Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 8 (full version)

Day 8 – Tuesday – July 2, 2013

0700 Slept in this morning because of the time change.  Ron made eggs and bacon for breakfast.  Yum!  The garbage man came by while we were eating which was good because the dumpster was full to the brim!

0920 Ron and the kids leave to hike to Avalanche Lake.  Rocco can’t go and he was not happy to be left behind.

0935 Rocco and I go back across the street to McDonald Creek to explore for a while.  Then we go back to camp.  Rocco watches the squirrels and I read my book.

12:19 p.m. Everyone is back from their respective adventures.  We make PB&J sandwiches for lunch.  The kids told me about the elk they saw on the hike - hanging out right on the trail and not in a hurry to move despite all the tourist paparazzi taking their picture.  After lunch we are headed for Canada.

12:22 p.m. Stopped in a construction zone.

12:41 p.m. Made it through. Phew.

1:15 p.m. Continental Divide at Logan Pass.  Currently 82 degrees.  There are a couple bighorn sheep lounging on the snowy hillside.  We want to stop at the visitor’s center but this one is also way too busy.

1:33 p.m. St Mary’s Lake

1:45 p.m. Sinkhole on the side of the road

1:48 p.m. Stop at the visitor’s center at the St Mary’s entrance.  Not nearly so busy.  Unfortunately we don’t really get a chance to look around because the fire alarm goes off and everyone has to evacuate.  There are a few informational signs outside the center though so the kids can still tell us something that they learned:
Ryan – Four Native American groups in this area – Blackfoot, Sakish, Pend O’Reille, and Kootenai
Felisa – There is a straight line cut through the trees to mark the international border.

2:32 p.m. Almost hit a brown cow as we come around the corner.

2:40 p.m. Leaving the USA

2:42 p.m. Entering Canada.

3:15 p.m. Stop at Prince of Wales Hotel.  It is a resort hotel built in 1926-27 by the railroad to encourage travelers to use the train.

3:22 p.m. Visitor’s Center at Waterton.  Small but I got an unofficial stamp for my National Park passport book.

3:35 p.m. There is a lakeside village here inside the park.  Rocco tests out the Canadian water as we walk along the lake.

3:45 p.m. Decide to walk through town.  We bought postcards and then had a late lunch/snack at Trappers.  After our snack we went to buy stamps so we could mail the postcards from Canada which would make them that much more exciting to receive!  Instead of going to find the actual post office, we take advantage of the mail can at the postcard store.  Despite the sign declaring otherwise, it looks a lot like a trash can so we’re really hoping the postcards make it to their destinations!  Rocco even has time to take a potty break before we get back in the car.  His day is complete – he has peed in Canada!  haha

5:30 p.m. Stop at the scenic overlook.

5:34 p.m. Sofa Mountain fire area.  The fire was in 1998.  We have seen a lot of wildfire areas on this trip.  It has been interesting to see how things re-grow and how long it takes.

5:40 p.m. Border crossing back to the US.  It was much more stressful trying to get back in that it was to get out to Canada.  Rocco growled when the guards opened the back hatch of the van (without warning!).  Sure am glad he didn’t decide to bite the intruders.  That would’ve been trouble for sure.  We saw the line in the trees as we crossed through no-mans-land but weren’t quick enough to get a picture of it.

5:47 p.m. Deer by the road.

5:48 p.m. Person crossing the road.  This is the same area we saw the cow earlier. Quite a potentially dangerous stretch of back roads highway!

5:50 p.m. Chief Mountain, 9080 feet

5:52 p.m. Cow crossing the road.  See what I mean about dangerous!

5:58 p.m. Scenic overlook out over the valley.  There is definitely a difference in the scenery on this side of the divide.

6:12 p.m. Pick up some roaming cell service.  Get in a quick check of email (things are not looking good for the Creative Memories digital products as they continue through bankruptcy proceedings –so sad- but will have to get the specific details later) and post a quick blog update that we are still alive.  The blogger app that I put on my phone before we left has been good for quick updates along the way, especially this year since we are spending a lot more time off the grid.

6:21 p.m. Back at the St Mary’s entrance to Glacier.  The sign shows that most of the campgrounds are full.  Hopefully there will be less traffic on the road as we head back across to Avalanche.

6:35 p.m. Check my phone dictionary app for the official definition of “glacier”.  Maybe I will remember to check the park website for more interesting glacier tidbits when I finally get around to making my scrapbook.

6:50 p.m. Logan’s Pass.   The bighorn sheep have crossed the street and are wandering through the visitor center parking lot.  Nice to be able to get their picture after all.

6:54 p.m. A mountain goat is posing nicely at the overlook but I miss the shot. Darn.

6:56 p.m. Avalanche zone – unstable snow- no stopping for the next ¼ mile.

6:59 p.m. “Another One Bites the Dust” is playing as we head down the pass.  Uh-oh!

7:01 p.m. Pass the Weeping Wall.  It’s fun to drive through a waterfall!

7:05 p.m. The word “vast” comes to mind with the views in this park.  The camera can’t begin to capture it.

7:06 p.m. I like the cool stair steps the water carves into the rock as it falls.

7:07 p.m. Bird Woman Falls, 492 feet high

7:08 p.m. The river in the valley is shining in the sun. So pretty and so far down!

