E-MAIL Number I:
Greetings, It is hard to believe but we have been on the road for over a month. I hardly know where to begin! We had a great time at the Vandenbos Family camp at North Point by Pickstown, SD on the Missouri River. We got to try out the A/C in the 5th for the first time in over 2 years. We then headed for the Tetons. We have both been there but it has been a long time. I certainly would recommend the boat trip on Jenny Lake and the short hikes to Inspiration Point and Hidden Waterfalls. I decided to do a major hike up Cascade Canyon and then take the north fork to Solitude Lake. The hike to the fork is fairly easy and very, very nice. The hike up the north fork is a lot tougher with a healthy, continuous rise. I really did not have time to do it so I decided I would push it really hard and see how much time it would take me to get to the fork vs. when I told Edith I would be back as she took the boat back and was going to wait for me at the F-350/dock area. It was hot! When I got to the fork the time looked good so I headed for Solitude Lake. My time estimate was to optimistic as I started to burn out. Two people passed me, the first one was a "HIKING MACHINE" he reminded me of my son' Jack and Tom. He was built like Tom and he whizzed by me hardly breathing! Disgusting! I definitely started to have elevation problems as my wind was poor and I started getting light headed. I kept sucking water and so far had not stopped but I finally had to give up and take a rest as I was ready to drop. I rested about 10 minutes and ate a little food, kept drinking water and felt much better and headed off again. The first 100 yards went great and I though I'm OK but then the elevation problems hit me and my legs just did not want to go. For the first time in my hiking journey's I SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED aborting and heading back. I hate to admit defeat so I decided I would keep moving but go slow! One other couple passed me but they did not get very far ahead! Actually the man passed first and later his wife. I told her I had been doing good until a little while ago. They were experienced hikers but she said she was very tired also and her face had that flushed look! Mine I am sure looked exhausted as well. I talked to some people coming down and they said about 1/2 mile which at this point still sounded a long, long ways. I had to stop a couple of more times as I just could not go! After awhile I met some people and they said it was just around the bend. I said "YOU WOULD NOT LIE TO ME WOULD YOU!" They swore they were not and it really was true. Lake Solitude is beautiful snow fed lake at the top of this valley which is boxed off by the mountains at the top. I laid on a rock by the lake in the sun and ate a little food and took pictures. I then noticed the couple that had passed me come up to the lake. I am not sure where they had been as I never passed them by. Anyway she dropped to the ground by the edge of the lake and just laid there exhausted and he went to the lake and put his head in the water. It was "COLD" man that had to of been a shock. Anyway they were in there 20's so having just turned 60 I am feeling much better about me performance hiking up. I stayed a total of about 20 minutes and start down. Going down went much better as my knees and ankles were in good shape. On the way down no one passed me, I was running late so I pushed it as much as I could but a couple of times I hit a little upgrade and instantly I could feel what little energy I had just drain. I got back down to the boat dock and looked ahead and there was this huge line waiting to get on the boat. I just did not have the energy to walk the 2.5 miles along the lake so I just waited. It was really then that I found out how exhausted I was. I ran out of water in my camel back and I started feeling a bit sick. I managed to sit on rocks and the fence some as the line slowly moved forward with each little boat that picked up people. One of the dock hands brought a 5 gallon jug of water so I now had water but I had gotten a little dehydrated as I felt thirsty but was water logged. Eventually I got on a boat and got to where Edith was about an hour and a half late of which about an hour of that was waiting for the boat. I let her drive. We went up Signal Mt. which is a nice view and then got back to our campground. By bed time I was pretty well recovered and was not sore the next day and only one spot where a blister was just starting which cleared up right away.
>From there we went to Yellowstone and spent a couple of days touring. The falls area and Artist's Point and Old Faithful and the area around Old Faithful are definitely the heart of the Yellowstone. The trail along the canyon edge from the viewpoint for the upper falls to the lower falls I would highly recommend. We also saw IMAX Yellowstone and Lewis and Clark Movies. We Lewis and Clark one was especially great and I vowed to get some good books on Lewis and Clark and read them when we get back home with the 200 year anniversary coming up.
>From there we went to Bozeman and visited Edith's cousin Irene Zwagerman and had a great time. Irene like to travel so we had lots to talk about and we went tubing in the Madison River. On the way back we went to the 3 forks area where Lewis and Clark came to where the Missouri River starts. Actually the Jefferson and Madison come together and then about a mile later the Gallatin flows in. Some say the Missouri starts where the Jefferson and Madison come together and others say that the river that comes the fartherest is the Jefferson so that actually the head waters of the Jefferson are technically the headwaters of the Missouri. Of course the falls near Great Falls Mt. presented a great problem for Lewis and Clark. This was extremely interesting having just seen the movie a couple of days before. It is close to I-90 so would be an easy visit if you are traveling west.
