Monday, September 15, 2008

The trip continued

Tuesday, May 6, Day 8
Today we drive to Yosemite. The roads up into the mountains are curvy and narrow. No guardrails, and lots of blind curves. I pretty much white knuckled all the way up! Fortunately Vince was driving, not Jeff! We found a lodge just before the entrance to the park in a beautiful setting. Nice place with a restaurant next door. The room was $125 a night! Well appointed, and very clean with 2 queen beds, so we all shared a room. We’d had a substantial late lunch, so we skipped dinner and simply snacked on nuts and things.

Wednesday, May 7 Day 9
After a nice breakfast we headed on into Yosemite at Touolomne on the west side of the park. We purchased a $10 Sr. Citizen’s Pass which is good at any Federal Park for the rest of our lives, and it’s good for the whole car, so we are good for Olympic and Glacier in WA too.

We met some people who recommended that we go to Glacier Point, so we planned that into the day. Several of the roads inside the park were still closed for the winter. As we drove through, we often saw snow banks along the road. Some were higher than the top of the car, and we could see how much the snow had melted away from the road because there were small branches sticking out of the snow banks which had been broken off by the plows. We stopped along the way for lunch. Jeff had brought along some Pumalos (sweet white grapefruit) and Mandarin oranges from his trees, so we ate citrus fruit and cheese & cracker for lunch with nuts for dessert.

Bridal Veil Falls is one of the places we stopped. The falls are beautiful, and you can feel the fine mist even all the way down on the road. From the parking area we could see Half Dome rising up several thousand feet. There’s a path through the woods to the foot of the falls; so we walked up. I took lots of pictures and some video with my new camera as I went. The stream below the falls spreads out around rocks and trees; in short, around anything in its way. At the bottom of the falls the spray was very much like rain, and the temperature must have been 10 degrees cooler than down on the road.

Then we drove up to Glacier Point. At the top it is 7200 feet up, and the road is narrow and winding with spectacular views. At the summit, there are various viewing points. Again I took lots of pictures, and some video. Across the valley were two waterfalls, one above the other. Jeff thought that one was Bridal Veil, but we discovered that the upper falls were the Nevada Falls, and the lower, the California Falls. From the peak we also could look across and see Half Dome in front of us.

We stayed up at Glacier Point for about an hour; simply enjoying the incredible view; but we did eventually have to leave. After driving back down the road, we exited the park at Wawona on the south end, and headed back towards Sacramento. Arrived at our motel at about midnight.

Thursday, May 8 Day 10
Downtown to Old Sacramento and the CA Railway Museum. This is a museum that we visited 3 years ago when we first came out; so it was very familiar, but interesting none the less. Afterwards we walked down to the Delta King. It is the sister ship to the Delta Queen which is part of the fleet owned by the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. They own the Mississippi Queen that we took our Cruise on in ’03. The King is moored, and used as a hotel and banquet Hall.

We stopped for lunch in one of the numerous restaurants in Old Sac. We had Pizza in a franchise place, owned by Indians. Seemed odd to me. After lunch we wandered around some more, and left town before rush hour and went back to Jeff’s for the evening.

Friday, May 9, Day 11
Today we left to go to Benicia, CA, which is in the South Bay area. Kay had been there in February at a Civil War Conference where she’d been invited to speak, and was told of a store downtown with vintage ribbons & trims, so I had to go check it out. We traveled on I5 south and a bit west to get there. It’s one of the several sites that were used as the California State Capitol. After picking up a city map at the Chamber of Commerce office, we walked our the door, and I turned my ankle on the edge of a brick in the sidewalk, and landed on my knee. Got a little road rash on my knee, and the ankle was sore and swelled up. Nevertheless, we toured the old Capital building, which ended up being used as the county seat after the State Capital moved on. Lovely old two-storey building built with hand made brick.

We wandered about after that; checking out the various antique shops, had lunch and coffee at one of the four Starbuck’s in this little town; and finally found the shop I was looking for. She did have some lovely ribbons, fringes and trims, so I spent a fair amount of money there. I also found some nice lace and buttons at a different shop.

