We went in to say hello to Laure before she left for her course. Simon had already left for work. We came out to the Bam for breakfast, then spent all morning doing ‘useful things’. We left at 3.00 and headed out towards Banff, arriving at 4.30 at Tunnel Mountain campsite. The National Parks people had just gone on strike, so we hadn’t had to pay for a Parks permit. It was still hot. Simon and Laure arrived later, but Laure left to go to her friend’s pre wedding ‘do’. She arrived back in time for our celebration barbecue meal of corn on the cob, whole salmon, baked potato, and many veg. We had started with bubbly.
We sat out until gone 11 o’clock.
Saturday 14th August
We got the fire going again and enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes with Simon and Laure. We all set off in Simon’s car at about 11 o’clock, initially to Banff for them to buy a wedding present for their friend.
We now all headed for Johnson Lake, and had a pleasant walk around it - we had wanted to walk here 2 years ago, but it had been raining.
We arrived back at Tunnel Mountain Campsite for lunch. Simon cooked sausages on the stove outside, and we sat at the picnic table in the hot sunshine to eat them.
Then it was time for them to get ready for their friend’s wedding at Banff Springs Hotel. We went in the car with them, and walked back to the campsite, beside the Bow River. At first the walk had some steep and uneven sections, but for a while we walked along beside the river, with its glacial blue waters. The last part of the walk was a long climb upwards, ending up near the Hoodoos, and then back to the campsite, arriving at about 5 o’clock.
We had a barbie, just the 2 of us, but the threatening clouds did their stuff after we had eaten, as lightning flashed and thunder crashed right overhead, and it rained hard for a while, so we came in.
Sunday 15th August 88 miles
We woke late to a morning which was grey at first, but soon cleared. Adrian relit the fire, and Simon cooked us bacon and eggs on it for breakfast.
We all left just before 11.00 for the Cave and Basin area, where we walked the Sundance Trail, beside the Bow River, to Sundance Canyon.
This part was a pretty loop trail, which climbed up beside a rushing stream. The bad thing on the walk were the mosquitoes. We made our way back along the trail, arriving at the car park at 1.30, where we all had lunch, sitting on our chairs by the Bam in the sun.
Around 2.30, we set off separately for Calgary. We arrived back at Calgary at 4.50 and later had a barbie with Simon and Laure, starting off sitting outside, but were forced inside by the rain, which continued all evening and much of the night.
Monday 16th August 194 miles
The day started grey, but soon brightened up. Simon had left early for work, so we went in and had breakfast and chatted to Laure. We saw on the news that there is a proposed strike by BA workers at Heathrow on the weekend we return, which didn’t please us!
We said goodbye to Laure and left at 9.40. We headed out east on the 1, initially retracing the way we had come with Simon 3 years ago, when we visited Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park. The road here is pretty straight, and the land flat. It would have been good to have listened to some of our previous travel recordings, but they don’t play properly on this new recorder.
We came to the large town of Medicine Hat, which is on the South Saskatchewan river. We found our way to Walmart, arriving at about 4 o’clock. We took my photos in. They were going to take 3 hours, but as we could stay in Walmart carpark for the night, we made use of the facility.
Tuesday 17th August 279 miles
We awoke to blue sky and left at 9.20, continuing east into Saskatchewan. We stopped in a rest area between Piapot and Tomkins, and were pleased to see a 13-lined ground squirrel, which we have not seen before.
The weather was hot as we continued through undulating grasslands with yellow flowers beside the road. We stopped at the town of Swift Current, which a river of the same name flows through. We found a little park by the river, and had lunch here at a picnic table. People came to cut the grass (this always seems to happen to us, wherever we stop), but luckily the girl strimmer started working far from us, and the men only got the watering going as we were leaving!
We set off again, but stopped by Reed Lake, just before Morse, one of many lakes and ponds we passed, to look out from the observation tower, but there weren’t many birds to see.
As we continued towards Moose Jaw, the land became very flat, and the weather deteriorated, and we drove for a time through heavy rain, but this cleared as we drove southeast after Moose Jaw. We pulled into a picnic area at Rouleau just before 5 o’clock.
Although it remained windy, Adrian lit a barbie but we ate inside.
