Friday, April 12, 2013

Washington State Trip—1995—Part 3

Now it was time to head home.  That did not mean that there wasn’t something to see.  I do pity the folks that fly everywhere—they miss so much. Our itinerary for the drive home included: Mt. St. Helens, Multnomah Falls and following a portion of the Oregon Trail.

We wanted to see Mt. St. Helens for several reasons. 1) For fourteen years I worked for a pharmaceutical company whose home office was in Spokane, Washington.  I remembered the first-hand accounts of the volcanic ash turning day into night, also, receiving shipments from Spokane covered with volcanic ash and the vials of ash that the folks there kindly filled,stoppered and sent to us. 2) Joe was born just 27-days after the volcano blew. and 3) The historic, natural and scientific significance interested us.

On the morning of May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens blew her top, killing 57 and literally devastating 230 square miles of forest. 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways and 185 miles of highway were destroyed making it the most economically destructive volcanic event in U. S. history. Here is a brief video describing the eruption—Mount St. Helens Eruption Podcast.

Unfortunately for us, it was overcast and rainy so visibility wasn’t the best. Here are a few photos from our visit.

Mt St Helens Toutle River valley as seen from overlook

Toutle River valley as seen from overlook

Mt St Helens Clear lake 4ft diam stump

4 ft. diameter tree stump left by the blast.

mt st helens miniature lupine

Miniature Lupine took a foothold in the hardened volcanic ash.

Next we visited Multnomah Falls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.  Multnomah Creek drops a total of 620 ft. in two steps, to create this beautiful site.  There are hiking trails and a visitor center.  It was easy to get to off I-84.

Multnomah Falls oregon

We next followed the Oregon Trail as best we could diverting from the “I” when we could to view nearby landmarks. As we travel this land of ours in our modern-day “covered wagons,” we may forget the brave souls that risked everything for a better life. This same journey that would have taken 4 1/2 to 5 months by covered wagon can now be achieved in about four, eight-hour days.


This photo is in the public domain.  See notation below.*

Almost 270,000 (depending on your source) emigrants trekked westward via the Oregon Trail and it’s three major off-shoots, the California, Bozeman and Mormon trails. The estimated cost per person was anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on what the person needed to purchase for the trip. Deaths were common and it is believed that between 10 and 20,000 individuals succumbed to the rigors of the journey for various reasons.

An excellent book on the subject is, Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey, by Lillian Schlissel. In an excerpt of an 1853 diary in that book, Maria Parsons Belshaw tallies graves and dead stock by day.  In a three-week period she has counted 68 graves, 5 dead horses, 4 dead oxen and 145 dead cattle. In that time period they had traveled 306 miles. Very sobering statistics.

As we sped along the “I” at 65 mph. we followed a similar path as the emigrants. Past the Dalles in Oregon, where wagons were floated down the Columbia on rafts.  Over the Snake River, which was particularly treacherous for the emigrants before the ferry was established. Casualties were common. Past Boise and American Falls,ID and to Fort Bridger, which was a major resupply point for emigrants. Here we diverged from the Oregon Trail and stayed on the “I.”

Our next stop was Scotts Bluff National Monument, which is off U.S. 26 on Hwy. 92, in western Nebraska.  The 800 ft. bluff served as a landmark, not only, to emigrants but also to Native Americans and to modern-day travelers.  This was a must see for us.

Covered wagon at Scotts Bluff

Scotts Bluff with Wagon reproduction

Joe on trail at Scotts Bluff

Joe on trail at Scotts Bluff

wagon tracks at Scotts Bluff

Wagon tracks are still visible through Mitchell Pass at Scotts Bluff

Mitchell Pass was a major milestone for emigrants. The pass was located between two large bluffs and, although difficult and hazardous, it was the preferred route for many emigrants.  

Also along Hwy 92 were Chimney Rock National Historic Site and Courthouse and Jail Rock, two more landmarks along the Oregon trail, both located to the east of Scotts Bluff.