7:15 p.m. Back at the Loop and Heaven’s Peak

7:28 p.m. Deer jam

7:30 p.m. Avalanche campground – home sweet home.  That’s the end of our 7-hour field trip to Canada. There is a lot of campfire smoke tonight.  Or is that the smell of our brakes after driving down the mountain?  We ate beans and rice for dinner.  After dinner, Ron, Felisa, and I took Rocco back across the street for one more walk along the river.  I iced my hands and Ron iced his feet in the water.  Felt good!

10:15 p.m. Bedtime.  Once again, it’s not even dark yet.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 7 (full version)

Day 7 – Monday – July 1, 2013

0630 Time to get up.  Take Rocco out and get the coffee started.  Turn on the tv to see what’s new in the world.  The Weather Channel says it will be 90 degrees in the mountains today (yuck) and also has a story about the 19 firefighters (smokejumpers) killed in the Arizona wildfire. Yikes.

0730 Ron is up.  Time to pack up and load up.  Make sure every available water bottle has been filled.  Rocco is once again waiting in the car, refusing to get out.  He wants to be sure he doesn’t get left behind!

0935 Leave the condo.  It is 71 degrees.  We are clean, dry, and somewhat rested.  Ready for Part 2 of the big trip!

0941 Waiting in the lodge parking lot while Ron turns the keys in.  There sure are a lot of minivans with roof boxes here.

0946 – Best parts of the weekend at the condo?
Ryan – the chair lift and having a bed
Bella – same as Ryan
Felisa – same as Ryan plus the view
Ron – the scenery and relaxing family time
Rocco – the soft carpet and having his toys out to play with
Sheila – the scenery, the accommodations, and the chance to reset everything before we go again

1005 Sandpoint.  Stop for gas but the station cannot accept credit cards so we head on out.

1008 McD’s drive thru for breakfast and coffee

1025 Someone painted fish graffiti on the hillside

1026 Gas, $3.59/gallon.  There is a café inside. The sign says that bathing suits must be covered.  There is also a boat inspection station.  We have driven 1,817 miles so far.

1039 Elmira Store Café has the “best food in town”.  I think it also has the only food in town!

1049 Pass a big-rig RV pulling a giant trailer with a satellite dish on the roof

1050 Truck of pigs headed south

1052 More yellow fields.  I wonder what crop that is.

1053 Bonners Ferry.  Population - 2,515.  This seems to be the main town for this area.  There are two grocery stores, Subway, gas stations, carwash, etc.  They even have a barber ship (that’s not a typo!) and South Hill Lockers, a meat and game processing place.

1058 Kootenai River.  More yellow fields.  Maybe it is potatoes?

1102 143 long miles until our next turn.

1107 Moyie River

1108 Evergreen Elementary.  All the windows are boarded up.  Must no longer be operational.

1116 Sign for cheapest cigarettes for 500 miles. Montana must have high cigarette taxes.

1117 now 12:17 p.m. Mountain Time Zone and Montana state line but no sign!  We have now added 4 new states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana) to the kids’ lists and two states for Ron (Idaho and Montana) and I (Oregon and Montana).

12:24 p.m. Yaak River

12:28 p.m. Kootenai River

12:31 p.m. Troy, MT

12:39 p.m. Kootenai Falls and Swinging Bridge Historic point.  Oops – looked interesting.  Should’ve stopped.  Too busy though.  Oh well – next time!

12:50 p.m. Libby, MT.  Couple of cool eagle statues in town.  Elevation, 2066 feet.  Current temperature, 86 degrees

12:56 p.m. Granite Creek, MT

1:06 p.m. Construction ahead on a gravel road.

1:11 p.m. Flagman said there will be a 10 minute wait for the pilot car to get here.

1:14 p.m. It’s our turn to go already!  Not even close to a 10 minute wait.  Yay!

1:59 p.m. McGregor Lake, 89 degrees

2:24 p.m. Bike path.  Sign says rails to trails of NW Montana.

2:35 p.m. Stop at Jimmy Johns in Kalispell for lunch.  It is hot and sunny and Rocco is refusing to go potty but the food is good.  Well, except for Bella of course.  She doesn’t like Jimmy Johns.

3:05 p.m. Gas, $3.61/gallon.  Smiths for food.

3:35 p.m. St Richard’s Catholic Church.  Don’t see many of those.

3:37 p.m. Flathead River

3:43 p.m. Hungry Horse, MT.  Those are some really hungry looking horses on the signs around town.  Should we be worried?

3:55 p.m. Going to the Sun Road

3:57 p.m. We use the tall vehicles entrance to Glacier National Park.   Doesn’t look like our roof box would fit the other side.

3:58 p.m. Bear Country signs.  Also, all wildlife is dangerous.  You have been warned!

4:02 p.m. Apgar Visitor Center. This place is way too busy.  Decide to keep going.  It is 92 degrees here at Lake McDonald.  The Prius driving ahead of us has a San Luis Obispo license plate frame.

4:13 p.m. Rocco wants to get out and swim in the lake.  Are we there yet?

4:34 p.m. Arrive at our campsite.  It is 88 degrees – hot and crowded here at Glacier.  Not what I was expecting for sure.  I guess that’s what happens in the summer near a holiday weekend.

