Updated June, 2003
Log Date: +1885: 030601: 38N22.5': 97W38.3': 1,487': Mustang Mobile Home Park, McPherson, KS
Sunday morning we went to breakfast at Perkins, the local coffee shop, then Alice went to church with her sister and I worked on my writing in the rig. We all went to lunch at Perkins along with most of the population of McPherson it seemed. I worked on getting email to work, including sending announcements through Starband. That afternoon Ralph drove us all to Hutchinson to see their daughter, Ruth. She and Kirt live on a farm outside of town, complete with wheat fields, cats, horses, weeds, and farm machinery. It brought back some very distant memories, nice to visit but I wouldn't want to stay.
Monday morning I dropped Alice off at Margaret's so she could wash clothes and took the truck in for lub and recall work and changing transmission fluid. Ralph brought me back to their place where I spent some time working on Broken River. After lunch we went by the local bookstore, The Book Shelf. I talked with Linda Crick, the owner, about booksignings and got some good ideas. Ralph then drove up to Salina so Alice and I could take he and Margaret into Sam's Club (we had the card). When we returned I got a call that the truck would not be ready until Tuesday. That evening Alice took Margaret to a Red Hat meeting she had arranged with local Red Hatters. Ralph and I went to supper at Applebee's.
That evening I worked on new business cards for me as an author. They came out pretty well and I now have a supply. I just need to remember to use them.
Tuesday morning we all went to Wichita to check out more bookstores. I talked to people at Barnes and Noble and at Borders. It appears much of their activity is dictated by Corporate. Also, I got some indication that large bookstores are not interested in Print On Demand books. It was interesting that in looking over all the bookstores in the yellow pages in Wichita, there just were not very many that might be good booksigning candidates.
Ralph enjoyed driving around the city streets of Wichita and we got quite a tour. We stopped by a buffet for lunch then went to the Exploration Place on the Arkansas River. This is really a place for kids, even if they are 65 years old. It was funded in large part by a rich philanthropist of Wichita. We saw interactive exhibits on airplanes and how they fly, the lands, streams, and fossils of Kansas, a multitude of robots and non-robots doing various things, a very comprehensive exhibit on different parts of the human body including lungs and eyes, and a 60-foot cyberdome picture show with views of space. This is a place to spend a whole day just wandering around if you get the chance.
Returning to McPherson I went by to pick up
truck. They had just finished. The report said they had found
a leak in the secondary transmission cooler, it was not a leaky
hose. Then it was back to Margaret and Ralph's for a quick bite
to eat. We picked up email, said our goodbyes, and headed back
to rig to prepare for the next day's travel.
Log Date: +1888: 030604: 40N5.1': 99W13.8': 2,016': Hunter Cove Campground on Hardin Lake, Republic City, NE
Wednesday morning we got up early to prepare the rig for travel. I vacuumed the floor as Alice had been requesting for a month. We did some quick shopping at WalMart and then stopped by the music store in downtown McPherson. This was the place where I purchased my laptop steel guitar two years ago. We had a good discussion about strings and a different amp. Unfortunately, he no longer had the supply of old steel guitar music he had had two years ago. I should have purchased it all then.
Returning to the trailer, we hooked up and pulled out for Nebraska. The weather was cold and cloudy with occasional sprinkles. We headed up I-135 then continued on US-81 to US-24 where we turned west. It was a good road without much traffic. At Beloit we saw an ad for a Dairy Queen coming into town and I was prepared to pull off for lunch and a Blizzard.
Continuing west we noticed an increasing number of dead trees along what we found to be the Solomon River and in its flood plain. When we reached Glen Elder I found that US-24, our planned route, was closed to the west and the highway department had decided we should detour south, not the direction I wanted to go. I went back to a local service station to fill with fuel and asked directions. The lady said I could go north on highway 128 towards Red Cloud. She also explained that all the dead trees were from the 1993 floods. The entire valley was under water for months and it killed most every tree. Water had stood 25 feet deep for weeks in some places. Finally new growth is beginning to cover some of the damage.
