Week #3, we are moving right along!

Approaching Mt Rainier …

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…  traveling through a curved tunnel and UNDER overhanging rocks!!!!

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July 13 Sunday

This morning around 11am, we departed Swinomish RV Park in Anacortes for Mt. Rainier. The weather was beautiful & we stopped along the way to see Snoqualmie Falls but there was no place to park the camper so we decided to move on. We have now arrived at our campsite, Cougar Rock, in  Mt. Rainier National Park. This is a new experience for us because we are in the woods & the place they assigned us is very difficult to get the camper straight. Finally after trying to get the camper in straight, John unhooked the trailer since we will have to drive the car through the park tomorrow.

 

July 14 Monday

Today, we are leaving our campsite to drive through the park to eventually reach the Sunrise Peak of 6400 ft. elevation. It took us several hours to drive the road due to construction, rough roads & hairpin curves. It was worth the drive & as you can see, John captured Mt. Rainier & other portions of the Cascades.

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View from Sunrise Peak, well worth the drive up!
View from Sunrise Peak, well worth the drive up!

 

When we arrived at the visitor center at Sunrise Peak, as far as we could drive by car, we learned so much about volcanoes & that Mt. Rainier is expected to erupt sometime in the future, hopefully not in our lifetime. It is beyond description, just how beautiful it is. It is unlike the Grand Tetons because you get to see Mt. Rainier up close & personal and you feel like you could reach out & actually touch the glaciers because they seem so close. John wanted to play in the snow on the mountain but we didn’t have the time. As we drove back down, it seemed like we reached our campground faster due to the fact that we decided not to stop & take more photos. We had taken so many on the drive up that we wanted to return to our campground before dark.

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We still had to figure out how we were going to get our camper & car out of the tight space. We were pinned in between trees & brush on three sides & finally after much prayer & patience working together, after 45 minutes, we finally accomplished our goal. We learned from this experience that we must request larger sites to accommodate our travel trailer & car.

July 15

 

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Sure Hope I Look This Good after 63 yrs of marriage!!!!!

On this day, we are looking forward to spending 3 days at John’s Uncle Riley & Aunt Clarene’s in Winlock, Washington, about a 3 hr. drive from Cougar. After stopping for a quick lunch, we finally arrived here & immediately, set up the camper on their acreage. We wanted to be here on the 16th to celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary.

I had been looking forward to finally meeting them & other members of John’s family for a long time & just enjoyed our time together so much. John’s cousins, Linda, Steve & Ralph & their respecitive families were great too We had a great time visiting with Linda, her husband, Ken, and their four dogs who reside near Clarene & Riley.

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Barb played Chariots of Fire on John’s Grandmother’s old pump organ.

Clarene was so gracious to prepare delicious chicken rollups for dinner & then we visited for a brief time. John & I returned to our camper for a nice night’s rest. The weather here is hot during the day but you don’t need ac at night, really pleasant.

July 16 Wednesday

This morning, we joined Clarene & Riley for a delicious breakfast of blueberry pancakes, eggs & sausage. It was so nice to spend more time with them.

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Since this was the celebration day for their anniversary, Riley’s sisters, Lorena & Stella drove in from Portland for their special day. It was so nice to finally meet them. I had heard so much about them & really enjoyed visiting with them. Later on, we celebrated their anniversary with a nice meal.

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Their stand-up comedian son, Ralph. grilled pork chops  smothered by a pineapple slice,for their special dinner.

Much thanks to Ralph,  who assisted John in installing vents for our camper.

July 17 Thursday

It is now Thursday around 11:30am, another beautiful day.  John’s uncle, Riley’s 83rd birthday is today so John & his cousin, Ralph prepared steak & all the trimmings.

Aunt Clarene fixed her special bow-tie salad and other goodies. We spent this day with them & left for Tillamook the following  morning. Looking forward to touring the Cheese Factory.

July 18 Friday

Ok, here’s what you’ve been waiting for:  The Tilamook chees factory tour!, sorry you missed the samples and the ice cream and the great milk, but we sure enjoyed it!

 

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Due to the lack of readily available internet this week, we had to leave out some info, we will give more details next week, as we head into California – King of the Internet!!!!! oh yeah!!!!!! – john and barb

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Weekly Update Blog for Week # 2

Holy Smoke Rv Park bus card
Great RV Park NEAR Mt Rushmore.

July 5 Saturday

This morning, we left Holy Smoke Campground near Mt. Rushmore for Billings, Montana. We had reservations at Hardin, but John had to go to Billings to get the photos he had ordered for his aunt & uncle’s 63rd anniversary. We had to make a change in our itinerary & we were grateful to find an RV park in Billings, right off of the interstate. After a good night’s rest, we headed for Big Timber on Sunday morning.

