Landmarks West Here We Come
June/5/2018 – We left Charlottesville on Tuesday morning on a flight to Scottsdale our plan is to load up as quickly as possible and catch up with the caravan ASAP. When we arrived in Scottsdale, it was 106, but remember it is dry heat! We commented to one another that 106 in Arizona is nicer than 90’s and humid in Charlottesville. Eddie emailed some friends that he has has met at the gym, in Scottsdale asking if they knew of someone who would help us load the Airstream. Iris, a real estate agent come through. Someone in her office had a son that wanted to earn extra money. We hired a wonderful teenager, Caden, to help us get the airstream provisioned and ready to travel. We took it from our storage facility to West World where there are hookups, (electricity and water), so that we were able to run our AC and refrigerator making loading in the AZ heat easier.
June/8/2018- Early Friday morning; we left Scottsdale headed to CA with 46,218 miles on Doo More (the truck). Our destination the first day was Palm Springs. We got to Banning CA, just west of Palm Springs, where we stayed at a KOA campground. Perfect because it was close to I-10 and had a pull thru site so we didn’t have to unhook in the heat. It was 107 degrees when we arrived but our weather app said that it would drop into the 50’s. We thought that was BS but we ended up sleeping under blanket that night! Yup, it dropped to the upper 50’s! Today was a special day, our 50th wedding anniversary!
We were still in the heat for most of the day Saturday but were able to drive 370 miles to Chowchilla, CA where we stayed in one of the worst RV parks, that we have ever stayed in, and we have stayed in some marginal RV Parks. It really doesn’t matter where we stay as long as it’s safe because we live in our trailer so how nice the park is when you are only staying overnight it does not really matter. We had a pull thru site and the temperature once again dropped into the 50’. One lesson learned from traveling and living on the road is how fortunate we are. In this RV Park most of the people live here permanently, not because they want to but because it is affordable. Most of the people living in this particular park lived in older RV’s, they seem happy but they don’t have a lot of choices. We had a long driving day and crashed early.
June/10/2018 – Sunday we were up and on the road by 7:00 AM thinking that if we pushed we might be able to catch the caravan that afternoon. Our original plan was to stop near Redding CA, and to catch up with the group Monday. The caravan was staying in an Rogue River State Park in Oregon near the Rogue River. We knew that there was a boat ride on The Rogue River on the itinerary on Monday, that inspired us to push to catch the caravan Sunday. Thanks to an AS friend of ours Mary Diamond, we drove north a lot of the way through CA on 99 which is much easier driving than I-5. To catch the group we drove 465 miles Sunday, in an RV that is a lot of miles. Mary Diamond warned in one of her text messages “do not cross the Siskiyou’s after dark, DO NOT”. We did not know what the Siskiyou’s were but her warning was stern and emphatic. This entered into our decision about whether to push to catch the caravan or not. We agreed that if we could not cross the Siskiyou’s in daylight that we would not catch the group Sunday. We were able to cross the Siskiyou’s in the afternoon and after crossing them we understood Mary’s strong warning. As Easterner’s we are not use to the steep and long grades in the western US. Sunday was one of our longest RV driving days ever, 465 miles, we were exhausted when we arrived at Rogue River State Park but we were glad we decided to catch the group Sunday vs, Monday. We arrived at the park, near Medford OR at about 5:30. We had been texting the caravan leader, Phil Grassey and our friends Randy and Xan Rinehart so they knew where we were. Randy, was waiting to help us park and unhook when we pulled in.
June/11/2018 – Monday; we went on a jet boat ride up the Rogue River with the Hellgate Boat Company. On a previous in trip in 2001 we took a jet boat ride up the Rogue River from the OR coast. We enjoyed both trips the Rogue River is a US treasure and the people of OR are very protective of it, the river connects to the Pacific Ocean. There are very few homes along the river because of past floods. The land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and it is pristine wilderness, we saw lots of birds including a bald eagle. No houses have been built after 1968 so as we saw old growth forest as we road up the river. The Hellgate tour company owns an old lodge on the river where had a family style dinner. We were meeting some of our fellow caravaners all of whom had heard that we were trying to catchup with the group. Everyone was friendly and very welcoming. The ride back after dinner was fast, with the captain showing off doing spins and jumping waves, causing spray to hit the other jet boat. We were glad that we pushed to catch up with the group!