The drive north was through rolling hills of wheat and some corn plantings. The clouds continued to spit a little rain from time to time but not enough to make it difficult to drive. At US-36 we turned west for twelve miles then continued north on US-281 to the town of Red Cloud. There we caught US-136 to the west, following the valley of the Republic River. At Republic City we turned south on a local road to the Hardin County Reservoir. The camp host at the marina suggested we camp at the Hunter Cove campground, a mile down the road.
No one was on duty at the entry shack so we selected a backin campsite and set up. We had electricity and water but no sewer. The trip had been 203 miles.
We found the campground to be a very pleasant place with no major noise, so we decided to stay two nights. The next morning we paid for two days. With the Golden Age card it was $7 per day. Then we walked the campground. It gave me a chance to do some more work on Broken River. I also put the Escapees decals on the trailer, moved the handle beside the door up away from the awning latch, and installed the new smoke alarm.
Thursday evening I started to work on a booksigning
database. I found demographic information and bookstore locations
in the DeLorme Streets map. It made for some interesting conclusions,
like people outside major urban centers don't have much access
to anything other than religious bookstores, especially along
the Mississippi River.
Log Date: +1890: 030606: 41N2.8': 102W4.1': 3,379': McGreer RV Park, Big Spring, NE
Friday morning as we rigged for travel we also noticed that the hot water heater was leaking badly. I tried to get the pressure relief valve to reseat, but it would not. The damage done during the freeze last February had finally gotten too bad and it simply would not hold pressure.
We pulled out and continued 10 miles west on US-136 into Alma where we headed north for 39 miles on US-183. Shortly after crossing the North Platte River we headed west on I-80. We were fighting a pretty strong head-wind. Alice checked the Points of Interest and Exit Services in the Streets 7.0 program and found that the only place where we could find an RV parts place was in North Platte. We knew it was named Larry's but had no address.
As we came off the exit into North Platte we could find no evidence of the parts place, but the Whiskey Creek Steak House had room to park the trailer, so we stopped for lunch. We each had a really good pulled pork barbecue sandwich and I asked where to find Larry's RV Parts and Service. The waitress gave us directions which would have been good had they not put in the US-30 bypass a few years ago. After going around in a big circle we finally found the place on the old US-30 route through town.
When asked whether the pressure relief valve was half inch or three quarters, my only response was that I would have to take it off to find out and bring it in to be sure. That turned into a significant undertaking since I needed to extend the awning (in the wind) before I could drop the door to the hot water heater. Then I had to remove the heater hot air vent before I could fit a wrench around the valve. But finally, I got hold of it and turned. Since I had not bothered to release the pressure in the water lines I got a face full of water. I sputtered a bit then finished removing the valve.
Taking it inside I purchased the correct replacement and returned to the rig to put it back in. This time everything went reasonably well and after a hour and a half off the road we were again ready to travel, this time with a good pressure valve -- I hoped.
We continued west on I-80, into the teeth of the wind, for another 50 miles to Big Springs. It is very near to the corner of Colorado that pokes up into Nebraska. We pulled into the McGreer RV Park across the freeway from the businesses on the other side. The RV park was a somewhat old, inactive place based on the honor system, but it was a Passport America park ($9 a night) and was mowed and clean. We set up camp and I would recommend it to anyone traveling that road, at least for the night.
We went across the way to the Char Bar Restaurant.
The food was okay but I would not recommend it as a great place
to eat. After supper I did Alice's hair and we watched TV. I also
did some work on Broken River, making it to chapter 8. Still a
ways to go.
Log Date: +1891: 030607: 42N28.4': 104W57.4': 4,835': Glendo State Park, Glendo Lake, WY
Saturday morning we were up early. We filled the fresh water tank, anticipating staying in a more primitive campground that night. We headed north across the South Platte River through Big Springs and up US-138 to Day Road. Again the wind was blowing strongly into our face.
Continuing 10 miles north we turned northwest on US-26, the road that claimed to be the route west. It followed the general path of the Oregon Trail along the North Platte River.
At Northport we crossed the river to Bridgeport and a few miles further stopped at the Chimney Rock National Historic Site. We stayed on highway 92 into Scottsbluff where we rejoined US-26, crossed into Wyoming, and continued west until we reached I-25. We turned north for 19 miles and exited at Glendo. After purchasing fuel we drove to the Glendo Lake State Park. It cost $12 to park, which was somewhat of a gouge since there was nothing except outhouses and a garbage can, but I didn't want to drive any further and wanted to try to "primitive" camp.
