As I sit down this early morning just outside of Bend, Oregon I realize I have a months worth of traveling to write about. After we left Moab our trip was filled with visiting friends and lots of travel. I find it hard to make the time to sit and write when I’ve got people to spend time with. I am not a person who has to be electronically connected all the time or want to spend time on the computer when I have real people to be with. It has been great, but took me totally out of my normal routine. We are on the last stay before we hunker down in Klamath Falls, OR for our month of volunteering at the Klamath wildlife area. For me taking too long of a break writing is like stopping exercising…once I stop it’s hard to start again. My writing muscles have atrophied and are now sore from starting again.
After leaving Moab, we only had one night to spend along the way before getting to Berthoud for a stay at Sue and Carol’s. We stopped at a little campground just past Grand Junction that was between the Colorado river and the highway. It ws a good overnight stop. I loved the drive up through the mountain passes and through Vail even though we got snowed on again. Really nice canyon drive. Did I ever mention how much I love driving though all of these fantastically beautiful places?
When we arrived in Berthoud I would stay two weeks and Kat would only be there 6 days before she left for a two week work trip. I don’t remember exactly when I had this genius idea, I think it was in Moab, but instead of me staying in Berthoud while Kat was away I suggested I find a temporary copilot and keep moving towards Oregon. If we waited until Kat got back we would have to hurry to get to Klamath Falls for our volunteer job starting on July 1st and we wouldn’t be able to stop in on some of our friends staying in Portland and Estacada. Luckily our friend Kelley was available and up for some adventure. She would come out to Denver and spent a few days with me there after Kat left and then would drive with me up to Spokane.
Our visit in Colorado was as good as last time, but just shorter. It was nice to catch up with Sue and Carol on all the news since our last visit almost a year ago and meet all the new chickens, ducks and one very confused turkey. That turkey is growing up in a group of young chickens and ducks and I bet he feels different. He doesn’t seem to be being bullied though, so that’s good.
I immediately resumed my goat and cow feeding role and was pretty happy I didn’t throw out my old shoes from before. I did have to borrow some boots though because it had been pretty rainy and the cows had really created a mud pit. I can happily report that I think they remembered me and seemed a little less afraid. Hand feeding them clipped grass over the fence was a key to our newfound friendship. Kat and I didn’t do too many exciting things while there except order and setup solar panels and other Amazon items. We also went into Fort Collins to do a little shopping. Sunday after I dropped Kat off I came back to help plant 8 fruit trees. I sure hope they do well after all that work.
Kelley arrived Thursday and her first adventure was to learn how to feed the goats- lucky her. After only one day she decided that they weren’t something she would want to own – too smelly. Haha- they are, but they are cute and fun to watch. We went to Fort Collins one day and checked out the university and old part of town, then we had a nice lunch and did a little shopping. Saturday we were doing (walking) a 5k in Berthoud to celebrate Berthoud day. There was also a parade and a big block party after that was really fun. I have not been to a parade that had so many tractors or had so much candy thrown at me! Earlier in the week we had checked out the brewery, so didn’t need to do that again. I was amazed that such a small town had two brew pubs. Welcome to Colorado. That night after running some errands we were treated to delicious build your own chicken pot pies to be eaten while relaxing and watching a movie. I have never had better pie crust than what Carol makes! A nice last evening.
Early on Sunday we needed to head out. We had some long driving days ahead of us to get up to Spokane to pick up Kat on the following Saturday. We got up early to get things ready on the camper and say goodbye. We had some struggles with navigation at first and after one u turn and a 4 mile dirt road we were on track! It takes some figuring out in the beginning, but Kelley kept at it and figured it all out. The beginning of our adventure.
Firehole Canyon, Flaming Gorge, Wyoming
We drove 6 hours into Wyoming and we really only went that far so we could spend more time near the Grand Tetons the next few days. When we arrived at Fire hole canyon in Flaming Gorge just outside of Rock Springs. (So many jokes in that!) I was happily surprised to find the campground almost empty since we were just doing the walk up thing. It was incredibly hard to park in a spot since there were concrete barriers lining the narrow road. I couldn’t get the turn radius and space I needed, then it turned out when I did the Shady Lady was too long. We tried to get into that one spot for about an hour before we finally gave up and went to a spot I thought I could just go straight back into. It took 10 minutes! We didn’t chose that one originally because we didn’t want to encroach on the only other nearby campers privacy. At some point I decided to just say screw it and do it. So glad I did. I was tired and frustrated and not thinking straight anymore. I could see the look on Kelley’s face that read something like “oh crap, is it always going to be like this?” I do feel good about my backing in skills now, but this was a real test. I got some practice at least. Kelley was understanding and patient and she got to work on our hand signals. Even Kat and I struggle with that every now and then.
