Day 9, September 30, about 2200 miles, mountain view camp, Sundance Wyoming.

Day 9, September 30, about 2200 miles, mountain view camp, Sundance Wyoming.

Up at seven in foul weather, cold, heavily overcast, light drizzle. It took almost 4 hours break camp and we did not get on the road until 11 o'clock, long past when I had intended to leave.

I decided to stop by Mount Rushmore since it was on the way to our next target camp in Buffalo Wyoming. The rained worsened on the 90 mile drive to Rushmore, but I still decided to visit anyway it to take in whatever I could.

Just before we turned off the interstate at the Rushmore exit, I rubbed my left eye with my hand and I was struck immediately with the same pain I had the other night when I rubbed my right eye after the bear spray incident I described earlier. Somehow, i had gotten some pepper spray on my hand without knowing it. Fortunately, i did not rub my "good" eye and, despite the excruciating pain, I was able to maneuver the Defender onto the exit ramp and then a block to the nearest place where I could pull over and use a syringe with water to douse the eye, which I did. A passerby told me that my left eye was extremely red. Another passerby suggested that I use milk or kids tear free soap to clear it out . I asked him how he knew that and he said he works for the local prison. I asked him if he had ever been pepper sprayed himself and he said no, only with the stuff the police use. Needless to say, he was not given a On The Road patch. After 30 minutes or so, the pain was Completely gone, and I got on my way again to Rushmore. I am not completely sure how I got more pepper spray on my hands, but I think it was from the tent bag that I use which the bear spray was in when did activated. I immediately drove to the local Walmart One block away and got myself a new tent bag, just in case the residue was picked up from the tent bag.

We drove another 12 miles or so to Mount Rushmore, and when I saw that the parking lot was quite a walk away from the monument and that I would not be able to take Donner near the monument, I decided to move on, but still check off Mount Rushmore on my bucket list. As it turns out, just up the road there was a view point where on a clear day you can see the profile of the monuments of the four presidents. But the weather did not cooperate, and the view was as you saw in the picture I sent earlier.

At first I decided to continue with my original plan and head to Buffalo Wyoming to a camp there, but since that was over 150 miles away, and we wouldn't get there until after six at the earliest, in the dark, I decided to head to Sundance about 90 miles to the north and camp there. The ride through the Black Hills forest was one of the most scenic that I have encountered so far, but that scenery soon turned into a wall of fog, make that thick fog, that I had to maneuver with my lights on, or so I thought.

As we approached Sundance, I Googled "camps near Sundance," and a popped the Black Hills National forest and so I plugged that address into my GPS and we headed for it. But at 5 o'clock, just as we pulled into the address both Google and the GPS had given me, I discovered that it was the forest office, not a camp. I'm sure I will find another nearby camp, I said to myself. But as as I turned towards the Defender, I noticed that its lights were out. The headlights are not working again. I thought I had resolved that situation before I left, but I guess that fix didn't hold. Since I was running out of daylight,m I drove immediately to a nearby convenience store and asked for directions to another camp that Google had had given me, the Mountain View camp. But instead of relying on Google this time, I decided to call them to get directions to make sure they were open and a camp. Well, as it turns out, I could not find my cell phone. I searched frantically for the next 20 minutes and discovered it wedged between my seat and my console, after having fallen out of my pocket. I quickly called the camp and they said they were open and had tent sites, so, I drove there quickly to avoid having to drive in the dark with no headlights. Not a good thing.

It took me almost 2 hours to set up the camp tonight because I had to empty out of the Defender everything I might need for at least two days, and maybe more, and maybe significantly more if my history with these things is any guide. Needless to say, the tent is quite crowded.

Tomorrow I will drive to Defender to a local garage a mile and a half down the road with hopes that they are able to take me on an emergency basis and get me back on the road. I will stay in this camp until I get word that did the Defender is fixed or not fixable, even with the wealth of spare parts that I have.

The options from here are not very numerous. If the Defender is fixed and I have confidence to take it for the rest of the trip, I will Move on as soon as possible. If it is not fixable, then I will probably have it shipped back like I did two years ago from Salina Utah, and rent a vehicle to either continue the trip or drive home.

This is not the trip I bargained for, but I will deal with it like I did with problems that popped up on my trip to years ago. I must say, though, that this trip has been plagued with problems from the outset.

The good news is that we are safe and in a camp not too far from town. The bad news is that I have no means of charging my batteries now that I will not have the defender, although I do have a number of battery chargers that I will use until I have no more charging left.