It took a while to find a level place, but
we stopped next to some trees and leveled up. I did not bother
to unhook the truck from the trailer. We put the slide out about
a foot and got the catalytic heater from the basement. We expected
it to be cold during the night. Alice was a bit perturbed but
a good sport. As it turned out it was a pleasant evening and night.
Log Date: +1892: 030608: 44N21.5': 106W40.3': 4,550': Deer Park Campground, Buffalo, WY
Sunday morning we were up early. We didn't need to do much to travel and didn't even bother fixing breakfast, especially since it would have been quite a bother.
Returning to I-25 we headed north and west towards Casper. We stopped in Douglas at a McDonalds to eat and then were back on the road. The freeway turned north at Casper and we kept going, taking only a short stop at a pulloff along the way. Since we had good cellphone reception we called Deb and discussed plans. She will drive straight through from Sacramento to Cody and will arrive sometime Sunday afternoon. We will need to inform her of where to find us before she leaves.
We reached Buffalo before noon and pulled off at the US-16 exit. Turning right we drove the half mile to the entrance to the Deer Park Campground and checked in. We decided to stay for three days.
After picking up email we went into town for lunch at the Bozemann Crossing Restaurant and had very good Reuben sandwiches and soup. We found the local IGA and bought a supply of fresh vegies then returned to the rig to rest. We are both finding that driving days tire us out.
During the night we heard the sound of rain. Monday morning it was a bit cloudy, and then the wind really started to blow. I was glad we were not traveling. It was a good day to sit in the rig and catch up on websites, books, accounts, and games.
Tuesday was wash day and that kept Alice pretty busy. I worked on a set of webpages providing some basic information about earthquakes and the New Madrid fault to support the 7.9 Saga branch. We had a good phone signal and did some communication. Everyone seems to be getting along. I checked over the best route for Deb to come to meet us in Cody, and we called the Ponderosa in Cody to make reservations.
The Internet connection requires that I call an 800 number. There is no local POP for AOL in Buffalo. I used the calling card connection and that worked well. I uploaded the latest information to the website. That evening we went to supper at a restaurant next to the creek in downtown Buffalo. It was okay but not worth a special trip.
Log Date: +1895: 030611: 44N31.4': 109W4.4': 5,038': Cody, WY
Wednesday morning we rigged for travel to Cody. We dumped the tanks on the way out. There was a bit of wind in our face, but the drive up I-90 was smooth. Just past Sheridan we turned west on US-14 and the wind became less of a problem.
Shortly we started climbing into the Big Horns. What I did not realize at first was that we had traveled the same road on a daytrip around through Ten Sleep when we were camped in Buffalo in 1998. The trip up the grade was at a steady 7% and 35 mph. We had the opportunity to see the various formations on the way up, with PreCambrian at the top. There was some some spectacular scenery in the rear-view mirror.
Once we were on the plateau we continued through rolling hills with drifts of snow scattered under the trees and alongside the road. At Burgess Junction we were given the choice of US-14 or US-14A. We stopped and checked the mileage on Streets and found it would be about 3 miles shorter to go US-14A, but a mile down the road there was a pull-off with a map explaining what we were heading for: a long stretch of 10% grade. We turned around and took US-14.
We still had a long grade of 5% to 7% grade, but with the Pac-Brake it was quite easy. I did most of it at 35 mph and hardly touched the brakes. There were some other people who wanted to speed along and ride their brakes. Luckily, we did not see the marks of any of them going over the edge in some of the tight turns along the way.
At Granite Creek there was a pullout where we took a rest stop. The information sign told of a tornado that came over the mountain in 1959 and took out part of the forest and a campground. You could still see the path of the twister as it came down the side of the mountain. That answered one of my lingering questions, will a tornado come over a hill and go down into a valley? You bet it will, and it can get bigger as it drops down.
Once out of the Bighorns we continued across dry farmland to Greybull and then on west through Emblem and to Cody. Things began to green up a little around Cody.
