My goal is to raise $9,490 for breast cancer research - a dollar for every day my mother, Lorraine Raimondo, battled breast cancer. I'm driving across the country raising funds for every mile I drive.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

My Mom

  Posted by Picasa Here's another picture of my Mom when she was around 18 years old.

Here's some things you should know:
Most women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
After the age of 40, your risk of getting breast cancer increases more dramatically.
Breast cancer impacts over 240,000 new patients a year in the US.
Approximately every 3 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately every 12 miuntes breast cancer claims another life.

(also read the new entry below about Gary Greff in ND who's mother is a breast cancer survivor).

Enchanted Highway - Regent, ND

This is Gary Greff and that’s one of his metal sculptures behind him. Gary is a man with a dream, to make his hometown of Regent, ND known as the metal sculpture capital of the world. All along the 30+ mile “enchanted highway” that runs south from I94 to Regent, ND are metal sculptures that Gary has built. All the sculptures are done in a different style. There’s Teddy Roosevelt on a horse, giant fish and my favorite, a humongous grasshopper. (Perhaps I like the grasshopper best because after winning the skipping race in 4th grade gym class I acquired the nick name “grasshopper.”) He built the first sculpture in 1989 – one of which is behind him in the above photo. Funding has been tough and Gary has lived without much in order to see his dream to fulfillment. I was ever so lucky to run in to Gary at my last stop along this enchanted highway. He continues to think of ways to turn his vision into something that brings money into his small hometown with the possibility of a developer building a 4 star resort nearby. There’s something about this man and his passion and determination that stays with you after meeting him. It makes you ask: What’s your passion and what are you doing about it?
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Road to North Dakota

Along my journey I’ve asked people, “What is there to see in North Dakota?” My most common response was “nothing.” Well I’ll tell ya, there’s something to be said about seeing nothing. Mmm yes, no strip mall, no McDonald’s, no bumper of another car. Yes, in North Dakota you can drive for miles and miles and miles and see none of that, and that’s a very nice thing.
When I arrived at the border of ND I pulled over to take a photo. I was quite excited as ND is the last of the lower 48 that I hadn’t been to. Not soon after 3 bikers doing their own cross country trip pulled up. That’s Bob, Bud and Larry.
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They were kind enough to take a picture of me by the sign and suggested I sit on their bike. Well no asking me twice! Being on the road for the past 39 days I’ve seen a lot of bikers and I feel like we’ve bonded. Although they probably don’t think the same when they see me in my Chevy Malibu. But I know that they’re on the road to be on the road, not just to get from A to B. Like these folks I met at the Harley Davidson store in Sturgis, SD, home of the huge annual bike rally. That’s Joel and Cathy from Sioux Falls and Brian from British Columbia.
Bikers and truckers truly own the road, the rest of us are just visitors.

But back to North Dakota; If you find yourself in this part of the country head straight to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and drive through the badlands of North Dakota.   Posted by Picasa There is a 36 mile scenic loop you can drive along in the southern unit of the park. You’ll see plenty of wildlife from the car and there are plenty of trails you can hike or even mountain bike along. I saw bison, wild horses and my favorite: prairie dogs! These things are adorable and they were …well…prairie doggin’. You’d look across the field and they’d just keep popping up all over the place!   Posted by Picasa
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Ya, I like North Dakota.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

South Dakota

I slept in a tepee last night! Well, I was supposed to sleep in a tepee last night. See, these ideas sound fantastic when I think of them. But then when the reality sets in, sometimes it's not so….hmmmm….ideal. Take the tepee for instance. I figured since I’d been sleeping in a tent most of last week, I’m ready for the tepee. Well, I think it’s safe to say this tepee wasn’t as enclosed as the ones I’ve seen in the museums. I checked in to the tepee, they gave me the fabric door – that’s what you get instead of a key, a piece of fabric tied to some sticks – and I headed over to my tepee. I immediately noticed that the tepee really didn’t go all the way down to the ground in some spots. There were huge gaps and I started to think of all the things that could get through those gaps. A beaver for example. Now, I’m not afraid of beavers and there weren’t any close by, but you get the idea of the size of animal that could just wander on in. The more I sat there, the more I envisioned a drafty, sleepless night. So, after much pacing back and forth, I traded my tepee door in for a key to a cabin. I felt like a wimp, but a wimp that would be getting a good night sleep.
The Heritage campsite where I was staying was in an excellent location in Custer, SD overlooking Crazy Horse. Now if you don’t know what Crazy Horse is, here’s a photo:
How Crazy Horse will look once completed but 34 times larger