June/12/2018 – Tuesday morning we toured the Harry and David Factory, which originated in Medford, OR. The company was started by Samuel Rosenberg in 1910, it was originally an orchard company specializing in premium pears. Samuel’s sons, Harry and David, took over the company and in the 1930’s in the height of the depression and decided that they needed to do something differentiate their pears so they began shipping them to different parts of the country, a bold new concept. The company kept expanding, including purchasing Jackson & Perkins (roses) until the family took it public in 1976. From 1976, the company has been owned by several major companies until 2004 when it was purchased by private equity firm which loaded the company with debt and ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2011. Even in bankruptcy the company stayed open and did not lay off workers. It has emerged as successful turnaround story. Today the company is owned by 1-800-Flowers, headquartered in Medford OR. In the slow, months it employees about 1,600 in the fall going into its peak season it hires local temporary employees and grows to over 8,000 employees. We have toured a number of facilities around the US; Harry and David’s is without a doubt the cleanest facility that we have toured!
The factory tour was fun and we saw how their famous popcorn, candies and gift boxes were made and everywhere we went we could smell caramel popcorn and the rich smell of chocolate for their gift boxes
June 14, 2018 – We left Gold Hill, OR on Thursday driving along the Rogue River. We were headed to Crater Lake National Park. We meandered along a small road next to the Rogue River climbing in elevation. We pulled off the road for a picnic lunch watching two men below us fishing it looked like a postcard.
We arrived at Diamond Lake Campground, a national park in the early afternoon. The campsite is was secluded, quiet, and in the middle of old growth pines. That afternoon we drove fifteen miles to the North entrance of Crater Lake Park. Driving through magnificent evergreens with snow on the road sides. We stopped the first overlook and walked up to our first view of Crater Lake. The view literally took our breathe away, it is so dramatic to see the lake the first time, we both compared it to seeing the Grand Canyon!
Crater Lake is the result of a massive volcano eruption, that took place over 7,000 years ago. The top of the mountain erupted with such force that the mountain collapsed into itself creating a bowl. The bowl filled with water supplied by the melting of over 500 inches of snow each year. There lake is 2,000 feet deep and the blue water is described by the park rangers as “Crater Lake Blue”. The lake is so clear and pristine that you can see 150 ft. below the surface.
June/15/2018 – We started out early to go back to Crater Lake to see it in the bright sunlight, and it did not disappoint. When the sunlight hits the water the reflections and the colors are amazing. We have seen some amazing sights on our travels across our country and Crater Lake is one of the most dramatic sights we have seen. The first sighting of the lake is similar to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, just Wow. We ended the day by going to the Crater Lake Lodge built in 1910 and having a wonderful dinner. After dinner we went out on the lodge patio to enjoy the view of the lake at dusk.
June/17/2018 Sunday – We left Broken Lake Campground at Diamond Lake (Crater Lake) headed for on our way to Expo RV Park in Redmond, OR. After dry camping we were ready to do laundry and have electricity. We re-provisioned at “Wally World” (Walmart), and attended a GAM meeting. GAM an acronym for Get Acquainted Meeting is when a small group from your caravan members has drinks together so everyone has an opportunity to meet one another. Each GAM is a different small group and they have GAM’s fairly frequently so that you have an opportunity to get to know the group on a one on one basis in a relaxed social setting. We are amazed at the interesting people whom we meet and their AS and life experiences. We talked with one couple who spent their career working all over the world with the State Department and even during their retirement they take assignments for periods of up to six months to travel all over the world.
We drove to the Lava Lands Visitors Center, which is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. It is part of the Deschutes National Forest, Eddie decided to hike to the top. We learned about the volcanic activity in this area and from the top of a volcanic mountain we could easily see the massive lava fields created over 7.000 years ago. Interestingly, in the 1960’s NASA wanted a place to train astronauts on what they might encounter on the moon and the Lava Lands area was similar to what NASA thought the astronauts might find on the moon. The volcanic monument covers over 56,000 acres from the top of the volcanic mountain it is easy to see where the lava fields ended and the pine forest started.
June/18/2018 – Monday, Eddie had a morning conference call so Roberta went to the High Desert Museum, in Bend, OR. The tour explained the cultural and wildlife history of the central area of Oregon’s High Desert area. The High Desert area is considered to be elevations of 2,500 to 7,000 feet. We learned about various trees and fish in the area followed by the highlight of the tour which was a rapture show. We sat on the ground as trained employees brought out falcons, hawks, owls, etc. that flew just over our heads to take food from employees. We got a close-up view of various raptors, and a chance to talk to their trainers.