5:25 p.m. Tent is set up.  We walk across the street to check out the creek.  We saw a few elk in the woods.  The water is quite chilly.  Rocco wants to go in but keeps jumping back out again because it is so cold.  After our walk we play a couple rounds of Crazy 8’s.

7:00 p.m. Cooking dinner.  Tonight we are having rice-a-roni, chicken, broccoli, Caesar salad, and bread.

9:41 p.m. Sunset

10:00 p.m. Bedtime even though it’s still pretty light outside.  It sure is hard to see the stars when it won’t get dark before midnight!  I can’t stay up that late!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 6 (full version)

Day 6 – Sunday – June 30, 2013

0630 Rocco and Daddy are awake.

0715 Everyone is downstairs.  Rocco is playing – very happy to have his toys and playtime again.  Felisa says that Buddy fell out of the top bunk last night but luckily no permanent injuries.  We told him to be more careful tonight.

0920 An update on the morning so far-
Rocco enjoyed a short, very hilly walk – mostly UPhill. Ron continued on up the hill to do a recon of activities at the lodge.  The kids were playing DS but Felisa got bored.  Rocco is apparently a country dog.  This condo living is stressing him out.  He has been barking at everything including cars driving on the road behind us.  We got a call from the renters back in Virginia.  Apparently the water heater is dead.  Of course it is.  Because it’s a weekend and we are away from home with minimal cell service which makes it harder for everyone to deal with the problem.  Chores this morning include laundry, dishes, and drying out the tent, chairs, and other camp gear.

1135 Getting ready to head up the hill to the lodge for lunch and activities.

1:30 p.m. Rocco and I are back.  It is hot out there!  The others are planning to go rubber duck hunting (a fundraiser raffle thing) and ride the chair lift to the top of the mountain.

2:20 p.m. A call from Flood Plumbing.  Cost to replace the water heater is $2500.

2:45 p.m. Ryan and Felisa are back.  They thought the door was locked so they rang the doorbell.  Rocco was not happy about that!

2:46 p.m. Bella is back.

2:47 p.m. Ron is back. Everyone enjoyed the chair lift ride but didn’t win anything in the duck hunt.

5:00 p.m. Ron and I head down to Sandpoint for dinner.  The food is good but it took way too long.

7:00 p.m. Back at the condo with frozen pizza for the kids’ dinner.  After dinner Ron takes them up to the pool at the lodge.  Rocco and I stay home to do more laundry and dishes and to take a walk.

10:30 p.m. Last load is in the dryer.  Bedtime!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 5 (Full version)

Day 5 – Saturday – June 29, 2013

0700 Wake up.  It is wet outside again.  Thunderstorm rolled through about 5 a.m.

0853 Almost on the road.  Ron’s wallet was left inside the tent so we had to dig it out before we could go.

0857 Stop to take pictures of the lake and the creek.

0906 Sign says: Delay of 5 vehicles or more is illegal.  Must use turnout.

0907 Diablo Lake Overlook.  Great views here!  It is 62 degrees and the sun is hot already.

0948 Granite Creek

0956 Porcupine Creek

1000 Rainy Lake Trail in the Okanogan National Forest.  Rocco seems to like walking on the snow.  Even when he could go around, he doesn’t.  The lake is beautiful with many waterfalls on the far side.  Definitely worth the stop and the short hike.  At one point, Rocco was pulling Felisa, a la Marmaduke.  Luckily she didn’t fall.  Unfortunately the bathrooms here were disgusting.  There were also no fee envelopes out so people couldn’t pay the use fee.  Seemed like a neglected trail head.  Budget cuts or bad management?  Not sure.

1135 Back on the road.  We are about 2 ½ hours from Grand Coulee Dam.

1154 Klipchuk campground

1156 Leaving North Cascades Scenic Highway and the Okanogan National Forest.

1157 Hitchhiker on the side of the road.  Sorry but we are full to the brim.  There’s not even room to ride on the roof!

12:04 p.m. Very pretty valley with lots of horses

12:15 p.m. Winthrop, WA – a nice, cool old town.  The main street is a shopping district and there is even a cool pedestrian bridge on the edge of town.  We pick up lunch to go from Carlos 1800 Express (no dogs allowed at any of the restaurants in town).  Yummy Mexican food even if we did have to eat in the car.

12:44 p.m. Shafer Museum in Winthrop.  Also looks interesting for a future visit.

12:47 p.m. Methow River

1:13 p.m. Loup Loup Summit, 4020 feet.  There are lots of motorcycles on this road – must be the scenic route.

1:28 p.m. Big net covering the entire orchard.

1:29 p.m. Curtis Sheep Slaughter historic marker.  Hmm. Wonder what that was about. (Looked it up – apparently some angry cattlemen killed a bunch of sheep one night in 1903 to protest the increase in sheep farmers)

1:36 p.m. Canadian border is just 50 miles away…

1:40 p.m. Omak, WA

1:43 p.m. Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway

1:54 p.m. Two cop cars chatting.  Must be the afternoon break time.

1:59 p.m. Rocco is thirsty.

