August and September 2010

On July 22, we ended our rv adventures at Glacier National Park, and drove to Hamilton, MT, where we spent three nights at the Black Rabbit RV Park, and visit with my childhood friend, Nancy, and her husband, Ron. They have 24 acres of land there, with a large barn, where they do some camping every summer. It was wonderful having a chance to catch up with her – it had been 15-20 years since we’d last seen each other, so we talked and talked.

A canal off the Bitterroot River runs through their meadow – the current just right for a lap pool; by swimming hard you can stay in one place! Evenings we shared dinner at a picnic table next to the canal. Robert fished the canal and caught two beautiful rainbow trout one day, which we seasoned, wrapped in foil and cooked over the campfire. For Robert, any rv adventure that includes fishing is a great one. These rainbows were delicious!

Grilling Rainbow TroutRainbow Trout for Dinner!

From Hamilton, we drove over Lolo Pass into Idaho and stayed at a Nat’l Forest campground on the Lochsa River for a couple of days. It was a beautiful spot, giant spruces and cedars draped with moss, tree-covered mountains in every direction, and the gurgling river for company. 

Lochsa River in Idaho

From there, we drove US-12 along the Lochsa, then the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River to Kamiah, ID. US-12 must be what the Beatles had in mind when they wrote “Long & Winding Road.” Constant twists & turns kept both my hands on the wheel, and my eyes glued to the road, following the trail of Lewis & Clark.

The next stop on our rv adventure was Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston, ID, a beautiful park on the Snake River. We were only able to spend one night there as the park was booked up, so our rv adventures then took us though Clarkston, WA, up a long road winding through buckskin hills, to a vast plain with palomino gold fields of wheat stretching to the horizon in every direction, the wind blowing over the fields with a ssshhhh-ing sound. We stopped in Richland, WA, and spent a very hot, sticky night, then continued on US-12/I-82 toward Yakima, dreary khaki hills on our left, the Yakima River valley below on the right, green with orchards and countless vineyards.

Mt. Rainier - WashingtonMt. Rainier

From Yakima, we continued on US-12, along the Natches, then Tieton Rivers, around a bend, and suddenly the hills were much taller, the spruce and fir trees thicker. Up through those hills we went, to White Pass and beautiful Rimrock Lake where we started seeing snow on peaks. Around one more curve on this rv adventure, and there was Mt. Rainier – totally magnificent!

We stayed three nights at Ohanapecosh Campground, tucked in amongst enormous towering cedars and spruce. The forest was like a sacred place, so big and dense it swallowed up sound, and allowed only small slivers of sunlight through. At night, we slept hearing only the rushing of the Ohanapecosh River.

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Ohanapecosh River, Mt. Rainier NPMt. Rainier NP - Ohanapecosh River

We had a great hike though the forest primeval on the beautiful Silver Falls Loop Trail; the trail and all bridges were built without any motorized vehicles – just chainsaws and hand tools. Each day we drove to one of the visitor centers for different views of that incredibly immense mountain. Wildflowers were everywhere: glacier lilies, cow parsley, beargrass, and Indian Paintbrush.

From Rainier NP, our rv adventure took us to Hoodsport, WA, on the Olympic Peninsula, then on to Sequim, the self-proclaimed lavender capital of N. America. This was the beginning of gray, gloomy weather with occasional sprinkles. The lavender fields were lovely, especially when the sun broke through for a few minutes.

We visited Port Townsend and went on a whale-watch trip in among the San Juan Islands one day. Unfortunately, we couldn't see any of the surrounding scenery, just fog and occasional pods of orcas. Luckily for us, the orcas came quite close to our boat; it was thrilling to see their sleek bodies roll through the sea and hear the “whoosh” of their breathing.

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Orca WhalesOrca Whales

From Sequim, we headed to Forks, then Ocean Shores, WA, where we went down to the beach near sunset and watched the fog roll in. Inland then, to Cathlamet, WA, on the Columbia River, where we stayed the night at a marina – it was sunny & breezy when we arrived which made us rejoice, but we took a nap, and when we got up it was all cloudy again.

On August 18th, we traveled on to Welches, OR, where some RVing friends have a camp-host job at Wildwood Recreation Site, on BLM land along the Salmon River. We visited with them for a couple of days, sharing stories of rv adventures, hiking in the woods there, and driving up to Mt. Hood for a terrific buffet brunch at the Timberline Lodge.

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RV Adventures on the Pacific Coast Hwy.

From Welches, we headed back to the coast and Florence, OR. The next couple of days our rv adventures were blessed with clear blue skies. We went to the Sea Lion Caves – the sea lions were out on the rocks way below us, and some of them were enormous.  Those in the surf would catch a surge, heaving up onto the rocks, but would soon plunge in again after perching on the very edge, weaving their head back and forth a bit (perhaps plucking up their courage). We could hear them all kind of growling. The wind was fierce, and the view magnificent, with the beach curving off into the distance and the pattern of the breaking waves. We drove out to the Oregon Dunes another day, climbing up and over big dunes to the beach below – mighty good exercise.

In Port Orford, OR, we went to Cape Blanco State Park – very pretty, but the beach was fogged in, with temperatures in the mid-50s and quite windy.

The next day we moved on to Klamath River, CA, where we stay at a beautiful park right on the Klamath River – and this rv adventure enjoyed some sunshine at last! Robert tried fishing for salmon with no luck – the Indians (Yurok tribe) were out with their 100’ gill nets “destroying the river” according to a Fish & Game warden we talked with. The salmon population is down every year, and not enough get through the nets to spawn. Kind of short-sighted of the Yuroks!