June/19 /2018 – Tuesday, we left Redmond for Cascade Locks, OR, which is located in the Columbia Gorge. The drive from Redmond to Cascade Locks was one of the prettiest drives we have ever taken. Driving through high desert and the Cascade Mountains, while looking at snow caped Mt. Hood in the distance is spectacular. We drove through the high desert farm areas and then dropped down into the Columbia River Gorge. We could not stop taking pictures, we even took turns driving and one of us was usually hanging out of the truck window taking pictures, thinking we had just seen the perfect view when we would round the curve and there would be another spectacular sight. We drove along the Columbia River in the gorge, a National Scenic Area; the Columbia River is the border between Oregon and Washington. The Columbia River Gorge Is without a doubt another VSP (Very Special Places) and one we will not forget.
June/20/2018 – Wednesday, we went to WAAAM (Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum. Located off the beaten path the museum is home to one of the most extensive collections of planes and cars in the country. What makes the museum unique is that many of the cars and planes are one of a kind items, and all of the cars and planes still work. The museum takes many of the collectibles out of the museum on a regular basis for the public to see them operate. It was fine if planes and history of flying are your thing they are not for us.
After leaving the airplane museum trip we drove along the Columbia River to Multnomah Falls, another VSP. Natural beauty is our thing and this was a great drive and Multnomah Falls are special. They are 620 tall, unfortunately you cannot hike to the top now because the area was severely damage in 2017 when there was a massive forest fire which damaged or destroyed over 50,000 acres. As a result, many parts of route 30 highway are still closed for repairs and the trails to the falls are closed. We were still able to get to the visitor’s center and see the falls from the lowest level observation area. They are beautiful and dramatic.
After Multnomah falls, we continued west following the Columbia River to the small town of Troutdale, where we visited a Pendleton outlet store. Eddie loves talking to anyone so while we were there he asked a sales person in the store what we should do. She told us to go to The McMenamins Edgefield Winery for lunch.
It was a great suggestion, the winery was founded in 1990 and is located in a historic building, Edgefield manor, where you can stay and eat at one of three pubs and enjoy wine or brew in their tasting rooms. We had a great lunch and the waitress made a big effort to make sure Eddie had a good vegan dish.
June/21/2018- Today was a free day with no planned activities. We took the Bridge of The Gods across the Columbia River putting us in the state of Washington. We drove on Rt. 14 following the river to the Pendleton Factory Store in Washougal, WA. Rt. 14 is a beautiful drive that gave us a totally different view of the Columbia than we had driving on Interstate 84 in Oregon. iew of the river scene. The Pendleton Factory Store is a fun place to visit and there were lots of good deals but we are boomers in our minimalist mode of life.
From Washougal we continued west crossing the river back into OR near Portland. Our destination was Mt. Hood (elevation 11,245 ft.). Several fellow members of caravan as well as our friend Herman Wheeler told us that Mt. Hood was a “don’t miss” point of interest. They were right, and we’re glad that we listened. Mt. Hood is a spectacular site, snow covered complete with skiers and snowboarders in mid June. We walked around the Timberline Lodge, which is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest. The lodge is a WPA building and was completed in 1938, it is built on the ash area of a major Mt. Hood volcanic eruption of 1907. The lodge is owned by the U.S. Forest Service but it has been operated by the same family since 1955. As a WPA project local craftspeople worked with unskilled workers to train them in building techniques using local materials to build. Working together they created this magnificent lodge. The centerpiece is an 800,000 lb. stone chimney that runs up three stories through the center of the lodge. Today, the lodge is a well-known skiing, hiking, snowboarding destination with fantastic views.
After a wonderful drive around Mt. Hood, we joined our caravan for a beautiful dinner cruise on the Columbia River. The views were fantastic and having dinner with our group gave us a chance to meet other members of our caravan.
June/22/2018- Eddie went to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center where he learned about the history of the western expansion. After the Panic of 1837, and an escape from malaria, the government encouraged migration to the west where there was lots of land. People were given a chance to secure 320 acres for “Free”, actually they had to homestead the property living on it for a period of time which was a great incentive to go westward to seek opportunity and a new life. It makes you think about what has made the United States great, people are willing to move and take enormous risk in the pursuit of religious freedom and to better themselves financially.
