Wednesday, June 30, 2010

DAY ONE: Out of the US and Into Canada!

View today's pictures
Well, it is time for the great adventure to begin! We have tried to analyze, reanalyzed, rethink, etc. for two days what we will need, what to take, how to take it all and still fly home, etc. Hard on the mind! We finally gave up trying to plan too much and take the more relaxed “go with the flow” method of travel – camping! Purchased cheap sleeping bags, tents, and pool air mattresses, Styrofoam cooler – all of which will be less than half of the cost of a night’s stay at a motel on Al-Can prices! Annika will get a “play house” and we’ll just take the rest to Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.
Rick finds our old cargo net in the carport, and we use it to secure the big suitcase in the bed – helps make things more comfortable in the cab space wise! And since we don’t have a truck anymore to use with it, we can just donate it to Swansons as well!
On the road at 7:13 am, odometer reading 103765 official start! Shortly out of Baker Rick tries out the cruise control. It wants to work, it’s trying, but no luck. Later, just before Tri-Cities, it finally engages. Might be a hit or miss thing, but at least an occasional hit will be helpful! Our first few fill-ups today will give us an idea of the gas mileage we can expect.
Beautiful summer morning. Cool last night in Baker, so temps at departure around 48 degrees. Sunny and crisp! The wildflowers along the freeway are spectacular – yellows, pinks, and purples. We can see Mt. Adams from Cabbage Hill and even catch a glimpse of Hood later. Temperatures in Tri-Cities are a pleasant mild for the summertime. A relief since the truck has no air conditioning.
We leave divided freeway near Connell, WA – mostly two-lane highway from here to Fairbanks! And rural highway it is – we just passed 5 chickens foraging along the road!
At Moses Lake around 11:15 to gas up and grab some crackers and hard boiled eggs. I brought two apples also, that we will eat enroute to the border, as they can’t cross over! I take over driving at Moses Lake.
The drive up Highway 17 north is a VERY pleasant surprise! At first dry and arid with sagebrush hills, but at Soap Lake we veer up a basalt rift with an arm of Coulee Lake. Easy road and I have virtually NO traffic going in my direction! Great rock formations with the river and lake.
Past Coulee City we climbed up and up until we reach a broad mesa grassland, with some wheat fields, amidst the basalt plain. Pieces of rock poke up here and there in the middle of the fields. The grass is green, and the views west to the Northern Cascades are pretty impressive.
Remainder of the drive up to the border is along either the Columbia River or the Okanogan River. We stop in Tonasket to fill up one more time with US gas prices and say hi to Kady, who is only 40 miles to the east of us in Republic. On to the border!
Oroville, at the border, has beautiful hanging baskets along the highway. We are a little dismayed to find the “border wait time” posted as 35 minutes. Good heavens – what kind of questions are they asking people!
We end up with a 28 minute wait time at the border. I call Luke for one last conversation before we enter Canada and prohibitive rates on the cell phone! The border guard checks our passports, and then comments that we don’t have very much gear for a trip up the Al-Can! We explain that we are flying home, hence a light load. Then we have to explain what is happening to the truck! He accepted our story and waved us on! Into Canada at 3:20 pm.
The orchards just south of the border seemed to have plenty of cherries on the trees, but after entering BC we don’t find any fruit stands right away. Some say bulk sales only or u-pick, and that isn’t exactly what I had in mind. Maybe later, maybe tomorrow….
There is considerably more traffic from the border north through Osoyoos and on up into Penticton. The road follows the Okanagan River and various lakes formed from the dams. And the rocks! I believe this is part of the Rocky Mountains! Hugh monoliths forming the canyon. Orchard upon orchard, vineyard upon vineyard. So much fruit nearly ripe.
We arrive in Penticton around 4:15 and with a little effort find a Wendy’s for dinner. Salads hit the spot! I try an ATM at the Safeway, but my debit card doesn’t work. Will try again later. North of Penticton, the road borders the west side of the lake which reminds us of Chelan – long and narrow. At Peachland, we leave 97 and head west on 97C to Merritt.
Wow! What a highway – we climb and climb and climb – glad we aren’t pulling a trailer. The summits tops around 5600’ – we used the new GPS to determine our elevation because BC doesn’t put out signs for that. An absolutely beautiful highway – 4 lanes that rims the edge of a vast forested valley. At the top we finally found where they were actively logging. Fields of lupine and other wildflowers. Finally we reach the summit and drop down into Merritt.
Merritt was our intended stop for the night, but since we have decided to take the Stewart-Cassiar Highway instead of the Al-Can up to Watson Lake, we want to get a little further tonight so we can spend part of a day exploring Stewart-Hyder on the Portland Canal (part of Misty Fjords National Monument). Merritt is a charming little mill town, set in a beautiful valley. The houses are so neat and well kept. We stop at a gas station and fill up – hopefully enough to get us to Prince George tomorrow morning. I find another ATM and this time….my card works. We now have some Canadian money! We can have coffee in the morning!
It is about 7pm as we leave Merritt to follow a “gray highway” #8 to Spence’s Bridge – a shorter route mileage wise, but we quickly realize might not be faster. But the river v alley it follows is gorgeous in the lowering sunlight. Farms and ranches with rows of hay drying. Irrigation sprinklers and green everywhere. The road is definitely not straight, but fun! Up and over a little pass, and we spot a cow moose alongside the road. She had gotten on the wrong side of the deer fence. Speaking of which, BC has wonderful deer fences to keep the animals off the highways.
By the end of Hwy 8, we are ready for the windy to stop, but it was a beautiful little road. We finally drop down to Spence’s Bridge, a railroad stop on the Thompson River Highway. We see a waterfall, a quaint old church, and more hoodoos in the soft rock formations. All gorgeous, even more so with the setting sunlight. Only 30 miles into Cache Creek. We should arrive before dark!
My apologies to any and all who have read this far and think…”.my gosh, Ginger writes too much”. Read what you wish, but remember this is my official journal of the trip, so I may include things that are uninteresting to most, but we want to recall later! I also apologize for any typographical or spelling errors that didn’t get caught in a very fast editing review. I am often typing while viewing the scenery and my fingers may occasionally stray!
It’s 9pm and I am in my new Garfield PJ bottoms, a glass of wine at my side, our tent all set up! Life is good. Day One ends and Truck did awesome!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shortcut to Heaven Hike