Wednesday 18th August 129 miles
The night was cold and windy, and we heard one or two noisy trains. We thought that Saskatchewan time was one hour on, but as they don’t keep summer time, it wasn’t, and we didn’t change until we reached the U.S. border.
We listened to more of our Australian travels as we journeyed southeast, thinking that there were many similarities between the flat, wheat growing areas of both countries.
We stopped in a weigh station area, just before Estevan, before continuing towards North Portal, where we located Trish and Pat’s house.
Pat was at work, but Trish made us very welcome, and it was lovely to see their deceptively large and attractive house. It was very cold and windy, so we sat inside in their light and airy lounge and chatted before having lunch.
In the afternoon Trish drove us the 10 miles into North Portal to see Pat in his office. Pat is the border Veterinarian and he hadn’t got that much to do, as the Canadian BSE scare has completely stopped the export of all hoofed animals to the USA - a massive blow to the Canadian Farmers. She drove us around this small border town, pointing out the house where they used to live. Trish drove us back to their place, where we walked around their grounds, viewing the beaver ponds, and the acres of prairie grassland and flowers. Soon after we had come back into the house, Pat arrived home, and he drove us in his truck around the farm land which they used to own.
In the evening we enjoyed a wonderful meal of barbecued steak with feta salad, followed by delicious homemade ice cream. After much chat we retired to the hot tub on the terrace, and sat in the absolute quiet under a star filled sky until 11.15, when we came in and chatted for another hour, before coming out to sleep in the Bam.
Thursday 19th August 140 miles
It was sunny, but windy again. We enjoyed breakfast all together. There was much more chat, and a ‘photo session’ before we said our goodbyes, and left just before midday. It had been really good to see Trish and Pat in their home.
We drove the 10 miles to the border, where we had no trouble getting through, so continued south through North Dakota (a new state to us), looking for somewhere to pull off for lunch - now being 1 o’clock local time.
The countryside was more undulating and attractive than we had imagined, but there was nowhere to pull off from the straight rural road. In the end we pulled into a gateway, surrounded by yellow and blue flowers, which were being buffeted by the wind.
We continued south to Stanley, where we got some more fuel (cheap). It now felt very warm in the van. At New Town we stopped to get some shopping and soon crossed the dammed Missouri River on a wonderful old bridge, where a new one was being built. We hope to return to this area when we follow the ‘Lewis and Clark Trail’.
We turned south on to a very pretty road, crossing the Little Missouri river, and stopping just afterwards in a layby, with humpy hills all around. The sun looked nice as it went down.
Friday 20th August 207 miles
The night was cool, but it was a lovely morning. We drove on through the attractive Kildeer mountains, coming to the National Grasslands, which weren’t so interesting. Our plan today was to visit the southern section of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The first part we came to was a lookout from the freeway Rest Area, called Painted Canyon, reminding us of the Painted Desert. It was still very cool here, but rapidly became warm.
Some miles further along the road, we came to the delightful town of Medora, and the access to the 36 mile loop road into the park. We set off to drive this, enjoying the lovely scenery, with the stripy, humpy hills. There were two types of animals which were a feature of this park - firstly bison, of which there were many, and secondly prairie dogs, of which there were thousands! There were several prairie dog colonies, called ‘towns’, and we couldn’t resist watching these endearing creatures for a while.
We set off to drive the route, stopping at many viewpoints, and walking short trails. After walking the kilometre long Ridgeway Trail, we met a couple Ian and Sylvia, from Connecticut, and stopped to chat to them for some time. They were on their way back from Alaska, which they had loved, but they told us of the fires which had been raging there, partly curtailing their activities.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Now being time for lunch (although the time line is very strange here, and we appear to be back in Mountain time), we stopped by Paddock Creek. After that we climbed steep Buck hill, for more wonderful views of the so-called Badlands before continuing round the loop.
Theodore Roosevelt had spent much time in this area, and supposedly said that if it weren’t for his time here, he wouldn’t have become president. At the end of our ‘tour’, we stopped off to see the original ranch he had stayed in here and a small museum with some of his belongings. He had built a second ranch, some miles away, of which virtually nothing now remains. I enjoyed seeing photos of him with John Muir, both inspirational men, who did so much for conservation.
We drove around the little town of Medora. We then proceeded back eastwards for a few miles before turning south towards South Dakota.