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July 6 Sunday

We left early around 8am so we could meet our friends, Beccy & Dale in Big Timber for a brief visit.

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She met us at the Country Skillet cafe, right off of the interstate which was really convenient for us. We had such a great time with Beccy, Dale, her sweet daughter & granddaughters. After we took some photos, we left for our RV Park at Red Rock in Island Park, Idaho. One of the highlights of our 5 hr. drive to Idaho was the Gallatin Gateway Mountain Range where John stopped to photograph the beautiful mountains & rivers near Big Sky & the Yellowstone River in Montana.

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John went clear out of sight to get this photo along the Gallatin River.

 

We arrived at the Red Rock Campground around 5pm, weather was just beautiful in the 80’s. No sooner had we unhooked our trailer, set everything up for our 3 night stay, John found out about Sawtell Peak Lookout, elevation almost 10,000 ft. up and realized it would be a perfect place for a perfect sunset. I was a little tired from the trip, but I sure didn’t want to be worrying about him falling off the mountain so I rode with him up this narrow, gravel road all the way to the top. We left our campground with temps in the 80’s but by the time we had reached the top, we needed our coats. So glad I was prepared for the drop in temp. John finally got the sunset he wanted & thank goodness, we were able to return safely to the campground level before dark.

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Barb at Sawtell Peak, just “chillin’ out”.
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Double Sunset, after God provided a brilliant light show through the clouds, He then brought the sun out to provide a second setting behind the mountains.

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This was a far as we could drive UP!!!!

Continue to Sawtell Peak Rd (9886 elev.)!!!

July 7 Monday

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We went to Yellowstone National Park, about 20 miles away early this morning. We knew that we would only have one day to take in as much as possible. We were given a map when we entered the park & decided to drive to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone first. The map warned us of wildlife on the roads, we had no idea what that meant until we had been driving an hour or so, when all of a sudden we encountered a large bison on the side of the road. There were several folks who had stopped their cars to photograph him; I couldn’t believe it when he just walked by the cars and John pulled over to join in the photosession and we were “too close for comfort” as I could almost stare into his eyes. He was really not aggressive, but he was just much too close to my open window!!!!

 

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We paused to pose while “hiking” the North Rim Trail to view the Lower Falls.

We hiked ½ mile to the falls viewing area, sometimes a little rocky but we made it. We discovered that we were in better physical shape than we thought.

 

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We stayed there for at least an hour, taking photos of the falls & rock formations. The river gorge is quite lovely against the rocks & falls.

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John said it was almost like creating an oil painting with a camera!

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Yellowstone is one of God’s beautiful creations. How anyone could not believe in God & know that he created this beautiful world is beyond me. We drove the entire inner loop that day, taking photos, hiking to the Steamboat Geyser in the afternoon; taking in the beautiful multicolored rock formations& multiple geysers. Many stood out, like Mammoth Springs. We also hiked to the Emerald Spring & finally drove to Old Faithful around 7:30pm. God’s timing is so perfect, usually it erupts every hour but we only had to wait about 20min. & then John took a great photo as it was erupting. The photos of Yellowstone will reveal the beauty of it all.

 

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Steamboat Geyer spouted water nearly 6 feet while we were there.
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Emerald Spring Geyser comes from a really deep, hot hole.

 

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Old Faithful was true to his name.

 

July 8 Tuesday

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On this day, we awoke again to a beautiful day so we drove about 3 hours to see the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. As we drove through the National Park again, we encountered not one bison but a herd of about a 100 buffalo, so interesting that people were stopping to observe them as they were first on the side of the road grazing in a field. Within a few minutes, they had decided to cross the highway, thus completely shutting down both lanes of traffic. You have to see it for yourself, it was really awesome to watch. After about 30 minutes, the road was clear & John took photos of glaciers, snow-capped mountains that tower almost up to the heavens. We decided to drive on into Jackson Hole where we ate a nice lunch at Sweetwater Restaurant. It was downtown in the old section of town which overlooks the beautiful mountains.

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We knew that we needed to head back so took the western side of the Tetons, driving through Teton Pass. I think I prefer the Eastern Side because you get to see more of the glaciers but this was the fastest route back & we needed to return back to the campground before dark.

 

We still had to prepare our trailer for travel to our next stop, Swinomish Casino Lodge & RV park in Anacortes, Washington.

 

July 9 Wednesday

We began our trip to Washington but had to stay overnight at a Walmart in Spokane due to the long distance. We knew that we couldn’t make it to Anacortes, which is north of Seattle, by Wednesday night. We were very grateful that Walmart allowed travelers to stay there for 24 hrs. Upon arriving, we bought a few food items for our trip & then settled down & felt very safe there for the night. All we needed was a good night’s rest & then we would be on our way the next morning.

