February 12, 2012
Having now caught-up on tasks neglected during our July-August trip to the Pacific North-West and with most Christmas decorations put away, a short report is in order.
We started with meeting old (i.e. long-time) and new friends at BOLERAMA, "Trailerhood", in a new location; Long Beach Conservation Area, on Lake Erie near Port Colbourne, start of the Welland Canal. About 95 FGRVs showed up and Donna, bless her heart, correctly estimated the food requirements for a group BBQ. There are great videos of the Rally
posted on YouTube. The usual good time was had by all.
Never knowing exactly where we'll be after a day on the road, we don't reserve, but take a chance on finding a suitable camping spot each night. Quality varies but we always find something adequate. Especially this trip as arrival date for Destination Edmonton kept changing on the fly, from beginning, to middle to end of trip due to grandson Sammy's baseball team winning tournaments and then traveling different directions to the next game..
Lansing, MI, was our first stop west. Then we came up against the Missouri River — just starting to recede from record flooding. Parts of I-129 (south) were still closed and parts of our route north were still sandbagged. We were ready to call it a day, but, proximity to the river being a main attraction here, campgrounds were virtually all under water and closed. Finally, with the help of our GPS we found a high and dry municipal campground in Salix, near Sioux City, IA.
In a revisit of Deadwood, SD, still an authentic, fun stop, we learned that the Frontier Days Rodeo was on in Cheyenne, WY, and decided to check it out. Although sold out for months, one spot opened up for us at the AB Campground. The rodeo, my first but Diane's second, met all expectations with bull riding, bucking broncos, calf roping etc. etc. Then, lined up for a "behind the chutes" tour, it started to rain; with strong winds and small but serious hail for an hour. Our shuttle bus back to the campground had spider cracks all over the windshield. Most trailers there had their skylights broken and many had water damage. We suffered only 7 small holes punched through. Luckily they were patchable with the duct tape in our emergency kit.
On through Bonneville Salt Flats (unique) to Reno. We lost a trailer hubcap (antique) on rough cement roads. But the scenery was worth it. Gambling, we won again! Des broke even and Diane came out $6. ahead.
A long, hot drive, including US 20 with some mountain hairpin turns with a 10 mph speed limit brought us right to the Pacific Ocean, Caspar Beach, CA. Temperature dropped from 100 F to 57 F; too cold for swimming (for us, but not all).
We hugged the coast north in excellent weather -- fascinating seascapes; fog hanging just at treetop level in places; numerous "Tsunami Danger Zones" then through the California Redwoods' Avenue of the Giants — what a sight! L'Eggo was 3" too tall to go through the "drive-through" tree. Then on to Oregon (pronounced Orgun). As someone reported recently, it is illegal to pump your own gas here. Probably knee-jerk legislation from a tragic accident long ago.
We tend to disregard "campground full" signs and drive right up to ask if its true. Luck rode with us again and Beachside State Park, our favourite site of the whole trip, had "just one spot" available.
An aside here. While over the years, by actual count we have been turned away 3 times, on more than 12 occasions we have lucked in on campsites in popular places like Cheyenne, here, Zion and Grand Canyon NPs, in high season. Is it the "cute" factor, our modest personalities, or could a Bulgemobile or Stickie do the same? Have others experienced this phenomena?
We enjoyed Portland, the Rose Gardens, and El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant with the owner's pre-teen sons (also good food). Donna D, we would have loved to meet you in person but at this stage had run out of time to find and impose on you.
Mt. St. Helens proved to be too far off the route and was probably fog-bound, so we snapped a picture at the lava dam and turned back. Sunny Long Beach, WA claims to be the longest in the world, but — NO SWIMMING, etc. waves are too big and currents to strong. Great place for ocean vistas and to fly a kite though.
In Seattle we stayed at the KOA near SeaTac airport, took a city bus there and then switched to the SoundTransit rail link right downtown! Pike's Place Market and the waterfront were delightful, as was a salmon dinner at Ivors, on the dock amidst ferries and fireboats.
Time to start wending our way north-east via Idaho, through foothills, warm, dry valleys and snow-capped peaks into south-eastern BC, and Cranbrook. Here Diane had sponsored a number of kilometres of the Trans-Canada (walking) Trail, to honour her deceased son. His name is inscribed in a kiosk here, and we found it.
This was a close as we got to Edmonton. We just couldn't match schedules this trip. Oh well, next time. After spending a night each in BC, AB, SK and MB, picking lots of yellow butterflies off of our radiator daily, we remembered that we forgot to go shopping. So, rather than our planned route North of Superior, we dropped down to the southern side. U.S. Immigration gave us a real grilling but we kept our duty-free booze. We expected big trouble from Canadian Customs but they understood; asked what we spent in this U.S. portion; then waved us through!
We don't measure the success of our trips in distance traveled but this was our longest drive ever, 12, 345 km (7,671 miles). All in all, it was another thoroughly enjoyable exploration of another portion of this great continent of ours.
We finished Summer with our annual trip with Ed and Marje Shook to Fiddlefest in Pembroke, ON , then on to our favourite wilderness campground.