June/23/2018- With sadness we left Cascade Locks headed for the Airstream International Rally in Salem , OR. Sadly, because the Columbia River Gorge is one of the most pristinely beautiful areas that we have visited. The Airstream International Rally is a “happening” with over 600 Airstreams with over 1,000 people for a week of classes and activities. We attended some of the events but this is not really our thing. We could have stayed in the Columbia River Gorge vs attending the International Rally in Salem. The highlight of the rally for us was catching up with friends that we met on previous caravans. Some of these friends live on the west coast and some in the south, so caravans or rallies are where we catch up and visit.
We did not do a lot of sightseeing in Salem however we went to Portland, which is nearby several times. Our first visit to Portland was to the famous “Saturday Market” …on Sunday. Eddie found about the market talking to someone; it is a primarily for local artist vs a farmer’s market however there were also a lot of local food vendors. The Saturday Market is a festive place with live music, lots of people and a lot of energy! The market was celebrating its fortieth birthday an added bonus. It is the oldest local craft market in the country; we enjoyed the art, music, people watching and walking along the river; we are glad that we went.
We took a bus tour of Portland on another day that included a visit to Powell’s Bookstore, with over 100,000 books; its a “must see” if you visit Portland! Eddie asked several people what we should do in Portland and “visit Powell’s Book Store” kept coming up. We did not think that spending time visiting a book store would be worthwhile however it was the first stop on our bus tour so we had no choice. After seeing it we understood why it kept coming up as a place to see. Powell’s is different from any book store that we have ever been in. The highlight of the day though was taking a lunch cruise on the Columbia. Seeing the Portland skyline and the boat houses along the shore as well as some residential areas from the river was a treat. After the boat cruse we visited the Chinese Gardens.
One of the negative aspects of Portland and Salem is the large homeless population. The local TV station ran a segment while we were there saying that Portland is considering offering to pay for a one -way ticket for a homeless person to travel to another out of state city, of their choice, as a way to reduce the expense of caring for the homeless. It is sad to see so many people homeless and living on the streets in America.
June/30/2018- The drive from Salem to Fort Stevens going north on 101 will be remembered as one of the most beautiful that we have experienced although there have been many on this tour. We stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory and toured the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We toured it on our trip in 2001; it was fun seeing it again. The factory is a co-op owned and operated by the dairy farmers in the area and has been since the start in the early 1900’s. It is the major industry in Tillamook where there are 5,000 people and 40,000 cows, so you can see that the cows are the priority.
July/1/2018- Sunday was a free day with no planned activities so we decided to drive north over the historic Astoria Bridge that separates OR from WA. The bridge is about four miles long and parts are very high. We drove up a small peninsula in WA we through several small seaside towns; Seaside, Long Beach, and Oysterville. Two of the towns are small beach communities with touristy tacky beach shops but the tiny village at the tip of the peninsula of Oysterville was a treat. There is an old oyster factory and near the factory is a hamlet of about ten quaint houses each had a beautiful flower garden and overlook the bay. We ended our tour by going back to Seaside where we had a nice lunch, at the 42nd Street Café, with Randy and Xan.
July/2/2018- When we hear museum tour now we are at the point that we aren’t sure we want to go, not because we don’t like museums we do but we’re picky. Today we took a tour of the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which is well done. We learned that the mouth of the Columbia River, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean is considered to be one of the most dangerous nautical places in the country. The river is so powerful and it brings sand down to the ocean forming a sandbar at the mouth of the river. Tides cause the sand bar at the mouth of the river to shift, making the shipping lanes extremely dangerous. We were told that this is one of the only place in the US (maybe the world) where the ship’s captain is required to relinquish command of his ship. A pilot trained to navigate these treacherous waters is brought on board to command the ship and bring it into port safely.
After the museum we enjoyed a nice lunch with our entire group at the Bridgewater Bistro. We are staying at Fort Stevens State Park, a huge state park near Astoria, OR, and it is on the Pacific Ocean. It has miles of beach to visit and walk on but not to swim, the Pacific is too cold, upper fifties brrrrr. Speaking of cold …… we sleep under blankets every night! We are fortunate to be in the NW this summer because Charlottesville and the east coast are experiencing a heat wave. After driving along the ocean and stopping to walk on the beach we took pictures of an old ship wreck. We ended up at Fort Stephens, which was built during the Civil War and remained active until just after WWII. Fort Stevens was actually fired on by a Japanese submarine during WWII. The town was convinced that they needed to be prepared to defend themselves, and they trained for an attack but commander in charge of Fort Stevens would not allow the men at the fort to return fire. The guides told us that they believe that the reason that the men could not return fire was because the submarine was not within range and the commander did not want to fire and give away their exact location. The episode ended with no one hurt.