Chimney Rock

Darton_1897_JailRock public domain

Jail Rock

At Ogallala we crossed the Platte River.  Platte means flat water and it is said to be a “a mile wide and an inch deep, too thin to plow and too thick to drink.”   The Platte River run the entire length of the state of Nebraska and the Oregon Trail paralleled it’s path.  For a great portion I-80 does the same.  So from Ogallala to Grand Island we followed the Platt River.

There are a lot of things to see along I-80 in Nebraska.  As we have been along this route many times and have seen these sites, we did not stop until we reached Grand Island. 

As I remember this stretch of the trip was un-Godly hot.  I don’t know how we did it.  I remember having all the windows in the RV open and no air conditioning.  Whether it was broken or the RV was not equipped with it I don’t know. 

Sadie in the front seat trying to stay cool

Sadie trying to stay cool on the front seat of the RV with the windows open.

At Grand Island we stopped at a park in town and Sadie got to take another swim. 

The following day we were home. 

Public domain
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Washington State Trip—1995—Part 2

Remember this statement—“Wherever you go along the coast, always carry a tide table and know how to use it! *”

After a fun few days at Yellowstone we headed north via U. S. 89 to I-90 in Montana. 

We didn’t plan to stop at any points of interest along this stretch.  Our goal was to make it to Spokane, WA (about 500 miles) for the night.  We were a little younger then and could drive longer stretches.  Today we would need to take two days to travel that distance.

Somewhere in the mountains along I-90 we got a big scare as we were chugging up some pretty steep grades.  Suddenly the engine began to race.  Now all this happened as Joe climbed down from the cab-over bunk. These events didn’t clock up in our little minds instantly. Right away Tom thought something was wrong with the transmission and to say he was excited would be an understatement.  We soon discovered, though, that on his way down from the bunk, Joe somehow kicked the shift lever into neutral.  Crisis averted.  When you are driving a 17-year old unit you always expect the worst.

We took a slight detour north to the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.  After five years, construction on the Grand Coulee Dam was completed in 1942.  The Grand Coulee Dam produce more hydropower than any dam in the U. S. We took the tour and walked along the top.  Looking down the spillway should make anyone dizzy. 

Gr Coulee Dam spillway

And of course we had to find a spot for Sadie to swim.  After all, it was her vacation too.

joe watching sadie swim in columbia river 2

Another stop we did make was was Roslyn, WA. Why? The Northern Exposure TV Series which aired from 1990 to 1995.  We were big fans. The opening credits and exterior scenes were filmed in and around Roslyn (fictional Cicely, AK).  The interior scenes were filmed in Redmond, WA.  It was the “fish-out-of-water” story of Dr. Joel Fleishman, from New York City, who is sent to Cicley to practice.

Roslyn WA was the site where Northern Exposure was filmed

Roslyn(‘s) CafĂ©, Roslyn, WA, featured in Northern Exposure scenes.

We arrived the following day at the home of Tom’s brother and his family near Olympia, WA.  And . . .

at wayne-kittys house in washington

. . . more repairs. 

repairs 2

The plan was for all of us to drive in the RV to the Olympic National Park and Tom, Joe and I would sleep in the RV while Wayne, Kitty and their son, Steve would sleep in their tent.

“Olympic National Park is a land of beauty and variety.  A day's exploration can take you from breathtaking mountain vistas with meadows of wildflowers to colorful ocean tide pools.  Nestled in the valleys are some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country.  Olympic is like three magical parks in one.” –National Park Service brochure.

The Olympic National Park was definitely one of the most memorable places we’ve been.  Etched in our memory you might say.

The first day there we took a nature hike through the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. and one of the most spectacular examples of a temperate rainforest in the world. The giant conifers that dominate Hoh are a product of the mild winters and cool summers with up to 12 ft. of yearly precipitation.

joe and sadie on nature walk oly nat park lg doug fir

Joe and Sadie on nature trail next to a giant spruce tree.

nature walk oly nat park trail across ravine on downed doug fir

The trail took us across a ravine on a downed spruce tree.

