July 31, Day One: We have traveled 13.7 miles and Sandy tells me to slow down, you’re going too fast. The first day of our planned 60-day trip. I’m thinking to myself…this could be a very looong trip. But, the day improves. Two hours later we stop at a winery in Rocheport, Missouri. Great place for a picnic lunch. We brought our own cheese, crackers, and an apple. On to St. Joe, MO. We had dinner at The First Ward Saloon, the oldest bar west of the Mississippi. According to legend this is the same bar that Jesse James once drank a few beers. Spent the night at Shakespeare C
hateau. Beautiful old B&B. We could tell you more but that’s a long story. St. Joseph, Missouri home of the first Pony Express Ride, April 3, 1860. Rider delivered a copy of the St. Joe Gazette to readers in California, eight days later.
August 1: Lincoln,NE. We spent the night with my nephew Josh and his wife Nicki and the kids–Cathy, Aiden, and Elizabeth. We enjoyed a night out at Hay Market Square, pizza dinner at Mellow Pizza and a treat at the Creamery. After driving through Nebraska, Sandy and I learned why the Nebraska University sports teams are nicknamed the “Cornhuskers.”
August 2: First complication on the trip. We expected to stay in Sioux Falls, but after visiting Falls Park we found the city sold out. All of the bikers are on their way to the 74th Anniversary Bikers Rally in Sturgis, SD. They bought every hotel room. So, we went to Mass at the Cathedral, had a good meal, then, we drove on to Brooking, SD.
August 3: Bismark, ND. I finally made it to North Dakota. Check that off my bucket list. I have now been in 49 States, only one more to go. We found a great Windgate Hotel at a reasonable price by using Hotwire. They make a fantastic omelet as part of the free breakfast. We tried the salt water pool and hot tub. We highly recommend the place.
August 4: Today, we enjoyed a short drive to Medora, ND where we entered the Theodore Roosevelt National Park at the South entrance. We found a nice short hiking path in the park, but for most of the day we just had fun sightseeing from the car as we drove through the North Dakota Bad Lands. Accommodations at the Alpine was expensive but adequate. We were tempted to go to the Medora outdoor theater for a show and chuck wagon dinner but after hearing the price of $60 each, we said “no thanks” and went to bed early.
August 5: We traveled all day covering 360 miles and ended up a little slap happy in Havre, Montana. Nothing much to do in Havre except to have a good steak dinner and get a good night’s sleep.
August 6: Strategic planning day. Should we stay in Shelby or Cut Bank, Montana? After a brief discussion we decide to drive on to Cut Bank. We liked the name better. This was an excellent choice. Tonight we will go to the Farmers Market for Flathead Bing Cherries (excellent) then, we attend Shakespeare in the Park. Why? Because they are offering free BBQ hamburgers to anyone who will attend the one-act show. Tonight is my only opportunity to watch a Cardinal game because the Cards vs Red Sox game is the ESPN game of the week. I stayed up late only to see them loose 2-1 giving up the winning run in the ninth. Ugh!
August 7: We are headed to St. Mary’s Lodge, Glacier National Park. We are looking forward to it. Glacier National Park does not disappoint! We hiked St. Mary’s Falls. Invigorating .8 mile hike to a spectacular water fall. It doesn’t get any better than this. We spent more than 5 hours in the park before going back to the Lodge to check in. I recommend Johnson’s family style restaurant for dinner. The Lodge was quaint and our room was small and over priced for sure but what do you expect in the busy season, right? The Lodge is completely sold-out tonight. No rooms closer than 30 miles away.
August 8: What a fantastic ride on the Going to Sun Road. The drive is only 50 miles but the views are so special all of the way. We entered the 50 mile stretch at 8:30 am and didn’t complete the trip until 3:00 pm. We stopped at least a dozen times including Logan Pass and the Continental Divide. Then, as we approached MacDonald Lake we found our hike for the day. This one crosses over a wooden bridge and then meanders along the rippling river bed. So, comforting. We end the day at the Grouse Mountain Lodge with a beer and a burger. This was a great day!