Home to Baker – Top Spur Trail

View Blog Pictures

We rise early at 6:30 to pull out of the campground just before 7 – a full day ahead of us! Stop to gas up the Toyota and get coffee and muffins/donuts at a gas station in Lincoln City. Then on up to Liz’s house, where we arrive shortly before 9:30. Liz is still home. Hand over the keys, see some of her quilt work, and on our way to Mt. Hood!! I am so excited to return to my favorite spot on the mountain via my “Shortcut to Heaven” Trail. (The Forest Service calls it the Top Spur Trail and has developed it very nicely from the hard to spot logging roads and unmarked trail I first discovered back in the late 70’s.

It is a BEAUTIFUL day – God takes care of me everytime I want to hike up to this special place – at least in recent years! The mountain is beckoning to us. We turn off on the Lolo Pass Road and up the first four miles, looking for a place to drop off the tent trailer. We know we do NOT want to take it up the narrow little road (albeit paved now!) to the trailhead. We find just the spot – the school bus turn-around just prior to turning off Lolo Pass Road. We are winding up along the Sandy River – and witness the destruction and changes the river has wrought in recent years of flooding. The road winds through thick alder forests – the temperature is very appealing and cool. Jed loves it! He has thought everything so delightfully green and cool after three straight weeks of high 90’s and 100’s.

Up to the trailhead and we scavenge from the ice chest – carrots, pretzels, leftover pasta salad, and strawberries. A great snack. We are on our way by 11:45.

I race up the uphill part in eager anticipation of the view ahead. Unfortunately my lungs can’t always keep up with my spirit! But stops are beautiful as we hike along a carpet of first trilliums and then avalanche lilies – in full bloom. We think of Kady as we see them all – and her love of lilies. They make a good excuse to stop and catch a quick breath while taking a picture! (That’s why I have so MANY flower pictures!) As we near the point where the trail conitours around the open face of ‘Bald Mountain, I start taking a video… I can rehike this trail and the joy I have when I “’round the corner” whenever I want!

The mountain is everything I remember from here: big, powerful, and still mantled in white. Rick and boys discuss where they were during their aborted summit attempt two years ago. We all marvel at the diversity of wildflowers in bloom: paintbrushes, vetch, larkspur, mission bells, and clump after clump of lupine ready to burst into bloom. I love this spot!

In spite of a full parking lot, we arrive at the viewpoint as one other group is leaving, and a couple with their baby and dog arrive just as we are leaving – otherwise we are alone on the mountain. Perfect!

