Northwest Passage Part II … Colorado to Oregon

On June 13 our day began favorably at Donut Haus and things went downhill (and actually a lot of uphill) from there.  Being anxious to get to the PNW portion of the trip, we did one of those insane road warrior drives from Estes Park, Colorado, to Salt Lake City, Utah, with 40 mph headwinds and lots of hills.  Leaving by way of Big Thompson Canyon, we saw more devastation from last year’s flooding and more reason not to build your house in a deep river canyon.

We cut over to Laramie, Wyoming, from Ft. Collins for the long drive across southern Wyoming.  We have now managed to block those memories, and we don’t mean to diss Wyoming, but it was brutal.  At least the weather was cool enough that our lack of air-conditioning was not problematic.  There was another issue, however, that began to cause concern.  In our experience, no Vanagon trip is worry-free and, true to form, we had begun to experience a rattle of undetermined origin.   More on that later…

We made it to Salt Lake City around 5:30 p.m., just in time to have dinner with fellow syncronaut Bob Stevens, who graciously took us to dinner at Rodizio Grill, a Brazilian restaurant where the waiters come around to each table with different meats on a skewer and shave off a portion of whichever ones you want:  beef, chicken, pork, fish, and our favorite (not) – chicken hearts.  They also  had a killer salad bar and some unique veggie dishes.

Yum

Yum

After a great dinner and visit with Bob, we opted for a hotel (cheaper than the KOA) for the night.

On the way out of Salt Lake City the next morning, we stopped at Home Depot where Larry, ever the optimist, picked up some materials that we hoped would cure the rattle, which was getting somewhat worse.  We stopped for pictures along the Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats.

Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats

We stopped in Wendover, Nevada, and made sandwiches in the park, then spent 30 minutes in one of the casinos, which was more time than they needed to strip us of a few dollars.  The weather remained hospitable, however, with temps only in the 50s.

Wendover Will

Wendover Will

We made it as far as WInnemucca that night and found a free BLM camp site about five miles above the town on Water Canyon Road.  The temps were around 60 that night – quite comfy.  Leaving the next morning, we took highway 95 north before turning west/northwest on Highway 140, headed to Oregon.  We were glad to have a full tank of gas as the sign turning on to 140 said “No Gas for 179 Miles” – and they weren’t kidding.  We covered many miles of desert basin and range with beautiful wilderness and wildlife refuge areas and very little sign of human occupation.

Winnemucca Camp

Winnemucca Camp

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Wiinemucca Sunset

We entered Oregon’s southern border and found our way to Mud Creek Campground in the Fremont-Winema National Forest east of Lakeview.  We spent two nights there and were the only occupants of the human variety.

Mud Creek Campground

Mud Creek Campground

Fremont-Winema National Forest

Fremont-Winema National Forest

Fremont-Winema National Forest

Fremont-Winema National Forest

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It was quite cool during the days and cold at night, and we were grateful that we had decided to bring the down comforter.  Larry had questioned whether we would need the down, and Maggie had brought only one long-sleeved shirt because “Hey!  It’s summer!”  Apparently Oregon didn’t get the memo, because on the morning of June 17 we awoke to 28 degrees and snow!  Once again we were thankful for the Propex heater and the good home-roasted coffee that started our day.  Ever thoughtful, Larry offered to stay under the down and “out of the way” while Maggie made coffee.

Fremont-Winema National Forest

Fremont-Winema National Forest

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Fremont-Winema National Forest

We broke camp that morning and finally found a gas station at Lakeview.  Then it was on to Klamath Falls for lunch, free wifi, and some grocery shopping.  Temps only reached the 50s as we headed toward Crater Lake, our mysterious rattling noise becoming louder and more insistent with every passing mile.  After a few failed attempts at remedying the problem, we recorded the sound and sent the recording to our friend Karl who was currently on his way to Oregon from his home in Maryland.  “CV” he said.  So Larry made arrangements with our friends Gary and Evie in La Pine to order one so it would be available when we got to their place.

Made it to Crater Lake National Park where we found an awesome campsite adjacent to Annie’s Creek Canyon (D-13 if you go).  The sweet older lady at the registration kiosk, who had to hunt for each letter on her computer’s keyboard, gave us the wrong registration form, twice, and then charged us for the whole month of July ($720 charge to our credit card) before we finally got things straight.

Crater Lake Mazama Campground

Crater Lake Mazama

After securing our spot and checking out the camp store, we drove up to the rim of Crater Lake, 7 miles up from camp.  The lake is spectacular with beautiful blue waters and sheer cliffs all around.  The lake itself is 1943 feet deep and six miles across.  It was cold and windy with intermittent clouds and quite a bit of snow on the ground.  We toured The Lodge and decided that, despite our unwashed camp couture, we would splurge and have dinner in the restaurant there.  Larry had a pasta and Maggie opted for the pork tenderloin, both of which were quite good.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

We returned to camp to find a Westy in the campsite next to ours.  We introduced ourselves to the young couple, Ben and Jill, who had recently purchased the bus and had only finished week one of a 10-week excursion.  During this first week Ben had set up a marriage proposal with the Golden Gate Bridge as backdrop and Jill had accepted.  Hugs all around!