August 9: We are going to spend the entire day in Whitefish, Montana. After Sandy’s disappointing breakfast (lousy oatmeal made with water) we head off to the Lion Mountain Trail Head. This was an easy 1.5 mile hike up to a really neat turn around point, a top this small mountain. The view over Beaver Lake is worth the trip to the top. On the hike we met two girls. One was from DesPeres, MO. She lived in Whitefish for eleven years. She told us her favorite place in Glacier was Pole Ridge, located in the North West corner. Tomorrow morning we’re headed to Pole Ridge. Tonight we plan for Mass at St. Joseph’s and then a short walk to the local brewery for dinner. There is a big “art in the park” event that we will check out. It should be fun.
August 10: What a crazy beautiful and memorable day. The ride to Pole Ridge beyond explanation. The road was unpaved, a very rough, rocky road for some 25 miles. At some points we traveled at 20 miles per hour. Good thing we have a Subaru! Pole Ridge, Montana. You would have to see it to believe it. There are two stores in Pole Bridge and a hostel. One of the stores is a bakery. The huckleberry bear claw is what everybody orders. It’s awesome! The other place is a saloon, and they serve food. We met an interesting guy named Hass who lives in Mexico 8-9 months per year and has been coming to Pole Ridge, Montana for the past 34 years.
After, Pole Ridge we decide too retrace our steps a bit. We head south and then go east over the Going to the Sun Road again. It was just as beautiful going east as going west. Well worth seeing it twice. In the evening we end up back at the St. Mary’s Lodge. This time Sandy gets the last room in the place. It’s in the basement. No windows. She loved it because it was cheap. Well, it was $100 bucks which is cheap for St. Mary’s.
August 11: After breakfast, we head to Many Glacier. This place has some of the most spectacular views. The camera buffs could take pictures all day long. We attempt a hike around the lake but we are told not to head up the path because there is a mother bear and two cubs just ahead. So, we head off in the opposite direction, but continue half way around the lake before returning on the same path.
Hard to leave Many Glacier. Sandy cries again as she thinks about all the beauty we have seen and how fortunate we are to be able to do this. We are on our way to Canada. We enter the USA at Chief Mountain (look it up!). This is a direct path to Waterton, Canada, where we have lunch at the famous, Prince of Wales Hotel. After a brief stay we are off to Calgary where we will spend the night.
August 12- We are excited to go to the Calgary Olympic Park to revisit the location for some of the 1988 Winter Olympic events. As you know, we attended the Winter Olympics as guests of ABC Television. This particular sight is where the now famous, Great Britain downhill ski jumper, Eddie, finished dead last on every jump. We were there, we saw it live. We also saw the luge at this sight. Today, they have converted this Olympic Park to a neat kids camp and park with mountain biking, skiing, skyline chair lift, downhill luge type racing cars and obstacle course. We got a few good pictures, road the chair lift to the top but didn’t stay too long.
We drive on the Banff where we met the new manager of restaurants and bars, David. He showed us around and eventually we end drinking a German lager and Sandy had a glass of wine. After two hours, we drive on the Lake Louise. Banff and Lake Louise are two of the most beautiful places you could ever see. Unfortunately, both places are packed with tourists today. We are looking for more seclusion and would rather head for destinations that others may not be seeking. We drive on to spend the night in Golden, Canada.
August 13-. This will really be a day of rest and recreation. We drive less than 100 miles to Radium Hot Springs. We arrive too early to check in at the Crystal Springs Motel so we head to the Juniper Trail for a fantastic hike along a creek bed until eventually there is a beautiful waterfall. We had carried in our lunch so this was the perfect stop for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Early evening we stop at a wine and cheese cafe, then dinner, then the hot springs. We stayed about an hour. A hot springs bath with a view of the Mountains. This was a special place on the journey. We stumbled upon it by pure chance.
