Big Sky Country!

Howdy from Montana!

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I’ve been going non-stop since I drove across the border from Idaho last Wednesday.  The first thing I noticed (in comparison to Idaho) was that the road signs changed from “Game Crossing” to “Wildlife Crossing.”  But before you think Montanans are all touchy-feely, think again.  There are a lot more taxidermy businesses here and I also saw a shop in Darby for skull bleaching.  Didn’t realize that was a separate skill set…  Anyway, the other interesting thing about driving in Montana is you will occasionally see wind socks on bridges.  Yep – that is how windy it gets.

I spent a couple of days in Missoula – parked the MoHo in a cute neighborhood and since no one hassled me the first night, I ended up parking there again a second night.  I visited Garnet Ghost Town – not scary ghosts, just an old mining town that is still well preserved. These buildings were built in 1898 – only 18 years before my house in Oakland was built.  How crazy is that???

I saw the Psychedelic Furs and The Church at The Wilma on Thursday night and it was a total blast – a real throw-back to the 80’s.  I can guarantee the guys in the bands had no idea where they were…  they may have known they were in Montana but since they never said “Thank you, Missoula!” – I’m guessing they were at a loss.  Didn’t matter – they were both great.

After leaving Missoula, I stopped at the National Bison Range.  There were a couple of mini-hikes that I got to do (one with Juno and one without) but the best part was seeing all the bison.

Juno was very interested in the bison – especially when the family was crossing the road in front of us! The father of the family is in the lower right-hand picture.  He was bleating or mooing or barking (whatever you call it) which was cool to hear.

We then made our way up to Glacier National Park and finally finally finally I got a chance to do some hiking and take pictures of something that wasn’t snow and fog.

This first group of pictures was taken on my hike up Avalanche Creek to Avalanche Lake.  It was a beautiful 4 mile R/T hike and I enjoyed every step.  The rainbow in the falls on the way back down was an added bonus (too bad it wasn’t a double rainbow)

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do a hike at Logan’s pass since the parking lot was completely jammed and wouldn’t let any more cars in.  The good news is there were plenty of turnouts along the Going to the Sun road where you could pull out and do mini hikes, take pictures, etc.

The pictures really don’t do it justice.  It’s so big and there’s so much to see.  I do hope I’ll have the chance to go back. The last picture (below) was taken near the St Mary’s gate.  Everyone had come to a halt and was looking up at a meadow.  When I finally got up to the traffic jam, I found out what the hold-up was – a bear!!!  Yes, that tiny brown spot on the left side of the field is a bear.  I swear! National Park Scoreboard: 3-1

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So I’m just about caught up now.  The drive from Glacier to Helena took nearly 3 hours and was filled with rolling hills, fields, cows, and insane wind.  I now understand why Montana is known as Big Sky Country.

Once Juno and I arrived in Helena, we took a train tour around town and I parked on a nice residential street last night. We’ve spent a good chunk of today enjoying the grass, trees and shade at the state capitol building.  The people here are beyond nice (basically the polar opposite of what I experienced in Ketchum) and I’m just happy to have an afternoon relaxing in this charming city.

It’s nearly 2pm and I think it’s time to get my daily allotment of ice cream.  Heading to Bozeman tomorrow and will share more adventures soon.

State count: 5

Earth Wind and Fire

This will be my last blog post from Idaho as I’ll be heading t Montana later this morning.  Woo hoo!

Yesterday was a crazy day… I spent the morning walking around Ketchum and I’ll be honest, it was not my favorite place for a variety of reasons but I’d rather not get into details here. The high point was getting this picture of Juno in a gigantic chair wearing cowboy boots.

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From Ketchum, we drove to Stanley via the Sawtooth Mountains on the recommendation of Denise, Juno’s dog sitter.  The drive through the mountains was incredible and Stanley was the perfect place to take a break and enjoy the scenery.  I met Nathan in the parking lot of the visitors center…  his trailer caught my eye and I had to get a closer look.  He made it himself from salvaged materials on a jet-ski trailer and it’s so friggin’ cool. My favorite part is the little Hobbit-hole door!

The only other thing on my Idaho checklist was getting to experience one of the natural hot-springs that are all over the state.  Fortunately, Sunbeam Hot Spring was about 20 minutes north of Stanley – right off the highway!  So I pulled over, threw on my bathing suit and headed on down.  Here’s a picture of my fellow bathers and a one showing the pipe where the water comes out.  Note: the water comes out at 130 degrees!!  The key is to find a place where the hot water mixes with the cold water from the Salmon River to get the perfect temperature.

The weather ended up getting really nasty once I left the hot spring.  Torrential rains, followed by strong winds, lightning and thunder.  As I passed through Salmon en route to North Fork, I started smelling smoke.  Sure enough, the lightning caused several fires on one of the mountains.  People were stopped along the road watching the fires – it was crazy.  I got to see some aerial firefighting first-hand – dropping fire retardant on the mountain very close to where I stayed last night.  The good news is by this morning, all the fires seem to be out.

Thank you Idaho for such a memorable week!  Here’s one final shot of the Salmon River… I can’t wait to come back.

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Boy oh Boy-see!

Before I get started, let me just share where I am and what I just did.  I’m at the Best Western in Ketchum, Idaho where I just had a bath. Can I tell you how great it was to just sit in hot water for 20 minutes?  Yes, it’s 90 degrees out but it felt wonderful to just soak and not be limited by my 6 gallons of hot water in my tiny shower.  I’m probably going to take another bath tonight before bed.  And one more tomorrow before I leave.  Ha!

Okay, so I spent the weekend in Boise and other than the scorching heat, it was a terrific weekend. Juno and I wandered around downtown where we saw the capital building.  20160723_133902

Only a block or two from the capital is the Freak Alley Gallery filled with some of the coolest street art I’ve ever seen.  Here’s a little montage of my favorite pieces:

The following day had Juno and I up early as I wanted to take a tour of the old Idaho State Penitentiary which closed in 1973.  They offer guided tours and it was the best $6 I’d spent in a long time.  Our guide was super knowledgeable and my only regret is I didn’t get the Outlaws baseball t-shirt.  Note: I’m standing in one of the “punishment” cells.  Be sure to click on the picture in the lower right corner to read about this inmate.  Love his story!

After my prison visit, I met up with Gary Gelson for lunch at the Crescent Bar where we enjoyed bloody mary’s and tater tots on the patio.  I still can’t believe the resemblance between Gary and his uncle Bernie!

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Juno and I hit the mall after lunch because I needed a cell phone cover and I wanted to walk around and enjoy free A/C for a while.  During our stroll, I saw these hilarious giant stuffed animals that you can ride around the mall!  $5 for 10 minutes.

My final Boise experience was taking a glass blowing glass at Boise Art Glass earlier today with Filip and Taran.  I made two pendants and I’m quite proud that they turned out so well.  Now I need a chain or something so I can wear them.  Would definitely like to take more glass blowing classes in the future!

I’m all caught up now and going to head out for dinner shortly.  But before I do, a few quick notes about driving in Idaho…  The speed limit once you get out of Boise on Hwy 84 is 80 MPH!!  The Roadtrek did great thought I will admit I missed the Porsche…  I passed a sign for Rodeo Drive but from the looks of it, it was nothing like where I grew up. Also, you don’t see “Deer Crossing” signs – they say “Game Crossing”!!  In other words, keep your rifle handy since you might be able to shoot yourself some dinner on the way home.  TTFN!

Off the Beaten Path…

Yes, yes, I’ve been slacking the last few days on posting anything.  But it’s because I’ve been busy enjoying all the sights and sounds of Idaho (it’s a good thing my first night in that dodgy RV park in Post Falls wasn’t an indicator of what I would experience).  Idaho is beyond beautiful – and if you like nature, being outdoors and/or on the water, it’s even better.

Before I took off, I purchased a book called Off the Beaten Path – it’s a wonderful guide with all sorts of groovy, unusual places to check out in each state.  I’ve already hit three places recommended for Idaho – Priest Lake, the town of Wallace and the Wolf Center.

Priest Lake is only 30 miles from the Canadian border – and there were a lot of Trump signs along the highway as I made my way north.  Ugh.  That aside, it was worth the drive as you can see from the pictures below.  Even Juno enjoyed our nature walk!

From Priest Lake, we drove back through Sandpoint, another totes adorbs town en route to Coeur d’Alene.  I tried to take some pictures of the lake but none of them did it justice – that’s how beautiful it is.  The town is charming and they happened to have a farmers market going on and I ended up buying more yarn (shocking, I know).  After a glass of wine at a wine bar/jewelry store/art gallery, Juno and I proceeded to Osburn for the evening. Note: I definitely want to go back and spend more time in Coeur d’Alene. Great vacay spot.

The next morning found us in Wallace, which is an old-timey mining town but with a lot going on. The annual ATV Jamboree was going on so there were tons of people in town.  I traded taking pictures with this woman outside the Red Light Garage – Juno is also in her pictures!

After a quick stop back in Coeur d’Alene and a late afternoon ice cream break in Moscow, we moseyed down to Winchester.  Winchester has a population of just over 300.  We stayed at the Winchester State Park that was practically empty but get this…  there was a couple camping next to me on a biking tour.  Turns out they were from Sacramento and the man also graduated from UC Davis. Go Aggies!  Here are a few shots of Winchester Lake – the water is so clear and still that the reflection is perfect…

I was at the Wolf Center promptly at 7:30am yesterday and Lindsey was our tour guide.  A lovely girl doing a summer internship from Univ of Tennessee.  The good news is one of the wolves immediately showed herself – XayXayz (pronounced Hi-Hi) is a grey wolf and was a sight to behold.

Juno and I decided to take it easy the rest of the day.  We drove to McCall (another cute town) and met a woman from Livermore when I stopped to get gas and walk Juno in Riggins.  BTW – driving through Hells Canyon along the Salmon River – wow wow wow. I want to go back and do some rafting there.  We spent the night at Ponderosa State Park on Payette Lake.  We were super lucky to get a site as the entire state of Idaho’s internet was down yesterday – don’t ask.  Anyway, here’s a picture of sunset on the lake and Idaho’s official candy bar…  I ate the candy bar last night.  It’s a weird fluffy, coconut thing.

Okay, I’m going to wrap up this post with another round of “Find the Snug!”

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He was very tired.

 

Any Dam Questions?

A quick post about my time/tour of the Grand Coulee Dam yesterday.  First off, it’s friggin’ amazing and I highly suggest visiting if you are ever in the area.

The drive up Rte 155 is gorgeous and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t stop and take pictures of Banks Lake.  With the canyons coming up on either side, it was such a pretty drive.  Anyway, they offer free tours every hour and Josh was our dam tour guide.  We got to go down into the dam and I loved how the elevator listed the elevation above sea level at each floor.  But standing at the top of the dam and looking down…  whoa. The picture here just doesn’t do it justice but it’s 350 feet down and I was afraid I’d drop my phone.  Josh informed us that divers have found a bowling ball and a car engine in the past.

After leaving the dam tour, I drove along Rte 2 and was surprised to see just how different Eastern Washington is from the rest of the state.  Rolling hills, scattered farms – I think I may have gotten a sneak peek at what the middle of the country looks like.

Juno and I finally stopped in Spokane, which I first heard about while watching Vision Quest in the 80’s (note: one of my FAVORITE 80’s films – who doesn’t like movies about high school wrestling??!).  Anyway, we enjoyed a burger and huckleberry milkshake at Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle and wandered around Garland Avenue enjoying the local street art.

After a few more stops in Spokane (someone told me about an amazing knitting store so I had to go), Juno and I crossed the border and spent the night in Post Falls, Idaho!  Yep – this is my first “new” state!  Needless to say, I’m anxious to get going and so I’m going to wrap up this post and head on out…

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State count: 4

Scoreboard: 2-0

Had a fantastic weekend in Seattle – after all the years I’ve been going to Seattle for business, it was nice to finally have a fun weekend…  I met up with my friends Hilary and Ginger and their dogs Gizmo and Leo – and the six of us headed over to Kirkland to meet up with some more folks at Kirkland Uncorked.  This was an all-day festival with wine tasting, food sampling and live music to benefit a pet rescue organization.  We drank lots of good wine and the dogs enjoyed themselves too.

After a long walk and a run with Hilary on Sunday morning, Juno and I took a walk around Queen Anne and I visited the EMP Museum downtown.  I was particularly excited as they had a special Star Trek exhibit.  The best part (other than seeing the original “bridge” was the Khan booth where you had the chance to be taped doing your best Shatner-yelling-Khan impersonation:

I wandered around the rest of the museum and I found myself asking the time-old question, “Did Greedo shoot first?”

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Later that afternoon, I met up with my friend John and his wife Lauren and we spent the next several hours cruising around on their boat, enjoying Moscow Mules and buffalo burgers.  Juno got his sea legs in record time and the views from Lake Washington and Lake Union were incredible. I even took a video of a sea plane landing right in front of us but I can’t seem to upload it!  Grrrrrr!!!

After sleeping at the Marina, Juno and I took off this morning for Mt Rainier national park. I had identified Naches Peak Loop Trail as a perfect hike with Tipsoo Lake being my starting point.  But unfortunately, the weather was lousy.  Pouring rain, heavy fog that was rather scary to drive through at times and the hike just wasn’t going to happen.  Here’s a not so good picture of Tipsoo Lake (lower right) and a pretty picture an hour later coming off the mountain with the sky somewhat clearing up:

As you may know, I also got shut out of Crater Lake National Park due to inclement weather.  So the scoreboard is as follows:

National Parks – 2

Jill – 0

Yes, I’ve been to two parks but it doesn’t really seem to count if I can’t do anything.  It’s similar to flying through an airport in a foreign country but never leaving the airport.  Technically I’ve been to South Korea and Germany but haven’t ever done anything beyond walk around the terminal.

Our last stop for the day before heading to Soap Lake was Dick and Jane’s Spot in Ellensburg. An amazingly cool house with incredible artwork that has been attracting visitors for years and years.  You can see why!

Juno and I will be heading to the Grand Coulee Dam tomorrow but for now, that’s all.  It’s been a long day and I’m ready for dinner and an early night…  Toodles!

What’s up, Washington?!

Let me first start by saying that the Google Maps lady that lives inside my new phone is a genius.  I was rolling along the I-5 towards Olympia when I engaged her services for directions. Initially she told me there was a 25 minute delay between exits 109 and 114 (114 was the exit I was supposed to take), but as I got closer, the delay got longer…  35 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half.  But magically, about a mile out from exit 109, Google Maps lady asked if I’d like a detour that would get me to my destination in only 20 minutes time.  I accepted her request and she got me to my destination post haste.  Which is why I’m sitting here eating dinner and writing this blog post versus sitting in traffic.  Yay!

Anyway, I wrapped up a great week in Eugene and Portland the last couple of days. The Cascades Raptor Center was definitely a highlight – got to see so many amazing birds, including this Eagle Owl named Dmitri.  20160713_120335

My friend Reme treated me to a lovely lunch yesterday in Beaverton and I had lunch with my college buddy Stuart this afternoon. I wandered around downtown where I took this groovy picture:20160714_134530

 

I also hit the Pearl District for a little shopping and indulged in a delicious Blue Star donut. Today was errands day and I actually spent most of my time in the Verizon store getting a new phone (Samsung Galaxy S7!) and MiFi device because T-Mobile just wasn’t cutting it on the open road.  The key was to do as much shopping as possible in Oregon where there’s no sales tax.  Boom!

So amazingly, I made it to Washington safe and sound – taking these pictures while driving on the I-5 during rush hour wasn’t the smartest idea.

I’m just in Olympia for the night and then I’ll be heading to Seattle tomorrow morning for a fun-filled weekend of activities with various friends.  From there, I’ll be starting my journey east!  As of now, my plan is to hit Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota over the next month.  I thought I’d be able to sneak in Wyoming but it might be too much. I did discover that the Psychedelic Furs and The Church are playing in Missoula later this month – might just need to be there for that!

State count: 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bendissimo!

So let me just start by saying that I love Bend.  Not as much as I love Juno, but it’s up there. I’ve already been on Zillow looking at homes for sale if that’s any indication… Everything that I’ve seen in the last 36 hours has been phenomenal – hence the new post. What’s particularly awesome is that everything is so close!  20 minutes from the center of town and you’re in the Deschutes Forest.  And you don’t even have to get on a freeway! Here’s a quick rundown on the things I’ve done since yesterday morning:

  • Tumalo Falls
  • Lava River Cave
  • Pilot Butte
  • Walked around downtown Bend
  • Smith Rock
  • Walked around Sisters
  • Sahalie and Koosah Falls

I’m grouping the waterfall pictures together – all were incredibly beautiful but I think Koosah was my fave (lower right hand corner pic):

And here are some pictures from my hike into Lava River Cave. This was such a cool (literally) experience… I walked a mile in a pitch-black cave with just my flashlight to guide the way.  There were many times there was no one in front or behind me which was really creepy and I felt like I was in a horror movie, but I soldiered on.  The first pic is the entrance, the second was taken just inside the cave and the last was the only picture I was able to capture underground – and only because the group coming towards me had so many flashlights:

The last group of pictures are from the top of Pilot Butte which is just outside the center of Bend. A great city hike where the views are your reward, Smith Rock which is about 30 minutes north of Bend in Redmond, and some requisite nature-y shots from my walk from Salahie to Koosah Falls this afternoon.

But what makes Bend really spectacular?  Because you can get your quilting supplies and guns in the same shopping center!  Sign. Me. Up.

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Time to take Juno for his evening stroll.  Tomorrow I’ll be enjoying the sites and sounds of Eugene.  Ta for now!

 

Snow in July?

Morning!  I’m sitting here in the RV enjoying my daily green juice and cottage cheese breakfast – Juno is curled up on the drivers seat which is perfectly sunny. But where are we???

But before I get to my Oregon adventures, let me back up and finish up my time in California.  When I left off last time, I was sitting in a parking lot in Crescent City. From there, we went to the Mystery of Trees in Klamath.   We walked amongst the redwoods in the rain and it was really quite spectacular.  My favorite was the Cathedral Tree:20160708_135632

Juno and I then took the cable car up to the top.  Juno wasn’t too fond of the cable cars as they pulled onto the platform and was barking like crazy.  But he got into the spirit of things once we were on board (note: had to apologize for dirty paw prints on seat).

Unfortunately we weren’t able to see anything at the top due to all the rain so we came back down and headed out.  The plan was to stay in Klamath another night but I was so tired of the rain that I made an executive decision to cross the border that afternoon/evening and spend the night in Grants Pass, Oregon.  I stayed at the Josephine County Fairground.

The next morning, Juno and I drove to Medford to visit my new friend Robin (another BHHS grad – go Normans!) and her dogs Lorenzo and Sonja. Robin was a wonderful hostess and we spent most of the day in Ashland.  Ashland is incredible and definitely a place I would consider moving.  Reminds me a lot of College Avenue…  We then hit Paschal Winery late in the day for a glass of wine before returning to Medford.

Yesterday morning I went running by Robin’s house and here’s a picture of her view… pretty extraordinary!20160710_092244

I planned on driving to Crater Lake yesterday and taking in the sights but the weather did not comply.  I watched the temperature drop the closer I got and right after I paid $15 to enter (with the ranger telling me to be mindful of the fog), it started to snow. Yep – it was literally freezing.  But I soldiered on hoping that maybe I’d get lucky once I hit the Rim.  Juno and I bundled up and got out -walked to the edge – and this is what I saw…

Snow. Snow. Snow.  And Fog. By comparison, my friend Tim was at Crater Lake on July 4th and here was the view he had:

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Yeah, I was a little bummed.  Okay – a lot bummed.  Sigh.

So we left Crater Lake and drove straight through to Bend, which is where we are now.  It’s a beautiful morning so I’m going to sign off and head out and enjoy the day.  By the way, the RV park I’m staying at is like the Ritz Carlton of RV parks – it’s got tennis, a hot tub, gym, grassy fields, horseshoe pits… tres chic!

State count: 2

Redwoods, Dahlias and Snug Alley

I’m currently sitting here in the parking lot of Ocean World in Crescent City, CA.  It’s cold, foggy, and rainy – kind of like San Francisco in the summer.  The reason I’m in the parking lot is I have a good WiFi connection.  The place I stayed last night (and will stay again tonight) is super remote.

So!  It’s been busy the last couple of days…  On Wednesday, Juno and I hit the Elk River Trail which is part of the Headwaters Forest Reserve.  We hiked a couple of miles in the morning which was a great way to start the day.  From there, we drove into Eureka. Took a picture of the Carson Mansion which is supposedly the most photographed house in California?  We then walked around Old Town Eureka where I found Snug Alley!

From there, we visited a public garden with the most incredible dahlias I’ve ever seen.  I seriously spent 30 minutes walking around taking pictures.

I was given a recommendation to visit Ferndale, which is exactly what I did after departing Eureka.  Ferndale is adorable.  Adorable main street with great shops lining the street.  So glad I visited.

Thursday found Juno and me in Arcata for the day.  We took a lovely morning stroll amongst the redwoods in the Community Forest located next to Humboldt State University.  Then grabbed lunch at Los Bagels downtown.  Another stroll around town followed.  Then I went to the Finnish sauna which is the hottest sauna I’ve ever been in.  Seriously – I think sitting on the sun’s surface would have been slightly cooler.  After 30 minutes of that, I was done.  I must have drank a gallon of water after that.

Spent last night at Klamath by the river and again, while cell coverage was nonexistent and WiFi was spotty, the view was incredible. Here’s what it looked like from my “front porch”

20160707_163515 Pretty much caught up now.  Juno and I visited Battery Point Lighthouse this morning and now we’re heading back towards Klamath but will be stopping at Mystery Trees on the way.

Heading to Oregon tomorrow morning and will be spending the weekend in the Medford/Ashland area.  Can’t wait to finally make it across the border!!