I’d made arrangements with another Evergreen club member (Jennifer & Alan Deal) for accommodations, and when we arrived, our hostess offered us tea. A proper English tea, with hot milk and a choice of shortbread, fruitcake, and little bite sized brownies. Jenny is English. They recommended a couple of restaurants downtown for dinner, s we found the 1st St. CafĂ©, and ate a light dinner. Breakfast was cereal first, then 1 egg, and 1 pc. of toast. She served Lemon Curd and home made orange Marmalade for the toast. Yum!

Saturday, May 10 Day 12
From Benicia, we headed back north a bit, and then east to the Western Railway Museum. We got there before the museum opened, but some of the volunteers arrived about the same time we did. One of them noticed Vince’s IRM volunteer hat, and invited us to come inside the visitor’s center to wait, and locked the door behind us so no one else could get in early. Shortly before the official opening, we were given 2 Guest passes. We took both of the rides offered, and then had some lunch. More of Jeff’s citrus. After lunch, I went back to the car to work on my Journal while Vince got an insider tour of the shops. I had twisted my ankle the day before in Benicia, so I wanted to rest it as much as possible.

From the museum, we continued east and then took local highway113 straight north to pick up I5 again and back to Jeff’s for dinner and the evening.

Sunday, May 11 – Mother’s Day Day 13
Jeff made brunch for Jamie & Jonathan, Tia, and us; and we spent much of the day just talking and enjoying each other’s company and playing with Zoey until she got cranky. More baby pictures. ;-) The kids left to take Zoey home for her nap., and Jeff got some plants into pots for us to take to Kurt & Boe since we’ll leave tomorrow.

Around 2:00, we and Jeff left to meet my cousin Jill, her husband Jack & Chaz, their 12 yr old, at Joe’s Crab Shack in Old Sac. Our wait was nearly 2 hours, so we had plenty of time to visit before dinner.

Monday, May 12, day 14
We’re leaving Jeff’s today. We packed up, checked out of the motel and went over to Jeff’s for breakfast. After saying our goodbyes, we left there about 10:00 or so heading north toward Ft. Bragg. It was an uneventful drive through the country and out towards the coast. We arrived in Ft. Bragg early enough so we had time to walk around town for a while. Before finding a place to eat dinner. After looking over the literature for the Skunk Train, I decided that I needed to make reservations for the train ride. Of course, by the time I realized that, it was 5 minutes too late to call, so I would need to do it in the morning.

Tuesday, May 13, day 15
The motel we stayed in came with a breakfast after all, so we ate at their restaurant. They had a nice selection of real breakfast food (no plastic muffins, or Froot Loops). Back at our room, I called to make reservations as soon as the office opened. No problem being this early in their season.

The train ride was very nice. It’s about a 3 ½ - 4 hour round trip through redwood forests and so the scenery was great. The conductor pointed out various things, and was willing to answer questions; so it was an interesting ride. That’s where I found out the name of the bushes with the bright yellow flowers. They are Gorse; also called Irish broom or Scotch broom.

After the train ride, we continued to drive north on rte 101 along the coast of California. The road was winding and 2 lane, and the scenery was lovely. We stopped at one of the beaches and walked out onto the sand. Vince picked up rocks and I took several pictures.

I called Tia’s nephew Nathan to verify arrival time, and stopped to have dinner before we went to his house. He’s another Mac person, so he hooked me into his internet router so I could check emails, etc. He’s a student at a local college, and is living in the house his parents bought as a retirement home. They live down in the central valley fairly near Jeff & Tia, but plan to move up there after they retire. It’s a nice ranch on a hillside that has a pretty back yard that backs up to a park of some sort; so it can’t be developed. Nathan suggested we stop at a local landmark in town before we left. There is a Victorian house there that is supposedly the most photographed house in the country. It’s a gorgeous one, and the original owner had a pretty, smaller house built across the street for his son when he married.

Wednesday, May 14, day 16
We ate a couple of our bagels for breakfast there, and packed up to move on. Forgot the bagels, and our icepack in Nathan’s freezer. Oh Well… we’ll buy another when we shop for lunch stuff.