As we entered Cody US-14 turned north then back west and then back south, like following the outline of a hat. As it turned back to the west we found the Ponderosa Campground. The trip had been 189 miles, 4 miles further than intended because of the backtracking at Burgess Junction.
We pulled in and checked in for a week. We were put in a nice shaded spot at the back of the park, away from the roads sounds. We were backed up to a precipitous cliff dropping down to Sulfur Creek, so it was private in back of the rig. There was a Dairy Queen next door so we went on over for a late lunch (another Blizzard).
We spent most of our time just relaxing. We went to the Super WalMart to shop for bits and groceries. Alice cut my hair. And I tried to receive email, with a marked lack of success. There is no local AOL POP in Cody, so I tried the calling card approach again. But after a couple of minutes in the session, AOL decided the noise was too busy and dropped the connection. This happened two or three times a day for the next couple of days. I was able to see some of the emails, but since the sessions were never completed, the messages were not removed from the server. It was very frustrating.
I did spend a fair bit of time writing on Broken River and made it up to Chapter 12 where the riverboat is freed from the snag. It is looking good to this point. We found a good Chinese Buffet for a good lunch.
Saturday we collected our snailmail at the post office then drove west on US-14 to check out Yellowstone. We drove on over to Fishing Bridge to see about getting reservations. The lady there said we were at least two weeks, if not two months, late because they were totally booked. One the way back we checked out ThreeMile Campground, just outside the East Gate. It looked pretty good but warned that everyone should sleep inside a hardwalled rig. Tents were ill-advised since it was grizzly bear country.
On Sunday I went to the Sinclair service station, also known as the Yellowstone RV Supply Store, on the west side of town and purchased propane. Then about 1 pm Deb arrived. She had a good trip with no problems. We set up her tent outside the trailer and went to supper at Cassie's Supper Club. The food was good but pricey. We did some planning and decided to boondock three nights at ThreeMile and then go over to Jackson Hole for a period of time. We also talked about my Internet access problems and decided there is no good solution at this point, only some work arounds.
Monday was a catch up and tourist day. We went to breakfast next door to the Ponderosa. Alice paid our Jojoba bill and I worked on the earthquake webpages that support my Memphis 7.9 Book Sales. We went shopping at the WalMart Superstore in town. That evening we drove downtown to walk Main Street and watch the gunfight at the Irma Hotel. It was lots of fun. One thing I learned was how deadly firing a blank load from a pistol could be. It ripped a soda can to shreds. Afterwards we road the trolley around town and heard a great monologue on the history of the place.
Tuesday morning Alice started washing the clothes while Deb and I went to the library to work on Internet access. Deb helped me set up a Yahoo account with options to check our email at twopennytravels.com. Alice and I cannot manage our accounts but we can at least check messages. The bad news is that there were no new emails with news.
That afternoon we all went to the Buffalo Bill
Cody museum, a collection of five different venues. We began with
the Natural History section. It was outstanding with many life-like
exhibits of animals of the area with the sounds of the plains
and forest in the background. Alice collected a series of postmarks
for her Passport book as we walked through the three story exhibit.
Next we toured part of the Colt exhibit and saw a fine collection
of historic firearms. We toured the Buffalo Bill section with
stories and exhibits from Cody's life. He was quite an entrepreneur
and entertainer. Finally, we toured the Native American section
with many heroic size pictures and beautiful exhibits of the Indian
tribes of the plains. All in all, the presentation of the materials
in the museum was outstanding.
Log Date: +1902: 030618: 44N29.8': 109W57.1': 6,995': ThreeMile Campground, Pahaska, WY
Wednesday morning I dumped the tanks and filled the fresh water tank while Alice and Deb prepared the inside of the trailer for travel. Once we were ready they went to do some final shopping, purchase fuel, and go to the library to set up Alice's Yahoo account. I headed out pulling the trailer west on US-14 to the ThreeMile Campground near Pahaska. The 49 mile trip was smooth and uneventful.
At the campground I selected a site with southern exposure and started to set up the trailer. There were no hookups, so it was primarily a matter of leveling and putting out the awning. The battery condition was good and I made sure everything was operating on propane. There would be no TV, so I broke down the satellite antenna and stowed it in the basement. I had everything in place before Deb and Alice arrived. Since this was grizzly bear area, no tents were allowed, so we set up so Deb could sleep on the floor for the next three nights.