At Bowman we looked up our notes and found that we could stay in the Lion’s Park. This made a pleasant stopping place. We had a barbie. Hundred of birds settled in a tree behind us, and then all took off.
Saturday 21st August 224 miles
It was a fine morning. We headed south, and were soon in South Dakota. We were listening to our travels in Tasmania, and thought how much like parts of Australia this open landscape was.
We had to wait for pilot cars at 2 of the three long stretches of roadworks we came across. At the second one I made tea and coffee while we were waiting.
We came to Belle Fourche, a town with character, which is apparently the geographic centre of U.S. We went into the tourist office to find information on the Black Hills. The attached museum had a lot of stuff on the ‘Tri-States’ - South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, which all meet near here. The town had a nice feel.
A bit further on, at Spearfish, we were able to get an instant service and oil change done on the van, and then shop in Safeway next door. We set off down Spearfish Canyon, which was very pretty, and densely forested, reminding us of the Black Forest. We drove on through Lead to Deadwood, but didn’t stop as it seemed a bit touristy. It is supposed to be a ‘Historic Town’, but we didn’t have time to find out all we needed to, so continued south. We pulled off by Pacola Reservoir, but this area was for boat launching, and it cost money to park - even with our Golden Eagle Pass, it was only half price, and as we didn’t want to stop anyway, we continued. The man tried to be really helpful when he saw that we were Escapee members, and told us of other viewpoints to the reservoir. We pulled in at one, and then at the Forest Visitors Centre.
We were finding this area rather too tamed and touristy for us, so began looking for somewhere to stop for the night. We drove towards Hill City, then turned off on to a smaller road, hoping to find somewhere to pull in for the night. It was along here that disaster struck. We had stopped, with the intention of turning left on to a little road, when there was a loud crash, and we realised that something serious had happened. We, and the car behind, driven by a young girl, had come to grief.
Our back step (repaired for the beginning of this trip!!), was bent beyond repair, along with the bumper. The front of the girl’s car was a mess, but she was very calm, and not hurt.
Much clearing up of the vehicles and the road followed, and after exchanging details, we drove back down to Hill City, with our tail between our legs. We headed now for a campsite (blow the $22 for a site with no facilities!) and pulled in to lick our wounds! At least we are only 2 miles from Mount Rushmore, which we hope to visit tomorrow.
Adrian soon got the barbie going, and we enjoyed supper sitting outside at the picnic table. We tried to walk to the lake, but found it difficult in the dark - it was dark earlier tonight. We came back and lit a fire with the last of our wood, and sat out until 10.30.
Sunday 22nd August 180 miles
The night was really mild, and we heard a lot of light rain, but the morning was fine. We walked to the lake before coming back for breakfast and leaving at 8 o’clock.
We drove the short distance to Mt. Rushmore, pulling into a layby just before, where we were surprised to see the huge carving of George Washington above us.
We now entered the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, but despite this, there was a parking fee of $8, and no entrance fee, which doesn’t suit us! It was nice to have arrived early, as there weren’t many people about, but by the time we left at 10 o’clock, it was quite busy (and also hot!).
It was apparent that this is a national shrine for Americans, and many stood in awe of the huge figures carved in the rock above us, and what they symbolised. They certainly looked quite stunning, as we walked down through the avenue of flags (one for each state) to the viewing area beyond. We walked the ‘Presidents Trail’, which took us to closer and different views of these amazing figures of the four well loved presidents - Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt.
Our visit also included seeing the workshop of Borglum, the astonishing man, of Norwegian descent who was the mastermind and executer of these figures.
There was much information in the inevitable Visitors Centre, and we left feeling that we had got quite an insight into Americans and their historic pride.
We drove the short distance to Keystone, where lots of tourist attractions were available for those who wanted them, including a steam train, which we hadn’t time to follow up.
We took the Iron Mountain Road, which was very winding, with 3 narrow tunnels, but with great views. We entered the large Custer State Park, paying our $10 fee, which had to be paid to drive along the roads. We set off on the 18 mile wildlife loop, which made us think of being in Africa. Our wildlife here consisted of burros (wild donkeys), great herds of bison, and pronghorns (a type of antelope). We were really pleased to see these, as we hadn’t seen them before. There were ground squirrels and prairie dogs too. Apart from that, it was just a nice drive.
