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Glacier Park 2016

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The Gang of Eight, aka The Saltines, aka Crackers gathered once again with trailers in tow to convene in yet another national landmark! Traveling from varied parts of the western United States to gather together for friendship, carousing, and reconnecting with the beauty of Nature that surrounds us all! Our home camp was at North American RV Park in the small town of Coram, MT north of Kalispell. The RV park was very nice and very clean and the staff were friendly and helpful. They put us all together in the back of the campground (very strategic to other campers nearby, wink wink).

Our adventures started by visiting the city of Kalispell. Unfortunately, like many small towns we visit on a Sunday, most of the stores and shops were closed. That made the visit short and we headed up the road to Whitefish. It didn’t take us long to find a food and beverage establishment that was well suited to the gang. We headed over to Casey’s and went to their rooftop area. The food was great, but even better was their Mule drinks, oh my gawd!!! Those sent us on a quest to find the exact ginger beer they used for them. After our quest found the elixir, back to camp we went to concoct mules of our own!

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Ruger

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Ursie and Ruger

Yes we ate a lot and of course we drank a lot, but we did manage to get some hiking, sightseeing, and the obligatory shopping in while we were there. Glacier Park rivals Yellowstone in it’s beauty and we were very impressed. Our first foray into the backwoods territory was to travel up the Going-to-the-Sun-Road to Logan Pass. Bob, our travel advisor, had warned us before hand that the winds would be howling up top so we didn’t really prepare to do any serious hiking. We were enthralled with the scenery and a bit nervous with the narrow road. When we got to the pass, we stopped at the visitor center and had a look then decided to venture out into the wind and cold and hike a bit up the trail to Hidden Lake. Well, we just kept going all the way to the lake, wind and all. See, that’s just how we roll! During the week we did other hikes and saw other areas of the park. Another hike took us to Avalanche Lake along the Avalanche River. It was a magical place although very crowded. Had it not been for the car disabled passes our two old and decrepit men of the Saltines possess, we would not have found parking. There, in the parking lot, we tested our bear spray. It worked, especially when the breeze blew some of it back in our faces!!! Not so smart! We also took a trek around the park to the east and through the town of Browning in the heart of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, uhhhh ok, enough said. We entered the Many Glacier entrance to the trailhead of the Apikuni Falls and hiked that trail. There were some tough spots, but the reward was incredible!! Another hike was on the Lake Stanton Trail to Lake Stanton, a very quiet and secluded hike just as beautiful as any other. The Ruger dog came on that hike with us and just bounded with the youth of a pup. It was on this hike a few of us sustained minor injuries with Ursie taking a fall and getting cut up, and Debbie getting multiple sting bites from a crazed wasp. Luckily she is not allergic. Ruger gave us all a scare when he started acting lethargic at camp one day and refused to eat. He then threw up bile and started shaking. Rob and Ursie had to take him on an emergency vet visit. They found one that could take him in and he had an infection and fever. With some meds and rest, he was back too himself in no time!!

Glacier Park and Montana is abundant with wildlife, right??? Well it wasn’t on this trip for us. We hardly saw anything much in the way of animals. We caught glimpses of mountain goats, one was very close to us, a few deer in the far distance, many dead skunks on the roads, a couple of squirrels having a love moment, the sound of a moose or loons, and ONE bear. FB_IMG_1472342636646The bear was seen by Bob, Patti, Rob, and Ursie. We were in the second truck and when we pulled up, I opened the door to turn around to get a good picture or video perhaps, and Pam screamed as she does often, bear disappeared and photo is courtesy of Ursie……sigh!
The week sadly flew by and it was time to leave. We took a more scenic route back that just didn’t have us on I90 the whole time. We drove through never seen towns of Sand Point and Bonners Ferry, Idaho which we thought were gorgeous! I think they are both even prettier than Coeur D’Alene and that is saying quite a bit! Our last spot on the way home was at Sprague Lake Resort. It is just a tiny fishing campground on the lake run by a sweet German lady named Monica. It was crazy windy and the bugs were a bit overwhelming, but a quaint place for an overnight stop. We had our last hurrah and sadly returned to the reality of the working world!