 

July 10 Thursday

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MT. Baker, Anacortes Washington

 

John noticed an eagle waiting for the early (4:30 am), pre-dawn sunrise to come an hour later.

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We arrived in Anacortes a little later than we had anticipated, due to the heavy construction on the interstate leading into Seattle, a holdup of about an hour. After we left the Seattle area, we decided that we would not go in on Saturday to tour the city. The traffic was a nightmare & we knew that Anacortes was really lovely & there was a lot to see & photograph. We set our trailer up & had planned to eat in the casino restaurant, but wasn’t too impressed with the selection. We walked back & I prepared French toast on our grill in the camper. It was nice to be able to prepare us something in our camper. We had been so busy everyday that we didn’t have time to eat at home. Right now, I am sitting here in Burlington, Washington at the Sparkle Laundromat writing this blog. John is doing the laundry so I can complete my part. He has to select the photos now for the weekly blog.

 

July 11 Friday

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We saw the tide coming in, swirling strings of water, and still, glassy spots where sub surface water would come to the top.

This morning, we verified our tickets for the anticipated whale watching expedition to the San Juan Islands. Our departure was around 1:30 & we were pleasantly surprised that the boat was so nice with seating for 12 passengers, comfortably. Many of the whale watching boats were all open, but ours had a passenger cabin with large windows so that we could easily view the birds and other aquatic wildlife.  There was a front deck and a rear deck that we could use to take better photos. It was really nice weather but when the doors were open on the boat, it became quite chilly so I was glad I had brought a coat with me.

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 Add Media Capt. Matt and First Mate, Mark, of the Outer Island Expeditions whale watching boat, Triton.

We had such an enjoyable day with our young captain, Matt & his 1st mate, Mark.

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A Seagull Snack
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Capt. Matt pointed out an eagle’s nest on the way back in.

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Everyone in our party was so friendly & we enjoyed meeting them. We first went to Williams Island where we saw several bird species & also a harbor seal ready to give birth. We took photos there for about 20 min. then went on to Swirl Island, where the water swirls around & gives birds refuge & provides a nesting area.IMG_7529 two orcas cropped web 300 res IMG_7672 close up of sea lions (Copy)

The highlight of our 4 hr. trip was getting to observe the orca whales as they frolicked in the water. We also saw Grannie, a 103 yr. old orca who was the oldest member of the pod. John was able to photograph 2 orcas swimming in the water who only surfaced momentarily. We learned so much about orcas & how they are identified by their dorsal fin & white saddle patch. It was so interesting. We concluded our tour around 5:30 & decided to go into the historical part of Anacortes & have dinner at the Rockfish Grill, which had the most delicious crab cakes. John really enjoyed them, even though he is not a seafood person. The downtown was really colorful with hanging baskets on each lamp post, a really neat place to walk & explore.

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Before we concluded our night, John & I drove a short distance to the bridge at Deception Pass, with a scenic view for some great sunsets.

July 12 Saturday

We had a very busy day today, drove into Burlington about 10 min. away to do a little shopping, bought a clothes bar for the car at Bed, Bath & Beyond, bought a generator for the camper & a few other items at Camping World. We had to do our laundry so as I mentioned earlier, we found the Sparkle Laundromat & completed that task. We are sitting here tonight resting & preparing to depart early for Mt. Rainier, about 4 hrs. away with our camper. We should be there tomorrow afternoon. Looking forward to our 2 day stay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 West Coast Trip: Weekly Update 1

Abilene, KS

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Our “First Night Out” was at the Covered Wagon Campground, a shady spot, very accessible from the highways and was an easy access, level pull through.

Abilene, KS is the birthplace of President Dwight D Eisenhower & the 1901 Parker Carousel .

We had such a great time with John’s cousin, Carol & her husband, Virgil Wenger. This was the first time that I had met them and  we enjoyed our time together. We had a good rest, and found we didn’t even need ac since the temp was so cool.

June 29,  Sunday

We left Abilene early in the morning to light rain, but by early afternoon when we entered Chester, Nebraska, it was sunny & lovely. We had a very long day, made several stops for gas & finally found a rest stop early afternoon. We opened our camper, got our food out of the fridge & found a picnic table nearby. After we ate, we cleaned up & left for our destination in North Platte, Nebraska.

Strang, NE

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A town we almost missed!!!!  caught sight of an old school building as we passed by the city’s welcome sign:  Strang: An Historical Town”. He pulled into the next available street and was immediately fascinated by a row of 1930’s automobiles getting ready for a Vintage car show.  As we entered the main street of this quaint, very small town, numerous buildings stood out with their National Registry of Historical Places signs.  Strang is an easy visit and well worth taking time to see. Sites for your grandkids include a Korean War Memorial and a school/church bell – an opportunity to bring a little history into their life.

