Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 2 Crater Lake, OR

Come to find out we saw everything we could see yesterday, almost.  All the trails are closed (snowed in), and the rim road is closed, but you could hike the road for about 5 miles each direction.  We elected to hike to Vidae Falls, about 3.5 miles one way.  It was a nice hike down a paved, but closed, road with high snow banks on each side, with rocks or snow falling on the road as we walked (is that why it's closed?).  It was a good hike, again in the middle of a snow field in our tee shirts and sweating!  I elected to help clear some snow for the Road Crew........

Sandy carved our name at the falls

(from NPS Visitor Guide) Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, fed by rain and snow (but no rivers or streams), the lake is considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world.  The lake rest inside a caldera formed approximately 7,700 years ago when a 12,000 foot tall volcano collapsed following a major eruption.  The eruption may have been the largest in North America in the past 640,000 years.  The Park was established in 1902.

Today the water was not a mirror like yesterday, and we did not get any better viewing angles on the lake.  So here are some more great shots from yesterday.  Grab one for a screen saver!  Come later in July to be able to drive the whole rim road and do some hiking.  Truly a majestic sight.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Crater Lake National Park, OR

We pulled up to Crater Lake and the entry point suggested we look somewhere else for our big rig, about 25% of  their campground was open, but not suggested for the big ones yet.  So we went to Diamond Lake and checked into a Forest Service CG.

Wanted to do a quick trip up to the top to check things out, and OMG!  It's just stunning!  Still lots of snow everywhere, but when you get that first look into the crater, it just takes your breath away.  Deep blue water inside steep crater walls and the other side reflects on the mirror perfect water!  We decided to stay up here another day, but I wanted to share some pictures with you.  

The Park got hit with 54 feet of snow this past winter.  There is one road from the south that is kept open year around, and there are about 30 employees that work through the winter. 

Snow everywhere, but we were out in tee shirts, and working up a sweat.  

Oh, and here is what the campground looks like, and it's the end of JUNE!  It's SUMMER!  No picnic table yet, it hasn't been uncovered.

More to come tomorrow, maybe a hike down to the water?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yakima, my ol' stomping grounds

Our next stop is my old stomping grounds, and near where I graduated High School, Yakima Washington.  We invaded the home of my best High School buddy, Gary and his wife JoAnn.  It’s been quite awhile since we’ve been able to get together.  I got him started in the Forest Service and he’s done very well, and beat me into retirement, if that’s what you can call it, he’s still working during fire season.  You can’t beat that!  Not having to put up with all that paper work, and getting to pick and choose when you want to work!  Of course the Forest Service is like every other Federal Agency, cutting, cutting, and more cutting, but like this year, SOMEBODY has to fight the fires!  I’m just jealous, I have fond memories of the Forest Service, and also the FAA.  Gary and I solved all of the problems in the Federal sector, while Sandy and JoAnn traded some secrets about crafts and traveling to Italy (our next big adventure).

I took advantage of Gary’s help and we removed the slideout awning to investigate a water leak we’ve been having.   It’s been raining most of our trip until now, but as we turn south, the weather is getting warmer and drier.  But, this awning was sagging with a big puddle of water on it, and when the slide is moved in, some water is forced inside the coach at the last minute.  Once that water had found a little worm hole, it was happening more and more.  So, after talking with Winnebago Tech Support (these guys are great!) I felt confident in taking off the awning.  We cleaned up the flashing on the slide roof and found some likely spots for water intrusion.  We found that the flashing had some gaps in it, so it was an easy fix to caulk that outside edge, and re-assemble the awning.

We had a BBQ with some other High School buddies too.  Most of the guys I hung out with are still in town, we just couldn't reach them on short notice.  So, Dave & Sue, and Steve were kind enough to come over for a few.  Sandy and I made Banana & Nutella Crepes for dessert.  (We learned this trick in Isla Mujeres, Mexico).   Steve has been working on Harley's or some type of motorcycle since he could walk (his dad owned the shop).  Dave is now working for a local trucking firm.  It was great seeing them again.

Thanks Gary and JoAnn for hosting our little party.

Monday, June 20, 2011


From Glacier, we made it to Spokane, Washington to visit my sister without a hitch.  We had a good time with Kay, catching up on all the family gossip, eating, and playing Cribbage.  Sandy and I went down to Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane (home of 1974 Worlds Fair) to walk the trails after all of that eating.  We did 5 miles, just along the river front seeing the sights.  The river trail will take you to Post Falls, Idaho if you are looking for a longer hike.    Of course we had to take some pictures of the water fall, and boy that water was moving!

What a neat idea for a slide.

We were just in time to watch a marathon.

My nephew, Jordan, just graduated from High School (yay!) and is into body building, so he’s always showing some muscle.  He needs to find a High School Gear Head so he can get his truck on the road again.

Thanks Kay and Jordan for hosting our stopover.  It was great seeing you guys again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Glacier National Park

We entered back into the states at Eureka, Montana.  It was a tight fit with the motor-home going through the X-Ray machine, but they let us back in.  We camped at Columbia Falls RV Park, about 15 miles outside the park.  There are lots of CG in the area, this is a nice one, with all the amenities at a good rate, and nice people.  Be sure you pick up some local Huckleberry pie, ice cream, and jam!  
Drowned Rats.....

It was a rainy two days of hiking.  We didn't stop though.  We've been dieting (forever!) and we weigh ourselves each morning, we've confirmed that we loose weight after a day of hiking!  So if I want Huckleberry pie, then I have to hike!

Again, lots of rain means lots of white water and spectacular falls.  There is a road through the middle of the park called "Going to the Sun Road", sounds neat doesn't it!  It's usually open by now, but this year they still have 10' of snow at the top, so we didn't get to go all the way through.  We circled around to the south and went in the East side to do some hiking, then the next day ran up the west side to get one last hike in before checkout time at the park. 

