I plan to go to bed soon and get up early for a shower.

Later I changed my mind and took one just before the storm.

[I did not describe the storm in this journal. In early evening the clouds rolled in, and then the wind started to pick up. It looked like tornado weather, though they are uncommon in Michigan where we were living. The wind started blowing our tent trailer across the field. We didn’t feel safe in it, so got into the car. We debated whether it would be safe in the car. We drove a bit trying to find a low place in the land, or a sheltered place, but couldn’t. So we decided to park the car beside the road next to a little low place, and shelter there. Then it rained, and then it hailed. When we felt like the worst was over, we got back in the car, and went back to camp. The rain had blown into the tent trailer, which had been stopped in its travel through the field by an electric pole. I forget now the exact sequence of events, but we found someplace to rest until the morning, then handled the mess and drove on. There had been a twister in the vicinity, by evidence of damage we saw as we drove on.]

tent trailer after storm

Our trailer after the storm.

6/21/68 Friday 9:15 PM CDT
mileage: 50562
Beresford City Overnight Campgrounds

Starting around 6 and going on until 4:30 PM we cleaned up and dried out our things. Two sleeping bags were wet, three mattresses, many of our clothes, and some miscellaneous items. We also had to clean up the tent, and I had to repair the door, which was bent up very badly. It was nice to be back on the road finally, but soon we had to get off again to fix an oil leak. We asked about four places before we found one (the Pontiac dealer) with a mechanic that had time, and it then took only about ten minutes. We then continued on until about 8 when we found this place. It had a pool so the men took a dip before dinner. We then had beans and barbecued t-bone steak.

10:15 PM

Now Mom and Dad are washing dishes. I plan to go to bed soon.

6/22/68 Saturday 10:45 PM CDT
mileage: 51187
Indiana Dunes State Park, Indiana.

Today we got on the road around 8:10. It took only 1 hour and 50 minutes to get ready this morning. We drove all the way through Iowa and Illinois on good road, but with monotonous scenery. All of it was trees, hills and fields, trees, hills and fields.

We had our usual lunch of malts or shakes and decided to eat dinner at some sort of place so we could get far today. Stopping at this state park, though, was a bad idea. The facilities are decrepit, people stay up late and talk about things like “The Birds.” And the camp is crowded.

Tomorrow we will drive to Ann Arbor. We hope to get there by a reasonable hour.

P.S. Liz finished Houdini.

[Notes: Total car mileage was about 51,200 minus 43,000 or 8,200 miles.]

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