Boardman, McMinnville, and Tillamook

From July 29th to August 7th, we were traveling from Idaho through Oregon, basically with the goal of getting to the Oregon coast.   There’s not a lot to say about these locations, with the exceptions of a few adventures.[mappress mapid=”22″]

On July 29th, we traveled to Boardman through the Columbia River Gorge.  Unbeknownst to us, this area is known for its persistent high winds, which makes it an ideal spot for kitesurfing and windsurfing.  It does not make it a good spot for RVs, however and we (Cyndi) fought serious crosswinds and struggled to keep our speed above 40 mph.

We then arrived in Boardman for a couple of nights, but that part of Oregon was experiencing a heat wave.  Our second day there, the temperature reached 108 degrees.  Luckily we had a shady site next to the river and good A/C, so we were reasonably comfortable.  The sunsets were beautiful, partly because of the fires in the area (a recurring theme henceforth).

From 7/31 to 8/5, we camped at Olde Stone Village in McMinnville.  I chose this site because it’s in the middle of the Oregon wine country.  Cyndi was back in NJ for a week from 8/1 to 8/8, so I figured I might as well be entertained.  But wine tasting is a tipsy and expensive hobby.  I could only do a couple of tastings a day (at around $15 each) and then felt compelled to buy a bottle from each winery ($40 to $60 each), so I decided to move on early.  The real hidden gem was the Evergreen Air and Space Museum, which houses the Spruce Goose, among other craft.  Sunny posed for an excellent photo gallery.  And speaking of flying, Cyndi had an eventful ride home and took some dramatic photos.

 

I drove to Tillamook by myself on 8/5, which at about 70 miles looked like it would be a piece of cake.  However my GPS sent me up Nestucca River Road, which winds along a river up a mountain for about 20 miles.  The road was so steep and winding I could barely maintain 30 mph (in a 55 mph zone), which did not make the cars behind me happy.  And then I hit a (surprise!) dead end due to road construction, before which everyone behind me had wisely turned.  Because I’m towing a car, I cannot back up.  I reached the dead end – a beautiful wooded spot 200 feet or so above a cascading mountain spring – got out of the RV, and was instantly swarmed by mosquitoes.  I retrieved the bug spray, unhooked the Jeep, moved it out of the way, performed a 14-point turn with the RV, hooked up the Jeep, headed back down and started over again.  After another couple of hours, I was in Tillamook.

There’s not much to say about this site, except that it was unpleasant and I was so close to the 101 that I felt like I was sleeping in the middle of the highway.  When I put out the back slide, I discovered that something had gotten bound up the last time I brought it in and that the front end popped off the bed frame.  I spent a day removing the popped screws and installing angle brackets to hold the sides of the bed together.

The best news  is that I left early because Cyndi was able to get me into the Cannon Beach RV resort.

For more photos, see here..

Harrison, Idaho

From July 26th through 29th, we were with our friend Vic, who’s one of the people who inspired us to take this trip in the first place.  Vic has been on the road on and off for the past 3 years.[mappress mapid=”21″]

Vic has a beautiful place on a lake near Harrison, Idaho.  We enjoyed some spectacular sunsets.

Captain Vic entertained us on her pontoon boat, the Sea Puss (it actually is a technical oceanic reference to a dangerous underwater current), and also introduced us to paddleboarding……Cyndi stood, I was content to sit and paddle.

Vic is an incredible host and fascinating story-teller, having lived all over the world, including Afghanistan, New Zealand, India and Antarctica. We made some new friends, and so did Sunny…

Sunny and Ranger

 

 

 

 

 

For more photos, including our visit to “One Shot Charlie’s” click here.

Glacier National Park, Montana

From July 22nd to 26th, we were in Glacier National Park.  Initially we had a reservation in Polson, Montana.  Polson is on the south end of Flathead Lake, about 70 miles from West Glacier.  The people at the park were very nice, but we quickly discovered that it was basically a retirement community – the pickle ball courts were bulging at the seams.  So we went to Glacier from there one day, and then Cyndi found a spot for us in a campground about two miles from the park entrance. [mappress mapid=”20″]

Sunset over Flathead Lake.

Before we left, I captured a shot of sunset across the lake, and we bought some of the locally famous Flathead cherries, which had just come into season.

