Noreen the Outlaw Queen

With the road to Yellowstone National Park closed due to snow we spent a night in Cody, Wyoming, the home of “Buffalo Bill” Cody. We wandered into a random Italian restaurant because it was the only bar with live music. This music did not disappoint. We met one of the most inspirational people you have ever laid eyes on, Noreen the Outlaw Queen. She controlled the room, not just with her personality, but with her amazing voice and even better riffs on the guitar!!!
As she mesmerized everyone in the room, the owner of the bar let us in on a little secret. Noreen was 83 years old!
She has been playing music in this area for over 60 years and she still had it.
We got to meet her afterwards and take pictures with this western icon.
She told us she simply loved playing music for people and seeing them smile so she keeps on doing it.
As we left the bar that night we both thought of what an awesome life she was living and that we want to do the same!
And why can’t we?

noreen

noreen 2

We have Mastered the Wind!

Holy crap did it get hot in Rhonda this summer! It could be nice and cool outside, but within Rhonda it always seemed we could never get a breeze. We constantly resorted to covering our bodies with Frozen Margaritas in order to stay cool (thank you Jackie!).

Sweet tan line
Sweet tan line

However, after almost two months on the road we finally mastered the wind!

We were parked outside a Laundromat in Middleton, Wisconsin to steal some WiFi, and we noticed a breeze shoot through our window. It was fairly hot that night so we were hoping for the breeze to continue.

It did not.

How could we harness the breeze?

And then it hit us! Let’s see what direction the wind is traveling using our trusty cell phones, and then park accordingly so the wind would hit us.

I was so proud of our brains that night. The wind was moving SW at 7 mph. So, all we did was face Rhonda NW. Bam! The wind streamed through like the Salmon of Capistrano. It only took two months, but we had done it!

We had mastered the wind…just in time for fall in the Rocky Mountains!

Now, where the hell did we put our blankets? It’s freaking 32 degrees outside and the wind is making it freezing in here!
Someone shut that damn window!

It's fricking freezing in here Mr. Bigglesworth.
It’s fricking freezing in here Mr. Bigglesworth.

Rhonda Gets High

So we are all in our third month on the road. Brett now feels 3 days with the same boxers is ok, Vanessa feels baby wipes showers are the same as real showers, and I feel like getting high.

So that is exactly what I did.
There is nothing like getting high in the Rocky Mountains!

First I got high with the devil. Not the real devil. Devil’s Tower! In Wyoming. I was high as a kite at over 5,000 feet.
It felt good. I was relaxed. I swear I saw an entire field of prairie dogs, but I’m not sure. I was pretty high.

Getting High at Devil's Tower
Getting High at Devil’s Tower
Am I hallucinating or is that prairie dog trying to start some shit?
Am I hallucinating or is that prairie dog trying to start some shit?

Next, I wanted to get even higher so we headed further into the Rockies. All the way to Yellowstone National Park. Wow! I was over 8,500 feet up and I swear I couldn’t feel a thing. I was so damn high!
clouds and mts

the rockies

clouds and trees

It was like I was on another planet. I shit you not, it was like Mars. There was steam shooting out of the ground and volcanic activity everywhere. I know I was super high but I swear I’m telling the truth.

weird steam

weird stuff

old faithful

Was I just tripping out, or did I really just see a grizzly bear? WTF!!!

grizzly

I felt like I was coming down so I got a little higher. I probably should not have been driving because I’m pretty sure I almost ran a pack of buffaloes off the road.

buffalo in road

We left Yellowstone and headed to Glacier National Park in Montana. I was so high that Vanessa and Brett rented a car so I could come down at the campsite. The curves of that road would have been tough for me to handle in my elevated state.

side of road

road curve

Man, I need to come down.
Man, I need to come down.

However, from what they tell me and the pics they took, Glacier was a site to see.

glacier almost gone

valley with river

waterfall

glaciers

Looks like they were pretty high too.

nessa high

brett weird

We will still be in the Rockies for another week or so. Hope I don’t kill too many more brain cells.
I am just so freakin high!

South Dakota: A Battle Between Good Beatles and Bad Beetles

We put a lot of miles on Rhonda and saw some amazing things as we drove through the Black Hills National Forest.

Where's Barack?
Where’s Barack?
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave

While the scenery was amazing, we noticed large sections of discoloration in the mountains. From afar it was actually sort of pretty, but as we drove closer we realized something sinister was going down.