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Our Last Night!

Thanks for reading our adventures and you can find all the photos in the photo gallery here! Until next time!!!

Road Trip 2014 – Part II

Yellowstone……Yellowstone……….Yellowstone! Until you have been, you just can’t realize how beautiful this country we live in is, or how beautiful this planet is! The WOW factor was really big here! The five nights we spent weren’t nearly enough to see everything it had to offer! We rolled into camp at the Grant Village Campground. It is accessed from the south entrance of the park! It is a very nice campground with plenty of amenities: store, gas, propane, laundry, and showers. our site was situated right on the shore of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake! Each morning you could hear elk bugling and some nights coyotes and wolves were heard in the distance. It was here that we also experienced some of the coldest nights of the trip, one night dropped to a bone chilling 17 degrees! The first thing we wanted to see was Old Faithful, of course, but there was a problem, the direct route was closed due to a bridge replacement. The only way to it was a circuitous 86 mile one way route. Now you might see that as a draw back, but it made us see allot of the park just getting there! We saw sights like the Hayden Valley which was usually full of bison, the Norris Geyser Basin, Artists Paintpots, Monument Geyser Basin, Firehole Falls, Biscuit Basin, just to name a few!

This fantastic scenic tour of the park ended at Old Faithful. We got there just in time to see it blow! Timing couldn’t have been better! We checked out the Old Faithful Inn was built in 1903-1904 with local logs and stone, the Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world. It almost burned down in one of the parks many wildfires! Especially one of the park’s largest fire in it’s recorded history, the fires of 1988. We saw the evidence of that massive all throughout the park in acres of dead trees, which was unfortunate, but it’s Nature!

We discovered a good way to explore the park was in sections. One section we spent one of our days in was the canyon section. I never realized there was a “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone! My gawd it was beautiful!!!! The Yellowstone River runs through the canyon and provides visitors with multiple scenic falls to visit! We spent our time at the Brink of Lower Falls! We made hikes on both sides of the falls and saw them from different angles. One of the hikes was on Uncle Tom’s Trail. Prepare yourself if you ever take this hike because it is STEEP and you will get a helluva workout!

We heard talk from people we met looking for wildlife that a good place to go was the Lamar Valley. Apparently it is a hot spot for all kinds of creatures and there was a bison carcass that had been attracting wolves, coyotes, and even some bears! One morning we got up before daybreak and headed out! It was in the 20’s as we sat in the darkness waiting for sunrise. Thank you Richard for bringing the portable propane fire pit to keep us warm! So we hung out for awhile and saw plenty of bison and pronghorn but nothing else. The girls took off to make a coffee run and had the best of luck. They first got caught in a bison march right on the highway. They were walking right next to the truck. Then continuing back they saw a bear by the side of the road! The boys got ripped off!!!! We scouted a few other areas in search of four legged beasts, but came up empty. We explored more geothermal wonders on the way back to camp such as the Sulphur Caldron and the Mud Volcano. Both were amazing and extremely smelly. The stench of rotten eggs hung thick in the air. As hostile as an environment like this was, you could still notice animal tracks all over the place. Maybe they came to hang out for the heat on chilly nights!