By the way, the residue on my hand when I rubbed my eye earlier was probably from the tent bag that I use, which was where the bear spray activated. Even though I washed it several times, the odor of pepper spray in the tent led me to believe that there were still a lot of embedded pepper spray in that bag, which I probably got on my hand. Needless to say, I bought a new tent bag at a nearby Walmart, and donated my pepper sprayed tent bag to the trash bin at the Mount Rushmore profile view pull off.

If it is nit one thing, it's another.

Ed and Don are from cold Sundance Wyoming.

Day 9 photo

Our pleasant camp at Sundance, before setting it up. This is not where we were supposed to be, as you will shortly learn. We might be here for a while.

Day 9 photo.

The drive to Sundance. Quiet scenic.

Day 9 photos

Donner relaxing on the drive today after a day off yesterday

Day 9, as it is happening, Mount Rainier, 2:30 pm

Here we are in North by Northwest territory at Mount Rainier.

Left to right, in the fog, George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt, and the Defender, and Donner. Two of of 6 aint bad.

It's rainier here than i had hoped. I'd like to see more, but we have to rush. More rush is all we always seem to be doing. I think i will call this spot, Mount  MoreRush.

Lost a lot of time in this foul day. I think we will look for a camp near Sundance and call it a day.

About the photos

Photos are a little messed up, sorry.
Ipad doesn't rotate them fully.
Some captions missing, others in wrong place.
Will correct later.
In the meantime, add your own captions.


Day 8 photo

The Badlands

Day 8 photo

Gaelle and Ambre, packed up and ready to go, with Dr

Day 8 photos

Dr and Sampson at Badlands with Alan and Alysa

Day 7 photos

A tree at Union Grove State Park

Days 7 and 8, September 28-29, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, 1853 miles