Lewis and Clarke wintered in this area at Fort Clatsop, but we had been to those sites before and wanted to see different sites.
July/3/2018 – Our next stop was in Port Angeles to stay at the state fairgrounds for a few days. Port Angeles is in a beautiful area of Washington and the drive from FT. Stephens to Port Angeles was lovely driving about Lake Crescent.
July 4th was a big holiday so we decided to stay away from town and instead drove up Mt. Olympus and Hurricane Ridge near Port Angles, WA. It’s about seventeen miles to the top and takes a long time because we stopped at so many pullouts; the views are spectacular. We took a hiked here seventeen years ago with a good friend just before taking the ferry to Canada and we wanted to go back to Hurricane Ridge again. Eddie wanted to ask the rangers about taking another hike, so the visitor’s center was a great place to go for information. The seventeen mile drive up the mountain has twist and turns the whole way. We stopped at lots of the pull offs to gawk at the views.
After viewing the mountain, we spent the afternoon driving around Lake Crescent and headed to see the Crescent Lodge. At one of our picture taking stops Eddie talked to a local man who said we should hike to Marymere Falls which is next to Crescent Lake; it was a wonderful suggestion! The hike went through an old growth forest with beautiful, majestic trees crossing a creek and heading up a hill to an observation area overlooking the falls. The falls drop about 90 feet into a pool in the forest. After our hike we headed to see the Crescent Lodge which is on Lake Crescent with guest eating on the porches and canoeing on the lake. The lodge is part of the Olympic National Park and was built in 1915.
No fireworks for us on July 4th, because the next day was a busy one.
July/5/2018 – We decided to split up our tours on July 5th, with Eddie taking a hike on Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains while Roberta took off with a group to Vancouver Island.
Roberta hadn’t been to Victoria in seventeen years but the town has always been one of her favorites. The town sits on a pretty harbor but the main attraction is the world renown Butchart Gardens, what a treat. Even though the weather was unusually hot and the garden was crowded the experience is wonderful.
July/6/2018 – We left Port Angeles for our next stop, Olympia, WA, 40 miles outside of Seattle. We had two free days and we used the time to explore on our own. The first day we drove around Olympia and discovered a wonderful farmers market on the harbor. The market was all local vendors and included arts and crafts and produce, it is a co-op the vendors and the vendors are vetted and have an interest in the market’s success. We thought about what a good model this would be for the Charlottesville farmers market.
Everyday life goes on when you are on the road so on Saturday our first day in Olympia we took advantage of a terrific wash and fold laundry. Laundry is a necessity of life but wasting time in a laundry mat when you have limited time to explore seems like a waste of time to us so we gladly pay to have our laundry done for us. Our second day in Olympia we drove into downtown Seattle it took a little over an hour. We found a neighborhood garden tour in an older neighborhood, the neighborhood reminded us of the Belmont area, before it’s recent revival and with more industrial buildings. We walked through small gardens and talked to some of the homeowners. One lady we talked to had an 800 S.F. house in decent shape that had just appraised for over $500,000. Real estate prices in Seattle make Charlottesville look like a bargain! We remember hearing in the early 1970’s that someone in Seattle paid for a bill board saying “would the last one leaving Seattle please turn out the lights”! Moore’s law may apply to Seattle too, it is the most “happening place” that we have ever seen. A tour guide told us that there are currently fifty-seven cranes in downtown Seattle. This was once a Boeing Town, not so much today. Amazon has 15% of the office space downtown with forty thousand people coming to work there every day. Amazon subscribes to the theory that having happy employees is important so they allow employees to bring their dogs to work. There are six thousand dogs that accompany their owners to work every day. Capitalism is alive in Seattle, Google and Microsoft need happy employees too so you got it they now allow their employees to bring their dogs to work as well. A major downside to Seattle besides the very high real estate prices is HORRIFIC TRAFFIC. If we lived in Seattle we would want to live downtown where we could walk everywhere. After the garden tour we drove into downtown to visit the Space Needle, and the Pike Place Market both were so crowded that we left after short visits. We explored a fun area called Roosevelt it is an “artsy” area with lots of young people. One thing that caught our attention was a bridge that we crossed going and coming into Roosevelt. There is a digital counter on the bridge that displays how many bicycles have gone across the bridge that day; we crossed the bridge a little after noon and the figure was 2,053. Lots of bikers and lots of paths and bike lanes for them!