We set up camp and had a relaxing beverage before walking down to the lake. That was after we almost had a four foot snake go across Kelley’s feet! Haha- she dumped her chair over and then went about 6 feet in the air! ( it was a harmless gofer snake we found out later). We sat by the lake for a few minutes and then out of nowhere the wind and a little rain sent us back up to the camper. No matter where we were the views were incredible. As our camp host (Gordon) informed us about the twin towers of Wyoming we turned to snap pictures of the rainbows. I have never see four rainbows in one day before and even a double! Amazing- all that driving and parking was worth it! We got some fantastic pictures.
Later there were little rain showers off and on, but there are really nice shelters over the picnic tables that provide great protection while we still got to enjoy our view. We were bothe too worn out to cook the steak we had planned on eating, but Kelley made us some nice sandwiches. There was a strange buzzing or humming noise, but I couldn’t figure it out. It sounded like a swarm of bees or bunch of drones. I really have no idea what it was, but it was gone in the morning.
Coulter bay, Grand Tetons, WY
It wasn’t such a long drive to the Grand Tetons which was good. I like the 3 hour days where you can arrive and get setup and do stuff before dinner. It was a beautiful drive and the rivers are really flowing with the snow melting off the mountains. We got to sit and enjoy the views more than once while waiting on road construction delays. The snow that remains on the mountains is beautiful. The water in the rivers was red because it was running down the mountain taking mud with it. It was so green later down the road and the spring flowers were out to add their beauty to it all.
It was super cool when we arrived and got the very same spot that Kat and I had stayed at the summer before. And it was SO much easier to just pull n quickly and be done. We hot some campfire wood and we headed out to Jackson lake on a short walk before going back to the camper. Kelley went out for another walk afterwards and I prepared dinner to go on the grill. We ate like queens and hung out by the fire for a nice relaxing evening.
We started our day with coffee in the beach with a great view. I really needed some internet to quickly get some bookings in for the rest of the trip, so we decided to forgo the hike Kelley was dying to take and so we went to Jackson. We stopped a lot on the way to get pictures and when I was done at Starbucks and Kelley was done shopping we had lunch. The best part was that after getting the rest of the trip planned I had figured it was possible to stay another day and get some hiking done. We got back after a quick stop at the store to buy more firewood right as the rain started. Too bad for our campfire, but it was nice to hear the rain on the camper and just chill out. It was surprising to see that there were quite a few more campers parked around us. The rain did stop later and we had our fire after all.
We did get our hike in the next day. The trail around Jenny Lake was closed for maintenance, so we went to Bradley lake and hiked about 6 miles through some gorgeous trails. We stopped and had lunch which in hindsite I was thinking might not have been a good idea since there were warnings about bears being seen. However, I don’t think any bear would have stood a chance of getting Kelley’s cheetos! A really beautiful day for a hike with all the wildflowers and views of the snow-capped mountains. I was happy we stayed another day.
Last year Kat and I didn’t get to drive through Yellowstone because a fire had the road closed, but it was all clear for Kelley and I. We had another 4 hour drive ahead of us, but I had hoped to stop at Old Faithful to let Kelley check it out. Hmmm-she wasn’t really interested, so we just kept going. We did see some of the geysers from the road and it was a great drive. Two things we did see were a lot of snow on the roadside and of course the Buffalo. Those buffalo just take over the roadway and make it their own, which I guess is only right, but I sure was happy we weren’t behind them. Itn the other direction there had to be about 5 miles of traffic backed up going at a buffalo pace.
In Montana we stopped at the one campground I had picked out and all the electric sites were taken, so we went to my second choice and the one the ranger suggested, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park just up the road. That part of the country is just so beautiful, I know Montana is called big sky country, but I can’t capture its beauty in pictures or explain why the sky seems so big. It is a fantastic drive though. L&C park was off the highway about 17 miles and inbetween some huge hills/little mountains, so of course we lost all cell signal again. That was getting old! At least we had electric to recharge the batteries. Even though we had power I wanted to test the solar panels and let Kat know how well they worked. They were easy to setup and everything worked fine during the two hours I got to have them in the sun. I think that was the first night without a campfire and since we had power we watched my favorite movie- Love Actually.