I have chosen this locale to do some research for another book project with a backdrop of the reawakening of the Yellowstone caldera. The plan was to boondock there for three nights. We could visit part of Yellowstone and possibly do a trail ride out of Pahaska.
After lunch we drove the mile and a half further up US-14 to the Pahaska lodge. My first stop was the stable where we talked to the wrangler, Heath, about doing a trail ride. After discussing what was available I made reservations for Deb and me to go out on Thursday morning for a 4 hour ride. Alice declined to go along. She was not sure her hip would stand up under the pressure.
We checked out the store where I purchased a Roadside Geology of Yellowstone book. It expanded quite a bit on what was in the Wyoming book.
We returned to the rig and spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening with each of us working or playing on our respective laptops. That was a mistake. By the time the next morning rolled around the battery was so far down nothing would work, including the hot water ignition, the radio, and the refrigerator control. The lights glowed dimly.
We headed over to Pahaska for breakfast, which was quite good, though the dining room was understaffed and it took a while. Returning to the rig I set up the solar panel, laying it in the back of the truck bed. Then we headed off to visit Yellowstone Park. The weather was mostly cloudy with some sunshine peeping through.
Alice showed her Golden Age card as we entered the park and headed up the road. At about the 7,500 foot level there was a turnout with some flowers alongside the road. Deb stopped and we each took photos of over twenty different varieties of flowers on the roadside. After over half an hour, we continued on up to Sylvan pass and beyond. We pulled off for the lake bluff overlook and had a sweeping view of Yellowstone Lake. You could see the Grand Tetons in the distance.
Continuing down the road we stopped at the thermal springs next to the side of the lake and took some more pictures. There was a good exposure of the altered rocks in the road cut. Deb realized she could collect rocks pictorially and took a number of pictures of crystals and pumice. Later we also stopped for some pictures of buffalo grazing alongside the road.
At Fishing Bridge we went to the food counter for lunch. It was standard fare but good. And it was fun talking to the retirees who fill almost all the service positions in the park. After lunch we continued our journey to Canyon. We took the road towards Artist's Point and took a number of pictures of the upper and lower falls, including several panoramas. It will be interesting to see how they turn out.
It was already 4pm, and we talked about heading back to camp. But Deb wanted to see Mammoth Hot Springs so we headed north. It was a beautiful drive, especially with Deb at the wheel. We had a few animal stops along the way for elk and buffalo. Then at Mammoth Deb and I walked the lower part of the springs and took more pictures. Up the road we took the one-way driving tour of the top of the springs and photoed a fine travertine mound in the setting sun.
From there we drove down to the Norris area then back east towards Canyon. We did not stop except for one photo op, arriving home about 7:30 pm. All of us were tired, and by that time the clouds were moving in and it had started to rain. At least the solar panel had done some work and the battery was partially recharged.
Friday morning we had breakfast and Alice drove Deb and me over to Pahaska for our 8:30 am trailride. Heath was our guide for the four hour trip and we had a great time. We went up the North Fork of the Shoshone River for a ways and turned west to go up Crow Creek canyon. We went about four miles up that canyon, weaving in and out of the trees and across some green meadows, and then came back the same trail. Heath lead on a mule named Brownie. Deb followed on a mare named Emmy Lou and I road another mare named Trixie. For the most part it was all at a slow walk, but once in a while Trixie would hang back and then trot to catch up. That was the bouncy part.
I took about 60 photos along the way. The only wildlife we saw were a fox, a deer, and a moose right at the beginning. I got some great pictures of Deb on her horse fording Crow Creek. I did get a great feel for the area. The entire ride lasted just over 4 hours. By that time Deb and I were both somewhat saddle sore.
Alice met us at the store and we stayed there
for lunch. By the time we left it was clouding up and then raining
by the time we reached the rig. We had gone on the ride at just
the right time, for it continued to rain harder and harder that
afternoon and into the night.
Log Date: +1905: 030621: 44N6.2': 110W40.1': 6,819': Flagg Ranch Village Campground, Jackson Hole, WY
Saturday morning I hooked the trailer to the truck to be sure we had power to bring in the slide and raise the jacks. Everything went well and we were soon ready to head through Yellowstone to just past the South Gate, an expected trip of 75 miles. Alice was riding with Deb so she could use her Golden Age to get the car into Yellowstone. I had my own for the truck and trailer.