July/10/2018 – We left Olympia for Wilbur, a small town in eastern Washington. On the drive to o Wilbur we saw a park next to a picturesque river and stopped for a picnic lunch. After lunch we drove to Dry Falls; the Dry Falls were created by a huge avalanche millions of years ago. Just before reaching the falls we were stopped by a flag lady because of road construction. We were first in line waiting for the “lead car” to return to lead through the construction zone. While we were stopped Eddie asked the flag lady what we should do in Wilbur. She thought for a moment and said that there wasn’t much to do but then suggested that we visit the “alien dinner” at the end of town and look at the crop circles. When we arrived at the RV Park in Wilbur we asked where the Alien dinner and crop circles were, the lady at the RV Park said that she had never heard of the alien dinner and that the crop circles were gone. We told her what the “flag lady” told us; once she figured out what we were talking about she laughed. She directed us to the “Billy Burger” aka the alien dinner. Eddie went looking for the crop circles but there haven’t been crop circles in the area for a few years, however on the wall of the Billy Burger there are lots of articles about the crop circles. The crop circles appeared over several years beginning in about 2007. They crop circles are not there now however there are plenty of newspaper articles on the wall talking about them. The crop circles may be the biggest thing to happen in Wilbur in years. Wilbur is a cute small town with friendly people if you want to truly understand Wilbur just click on this link https://tinyurl.com/czl69zb it describes Wilbur better than we can.
On a caravan, everyone has to pitch in to help fix dinner at least once. Our assignment was to prepare baked potatoes for 55 people. This is not an easy task to do in an airstream, but one of our crew knew what to do. We were up at 5:30 to wash and boil outside the potatoes. They were then wrapped in foil and put in coolers where they continued to cook. We were concerned because some of them turned to mush but the dinner was a success in spite of ourselves.
The biggest happening near Wilbur besides the crop circles is the Grand Coulee Dam. It was originally created purely for irrigation purposes and only later was it used to generate electricity.
July/12/2018 – We left Wilbur and headed for Sand Point, ID where we were to finish getting everything ready for the big steak and baked potato dinner. We wanted to go to Coeur de’ Alene which is supposed to be a beautiful town but we didn’t have time. So, today was drive day.
July/13/2018 – We had a long driving day ahead of us with a 300 mile drive day. That is a long driving day after you get the airstream ready, hook up the truck, and travel on non interstate roads. Our destination was Glacier National Park, which we had been to seventeen years ago and were excited to see it again. The drive to Glacier was spectacular and on the way we pulled into a scenic area which turned out o be a wonderful surprise, Kootenai Falls. Eddie talked to an artist in the parking area who told him we should take the time to hike to the falls, and he was right!
The calm river suddenly gathers momentum surging first through China Rapids and then over Kootenai Falls, dropping 90 feet in less than a mile. The main falls is 30 feet high and can be viewed from a “swinging bridge” that crosses the river.
The falls area is a sacred site to the Kootenai Indians who once called this area home. This was a place where tribal members communed with spiritual forces.
July/13/2018 – Friday We arrived in Glacier National Park. We love national parks and if we had to choose one that is the best that we have visited we would not be able to do it……however Glacier NP would unquestionably be a top contender. I would be wasting time and words if I tried to describe the beauty; it can not be done. Even our pictures do not capture the spiritual feeling and beauty that you see and experience when you are there. We appreciate the fact that Glacier – Waterton Park is an international peace park. Glacier NP is the US portion and Waterton is the Canadian portion. We have spent time in both and wish that we could have spent time in Waterton on this trip, it is just as magnificent as Glacier. We have not visited Glacier in seventeen years and one of the changes that we notice is the huge number of visitors. We spent time in Waterton and Glacier national parks in 2001; we crossed the border coming back into the US in August of 2011 less than 30 days before 9/11. This area is one of the most beautiful places on earth; if you haven’t been go. The lodges were built in the early 1900’s when wealthy Americans vacationed by train. Most of these lodges were built and owned by the railroads; they are beautiful!