Well we hated to leave, but it was time to head to our next destination, Cody. Yellowstone, we will return to continue to explore your beauty! We traveled through the Sylvan Pass and out the east entrance to the park and dropped into the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming and entered the wild west town of Cody! My first impression was that it reminded me of my hometown of Alamogordo, NM but not as dry. While we loved Jackson Hole, it seemed a bit touristy and Cody was a working town but nice on it’s own! It is named after William Frederick Cody, primarily known as Buffalo Bill, from William Cody’s part in the creation of the original town. Everywhere you look, you see the old west, cowboys, cattle ranching and by looking at the surrounding landscape, you can tell the weather is harsh! Our living spots for the next couple days were located at the Ponderosa Campground. It was near the center of town and everything was within walking distance for the most part. Just down the street was the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a fascinating museum that contained four to five other museums. Days can be spent there in the Plains Indian museum, natural history museum, the Buffalo Bill Museum, gun museum, and much more. There just wasn’t enough time to see it all. We had to explore the rest of the town of course. We spent an evening walking downtown and checking out all the cool western shops and had drinks at the Irma Hotel,  built by William Cody in 1902 and named it for his daughter, Irma. We watched the fun, but slightly cheesy nightly gunfight in the street outside the hotel and then ambled over to the Silver Dollar Bar. Another half a day was spent looking over the Old Trail Town museum! ‘On this site in 1895, Western scout and showman William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody laid out the original townsite of Cody, Wyoming, which was named in his honor. Today Old Trail Town preserves the lifestyle and history of the Frontier West through a rare collection of authentic structures and furnishings. From remote locations in Wyoming and Montana these historic buildings were carefully disassembled, moved and reassembled here at Old Trail Town by Western historian Bob Edgar and friends. Located here also are thousands of historic artifacts from the Old West and grave sites of several notable Western figures. Among the is the grave of mountain man John Johnson, who was portrayed by the actor Robert Redford in the 1972 motion picture “Jeremiah Johnson”. Here too are original cabins used by Old West outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a Wyoming saloon frequented by Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang”. Also on this site is the log cabin home of “Curley” a Crow Indian army scout who helped guide Lt Col. George A. Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry to the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. Old Trail Town exists today as a memorial to the uniquely American experience known throughout the world as “the Old West”.’ I LOVE THE OLD WEST!

Now for some reminiscing. There was a town just a few miles away called Lovell. When Debbie was a child and first came to America from Wales, she and her family landed here. She spent about five years here and went to primary school. Well being so close and she hadn’t been back in decades, we took a drive to see her old stomping grounds. We found the house she lived in, the school she went to, and drove by the Western Sugar Factory where her Dad worked. As for the town itself……well it is a little rough around the edges and time hasn’t been very kind to the place. She enjoyed going back as we did too. As for the uneventful drive back home that, my friends, was our vacation and it was one that will never be forgotten. Debbie has uploaded the photos to One Drive and here is the link to the album! Thanks for reading and can’t wait for the next adventure!

Road Trip 2014 – Part I

The month of September started off with one of the funniest vacations ever spent with great friends! Two weeks of road tripping through Northern Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming in a three truck/trailer convoy began at the North Bend Safeway parking lot on the morning of September 5th! Destinations included Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Cody, Wyoming! The first two days basically consisted of covering miles just making overnight stops. The first stop was the Wolf Creek Lodge Campground, located just east of beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene in North Idaho. It was a beautiful setting and the drive along the lake was awesome. We never really knew how big and gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene is! We made note that it would be a future destination to hang out and explore! The second night was spent in Dillon, Montana at the Countryside RV Park. We had our first snafu as one of our trailer mates, Bob, noticed one of his trailer tires failing. Since we were kind of in the middle of nowhere, he decided to put on the spare and ride into our next destination to get it fixed.

The first place we stopped and actually spent some time in was in Jackson, Wy. We camped just north of the town at the Gros Ventre Campground. Our drive to there took us through northern Idaho which was full of scenery, small towns, and plenty of potato fields. We then headed over Teton Pass which was stunning and a bit scary as the highway grades were very steep at 10% grade. The truck brakes got a little heated and Debbie a lot scared! The campground was nice and set along the Gros Ventre River. We heard from other campers that if you were up early enough, moose would wander into the grounds and graze. We did just that and saw plenty of them!