The Crazy Horse Memorial is in the Black Hills of South Dakota and honors the North American Indian. Once completed it will be the world’s largest mountain carving. Work began in 1949 and right now only the face is completed. To give you perspective on the size, the height of the eye opening is 9ft. Korczak Paderewski was the sculptor that the Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited to the black hills to do the sculpture. Korczak was a strong believer in free enterprise and thus no federal/taxpayer money is accepted to support the project. Korczak passed away a few years ago. His wife Ruth turned 80 the day I arrived. In her honor there would be a “night blast” after the evening light show. This is an amazing thing to see. OK, I hear it’s an amazing thing to see. I fell asleep in my car waiting for the show to begin and woke up during the blast which looked like this by the time I grabbed my camera:
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Sorry, but you try and do something exciting everyday after driving for hours and see how long you stay awake. The next morning I got to Mt. Rushmore shortly after it opened at 8AM – which is an excellent time to go to avoid the crowds. They said I could come back with my same pass that evening to see the light show. I think I’ll pass.
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Jackson Hole, WY

If you are looking for cowboys, Jackson Hole is the place for you. Like these fellers above. That’s George on the left, he manages a ranch. On the right, that’s Dwight. I couldn’t get him to answer any questions straight so all I can tell you is that he’s originally from Colorado. In the back there is Bill. Bill breaks horses. A horse whisperer as Elizabeth called him. We met these fine cowboys at the Silver Dollar Bar. We then headed to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar next door. It’s a place where the bar stools are saddles and a band plays every night. We ran into our cowboy friends again and they are quite the dancers. George can really move on that dance floor and if there isn’t room, well heck, he just makes some!
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George and me on the dance floor

Bill is a quieter sort of guy who likes his whiskey straight. After awhile Bill and I got chatting. He’s signed up for the rodeo in Billings, MT next month. He does an event called Wild Horse Racing. Not sure exactly how it works, but it takes 3 guys to manage a wild horse in the competition. Bill at some point grabs the horse around the neck. But more interesting is that Bill was recently in Chicago signing a contract with an ad agency. Yes, Bill is gonna be the Marlboro Man!!! Now what’s the likely hood that I go out looking for some real cowboys and end up meeting the Marlboro Man! Bill is about 6’4” without the boots and hat and looks the part. I asked him if he wore that same outfit when he visited Chicago. “Of course. Except I wore a white hat because the Marlboro Man always wears a white hat.” He also mentioned that when he walked down the hall at Leo Burnett (the ad agency) women’s heads kept popping out of the offices and asking him, “Are you the Marlboro Man?” After we danced he said, “Now you can tell your friends you danced with a real cowboy.” “Heck!” I said, “I’m going to tell them I danced with the Marlboro Man!” “Aw, that’s nothing.” He replied.
So, if you fancy yourself a dance with a long legged cowboy, mosey on over to Jackson Hole, WY, plop your butt in the saddle at the Million Dollar Cowboy bar and you’ll be spinning on the dance floor before your boots hit the stirrups! YEE HA!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yellowstone and Teton National Parks


For the past 5 days I’ve been on a camping trip in Yellowstone and Teton National Parks. The trip was set up through a company named OARS ( It was an incredible kayaking trip through gorgeous scenery. Back in 1872 Yellowstone was the first place in the world to have ever been declared a national park. The park is actually the result of volcanic eruptions dating back 1.3 million years ago and again 640,000 years ago. The same heat that powered those volcanoes currently fuels the geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mudpots that are scattered throughout the park.

There were 7 of us on the trip plus a trip leader and 3 guides. There’s Doug, a 27 year old in the airforce, and his wife Rosabelle who is 22. Then the Scott clan made up of 3 sisters, Sharon, Elizabeth, Pat and her daughter Shannon. Well, nothing makes a trip more than the people you are with. And I’ll give you a tip, next time you are planning a vacation figure out where the Scott family is going and book the same trip! These ladies are a laugh a minute. There’s Sharon a police officer in Jacksonville, FL who’s fire side stories about life on the job kept us all in stitches. Then there’s Pat who’s quick witted and tells it like it is and her daughter Shannon. And lastly Elizabeth is a therapist in Salt Lake City who’s in tip top shape! Brian from OARS let us know the logistics of the next few days and introduced us to Sam, one of our river guides. Sam’s a laid back sort of guy who’s chock full of information about the river, its wildlife and history. Our trip leader, Gordo, would be joining us the next day.
Sharon, Shannon, Pat and Elizabeth
We spent the first day kayaking the West Thumb Geyser Basin section of Yellowstone Lake. The water is pretty high due to some excessive run off, so some of the geysers were under water and we could kayak right up to them! We were greeted by Jen and Nick, our 2 other guides, at Flagg Ranch campsite where we’d be spending the night. It would also be our last chance to take a shower for the next 4 days. Now what I’ve learned is that there are 2 types of camping. There’s the sleeping in an RV at a campsite that has all the necessities you’d have in a hotel: hot showers, store, and restaurant. That’s what you saw in Flagg Ranch. Some of these RV’s would put a rock star’s tour bus to shame. And in the ladies room I found a row of women lined up in front of the mirrors with hair dryers, curlers and can’s of hairspray bigger than my head! That wasn’t the kind of trip I was on. Here’s what my home sweet home was for the next 5 days:

And it was cold at night! It can drop from 70’s in the day to 30’s at night. But I’d picked me up a down jacket at an outlet store in Montana along with plenty of long underwear, so I was set.
In Yellowstone there are signs all over the place warning you about bears and what you need to do. Each night you needed to remove from your area anything that would attract bears. This included not only any food items but also anything scented like toothpaste, shampoo, and sunscreen. Who knew bears even used these products! These items would need to be stored in a bear proof container. Needless to say, I was very sure to follow this rule.
I awoke pretty early the next morning and quickly learned that we’d already lost 2 of our campers. Poor Rosabelle was up all night puking in her tent, outside her tent, in the restroom. Eventually they took her to the hospital. Seems she was dehydrated even though our guide told us a hundred times to keep drinking water. Now Rosabelle is a pretty delicate type of lady. She and Doug were in a double kayak and if you looked close enough you’d notice that Rosabelle’s paddles never really went into the water. Doug was doing all the rowing. I later found out that Doug had told her she only had to dip the oars in an inch and that’s what she did. She held the oars and dipped the left side into the water an inch then the right side and inch and so on and so on. cute.
Anyway, I headed over to the ladies room for my last shower. I’m scrubbing away and I begin to hear some low pitched grunts and heaves, like someone grumpily starting their day. The only thing that concerned me was that the pitch was so low. Hmmm. Did I go into the wrong bathroom? Is this the men’s room? Well, turns out I was in the right bathroom but the man that looked like an old prospector was in the ladies room showering next to me. Ew.
We packed up our stuff and headed over to the Snake River for a 6 mile kayak to Jackson Lake which would be followed by another 6 miles of kayaking to camp. We were supposed to dock for a bit and have lunch on shore. However, we were a bit behind schedule due to the Rosabelle incident and decided to do lunch flotilla style. This turned out to be great! They tossed us out some fruit and then a salami and cream cheese sandwich on a bagel. Well, I don’t know if I was just so hungry from rowing what was probably 8 miles by then, but that was the best sandwich I’ve ever had. I rowed my kayak off to the side and scarfed that bagel down like a starving dog that’d just found a steak bone.
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Sam serves up lunch

We then kayaked another 4 miles to set up camp in Colter. Now this was camping! We were truly out in the wilderness. Not even a trace of humans would be found. This was our first opportunity to get acquainted with the Groover. What’s the Groover you ask? Well, it’s a portable toilet.
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The Groover

The rule is that if you are relieving yourself of water then a nearby bush is the way to go. But if it’s something else, well then you’re off to the groover. Now Elizabeth Scott is a sharp lady but maybe not so good with names. She immediately confused Gordo our trip leader, with Groover the toilet much to the amusement of the other guides. So Gordo became Groover, and the groover became a thousand different names throughout the trip. The groover was set up a bit away from the camp in the woods. Frankly, it was a scary walk to the groover what with just a bag of toilet paper to defend you.
That night we feasted on steak and salmon, yum! Around the campfire Sharon cracked us up with cop stories.
We were lucky enough to have Nick as a guide because this fuzzy young man entertained us each night playing the guitar and singing. Nick reminded me of a current day Spigoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Doing his own thing and every once in a while blurting out quite the profound statement.

After sitting around the campfire for a bit listening to Nick strum I cleaned up for the night by the wash bucket with ice cold water! I made a point to brushed my teeth for about 30 minutes. I wanted that salmon – a bear’s favorite dish – off my breath before I headed to my tent. I also hung around the fire a bit more to mask any lingering food aromas that might have absorbed into my clothes.

The next morning would be my first official visit with the groover. I grabbed the toilet paper bag and headed into the woods. Now, to keep bears away you are supposed to make noise so you don’t surprise them. I stomped my way over to the groover and grabbed a seat so to speak. Well, as soon as I sat down I heard a low to the ground yet heavy animal run past. It sounded like it had hooves?? I quickly surmised that it was too short to be a bear. But then I thought, well what the heck is it running from?! I immediately began clapping my hands to scare anything away. To give you the full picture, it’s me in the woods sitting on a green box with my pants around my ankles, clapping my hands while darting my eyes around in every direction. This worked on scaring away the nearby squirrels and apparently also my poop because after that nothing was coming out of anywhere. I returned to camp without accomplishing much over at the groover.
We spent the rest of the day paddling over to Grassy Island. That’s it below – the lighter green patch in the distance.