Next we went to visit my amateur radio friend, Ozzie and his wife Kathy at Haugan, MT 16 miles from the Idaho border right along I-90. We got there late Sunday afternoon and I had tried as previously agreed on to contact Ozzie on amateur radio but had no success so pulled the 5th up to their house as we had been there a little over 2 years ago on our way home from Alaska. Edith was talking to our son curt on the cell phone as we pulled up as it was his birthday. What happened next is one of the biggest surprises I have ever had. As we came around the corner I could see that the house had burned. The more I looked the more I could see that even though the side walls were standing the whole inside was burned out. I knew it had to just happen as I had just communicated with Ozzie a few hours earlier and nothing was said about any fire. No one appeared to be around so I walked over and indeed the whole inside was burned out. A light was on in the garage so I opened the door and it was full of badly damaged items that obviously had came out of the house and the smoke smell was everyplace. We sat in the F-350 hoping that no one was hurt in the fire. Then we met Donna Nelson a neighbor and a friend who said it just happened this morning while Ozzie and Kathy were in church and they were OK and she was sure they would be back. In about 40 minutes or so they showed up. They were taking it well! We spent the next several days helping clean up. I have a new appreciation for smoke and fire damage, what a mess! Having just a few weeks earlier helping our friends Arliss and Holly who had a tornado go through and destroy a lot of their house and building and towers and antennas we had some ideas to share in regards to some of the processes. We also met a lot of Ozzie and Kathy's friends, went out for a few meals and both them and us stayed in our campers in a lot across the street. One friend Big E, his nickname, knew Spanish well and his parents were from Mexico so he helped us with our Spanish which we are learning. The human spirit of these two families and their positive attitude and faith in God certainly shows how one can be thankful for so many things and that many have it worse and not let it get you done. We have seen two families that really got kicked in the teeth do no complaining, even joked immediately after the disasters and moved ahead. Quite and inspiration indeed! I know the next time I feel like complaining I am instead going to be happy and thankful!
We then headed for our friends in Terrace, BC to go fishing. Fortunately when we got to Terrace all was well with them. These are dear friends who we met at Hyder, Alaska over two years earlier, exiting Alaska watching the bears there. We rescued them in a stalled vehicle. I guess to put it mildly Carmen has a very healthy respect for bears. She would say fear but I don't like that word. We subsequently met Rick's parents, had a fantastic ocean food feast and great visit at their homes in Terrace. The purpose was to visit again and trap Crab and Shrimp and go fishing. We set Shrimp traps at 350 feet and Crab traps over 100 feet deep and had great success, dealt with rough sea's and I found out that it takes some work to pull about 10 of these traps in a row. They are very good at it and we learned a lot. It was to rough to ocean fish much so we did not have any success at that. Later we fished the Kitimat and the Coho salmon were just starting but Ron, Bryce and I managed to catch some. The high point for me was the first Coho which weighed about 14 lbs. It come way out of the water three times, made about 6 runs so it was a thrill and I managed to land it. I caught one other. I caught a Chum and some Pink so I have now caught all the different kinds of Pacific Salmon. We canned the crab and salmon that Rick and Carmen gave us which was 20 quarts, Ron smoked the Pinks for us and we froze the Shrimp and Coho. Rick was out at logging camp so we did not get to see him but we had great visits with Carmin, Shelby their daughter, Ron and Delva and a number of their relatives. It is most interesting to get their prospective on things from outside the USA. The scenery is beautiful there and this time we had several sunny days. Last time all we seen was rain and clouds.
We then headed for our amateur radio friend in Ferndale, WA where we can park and he has several day trips planned for us. We are here at Ferndale and having a great time. We went to Vancouver Is. and Butchart Gardens which is still privately owned by relatives of the Butcharts. Mr Butchart started a Portland Cement business in 1902 and Mrs. Butchart started the garden. They were very successful and used some of the profits to expand the garden. Today it covers about 20 acres and millions from around the world have came to see it. It was more than I expected, absolutely beautiful. We then toured around Victoria. It is a 90 minute ferry ride one way to the island from Swartz Bay in Canada over to the island. Our two latest border crossing into the USA have involved long lines of about a 40 minutes wait. We the 5th we had it scanned like a truck. This time with the F-350 we were asked a few questions and they ran our license plate number but both times we were not asked for an ID at all. To me this definitely indicated they are doing profiles and being Mom and Pop retired from SD with our 5th wheel and 5th wheel hitch we have no problems. Present a different profile and you get pulled out of line and over to the parking lanes and the "FUN" begins.