Glacier National Park has the most spectacular scenery we’ve seen yet.  For that reason, it’s hard to choose just a few photos.  For those driving through, the centerpiece of the experience is Going to the Sun road.   This is a 50 mile stretch, completed in 1932, literally blasted into the faces of the mountains.  From West Glacier, the road climbs more than 3,000 feet in 30 miles to the Logan’s Pass Visitor’s Center, though most of that elevation actually happens in the last 10 miles or so.  The road is narrow and winding; one side runs along sheer cliffs, the other along dropoffs of hundreds of feet.  We were happy to have had the Jeep, but we still white-knuckled it the first time.  Cyndi’s posted a video in the album linked below.  We took about a thousand pictures of views along the way.

On our first day in Glacier, we met some of the local wildlife – bears eating huckleberries on a hillside (the berries grow only on south-facing slopes, and are only in season for two months), and a bachelor herd of bighorn sheep.

On our second day in Glacier, we hiked into Avalanche Lake.  This is a five-mile roundtrip that begins at Trail of the Cedars and continues past Avalanche Gorge up to a mountain lake with five falls running into it.  When there’s no wind, the lake is so clear it produces a perfect reflection.

On our last full day in the area, we broke out the inflatable kayak and took her to a lake just about a mile from our campsite.  Sunny took his first ever paddling trip, and was remarkably calm, if curious about the paddles.

Safety first
Cyndi’s view

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took way too many photos.  For a bigger selection, see here.

 

 

 

Norris Hot Springs, Montana

We stayed one night here, on July 21st.  On the way, we drove through Yellowstone, emerging in the touristy and overdeveloped town of West Yellowstone, Montana.  It was quite a contrast to the emptiness and beauty of the Park.  Just outside of town, we encountered Quake Lake, which sits in giant jagged hills and was formed by a massive earthquake in 1959 in which 28 people were killed.  The lake is 5 miles long, about a third of a mile wide, and 190 feet deep.  We stopped in at the Visitor’s Center, which is perched at the summit of a cliff with a view of the lake and canyon.

Quake Lake

Then on to Norris Hot Springs.  This was a random choice for us, as it split the distance between Dubois and Polson, Montana.  This is a very small campground with nine RV sites next to a natural hot spring.  [mappress mapid=”17″]

The place already felt pretty funky/crunchy granola, but then we found we were there on a live music night.  The  Lucky Valentines played on the Holy Bucket Bluegrass stage, which is a geodesic dome tent in front of the pool.

Bucket of Bluegrass

All in all, a beautiful if quirky stop on our way to Glacier National Park.

For more photos, go here.

Grand Tetons

We visited the Park on July 20th.  After the pace and scale of Yellowstone, we loved the peace of the Tetons.  Yellowstone feels a bit like a fabulous amusement park; Grand Teton Park  is a leisurely drive through spectacular scenery.  Our time there was also too short – there are great bike trails and places to kayak that would have loved to explore.

The Tetons are majestic mountains.  Mt Moran is the highest peak. We also visited a beautiful historic church and homestead in the Park.

We also saw a bit of the local wildlife.  And on our way out of the park, we passed a guest ranch with a herd of about 100 horses.  Cyndi could not stop the car and leap out with her camera fast enough.

In velvet
Video of a herd of 90+ horses below Grand Tetons

 

 

For more photos go here

 

 

 

Yellowstone National Park

We were in the Park for two days, July 17th and 19th.  This is not nearly enough time to explore, but we felt like we were able to hit at least some of the highlights.  Having been warned by every website we read that Yellowstone is a zoo in the summer, we were prepared to sit for hours in the world’s most scenic traffic jam.  Happily, we discovered that one of the only places this really happened was around Old Faithful, which we did not visit.[mappress mapid=”18″]

On day one, we hiked in 2.5 miles to see Lone Star Geyser.  Lone Star is comparable in size to Old Faithful, but erupts only every three hours.  By sheer luck, we arrived 20 minutes before an eruption.  We saw it with maybe 20 other people.  It really is true that if you want peace at Yellowstone, just get a quarter of a mile from the parking lot.

Lone Star Geyser

Then on to Grand Prismatic Spring, which we can’t possibly describe.  It’s a combination of geothermal energy and optics.  We saw the basin (which was in fact a zoo) on day one.

 

After being chased away by a storm, we returned to Fairy Falls and took the iconic dragon’s eye photo of Grand Prismatic on day two.

 

We then turned south along the lower figure eight road and saw the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Artist’s Point.  We finished with an unforgettable park experience – a bison traffic jam.

For more photos, go here..

To preview from our current vantage point at Glacier National Park, I think we’d say that Yellowstone is full of oddities – spectacular, but otherwordly.