> Friday, Day 7
> My one night stay at Union Grove in South Dakota ended marvelously. The first thing I did after emerging from the tent was to check on the status of the Defender, which was not performing well the day before with starting. It started marvelously. The only thing that I can figure out that happened over the previous two days was that the Defender did not take well to the regular gas I had to give it,the only gas to be found on the route that I took. Problem solved. No more workarounds needed.
> My good luck continued shortly after that when my next-site neighbors, John and Patty from Saskatoon Saskatchewan, came over to my camp and invited me to breakfast, an invitation i could not refuse. I have to admit that freshly made pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup really hit the spot.
> My good luck went south shortly after that, though. As I prepared to leave the camp. I discovered that the Defender's left rear tail light is not working. This is a problem that I need to figure out the solution for.
> If it's not one thing it's another.
> The plan for Friday was to make it across most of South Dakota to Badlands National Park no later than 5 PM. We made it at 5:30, but would have been there much earlier had the right rear window panel of the Defender not blown open four times during the drive. Apparently the roof design is not equipped to handle a Defender with a 429 hp engine, which permits me to coast along on the interstate between 70 and 75 miles an hour, up from 69 mph with my earlier engine. I devised to solution for this that doesn't look pretty, but it works, and now I don't have to take time out from the drive to reinstall the side panel of the roof.
> Once i arrived at the Cedar Pass camp Badlands, it took longer than usual to set up the tent because it seems that there were more people interested in my rig than at most of the other campsites. But I finished the evening's chores in enough time to climb into the tent for the night by 8 PM, ready for a relaxing evening. By the way, when i say climb into the tent, i am not exagerating. This Northface tent i have is meant for extreme cold. The tradeoff is with the door. To simulate entering this tent, open up one of the cabinet doors beneath you kitchen sink and try climbing into that cabinet, and that's precisely what it's like, and once I am in, i only have about six times more space than that standard sink cabinet.
> Forget about that relaxing evening in my tent.
>> After i climbed into the tent, I accidentally leaned up against my open tent bag, which contained my bear spray and about 25 other small items. The pressure of my back on the bag forced the safety cap off the bear (pepper) spray and it emptied its contents all over the bag and into the tent. I spent an hour airing out the tent and cleaning everything that got spayed. Powerful stuff, enough to stop a bear, i guess.
>> When it was safe to go back into the tent without a face mask, i again started to settle in for a relaxing evening. When the residual pepper spray in the air started to irritate my good eye, i subconsciously rubbed it with my hand. Although i had cleaned my hands after cleaning up the pepper mess, there apparently was still a lot of hidden residue of pepper spray on it. The pain in my eye set in immediately and my vision became blurred. I hurried outside the tent to the Defender to get a syringe from my first aid bag to squirt some water in my eye, thinking that was the remedy. Most all of the others in the camp were in their RVs and tents, except for the two young delightful,women from France, Ambre and Gaelle, camping in their car next to my site. I approached them in the dark and asked for them to look at my eye and they told me it was quite red. Ambre, without being asked, quickly searched the internet for the remedy, and found that water would help, so she squirted the water from the syringe into my eye and the pain started dissipating immediately. Close call.
>> But wait, there's more.
>> While the two women were helping me, my phone rang. It was Tiffany, the young woman traveling to LA in her car with her 5-year old daughter and two dogs whom i met at an earlier camp. Thinking she was calling to check up on my progress, i told her i was in an emergency and would call her back. As it turns out, she was calling for advice on what to do - her car was overheating and she was stranded in the dark on the shoulder of an interstate in the New Mexico desert. More below.
>> But wait, there's more.
>> When Gaelle went to get back into her car, which contained all of their belongings, she discovered that in her rush to help poor me she had locked themselves out of their car, where they had intended to sleep. I suggested they call AAA since the car's owner had it, but AAA refused to let them use that card since it only applied to Canada. I got on the phone and explained the situation and they said they would send someone on my account, which they did, three hours later. In the meantime, i let them sit in my Defender with Donner's blankets and the heater running, and made them some tea. Finally, at 12:30, the AAA tech showed up and took one minute to open their door.
>> Before i turned in after a close call, two close calls, I called Tiffany back and she explained that her situation was under control, but not resolved. I promised to help out however i could from about 1200 miles away. I think the advice i
>> gave her was helpful, but she impressed me as a very resourceful person who knows how to solve problems on her own.
> Saturday, Day 8
> Since i had very little sleep the night before, i decided to stay put in Badlands for one more day. My two hew friends from France invited me to breakfast with them and I did. After a most pleasant breakfast of homemade oatmeal and other things, including some meagre contributions of my own, we took the customary photos of our group and said our goodbyes, as they were leaving camp today. Actually, it's kind of sad when you strike up a close friendship with someone after just after several hours, then you part, knowing that you may never see that person again. It is particularly depressing, when they are leaving the camp, and you are left behind. No matter how many times I've experienced that, it still gets to me.
> After my friends left the camp, I took Donner for a ride around the Badlands loop, the 20-mile drive through the spectacular sights of this strange world. We got back into camp at about 5 PM, settled in for the evening's chores, and made our way into the tent by 730. The only downside of today was that Donner, or did not meet any dogs, although it was not for lack of trying.
> I may change my plans tomorrow and stop off at Mount Rushmore, although dogs are not allowed beyond the parking lot, which is fine for me. Or we may travel north to the Teddy Roosevelt Park. Or we may proceed with our original plans and head to Buffalo Wyoming to the Indian campground there. I'll make my decision after breaking camp, showering, and getting on the road.
> Incidentally, Ambre and Gaelle just came out of Yellowstone and told me that there are only two camps open at Yellowstone and they were full by the time they got there serval days ago, and that the temperature in Yellowstone was 19° at night. I hope that I am acclimated to the cold weather that is just around the corner.
> That's it for now. I will send the day' photos later.
> Ed and Don are from the road in Badlands National Park.

Day 8,Saturday, September 29,Badlands National Park, South Dakota, 1893 miles, zero pages read, many new friends

Day 7, Friday, September 28, 11:30 pm

Due to a cascading series of emergencies, today's blog posting will be delayed until Saturday.

Everyone is okay.

Day 7, On The Road photo

Defender started beautifully this morning. But i discovered one of my tail lights is out. If it is not one thing, it's another.

On the road now to Badlands National Park, 300 miles away. Photo of Donner below at a rest break on the prairie.

Day 6, Thursday, September 27, Union Grove State Park, South Dakota, 1450 miles

We got on the road by 1030.  The drive is getting a little  boring thanks to Apple's failure to sync all my music. It is getting tedious listening to This Land is Your Land 50 times a day. But it gives me some silent time, although riding in the Defender would not exactly pass as quiet time.

The Defender's new starting problem worsened today. Now the engine dies after every start, cold or hot engine. I hope my workaround holds. If not, On The Road-9 will come to an early end.

On the road, with my new more powerful engine, i can keep up with the traffic at 75. Before, 60 was the max. But the design of the soft roof was not meant for this speed, and i had to stop several times to put the right rear side window panel back on after the high wind ripped it from its moorings. I devised a fix, though, which should hold.

I also discovered that one of the two zippers on my back window panels lost some teeth so i cannot close it all the way. This could be problematic in the colder weather. Here we go again.

