We pulled the burgers off the grill just as it started raining. By the time everybody grabbed their plates and scrambled into the RV, it was pouring. The wind started rocking our little motorhome, and lightning was flashing in every direction. The dustbowl we had entered just 30 minutes earlier was now a mud pit. Welcome to the Badlands. 

We ate our burgers and watched the lightning show as we waited for the weather to improve. Then, as quickly as it started, the rain stopped. Henry and I decided to take a hike to scope out the perimeter. As soon as we stepped outside, we saw a bison just a few dozen yards away, who had entered the camping area while everybody had retreated to their vehicles during the storm. 

We waited for the massive beast to wander off before Henry and I climbed to the top of a nearby hill. From there we got a nice view of the Badlands National Park. It’s pretty similar to the Grasslands of Saskatchewan – with a few more trees. Henry and I just stood up there and listened to the sound of nothing for a while. And then we heard the coyotes. 

In an earlier post, I mentioned our streamlined approach to packing for this trip. The exception to that is the bag of random stuff I brought along, including several rolls of duck tape, clamps and a Mexican blanket. All three items proved invaluable for making a wind break for our picnic shelter, pictured at top. AKA Fryman’s Hobo Hangout. 


The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth 

We got our rodeo on at the Calgary Stampede today. The Stampede is essentially a big, urban, cowboy-themed fair, complete with amusement park rides, carnival games and farm animal barns. But the main event is really the rodeo, where world champion athletes compete in events like bull and bareback bronco riding, steer wrestling, and barrel racing. 

We watched Tiany Schuster from Krum, Texas shatter the barrel racing world record, completing the course in 16.99 seconds. We also witnessed a cowboy carried off on a stretcher (pictured above) after being slammed to the dirt and then trampled by the mad bull he’d been riding. He ended up winning the bull riding competition for having hung on so long. The announcer told us later that he’s going to be OK. 

We were in the nose bleed seats, which was fine with us, given the breeze that cooled off the grandstand. From up there, we had a nice view of the instant replays on the jumbotron. Henry and Ruby got really into recording stats in the program. Both announced at the end of the day that they think they could compete in the pony wrangling event. I believe it.  

Kristine and I enjoyed every second of the Stampede, and we’d tend to agree it lives up to its “Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth” billing. We wish we had more time to check out Calgary, but we’re looking forward to exploring the prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan this weekend. 


Route Transcanadienne 

The Fry Family Quartet is 977 kilometers into our Canadian road trip en route to Nebraska. Day one took us through Hope and Salmon Arm as we skirted BC’s wildfires before setting up camp in Sicamous. Despite the smokey haze, the scenery was breathtaking, especially when we entered the Canadian Rockies. We spent our second night in Banff, which we all agree is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been. This morning, we soaked for a few hours in Banff’s Upper Hot Springs. The kids told me the water was too hot, to which I replied that’s why they call them hot springs. 

So relaxed, I was glad we had less than a two-hour drive to Calgary, where we are now. Tomorrow we hit the rodeo at the Calgary Stampede. This isn’t our first rodeo

RV life is good. With last summer’s trip under our belts, we have streamlined things significantly. Fewer clothes (Ruby as the exception), no dinette table crowding the RV (we always eat outside anyway), and no 2-vehicle convoy (we travel much better together now). 

Did I mention that Canada is beautiful? 

Ruby and Henry above Banff, Alberta 

The State of Fry Lodge

Two weeks ago, the moving truck arrived at Fry Lodge Lopez to pack and carry away all of our belongings – save what we could fit into a 24-foot RV for two months of life on the road. We’ve become experts at moving over the past three years. Seattle to New York. New York to Lopez. A Seattle apartment. And now, Lopez to Bellingham, with a 1500-mile road trip thrown in for good measure.


We’re now one week into our ProjectWA summer tour. So far, we’re having a blast. We left Lopez last Sunday and spent one night in our new home in Bellingham – a bit of a tease before spending 50 nights straight in an RV that’s smaller than our new bedroom. We’re savoring every moment of this trip, but we’re also anxious to get to know our new home, “the city of subdued excitement.”


In the meantime, Fry Lodge is mobile. We’re getting into the RV park routine. Back up slowly. Hook up the water and power. Start the propane. Take down the bikes. Cruise the perimeter. Find out how long the coin-operated showers last. Set up the grill. Wash the dishes with minimal water. Collapse into bed. Repeat.


We spend anywhere from one to four nights in each RV park. During the days, we take side trips to the towns where I have meetings. When we travel to our next site, we caravan. I take the lead with the RV, while Kristine follows behind in the little red Fiesta. Henry and Ruby trade off between vehicles, which makes music selection a little easier. So far we’ve completely avoided the Interstate. Though I’ve traveled all over Washington during my life, I’ve never been on some of these roads. It’s like Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, but we don’t have a poodle.


I like to say that Fry Lodge is a state of mind. This summer, Fry Lodge is the state of Washington. #ProjectWA.





Husker road trip weekend

I  got a hall pass this weekend to do a road trip with Brian, Paul and Jonathan to see the Huskers play Penn State in Beaver Stadium, the 2nd largest stadium in North America (and 3rd largest in the world). It was a perfect day for football: snow flurries, freezing temperatures, good friends, and a Husker win in overtime. Thanks for the hall pass, Kristine. Good to be home.

Mom as my copilot

This one goes out to Kristine, who not only planned this entire cross-country road trip, but has played the role of navigator, DJ, side-trip inspiration and backseat skirmish referee. Thank you for agreeing to this adventure, Kristine. And thank you for making this a Fry Family Quartet adventure that we’ll remember forever.


Cedar Point

You would think that, after more than 2500 miles in a car, Henry and Ruby wouldn’t want to spend their entire day in car rides at Cedar Point. Old fashioned cars, race cars, bumper cars, monster trucks. Kristine and I had fun watching people scream on the roller coasters. Henry wants Cedar Point to be our annual vacation. Hmmm. Next stop: Newcastle, PA – the fireworks capital of America, and apparently hot dog capital of the world.