Friday, July 22, 2011

Northwest trip, Day 18

Dateline HOME. Yep, we're home. No pictures or adventures today. Piles of mail, do the accounting, pay the bills, start going thru the emails I didn't delete while on the road. Oh, and pick up the cats from the vet's - boy, were they ready to come home! Scruffy is having problems, so if he's not up in the AM we call the vet as an emergency.

236.3 miles on the day, 5479.5 for the trip, averaged 20.3 mpg in the Buick Rainier SUV. Already planning another trip next Spring, maybe hit Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, stop at Chaco Canyon for our 35th Anniversary, and attend the Libertarian National Convention in Las Vegas. Can you tell we like to travel?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Northwest trip, day 17

Dateline Abilene KS: Today was mostly travel. We left at 6:45 AM MDT and headed east on CO-94, watching the rear view mirror to see how long we could still make out an outline of Pike's Peak - said goodbye about 80 miles out, which makes it well over 100 from the mountain. By Firstview, we were already 50 miles across the prairie from our last view. Took a little break at a nicely-done city park in Cheyenne Wells, and went on to Oakley.

Oakley's main attraction (other than a huge Buffalo Bill statue) is the Fick Museum. This museum has fossils, mostly of fish & mososaurs from back when Kansas was a sea of water rather than grass. Also paintings done by Mrs. Fick, many using the fossils she walked the prairie to pick up. These included millions of shark teeth (the shark picture is made up of teeth!). One of the eagles and the painting are done with shells, and the other eagle with rattlesnake rattles. Sandra escaped the wild(?) buffalo threatening her in the museum.

Ended up in Abilene at 104 F, where we found a great old restaurant where the original proprietor paddled Ike on his birthday. They were having a Third Thursday event downtown, and we drove around the Eisenhower library. We'll miss the carousel, but maybe another trip.

Today: 433 miles, 5243.2 for the trip. Tomorrow we head home!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Northwest trip, day 16

Dateline Colorado Springs - Today definitely had a high point - 12,095 feet at Independence Pass, and I'm still short of breath from that altitude. We got there after climbing a narrow winding road out of Aspen. We got to Aspen by sitting in a long traffic jam, which will keep me from ever going to Aspen again. We took a lot of mountain pictures, to make up for the ones we didn't get on Going to the Sun Road at Glacier NP. Went through the aspen trees, the tall evergreens, past the ghost town, the short evergreens and finally the tundra above the timber line.

Came down the other side into areas that Bill knew from his time at the Academy, except he didn't recognize anything since it changed a lot from 1965! Ate at a semi-green diner in Buena Vista (pronounced byou-na vista around there), where they actually had a short-order fry cook. Also original art for sale on the wall.

Had to go out to USAFA, since I hadn't visited my alma mater since 1974. It's changed, too. There is an alumni center where nothing was going on and a fancy visitor center. New facilities on the cadet side, too, including athletic buildings. Didn't stay long, since it was raining.

Checked in at the HIE Airport, and went to a Mexican restaurant - saw a beautiful double rainbow en route, and of course the cameras were in the room.

For the day 330 or so miles, 4800+ for the trip. Tomorrow it's boogie across the prairie on back roads to Oakley, KS, thence to Abilene KS for the night.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Northwest trip, day 15

Dateline Grand Junction, CO: Whew, we did some traveling today, all the way from Elko. LOTS of traffic, especially in construction on I-15 south of Salt Lake City and again on US-6 between Price & Green River UT. We did have some scenery to shoot, including the Bonneville Salt Flats (you know, where the land speed records are set), the Green River at Green River (duh!) and lots of shots out the window of cliffs and rain.

Sandra was a-mazed by the collection of large casino hotels in the middle of the desert at West Wendover, NV, right across the state line from Utah. Apparently Utah does harbor a good supply of gamblers, no matter what the LDS says. She also found the 24' slice of watermelon at Green River to be tasty. "High" point of the day was a 7600+ foot pass, but all the land is high around here.

Today's miles: 510.8, total for trip 4477.8 (looks like we'll go well over 5000 miles). Tomorrow is Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Independence Pass (12,065 ft), Buena Vista and on to Colorado Springs. Hope to see the USAF Academy for the first time since May '74.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Northwest trip, day 14

Dateline Elko, NV: A routine day turned into a real adventure. It started out well enough, leaving Klamath Falls at 7:07 AM and making good time thru mountains and forests and deserts. We were happy to get to Nevada, with a reasonable speed limit (70 vs 55) and without that stupid Oregon law requiring the station to pump ones' gas (honest, no pump-your-own, and boy, do you pay for that service!). We had long runs without seeing a shred of settlement, other than scattered ranches in the distance. Virtually all volcanic landscapes, basin and range country. The most exciting climb was up the side of a sheer cliff, which is used as a hang glider launching point. Got to Winnemucca in time for lunch (Sandra said "Now 'I've been everywhere' and I didn't even get dusty").

It was 30 miles out of Elko that the adventure hit. I noticed a bit of shimmy in the car, and found the right rear tire was way down. I aired it up at a rest area using the in-car pump, and proceeded on. Heard a thump - oops, now I had a flat! Started getting out the spare & as I was looking for the jack point, a couple of Highway patrolmen stopped and changed it for us. I would have gotten it done, but it would have taken a LOT longer. On to Elko, dropped off the tire's remains at Wal-Mart, and $170 later was as good as new (I think).