When i stopped for gas at 5pm with 35 miles to go, i saw a sign for another nearer state park and almost opted to go there. But i plowed on and made Union Grove State Park at 5:30, 30 minutes behind schedule, not bad for a 290 mile drive. I am glad i did because this small camp, set in a pine Grove is terrific. Too dark now to take a photo, so i will send it tomorrow.

It's 11, way past lights for out, and i have a 317 mile drive tomorrow to Badlands National Park, my 7th camp. If i make it, that means that so far i hit all of my pre-Yellowstone camps that i planned to make, all within the still-daylight window of 5 to 6. How is that for good planning and good timing?

Here's hoping the Defender starts tomorrow.

Ed an Donner

Day 5 campsite at Rock Creek State Park Iowa

Donner relaxing, still missing Ringo. He was depressed for the whole day.

Day 5, Wednesday, September 26, Rock Creek State Park, Iowa, 1160 miles so far, zero pages of book read

My otherwise good night's sleep was interrupted only by the chattering of some animals, raccoons or wildcats, i was told by a park attendant.

After a pleasant community breakfast, during which i forfeited my blueberry muffins to my guests, Tiffany and Samara expertly help my break camp. We then took a tour of the camp's attractions, a cave and the sand dunes, although either the park's definition of sand dunes is different than mine or we cut our walk too short.

My and Donner's new friends all said our goodbyes, with hopes to meet up back in DC someday. Samara gave me a homemade thank you card, which i promised to frame and hang on my wall at home.

The Defender starting acting up today. When the engine is cold, it takes 7 turns or to attempts to start it, but now it dies after it starts. The solution is to give it more gas when it starts to die.

I had an easy drive today of about 120 miles. It was fortuitous that i planned it this way since it gave me several more hours with my new good friends.

We arrived at our next planned camp -Rock Creek State Park near Grinnell Iowa- right on time at 5. I drive 7 miles to the nearest town to buy some groceries, but it is difficult to find well-stocked grocery stores on these back roads to the state parks after leaving the interstate. Those convenience stores attached to the gas stations at the interstate exits sell nothing but Junk food, although several sold soft ice cream, much to Donner's delight.

I will send next a photo of our camp site at Rock Creek. A great site, right on the water's edge. There were only two tenters in the camp of about 190 sites, and about 30 RVs. Where have all the tenters gone?

Day 5 photos

Donner with his two dear friends, Ringo and Kira. What great dogs.

Day 5 photos

Our camp at Wildcat Den in Iowa. At night, the raccoons or wildcats chattered away. We were alone in this nice camp, just up the hill from the Mississippi River.

Tiffany holding up the ceiling of the spooky cave at Wildcat Den, with Samara watching. See that little kid scramble up those rocks made me jealous.

Fwd: Day 5 photos

> top. After Ringo was put into Tiffany's Discovery, Donner waited patiently for 15 minutes for him to come out. He was anxiously looking for later when we went into our tent.

Bottom. For doing such an excellent job at stake pounding and tarp line flagging, Samara was reward with a chance to sit in the driver’s seat of the Defender.  Just look at how happy she is.

Day 6, 9/27, 1:30,as it is happening on the road

Time for a Donner break on the road, in Flat and windy South Dakota, my first time here.

Defender is beginning to act up, starting problems again. But i developed two work-arounds. Question is, how many more do i have left before, well, you know.

I still owe blog posting for yesterday, with more about that incredible traveler i met.

Ed and Donner.

Day 6, morning, trip so far, 1160 miles, at Kellogg Iowa

Day 4, Tuesday, September 25, Wildcat Den State Park Iowa, 1021 miles so far

It rained last night pretty hard. My plan was to stay put another day in the pleasant camp (Weldon Springs) if it was raining this morning, but the weather was just splendid, so we packed up and after a welcome shower head west. We had less than 200 miles to travel, but i decided to give Donner two rest breaks on the drive, he enjoys those new smells so much.

At the second rest break, we met a young woman named Tiffany and her lovely 6-year old daughter Samara who are traveling cross country in their Discovery with their two absolutely wonderful dogs, Kira and Ringo. Donner bonded with Ringo instantly like I never saw him bond with any dog. Since Tiffany had not made plans for the night and it was getting close to 3, I invited them to overnight at our target camp, not far down the road.

As soon as i hit the road, a fierce rain storm hit, making driving conditions very bad. But as soon as we crossed the mighty Mississippi, 2O miles from the camp, the storm broke. Luck was with us the whole day. It almost ran out, though, when i drove away from a gas station and a few miles up the road realized i had not put the gas cap back on. Fortunately it was still on the taillight cage. The same thing happened in 2013 on the dirt and gravel Dalton Highway in Alaska when i drove 60 miles without the gas cap on. Must be the way i set it on the tail-light cage.