Back on the road the next day (Friday)- our last night before we get into Spokane and get ready to pick up Kat. More of Montana’s beauty to gaze at as we drove along and that really makes driving so great. The campground Quartz Flat was an awesome find! It was a bit tricky to actually find the entrance to and if we paid more attention we would not have had to go through the 14′ tunnel to get across the highway to the side where RV’s were easier to park. I sent a picture to Kat and I could hear her gasp before she asked me “how tall was that tunnel and do you know how tall the camper is?” My response was ” it was 14′ tall and I think we are like 12′ 10”? But don’t worry I had read that most campers can get through ok,” Haha. She didn’t sound too pleased that I took the chance. I had Kelley watching as I started to pull through and it was going to be fine or I would have just backed up and turned around. I now know we are 12′ 10” and I would do it again.
The campground is on both sides of the highway, but the one we wanted was better for RV parking. It is so convenient because it is right behind the rest area, which makes it a bit noisy, but it was fantastic. There were only a few other campers, there were easy pull through sites and the host provided free firewood, which we took full advantage of for a few hours. There was a short hike which had a good little interpretive map to go with it to identify trees and stuff around the area, so we did that before lighting up (the fire).
Next and last stop for the Kelley and Bert drive would be Spokane. I was happy that I had a reservation because that would allow us to get settled in and stuff before we picked Kat up late that night. We drove through Spokane and about 15 miles west on the highway before we got to our exit and it was really pretty, but we were both thinking…where are we going? Why are we headed into the middle of nowhere? Yep, we lost signal as we pulled into the campground again. I knew we were going to have a problem as soon as we pulled into camp. It looked like a redneck scary village and there was a sign that even said “you are entering redneck country, there may be rednecks, confederate flags and firearms, if you don’t like it you can leave”. And leave we did. Lucky for us the spot we were assigned was not going to fit us. Then the lady offered us the option to take up two spots for the price of one. I declined. She was going to not charge us so I was happy not to have to deal with that, but now what? We were almost out of fuel, no cell signal, no campground planned and I had about 5 hours to get to the airport to pick Kat up. I needed somewhere relatively close to the airport because Kat had just spent 27 hours on planes and was sure to be tired and possibly grumpy. Later she told me she wasn’t thrilled about the 45 minutes to get to the redneck campground, so I was extra happy we didn’t stay there.
Down the road, a gas station, a cell signal, some phone calls and finally we just went to the fairgrounds. Not a beautiful location, but partial hookups, a field all to ourselves, relief at having somewhere to stay was good for me, plus only 15 minutes to the airport! We cleaned up, went shopping and next thing you know we were driving Kat home.
Sunday there was to be an Elk Fest and we were pretty excited thinking we were going to a big street party with music, food trucks and stuff like that. I was sure we were going to be eating elk and enjoying cold beer, so we went for a morning hike to get in our exercise first. The Riverside State Park is almost right in Spokane and full of hikes, so that was easy to get to from our campground. We walked along the river and told Kat all about our adventures and she and Kelley got to catch up since they hadn’t seen each other in a year.
The Elk fest was our plan for afterwards, but it was not what we expected at all! There was music, there was beer and two food trucks, but that was about all. It was just one side street closed off and nothing else. We did eat lunch at the restaurant next to all the activities and got to people watch for awhile, so we had fun anyway.
Monday we went downtown for a little walk and to look around before we took Fat Henry for an oil change. When the oil change was done we went back downtown and walked around a bit more before heading back to camp. Kelley had an early flight out the next morning and we were heading out that morning too so it wasn’t a late night. Kat and I were headed towards Portland which will be another post.
I appreciate all that Kelley did for me while we traveled (even the 1 million selfies we took). I know it was alot to throw at her by asking her to navigate through so many states. You may be thinking it is not so bad to navigate, but in our world it is a lot of responsibility. I depend on that person to make sure we have the best route and are not going down roads that the camper shouldn’t go down and to tell me where to turn, etc. They also have to hand out the sandwiches for lunch, provide twizzlers and tic tacs upon request, find gas using gas buddy and make sure its a station I can get in and out of easily. They also have to search the internet to look up information about things we see on the way. They are also the DJ and when we tire of music they have to talk and keep me entertained. Thanks for all the help Kelley, it was great having you along on this part of the trip.