All checked in, we went to the recommended Mexican restaurant, Sergio's, for supper. Ahead of us in line - those same two highway patrolmen! So we joined htem for dinner.

For the day, 444.8 miles, trip to date 3966.7. Tomorrow it's boogie thru Nevada and Utah to Grand Junction, with fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Northwest trip, day 13

Dateline Klamath Falls, OR: Today was Crater Lake. We entered from the north side and found that much of the east rim road was closed - too much snow. We got good looks from the overlooks from north, west and southwest. We did one silly thing - we wore shorts! It was not nearly as crowded as other parks we've been to this trip.

This morning we left about 6:20, and drove through bare lava-flow mountains (well, not quite bare, but all their corner posts were wrapped rock piles. After the park, we had lunch at a very good small Mexican restaurant (El Rodeo) just south of the OR-62/US-97 junction. We're in the HIE in Klamath Falls.

Today we drove 270.5 miles, a bit over 8 hours on the road. To date 3522.1 miles.

Tomorrow: Travel day, 430 miles via Lakeview, Winnemucca to Elko NV.

Northwest trip, day 12

Dateline Maupin, OR (OK, it's a bit late - couldn't get on last night): This was Mt Rainier day - that's said rain-i-er, as we never did see the mountain due to rain & fog. So, no fancy pictures of a shining mountain, but lots of pictures of lesser mountains wreathed in clouds, plus some where we're looking down on the clouds. Yes, it was cold.

We left early and headed up a canyon toward the mountain, lots of switchbacks and very rugged terrain. Our first stop was the Sunrise visitor center - which wasn't open yet, and all the trails were deep in snow. So, we went on down to the rain forest visitor center, where we had a "small world" moment - a CMSU grad saw Bill's Ag Dept jacket, turns out he lives in Vancouver and was Dr. Emerson's disciple in Geology. Next we headed for Paradise - another snow covered visitor center, packed with people in ski garb. They had 900" there this year, that's 75 feet!

Left there and headed back toward Yakima, stopping for lunch and at a fruit stand for a pound of fresh-picked cherries which Sandra immediately scarfed down. Thwn it was down US-97 to the Columbia River and The Dalles, thence on to Maupin, a rafting resort town on the Des Chutes River. Stayed at a small but clean River Run motel, and had a great pizza - actually we could have shared one personal pizza (guess what we're having for supper Sunday).

Miles to be posted later,

Sunday is Crater Lake and on to Klamath Falls.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Northwest trip, day 11

Dateline Yakima WA: We took a leisurely departure from Sandra's cousins in Kamiah, ID. First stop was a visit to the Nez Perce NHP visitor center where we learned more about this tribe that was friendly & peaceful to white folks until their reservation was unilaterally shrunk in 1877. Worth reading about.

Much of the day was taken with driving up and down hills & canyons that looked like all other hills & canyons we'd visited - no pics whatsoever. Crossed the Snake River twice, and passed through Lewiston & the Tri-cities en route. What we passed through was mostly old volcanic landscapes, highly eroded, However, we did see Mt. Rainier in the distance about 30 miles before Yakima. Tomorrow we pay it a visit - in our Buick Rainier - seems fitting that we brought the SUV on this trip.

Today was 287.8 miles, 7 hours on the road. To date 2873.1 miles.
Tomorrow a round trip to Mt. Rainier, then south to The Dalles and on to Maupin OR.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Northwest trip, day 10

Dateline Kamiah, ID - we left Bigfork early, too early as it turned out since the attractions we wanted to see weren't open yet. Stopped at Lolo & did laundry, then up the Lolo pass. This is country that the Nez Perce went through on their attempt to escape to Canada in 1877, and the Lewis & Clark expedition had passed through in 1805-6. Scenic, but low hanging clouds made it hard to see anything. We did pass Ft. Fizzle (Sandra will tell more on that, I'm sure). Stopped at the USFS visitor center at Logan Pass, then descended for almost 100 miles until we reached Kamiah. Stopped along the river we were following and picked up some rocks.

When we arrived at Sandra's cousins (thanks, Garmin), we got to tour some of their property up the hill a bit - very good views, and we talked hunting. Even got a ride on a four-wheeler. Pictures include Sandra before & after her 4-wheeler ride (guess which is which), the river we followed, and a view from her cousin's hillside farm.

Today about 260 miles, total 2568. Tomorrow, it's through Lewiston and on to Yakima, getting ready to go to Mt. Rainier the next day.

Northwest trip, day 9 pictures

OK, here are some pics. We entered from the east side - found this bear statue where we got gas just outside of Great Falls. Stopped at the visitor center where there was a lot of info about the various tribes that had once shared the Glacier NP area. Then, a nice drive past the glacial (natural) lake & up the Going to the Sun Highway - until the first traffic jam, waiting for traffic downbound to clear the single lane area. At the visitor center Logan Pass, more waiting as the center itself wasn't open yet, the porta-potties subbed for the real thing, and the bighorn ram posed for photo ops. Downbound, two more waits for the upbound cars to pass the two choke points. Finally came out the other side and headed for Bigfork, MT & Sandra's cousin. Great scenery, unnerving traffic - the winter did a lot of damage to the roads.