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.
July 6 Sunday
We left early around 8am so we could meet our friends, Beccy & Dale in Big Timber for a brief visit.
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.
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.
Continue to Sawtell Peak Rd (9886 elev.)!!!
July 7 Monday
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
July 8 Tuesday
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.
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
John noticed an eagle waiting for the early (4:30 am), pre-dawn sunrise to come an hour later.
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
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.
We had such an enjoyable day with our young captain, Matt & his 1st mate, Mark.
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.
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.
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.