2:02 p.m. News on the radio is talking about the current heat wave.  The forecast high for Death Valley today is 128 degrees, close to the hundred-year record of 134 degrees – the highest recorded temperature on Earth.  Death Valley is on our California bucket list but I’m thinking we probably shouldn’t visit in the summer.  The entire west coast is in the heat wave.  There have been lots of Facebook posts from friends back on the Central Coast lamenting the hot weather.  It definitely has not been as cool and refreshing on this trip as I was expecting considering how far north we are.  So I guess the good news is it would be worse if we were south.

2:04 p.m. News report – searching for a lost hiker on Mt. Hood

2:05 p.m. Disautel Pass, 3252 feet

2:06 p.m. Deer roadkill.  It looked like it had been smooshed and stretched – eew!

2:14 p.m. A hawk just swooped down to the road.  Looked like it was trying to grab us!

2:21 p.m. Colville Indian Agency

2:29 p.m. Spirit Ridge RV Park has teepee rentals!

2:30 p.m. Grand Coulee Dam in the distance

2:41 p.m. Arrive at the dam.  Whoa!  That’s a lot of water!  I haven’t seen that much water flowing over the spillways since Hoover Dam in the 80s.  What did we learn?
Felisa – Grand Coulee Dam is one of the largest concrete structures in the world.
Ryan – This dam has 11,975,521 cubic yards of concrete compared to Hoover Dam which has about 3,500,000 cubic yards.

3:19 p.m. Gas, $4.03/gallon

3:40 p.m. Wilbur, WA – had a giant Wilbur statue and a covered wagon.  Too bad we missed getting a picture of Wilbur.

4:28 p.m. Our 3G cell service has returned.  Commence the Facebook updates!

5:07 p.m. Idaho

5:15 p.m. Coeur d’Alene

5:41 p.m. Passed the Silverwood Amusement Park.  Lots of rollercoasters.

5:59 p.m. Lake Cocolalla

6:10 p.m. Sandpoint, ID

6:14 p.m. Safeway for provisions

6:30 p.m. Leaving Safeway and heading up the mountain to Schweitzer Ski Resort

7:00 p.m. Waiting at the lodge while Ron checks us in to our condo

7:15 p.m. At the condo.  Which has an insanely steep driveway.  No way would I tackle that in the winter. Yikes!  Everyone is very excited to have a house instead of a tent, even Rocco.  We unload the car then make dinner – rotisserie chicken, rice-a-roni, Caesar salad, and French bread.  Rocco tried to steal a chicken bone from the trash. Bad dog!  After dinner, showers for all.

10:00 p.m. Bedtime.  In beds!  J

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 13 etc

Yes, we're still alive. Really. It's just that the exciting adventure part of the trip is over. We've had two nice visits with Dad and then with Mom. A night of camping in between near Park City, UT. Headed for Sparks, NV tonight and a hotel room. The tent is dying and my little campers are revolting so my travel agent booked us a room at Holiday Inn Express. It'll be Rocco's first hotel. Hope he likes it and doesn't bark at all the strange noises.
Off we go across the desert...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bella's update

Wednesday, July 10. We're still alive.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Day 12

Up and out of camp by 7:30. Breakfast and coffee at McDs. It's too early for the museum so we hit the road. First stop, Territorial Prison Museum in Laramie. That was fun. Then heading south. Colorado Springs or bust! Lunch at smashBurger. No Colorado Dog on the menu so I am sad. We did not stop at DSW but we did stop at Peloton Cycles. Made it to Grandpa Ford's house around 2. Relaxing and showers for all then dinner at Saltgrass Steak House. Yum!  Bedtime in a real bed. Or a couch. Or an air mattress. But not in a tent on the ground.

Day 4 (full version)

Day 4 – Friday – June 28, 2013

0600 Wake up. Take Rocco for a morning walk on the beach.  While we were gone, the kids started packing up the camp.  I was a little surprised but very impressed with their initiative.

0806 Leave the campground.

0810 I need my sunglasses this morning – yay!  That means it is sunny!

0812 Sign says “Elderly People”

0817 Doing a search for Powell’s Used Book store that I’ve heard is so great.  Oh darn.  It is in Portland, not Seattle, so we missed it.

0824 Starbucks Drive-Thru.  Lots of food choices here that they don’t have at our Starbucks.  There is a scary bug hanging onto the driver’s side mirror and he won’t leave!

0845 Bremerton Shipyard

0847 Navy Federal ATM won’t take my check.  I need to deposit the rent from our tenants so we can pay the rent to our landlord!

0858 Found a branch. Deposit is a success!

0913 Arrive at the ferry terminal.  $16.40 for the van.  There are some cool sculptures outside the Navy Museum next door.

0935 Start your engines!  It’s time to load the ferry.

0938 On board. Ready to cross the Puget Sound.

0947 Rocco is scared!  He liked the ferry just fine until the started up the engines and pulled away from the dock.  Time to go hide in the car where it is safer.

1010 While waiting with Rocco I have written a postcard to Allie and gotten it ready to mail whenever I find a post office (Foreshadowing- not for several days!).  I emailed a couple pictures to Mom and to Dad.  I sent a text to Lana.

1021 Shift change.  Ron is going to sit with Rocco and I get to go sit up above with the kids.

1041 Pulling in to port in Seattle.

1045 Off the ferry.

1054 At Pike Place Market.  Very hot and busy.  The parking was super expensive.  Rocco was feeling overwhelmed by it all as were the rest of us, even more so after spending the last few days camping.  We saw the first Starbucks, also ridiculously busy.  Clicked a few photos as we walked by.  Ron took the kids into the Market while Rocco and I hung out at the park across the street.