Tom Sue and Joe on nature walk oly nat pk

Tom on left, with Joe and Sue standing in a giant spruce tree.

Next, we headed to Olympic National Park’s coastline. It’s difficult to remember exactly where we were along the coast but, it seems that Rialto Beach is the likely place. The six of us went to the beach and began hiking and exploring along the rocky beach with it’s giant driftwood logs and islands known as ‘seastacks'.

It wasn’t hard to get distracted by all the interesting things we found and saw. Sea creatures, alive and dead; Oddly shaped driftwood and soon to be driftwood; and strange rock formations and islands that are not islands at low tide.

2 beach exploring oly nat park

The six of us and the two dogs, Sadie and Barney, exploring Rialto Beach.

beach exploring oly nat park

Joe and Wayne exploring coastline rocks.

3 beach exploring oly nat park

Joe, Steve and Sadie wading out to one of the “seastacks.”

4 beach exploring oly nat park

Joe and Sadie on the beach.

Elephant driftwood on beach Oly Nat Park

Giant “elephant” driftwood.

Wayne Steve and Sadie exploring rocks Tom watching Olympic Nat Pk

Tom looking on as Joe, Wayne and Sadie climb coastline rocks.

striations on the ocean front olympic national park

Striations in the bedrock.

anenome and starfish in water oly nat pk

Sea anemone and a starfish in a tidal pool

Wayne and Tom 1995 or 96

Wayne and Tom

near campground tree clinging to cliff by its toes

Tree clinging by its toes to the cliff.

As you can see there was a lot to see.  It is so easy to loose track of time . . . and you know what they say—“time and tide wait for no man.”  What happened to these “landlubbers” next could have been foreseen by the more experienced beachcomber.

After hours on the beach we noticed the tide had risen. Oh, no!  Now what?  Joe and Steve were actually smart and headed back right away.  Not the adults.  I can’t remember our reason for waiting.  Maybe we thought the tide would recede.  How silly.  It kept rising.  Now what. 

We didn’t know if or how long the beach we were on would remain safe. Unfortunately our way was blocked by a huge rock formation that extended into the water.  We had the two dogs and our camera equipment. Kitty could carry little Barney but there was no way to carry 60 lb. Sadie.

So we made the decision to turn Sadie loose and hope she could swim in the surf.  It was a hard decision to make. To leave her on the leash and risk the leash somehow getting caught in the rocks was was not an option.  We clung to the slippery rock and made our way across with the surf hitting us at waist-level, encouraging Sadie as we went along.  We didn’t have too far to go but it seemed to take forever, but we all made it.

When we got back to the RV we found our sons sitting on the step eating snacks that people had given them.

Lesson learned—“Wherever you go along the coast, always carry a tide table and know how to use it!*”

*From the Olympic National Park brochure.

Washington State Trip-July 1995--Part 1

We were planning a trip out to Washington State to visit Tom’s brother, Wayne, and family who were living at that time in Lacey, WA. We were excited, but I had two gall bladder attacks in the months before the planned trip.  I certainly did not want to have another attack or even worse need surgery on the road.  So I elected to have the gall bladder surgery a few days before the trip.  After the surgery I got the okay from my doctor and some pain medication and off we went in our 1978 Winnebago Sportsman Class C.

78 Winnebago class C

1978 Winnebago Sportsman and our Black Lab, Sadie.

Of course along the way I took over driving for Tom.  I didn’t even give a thought about being on medication.  I didn’t drive for long when I commented that there must be something wrong with my eyes as everything was blurry.  It took us a while longer to realize that it was probably the pain medication making me fuzzy.  That put an end to my driving until I was off my meds.