We toured Mt Baker today, had a picnic and visited Bellingham and Lynden, WA. Lynden is a dutch community and I suspect Edith has relatives here. We are going to tour the Cascades the next couple of days, visit other friends here and then move over to the WA coast.
Ed and Edith
E-MAIL Number II
Greetings, We have now been on the road for about 50 days. In the last travelogue I forgot to mention the Okanagan Valley, In BC. The fruit is right in the bottom of the valley along the water. It apparently is a micro-climate. From Peachland we took 97C cutoff over to the Canadian transcontinental. WOW! What a pull, the biggest, toughest of our travels. For the first time I "HAD" to dig into our 10 gallons of extra diesel or we would not of made it. We were pulling up this grade in 2nd gear for at least 30 minutes non stop and come up behind this 2500 Dodge diesel who was pulling a low, cab high, short trailer about 18 feet but I assume heavy and it looked like petroleum rig of some sort. Anyway I walked right on by him. Down the road when I put 5 gallons of fuel in that is the first time I really heard the F-250 "clatter" like trucks do. Definitely had been puling. Once we got to Merrit, BC we stayed and the next morning we had the biggest, longest downhill since we have been traveling so that is quite a road. Coming down out of BC to Washington on the Transcontinental the Thompson River and Frazier River and tunnels would be a long, long, steady hard pull.
Now back to where we left off on Travelogue I. We did a two day loop tour of the Cascades. In the south cascade we toured Leavenworth a Barvarian style town and then on to Wanatchee, WA the Apple Capital of the world. This is actually a continuation of the Okanegan Valley going south. From there we went back west through the North Cascades which are nicer. We stopped at Winthrop which was a recreated western town. Diablo Lake is a glacial lake in the North Cascades and is beautiful. We spent a great afternoon with Jack K7DZE who showed us around the border town of Blaine and where the fellows I talk to all the time have lived in the past and told us about some of his experiences as an immigration officer. On Labor Day we had a gathering of the hams in the area that I talk to at Bob's place. That was a wonderful time, Bob is quite a cook and made a fantastic, fancy cherry cake desert. We hated to leave but greeted our superb hosts good bye after a prayer for save travel.
We then took the ferry from Keystone to Port Townsend and drove to Port Angeles and visited Olympic NP. In the North Cascades and here as well as farther down the coast of WA the smoke from the fires severely hampered our visibility. Olympia has glaciers and the HOH Rain forest with huge trees and about 150 inches of rain a year. We went to the most northwest part of the US at Cape Flattery and hiked out to it. It is a very beautiful spot. Lots of fishing for Coho in the ocean along the coast. We stayed at COHO RV park and canned a bunch of Salmon we had purchased at a very reasonable price. I think we ended up with nearly 40 quarts of salmon from BC and what we purchased. We also got 10 lbs. of Blueberries, the pears and apples and lots of Black Berries canned or frozen. Our small deep freeze is packed. Nearly out of Washington at South Beach along the coast we parked right along the ocean at a NP CG. It was the nicest camping spot of the trip so far, looking right out our window at the ocean waves crashing on the beach just a few feet away.
We got to the Oregon coast and the rain, clouds and fog set in. It is beautiful and eventually the clouds lifed a bit so we could see if fairly decent. The prettiest areas are around Newport, Coos Bay and Brandon. Haystack rock near Cannon Beach was also nice and you see a lot of photo's of that. We went the aquarium at Newport, at Simpson Reef at Coos Bay we seen 1000's of Sea Lions and Seals and got some great pictures. They barked a lot like dogs and you could hear them for nearly a half mile away. We walked the beach for a couple of miles by Brandon.
We then entered CA and using our Passport America membership for the first time got total hookups and cable for $13.50 tax included so that is the best we have ever done. We did a day trip out of here to Oregon Cave National Monument and Crater NP. I want to share my commentary from my daily travelogue on this day trip to finish out this travelogue. First the story of the discovery of Oregon Caves.
As his last match flickered out, 24 year old hunter Elijah Davidson found himself in the total blackness of the cave. Davidson was chasing after his dog Bruno, who was in turn pursuing a bear. One following the other the bear entered a dark hole high on the mountainside. Davidson stopped at the mysterious dark entrance. He could see nothing but an agonizing howl drew him into the cave to save his dog. Now the matchers were gone and Davidson was in total darkness. Fortunately , he was able to wade down a grueling , ice cold stream and find his way back into the daylight. Bruno soon followed. It was 1874. It is a marble cave and is called the marble halls of Oregon.