We had lunch sitting at a picnic table near Legion Lake before driving the Needles Highway. This road was even more winding, and had 3 low, narrow tunnels, one of which really taxed Adrian’s driving skills! (an 8’ 4” wide tunnel and our van is 7’ 11”, with the mirrors pulled in). In fact people had stopped us and said that we wouldn’t get through, and we caused quite a spectacle when we did! This was right by the ‘Eye of the Needle’ - a large hole in an immense rock, and aptly named. The huge bare rock spires here made us think of Ua Pou, and in fact the trail to them was called ‘The Cathedral Spires’. Further on was very pretty Sylvan Lake, surrounded by large rock formations, and a popular place on this Sunday afternoon.
We drove on south now, passing Crazy Horse site. This is where a huge carving of the Indian chief is being modelled into the cliffs, similar to those on Mt. Rushmore. It is far from finished (after 50 years!), although we could see the profile of his face. A huge tourist attraction, with a large entrance fee, has been fashioned around it, so we just viewed from a distance!
We now had to decide which route to take - south via Wind Cave NP or west through the Badlands NM. We decided on the latter, so continued through the cowboy-looking town of Custer to drive eastwards through Custer State Park once more. We stopped by Stockade Lake, before driving out of the park.
We immediately came back into grasslands, looking so different from the forested ‘Black Hills’. We headed north to Rapid City, and had a long dreary drive through it until we reached the I90. We now headed east, looking for somewhere to stop. We turned off at New Underwood for fuel, but couldn’t find anywhere until we reached Wall at 6.20. We knew of this place, because the Drug Store, a Tourist gimmick, is advertised all along the Freeway. We had heard that you could stay in the car park, and as there were already several RVs there, we pulled up alongside. As we are right by the railway, we hope that the trains don’t run all night!
A thunderstorm crashed and bashed all evening.
Monday 23rd August 200 miles
There were no trains, nor any rain during the night to disturb us. The morning started really grey and misty, as we walked across to the Drug Store at 7 o’clock. We spent some time walking around this amazingly huge emporium, which as well as selling mostly useless gifts and knick-knacks, incorporated a Travellers Chapel, a café, and display of old photos.
We came back to the Bam for breakfast and left some time after 8 o’clock.
We headed off to the Badlands National Park, and by now the sun was fighting with the clouds, and won, so that it became rapidly hot. We were amazed by this park, which equalled the beauty of Bryce, Cedar Breaks and the Grand Canyon. There were numerous viewpoints to view the colourful rock formations from, and marvel at the immense area of carved, stripy hummocks, in reds, browns and yellows.
Badlands National Park
At one point there was a trail with exhibits of fossils of prehistoric animal skulls found in the area. At another there was information on Big Foot who traversed this canyon on way to Wounded Knee where he and 200 other Indians were massacred.
Towards the western end of the park, at Cedar Pass, the rocks were more white in colour, but still dramatic. We walked several of the trails, the most surprising being the one called The Window, where, after a short and not particularly impressive trail, we suddenly stopped by an amazing view spread out before us of endless colourful rock formations.
We left the park at 2 o’clock, travelling east on the I90, stopping for fuel at Kadoka and turning south at Murdo.
The grassland country we were travelling through was prettier than we expected, and very green. We soon found ourselves in Nebraska, where finally we had changed to Central Time. We needed somewhere to stop for the night, and turned off on to a side road, but as this wasn’t productive, we returned to the main road, where we found that there was a place to stop just opposite. We pulled in, surrounded by wild sunflowers.
We had a barbie, and it was lovely sitting outside in our isolation. We were driven in by the mosquitoes at dusk, when a few drops of rain fell, and more fell at bedtime.
Tuesday 24th August 268 miles
There was more rain in the night, but the sun chased the clouds away in the morning, and it soon became very hot. I photographed the sunflowers again, with the sun shining through them. We had breakfast and left at 9 o’clock.
We drove south through pretty green humpy hills, which were ‘dusted’ with the yellow of sunflowers and other flowers, which also lined the road. There were several small lakes on either side of us. After about 40 miles we turned southeast on Highway 2, opting to take this rather than our original plan of the road beside the Platte River, as this one was supposedly prettier. It certainly was very pleasant. We soon came to Nebraska National Forest, and went in to look around the picnic area. There wasn’t much for us here - there was a swimming pool devoid of water - but we stopped at the nearby fishing lake, watching the fish, swallows and a turtle. The very full Loup River flowed past, and the railway followed the road for miles, with enormously long trains pulling trucks piled high with coal.