The day got even luckier when not five minutes after we pulled into Wildcat Den State Park, Tiffany pulled in. The 25 sites situated around a large circle in a forest setting were completely empty. We picked the two best sights and Tiffany and Samara pitched in to set up my camp in return for dinner and the pleasure of my company. Actually, the pleasure was just the reverse. What a absolute treat it was for me to have their company. For a guy who prides himself for his love of solitude and his independence, autonomy really, i sure did not live up to my own words.

While Tiffany, Samara and I enjoyed the perfect setting, Donner deepened his bond with Ringo. Kira at first was not in a welcoming mood, after a quick training session from the Caesar Milan of the Potomac, peace descended on the camp. Ringo was constantly challenging Donner to play, so for the first time in his life, he ran loose in play with another dog. How happy i was to watch that. How happy he was to be doing it.

After Ringo and Kira were put into the Discovery, Donner sat outside hoping they'd return, but they did not.

After the main course of two soups, rice and salmon, i treated my guests to so-mores made with York peppermint patties. After Tiffany told me she grew up in York and Samara declared that that the York Peppermint patty was her favorite candy, i officially named this new treat "samaras." After Samara put my invention to the taste test, she give her approval.

After dinner, we are retiring with the entire camp to ourselves, except for the wildcats and raccoons who surely know we are here.

Ed an Donner from the road.

Some photos of the day follow.

Donner's new friends, 13-year old Kira (left) and Ringo. What absolutey wonderful dogs they are. Fortunately, they live not far from us so i am sure Donner will be seeing a lot of them


Sorry, no time or internet to blog last night. Will catch up tonight. Essy drive today to Rock Creek Stare Park in Iowa.

Day 4, 9/25,as it is happening,

Light drive today so i am doubling Donner's rest breaks. Boy, does he enjoy the sights, i mean smells. Like a kid in a candy store. Here we are at the Krisdala Baka stop on 74 in Illinois on the way to iowa. Illinois has fantastic rest stops. New Jersey has the worst, even worse than, well, you fill in the blanks and you would not be wrong. The road beckons.

Day 3, Monday, September 24, 800 miles so far, Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton Illinois.

This posting is still unedited.

Thanks to the campfire girls last night, I got up late this morning, at 7 o'clock. It's just as well because it started raining at 7 o'clock. I waited to leave the tent until eight, and by that time the rain had lessened to some extent. I broke camp anyway and got on the road without breakfast by 9:30 AM. Nothing got wet. Yea.
> It rained for a good part of the morning. After getting gas just after leaving camp, about 20 miles up the road I realized that I had left the emergency brake on, diminishing its capabilities to some extent. Yesterday, I discovered that one of my cigarette lighters is not working, reducing my charging capabilities. I also discovered during the drive as i searched for one oif my oldies that iTunes did not sync much of my music library through no fault of my own. But Apple was kind enough to offer to sell me the music. Fortunately, the critical music i need to survive is there, and I listen to the same piece in repeat mode over and over again.
> Along the way, I decided to bypass Kickapoo State Park Illinois and head straight 69 miles up the road to Weldon Springs state park. What a great decision. This place is an absolute wonderful oasis set amidst the lush corn fields look large enough to feed the world.

> Just before we got to the camp, about 24 miles away, I realized that I had not filled up on gas nor had i yet filled up the jerry can on the roof rack, and I was almost empty. Somehow, the performance of the more powerful engine, and the addition of an extra gallon gas tank, confused my mathematics on when to fill up. As it turns out, I pressed the like next gas button on my Garman and discovered next gas station - the first one i would pass in 50 miles- was three miles ahead of me. Before, a tank of gas gave me 225, but i filled up every 175 or so. Now my capacity is almost 365 miles, so i should stop every 300 or so, give of take a few miles depending upon how much extra gas the 4.6 liter engine consumes. Frankly, once i fill up the jerry can, i should run the vehicle till i run out of gas since it is a snap to fill up from the jerry can which will take me another 75 miles or so.
> We pulled in to camp tonight around 5 o'clock, but I immediately drove into Clinton to town to get some fresh fruita and salad and, of course, ice cream for Donner, which he was thrilled over.