We headed towards Portland. I wanted to get close enough so I can get to the stores basically when they open for fabric shopping, so we drove nearly all of the way there.

Thursday May 15, day 17
We’ll arrive at Kurt’s today; but first I have to shop at the Pendleton outlet. We finally found it (in spite of Yahoo Maps!). I was a bit disappointed in the prices. Nothing was particularly cheap there. I did find a good quantity of nice wide twill tapes in various colors for 35 & 45 cents a yard in the bargain room, and finally got to the annex and found wool remnants at $7.50/ yard. I did buy some nice wools; one of which is large enough for an adult dress in a lovely mauve color. The others will make children’s clothing. I also bought a length of lavender silk for a parasol that I’ve procrastinated over for 18 months or so.

When we arrived at Kurt’s we found that we’d be sleeping upstairs. Steep narrow stairs, and an upstairs bathroom is somewhere in the future. They went out and bought a nice Arts & Crafts double bed, and a wonderful box spring & mattress for up there. It’s screened from their ‘theater’ room by the big screen TV.

Friday May 16, day 18
Kind of hung around doing nothing most of the day. I did some laundry in the morning and hung the jeans out on the line to dry. It was pretty hot – in the 80’s. Boe had to work so Kurt took us to some local antique shops.

Saturday May 17, day 19
Today is the day I’ll do my “presentation” at Fort Nisqually We left the house in plenty of time to make it up to the park. Fortunate, since we missed the entrance to Nisqually and had to drive around again. Barbara Smith met us and walked us into the park and to the place where I’d be for the talk.

It was fun to meet her, and some of the other volunteers there that I ‘chat’ with on the ESC Forum. In a way it was like being back home at the first event of the season and seeing all of our friends whom we have not seen all winter. It’s a nice site, and we spent most of the day there in spite of the fact that it was in the upper 80’s.

Kurt is a great cook. He prefers cooking on the grill (as does Jeff), so many of our dinners are cooked outside.

Sunday, May 18, day 20
Heading for Olympic Nat’l Park. Today we will stay at the Indian Motel and eat at Gramma’s. The closest town was Port Angeles. Kurt & Boe have stayed here before; and warned us that the beds weren’t too good. Soft mattresses! We’ll explore Hurricane Ridge today. There’s about a 16 mile drive up to the top, and a nice .8 of a mile trail to a lovely waterfall through the cedar woods. Kurt and I took lots of pictures of mosses, forest flowers and other interesting flora, plus a bug or two.

Monday, May 19 day 21
Headed for the Hoh Rain Forest. It rained. The day was cold (40’s) and very gloomy, but we laughed and joked while in the car. Kurt, Boe & Vince took a short tail up into the rainforest, but I stayed behind. It was not the kind of weather I enjoy walking around in.

After they came back, we drove into town to pick up the rest of the foods we’d need for the two dinners and breakfasts we’ll spend at the cabin in the Hoh. The cabin was difficult to find. The directions were that it was two miles and 447 ft from an intersection. We drove down the road 4 times; and back, trying to find the driveway; but there was no driveway at or near that mile spot. We even stopped at another cabin rental place to ask, and he had no idea where it might be. Boe finally called her, and she told us the address was 2447 Mora rd. 2447 turned out to be 3 miles and 447 ft down the road! We finally got there, and the cabin was gorgeous.

It was a log cabin with a large open great room and kitchen/dining area. One bedroom and full bath downstairs. Upstairs was a loft with a half bath and a queen and 1 twin beds.

The cabin had a wood burning stove in the great room, and a full modern kitchen with dishwasher. A lovely warm and comfortable place. We spent the evening comfortably sitting around the fire, reading and talking. The beds were quite comfortable and we all slept very well.

Tuesday, May 20 day 22
Our second day in the Hoh. Still raining. We kind of wandered around some, but since the weather was so miserable, we went back to the cabin early and enjoyed the warmth. It was great fun to hang out with Kurt & Boe. We laughed and laughed!

Wednesday, May 21 day 23
Drove around the west end of Olympic, in the rain to get back to Tacoma.