Down off the mountain, pick up the trailer, and up to Government Camp at 2:15 to find something proper to eat. The boys are hungry! We dine at the Huckleberry Inn, and share two huckleberry milkshakes along with our meals. Government Camp is bustling today with business – the beautiful day has perhaps made people think that summer has finally come to the mountain!

Homeward bound now, passing the poplar tree farm outside of Boardman. Luke is driving, Jed is now napping once again, and Toby Mac is playing on the CD player! We are enjoying traveling together again in our van and trailer as a family. ETA for Baker City? 9 pm! Fourteen hours from surf to mountaintop to the cattle ranches of Eastern Oregon! It’s a great state!

PS. Ouch! Realized just prior to Government Camp that I left my wallet under the front seat of the Toyota. Phone call to Dave asking for a quick Overnight Delivery to Baker! We are leaving for Alaska on Wednesday! Thank you Liz!

Conklin Wedding on the Beach

Beverly Beach

I lied about the next post! I write from the shade of the thousands of trees engulfing Beverly Beach campground just north of Newport. The sky is sunny and clear, the sun trying to be warm. Rick and I have taken a walk all over the campground and on the nature trail along Spencer Creek. Jed is down “with the boys” having pictures taken, having arisen early with Luke to help Bryan “decorate” the beach for the wedding! (They moved a bunch of rocks and made a little driftwood front.)

We arrived yesterday afternoon around 3:15 after a beautiful drive up the coast. Boys pulled in right at 4 pm. They had finally gotten to bed last night at 2:30, but left Baker right on schedule at 8. They were somewhat tired! We had a good chance to visit before the rehearsal started at 5:30. Dinner was up in Lincoln City at Galucchi’s Pizza. Expensive but good pizza! We especially enjoyed reminiscing about BMS and BHS with Erin Toole who is down to take the pictures. Back to the campground around 10 to make a fire and visit as a family until 11:30 or so.

Bryan and Shannon’s wedding is set for 3 pm. Jed has to be dressed and down on the beach at noon for pictures. Luke, we discover later, has been on “guard duty” down on the beach making sure the hoards of people visiting today don’t mess with the rock and “altar” area.

God couldn’t have blessed us with a more beautiful day. The wind is cool and strong, but the sun is bright (Jed says “sunburn bright!”) The wedding is not big in terms of attendees and the guests basically stand behind Shannon and Bryan as we all face the ocean – at high tide. Maybe the tide helped cut down on the number of people on the beach! But we are on the rocks (it is like a streambed area filled with thousands of round smooth water caressed stones. Cherrie and Debbie – the two moms – are “escorted” in by Camryn and Dillon. Caden is the ring bearer.

It was a fun wedding – simple, but nice. Fun visiting with members of Jed’s class who participated or attended – just a few close ones. Lots of kids with young cousins. Andrea and Dan were both attendants – we told them they were practicing for next month. The reception was in the large meeting hall yurt. Rick spent considerable time after the wedding playing with Dillon and Camryn and Caden out in the grass – letting them burn off lots of energy.

Afterwards we went back to camp to relax and enjoy a campfire. Jed gave Rick his GPS system for Father’s Day and some quick instruction before Conklins came down with the boys for s’mores. A nice evening helping Dillon and Camryn enjoy a good taste of the camping life!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Leaving Bandon

Friday morning – Bandon
Well, we are preparing to take off this morning and head north to Beverly Beach State Park up north of Newport – to meet up with Jed and Luke and attend Bryan Conklin’s wedding tomorrow. I have Jed’s clothes all washed and pressed. His flight last night was delayed, so he and Luke are going to be two tired boys when they arrive!
I arose early this morning and saw a low tide on the beach at 6 am – you could see the bare sand west of the big rock. I “window walked” the beach – is there such a term?
Crossed the last of our “to do’s” off Mom’s list this morning and now just packing up and folding up the tent trailer.
Yesterday was beautiful after the fog burned off. Rick and worked outside after I spent the morning lazily finishing a book – you have to have some vacation time! We took a walk on the beach in the afternoon – against a fierce north wind! Talked with Luke on phone and Rick set up the memorial service time with Randy for Pop – August 7 in Greenville. Mom and I played games – afraid I was not a gracious guest as I ended up winning the Cribbage contests, the Quiddler games, and Spite and Malice. Quiddler was the closest score, 4-3.
Our next post could be from the Alaska Highway next week!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

House Repairs!