These guys were just along the trail, I'd just look up and they were right in front of me, and I never heard a twig break!

It was a good trip, we were just a little bit early this year.

I was disappointed with all the commercialization inside the park boundaries.  The Park visitors center is a little building surrounded by shopping, we drove right by it looking for park information, but I guess it's all about money for the park.

It's just a pet peeve of mine, why do I have to pay for something when it's full of advertising?  I'm just getting too old and crotchety.......

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canada for a few days

We started across Montana for Glacier National Park, when Sandy said "hey, lets bop up to Canada for a few".   It had been raining quite a bit in the lower 48 and the sky looked brighter in Canada, so we altered course and went up through Calgary, heading for Banff National Park.   

It was a piece of cake going through Customs, we were afraid we'd have to dump all of our fruits and vegetables.  When we took a bus to Vancouver to catch a cruise a few years ago, we could not take ANY fresh food across the boarder.  I guess the rules are different for an RV, they expect you to have food with you.  The roads were good to Calgary, but they don't have a by-pass around the city, we were lucky it was a Sunday.  We got up to Canmore, just outside the park and set up camp at Spring Creek Mountain Village.  We didn't know what to expect for campgrounds in the national park system in Canada, and our Good Sam Campground Guide wasn't much help.  

The next day we were off to explore Banff and Jasper National Parks.  First we checked out Lake Louise campground (one of the parks CG), it was very nice, and busy.  They told us to get up there by noon to get a spot, no reservations this early in the season.  The CG has 30amp service and a 8 lane dump station (of course that was not enough, as we saw the next day).  The CG was full of rental RV's from Canada and the U.S., I guess those folks thought you had to dump each morning. 

One thing I noticed while driving the Parks, they had special overpasses for the wildlife to cross the highway!  It's landscaped with trees, shrubs, and grass.

 This is a four lane divided modern highway with 12' fences the whole length and electrified cattle guards to keep the critters out.  They built the highway with 12' culverts underground for the wildlife, but some don't like to go in a cave, they'd rather dodge cars.  They tried the overpass and monitored wildlife traffic with cameras.  Now they are building more overpasses.

The next day we relocated to a National Park CG at Lake Louise so we could explore Jasper National Park to the north.  It was all about hiking, waterfalls, and wildlife.  

I'm not sure what these guys are doing, a lot of head butting going on, but it's not mating season.  They were just out in the middle of the road.........  It ends up with a big CRACK sound.

Well, the rain caught up with us (I've lost track of the number of times we've washed the coach), so we headed back down the other side of the Rockies to West Glacier Montana, and back on track.  It was a brief whirl-wind tour of Canada, and was just a little early in the season, but the white water and water falls were spectacular.  Here are some more parting shots. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another new experience

Well, it got so bad I had to fix it........ the fan belt is squealing, a lot.  It's been going on for a couple of months now.  I've stopped at half a dozen dealers trying to pick up a belt, but no one stocks it.  I finally ordered one out of Toledo and picked it up when I got in town.  My plan was to con my friend Al and brother-in-law Kerby into helping me install it.  Kerby had other ideas, "Oh just spray some WD40 on it.  That works every time."  It didn't help when Al opened up the back of his coach to show his engine, he has a side mount radiator with a Cat engine, and the fan belt and all the filters were right there at your finger tips.  But not MINE!  You can barely see the engine through a little crack in the battery compartment. 

So, I relented to peer pressure and sprayed WD40 on the belt, and yes it did work!  Until a few miles down the road from Kerby's then it started up again.  I think that was his plan all along.  That was two weeks ago and it's been getting worse each day.  Sandy decided she wanted to alter our plans and go into Canada for a few days, so I had to get this thing fixed!  

I drug out the blue prints for the coach, Winnebago is great for blue prints, you can download the whole set, and I noticed an access hatch right above the fan area.  So that night I unscrewed everything and checked it out.  Piece of cake!  The next morning, after I dreamt how to do it, I started into my new experience as a Diesel Mechanic.  It wasn't too bad!  I had to borrow a half inch ratchet from a fellow camper to crank the belt tensioner back, but other than that it was OK.  It took us an hour, with Sandy on top of the engine and me below (I could say something here......).  After a shower, off to Canada we go!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Back on the road again

We are leaving South Dakota, but I wanted to pass on a few ideas for your next trip.  SD was very tourist friendly.  Each store we went into, be it Walmart, gas station, or an art gallery, the people were glad to see us. They greeted us when we entered and wished us a good day when we left.  We both noticed it, and it felt good!  A park ranger told me that the Rapid City area expects $3 million each year for one week,,,,,,, Bike Week, and if you need a bike, there is a Harley store in every town.  But even when you visit during off times, they are glad to see you. 

We left Custer State Park and re-located 50 miles north to Spearfish, to be closer to jumping off on our next day of travel to North Dakota.  I chose Chris' Camp out of the Good Sam Campground Directory, very good choice.  Full hookups, WiFi, and cable TV for $32., and they offered all kinds of suggestions for seeing the local sights in our limited time frame. We said we wanted to go to Deadwood, so they suggested the Spearfish Scenic Byway and mapped out several water falls that are really flowing right now.  It was a good trip!  

We did make it to Deadwood and had a nice stroll through town.  There must be 50 casinos in that small town.  It's a place to stop and see on your travels.

 Of course, you have to visit the #10 Saloon, where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back during a card game.  They re-enact that and gunfights in the street throughout the day.  We enjoyed Kevin Costner's casino called The Midnight Star, with it's movie memorabilia theme.

My suggestion is, visit SD!