We then headed for Crater Lake NP, a total of 200 miles one way. As we were traveling Edith says it sure seems silly to drive this far to just drive around a lake that we might not be able to see due to the clouds and fog and then have to drive back. We got to the Lake and the clouds were very low, just above the trees. When we got to the crater edge all we could see were clouds. We stopped at Discovery Point where the first report was made of seeing the lake. We could not even see the water for the longest time and then finally way down below we could just see a little bit of water for a moment and then it fogged up.
I earlier had told Edith I was believing it would clear up. I re-affirmed my prayer that we would be able to see the lake and drove on. As we started around on the northwest corner we had a clearing and was able to see a section of the lake which was an answer to prayer. We talked to a couple who had been there three times and seen it once. We then drove around to the east side and suddenly the clouds had lifted a bit and you could see the whole lake, absolutely the whole lake with the cloud ceiling up above the lake. It is beautiful, the deepest lake in NA at 1943 feet and it pristine and is very blue with some spots even more blue. You can only get there in July to October, the rest of the time it is snowed in. We seen a picture with snow on the crater. That would also be beautiful to see. We are very thankful for the blessing of being able to see such beauty of God's Creation. BTW as we drove away from the lake it immediately fogged over again.
So in all our travels two quotes stick out. The Japanese couple on the Haul road to Prudhoe Bay who said "were OK were alright" and now Edith who said "it sure is a long ways to drive to just drive around a lake and go back when you won't be able to see it anyway"
On the way back and today we toured Redwood NP where they tower over 300 feet high.
Ed and Edith
E-MAIL Number III
This will be the third and final travelogue for this trip. I only did these three since many of you have been to these places. In the past 28 months we have been in all the provinces of Canada and we have been in all but 8 states of the lower 48 and of course we have been in Alaska. We have put on about 60,000 miles. We like the 5th wheel/F-350 combination. I certainly am glad we got a F-350 rather than an F-250. More and more we are parking the 5th wheel in a state park, national park or National Forest Service campground and touring with the F-350. Other than being tight getting in an out of parking spots and getting fuel sometimes. We vastly prefer these over commercial CG. BTW many, many commercial CG are very, very tight getting in and out and about 80% of them have you parked right next to people on all sides. IMHO KOA and many commercial CG charge a ludicrous amount of money to stay for a night. To me $25-$40 is crazy to be packed in like a bunch of sardines with no privacy at all! The battery bank continues to be great as we really lack nothing of the comforts of home, just more compact!
It would be much better to be 22-24 foot long with the 5th for getting around BUT we would not have the storage and the 30 foot is great when we are parked and we can pull it OK so that really is not a problem. The F-350 is nice because we sit up high. I am positive the F-350 has a lot more power than at first. I know it sounds crazy but it seems like since about 50,000 miles I have had considerably more power. We have been in all the National Parks to the west of Salem other than Mt. Rainier and Great Basin NP. We just have a handful that we have not been in. Some of the nicest National Parks are Denali in Alaska, Tetons, Yellowstone, Zion, Bryce, and Yosemite that we have seen but they all are nice.
Next summer we will make a swing to the east and southeast and finish up all the states. It appears the Arkansas will be the last state.
The toughest road we have been on has changed from the one in BC to Hwy 229 from Creasant City, CA to Redding, CA. It is steep up, steep down in four different passes and hairpin turns and narrow. The worst short stretch of road is just past Cedar Breaks National Momument in Utah from Brian Head down to I-15. I had it in low gear, used the brakes as little as possible but they got hot enough to smell, no way to pull off and stop and the RPM's was into the red a bit. It was about 10 miles down and about 6 miles of it was 13% GRADE. Several hair pin turns, posted at 10 mph. Now you know why I am glad I have a F-350! You need as much brakes and holding power as you can get! A lot of people talk about Jake Brakes and Exhaust Retarders but we note that many places they are illegal. I will admit if I would of had one I would of used it here!
Northern CA is very pretty, a lot like the Black Hills but the roads are a lot more demanding. We toured Lassen NP, left the 5th in the lot. It is the previous volcano site to St. Helena. We stayed at Susanville, CA which reminds me a lot of Rapid City and then we headed south along the mountains which would be very similar to driving from Sturgis to Rapid City except the climate is drier so there is Sage Brush. We got into our friends Doug WA6YYY and Mary Ann Johnson near Fresno, CA. Doug is a farmer who raises grapes for raisins. He showed us all the steps, the flood irrigate, we toured a grape plant, raisin plant and estate winery. Fresno is definitely an agricultural area as is the whole San Juaquin Valley. We got two huge boxes full of grapes from them, some raisins and get some wine from the estate winery we toured. We did day trips to Sequoia NP where we seen the largest living thing in the world the General Sherman Sequoia tree. It is 275 feet tall, circumference is 104 feet near the ground and it 2300-2700 years old and weights about 1,385 tons. A few of the Redwoods in N. CA get taller. If you go be sure to hike up Mora Rock!