Pipestone Turtle Fetish made in Pipestone, MNOur first stop was Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone, MN. Native Americans have quarried red pipestone from this site for countless generations.  This pipestone was used to make ceremonial pipes who’s smoke is said to carry a person’s prayer to the Great Spirit. There were actually native artisans working on the pipestone quarried from the site.  I purchased this pipestone turtle fetish on our visit.

Our next stop was DeSmet, SD, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little Town on the Prairie.”  As I have been a big fan of the Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder this was a must see.  Up until this point Tom thought Little House was a complete work of fiction.  He was basing what he knew on the TV series, which, although based on real people, the show was an adaptation of Laura’s books and for entertainment purposes.  The TV show, which ran from March 1974 through May 1982, made Laura Ingalls Wilder a familiar character to millions of viewers. 

ma and pa ingall home

DeSmet  home of Ma and Pa Ingalls

Many, like me, want to know more about Laura and her family. So we put DeSmet on our itinerary.  Tom found the history fascinating. I remember visiting the Ingalls home in town and the surveyors house and information center.  The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant presented on specific dates in July was wonderful. Use the link above to check for current show dates. For additional information, follow this link to the Laura Ingalls Wilder website. 

I can’t say we went to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, as I do not have any photos of it with the photos from this trip  We may have continued on U.S 14 west from DeSmet all the way to Wall, SD. We have been to the Corn Palace in the past and it is something to see. Our goal this trip was to get to Washington so we skipped over some sites we have already visited.

Continuing west from DeSmet, we stopped in Wall, SD at Wall Drug for burgers and the experience. We had been there on prior trips, but it was a stop we wouldn’t miss. 


We spent a night in Spearfish, SD, in a campground adjacent to Spearfish Creek, a fast moving stream that runs through the center of town. Sadie had to take a dip in the icy water, as she had in every body of water could along the way.  This time the icy water temperature caught up with her and we had to wrap her in blankets and run the space heater for her. See 3 photos below.

sadie joe and tom spearfish creekTom drying sadie after her dip in spearfish creekSadie under blankets with heater

From Spearfish we motored on to Yellowstone National Park. This was our second or third trip to America’s first National Park.  This, however, was our first visit after the wildfires of 1988, which affect 36% of the park, so we didn’t know exactly what to expect.  There was a great deal of standing dead trees but the scenery was still stunning and it was easier to see wildlife. 

It was early July and the had just opened our campground as the snow had just melted enough to do so.  Sadie and Joe took advantage of the snow adjacent to our campsite and played for a while in the “July snow.”  We toured the usual sites and saw buffalo and elk.  We stopped at a Yellowstone Lake boat launch, boat launches are always interesting.  Well, Sadie always liked water and boats and before we knew it she hopped into some stranger’s boat.  At least she wasn’t wet . . . yet.  Next she ran right into the lake.  She didn’t stay in long as it was only 42 degrees according to the guy with the boat (according to his depth finder).

Entrance to YellowstoneJoe and Sadie playing in snow in Yellowstone - Copyour yellowstone campsitesomewhere in yellowstoneyellowstone buffalo from rv windowat yellowstone shortly after big fire

Friday, April 5, 2013

Total Trip Costs March 2013 Florida Trip

Total Days = 22

Total Miles = 3498

Average MPG = 11

Average Cost Gas/Gallon = $3.59

Highest Gas Price/Gallon-Carrabelle, FL = $3.79

Lowest Gas Price/Gallon-Blytheville, AR = $3.32

Total Campground Fees = $443

Total Restaurants = $224.75

Total Gas = $1147.35

Total Gifts/Souvenirs = $65.54

Total Trip Expenses = $1880.64*

Average Cost per Day = $85.48

*Does not include groceries as we would have that expense if on trip or at home.

This was our first extended trip with a truck and trailer.  We saw a 35% increase in fuel economy with the truck/trailer over our last trip with the motorhome (used our Suzuki for touring @ about 20 mpg)That said. the truck was our only vehicle and not only was it used to take us from campground to campground, it was also our means of travel while touring.