> This camp is such a lovely camp I think that if it is raining tomorrow when I am supposed to break camp I will probably stay another day. Donner and I could both us the break after three days of the shakedown for this trip. The long drives are tiring for him, as if they were not for me. I try to stop every 2-3 hours to give him a break and to stretch my legs. I bought one of those beaded seats that you see foreign taxi cab drivers using, which i thought was because they belonged to some cult. As it turns out, the keep the blood circulating through your abductor muscles. And i wondered why my abductor muscles atrophied starting with me first road trip.
> For the record, for those who were wondering what i do when i get into camp, here is the daily routine...
> – Survey campsite for best organization
> – feed Donner
> – set up the camp
> - make dinner for myself (optional)
> – Close up Defender
- Walk Donnner
> – inside the tent
> – Download Photos
> – write in journal
> – post a blog entry
> - repair and clean stuff
> – miscellaneous, E. G., Emails, news, etc.
> – plan next day
> – reading
> – lights out , Hopefully by 9 PM.
> Since it is getting close to 9 PM, I will follow my schedule and sign off here for the night, although i will send this tomorrow since i am too tired to edit it.

> Ed and Donner

Day 3: September 24, 800 miles so far, Weldon Springs State Park, Illinois

Some photos from today.

Type camp is set in a wonderful oasis amidst the cornfields.

Day 3, Monday, September 24, 750 miles so far, at a rest stop in Illinois

At a rest stop before Weldon Springs Camp. We decided to bypass Kickapoo and head for Weldon.

Donner relaxing. He thought the sign said, Do Not Feed ON the Geese.

Day 3, Monday, September 24, Goal for today

Broke camp nicely, despite the rain. Nothing got wet.

LHere's our target camp for today, 233 miles, although i may try to get to another camp 69 miles farther. I chose this one hoping to stop at my ex-wife's for lunch. Look how close i pass her home in Carmel. If i make good time, i may drive up to Fairmont north of Indianapolis to visit James Dean's grave. He started at it.

Ed an Donner, from pleasant John Bryan State Park, pleasant except for the campfire girls singing away off key well into the night, until the great Titanic whistle ended that abruptly.

Day 3, Monday, September24, 800 am

Yesterday morning, when I awoke at six, it was raining. I decided to stay put in the tent until seven in the event that it stopped, and it stopped precisely at seven. Lucky me.

This morning, I was not so lucky. I had hoped to get out of the tent at six, but the campfire girls delayed that until seven. Wouldn't you know that precisely at seven it started to rain.

I am taking my time packing up things in the tent to minimize things getting wet when I start to load the Defender. Hopefully the rain will stop soon and I and Donner can get on our way, dry.

Ed and Donner, from on the road in wet Ohio.

Donner in tent waiting for the rain to stop...

Day 2...taps 1030 pm.

The singing continued. So, i went online to Google Ohio camp sdministration rules and found that visiting hours end at 10 pm. I then deduced that quiet hours also must be 10 pm. So, with the full authority of Ohio law behind me,  I walked to the hill overlooking thebpavillion and just played taps for the campfire girls, who now added some bongo drums to their cornfield orchestra. That didn't work, so i gave them two blasts from my mighty Titanic whistle, they shut up in mid note. Works all the time, even with bears, as i have learned.

Good night all.

I will play reveille for them at 600 am.

Day 2, Dinner time

Donner gets fed first.

Day 2, Dinner

Notice the s,mores to the right...try them with York Peppermint Pattys and you will not go back. But play Nessum Dorma when you do.

Day 2

Donner resting for the camp to set up

Day 2

Donner sleeping on my iPad

Day 2

Donner sleeping in his rear seat.

Day 2

Donner sleeping in his front seat.


Day 2, Sunday, September 23, John Bryan state park, Ohio, 470 miles so far

What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours. Yesterday if there were three thoughts dominating my mind , they were, why am I doing this, this will be my last trip, don't hesitate to turn around and head home. This evening, those three thoughts morphed into the following: I know why I am doing this, where should I go for On The Road 10, There is no turning back now. I thought it would take me 3 to 5 days to get into the stride of the trip, but I think I officially hit the stride this evening.

Incidentally, unlike past trips, I am not typing out this blog, but using the pro version of Dictation. I have been using Dragon for the last several years, but they did not upgrade for the new iPad and iOS, and, instead, developed a new app, but for which they charge $15 a month . The heck with them, I found Dictation pro version, for $6.99 and it is by far superior to anything Dragon put out before. Accuracy is as close to 100% as you can get.

Several things helped get me into the stride of the trip. First, all of the pesky shakedown problems that plagued the trip yesterday were resolved one way or the other, as I am generally want to do on these trips. The beautiful weather we encountered today also put me into a better mood. But more importantly, getting my Beets headphones to work properly and listening to This Land is your Land, North to Alaska, and Nessum Dorma, brought back the thrills I experienced on earlier trips and suggested that I will have some equally memorable experiences to look forward to. Oh, one final thing help, the Defender. It has been performing beautifully,no doubt by its new more powerful engine. I have lost the fear of it's not starting in the morning when I go to start it probably because I have confidence in Dean, my mechanic, and also because I not only have a contingency plan for dealing with If it doesn't start, but also some formidable experiences to rely on.