Thursday, May 22, day 24
We took in the Tacoma History Museum today. Got downtown in time for lunch, and spent the rest of the afternoon at the museum. There was an exhibit on the railroads going west, and a very nice display on the indigenous Indian tribes.

Friday, May 23 day 25
A lazy day. Our last in Tacoma with Kurt & Boe. We decided to spend the afternoon antiquing in Puyallup (Kurt & Boet call it pileup ;-)). We didn’t find anything to buy except another waffle iron. This one is probably older than the one we bought before. We had smoothies at a little local coffee shop, and went back to the house. I did up our laundry so we’d have enough clean clothes to get home.

Barbara Smith came by so I could give her copies of the parasols, kids, clothes and fashion print PPT’s to share with her volunteers at Nisqually. Then Kurt left to play D&D with his friends in Seattle. We and Boe went to Herman’s diner for dinner, and sat around and talked for the rest of the evening

Saturday, May 24 day 26
It probably was not a very good idea to head for a National Park on Memorial Day weekend; but I called Yosemite and found that there was room at the Old Faithful Inn on Sunday night, so we will be ok. Leaving Seattle area we were in quite a lot of traffic; but it seems that most of that was going into the mountains just east of Seattle, not further east; so once we were out of the mountains, the traffic died off drastically. We left Kurt’s at about 9:00, and by noon we were in the high desert east of the mountains. The drive from Seattle through the mountains was beautiful! I90 is the only interstate designated as a scenic route; and it certainly is that.

The high desert looks a lot like Nebraska! But as we work our way east, the land flattens out, and where it’s irrigated, it could be IL or IN out there. Flat with green fields. No trees, however. Nearing Spokane there is more traffic again, and we begin to see farms and beef cattle grazing. Without irrigation, this area is too dry to support much else.

We’ll stopped near Spokane at a store to buy lunch food for today and tomorrow.

Our lunch spot turned out to be a small city park called Treaty Rock Park. Nice short walk around the rock where a treaty was signed between the Indians and a man named Post for 200 acres of land on which to build a mill.

May 25, day 27
We stopped last night at Missoula, MT. The trip to Yellowstone will be about 300 miles. We opted for a less scenic route south from I90 to Yellowstone. But it was definitely quite scenic anyway; without huge elevation changes and winding roads. The road (US 287) runs through wide valleys with ranches and small towns. Mountains surround the valleys, and rivers full of snow melt race through the narrow places.

Occasionally we would enter a narrow canyon or climb to a higher elevation to get to the next valley.

About noon we reached the West gate of Yellowstone. The drive down south from West Gate was about 16 miles at 45mph. Along the way we saw Roosevelt Elk, and Buffalo along the river. Lots of people were fishing in the Madison and Gibbon Rivers, and the various creeks along the way. We stopped at Lower Geyser Basin and took a bunch of pictures, and saw buffalo there as well. Then as we were driving toward Old Faithful Inn, we saw a half dozen adult buffalo and three calves walking down the road. Sometimes walking in the middle of the road. The cars in front of us all stopped, so it took forever until we got close enough to actually take pictures; but I hung out of the car window and got some video of them walking in the road.

Once we arrived at Old Faithful Inn, we were able to check into our room. Afterwards we walked up to the geyser, but it was not due to go off for another 30 – 40 minutes, so we went on to Snow lodge to the gift shop there. I bought postcards for the kids.

Then we walked back down to Old Faithful. It erupts about every 80 minutes, so we sat on a bench and waited. And waited… and waited. The sun had disappeared behind the clouds, and the breeze had picked up and it was 47 degrees with a wind chill! My hands were freezing. Then, of course, my camera decided the battery was not strong enough to take video and kept shutting itself off! We did see it erupt, and I did get some shots, but I need to charge it up before I do any more.

The geothermal fields here are the most interesting scenery I think I’ve ever seen. Very other-worldly.

We had to make reservations for dinner at the lodge, and all that was available was 5:00 or 8:45, so, since we’d eaten lunch at 2:30, we took the later time. We walked around looking at other geysers and hot springs, and then went back to our room at about 5:30 to rest a bit. We’ll go back up to Snow Lodge and get a T shirt for Vince, and see Old Faithful go off again before dinner. It’s been spitting rain this afternoon.

