Our travels from June to July 2017


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North America » United States » Montana » Hardin
July 10th 2017
Published: July 10th 2017
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On the road again after some rest and a long wait getting our main slide out repaired, what a learning experience. I hope that any future repairs that “will” come up are not as big of a hassle.

Heading south from Spokane on the I-90 freeway over the rolling plains and grasslands, we arrived in the Columbia River Gorge at Pasco Washington. We elected to continue through town, however if you are not in a hurry there is a beautiful scenic route via Burbank, Wallula to Umatilla Oregon. We headed west on I-84 taking in the scenic vistas of the giant gorge carved out a millennium ago when the Ice dam between the Missoula and the Columbia lakes that were formed during the ice age. When the ice dam gave way, the Missoula drained into the Columbia in 48 hours. Imagine that Lake Superior suddenly dumped all its waters into Lake Michigan and then the combined waters broke for the Ohio basin and headed south. All in a two day period, it changed the terrain in such a way that was almost hard to fathom.

Passing down the Columbia River and the dams and locks used for shipping barges, we turned off at Biggs and headed south on Oregon State highway 97. This road transits Oregon on the East side of the Cascade Mountain Range. Taking you through the high plains and grasslands, the road was in good shape and traffic was not too bad. We stopped here and there to rest and eat. Once we arrived in Redmond Oregon, we turned west and started our climb up the mountains on Hwy 126. I found a nice (Primitive) campground at Indian Ford and we rested in the cool mountain air for the night.

Passing through Santiam Pass (elevation 4678) and then via highway 20 through Tombstone pass (el 4236) in the Willamette National Forest. There are some tight turns but the views are worth it and the weather permitted some great pictures. Taking us into the Willamette Valley and we selected the Corvallis – Albany KOA for our short stay. Visiting with family and picking up some groceries. This RV Park is not new to us as we had stopped there before 14 months ago when driving our Vista LX north to Washington. The sites are accommodating to large rigs with towed vehicles and there is a fair amount of grass between sites. There is a pool and a small mini golf course near the playground for the kids. The store / office has the basics and the staff is great, the maintenance personnel are attentive to any issues reported and the park is far enough from the road to reduce the noise of the hwy near by. There is a nice area for pet walking and trails for those wanting to wander around. A short drive west, we found a farmers market with fresh produce and enjoyed picking up some fresh fruits and veggies from the locals.

After spending a few days visiting, we headed east on Hwy 58 and back into the cascade mountains with our destination being Diamond Lake where we would camp and then drive to Crater Lake National Park. We enjoyed the cooler weather of the high mountain lake and took the short drive to the rim of Crater Lake. Not a great day to visit the park, so cloudy you could not see the lake and snow was still 12 -14 feet deep. So we spent some time driving along the upper Rogue River and enjoying the sites. We took some great pictures and made memories to share in the travels. Then we headed South on Hwy 62 for the Rogue Valley, where we had planned to spend some time with more family and visit some of the local wineries. I recommend taking your time to see the sites and check out the local vineyards, there are some fantastic wines being produced in this area and well worth a little bit of venturing. Kristal Vineyards in the north end of the Rogue Valley has a great tasting room with splendid views from their outdoor balcony. To the west in Gold Hill (along I-5) is the Del Rio Vineyards, one of my favorite sources of delicious wines from this area. We spent a day traveling south to Jacksonville Oregon and to the Applegate Valley. Stopping for a sandwich in Rush at a small eatery called The Honeysuckle Café. This quaint little café offers up some great eats and I was extremely please with the food and service. After filling our bellies with some great food, we watched what seemed like a hundred Para gliders soar in the sky, practicing for a race that was scheduled for the next weekend. After taking a
Julie at RimJulie at RimJulie at Rim

12 feet of snow in late mid June and no view of the lake today.
lot of pictures, we headed for another favorite winery of mine near by. The Valley View winery is a great stop and offers up wines that are a must for enjoying the taste of what this area has to offer in the grapes produced here. I always have been impressed with their product and am willing to make room in the RV for a few bottles.

Getting back to the RV, we found that our main salon fan failed and we searched out a replacement. Trying to replace with the same fan, I bought a second MaxAir 4 speed fan and within minutes of installation it failed too. The Chinese made POS has a small circuit card that I am finding fails on a regular basis. Although the company offers a 2 year limited warranty, one must pay for shipping both ways and the retail outlet we purchased from refuse to offer and help. The cost of shipping was nearly the same as a new fan, so I tore out the card and tested the motor. Finding that the fan motor was fine, I installed a switch and fuse into the fan housing, spending less that $6.00 to get
Family visitFamily visitFamily visit

Mike, Tina, Bob and Julie
the fan operational. Next time I need a fan, I will be getting a different brand for sure. After our visiting and enjoying the Valley, we headed west to the Redwoods and the California coast to spend a few days with some of the wife’s relatives in Fort Bragg. The coolness of the coast was welcome and from Highway 199 to Highway 101 we made good progress. There were some slow downs with construction as the highway department repaired the highway damaged by landslides caused by the wet spring.