Bandon, Oregon

Well, we’ve spent the past two days happily working on the list of house repairs and chores that Mom usually has ready for us. Car is all waxed and shiney, “armoraled” and vaccumed. We do ours at the same time, so the van is looking pretty too! The big job was new shelving in the kitchen pantry, with the idea of lowering the can good shelf so Mom doesn’t have to get up on the step stool all the time! That led to a good reorganization and cleaning out of some cupboards in the kitchen! Showers are getting cleaned and waxed, leaky spots on the exterior caulked, new water hoses on the washing machine, trimming done on shrubs and hedges and trees, flowers planted, and weeds pulled! Productive time, but nothing too major. Wrapped all that work up with some sockeye salmon, corn on the cob, and fresh broccoli for dinner last night! Yum!

Monday was absolutely gorgeous – one of those perfect coast days when I didn’t want to go inside to do any work at all! Sunny, clear, with a light not-too-cold wind.

Right now, early morning, the weather is misty and foggy – I can barely see the rocks down on the beach .Today we have a big trip up to Coos Bay planned! To Triple A for Alaska materials, to the Bandon Sanitary office to make a deposit on garbage pickup (hurray – no more trips to the dump for my Mom!), and the usual stop at Walmart or Bimart. Rick and I might look at picking up another two sleeping bags in case we end up camping out a couple nights on our trip up to Alaska. Something we can leave up there if necessary.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beach Supper

Devil’s Kitchen Wayside, Bandon

Tonight we went down to the state wayside just south of Mom’s and had a beach supper. Lorrie and Ron thought it would be a great idea as Anna could get in plenty of quality beach time and Mom hadn’t been down to the beach for some time, especially to enjoy hot dogs and s’mores!

Earlier in the afternoon we enjoyed clam chowder down in Old Town and browsed the shops for abit – Lorrie had heard about Cranberry Sweets and needed to check it out! A little nap time and then off to the beach. The weather cooperated and the cloudy skies of morning cleared off to sunshine and light winds for the afternoon. Beautiful!

We dragged the ice chest, chairs, wood, etc. all down to the beach and Rick dug a nice hold for the fire. A stream flows into the ocean at this wayside, so Anna had a ready source of fresh water and plenty of sand. She loves to dig! She used the small shovel we brought for the fire to dig holes, flip sand, and in general have a great time.

A short rain shower threatened to dampen our party, but it was over quickly, a rainbow greeted us, and the many clouds in the sky resulted in interesting patterns as the sun went down. We enjoyed plenty of s’mores and some messing faces! All in all, a great evening!

View all our Bandon Trip pictures here!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bandon on Saturday

Saturday morning - Bandon

It is a typical summer morning on the beach – the deck is damp, clouds are lingering, but you can see some blue sky out over the ocean. Hopefully the weather will clear up more and warm day will come so we can have a beach supper tonight!

Worked out in the yard yesterday to finish weeding some of Mom’s front bed, watered the new plants, Rick cleaned the pit and did some house repairs. Mom and I prepared all the items necessary for a Malayan dinner for when Lorrie, Ron, and Anna arrive later this afternoon. Highlight of the day was Margaret calling with a potential computer for Mom! And then later to say she was purchasing it! Hurray, hurray! It is a PC so no more Apple conflicts.

We had a wonderful walk on the beach with Ron, Lorrie, and Anna – tide was not really low so we barely got around the tip of Face Rock. Anna loves to gather special gems from the beach – she was looking for sand dollar pieces and “sea glass”. Fun time together and we will spend time again today with them.

In the middle of our fun last night, Rick received the phone call from his family that Pop had passed away. Later he called Luke and Jed to let them know. We’ll know more about the plans for the service in the days ahead. As Luke wrote on Facebook, “another trombone has joined the heavenly chorus”. God bless you, Pop.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bandon Beach - Thursday

McLean House

Bandon, Oregon

I am sitting in the easy chair looking out through sunny, albeit windy, skies at the waves dancing and the tide going out. Maybe a walk will be in order later this evening. We have spent two days in resting, relaxing, and accomplishing a fair number of tasks on both our list and Mom’s: Rick has washed and waxed the cars, repaired a few things, and mounted some additional “safety” features. We’ve got Mom’s amended taxes done, checked the insurance, researched garbage pickup, and cleaned up a few things on her very frustrating and outdated computer. I realized yesterday that I left the power cord to the scanner in Baker, so I am simply viewing all my slides to decide which ones to scan. Mom has learned to play cribbage and we are into our third game. We went out to lunch today at the Thai Thai restaurant (yes, you put the word twice!), and will prepare a Malayan Dinner for Friday night when Ron, Lorrie, and Anna will be here! I have finished reading one book and begun another. Made two fresh loaves of sourdough bread yesterday. Goodness – this sounds like vacation at the beach! Hallelujah!