August 14- Believe it or not we have had one brief rain while driving the past fourteen days. The weather has been absolutely superb. Today will be different. It rained all day. This region of BC really needs it. The fires in the Western USA States are also effecting areas in Canada. We drove all day from 8:30 am-4:30 pm. We had intended to drive to Grand Forks to enter the United States. But, fortunately we stopped for lunch in Fruitvale, Canada. Some guy on the street sitting in front of a cafe suggested the Chinese Restaurant. At lunch the waiter tells us we can enter the USA near the Columbia River Dam. He provides directions but he can’t remember the names of the streets. By some miracle we actually find the crossing. At that time of day we were the only car entering the USA. At some USA crossing we are told the wait can be up to four hours. But, because we listened to these two random individuals we end up entering the USA at Boundary. We then drive south along the Columbia River until we cross over on to Hwy 20. We spent the night in Republic, WA. I’ll let Sandy tell you about the Prospector Inn where we spent the night, only $59.99. Clean sheets, clean bathroom, but nothing else. The breakfast was to gag for—have you ever had a frozen hard boiled egg?
August 15: After a very nice drive through winding roads up and down through mountains we eventually come to an area that has been affected by recent fires. We are amazed by some of the homes that were spared despite fire damage all around them. By noon we have arrived at Mark and Kelly’s cabin in Mazama, where we will spend the next ten days.
Kerry, Sienna and Sebastian arrive tomorrow and Brian, Emily, Fisher and Amaya will be here next weekend. We are looking forward to hanging out with the kids.
August 16: My morning breakfast is steak and eggs and coffee. As I stare out into the woods I see four deer, one squirrel and one small lizard. Perfect guests to share the space. Mark and Kelly have a beautiful three bedroom log cabin, 10 acres, surrounded by fir trees and pine trees. We settle in for a quiet day. At 1:15 pm Kerry hasn’t arrived and Sandy’s intuition tells her something is wrong. We finally reach Kerry by phone to find out she is having car troubles in route. She had to turn around to head for home. Change of plans for us. We pack up quickly and by 2:00 pm we are leaving Mazama, driving through the Cascades, headed to Mount Vernon Washington to be with Kerry and the kids. It’s a good thing that we made this quick decision. Kerry’s car broke down 20 miles from her house. We think it’s the transmission. We will spend a few days at Kerry’s house. Kris is fishing near Alaska. So, she can use the company and some help around Big Mama’s Farm.
August 17- Fun day at Big Mama’s Farm. I cut the grass on the riding mower. Sandy and Kerry picked blueberries and blackberries, cleaned the house, and did some food shopping. In the evening we drove into Anacortes for a home cooking hodge-podge meal with Brian, Emily, Fisher, Amaya, Kerry, Sienna and Sebastian.
August 18- 20- Good time hanging out with Kerry and the kids. Some of the highlights include trips to the vegetable stand, ice cream cones for the kids, homemade root-beer floats, watching kids movies every night before bed, the hike to Little Mountain and fun at Hillcrest Park. Sienna and I had our haircut at the Beauty Salon Training School. First time I have ever done that. I had a cut and wash for $5.00. The best thing I can say is the trainee was cute and the hair will grow out some day.
August 21- We picked up Fisher at 9:30am and drive back to Mazama. The drive is awesome. As we climb through the Cascades National Forest the road begins to wind, the traffic slows to 45mph, a river is off to the right for miles, the sun shows off the mountain peaks. It’s all pretty cool. When we arrive back at the cabin it is time for lunch. Then we hike along the Lost River Road Airport runway headed for the river. We hike for two miles and never find the river even though it was a stones throw away at some points. We finally find our way back to the cabin and Sandy makes a great meal. That evening we played board games…World Geography Trivia and some picture drawing game. We laughed ourselves silly….we are so bad at these games.