A beetle infestation is killing all the trees. The Pine Beetle is responsible for destroying 384,000 of the 1.2 million acres in the Black Hills. That’s one third!!!! Al the red trees were awesome looking, but they were also dead!

Pretty from a distance.
Pretty from a distance.
Something is not right...
Something is not right…

With the power of Penny Lane, South Dakota counter-punched with a Beatle infestation of their own. A Beatle’s cover band in downtown Rapid City seemed to make it all better (at least for the evening). The entire town came out. The weather was perfect. Brett made sure we had proper provisions….

Always thinking ahead!
Always thinking ahead!

…and children were dancing through the rhythmic water fountains as it followed the beat of the music.

Beatle-Mania in Rapid City.
Beatle-Mania in Rapid City.

The heart and spirit of Crazy Horse was everywhere. Bottom line, don’t count South Dakota out!

Rating our Friends

Traveling throughout the USA is pretty awesome. However, having friends who let you stay at their houses along the way is AMAZING! It’s a nice break from living in Rhonda. We get a real bed (most of the time), clean towels (most of the time), and now that everyone we know is procreating we get to meet their great kids.

So, without further adieu, here is how we rate each and every place we have stayed.

The Assas: Maplewood, NJ
Adults: David and Lizzie Assa
Kids: Nate, Ruby, and Sloane
Pets: Duncan (dog)

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:
Homemade waffles and eggs
Great arts and craft projects
Multi colored tapes
Duncan
Ruby and Nate’s excitement to spend every waking moment in Rhonda
Solid laundry machine
Great juicing
Free granola mix
Sloane’s hair

Areas for Improvement:
Raccoons may or may not be hiding in the garage ready to claw your face off!
Cannot exit the house without shoes bc the deck feels like surface of the sun
Low bridges Everywhere!!!
Quiet neighborhood and strict parking rules makes it difficult to boondock.

An extremely pleasant experience. The kids are well-behaved and filled with an abundance of entertainment. The adult conversation is stimulating even if it mostly consists of mock fantasy football drafts between Brett and Dave. Highly recommend the Assa’s to fellow travelers.

Ruby, Sloane, and Lizzie
Ruby, Sloane, and Lizzie
Ruby, David, Brett, Nate
Ruby, David, Brett, Nate

The Wain Manor: Rumson, NJ
Adults: Chad and Stacey Wain
Kids: Jordyn (Dan and Joe were at summer camp)

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:
The Pool
Cable in the bedroom
Lighthearted bickering between Chad and Stacey is always entertaining
Cute Jordyn singing and well-behaved
Able to watch all time favorite movie No Holds Barred bc of their umpteen cable channels
Great shampoo
Amazing pizza rolls

Areas for Improvement:
Unable to call out to someone because they may be in the east wing while you are in the west
No bagels in the house
Constant hang over from the unlimited supply of booze
Chad always has food on his face making him hard to look at
Super high tech dryer too difficult for our feeble minds

The Wain Manor never fails to amaze! In addition to ego inflating games of pool basketball for Vanessa as she always dominates Chad, the company is great. This is a must stop on any road trip through the burbs of New Jersey.

Jordan

The Iaconellis: Pittsgrove, NJ
Adults: Becky and Mike Iaconelli
Kids: Vegas and Stelly

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:
The collection of animal bones under the bone tree is so cool. (See also negatives)
Dinners and food never ceased to amaze
Entertaining, well-behaved and energetic little ones
MVB: Most valuable bed
Basement bedroom was dark and well air conditioned
Fish Pond built by the hands of Becky
Had a friend for Rhonda

Areas for Improvement:
The bone tree. At times felt like they were watching me too closely in the hopes of adding human bones to their collection.
Rabid, children-biting ants
Constant fear of children walking out of the corn fields
Weight gained from all the incredible meals served

Exploring the Iaconelli’s backyard digs was an adventure itself. With a basement bedroom so dark you could sleep the entire day and not feel bad about it, we will definitely be back…closer to the time when their amazing bar will be complete 🙂

Rhonda found a friend
Rhonda found a friend
The Bone Tree
The Bone Tree

The Kronmans: Brooklyn, NY
Adults: David and Becky Kronman
Kids: TBD

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:
They have a house in the Hamptons…’nuff said
Best Yemeni food I’ve ever had
Becky Love’s impassioned help of those less fortunate (us included)
David’s witty banter
Comfy ass couch
2 blocks from NYC bagels!!!!
Free copies of the Economist

Areas for Improvement:
Lack of towels (ha!)
Hole in the air mattress
Solar power not hooked up in Brooklyn

The Kronmans are always a good time because they are so well cultured and damn funny. In a span of one night in Brooklyn we ate Yemeni food, discussed NY politics, and checked out the new park in Brooklyn. Their house in the Hamptons is a must see. If you plan to visit their estate in Brooklyn, make sure to bring your own towels. A very good time.