We got into the John Bryan state park in Ohio right on schedule tonight at 5 PM. I took my time in setting up the camp, making dinner, and the going through remainder of the nightly chores, just to see how long it would take. The answer is three hours, which is probably consistent with my other journeys.

I had dinner tonight, finally. I even treated myself to a dessert of couple s'mores. In my daily food boxes, I alternated between chocolate bars and York peppermint Pattys, and the one that I drew tonight had the Yorks in them. So, I experimented, and made the s'more's with York peppermint Pattys. Frankly, they were quite good . It also helped that i was listening to Luchiano Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma in repeat mode, and that brought back some fond memories of the journey in Alaska two years ago. Those who read the blog from 2016 know what I'm talking about. Better, those who were with me on the 2016 journal know precisely what I'm talking about.

Donner, too, I think Is getting into the stride of the trip. Unfortunately, we didn't meet any dogs today, but I'm sure there will be many dogs we encounter in the next 7 1/2 thousand miles.

Tomorrow, we had farther west to Illinois and hope to make either Kickapoo state park or Weldon state park depending upon the time we make on the road. I had originally planned to have lunch with my lovely ex-wife Connie, whose home is just a few miles from the interstate I will be traveling on, but she left for her hometown yesterday so we will have to postpone that reunion.

I will send a few photos of today's journey after I send this posting.

As I anticipated, so far I have read zero pages of my book, the History of New York. Eat the rate I am going , It will take me longer to read that book than the history of New York took to make. No big deal, there will always be time when I get back home, or stranded somewhere, God forbid.

The John Bryan camp tonight Is a wonderful oasis amidst miles of corn fields. I've traveled this route probably six times already, and never knew about this camp or many of the other state parks straddling I 70. Reason is , I relied heavily on Woodwalls and the AAA camp guide books. And they either did not have these camps in them, or the guides were indecipherable. This trip, so far, I have not looked at a guidebook or consulted a map, and I am relying exclusively on my ipad, Google and my GPS. If I am trying to make a camp but find that I am running out of time before the sunsets, I will stop, Google "camps near me," and proceed as directed by Google. The technology is paying off. Too bad Microsoft cannot perform as well.

I was hoping to get a good night's sleep tonight in the camp, which is essentially empty. Unfortunately, there is a group of about 10 people using the cooking pavilion about 200 feet from me playing a guitar and some sing alongs. If they were any good, it would be one thing. But the fact that that they are singing just beyond a cornfield in Ohio and not on Americas Got Talent tells it all. If it continues much longer, it will be time to pull out my whistle.

Ed and Donner, from on the road.

Day 2, Sunday, September 23; on the road to John Bryan State Park in Ohio

Bad first day yesterday. Lots of problems, which i will enumerate later, but nothing real serious.

Made it to Coopers Rock State Forest last night at 6, lost over an hour at the start of the trip due to gas station at Key Bridge closing. I was counting on it. Had to go look for another one in Saturday DC traffic.

Got into camp late and had to deal with problems, so i had no dinner. Donner had his usual.

Rained all last night. Fortunately, it stopped at 7 when i got up. Good luck.

We are off the John Bryan State Park in Ohio, 277 from last. camp.

I have to admit that this trip is a lot more difficult that the others due to my mobility issue, which still lingers. But this may actually improve things for me.

Donner is somewhat miffed about the change of venue. It will probably take him several days to get into the stride of the trip. But he is meeting his quota of dogs.

The Defender is working just fine, but I cannot get over my habit of fearing it won't start in the morning. If it does not, i will deal with it.

The road beckons. We still have 190 miles to go.

Ed and Donner.

Day 1

Our first camp. Expect a photo of every camp. We are in a lovely state forest, Coopers Rock in West Virginia.

Day 1

First dog Donner met in a camp. Olya. What a gentle playful dog she is.

Day 1

The first dogs Donner met on the trip. I had him off the leash as i emptied the trash and when i turn around, he was touching noses with these two cuties.

Day 1

The gear line up to be load onto the roof rack

Day 1, Saturday, September 22th, zero miles so far: OTR-9 begins, at last!

I just finished closing down my condo and the grueling task of loading the Defender. Donner, believing that his not letting me out of his sight these past two weeks worked, is happily and comfortably settled into his front seat, quite satisfied with himself. The Defender is fired up, and it's time to get on the road.