Klamath River looked to be a ghost town – it used to be (like many of the towns along the coast) a big logging center with five lumber mills. Now places are boarded up, the casino is closed and there are serious drug problems.

On Aug. 28th, Robert’s 70th birthday, we went to a fresh grilled salmon dinner cookout at the RV park down the road – it was so good! I think I’ve been ruined for store-bought salmon forever – had never tasted better.

Westport-Union Landing State BeachWestport-Union Landing State Beach

We stopped in Redcrest, CA, for a night – in the middle of Redwood country. These coastal redwoods grow to 370’ or more, and up to 22’ in diameter. On the next day, we left US-101 and continued our journey on CA-1, hugging the coast, to Westport-Union Landing State Beach where we parked right along the edge of the cliff, the ocean rolling in just 70-100’ below Mehitabel. 

I pulled out the chairs, made a drink and spent the next few hours catching up on the magazines that had been piling up, watching Pacific gray whales blowing and feeding out at sea. Two of them dove, flukes up at the same moment. I was mesmerized and spent most of the next day out there as well – just reading & watching. It was wonderful to have a chance to relax and do nothing on my rv adventures!

We drove down the road about two miles to explore the tiny town of Westport – another once-thriving logging town, but not much of it left now. Vibrant nasturtiums were rioting everywhere, climbing over weathered fences and through blackberry bushes. Beautiful weather, beautiful sunset, stars, no fog.

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On September 1, I drove the hardest 122 miles I’ve ever driven on any rv adventure – 5.5 hours of a twisting two-lane road. On one section there were thick spruce trees on each side of the road, their branches intertwined above so it was like driving through a tunnel. There were lots of cotton-candy colored lilies (think Pepto-Bismol) – great clusters of them on tall brownish-red stems with no leaves whatsoever – very strange looking. Also, more nasturtiums – I guess they are actually a pest in this part of the country, re-seeding themselves everywhere. We spent that night in  Bodega Bay, Wright’s Beach in Sonoma Coast State Beach – the most dangerous beach in CA due to a steep dropoff and a long trough – there were warnings everywhere.

On Sept. 2, we traveled the last of the Pacific Coast Highway a beautiful, but hair-raising drive, much of it on the edge of a precipice. Up & down Mt. Tamalpais, over the Golden Gate Bridge, down 19th Ave. (CA-1) in San Francisco in mid-day traffic. A parked utility truck with pipes racked along the side, (thus sticking out further than any of the other parked vehicles), removed my side-view mirror, but I continued on to Pacifica, where we stayed five nights at the San Francisco RV Resort.

Phew! I was so glad I did it, and so thankful that this is one rv adventure I won’t ever have to repeat.

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On Pacifica Pier, CAFishing at Pacifica Pier

During our time here, we visited each day with Jeff (my #2 son), Laurie and Jack, who was eight. Laurie was battling breast cancer and undergoing chemo, but we lucked out on the timing. It was the end of the two-week cycle of treatments, so she was in fine shape, and seemed to have energy to spare. Being bald does give a person that “pared down to the essentials” look – it’s interesting how distracting hair can be. She managed to look quite elegant with or without hats!

They dropped Jack off with us one day - he and Robert went fishing off the Pacifica Pier and had a hilarious time to hear them tell it (no fish), then Jack spent the night with us. He and I polished off nearly a pound of wild salmon while Robert has a grass-fed steak (I just finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma). The next day we all went down the coast to Moss Beach, where we walk on the beach and looked into tide pools, then went for lunch at Half Moon Bay.

That evening Robert and I drove into SF to have dinner with them plus Laurie’s father and step-mother. We all had a really nice time visiting and eating delicious Chinese takeout. On Labor Day, they came to Pacifica and we all went to the pier for another try at fishing – still no fish, but fun anyway.

On Sept. 7th, we headed inland to the Sacramento Delta, and spent two nights at a park in Isleton. On the 9th we moved to the 49er Village RV Park in Plymouth where I enjoyed a 2.5 day plein air painting workshop.

El Capitan - Yosemite National Park

From Plymouth, a slow drive, mostly on CA-49, then onto CA-120 to Yosemite Lakes RV Park in Groveland, just outside Yosemite Nat’l Park. We spent four nights there, going into the park each day, hiking and taking pictures. Yosemite is another amazing park – so different from what I expected. (The photo to the left is of El Capitan, reflected in the Merced River.)

On 9/17 we left Yosemite and traveled to Convict Lake S. P. in Inyo Nat’l Forest. We got the last available site, for just one night, and would have loved to stay longer as it is a beautiful area. The next day, we drove to Beatty, NV – Space Station RV Park – and stayed two nights so we could have a day to see Death Valley Nat’l Park. We visited that strangely beautiful place – 190’ below sea level, temperature 113 degrees. The blacktop in the parking lot is squishy!

On the 20th we drove to Preferred RV Resort in Pahrump, NV – a very nice resort in the middle of nowhere, with lots of casinos, and real grocery stores for the first time in ages. The park has a wonderful pool. We stayed three nights; I swam each morning and hid from the heat the rest of the day.

Our next rv adventure took us to Laughlin, NV, where the temperature reached 103. Leaving Laughlin, we crossed the Colorado River into AZ, stopped for one night in Wickenburg and, at last, arrived back in Tucson on September 26.

We had traveled almost 6,000 miles since leaving Tucson on May 5, and were both ready for a long rest.

Columbia River BackwaterColumbia River Backwater

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