Once we arrived at Willits we headed toward the coast on Highway 20 to Fort Bragg. If you stop in this little town for fuel or food, be absolutely sure you check your RV and towed vehicle before making the drive to the coast. I was too relaxed about it and one of the locals pulled a safety pin on one side of my tow bar, it took about 10 miles for the holding pin to fall out and the car almost came free from the RV in the tight turns along this road. Thank the Lord we were not going fast and I was able to get it stopped
BrothersBrothersBrothers

the three misfits
before any damage was done to the vehicles or it swung wide into traffic. Julie had to drive the Jeep behind me for the next 20 miles and our destination. In talking to the RV service center in Fort Bragg and a few others, we heard that this was happening more often. We were able to order a replacement part from Amazon and have it shipped to us in a few days. I now check the pins and cables religiously before I move from where ever we park or pull into for a rest. We had a good time visiting and taking a few drives to see the area, visit the beaches and sample the local cuisine. After a day of the beaches, I spotted a small shack offering BBQ and decided to try it. You always see places similar to this that have great food on the travel network; well this was not one of them by any means. The place was not crowded and we were able to get seated right away. My first indication should have been when I ordered two lemonades and had to settle for one because they ran out. Mind you I would not
In the RedwoodsIn the RedwoodsIn the Redwoods

A path through the giants of Northern California.
have been surprised if it was late in the day near closing time. But the place has only been open for an hour and then it was almost an hour wait for a meager pulled pork sandwich. I noticed that a lot of other people that had made the same choice and were also waiting for food for a long time. The food was okay, but not the quantity one would expect for the price and certainly not worth the long wait. If you pass through, try the nearby burger place for a quick meal or one of the other restaurants in the area. The Mall next to the “Skunk Train” station has a nice menu, good prices with fast service and the portions are very filling. The Skunk train is a passenger (tourist) run between Willits and Fort Bragg. Following the streams and through Redwood Groves, this is a good way to spend a part or whole day.

From Fort Bragg we headed east again and over to Carson City Nevada, the wife wanted to return to Virginia City and spend a little time there. We stayed at Comstock Country RV which offered a nice pool and spa
Julie takes a poseJulie takes a poseJulie takes a pose

Just to show the size of this average tree.
to cool off in during the heat of the day. Shopping is nearby and there is a small casino across the street and although we don’t gamble, the restaurant “Bodine's” serves a great breakfast, lunch and dinner at a price that doesn’t break the bank. We were impressed with the staff and the food, no smell of smoke drifting into the eating area and the music did tend to drown out the sound of the slots. We headed to Virginia City in the morning while it was cool, only to wait for the stores and small shops to open. Seems that most of the places do not open until 10-10:30 ish, no real set time and then close when they feel the tourist rush has dropped for the day. By 6 pm the local drunks come out and make it a little more interesting. Not that I have anything against a drink or two, but drunk drivers seem to be an issue in the late day and the local authorities look after their own and not so much for the tourists.

We had planned to see the fireworks on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, but after talking to
Beaches near Ft. BraggBeaches near Ft. BraggBeaches near Ft. Bragg

MacKerricher SP Ca
some folks we decided against it. So we plotted our course for Jackson Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. Catching I-80 north out of Reno, we headed for Wells Nevada and turned toward Idaho. The drive was pretty much uneventful with a few spots of road work that we had been getting accustom to during our journeys. I had hoped to pull into Twin Falls Idaho and get a good night sleep in an RV park we had used the past year. I realized that I had forgotten to call ahead and make reservations, by the time we arrived, the No Vacancy sign was up. Matter of fact it was a problem that kept us on the road and having to use a rest area near Pocatello Idaho as an overnight hold out. Plenty of room to park but the drone of big trucks and vehicles coming and going made for a restless night sleep. As soon as I could get some coffee and a bite to eat, we headed out for Jackson Wyoming.

Arriving on a Sunday, I expected the traffic and crowds to be moderate but I was wrong again. The traffic was nasty and tourists were everywhere,
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MacKerricher SP Ca
we were lucky to find a space to park and walked back into town for a few trinkets and possibly a little lunch. Spent a few minutes in the town park listening to a small group of musicians that were entertaining the tourist and we ventured into a few stores. Prices were as high as I had expected for such a tourist trap, so we kept our sites low and just snapped a few pictures. Though we did take the time to stop into “the Local” restaurant for a meal. The staffs attended to our needs and were quick to make us feel wanted as customers. The Build your own Buffalo Burger was our choice and I was not disappointed. The Medium Rare burger with white cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms accompanied with a helping of fries with a coating of spice that accented the burger experience. Although the meal for the two of us ran $40, the atmosphere and service took it up a notch and made it worth the cost. Having filled our stomachs, we headed north to Teton National Park and Yellowstone. Where we had hoped to spend a few days and enjoy the parks, again
Purple FlowerPurple FlowerPurple Flower

MacKerricher SP Ca
being disappointment with all the camping taken up we had no choice but to travel out the west gate and finally found a place to camp in Buffalo Bill State Park. After white knuckling over the steep mountain passes of the Tetons and long day of driving, I was glad to take the one level pull through that was available when we arrived.

Rather than continuing east and over the Big Horn Mountain Range, I elected to go north into Montana and around the mountains. We held over for a few nights in Hardin where there was a small RV park and drove our car to see the Little Big Horn battle field, the site of Custer’s last stand. This National Monument and cemetery gave us a feeling of sadness for the loss of life on both sides, I wonder what things would have been like had political views had been different toward the Native American people and treaties been kept instead of broken by those in power at the time. We toured the grounds and then visited a tourist shop near the entrance. Then after a late breakfast with some very good home cooked style Breakfast Burritos we
Tide Pool at the ParkTide Pool at the ParkTide Pool at the Park

MacKerricher SP Ca
were off to the RV. July 4th was upon us and we wanted off the roads before things got stupid with fireworks and drinking. I think it finally ended around 1:30 am and we were able to finally get some sleep. I love fireworks displays but it gets crazy when it ends and the locals fire up their own fireworks.

Well that is it for this segment of our travels, more to come soon and I hope you have enjoyed the blog.

Til next time

Bob and Julie


Additional photos below
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Oregon Hwy 58-3

snowing near the pass
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Diamond Peak

Oregon Cascades
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Diamond Lake

The morning calm


15th July 2017

Traveling on your words
Always good to hear of your wheels turning and the sight sounds and smells you are encountering along the way.

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