1142 Leaving the parking lot.  Gave the rest of our 1.5 hour ticket to someone else to use the rest of.  Whew – it was so busy and stressful there.  Let’s get out of here!

12:33 p.m. Lunch at Five Guys in Arlington, WA.  There are lots of police cars in the parking lot and 7 officers inside having lunch.  Ron took the van across the street to get an oil change.  It was so fast he was back before we finished our lunch.

1:13 p.m. Leaving Five Guys.  Rocco took Felisa’s seat and wouldn’t move.  Finally got him back on his side.

1:16 p.m. Safeway and gas, $3.75/gallon.

1:36 p.m. There’s a carnival in town causing a traffic jam.

2:26 p.m. Darrington, WA.  There is a big lumber mill in town.

2:27 p.m. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

2:28 p.m. Skagit County

2:32 p.m. Sauk River

2:44 p.m. Skagit River and Rockport, WA

2:46 p.m. Rockport Quarry.  Hmm, I wonder if that’s why they call this town Rockport.

2:48 p.m. Cascadian Farm.  Is it THE Cascadian Farm or just A Cascadian Farm?  It is THE Cascadian Farm (the organic branch of General Mills).  They have a little farm stand set up here with coffee, fruit, and ice cream.  The kids get giant ice cream cones and Rocco gets a potty break.  Iced coffee for mommy.

3:20 p.m. No services for the next 74 miles.  Good thing we stopped for ice cream!

3:27 p.m. Bacon Creek Road

3:37 p.m. North Cascades National Park Visitor Center.  What did we learn?

Felisa – Without predators for population control, mule deer would multiple past the food available which would leave them vulnerable to starvation in winter.

Bella – Moss grows between rocks to avoid the wind.

Ryan – We are currently between just 500-600 feet above sea level (which explains why it’s so hot and not cool like the usual mountain areas.  Also, we can see snow on the mountains ahead which really makes it seem like we are at a higher elevation.)

Sheila – There are lots of glaciers here in this park (I guess that’s the snow we see).  Glaciers are like volcanoes to me – they seem like something that existed a long time ago.  Of course, when I think glacier I always imagine big giant sheets of ice covering large areas like during the ice age, not the bits of ice that really just look like snow that hasn’t quite melted yet which is what these glaciers look like.

4:04 p.m. Skagit General Store.  It’s the Seattle City Light “Company Store” right next to the company town.

4:11 p.m. Firewood on board.  Ready to find our campground.

4:15 p.m. Passing a river gorge with barely any water in it.  Who stole the river?

4:16 p.m. Tunnel

4:17 p.m. Stop at the overlook to see the dam.  The dam view was better from the road but we missed the pullout to take a picture from there.

4:33 p.m. Wow – that’s a big waterfall!  Looking at the map that must be Gorge Creek Falls.

4:34 p.m. Tunnel

4:42 p.m. Colonial Creek campground

4:45 p.m. We have found our spot for the night.  Campground elevation is 1200 feet.  Camp fee is $12.  For dinner we made a dutch oven recipe (Creamy Chicken Rice) on the campfire. This method lacks the controlled heat and temperature of using charcoals but other than some burned rice on the bottom, it turns out fine.  After dinner we went to the program about Lucinda Davis presented by Ranger Katie.  On a side note, it turns out that Ranger Katie once caught giardia from improperly filtered stream water.  That is the first person I have ever heard of that has actually contracted giardia.  I guess it’s not a mythical disease after all.  Don’t drink from the stream – always filter the water!  At the end of the program, Ranger Katie brought out her guitar and sang a song about home.  Rocco didn’t make it through the whole program.  He wouldn’t stay still so I took him out for a walk then left him in the van to wait for us back at camp.

9:25 p.m. Campfire #2 for the night. Then bedtime.  It is staying lighter much later the farther north we go.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Day 3 (full version)

Day 3 – Thursday – June 27, 2013

0600 Wake up.  There were loud, long trains rolling through last night.  Loudest and longest was at 3 a.m.  Rain came at about 4 a.m.  Overall a better experience than the first night but there is definitely room for improvement!

0843 On the road.  Bella was up at 6 but Ryan and Felisa slept in a bit.  Mozzarella’s battery is at 3%! Quick, plug him in to the charger!

0849 Waterfalls.  We were going to hike to the falls this morning but it is muddy and steep. We can use the time somewhere else along the road today.

0900 Leaving Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and now our view is ugly construction.

0911 Crossing the river to Washington

0913 Washington – what a big wide river that was.  This really is a gorgeous area.

0914 Publishing a blog update summary of Day 2.

0922 Ft. Vancouver.  Rocco and I took a walk through the apple orchard and past the village while Ron and the kids went through the fort.  They shot sniper fire at us from the tower and then fired the giant cannons.  We did not surive.  So, what else did we learn (besides not to take a walk outside the walls of the fort!)?

Bella – Her name was Rebecca. She came to the fort with her dad, 2 brothers, and 1 sister from Ohio on the Oregon Trail.  Not sure what happened to her mom. She met her husband at the fort Christmas dance and was married at age 14. Her house was the only one to survive a big flood of the river.  She helped take care of her neighbors after the flood.