Becky, David, Vanessa
Becky, David, Vanessa

439

The Gotz’s: Burlington, VT
Adults: Dr. Stu Weber Gotz
Kids: TBD

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:Home made chicken soup
Mexican style cucumber appetizer
Apple TV (so many documentaries to watch)
Dr. Gotz diagnosing Brett with PTSD
Allowing us to over stay our welcome because of Brett’s immune system deficiencies
Our new favorite drink, The StuGotz…1/4 oj, 3/4 seltzer water, and lots of ice. (Can add vodka)

Areas for Improvement:
Finding neighbors who don’t make snide remarks about Rhonda
The lack of diagnosing Brett’s sickness and prescribing him meds
Stu needs to worry a little less about becoming a doctor and more time talking to us (ha!)
Follow up home cooked meals with some sort of exercise regiment so your guests don’t get out of shape

Staying with Dr. Gotz is a joy for your palate and your brain. You will get delicious home cooked meals, answers to random questions you didn’t think anyone could know except Google, and some of the finest air mattresses east of the Mississippi. If he acts like he wants you gone after 48 hours he doesn’t. Stay as long as you want and get smarter and fatter all in one. Dr. Gotz is a must see.

You need towels?
You need towels?
Work, work, work.
Work, work, work.

The Firsels: Northbrook, IL
Adults: Adam and Karen Firsel
Kids: Emma and Eli

Reasons Rhonda’s Returning:Emma and Eli are pure entertainment
You can park your RV in front of their house for 5 straight nights!!!
Invites to all the Jewish Holidays
Amazing basement bedroom
Great water pressure in the basement shower
Karen will make sure you have photos of yourself you never had before
Family sing-alongs

Areas For Improvement:
Not enough gluten
No cable in the basement bedroom (ouch)
Eli will make you delete your apps (hahaha)
Difficulty entering and exiting car bc of kids car seats

The Firsels are a must stop as you travel through the Midwest. Only a 40 minute train ride from downtown they will treat you to home cooked meals, take you to family functions where you experience more home cooked meals, and amazing family entertainment. Their kids are awesome, and if you have time we highly recommend checking out the video Karen made for their Rehearsal Dinner. It’s truly amazing.

Firsel Kids

photo

Making Friends On The Road

Traveling Rhonda’s first post was about my friend Ray Chen. He passed away this year way before he should have. The post was simply how amazed I was by Ray’s ability to make friends after turning 30 years old. It honestly seems like an impossible feet.
Well, I am not sure if I made a life-long friend last week, but I definitely had a friend for the day.
I present to you Rich.

My new friend Rich
My new friend Rich

Vanessa was in Santa Fe, NM for a week so I was on my own in Madison. One of the every day tasks while living in an RV in a city is to find a place to park and sleep at night. I pulled onto Mifflin St, and found a spot right away. As soon as I opened the door, there was Rich sitting on a front stoop, and bellowing out hello. I made a sandwich in Rhonda while he started telling stories ranging from all the girl’s bikes he fixes in Madison to hitch hiking cross country to being Bart Starr’s paper boy when he was a kid (Bart Starr led the Packers to the first two Super Bowls in NFL history). Rich was probably in his 60’s, and he was a lifelong Wisconsin resident.

I joined him on his porch for a beer, told him I needed my bike fixed, and two seconds later he’s got his tools out and he’s showing me how to fix the brakes. After working together for about an hour or so he said he was out of beer. I gave him $20 to get us some, and we sat drinking and talking and working on the bikes for another hour or so. He was telling me about this girl who brought him cookies last year because he fixed her bike, and two seconds later that same girl showed up to say hi. Unbelievable!

Fixing my bike
Fixing my bike

I was planning on going to the student union that night to watch a movie at a place called the Terrace. When I asked Rich to come with me his eyes lit up. He hadn’t been to the Terrace in 13 years! We snuck some tall boys into our backpacks and biked over to watch Total Recall. He had this shit eating grin on his face the entire time we were there. Afterwards, when my bike got a flat tire, he was there to fix it up.

Rich was an awesome friend for the day, and I am hopeful we can stay in touch even though he has never used the internet in his life (or so he says).

Posted by Brett