August 22- Brian, Emily and Amaya will join us today in Mazama. We have Fisher with us. They show up at 3pm. Brian prepares an excellent Salmon/veggie taco dinner. We follow dinner with lots of laughs as we show how inept we are at World Geography games and Fisher’s made up version of Pictionary.
August 23- About 20 miles west of Mazama there is a great mountain trail named “Cut Throat.” It’s a 2 mile hike to Cut Throat Lake, then you turn around and head back on the same trail. The morning temperature was 52 degrees. The temp in St. Louis is 98 degrees. Somehow, just knowing this makes the hike more enjoyable. We enjoy Brian’s homemade asparagus pasta with halibut. That was really a fantastic meal! Fisher and I end the meal with another ice cream drumstick. I think we average three drumsticks per day. Hey, why not?
August 24- Brian and Emily go off for a morning run. Sandy, Fisher, Amaya and I take an easy walk through the woods from a place called “Basecamp.” This Northern part of the Cascades is home to many Olympic-type cross country skiers. In the summer these paths for skiers become great hiking trails. Most trails are too long and too difficult for us but there are plenty of great trails of 3-4 miles long that we can find. Amaya enjoyed her walk with grandpa as she was strapped in her Bjorn. This is the first time I have ever worn one of these contraptions.
August 25- A few miles west of Kelly and Mark’s log cabin the Lost River Road turns from a paved road to a gravel road. After 2-3 miles on the gravel road we come to our hiking destination for the day…it’s the West Fork Trail. After a 1.5 mile hike through a forest that had been burned out in 2009 we come to the pass where there was a recent avalanche. We can’t go any further so we retreat the same way we came in. As we go back the Methow River is off to our right, the combination of gray and black burnt trees and the new growth makes for a sensational walk through Mother Nature. Aside from an Eagle overhead and a small snake we see no other animals. Brian has seen a coyote and a bear on this same trail on his previous hikes. No such luck today.
August 26- We spend the morning cleaning up the cabin for departure and baby sitting for Amaya and Fisher while Brian and Emily take a 6 mile mountain run. The drive back to the Valley seems to be longer than the last time. The drive was beautiful through the mountains but we picked up more traffic as we approached Burlington. Kelly brought a halibut dinner to Kerry’s house and we all enjoyed the meal while sitting out on the back porch. Six of our grand kids are with us right now, Brian, Emily, Kelly and Kerry make up the rest of the dinner party.
August 27- After coffee we eat three poached eggs that came from Kerry’s hen house a day earlier. By 9:30am we start our farm chores. Today we pull up a tarp full of weeds that has to be 90 feet long. We collected black plastic pots from all over the farm and relocated them to a shed. And, of course, we cut grass again. We were working until 1pm. Sandy and I are very pleased that we can still do this kind work and live to talk about it another day. The afternoon shower sure felt good. We will cool it for the rest of the day.
August 28. Brian and I are taking Fisher down to Seattle today. His mother will drive up from Portland to pick him up.This arrangement works well for them. I think Fisher will be happy to see his mom. He’s been gone all summer.
August 29-31 We move into Kelly and Mark’s home in Anacortes until we depart for Vancouver on the 31st. Kelly, Rumi and Teo take us to Heart Lake for a nice 2 mile hike around the lake. Unexpectedly, Kristin returned from his two month salmon fishing expedition in Alaska. We are the beneficiaries of the catch. We’ve eaten two spectacular salmon dinners and one salmon and egg breakfast with Brian and Emily as the result. Tonight’s meal included corn on the cob and green beans from the garden to table. Outstanding! Then, we top it off with apple pie ala-mode. Sienna and Sebastian picked the apples off the tree today. Wow, was that good!
This, then, concludes our first 30 days of travel. Tomorrow, we depart for Vancouver and from September 1-8 we will be on an Alaskan cruise. We will resume writing Part Two on a different document sometime after the 8th. Blessing to all.