I can’t express enough the beauty of what surrounded us. It truly is an amazing place to kayak around.
Once on grassy island the Scott ladies and I attempt to bath in the lake. This water is COLD!! I’m not sure I get the shampoo out of my hair but I do feel cleaner!
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We dry off in the sun while the guides fix us up some lasagna. Doug and Rosabelle have rejoined the group however, unfortunately now Shannon is throwing up. She’s holed up in her tent leaving only for some sprints to the groover. I decide maybe our trip motto should be “we ain’t leaving ‘til we’re heaving.” Meanwhile, Sharon, Elizabeth and I decide to sing every song we’ve ever heard of by the campfire. What we lack in singing ability – which is everything including tone, pitch and the right lyrics– we make up for with passion and volume.
Sharon, me and Elizabeth sing by the fire

We wake up the next day to the smell of blueberry pancakes mmmm and coffee. We then kayak over to Moran Canyon to hike along the waterfall. Again, in order to not surprise a bear we need to make noise. Well, we continued our passionate singing which I believe resulted in scaring away anything living for miles.
Our guide, Jen, on the hike
Back at the camp we sunned on the snout boat and then played charades by the campfire. It was easy to guess Sharon’s clues since she always mouthed the words.
The last day we floated on a raft down the Snake River at the base of the Grand Teton. We saw bald eagles, blue herons, pronghorn and marmot. A magnificent end to a wonderful trip. 
Sam takes us down the river

Monday, June 19, 2006

Hi there

I wanted to let you know that I'll be camping in Yellowstone and Teton National Parks for the next few days and won't be able to give you any updates for a bit. But I've just played catch up so check out a couple new entries below.
I also wanted to thank you all for your donations! Please check the Pledgers and Thank You section to see a list of the many people that have donated. Also, if you made an online donation but do NOT see your name listed please email me ( there's a link on the right) because this means your donation was not credited to my Road to a Cure. A simple email to me with your name will help me sort this out.
Meanwhile, wish me luck camping because apparently there are so many bears in Yellowstone that they have their own newspaper!!!!
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Road to Bozeman, MT and then to Jackson, WY

This is my kind of place!
From Missoula, my next destination was Bozeman, MT. I headed east on the interstate until I saw a sign for the Scenic Loop Route. Well some decisions are easy. This took me along route 1. Not soon after I turned, on my right was the Ohrmann Museum and Gallery. What drew me in was the giant bronze sculpture of a wooly mamoth. I was doubly pleased when I saw the sign pictured above.
Bill Ohrmann is a retired rancher living in the Flint Creek Valley. He’s best known for his woodcarvings, bronzes and porcelain sculptures which are quite good. But what I found most interesting was his creative outlet – painting. The paintings are obviously where the true thoughts of Bill come out – and a bit of his humor or at least I think so. In his own words “What is in my heart when I paint a picture, is as simple as hoping we can save some part of the natural world.”
Here is one of his works titled: The Next Level of Civilization.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?

I also like this one (below) because there was a hand written note letting you know that “The child is still alive!” In case you were worried the child in the birdcage was harmed in anyway in the creation of this painting. See, these are the gems you miss if you stay on the road most traveled.
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I eventually made my way through a few small towns that just seemed like great places to live; Phillipsville, Anaconda. Cute painted houses, Dairy Queen on the corner, white picket fences. I was disappointed that I didn’t time my trip to coincide with the Accordion Festival scheduled for August. You may think I’m joking, but those that really know me, know that I am not.

Bozeman is a hip college town with a cool hostel that unfortunately was all booked up. I checked in to the Lucky 7 Motel then went to the Coop for some delicious healthy food. The next morning I headed out to the Museum of the Rockies. This is a must see! Did you know that 12 of the 24 T-Rex’s in the world are right here in Montana? Apparently Montana is a dinosaur lover’s paradise. I thought perhaps because so much of the land is undisturbed by buildings etc. it makes Montana a good place to find dinosaur bones. But this isn’t really the case. It has more to do with the levels of the earth exposed in Montana. I picked up these tidbits of information from Carol Amenson at the museum. Here she is holding the neural spine of a duckbill “hadrosaur” and a vertebrae bone.
I wished that I could have stayed longer but I needed to get to Jackson, WY. I went through Yellowstone National Park along the way. There is some freaky stuff to see! Like this mud pot which is circle of mud boiling and gurgling:
If you’d like to make one at home, here’s the recipe:

Here’s something else that looked otherworldly:
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And yes, of course Old Faithful.
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