We continued to Broken Bow. The whole town had an unpleasant smell. We had been listening to our recording of crossing the Nullabor, and could almost imagine that we were there!
We passed several small picnic sites, and pulled into one in tiny Mason City and enjoyed lunch sitting at a shaded picnic table. Continuing south, we drove through fields and fields of sweetcorn, not the wheat we might have expected.
At Grand Island we tried fruitlessly for an internet connection. We travelled on eastwards, through flat land, on the I80, turning south near York on to Route 81, and finding a ‘City Park’ at the village of Geneva, where we could stay for the night.
We walked around the park before setting up at a picnic table to prepare our evening meal. We enjoyed our lovely setting, coming in at 9 o’clock. It was still very hot - what a shame that the adjacent swimming pools were empty and closed!
Wednesday 25th August 267 miles
The morning was unsettled, with a very black sky when we left at 8.45. We continued south on route 81, stopping at the point where the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express route both crossed our road. At Hebron we got some fuel, and the storm hit us for a while. Looking south to Kansas, the sky was blue - a bit like looking to the Land of Oz!
We continued into Kansas, driving around the town of Concordia, hoping for an internet connection, but we didn’t get one here or at other places we tried. We were hoping to look up about BA’s proposed strike at the weekend.
We continued south to Salina. We went into a Dillons store to buy our last bits of food. We got the new girl on the till, and others seemed very slow, but were all quite pleasant.
Just as we reached the freeway we finally got an internet connection, and found out that the BA strike has just been called off. With great relief we continued south, stopping near Mandridge. We drove on through Wichita (linesman) on the freeway, turning off at the southern end of the town, as the ongoing freeway was a toll road.
We continued south on a pleasant country road, reminding us of England, but with nowhere to stop. We had wanted to stop for the night in Kansas, and had given up hope. However, at the 11th hour, just before the boundary with Oklahoma, we found an area by a ‘Historical marker’ at Hunnewell.
This did us just fine! There were picnic tables, one under a shelter, but in fact we used our own table and chairs as we lit the barbie. Unfortunately all the flies and flidgies descended just as we were about to eat, but they soon disappeared, and we enjoyed sitting out until 9 o’clock.
Thursday 26th August 255 miles
After an extremely hot night we awoke to see the sun rising on a beautiful morning.
We enjoyed our breakfast sitting outside and left just after 8.30. In half a mile we were in Oklahoma State, so were extra pleased with last night’s find.
We continued south to near Guthrie, where we stopped for fuel. We drove on through Oklahoma City on the freeway, not enjoying the prolific and fast traffic. Just after Purcell we pulled off and ate lunch at a derelict petrol station, sitting outside under a shady tree. Adrian phoned Emma on our mobile, and found that they were safely back at Hermitage after their holiday in the Tiv in France and Spain.
We drove on south, turning off to Chickasaw National Recreation Area. This was a very pretty area of lakes, streams and springs. We drove around, stopping to view some of the springs, and then coming to Veterans Lake, where we both had a delicious swim in the warm water - just what was needed, as it was very hot and humid. We travelled on a bit, then came to an bit called ‘Little Niagara’ - an area on the Travertine Creek with a little waterfall. It was too good to resist, so we both had another swim, this time in cooler water, but equally refreshing. It made us think of many places in Australia we had swum in.
Now it was time to find somewhere for the night - our last free night, as tomorrow we have to go (reluctantly) into an RV park to prepare for going home and leaving the Bam. We headed south, through pretty country - very green with lots of trees, and looking rather English. We drove around Lake Murray, where there were pleasant but expensive (to us) campsites beside the water. It seemed to be a large State Park.
We had hoped to stay in Oklahoma State tonight, and were giving up hope, but on the outskirts of the attractive Midwest town of Marietta we found a bit of spare land suitable for us at 6.20.
We did a bit of sorting, then went outside to cook our evening meal. We were amazed that there were no flies or mozzies, despite the cattle in the next field, but the downer tonight were the ants. I picked up the spatula from the ground to stir the meal, and unfortunately it was covered in tiny ants! Having got over this problem, we enjoyed our meal, and actually sat out until 10.30. It was still very warm.