Left the room again around 7:15 to go up to the gift shop. Vince found his T shirt and I got a coffee mug. Took the excess stuff out to the car so we’d only have 1 trip in the morning, and went in for dinner. I had a lovely fresh Idaho trout. Yum! After dinner, I downloaded the pics from my camera to the laptop. I wanted to make sure that the camera was fully charged for tomorrow

Monday, May 26, 2008 Memorial Day; day 28.
Woke up to sunshine! We drove back north past the west gate to Norris; Canyon, and across to Fishing Bridge and the east gate. At Canyon we took a scenic drive up to the canyon. It is called the Grand Canyon of the north; and there are two Falls in the Yosemite river there. We got to see both of them and take pictures before going on to the East Gate.

The road became a rollercoaster ride down along a mountain or three, following the Yosemite River. We dropped in elevation from 8900+ feet to 695 feet! There was rain and snow falling all of the way down the mountains; and temps hovered around 36.

We then headed east across the north end of Yosemite Lake. In some areas along the shore, the ice on the lake has melted where the warm runoff from the geysers and hot springs come into the lake. Otherwise the lake is still covered with ice. There is still a lot of snow on the ground in some places.

There is a visitor’s center and museum at east Gate, so we stopped there for a while, and
(Just a note here about gas mileage. My HHR is rated at 26-30mpg. On the trip so far, the lowest we’ve had was something over 28mph, and the highest is 31.3! Not bad!)

We stopped in a little town called Cody (as in Buffalo Bill Cody) and had lunch at a little local place. It had been raining steadily, and temps in the upper 30’s. Soup sounded like a good idea! After lunch as we continued east, the sun came out and the temp climbed to the low 50’s.

However, the sun was a tease. Pretty soon it began to rain hard, and we drove in steady rain for the rest of the day. We stopped for the night in Sturgis SD. The only restaurants open were bars, but we had a nice meal anyway. We got the last room at the motel. 4 middleaged, cleancut guys on Harley’s had pulled in just ahead of us, and they all looked pretty much like drowned rats. They were probably there to see the Motorcycle museum. Sturgis is sort of a Mecca for bikers.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 Day 29
It’s still raining, and is supposed to continue all day. Today we’ll drive as far as possible, as we need to be home tomorrow. I called Candi (house sitter) and left a message that we’d arrive home on Wednesday so we’d feed the cats that night. She’ll stop over Thursday after work and I’ll write her a check for the balance we owe her.

We stopped at Wall Drug in Wall, WY. I guess it’s one of those places where one must stop. It’s a huge tourist trap! We had a piece of pie and a cup of 5 cent coffee – which was about all it was worth. Brown water. Walked around a little. Vince bought a small Mt. Rushmore model to put on the layout at the club, and a Wall Drug thimble.

Back on the road again. Again we stopped for a hot lunch because the weather was lousy. It never got above 45 degrees. We made it into Minnesota by about 70 miles before stopping for the night in Fairmount

Wednesday, May 28, day 30
On the last leg home. The weather had cleared over night, so we’ll get a nice day – finally! We’ve barely seen the sun in the past 10 days. I’m much more cheerful today. It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do!

We stopped for lunch at a rest area just barely west of Madison and got back on the highway. We should be home by 3:00 or so.

HOME! As much as we enjoyed this trip; it is so nice to come home to our own ‘place’. I look forward to sleeping in my own bed for the first time in a month.

It has been a wonderful trip – one that holds memories that will be part of my life forever. Seeing my sons in their environment. Holding my great Granddaughter, watching her attempts to crawl and pull herself up to stand, and getting to know Jamie better. Spending good quiet time with my loved ones, and spending a lot of time with my husband; some of it quiet while driving, but also time when we talked about our children and grandchildren, our plans and hopes, and things we’ll do when we get home.

Often in the rush and schedules of our day-to-day lives, we end up not spending time when there are no interruptions, no outside influences; just two people who really like each other (and love each other) in a car together.

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