Cold again the next morning as we set out to hike the rim trail from our campsite.  We hiked for a couple of hours before putting our chairs in the sun to read and fend off the mosquito bombardment.  We armed ourselves with three kinds of repellent and put on long sleeves and long pants.  When the sun had warmed things a bit after lunch, we walked over to take nice hot showers.  After a dinner of tortilla pizzas, the temps began to cool again and we built a good-sized campfire.  Down and dead wood was unfortunately plentiful due to an infestation of bark beetles.  The chain saws in the park buzzed all day long cutting down the dead trees.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Another cold day followed and we took a couple of hikes – one on Castle Crest Wildflower Trail and one on Godfrey Glen Trail.  We were a week or two early for the wildflowers.  We made lunch at Goodbye Creek picnic area while Lar fought off the chipmunks/ground squirrels.  Another afternoon of campfire and reading after which Larry made a tortellini and pesto dinner.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Here comes the fun part:  Roadhaus was now protesting loudly enough that we had some concerns about making it from Crater Lake to La Pine without breaking down.  The plan was to baby her up the seven miles to the rim of Crater Lake, take the West Rim Road (East Rim Road closed due to snow) and then head out the north entrance road.  We made it up to the rim and part way down West Rim Road before we were stopped by a flagman for a 20-minute wait while four guys on ropes rappelled down a cliff face to knock down loose boulders and rocks onto the road for removal.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

After this short delay, we continued on until we came to a large turnout/viewpoint for picture taking.  We stopped and took a few pictures before continuing on West Rim Road.  After about four miles, and lots of snow pictures, we came to a gate and a “road closed” sign.  What?  How could this be?  Surely we were not going to have to retrace our steps, go all the way back down to the southern park entrance and around – a 100 mile detour?  Much gnashing of teeth occurred.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

We pulled out the map and noticed that the trailhead where the road was closed was past the junction with the north exit road.  How could we have missed it?  We drove the four miles back to discover that the junction was between the entrance and exit drives of the pullout where we had stopped to take pictures—so we had never encountered the junction.  Huge relief and celebration ensued.  We were going to make it!  It was downhill almost all the way to La Pine!   And so it was that we found our way to La Pine and the warmth and hospitality of Westy folk.  More to follow…

For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry

The Northwest Passage Trip …. aka The Search for Sasquatch

It’s time to fire up the travel blog once more. Following our last trip, which ended in April of 2013, we bought a house, engaged in some renovations, and took temporary employment in preparation for this next adventure on the road. Larry undertook heroic efforts in getting Roadhaus ready for the road. After many weeks of preparation, it was time to pack up, but truly, the work on the bus is never quite done and the bus is always “a work in progress”.

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Loading the Haus

The plan this trip is to explore the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and visit friends along the way. On our first leg of the trip on 2 June 2014, we passed through Mullinville, Kansas, where it is usually necessary to stop and examine the road art more closely.

M.T Liggett art

M.T Liggett art

M.T. Liggett art

M.T. Liggett art

For more on the political artwork of M. T. Liggett,

click here: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11212

As we neared Dodge City, Kansas, a text from our son-in-law, Chris West, informed us that he had located us on Find My Friends and we were soon to intersect at Garden City, where he was traveling on business. It seemed prudent to stop there for the night and have dinner with Chris. While our food was being brought to the table, the smoke alarm went off and soon two firemen entered the restaurant in full fire-fighting gear. Geez .. just like at home when Larry cooks and frequently sets off the smoke alarm. We then spent our first night on the road in the Walmart parking lot accompanied by two cattle trucks and the occasional sound of trucks pulling in and out of the lot.

Speaking of cattle trucks, the more unpleasant side of travels through western Kansas is the number of feed lots encountered along the highway – often
announced by the odor before the lot itself comes into view.

Feed Lot

Feed Lot

One has to question whether eating beef is worth the price. We later encountered a cattle truck that had stopped so the driver could get some refreshment at a convenience store. While the driver was inside, the cattle were banging against the truck and making sounds of distress. I’m thinking that the answer to the question is “No”. Just like the chicken houses that are common in the Midwest (and elsewhere), inhumane treatment is the norm. If we can’t raise livestock humanely, perhaps we should forego eating meat.

Free Range

Free Range

On the way to the PNW, we made three stops in Colorado to visit friends and do some hiking. Our first stop was Canon City, Colorado, to visit friends Marvin and Paula. It is always nice to visit fellow coffee aficionados. On this visit, we had several varieties of beans to choose from. We each roast our own coffee beans and on this trip we could choose from coffees from Sumatra, Ethiopia, Brazil, New Guinea, and Guatemala. Happiness is a good hot cuppa Joe first thing in the morning!

We hiked along the Arkansas River which was running at 5x it’s usual flow due to accelerated snow melt. M & P said they had never seen the river that high before. The weather was pretty warm during the day but cooled off nicely to the 50s at night.