 Along the way, I read about the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg which had been taken apart then moved to a new location & reassembled by the American Legion. John really enjoyed this little diversion, took a few photos.

Gothenburg, NE

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Gothenburg is the Pony Express Capital of Nebraska. The Pony Express Station is open from 8 a.m-8 p.m., 7 days a week! Stop in to hear the amazing story of riders that were “willing to risk death daily” and the admission is always free!

After the visit there, we headed to our Holiday Trav-l Rv Park & Campground, North Platte, set up our camper around 7pm.

June 30,  Monday

North Platte, NE

 Thanks to our friends, Al and Illa Kamp, of the Branson Scenic Railway, we learned about  Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte. which is the largest railroad classification yard in the world.  The massive yard covers a total length of eight miles  and services 8,500 engines per month.  And, YES, we did climb the 192 steps to the top observation area because the elevator was being repaired; we did, however, ride the elevator down after it was serviced.

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John took a lot of photos & then we left for Keystone, SD, near Mt. Rushmore. We arrived late, near dark and set up the camper at Holy Smoke Camp ground in very windy and chilly conditions.

 

 Wall Drug & Badlands, SD

July 1, Tuesday

We decided this day that we would drive to the Badlands, about 2 hrs. away from our campsite. So many of our friends suggested that we take the time to go.

Prior to getting to the Badlands, we toured the famous Wall Drug Store in Wall, NE. The Hustead‘s purchased the pharmacy in the town of 600 poor people and to bring in new business during the depression era of the 1930’s, offered FREE ice cold water to dry and thirsty travelers heading West in search of a better life.  Barb and I had our “picture made” here with some of their unique tourist props.

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Badlands National Park

The towering geological rock formations of the Badlands National Park are absolutely phenomenal. John took so many photos that he had to recharge both camera batteries. We drove throughout the park, just couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.

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By the time that John photographed the sunset, we knew it would be late before we returned to our campground. We got home around 11pm, didn’t take long to fall asleep. We knew that this had been a perfect day with lovely weather & so much beauty in God’s world.

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Custer State Park

July 2,  Wednesday

I prepared a delicious breakfast before we headed off to Custer State Park for a few hrs. John photographed the beautiful Sylvan Lake.

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We drove the famous Needles Highway within the park, it has a very narrow tunnel where only one car can enter at a time. It was quite an awesome experience to be surrounded by that much rock being that close to the car window!!!! John was able to get some interesting photos as we drove the highway, but the one we like the best was the adorable, little “pika”, who posed for him.

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Crazy Horse Memorial

We drove 11 miles down the road to the Crazy Horse Memorial. What a place this is, words cannot describe the immensity of it. The memorial is funded through private donations and is dedicated to the Native Americans to remind the white man the red man has heroes too.

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We enjoyed 7 hrs. there, learning about the history of the memorial sculpted on the mountain and hearing the United States Air Force Academy Band perform and Little Bear, a Lakota Indian and very gifted flute player.

We stayed for the laser light show, 3 hrs. after the special musical program. We returned to our campsite after 11pm. Again, God blessed us with a beautiful day.

Mt Rushmore

July 3,  Thursday

This morning around 11am, we left for Mt. Rushmore. What a beautiful monument.

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Today was a great day to be there, the park had special activities going on all day. John & I first heard an actor portraying Abraham Lincoln, each of the presidents presentations were 45 min. long & so interesting. We had time between each one so went to the movie, Making of Mt. Rushmore. All in all, we got to see all 4 of the presentations. John even had a photo made with Fritz Klein as Abe Lincoln. We had time for a light lunch before hearing the last 2, Presidents George Washington & Thomas Jefferson. Washington was a man of great faith, so good to hear Carl Closs portray him in such a strong characterization: We NEED another George Washington!!!

The highlight of tonight’s amphitheater program was the Air Force Academy Concert Band, all are  professional musicians, such a great concert, played a lot of patriotic, some country & a few movie themes. At the close, as our National Anthem was played, the 4 President’s images were illuminated on the mountain & it was glorious. The amphitheater was packed & you could just feel the patriotic spirit of all the audience. What a great night.

July 4, Friday

Well, today we celebrate the 4th. Since we celebrated at Mt. Rushmore yesterday & spent 11 hours there, today we have to work on photos & John’s blog so these photos can reach all of you soon. So far, I have packed up everything & secured anything breakable. We are going to take it easy, prepare the camper for tomorrow’s trip to Billings, MT & later on, hook the travel trailer to the car for early morning departure.

This concludes the end of our first week; our second week includes Yellowstone & whale watching in Washington plus a few surprises!!!

1st week map