We also saw lots of bison, pronghorn, and deer! It was too bad other humans we encountered were so aggressively trying to get so close to the wildlife to grab a camera shot, that they actually scared them off….idiots! We also encountered some wild weather while we were there as on two afternoons, lightning and thunder rolled right over the campground and did some serious booming!!! Once again Bob had trailer problems as his batteries failed. We went into Jackson and had his tired and batteries replaced. While we were there we toured the town. I loved it, even though it was a bit touristy! We shopped, took pictures, explored, and had to make a stop at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar! Other days were spent driving around Grand Teton Park and hiking near Jenny Lake and going to the top of Signal Mountain Summit were we saw great views of the Jackson Valley! What a beautiful place this country is! Our final night, with a not to be missed recommendation from a fellow camper, we went to the Bar J Ranch Chuckwagon for a cowboy chuckwagon meal and show! It was wonderful! Great food and fun entertainment and stories of the wild west cowboy days and how they ate, and worked on the cattle drives, and songs they sung around the campfire!  If you are ever in Jackson Hole during the summer, head over to Wilson and check it out. Go hungry and ready to have a great time! With batteries replaced, new tire, and great memories, we were ready to head for our next destination…..Yellowstone, coming in part II!!!

Road Trip 2011

Well it was time for our annual visit to Best Friends Animal Society and this year we decided to try something different and drive down there. After all, we have a great truck, a very nice trailer and plenty of time. Since we planned on taking Cordell, we figured he would be much more comfortable in his little travel bed in the back seat. So we loaded up and headed down the highway for the start of a great trip. We left Patience the cat at home but in good hand of our pet sitter Jenny. Some people ask, why don’t you take the cat with you? Uh yeah, have you ever known a cat that could car travel well? I haven’t seen that many. She is perfectly fine at home, but I am sure she gets a bit lonely since she is a very social little feline. Jenny gives her a lot of attention when she comes for a visit!

Our first stop was Boise, Idaho. We stayed at a the Boise – Meridian KOA. It was ok for just a one night stay. We planned on stopping in Boise so we could visit our niece Jennifer and her fiance Austin. Austin got a great job offer down in Dallas and they would soon be moving, so it was great to get a chance to see them before they left. Talk about good timing! Next we headed down into Utah and the Salt Lake City area. We both have been in Salt Lake before, but never actually looked around much. We stayed in Draper which is south of Salt Lake City so we wouldn’t have to deal with morning rush hour traffic on the day we left. We stayed at the Mountain Shadows RV Resort. A very nice place but very close to the interstate. We drove out to the Great Salt Lake and let Cordell romp around. The thing is huge. You forget that is a lake after looking at it awhile. We also drove to downtown and visited Temple Square, world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Mormons. We learned quite a bit of the history of the Mormons of which I was always very confused about. Now I have a clearer understanding of the religion, if that’s what it is, but don’t plan on converting any time soon.

The next leg of the journey took us to Kanab, home of Best Friends and had our only glitch of the trip. While stopping at a very large Flying J Truck Stop, one of the guys working there passed by and noticed one of our trailer tires looking very worn and unsafe and offered to put the spare on just in case. After talking with the guys in the tire shop, we ended up buying four new tires, much better ones that were on it. I don’t feel we got railroaded into anything because the tires that came on the trailer were just cheap pieces of crap. It was much better to be cautious and get some good rubber for the rest of the road. It was very nice to be back in Kanab again. The place is beautiful and seems to be timeless. It was our first time needing a place to put the trailer and options were limited. Luckily we got a spot at the Hitch N Post and it suited our needs just fine. Back at Best Friends, the return was bittersweet. We first worked with Pigs in Piggy Paradise and just a week before, our best friend there Brandi Bandi passed away. It just wasn’t the same and even the pigs seem to feel the loss. She was a very special person who loved her piggies and gave so much to them. She was taken way too soon and will be missed very much. We also worked in dogs and took Cordell with us to his old run. You can read all about that in the previous post! While we were there we got to go to the September Blessing at Angel’s rest. It was very heart warming and emotional. See video of part of the blessing here!