We remembered a hike we took on our first trip to Glacier and decided to try the hike again. We started off on a pretty path that had great views but the view quickly changed. We found ourselves on the edge of the ledge…literally…and the only way to walk was to hang onto a wire rope to keep from falling. We didn’t remember the wire rope from the previous hike but we kept going thinking the narrow path would stop quickly. Boy, were we wrong! The view was beautiful but we couldn’t look down. We finally turned around and headed back.
After our near death experience hiking on the edge, we found another beautiful hike down to the stream and falls pictured above.
Red Bus Tour Going To The Sun Highway Glacier NP
Spotted This Grizzly Bear Near Many Lodge On The Way To Diner – Glacier NP
July/17/2018:We are in Great Falls Montana; the heart of Lewis and Clark country! We’ve been to GF before and love reading and learning about L&C, Thomas Jefferson wanted to be remembered for three things, the Louisiana purchase was not one of them …….to us that’s amazing! The story of the purchase by itself is amazing, the French needed money and hated the English so they decided to sell to the United States. President Jefferson was authorized to spend $6 million dollars but he knew a bargain when he saw one he paid $11,250,000 and forgave $3,750,000 debt owed to the the U.S. by France. So without authorization he doubled the size of the U.S.
In Great Falls we went to the First Peoples Buffalo Jump, to one of the largest prehistoric bison kill sites in the country.a buffalo jump where we heard a lecture about how the native Americans track the great buffalo herds and then get them to stampede over a cliff where the tribes would quickly dissect the buffalos to get enough food, hides, etc. to use over the winter. We were surprised to know that horses were not used until the 1700’s so the hunters were highly skilled in tracking and killing the buffalo herds. Before the europeans and then Americans brought in horses it is estimated that there were over 30 million buffalo roaming the great American plains. Once outsiders came and horses, and the railroad were introduced the buffalo were hunted by traders who sent the hides etc. back to the eastern USA. As a result the buffalo were killed until they became almost extinct.
July/20/2018: From Great Falls MT, we headed to Helena Mt. we took a boat ride on the Gates of the Mountain Boat Tour. The tour follows the trip the Lewis and Clark expedition took in July, 1805 on the Missouri River. The men had to row upstream and in this section of the river the cliffs on each side were as high as 1200 feet. As Meriwether Lewis wrote…”the rocks seem ready to tumble on us.” At each bend in the waterway, great stone walls seemed to block passage, only to open like gentle giant gates as the expedition drew near. In his journal, Meriwether wrote: “I shall call this place: “GATES OF THE MOUNTAINS“.
Gates Of The Mountain – Boat Tour Helena, MT
In Helena we took a trip around the city which we both enjoyed seeing. One of the houses we went by was the Governors Mansion. The Governors house was hardly a mansion and was refreshing to see. A very nice house in a regular neighborhood and very different from what we see on the east coast.
What a difference this capital building was. Normally, when you go into a state building you go through security and scanners, but not in the Montana State capital building. We walked in the building ( on a Saturday )and had to look around to find a guard. We were ready to pull out identification and ask questions but all we heard was ”welcome to the capital’. We were free to walk around and in particular we wanted to see the C.M. Russell mural. ( 146 Ft by 296 Ft )
After a day of sight seeing in Helena, we went to dinner at the Last Chance Ranch for a good ole western style wagon ride to a pretty log cabin the the woods. The site was pretty and the owner built the lodge by himself and had western style dinners for tourist. He was a real talented character who entertained us after dinner by singing some western songs he wrote.horse drawn
July/22/2018: We are headed to Yellowstone and the road there was a beautiful drive. This trip had some of the most beautiful drives we have ever had with the airstream. We will often try and find a pretty place to stop for lunch and the stop was great.
We have often said that if you get any where near a National Park …just go! Yellowstone is one of those special parks that is so beautiful with so much diversity it is hard to describe. Each day we would take a section of the park to drive around, stopping at overlooks and taking hikes to see the scenery. We saw spectacular water falls, wildlife, wild flowers, sulphur springs, Old Faithful, lakes and more.
One day we left Yellowstone and drove to Jackson WY. The drive took us by Yellowstone Lake and along the Tetons. We had been to Jackson before but it was fun to walk around town and see some old and new places.
July/26/2018: We are in cowboy country as we go to Cody, WY We have been to Cody before and ended up in the same campground as in our last visit. The location was perfect and Eddie made friends with the owner. She was about 84 and full of life and stories of running her campground.