Friday 27th August Happy birthday Paul 69 miles
We left at 8.45 on a fine morning for our last full day in USA. We drove south, and very soon came into Texas. We continued south, turning of at Sanger to look at an RV park, but Adrian wanted to go to Camping World, which was a bit further south, so we continued to Denton. We located Camping World and spent more time and money than we had anticipated, but at least we got the things that Adrian wanted. We had coffee before going in search of somewhere to do an ‘MOT’ - the test we have to have done on the vehicle as it is licensed in Texas. The large volume of traffic added to our difficulties in trying to find our way, but we did find a place which would do it - it was then that we found out that this county charges $40, as they test for emissions - further north it is only $12! However, it had to be done, so we went ahead.
Now we headed for an RV Park nearby, but it gave us some confusion, as it was on I35E, not I35W - the Interstate Highway divided at a ‘Y’, with both roads having the same number - it even had a classic sign, I35E - South!
This RV Park, called Destiny, was more attractive than some, but despite their Mission Statement about friendly, helpful staff, the lady at the desk was very glum and offhand!
Having gone to our designated position, we sat outside to have our lunch, before getting on with the ‘jobs’ - doing the washing, clearing out cupboards, and cleaning, all in readiness for going home tomorrow, and leaving the Bam here.
We thought we might have logged into the advertised wi-fi connection here, but it was paying one, at $5 a day!
There was a (fee paying) car wash attached to the site, so we gave the Bam as good a clean as we could, although the bugs were stuck fast!
After that it was time to have a swim in the delightfully warm pool, where we chatted to a chap from Ohio. He was our age, and had retired, but his wife was still working - 10 hours a day - not much fun!
We had our last barbie - we were the only people sitting out.
Saturday 28th / Sunday 29th August 29 miles
It was a bad night! At first it was extremely hot and then there was an almighty thunderstorm, and it rained for the rest of the night and most of the morning! This meant that we had a very disturbed sleep, and that packing up and organising to leave was extremely difficult! Not what we needed, when the next night was going to be spent on a plane!
Adrian had brought in the tablecloth and one or two other things in the middle of the night, as he thought that they would be blown away.
We managed to get the bedding washed and dried, and to have a pleasant swim (on the second attempt, as they hadn’t bothered to unlock the pool, as it was so wet), but by now it was 12.30.
We manoeuvred our way through to Colleyville, but were thwarted at the last minute, as the road to the storage place was closed, and we had to make a long diversion!
When we finally arrived, Adrian collected our post, which included our coach tickets from Gatwick, which we had left at home, and Hil had sent on. We ate a hurried sandwich as we sorted ourselves, and parked the Bam in the adjacent storage lot, but there was no quick way through as there had been before, and we had to go out into the road. We then had a long wait for the taxi - always the same when we are short of time - last time the taxi came really early. Of course the driver had had to follow the diversion too. He was a Pakistani, and was very pleasant and chatty, and extremely intelligent.
Being latish, we got through booking in etc. very quickly, and didn’t have a lot of time to hang around. We phoned Emma and asked her to pick us up at Savacentre in the morning, before boarding the plane for our 16.20 flight to Gatwick. I was picked for an extra search as we boarded, but then we had a really pleasant flight.
We had window seats, with a spare seat beside us, which is always a bonus. There were several young unaccompanied boys sitting behind us, the youngest only five or six. They were well behaved, but of course didn’t go to sleep! The staff were extremely pleasant, both to the boys, and to us, asking if their fidgeting was disturbing us. In fact it was almost a party atmosphere, as most of the passengers were young people, and there was never that absolute silence which you often get on a night flight.
Adrian watched a couple of trashy films, but I took the opportunity to finish reading Tom Jones (by Henry Fielding), which I had been really enjoying, as we know the story so well.
We landed half an hour early, at 7 am, and got our luggage really quickly - sods law, as our bus wasn’t until 8.30, and there wasn’t an earlier one. It seemed really noisy and busy as we hung around for an hour, but once on the bus we both had a little sleep before we arrived at Savacentre at 10.20. Emma collected us and drove us back to Hermitage, where Stuart, Felix and Ruby were waiting. Later Tom came too, so we had a happy time hearing of each others adventures during the summer. It had been another great trip.