The trip was relatively easy and smooth. There was not much traffic to bother with, and much of the way I was in a convoy of RVs. There were only a couple of animal stops. Alice and I talked some on the family radio sets as we went along.
A couple of miles past the South Gate we came to the exit for Flagg Ranch. I pulled into the campground about 11am and Tom at the office explained that check-in time was 4pm, but they were checking in people at 2pm to be nice. He said I could park in the Flagg Ranch Lodge parking lot to wait. That was just across the street.
Alice and Deb went to Colter Bay to look around and shop while I hung out in the trailer to offload the pictures of the trailride and change batteries in the floppy adapter. About 2pm I walked back over to the campground and registered for three nights. We had wanted to stay for a week but there were no reservations available on Tuesday night. I pulled the rig over to our assigned spot and had everything set up with power attached before the girls returned. It was good to have enough power to run the furnace, lights, and TV, especially when it started raining again during the night. The campsite was quite nice, though it was costing us $45 a night with tax.
Sunday morning I was feeling tired and worn-out, so Alice and Deb headed off to see the thermals at West Thumb and Norris. I worked on the earthquake webpages and napped. The weather was off and on rain.
I was surprised when the girls returned. They had driven through snow getting to West Thumb and then been fogged out during their walk. It had started snowing again and they were a couple of high passes away from Norris, so they decided to return home. After lunch they decided to drive to Jackson to check it out and do some shopping.
I visited the campground office to check on availability of additional nights. Doug, the clerk, and I looked over the computer screen and found there were openings, so I payed up for Wednesday and Thursday nights. It wasn't until I got back to the rig and looked at the calendar did I realize we still did not have a reservation for Tuesday night.
I worked on a webpage for my writing log on Self-Publishing. It tells of my decision process and efforts to get Memphis 7.9 to a printer. I also started working on the update to the travelogue.
Alice and Deb returned after six, by which time I was beginning to worry. But they returned with a full set of groceries. They had found what they called a "great" Albertsons in Jackson.
Monday morning Alice and I inventoried our canned goods in the basement and did some rearrangement. It made a big difference and we found we had a lot more stuff than we thought. Afterwards, we walked over to the lodge to check about Tuesday night. Luck was with us. There had just been a cancellation and we were able to reserve. At least we would stay in one spot until Friday.
After lunch we headed back into Yellowstone Park for a visit to the Upper Geyser Basin at Old Faithful. We had lunch at the cafeteria and watched Old Faithful erupt. Then we headed out on the walk through the geyser fields and had the chance to see four more major eruptions: Castle, Beehive, Lion, and Old Faithful. From there we continued to the Black Sand Basin. I took a total of 152 photos along the way, so it might be considered a good day.
We were all tired out by then, so we headed back to Flagg. After a pot-roast supper, I went to bed early.
Tuesday morning we took it easy in the morning, working with the laptops. I wrote on the travelogue and Alice and Deb worked on photos. Deb gave us a copy of CPicture, which will be a better program for viewing our photos that I have had in the past. The weather got worse and worse, so we ended up staying around the rig and working on our respective projects. We decided to skip our trip through Brigham City and head up the Snake River instead. We will be able to see the Dalles and Mt. St. Helen.
Wednesday morning we started to go to see the Tetons, but it was still a bit cloudy, so we headed back into Yellowstone instead. We had lunch at Grant Village and afterwards drove on towards Norris. We stopped at Biscuit Basin for some more picture and finally reached Norris about 3pm. Just as we arrived a rain/snow storm went through so we sat in the car for thirty minutes to let it clear, and it did. The three of us walked down to Ehkinas geyser, then Deb started on a longer walk around the Back Basin while Alice and I took a shorter route back another part of the geyser field and to the car. I took a number of photos.
After waiting in the car for two for Deb to show up, we both began to worry and went back to look for her. Alice stayed near the ranger station at the top of the hill and I rewalked our earlier path looking for Deb, without success. But I did get a hard workout, actually a little bit too hard, and I became physically distressed. When I finally made it back Deb had arrived and we all went back to the car for the drive back. I felt bad the rest of the evening, but after a night's sleep I had mostly recovered. It is sometimes easy to forget to watch out when you are above 7,000 feet.