Ryan – His name was Simon Guille.  His dad, Simon, was a French-Canadian fur trader and his mom, Marie, was a Native American.  His parents were married in the church at the fort in 1845. He did not spend much time in the village.  He travelled with his dad on the river to hunt for furs.

Felisa – Her name was Cecilia Douglas.  She was taught by her dad at a private school.  She was a good writer so she wrote things for others to study from. She knew three languages – English, French, and Cree.  Her dad, James, was the 1st governor of British Columbia.

It was nice to see the fort and the area after reading so many Oregon trail books.


1106 Lunch at Burgerville. “Hot off the Grill”  The food was good. They even had fried asparagus.  Yum!

1143 Back on the road.

1152 1,008 miles so far on this trip.

1158 Where is Vacation Mouse?  He has been hiding under all the stuff in the car.  I think he’s jealous of Rocco who gets to get out of the car at every stop.  We pulled Vacation Mouse out to a more prominent location so he has a better chance of making it out when we stop.

12:09 p.m. Lots and lots of logs down by the river.   Must be on their way out of town.

12:25 p.m. Gas, $3.89/gallon

12:32 p.m. Testing out the power cup charger.  Seems to be working. We are also currently double-charging on the cell charger in the other outlet.  No overnight hotel room re-charges on this trip so we have to do it while we’re driving.

12:37 p.m. Mt. St. Helen’s Visitor Center. What did we learn?

Felisa- March 20, 1980 was the first sizeable earthquake that shook Mt. St. Helen’s prior to the eruption.
Bella – 14 people died and 90 were missing after the eruption
Ryan – Steam coming from the volcano created a tourism boom in the region even though people were warned of an imminent eruption.  Some stayed even after the evacuation was ordered.
Sheila – I had forgotten there was an eruption in 2004.  Only the 1980 eruption stays in my memory. Maybe because it was so much bigger.
Ron – Climbers on Mt. Adam were able to watch the eruption.  Did they think about the fact that they were climbing a volcano also?

Volcanoes seem so prehistoric to me –something that happened a long, long time ago.  It seems weird that there are still active volcanoes today.

1:21 p.m. Leave the visitor center to drive closer.

1:25 p.m. Following the Toutle River.  It is very pretty.

1:36 p.m. Sign says there is no gas or vehicle repair ahead.  Hopefully we won’t need either!

1:53 p.m. Picture stop.  There are great views along this road.  There is a nice Forest Learning Center here that would be fun for a future visit.  I was surprised to see it as I was expecting the usual overlook of just a parking lot and a view.  Current elevation 2,560 feet.

2:01 p.m. Elk Rock viewpoint.  Rocco is becoming less patient each time we stop.  He really wants to get out to see it too but we’re trying to hurry.

2:12 p.m. Old stumps on the hillside – remnants of the volcano blast area

2:20 p.m. Johnston Ridge Observatory. Clouds are definitely moving in.

3:21 p.m. Leaving the observatory. It fogged over completely while we were inside and now we can’t see the mountain.  L The movie was good. Very interesting stories from survivors of the eruption.  Apparently there are dozens of active volcanoes in the world in any given year. Also, I wonder what sort of person wants a job that studies volcanoes?  What are their interests and personalities that lead them to that job?  It can be very dangerous.

3:44 p.m. Forest Learning center for a bathroom break.  This time everyone gets to get out and see the view.  Rocco had to wait in the car up at the observatory since he wasn’t allowed anywhere except the sidewalk and parking lot there.

3:56 p.m. Cow Creek

4:01 p.m. Interesting to see the signs put up by the paper company (Weyerhauser) telling when each area of trees along the road was planted, thinned, fertilized, etc.

4:30 p.m. Coffee stop before we get back on the highway.

5:02 p.m. Mattress Ranch – the mattress store is all decorated as a ranch with a fence and fake animals outside.

5:30 p.m. Drive by the Washington State Capitol building in Olympia.

7:23 p.m. Leaving Shelton, WA after our dinner stop at Smokin’ Mos BBQ.  It was really yummy!  Our dinners were:

Bella – Mac-n-cheese with bacon
Felisa – Chili Mac with cornbread croutons
Ron – Mac-n-cheese with fried okra, fried onions, and hot links
Ryan – Pulled pork and beef sandwich with Carolina hot mustard
Sheila – Western bacon dog made with a kielbasa

7:28 p.m. Back on Highway 101.  The trees are much bigger here than they are down on Highway 101 in Arroyo Grande.

7:34 p.m. Olympic National Forest

7:36 p.m. Purdy Creek

7:40 p.m. Cool mountains in the distance. Must be the Olympic Mountains.

7:50 p.m. Houses all along the bay.  Some of them are built mostly on stilts over the water – barely on land at all.

7:54 p.m. Twanoh State Park.  Looks wet.  Camp fee is $23.  We have loud neighbors but otherwise it is the best campground so far. There is a nice creek running along behind our campsite and just across the road is a rock and shell beach at the sound.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Day 2 (full version)

Day 2 – Wednesday – June 26, 2013

0558 Rise and shine!  It rained all night long.  Bella’s sleeping bag is completely soaked and Ryan’s is definitely damp as well. Rocco thinks we’re all crazy.  But hey – at least we’re together, right?