We also seen Yosemite NP. It was a hazy and smoky and being in the fall and dry the Yosemite Falls were not flowing so definitely would recommend one go there in the spring before the summer rush. The parks were not real crowded so we timed that correct. The history of logging in the Sierra Nevada's is most interesting. This is the second largest area in the US where there are no roads. I suspect the Grand Canyon is first. It would be a wonderful experience to back pack in or pack in with pack animals. It is rugged!!!
We then decided we did not want to take the 5th wheel through here so we headed south to Bakerfield, CA and around the south end of the mountains, still a pretty good climb. Here at Tahachapi we seen a sight to behold. There are literally 100's of wind generators on the mountains looking west. The follow the mountain divide to the north as far as the eye can see. Where we crossed they must of been 5 levels of them. Honest there must be a thousand of them. You go over the pass and there are more and they are facing east. I have to get on the Internet and find out more about this.
I don't give up easily when it comes to getting someplace so we pulled into Pipe Springs, parked in the same Indian CG, only one other Camper and did a day trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where it was snowed in this spring. It was great to see where we hiked down, the views are great, personally I think better than the south side and not very crowed at all. Imperial Point and Cape Royal are definitely worthwhile as well as Angels Landing. From there we went to Cedar Breaks, a lot like Bryce but small, then the Brian Head experience and took I-15 to I-70 and into Grand Jct. CO. Here we spent $26.43 for a commercial campsite and you could open our window and touch the camper on the slide side. On the other side where you park you vehicle when I opened the doors they hit our 5th and on the other side the camper next to us. Ridiculous!!!! A Wal-Mart lot is like the "HILTON" compared to this! A NFS CG, etc. is heavenly!
The Grand Mesa is the highest flat top mountain in the world at over 10,000 feet. You need to goes to Lands End where you can get a great view and it was the clearest of anytime on the trip. We then went to Montrose, CO where there is a beautiful view of the snow covered mountains and from there to Black Canyon of Gunison NP. It is a deep gorge, very pretty. It has the tallest straight up cliffs in the US at 2000 feet. The Empire State building would just come half way up. We saw cliff climbers as we did in Zion and Yosemite. These are the three premier spots. I got a couple of telephoto shots. I am going to do some research on the Internet as to some of the techniques, not the least of is how you go to the bathroom as it takes 2 or 3 days to scale the cliff.
We then took I-70 to Frisco, CO going through Eagle, Edwards, Avon, and Vail. We are at a NFS CG and yesterday did a loop south of Leadville, up toward Aspen, over Independence Pass at 12,091 feet. We got some great shots of the Aspen turning in the canyon on the way to Aspen. We also went through Breckenridge. These are all great ski resort places. Today we went to Rocky Mt. NP and walked the Alpine trail, about 41 degrees with a stiff northerly wind but clear and very spectacular. Here the road reaches 12,183 feet and we climbed higher on foot so I suppose about 12,300 feet. We were tempted to take the gravel road over Mosquito Pass at over 13,100 but decided we have done enough passes. Here in CO we have done 7 of 11,500 plus decided not to do it. We found the trailhead to Mt Albert highest in CO at over 14,100 feet and also Mt. Massive that the boys have climbed. BTW we have found it to be a drier climate here in CO. than expected. Many of the valleys are high at 8500 feet but are pretty much open with lots of sage brush. I believe the western slope is a lot drier so actually the east slope is wetter but we are just getting to the east slope and we are less than 100 miles from Denver.
A question, where in Colorado does the Colorado River start? Where does the Arkansas River start that goes all the way to the Mississippi?
The Colorado starts on the continental divide in Rocky Mt. NP and the Arkansas starts south of Leadville out of that range. I-70 is a great route as it follows the Colorado River from Grand Jct. to a little west of Eagle ( the Colorado turns north here) and then I-70 follows the Eagle River so it is not a bad pull at all. It is quite remarkable construction to get the Interstate through a few narrow spots. They partially double deck the Interstate in places. Vail Pass is not that bad of a climb as you follow the Eagle River up it a long ways. East of here at Frisco the Eisenhower Tunnel takes about a 1000 feet climb off. You can take Hwy 6 if you want the experience!