Thursday morning we took care of a few things around the rig and then headed for our tour of the Tetons. We stopped for lunch at Colter Bay and had a very good meal. Further down the road we stopped numerous times for photo ops. The views got even better when we took the Jenny Lake side road. The Teton Mountains are spectacular, and the closer you get to them the bigger they become.
We drove on down to Jackson to shop for groceries at Albertsons. We also checked voicemail and found a message from Gene Lavielle about satellite Internet. I called him and we discussed the options that are available at this time -- not many. Alice will provide him with some contacts in the next few days to help his in his search.
We returned to the rig and fixed supper and worked over our photos. It was quite a haul. I prepared for traveling the next day and went to bed early. I am not sure when the girls made it to bed.
Log Date: +1911: 030627: 42N43.4': 112W52.4': 4,526': Indian Springs Resort, American Falls, ID
Friday morning was the day they came to pick up the trash, so we all awoke early. That was good since we wanted to pack up and head out by 9am. We just barely made it on time.
We headed south to Jackson and then took US-26 south along the Snake River. I decided it would be further and maybe even longer than taking WY-22 over Teton Pass, but we would still see some pretty country and miss some pretty heavy grades. It turned out there was about 20 miles of construction along US-26, so we were slowed down somewhat, but it was not bad. The traffic was reasonable.
We came out of the canyon area and climbed to the rolling hills atop the ancient lava flows leading into Idaho Falls. To the north we occasionally saw trees and canyons walls marking the location of the river. All the hills were planted with wheat or barley, at least until we entered the potato region. Then they were planted with half-grown potato plants. As Alice said, it was one huge farm. There were very few if any dwellings along the way.
As we came into Idaho Falls I purchased diesel at $1.477, 12 cents cheaper than it would have been in Jackson. We hoped to have lunch and even see the falls in the city, but it was very congested and there simply was no place to put a trailer. We did see a portion of the falls as we crossed the Snake mid-town. We had to drive 10 miles down I-15 to find an exit with a truck stop and restaurant. We ate at the Frontier Pie and had a good lunch.
After lunch we continued down I-15 until we caught I-86 near Pocatello for the 27 miles down to ID-37. A couple of miles south of the Interstate we pulled into Indian Springs Resort and registered. We had picked the place because it was the right distance to travel for the day (242 miles as it turned out). What we found was a small resort with a swimming pool filled from a hot spring (90 degrees) and a number of RV spots. Our site with water and electric cost just over $18 for the night. It was a very pleasant place in a grove of quaking aspens.
After the sun dropped a little more we went to the pool for a dip. It was very pleasant.
Log Date: +1912: 030628: 44N18.4': 117W13.5': 2,130': Farewell Bend State Park, OR
Saturday morning we packed up early and headed out. I had decided we should make it to the Columbia River in only two days, so we had a long trip ahead of us. The best bet looked like Farewell Bend State Park in Oregon.
We returned to I-86 with the Snake River just to our north and headed west. A few miles further I-86 ended as we merged with I-84. The land was flat rolling hills, most of it in full agricultural production. As we drove further we began to see more and more potato fields, and the potato barns were frequent. The old barns were an A-frame construction with lodgepole pine rafters and bales of straw as the roofing material. The newer ones were metal construction with blowers at one end.
We crossed the Snake the last time at the border from Idaho into Oregon, then climbed away from the river into the hills remaining from the ancient lava beds of that part of the country. All around it looked somewhat like California in the summer: dry straw colored. We finally came down from the hills to the valley of the Snake.There were some trees along the edge of the river, but it was still dry.
Shortly afterward we pulled off at the exit to Farewell Bend State Park. I believe it was at this point where the people coming along the Oregon Trail went their separate ways, some continuing on down the Snake and others heading south towards southern Oregon and California.