0728 Camp is torn down and car is loaded. Everything is wet, wet, wet!

0731 Off we go.

0749 Ron, Ryan and I did the ½ mile vista hike at the park.  Girls and Rocco waited in the car.  They made the right decision.  The trail was wet and the fog prevented us from seeing anything beyond a couple pine trees and some power lines headed down the hill.

0805 Oh look – the Sacramento River again.

0811 Patches of blue sky and a rainbow but still can’t see Mt. Shasta. Also, it’s still raining.

0816 Black Butte Summit, 3917 ft.

0818 Weed, CA. Population 3,000

0835 Leaving McD’s.  Dogs in a parked car barked at Rocco so loud they set off their car alarm.  As we’re leaving, a seagull is walking in the middle of the road and just won’t move.  Taking his own sweet time… Don’t look now but we can see a glimpse of Mt. Shasta with clouds covering the top.  Gas, $3.99/gallon.

0850 Leaving McD’s again. I left my purse there – oops! – but thankfully got it back.  Whew!

0900 It is much drier on this side of the mountain.  Sunny and more desert-like. We have a great view of Mt. Shasta now.

0908 Klamath National Forest

0912 Elevation 5000 ft.

0928 Ranger station – the fire danger today is low.  Must be all that rain.

0935 Butte Valley National Grassland

0942 Dorris, CA.  What is there to do in Dorris?  Drink coffee and eat tacos.  Oh and there is a nice lodge and you can also rent the arena.

0947 Oregon

0959 Klamath River

1008 Starbucks stop at Safeway.  Didn’t sleep too well last night for some reason…

1021 Leaving Klamath Falls.  My turn to drive again.

1100 Wow – real cowboys and cowdogs working a herd of cattle.  Cattle and logging seem to be the industries of this area.

1133 Arrive at Crater Lake National Park visitors center.  It is cloudy, cold, and wet here.  Rocco saw snow for the first time during his walk around the parking lot.

12:10 p.m. Lake overlook. We can barely see the water.  So disappointing.  I have heard that this is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.  Not today though.  Now for our new feature.  Instead of “what was the best part” we now have “what did you learn?”

Bella – The diameter of the lake is 4.7 miles North to South and 6.1 miles East to West

Felisa – The fish that live in the lake are rainbow trout and Kakane salmon

Ryan – After Charles Dutton’s expedition of the lake, he sunk his 26-foot wooden boat, “Cleetwood”. It was later rediscovered near Wizard Island.

Ron – Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US and the 9th deepest in the world.

Rocco – Snow is cold.

Sheila – This area gets an average of 533 feet of snow each year.


12:19 p.m. Listening to the rainy day mix on my MP3 player.  Seems appropriate for today.  First up, “Here Comes the Rain Again” by the Eurythmics

12:22 p.m. Fog + Snow = Really hard to see

12:32 p.m. Looking at the map of the park.  The Pacific Crest Scenic Trail  goes through the park.  Looks like it would be an interesting trail.

12:33 p.m. Pumice Desert

12:40 p.m. We are out of Crater Lake park and are now in Winema National Forest.

1:56 p.m. Lava rocks

2:01 p.m. High Desert Museum sign. Wildlife and living history – sounds cool.

2:12 p.m. Bend, OR. Detour around a closed road.  We are looking for a Laundromat to dry the wet sleeping bags.

2:20 p.m. Schlotzsky’s for lunch.  Gas, $3.99/gallon.

3:14 p.m. Leaving our lunch and laundry stop.  Happy tummies, full gas tank, and dry sleeping bags!

3:37 p.m. Shoe Tree on the side of the road. Lots of pairs hanging from its branches.

4:48 p.m. Warm Springs Fish Hatchery sign

4:50 p.m. Crossed the 45th parallel. Halfway between the equator and the north pole.

5:11 p.m. Blue Box Pass, elevation 4024 feet.  We can’t see Mt. Hood today. It is covered in clouds.

6:22 p.m. Columbia River stop.  It is nice and sunny here.  We can see Mt. Adam on the other side of the river. It is tall and snowy.  We also saw lots of big lumber yards on our way down.

6:31 p.m. Safeway.  Pick up ice for the cooler and sausage for dinner.

6:46 p.m. On the highway – I84 West.  25 miles to the campground.

7:02 p.m. Sign for Bridge of the Gods.  I wonder where that goes…

7:06 p.m. Bonneville Dam and locks

7:15 p.m. Ainsworth State Park.

Unload and set up camp. Spaghetti for dinner.

9:00 p.m. Done and cleaned up.  Getting ready for bed.  It’s not raining at the moment but…  The mosquitos are crazy here too.  Showers for Ron, Ryan and I before bed.  Rocco barked when I came back to the tent.  He settles down after we are all “home” and the lights are out for the night.

Day 1 - the full play-by-play account is now here!

Day 1 – Tuesday – June 25, 2013


0500 Ron heads off to work

0530 I don’t want to but I have to get up so I can finish packing.

1112 Finally leaving.  Drop the house key off at Yogi’s house so they can water for us while we’re gone.  Go back to pick up the veggies I forgot in the frig.  Also take out the trash that I forgot.  That would’ve been really smelly!