We do, however, keep close to the phone for word from Albuquerque concerning Rick’s dad. Pretty much all systems are shutting down and his passing could happen at any time. Almost feel guilty having a good time here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Clearwater Falls Campground - Enroute to Bandon

Clearwater Falls Campground.
North Ummpqua River, Oregon.
Wow – what a day of highs and lows. A beautiful drive over from Baker. This time of year everything is soooo green. The grasses under the ponderosa pines going over the Blues and the Ochocos. Fields of deep green grasses and light green sage. Full reservoirs! Blue skies. Wildflowers – arrow balsamroot, buttercups, phlox, butter and eggs, wild iris fields, and along the Umpqua dogwood and rhododendrons! Volcanos still wrapped in snow against a blue sky. Mt. Thiesen with its lightning rod spire. Beautiful country and smooth sailing with few construction stops.
Another high was a stop in Redmond (and avoiding the chaos of stopping in
Bend) and doing one stop shopping at the Fred Meyer. Rick found new Nikes, shoes for Ginger (yes!), sandals for Jed, and a few other purchases I wanted to make before arriving in Bandon. I drove for nearly an hour on the stretch from Lavalands Visitor Center down to the rest stop below Chemult. A good stretch to practice trailer driving.
The low was the call from Randy in Prairie City to hear that Pop is failing and won’t be going home from the hospital today. Hard to hear, but perhaps a blessing. Is it wrong to pray that God will take him home sooner rather than later? I hope not, because I think that is our prayer. We finally get a chance to talk with Mom from the rest stop and will touch base again tomorrow once we reach Bandon.
We stop at Clearwater Falls Campground on the north Umpqua River. Until about 9pm we have the campground to ourselves! We walk up to the falls, climb to the top, and marvel at the thick moss covering all the rocks. It is really pretty in the setting sunlight. Back to camp for a good campfire and conversation. We have a constant visitor in the shape of a deer that keeps feeding at the campsite next to us. This is a dry camp…no water and we don’t have much in the car. So we sit around the fire and drink from the wine boxes!
Clear night and cooling temperatures. We will be glad to have the boys’ sleeping bags to pull over us as well as our own!
Tuesday: Arrive in Bandon at 11:45 am, backing into the driveway just as Mom comes home from the grocery store. Good timing! A beautiful drive down the Umpqua this morning, through Roseburg and over the coast mountains. Everything so green!
View all our trip pictures!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gorham Group PIcture!

I couldn't leave it alone. Had to add the picture!
Posted by Picasa

Gorham Butte Hike

So, this is really my test run for maintaining a spot on Blogger. Saturday (June 12) Rick wanted to go for a hike with Luke and I. Anthony seemed like it might be a tad bit snowy still, so we headed up to the top of Gorham Butte - at about the 6,000 foot level. The flowers were a little late, but we did find a north facing meadow filled with glacier lilies, patches of phlox, and masses of teeny tiny Maiden Mary blue-eyes. The most amazing wildlife was a huge colony of lady bugs - all nesting right at the top near the rock cairn. Luke showed me how to use my digital macro feature of our camera (we have the same camera!) Pretty neat. From the top you get a panorama view of Baker Valley, the Elkhorns, and the Wallowa Mountains to the east. You can look down on Pilcher Creek Reservoir. Luke built an inuksuk at the top. He really has this primitive rock sculpture down to a true art form! We selected as a site a rock outcropping so the inuksuk would really stand out - while a bit shaky of a foundation, it worked! Coming down off the butte, we discovered one little patch of morels growing right in the middle of the old logging road! I picked them all and carried them out in the fold of my t-shirt! The skies were blue, the sun was warm, and the windy was.....windy! It was blowing strong all day Saturday! Good time!
Addendum....well I learned one thing. Add image only adds ONE picture and it was the last one I clicked. picture of the three of us with the inuksuk. Maybe next time! But check out the lady bugs!