We made our way to the campground area. As we stopped to check the board for what sites might be available, a ranger came by and said the only spot where we might fit was A-11. We quickly headed up that way and I surveyed what problems I would have getting into the site. It was long enough but perpendicular to the road and had a narrow throat. Not only that, the road was narrow and lined with shrubbery. I tried backing in and could not get the right angle. Then I had Alice at the wheel while I directed her. Still no success. Finally, I took the truck back and drove out of the area to turn around and come back down a one-way road. At least I could make use of the empty/reserved site across the street to get some room. After a lot of forward and back maneuvers, I finally put the trailer into the site.
Deb took our check back to the ranger station to pay for the night. She saw that an extra care was supposed to pay $7, so that night cost us $24. At least we had a nice place to stay with the wide, grassy play yard behind us. It had been a long day what with driving 286 miles and parking in a very tight spot.
Alice and Deb went off to buy some groceries
while I relaxed and worked on Broken River. They came back saying
I had to see some of the places they had found. I said I would
do it on the way out.
Log Date: +1913: 030629: 45N43.4': 121W29.2': 105': Bingen, WA
Sunday morning we quickly rigged for travel and headed out. It was a lot easier getting out of the camping site than getting in. After dumping the tanks I followed the old US-30 route and drove through Huntington and the remains of Lime. There was an old lime mill and cement factory next to the railroad, and I could see the white limestone in the surrounding hills that they had quarried many years ago.
We rejoined I-84 and continued northwest through the hills. I was surprised when we came over the crest and looked down to Baker City. I had always imagined it to be a dusty desert town, but instead it nestled at the base of a high range of mountains, some still covered with snow, at the head of a long green valley. It is amazing what irrigation can do in that part of the world.
We headed north following the valley of the Powder River until we pulled out of the valley and back into the hills and mountains. We climbed into the pines as we followed the high country. There were signs along the road telling of various remains of the Oregon Trail nearby.
As we neared Pendleton, Oregon we came to the edge of the volcanic flow that had underlain the mountains around, then dropped down a 6% grade for the next six miles into the valley of the Umtilla River below. I was glad we were heading west, otherwise it would have been a long climb up the grade.
We continued along the valley, finally going over some smaller hills to come to the Columbia River. It was almost two miles wide at the point where we joined it, the result of one of the hydroelectric dams along the river just below.
I-84 and the railroad ran side-by-side down the bank of the Columbia as the hills rose higher and higher around the river. Near Maryhill we entered what was designated as the Columbia River Gorge, the path where the river cuts through the Cascade Mountain range. I had selected a campground across from Hood City, and at The Dalles (pronounced like Al) we crossed the river to WA-14 on the Washington side. We got a great view of the dam at The Dalles.
The next few miles were on an easy two-way road. I missed the campground the first time by and had to do a U-turn near the bridge to come back. After 292 miles we pulled into the Bridge RV RV Park & Campground to check in. Alice had called ahead so we had a reservation, the last one available as it turned out. They had saved us a nice spot surrounded with manicured grass and room to pitch Deb's tent. We signed up for two nights.
We drove across the river (75 cents toll bridge) into Hood City to shop for groceries, returning home to eat cherries. We then went to dinner at a mexican place in Bingen. Later the owner came by and suggested Deb move her tent to the asphalt since the sprinklers were scheduled to come on at 3am.
The next morning Deb and I went to the laundry room to collect email. I made reservations for a week at Chehalis TTN park and we ordered snailmail to be sent to Napavine. After starting a pot roast in the slow cooker, we headed out for a tour of the Columbia River Gorge.
We traveled south to the Bonneville Dam (the first big dam on the Columbia) and toured what is still accessible. A fair bit of the area is now restricted for 9-11 security reasons. But we did get to see the big generators in the room below. We then spent a long time in the observation area of the fish ladder. We saw lampreys and shad and some really big chinooks and steelhead heading up-river. I almost wanted to go buy some fishing gear again. I took some pictures but they did not turn out so well. At least you can see the size of the fish.
We headed back up-river and stopped in Stevenson for lunch. Alice picked out a great place to eat, The Big River Grill. She had a steelhead sandwich with a local brew. I stuck to the reuben. After lunch we drove up to The Dalles, but we were too late to see the exhibits there. We came back on I-84 and stopped again in Hood City for more groceries (cherries).
That evening we had our delicious pot roast dinner and collected email. I was tired so I went to bed early.