1118 Leaving – Take 2.  Starting odometer is 132,056 miles.

1120 The strap on the roof is humming.  Rocco does NOT like it at all.

1134 Stop at Staples to FedEx refinancing documents to USAA for Denver house.  Take the strap off.

1145 76 degrees as we start to head over the grade.

1153 Rocco finally sat down.  GPS is giving us an ETA of 7:09 p.m.  Sounds like we might be setting up camp in the dark by the time you add gas stops, etc.  Hopefully we don’t run into traffic heading through the Bay area.  It’s going to be close.

1157 Change GPS voice from Ron to Bella.  Ron doesn’t want to get directions from himself.

12:03 p.m. Check Facebook.  It took 31 minutes before I got my first “like” of our departure photo and it’s the only like so far.  Where is everybody?  Why aren’t they online waiting to be informed of my every move?!  Haha

12:04 p.m. Paso Robles.  Having all-star soccer flashbacks.  “Paso Poooowwweeeeeerrrrrrrr!”  Blech.

12:22p.m. The rent check is ready for the mail, whenever we find a post office.

12:25 p.m. Spot a deer enjoying a bit of shade under a lone oak tree.

12:26 p.m. Hitchhikers looking for a ride.  Sorry but we are completely FULL!   There’s not even room to ride on the roof!

12:27 p.m. Broken down apple truck and 2 dudes taking a tandem road-side leak.  Such interesting scenery, eh?

12:30 p.m. Oil field

12:40 p.m. Grapes as far as the eye can see, backed by the golden California hills.

12:47 p.m. Giant cut-out of Granny and some flowers on the hillside.  Maybe a memorial?

12:48 p.m. I’m up to 3 “likes” on my picture now.

12:49 p.m. Amtrak headed south

12:50 p.m. Felisa is hungry.  “When’s lunch?”

12:53 p.m. King City.  Stop at Subway for lunch.

1:10 p.m. Gas, $3.99/gallon

1:20 p.m. Pimento farm.  Quite possibly the only one because, really – how many pimentos do we need?

1:38 p.m. Traffic jam.  Construction.

1:40 p.m. Lots of field work going on in this area.  Tractors and workers in almost every field it seems.

1:46 p.m. Romaine lettuce truck.

1:48 p.m. It’s the land of giant cut-out people signs!  I remember this from living in Salinas.  That one was of a farmer and his dog.

1:50 p.m. Broccolini truck

1:53 p.m. Broken down truck.  Looks like he lost a couple wheels.

1:54 p.m. Valley Pallet, Inc. It’s a pallet farm!  Heehee

1:55 p.m. Rocking out to Belinda Carlisle on the radio.  “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”  High school flashbacks!

1:58 p.m. Salinas, CA.

1:59 p.m. Oh look – they have a Portugese hall here too.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one before moving to Arroyo Grande.  Now I’ve seen two.

2:00 p.m. There’s the hospital where Ryan was born!

2:01 p.m. Black Bear Diner.  Mmm. They always had good food there.

2:10 p.m. The Pink Kennel.  It’s looking a bit rough these days.  That was the place Bailey escaped from.  She climbed the 6-foot chain link fence (or did she jump?!) because she wanted to be in the house with the people.

2:23 p.m. Cows!

2:24 p.m. Garlic Shoppe and Garlic World – Gilroy, CA

2:25 p.m. Raccoon roadkill.  Don’t look, Felisa!

2:29 p.m. Alpacas – lots of them.

2:50 p.m. 50 miles to Oakland.  Reminiscing about my looooong weekly commute (100 miles each way!) between Salinas and Oakland.

2:55 p.m. Discussing the schedule for next summer’s move trip.

3:00 p.m. Golfland.  That’s a pretty fancy putt-putt place.

3:05 p.m. Fry’s Electronics.  Ah memories.  I bought my first TV/VCR for deployment there.

3:22 p.m. Contra Costa County line.

3:38 p.m. Pleasant Hill – my old stomping grounds.

3:46 p.m. Toll plaza to cross the bridge.  $5!

3:49 p.m. Ship graveyard off to the right.  Ryan says it’s really more of a ship retirement home.

3:50 p.m. New cars from the factory filling a huge parking lot

4:00 p.m. I-80 East

4:16 p.m. 505 North.  We’re in new territory now.  We’ve never been this way before.

4:19 p.m. 200 more miles?! We’re never going to get there!

4:23 p.m. Lost my cell internet.  L

4:25 p.m. Winters, CA.  Gas, $3.91/gallon. Pick up some peaches from the roadside stand.

4:40 p.m. My turn to drive.

4:46 p.m. Sunflowers and corn growing.

6:21 p.m. Sacramento River

6:22 p.m. Sacramento River again.

6:40 p.m. And one more time – the Sacramento River!

6:44 p.m. Redding exits.  Sign for  Lake Shasta Caverns.  Raining as we head up the mountain.

7:00 p.m. Big crash on the south-bound side of I-5.  UPS trailer on its side.  Traffic is backed up for about 10 miles!

7:32 p.m. Exit – Castle Crags State Park

It is sprinkling as we are setting up camp.  It takes just 40 minutes to set up and have dinner ready.  The mosquitos are swarming like crazy here. Not fun.

9:20 p.m. Bed time. It’s raining.  I’m wondering, What was I thinking?!