We then departed on the longest leg of the journey of the trip. We drove 12 hours to South Lake Tahoe. This took us through a big part of Nevada which we had never seen before. We drove on the Extraterrestrial Highway for a long time and no, didn’t see any UFO’s. It is a pretty bleak state until you get in the northern part. It was also quite an event filled leg of the trip, experiencing wind, thunder and lightning, and a fire near the road which luckily we got through. But we made it. By coincidence, a couple that Debbie has known for many years was also on a road trip of their own and met us in Tahoe. They stayed at the same campground we did just a few spots away. They were good people. I also got a chance to see my half brothers and sister which I hadn’t seen in almost twenty years. They brought their wives and kids and we had an impromptu family reunion and had a great visit and rekindled family ties. There was a Oktoberfest celebration that was going on and we checked it out too.

We left after two days there and started on the final leg home which brought us back through Oregon and then into Washington and they grey skies and rain that were mostly absent the whole trip. It was good to be home and in our own bed once again. Cordell was great the whole trip and had a great time himself. He loves to travel and travels very well. Patience was very vocal on our arrival and was obviously glad to see us. I have uploaded photos in our Flikr photo page so go check them out when you get a chance. Now it is time to get back to the reality of life, work, bills,etc! until next time!!

ROAD TRIP STATS
ELEVEN DAYS
SEVEN STATES
2911 MILES

Pictures Are Up

Our Tamarack photos are now up at Flickr. Click here and go have a look!!

15th Anniversary Trip

Wow is all I can say. Today marks our 15th wedding anniversary! Actually we have been together for 16 years going on our first date March 6th, 1992 and were married one year later! Our first date was a ski day at Crystal Mountain in Washington. Now I sit in bed here at our hotel The Lodge at Osprey Meadows at Tamarack Resort in Idaho after days of what else…..skiing. Is that apropos or what? It is absolutely gorgeous here and we have had a blast. I was a little nervous at first thinking about skiing for the first time in many years and wondering how I was going to do. Then when I saw the mountain, I really freaked out. But after a few runs down the beginners hill and getting my ski legs back, it was all good. Of course after the first day of skiing for 4-5 hours, my feet and legs were a quivering mess, but we just went back up the next day and worked through the soreness of close to 50 year old bodies. I must say that ski boots are the most uncomfortable clothing accessory ever made. I need to invent something that is more comfortable and make millions. Having the flattest feet in the world doesn’t help either. One day we thought we were going to take a break and do some snowshoeing and it was the first time for the both of us. After 5 hours of snowshoeing all around the many trailsof the resort, we realized how much of a work out it was. We were wiped out!!! A bit of hot tubbing and adult libations took away some of the pain ;-) Yesterday was our last day of skiing, as we are heading back to Boise for our flight back home, and we were ski monsters hitting double blue and even a black diamond trail. We have put up videos of us skiing and Deb snowshoeing on our YouTube Channel. Go have a look and you’ll also find some other videos there as well. We took allot of photos which I will post on our Flickr page shortly when I get them off the camera and edited.

The Resort had just about everything we needed, but we did venture out one evening and drove up to McCall, Id. From what we saw of the town it was very cute as it was dark. We stopped in a cool rustic restaurant called The Mill Supper Cluband had dinner. I had the biggest and best piece of prime rib I’ve had in a log while. Debbie enjoyed a nice generous portion of halibut. It was just our type of place. It would be nice to come back in the summer to see this place. I think Debbie has ski fever now and we may do more skiing in the future. Hell, we only live 20 minutes from Snoqualmie Summit for god sake!!!

In other news, we finally got our boat back and she is beautiful!!! We have spent only one night on her since we just got her back the weekend before we came here! The interior looks wonderful and Debbie did great picking out the carpet, drapes, upholstery fabric. She has new bottom paint on her, a new inverter, new window, new teak in the back, railings all fixed and ready for some good boating coming up! We have just a small idling problem with our starboard engine which I think may need injector cleaning and she’s all set. We just need to find ourselves a better dinghy and the boating package is complete! We took some pictures and also recorded a new podcast as we christened her finally. You can see the pictures and listen to the podcast over at our Boat Virgins podcast page! There’s more exciting news to tell you, but I have to wait until it’s been officially announced. I’ll be blogging about it when it is! We have to go now, gotta get packed up and checked out of here. bye for now!!!

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