Two years ago starting, as those who followed the OTR-8 blog know, stranded in the cold, snowy Yukon for five weeks after the Defender's engine failed on the ALCAN 220 miles from the nearest garage, 4500 miles from home, in Scarlet O'Hara fashion I stood alone – except for the grizzly bear- on the highway, looked to the heavens, raised my fist in the air and vowed, not to never be hungry again, but to drive the Defender home and on the road again for another journey.  Today celebrates the fulfillment of the second half of that vow.  Of course,  there  is no guarantee that it will not suffer another setback, as anything can happen on these trips with a 24-year old vehicle, something I have learned several times. But if we shied away from doing things because of what might happen, nothing would happen.


If there is to be one big difference on this trip from two years ago it will be with Donner.  Two years ago, a couple of dog professionals told me that Donner would never play with another dog in his life, based on his rather anxious reaction when he saw a dog within 200 feet, a reaction he perfected after spending his first four years chained in several L.A. backyards.  So, for that 2016 trip, I had him on the recommended pincher and electronic collars, and Prozac to boot, and kept him away from all dogs.  Then, last November, he had the good fortune to meet a German shepherd puppy named Abby and, well, they got along just fine. Then he met Kiko, and they also got along just fine. And then Bertha, and Pasha, and Squirrel, and Vito, and Mouchy, etc., etc., etc., and they all got along just fine. I figure in the last 11 months he has met at least two dogs a day, about 200 in all, not counting repeats. As it turns out, his anxiety was simply his way of expressing his desire to meet other dogs, a unique behavior honed over those first four years of his. Since then, he gets to meet just about every dog he sees and is one happy dog now. So much for professional advice. The only way to know what is going on in a dog's mind is to be a dog yourself. So, if there is to be only one goal for this trip besides the three of us making it home safely, it is to make up for 2016's trip with Donner. So, expect a lot of dog photos on this blog.


As I wrote, our plan today is to make it to Coopers Rock State Forest in West Virginia, about 175 miles from DC.  From there, I hope to travel no more than 300 miles a day and to stay over at some campgrounds for more than one day.  Since reading time is a luxury on these trips, I am taking along only one book instead of the well-stocked library I usually lugged around, always returning with them barely touched.  But this one book -The History of New York to 1989- is 1300 pages so it should last the entire trip and then some.


I will try to post on my blog every day. As usual, please bear with the typos and garbled postings that will undoubtedly appear each day.  I update the blog late at night in my cramped, cold, dark tent and often do not have time, energy or desire to fully proof my entries.


These road trips -the kind that I take, anyway- are not exactly easy to pull together alone. A lot of people helped, whether they knew it or not. Outside of Travis's crew  in the Yuon's, and Dean here in town, the Defender's capable mechanics, the biggest contribution was made by those who inquired about my trips and listened to my stories about them, often in excruciating detail. To all who helped out, many thanks.


It's time to call up Pete Seger's This Land is Your Land, a ritual I start off each day's drive with, and get on the road. Country road, take me home, to the place where I belong, West Virginia…




Photo – Donner in his front seat bed

Saturday, September22; 1230 pm

Friday, September 21, 7:36 p.m.

Everything that is going is packed and ready to be loaded onto the Defender tomorrow morning, right on schedule, sort of.  Just need to clean up around the house, take Donner for a walk, and retire for the night. The great burden of planning, preparing and packing has now been lifted, and I do mean burden.  This completes three of the five phases of a trip, with the only two remaining being the trip itself and then unpacking.

Friday, September 21...Autumn has arrived

I said I would not post again until we were on the road, but I changed my mind. Two things caused that.


First, one of the last things I do before leaving is to pull together the Planning Book for the trip. I just completed that, so I know the departure is near. I have only six items left to check on my To-Do list.


Second, when I became confident yesterday (Thursday) that I would be ready and rested by Saturday, I called the first target camp and, as I feared for these early fall weekends, its 25 sites were completely booked, “for weeks,”  I was told. But just as I was speaking with the very polite rep (Charlene, I believe), someone called in and cancelled for Saturday, and so I locked in that site. My good luck returns. Let’s just hope it continues. So, unless I want to lose the hard-earned $21 I paid for the site, I will be ready.  Donner has been for two weeks. The camp, Coopers Rock State Forest, near Morgantown, West Virginia, is about 190 miles from DC, a nice distance for the first day since loading he Defender will take me about three hours.  It’ll take me five days to get into the stride of the trip after that.



See you tomorrow, on the road.


ED and Donner