Arkansas River

Arkansas River

M & P introduced us to a new sport called “Pickle Ball” – at least it was new to us. It is played on a reduced-sized tennis court and has a paddle that resembles a larger ping-pong paddle and uses a kind of wiffle ball. It is similar to tennis but one doesn’t have to run as far to get to the ball – especially playing doubles which is what we did. It is maybe best described as geriatric tennis or racquetball.

Pickle Ball

Pickle Ball

M & P are gardeners extraordinaire and every year have a large garden with all kinds of vegetables. This year, however, they have introduced a new Colorado crop.

Colorado's new crop

Colorado’s new crop

After a couple of days experiencing M & Ps hospitality in Canon City, we headed off to Boulder, avoiding the interstate highways for the most part. We took a slight detour through the small community of Guffey, which has its own collection of weird yard art accompanied by frequent “No Trespassing” signs. Mixed messages of exhibition and paranoia, it seemed.

Ghost team

Ghost team

It was nice to be back in the mountains again and there was plenty of snow still on the peaks. We passed antelope and bison and spotted some beaver lodges along the way.

Home on the range

Home on the Range

Leave it to Beaver

Leave it to Beaver

We stopped in Breckenridge for pizza and a walk through the touristy downtown. We spotted more evidence of the popularity of Colorado’s new crop.

Rocky Mtn High

Rocky Mtn High

We then hit Interstate 70 and stopped in Georgetown where Maggie spent some time in a commune in ’71. We took a picture of the house she and her daughter stayed in when Michelle was about age 4.

Communal House

Communal House

We turned off the interstate and passed through Central City and Black Hawk before stopping for the night in the Roosevelt National Forest / Columbine campground. Again, temps were in the 50s at night – perfect sleeping weather. There were 5 or 6 cemeteries off a dirt road on the way to the campground. We were unsure of their origins as there are no nearby settlements.

One of several cemeteries

One of several cemeteries

We drove on to Boulder the next morning to visit friends Richard and Susie. We took a walking tour of downtown and stopped at a Falafel place for lunch. Great weather continues!

Mr Bus

Mr Bus

Porch people

Porch people

We had a relaxing 2-3 days enjoying R & S’s hospitality. Richard and Lar explored the enormous McGuckin Hardware store which apparently has everything you might ever think you wanted. Richard was finally able to pry Lar away and we met up with Mag’s friend Thom for lunch. On Saturday, Richard and Lar went to the Cars and Coffee meet-up and Susie and Mag walked around to see what was available at the neighborhood rummage sale that was going on.

Cars & Coffee

Cars & Coffee

Cars & Coffee

Cars & Coffee

Cars & Coffee

Cars & Coffee

Susie and Maggie attended the Shakespeare Festival that night and enjoyed The Tempest despite an ongoing drizzle in the outdoor theatre. On Sunday, we drove to the Wild Animal Sanctuary near Keenesburg, Colorado. The sanctuary rescues abused, abandoned, and confiscated wildlife and provides room for them to roam – 720 acres to be exact. There is a mile-long elevated walkway that provides an unobtrusive view of the animals in their habitat. They have lions, tigers, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves and some smaller animals. They rely on donations and volunteers – we were impressed by their efforts and highly recommend a visit: http://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org

Animal Sanctuary

Animal Sanctuary

Animal Sanctuary

Animal Sanctuary

Animal Sanctuary

Animal Sanctuary

The next morning we headed for Estes Park to meet up with Mag’s sister and brother-in-law, Denise and Stan. They had rented a cabin for the week and invited us to stay. The drive up highway 36 through Lyons afforded a view of the devastation from the flood on St. Vrain’s Creek a year ago. It also provided some long waits for road construction projects repairing last-year’s damage. We had a 30-minute and a 45-minute wait sitting on the road and visiting with one of the flag-persons.

Flood Devastation

Flood Devastation

We spent the next four days hiking, wildlife viewing, doing a bit of shopping, and of course, eating! There were elk everywhere, including in our cabin area. We also spotted deer and bighorn sheep. We hiked from the cabin into Moraine Park and also hiked at Sprague and Bear Lakes, where there was still snow on the ground. There were many kinds of wildflowers in bloom as well. On our last day, we hiked along the Big Thompson River on The Pool trail and Stan encountered a particularly large coyote on the bridge at the pool on the trail.

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Is it a Jeffrey Pine?

On Tuesday, we met with our bus friend Barb Cotton who was working at Claire’s on the Park for the summer. We had planned to surprise her but she spotted us and called before we even made it down the main street! The next morning we all went to Claire’s for breakfast, which was fabulous, and to give Barb a hard time while she was working. But she held her own and gave it right back to us, especially Larry. After breakfast we took a walk through the Stanley Hotel which may or may not be haunted. There were some spooky folk there in any case.

Barb Cotton

Barb Cotton

Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel

We thoroughly enjoyed the 4 days at Estes Park with D & S – great weather with moderate days and cool nights. We played canasta in the evenings and the girls decided to give the guys a break since they are usually on the losing side. They shouldn’t expect the winning to last, however. This concludes the first leg of the trip and we are nowhere near the PNW just yet. But soon!

 

For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry