Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Working our way to Alaska - Idaho/Orgeon/Washington


We said good-bye to Utah on August 20, 2017 and headed to Hagerman, ID. This was the second time we stayed at the Hagerman RV Village. The first time was back in September 2015.
We were in Site 32, a gravel pull through with full hook ups, average width and a picnic table. The park is well maintained, the laundry room and bathrooms are very clean. The rec room has a pool table, foosball, and exercise equipment. We paid $29.16 a night with our Good Sam discount. We were able to sit in front of the RV for the Solar Eclipse. We didn't have totality but we were at 97%. The changing shadows at various times through out the eclipse were so interesting to watch.

Oregon - Boardmen
August 22, 2017 found us moving on to Boardmen, OR. It was a very long, 5+ hour drive. One stretch is through a hilly area, where you twist and turn. The views are pretty, but on this day the horizon was filled with smoke from fires in surrounding areas.
We stayed at the Boardmen Marina and RV Park, it is a city park and very well maintained and right on the Columbia River.

The sites are very wide and most of them like ours are back-ins. We were in site 38, with full hook-ups and a picnic table. There is a paved walking/biking path that runs through the park. You have access to the river and a number of beaches. Perfect for morning dog walks.
After the long drive and a few mishaps setting up, the sound of the ice cream truck was very welcomed. Nancy was like a 5 year old when she heard it.
We got to share some stories with Michele Brinkert over a few beers at Ordnance Brewery. Kitt Mahaffy, Michele's dad, and Nancy grew up together and Michele and Katrina grew up together. We get to see her again after our trip to Alaska. Nancy got a much needed art day and created two new mixed media pieces to brighten up our home.

Oregon - Portland

On August 25, 2017 we headed to Portland. The drive here was so pretty, following the Columbia River all the way. We went from the brown grass and sagebrush to beautiful greens. We passed a couple of dams on the way, saw some tugboats and barges, plus lots of fishing boats and Mt. Hood off in the distance.

Jantzen Beach RV Park was home for a week. While we were on an island in the Columbia River, don't let the name fool you, there is no beach. The park is a combination mobile home and RV Park. The lots are short so we had to park the car in the overflow parking a few sites away. They are about average width with grass and a picnic table.The park is well maintained with a pool area. The laundry and restrooms were clean. The park itself is quiet but the surrounding area is not.
There is traffic noise and it is also it in the take-off flight path for Portland International Airport, so the planes are very loud, add the train and freighter horns and you have a lot of noise. The WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was okay. We paid $28.43 a night with our Good Sam Discount. The island is very crowded and there is only one way on and off - onto I-5 north or south and traffic can be a nightmare. One night it took us over an hour to go 1.7 miles to get onto the island.

The last time we were in this area in December of 2015, we missed getting the Peter "Wolf" Toth Indians. There used to be two, one in Astoria and the other in Hillsboro, which unfortunately was destroyed  in a storm last spring.
The Indian in Astoria is the 57th on the "Trail of Whispering Giants" and was carved in 1987 from a Cedar tree. He stands 18-feet tall and is named Iakla Nawan. Astoria is a cute little town, lots of antique stores, shops, restaurants and breweries.
We lucked out as a street fair was going on while we were there and we got to listen to a bagpiper.  The sidewalks have large squares with colored glass in them every 20 feet or so. There are some really pretty buildings and the trashcans are made to look like cans of salmon. We took a break at the Reach Break Brewing, dog friendly and good beer. Astoria is also where the movie "Goonies" was filmed but we couldn't find any thing noting that.

There were a number of Roadsides.
In Scappose we found the "Peace Candle". It was built in 1971 outside what was at the time a candle factory that later burned down, oh the irony. It is a 50-foot silo covered in 45,000 pounds of wax. It originally had a real wick but they couldn't keep it lit, so a gas line was run up the center of the silo, but the cost of gas was prohibitive so it now has a neon wick on top!

In Hillsboro, where the Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian used to stand is a large metal Mandala with historic carvings from the area, including the Indian.

We found a few in Portland. The Pod is a large three legged sculpture with a swinging "pod". It was impossible to get close to it and free of people around it, but still cool to see.

The Grotto is not the quirky thing we usually find, but the Roadside Oddities website is where we found out about it. The story of the grotto actually begins back at the end of the 19th Century.
A young boy from Kitchener, ON, Canada fearing for his mother's life and that of his newborn sister prayed that if they were spared he would one day create a great work for the church. Jump forward to 1918, he was now Father Ambrose Mayer and the first Servite Pastor in Portland, OR. He found this property and raised funds to purchase it and develop the Shrine. Work began in September 1923 and on May 29, 1924 the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother was dedicated. It has grown over the years with two levels of gardens. We only explored the lower level as dogs are not allowed on the upper level. It is a beautiful and peaceful place.

Jamison Square is a wonderful oasis in the middle of the city. It has a stepped fountain that many people were enjoying on this hot day. There is a large grassy area, lots of picnic tables and benches and art sculptures. Always so nice to find these places in large bustling cities.

Beverly Clearly fans also have a place to go. In Grant Park, there are sculptures of Ramona, Henry and Ribsy the dog, beloved characters from her Ramona books. They are in a small water park and the day we were there children were having a blast playing around them and one even having a conversation with Ribsy.

The Elk Rock Gardens, also know as the Gardens at Bishop Close was started by Peter Kerr, a Scott who came to Portland in 1888.

He purchased 13 acres of land in the early 1890's and built a large home for his family in 1914.
He loved gardening and over the years created this wonderful place.

The house now holds the offices of the Bishop

After he passed away in 1957 at the age of 95, his two daughters gave the house and gardens to the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon along with an endowment for upkeep, with the stipulation that the gardens be open to the public. There are a number of paths that twist and turn, some that overlook the Willamette River.

We spent two days enjoying waterfalls. There are a number just a short drive from Portland heading east on I-84. Most can be see seen from the road, or with just a short walk to the overlook.
Bridal Veil Falls was first up.
This one requires a short hike, about a mile round trip on a steep dirt path and of course stairs. The hike was fairly easy and definitely worth it, the 120-foot falls are just gorgeous. As you cross the bridge over the creek you start getting glimpses of the falls through the trees. Once you reach the overlook you can see the entire falls. It is actually a two tier falls with a pool in between them.

Next up was Latourell Falls just down the road from Bridal Veil. A short walk up a steep dirt path takes you to the overlook and another one takes you to the base of the falls. There is also a 2-mile loop trail that takes you from the base of the falls to the top and back down.
While we were there a bride and groom were having their pictures taken, what a beautiful spot for a photo shoot.

Nancy had great fun playing in the water to get her pictures. The power of the water always leaves her awestruck.

About 15 minutes down the road is Multnomah Falls. This is probably the most popular falls in the area and at 620-feet it is the tallest falls in Oregon. It is also a two-tiered falls. The Lodge at the base of the falls was built in 1925, as part of the agreement made with the state when the land was donated by the railroad company. It is just a day lodge with a restaurant, gift shop and snack bar. A paved path takes you to a bridge that overlooks the falls and river. You can continue from there up a steep dirt path with many switchbacks to the top of the falls. We found two love locks here and both of them were engraved with the couples names.

Horsetail Falls, about a 5-minute drive was our last one for this day. It is also right on the roadside with parking across the street. You can take a few stairs down to the waters edge where there are plenty of logs and large boulders to rest on while enjoying the mist from the falls. Nancy ventured out into the very cold water for a few of the shots. The 176-foot drop squeezes through the rounded rock face.

There was a wildfire somewhere in the area and the smoke was pretty heavy as we drove about 10-miles farther east to the Bridges of the Gods to cross over into Washington for our drive home.

Our second day of waterfalls, started off with what we thought would be a 2.5-mile hike on the Horsetail Falls Trail. Well, that turned into a 6-mile hike when we decided to add on the trail to the Triple Falls.
The trail is listed as easy but we are not so sure we would agree with that assessment. There is an elevation climb of only 610-feet but it is pretty steep. The path is very rocky and some of it is covered in a rock slide.
We did find some interesting things along the way and we stopped and rested a lot.

Funny shaped rocks, colorful tree trunks, giant tree roots and the large hole it left in the ground, a fuzzy orange caterpillar and sections of weeping walls and gorgeous moss.

Portions of the trail allowed views of the Columbia River. The skies were much clearer today.

As you progress along the trail you leave the highway noise behind and step into another world as you follow the small valley that takes you to the Ponytail Falls. The trail takes you behind the falls which is always fun.

After a number of steep switchbacks the trail connects to a metal bridge. From one side of the bridge you can see the Middle Oneonta Falls. Turn around and you watch the creek cut through a narrow passage where it tumbles down the Lower Oneonta Falls that are just out of sight.
From this point it would have been less than a mile back to the car, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see another falls. Even though the hike was very strenuous, and there were a couple of times Nancy didn't think she would make it, we are so glad we did.
The Triple Falls are like none we have see before. There are three separate sections of rock that the water flows through. Each section forms its own pool and they are all on different levels. Our vantage point was from across the river where we watched kids climb along the rocks and jump from one to the other. Oh to be young and foolish again! The path does go on farther but we stopped here and rested before heading back out.

Once again another stop with lots to do and beautiful spots to explore. Of course we had to visit VooDoo Doughnuts.

Our last stop was in Gig Harbor, WA.
We pulled into the Gig Harbor RV Resort on September 1, 2017. We were lucky to find an open spot as it was Labor Day weekend. We were in site 132, with only water and electric hookups. It is a pull through and plenty long enough but very narrow as are all the sites. We paid $43.76 per night with a senior discount. This put us less than 20-minutes from David John and Rebecca's house, our nephew and his wife.

We spent Saturday afternoon with them, their adorable son DJ who is 10-months
old and Sue our sister-in-law. They are going to be storing our RV and taking care of Mielikki for us while we are in Alaska. This was a good trial run for the dogs and they got along famously.

Next up, the great Alaskan adventure!

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Sometimes you just have to be creative.
We drive with all our windows open so we don't have to use the AC - helps save on gas a little bit. Plus with the windows open the entire RV stays cooler. We ran into a small problem recently when our blinds decided that they no longer wanted to stay up while the RV was moving. It's really not good for the retractable blinds to be blowing in the wind so our solution is short bungee cords. We hook one end to the handles of the cupboards above the windows and the other to the metal bar on the bottom of the blinds. They stay put and the air can flow free.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Utah - 3 stops Salina/Long Valley Junction/Nephi

Warning: Because we wanted to finish up Utah this blog is a little long - but it does contain some cool pics! 


August 4, 2017 was moving day to Salina. This was a three night stop to break up the trip to southern Utah.
We stayed at the Butch Cassidy Campground. The camp is a mix of permanent trailers, RV and tent sites. It is very well maintained. We were in site 22, a gravel pull through with full hook ups and level. It was plenty long enough and nice and wide. The WiFi only worked in the office area, our Verizon signal was okay. We paid $38.59 a night with our Good Sam discount.

There were a number of Roadside Oddities around and even a grocery store with our name. We had a tasty breakfast at Famous Mom's Cafe. The Indian was standing guard outside the Mexican restuarant where we had dinner.

The Guard Tower is in front of a memorial to the German POW's who were killed here by a US solider who went a little crazy. The Coke Cans used to be Pepsi until the Wendy's they sit outside of changed to Coke products. The Truck on a pole is outside of an auto repair shop.

Freemont Indian State Park is filled with artifacts, petroglyphs and pictorgraphs left behind by the Fremont Indians. This rare piece of history was discovered while current progress was being made. During construction of I-70 the largest known Freemont Indian Village was stumbled upon.
Museum Trail
Top L-R: Warrior and Deer
Bottom L-R: Creation story and Carrot Men
The Visitor Center has a museum filled with artifacts.
There are a number of trails from short paved ones that are handicap accessible to long strenuous ones. You drive from spot to spot, park and then hike. They offer information sheets on each location at the Visitor Center. We enjoyed the Museum Trail (the paved one) and then took a moderate hike to the Cave of 100 Hands, which takes you under the expressway and along side the river.
Surveying the area
Some of the petroglyphs are hard to find and some like the ones in the Sheep Shelter you see through a mirror. The "selfie" mode on the camera came in handy here.

The Indian Blanket is viewed through a metal tube. Nancy tried taking a picture but the first one all she got was a face in the rock. The one of the blanket is a little blurry. According to legend, a group of Paiute Indians passed through here on the way to their winter camping area. A newborn baby died here and was buried. The mother worried all winter about her baby being alone in the cold, so come spring she returned and drew the blanket on the wall to keep the baby warm. The pictograph is 16-feet wide and 4-feet high. It was created using minerals found in the rocks.

Long Valley Junction

On August 7, 2017 we headed south on Hwy 89 to Long Valley Junction. Don't look for it on a map! There really is nothing here except a gas station, the camp ground and a road maintenance yard.
Crazy road
When we turned on the road that GPS was telling us to turn on we thought for sure it was wrong. Luckily there was a sign for the camp. We followed a two mile dirt and gravel road, up and down, twisting and turning till we reached the Lutherwood Campground.
As you can probably imagine it is very quiet here. The campground is a part of the Lutheran Camping Association of the Southwest, Nancy was feeling her roots here. It is a mix of full hook up RV sites to primitive tent sites and cabins. The sites are very large, both long and wide. We were in site 12, gravel with grass and a picnic table.
WiFi is very weak unless you are by the office. We paid $17.10 a night with a combination of a Passport America discount and weekly rate. Mule Deer visited every morning and night.

Once again there is so much to see and do here it was a very busy week. This location put us half way between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, plus much more.

Bryce Canyon National Park was first on the to-do list. There is only one trail that you can take a dog on which we had planned to do but discovered that we could see so much from all of the overlooks that we chose to go that route instead. Nancy was fighting a summer cold so hiking really wasn't what she wanted to do anyways!
Inspiration Point can be a hike all on its own. You have a choice of three viewing spots. One is a short paved walk, but the other two are a climb up a sandy path with the top level being quite a hike up.
You look out over the Silent City and the valley floor. The many many towers and Hoo Doos are quite spectacular. The tree growing right on the rim was inspiring in its self.

The Natural Bridge was our favorite.

There was a high-rise and a bobble head at the Agua Canyon Overlook.

The view from Ponderosa Point was filled with pine trees - one can only guess that they may be Ponderosa's! We watched the birds fly over Black Birch Canyon.

L: Ponderosa Point ~~~~ C & R: Black Birch Canyon
Fairyland Overlook is a little off the beaten path and the formations were exactly what you would think of in fairyland.

While waiting for people to cross the road we saw this girl engrossed in her book and she tugged at our heartstrings as she reminded us of Katrina.

The drive on Highway 12 to Bryce Canyon is breathtaking as the road cuts through Red Canyon, which is part of the Dixie National Forest. You don't even know which way to look as both sides of the road are filled with enormous red rocks. In fact you drive through two of them. Tunnels have been cut through the rock and it is quite the sight to see as you come around the corner. There are four trails that are interconnected, with the trail head for the first one off of the Visitor Center parking lot.
Our hike started with the Pink Ledges Trail then went onto the Hoo Doo Trail which connects with the Birdseye Trail. It was about a 2.5 mile loop all together.
The whole thing is gravel and very hilly with some places being very narrow and steep. The views from the Birdseye Trail are certainly why it is called this. 
Top L-R: The opening at the top looked like a bird
~ Keeping dry
Bottom L-R: Our view  and our climb
We started off with blue skies and sunshine but about half way through the walk we had to take shelter from a thunder storm in a small cave area. Getting up to it was a struggle, coming down was even better - Nancy did it on her butt!

Not only were we treated to wonderful rock formations but the trees that have fallen where so beautiful.

Nancy and her sister Linda share a history with Smokey the Bear. The story that has been told for almost 60 years is that Linda had a much loved stuffed Smokey and Nancy bit the nose off of it. So whenever we are around a Smoky with an intact nose Nancy has to get a picture.

Cedar Breaks National Monument was a straight shot down Highway 14 from our campground. Well, okay straight may not be the right word unless you are talking as the crow flies! Highway 14 twists and curves and climbs its way to Cedar City with Cedar Breaks along the way.
The scenic drive through the park is only six miles long but don't let the short length fool you.

There are four overlooks to stop at and the view from each is spectacular.

While the Grand Canyon North Rim wasn't exactly close by, the 2 hour drive was so worth it. We visited the south rim of the Grand Canyon in November 2016, but seeing it is 200+ miles to the North Rim we didn't go. This time it was just over 100 miles and an easy straight shot down Highway 89.
The road ends at the North Rim Lodge, which has a Visitor Center that is surrounded by cabins. If you ever go there you need to stay in cabin 306 - it has the best view.

Nancy walked out to the end of Bright Angel Point, leaving Les and Mielikki resting in the shade. The path is paved all the way but very steep in some places and pretty narrow in others.

The views made the few heart stopping moments along the way worth it.

We then drove out to Cape Royal and caught a balancing rock in the rear view mirror.

Colorado River      ~~~~~   Angels Window 

A stop at the Angels Window Overlook gave us a peak at the Colorado River. There are actually people standing on top of the window rock. This view made our picnic dinner even more special.

We took turns going out to the overlook and Nancy caught a picture of Les taking this picture of the canyon.

Zion National Park has stolen our hearts and has become our favorite so far.
 The soaring windswept mountains in a rainbow of colors boggles the mind from the moment you enter the park. Gray checkerboards, pink ripples, purple alcoves greet you from the start.

There are two tunnels carved through the mountains. The first one is short and wide enough for all traffic.

Top - going into the park
Bottom - heading out of the park

The second one, completed in 1930 is 1.1 miles long. When this one was built they were not anticipating today's large buses and RV's. To drive one of these through you have to pay an escort fee of $15 and approaching traffic is stopped as you have to drive straight down the center in order to not hit the walls. We watched a bus enter the tunnel and it was a tight squeeze. As you exit the 2nd tunnel the road starts its descent into the valley. There are openings through out the tunnel - we assume to let in air and light. Nancy got a few pics while driving past them.

We were happy to see the Big Horn Sheep, even if they were pretty small.

Once you get to the Visitor Center if you are lucky you can park there for the shuttle bus that takes you through the park. If not you can park in Springdale, which boarders the west edge of the park and take a free shuttle to the Visitor Center. This is what we had to do.
L: View from front seat of trailer
T-R: view from ceiling vents
The shuttle buses run every 7-15 minutes. These are the only way you can get into the park, as private cars are prohibited. You can hop on and off at any of the stops and overlooks and stay at each one as long as you want before picking up another shuttle.
We suggest that you get a forward facing seat if possible so you can see a little better, or the first row of the trailer car.  Some of our trip was spent standing in the center row hanging onto the overhead straps. All the shuttles are handicap accessible.
The Narrows
We rode all the way to the end to the Temple of Sinawava.
There you can hike out to the Narrows, which is what we did. This is where the river cuts through the mountains and to continue the hike you have to wade through the river. We did not do this. The path out to the Narrows is paved but covered in sand in places. Wheelchairs and strollers are allowed but it is a little steep in places.
The path runs along the Virgin River and there is access to the river in places. Some of the walls are covered in hanging gardens, as there is a constant stream of water running down the sides.

There are plenty of places to stop and rest, which Nancy appreciated as she was still struggling with her stupid summer cold and the altitude wasn't helping much. We will definitely be coming back to this park to explore more one day.
The Giant White Throne

The place was filled with 100's
of model cars
We made a pit stop on the way to the Grand Canyon at the Thunderbird Restaurant - The Home of the Ho-made Pies.
We learned about it on the Roadside Oddities website and the name gave us such a chuckle we had to stop. The pie was delicious. Their catch phrase was created after WWII when lumber was hard to come by. They didn't have enough wood to write out the whole word "Homemade" so they shortened it. Of course this was long before the word Ho took on the meaning it has today. When times changed they decided to embrace their slogan and it seems to be working just fine for them.

Besides the Ho-Made Pies we found a few other Oddities.
The Rock Shop in Orderville is trying very hard to look like a rock. This Totem Pole sits on private property along side a building built into a cave. The Rodeo Horse and Large Shopping Cart are in Kanab. The Landlock Lighthouse stands guard over Cedar City.


August 14, 2017 found us moving to Nephi. With "move-in" weekend at Brigham University and the Solar Eclipse we had a hard time finding a place to stay by Salt Lake City.
The original plan was to stay three days but with no openings any where else and Nancy's cold at it's peak we extended our stay for a week.
We stayed at Jones High Country RV Park. Your basic park, all gravel with very narrow sites. We were in Site 12 with full hook-ups and luckily no one was next to us. WiFi was weak, Verizon signal strong. We paid $30.00 a night with our Good Sam discount. We never once spoke to or saw the owners, everything was done via voicemail and a drop box on the office door.
Even with a few days of rest we still got a chance to see some sites. Roadside Oddities of course. We found the Utah Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian. Chief Wasatch sits at the entrance to a park in Murray just south of Salt Lake. He is the 52nd carving on the Trail of Whispering Giants. He was carved in 1985 and stands 23 feet tall.

Others that we found were replicas of Mount Rushmore and Stonehenge along with a Krishna Temple.

The Gilgal Sculpture Garden is in downtown Salt Lake. It is a small place nestled behind houses and apartment buildings. There are 12 sculptures and over 70 engraved stones. You can take a virtual tour on the web site.

While the Mormon Temple isn't really a roadside we did get a picture of it. It stands in the center of Temple Square.

Top: Young Living ~~~ Bottom: doTERRA  

We made a stop at two Essential Oil companies. doTERRA is just outside of Salt Lake. Our friend Connie sells these oils. Young Living has a number of locations. We stopped at the Lavender Farm in Mona. Our friend Jan sells these oils. Both have beautiful grounds

A little nature is always on the agenda for us. Bridal Veil Falls in the Provo Canyon were so pretty and an easy walk to get to on a paved path. Mielikki is getting braver every time, she actually got into the water this time.

Up next is Idaho, Oregon and Washington as we work our way to our Alaskan cruise!

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Pace yourself
Okay as you all know we never really follow this advice, which of course is why this blog post is so ridiculously long. When there is so much to do and we want to share all of it with you this is what happens. So, thank you for your patience and putting up with us rambling on and thanks for following along and encouraging us to keep moving.