Posted by Sierra
Best Meal: Sean Paxton’s house, Sonoma, CA
Best Brewpub: Pelican Pub, Pacific City, OR
Best Ice Cream: Cowlicks, Fort Bragg, CA
Best Candy: Lillie Belle Farms Chocolates, Medford, OR
Best Sausage: Roundman’s Smokehouse (Motto: We Smoke Anything!), Fort Bragg, CA
Best Cheese: Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue for Mom and Dad, WAY too many to decide for Sierra
Best Pie: Sour Cream Lemon Pie from Frontier Pies, Rexburg, ID
Best RV-cooked Meal: Dad’s Father’s Day Ribeye
Best Beer: Lost Abbey Veritas 004 (Dad), Russian RIver Consecration (Mom)
Best Sandwich: Pear & Blue Cheese Sandwiches (in the RV)
Best Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet, Yosemite National Park, CA
Best Pizza: Stuffed Pizza, Chicago Fire, Sacramento, CA
Best Hamburger: Kobe Burger, Rogue Brewpub, Newport, OR
Best Factory Tour: Harry & David, Medford, OR
Best Farmer’s Market: Marin County, CA
Best Campground with Service: KOA in Willets, CA
Best Campground without Service: Signal Mountain Campground, Grand Teton National Park, WY
Best Pool: Corvallis Community Pool, Corvallis, OR
Best Bathrooms: Hi-Valley RV Park, Boise, ID
Worst Bathrooms: KOA in Devil’s Tower, WY (no hot water in shower)
Best National Park: Yellowstone National Park, WY, ID, and MT
Best Historic Site: Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA
Best Memorial: Mount Rushmore, SD
Best Hike: Vernal/Nevada Falls hike, Yosemite National Park, CA
Best Bike Trail: John Dellenbeck Trail, Diamond Lake, OR
Best Drive: San Diego-Pacific City, CA & OR
Best Visitor Center: Craig Thomas Visitor Center, Grand Teton National Park, WY
Best Park Rangers: Yellowstone National Park, MT, WY, and ID
Best Animal Moment: When the mountain goat and baby trotted along the trail next to us in Glacier National Park, MT
Best State Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods, CA
Noisiest State Park: Memaloose Campground, OR
Worst Mosquitoes: Diamond Lake RV Park, OR
Best Bookstore: Powell’s City of Books, Portland, OR
Best Museum: Musée Mechanique, San Francisco, CA
Best Small Town: Nevada City, CA
Best Small City: Santa Cruz, CA
Best Medium City: Portland, OR
Best Large City: San Francisco, CA
Best Parting Gifts: Toiletries and more from Bill and Liping’s house
Best Sweatshirt Message: “Tsunami Plan – Run Like Hell” in a store in Newport, OR
Best Party: Aunt Gretchen’s Dinner Party in Longmont, CO
Posted by Sierra
Glacier National Park in Montana, our last BIG trip stop, is considered one of the major tourist destinations. It became popular because of its proximity to the railroad, and today we think of it as being in the same category as Yosemite and Yellowstone.
The first day we were there, we took the Red Bus Tour. These historic buses take you around the park. The various tours can last anywhere from 2.5-8.5 hours. We did the “Crown of the Continent” tour, which picked us up at the KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) and took us all the way up to Lake McDonald Lodge. The driver, called a “Jammer,” was very funny. He said things like, “The bears call bicyclists ‘Meals on Wheels,’” and “We call bear bells ‘dinner bells’ because they make the bear curious.”
The second day in Glacier, we took a shuttle up to Logan Pass and trekked through snow to get to Hidden Lake. We also did a ranger program called “Montana Jones and the Secrets of Red Eagle Valley” that involved a hike through a burned area of the forest.
The third day we were there was Mom’s birthday. We drove to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks are the International Peace Parks. We did a strenuous 7 mile hike that took us across the border. We got to see the border line that was cut through the trees. I also had fun jumping form one country to the next (example: “I’m in Canada, I’m in the US, I’m in Canada, now I’m in the US, I’m in Canada, now …” and so on).
That night, we ate dinner at the Cattle Baron’s Supper Club in the town of Babb (back in Montana). There happened to be some kind of Corvette cross-country trip (I am not making this up) dining at the club. Seriously, there were, like, 10 Corvettes outside! The Corvette people ate up all the filet mignon and the New York Strip steaks.
Our final day in Glacier, we drove to Apgar Village. There we shopped around and had ice cream. We ended by taking a shuttle back up to Lake McDonald Lodge.
Thus ends my play-by-play of our time in Glacier National Park. So, if you’re ever planning a trip there, remember this: The number one cause of death in Glacier is drowning!
So have fun, and don’t forget to bring your life preserver!
Posted by Sierra
Wind Cave was our fourth and final cave of the trip. In case you have forgotten, our other caves were:
Located a few hours’ drive away from the Badlands, Wind Cave is the fourth-largest cave system in the world. It is most famous for its boxwork.
The cave used to be owned by a family called McDonald. They hoped to mine the cave, but when they couldn’t find anything mineable, they started giving tours.
Their son, Alvin McDonald, gave most of the tours. He was obsessed with the cave. Once, when he was giving a tour, he found a new passageway, and he left his tour to go explore. The group was down there overnight, in the total darkness. Luckily, Alvin remembered they were down there and went back.
We took the Candlelight Tour, which is the kind of tour they used to give in the olden days, before there was electricity. Our tour was led by “Ranger Max.”
You hold a bucket, in which there is a candle. The bucket spreads the light from the candle out, like a flashlight. For about half of the tour, you are using only the candles to see. On parts of the tour, you might take one wrong step and fall into an abyss. You get to see lots of boxwork, and you also get to experience total blackness like the kind Alvin McDonald left that tour in, in the exact same spot.
Fortunately, we all made it out alive, although there is a rather nasty bruise on my knee. No one got lost, and we didn’t have to resort to cannibalism. Yet.
Posted by Stan
Taken a bit north of Carhenge, which itself is quite cool. Photos from there will have to wait until we have a good Flickr connection. Like next month at home.
Posted by Stan
Early on Sierra learned we expect her to be able to hike her age.
Thus you see her on the right in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas on Memorial Day of 1999. Not long after I took the picture she insisted on being carried back to our tent, but the tradition had begun.
She’s smiling in the photo above, taken last week in Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park, but she sometimes makes it clear she’s still not committed to this idea. I snapped this picture about six miles into a 13-mile jaunt (Sierra was 12 last December).
About this time Sierra declared her feet “burned like the fire of 10,000 suns.”
At least she was wise enough not ask to be carried back to the RV.
Posted by Sierra
Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park. It is 2.2 million acres, most of which is located in Wyoming. Established March 1, 1872, Yellowstone is one of the most visited parks, up there on the list with Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Arches National Parks. I’m here today to tell you about some of the highlights.
* Old Faithful: This is the obvious place to start. Old Faithful is the largest attraction in the park, and unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of it. Spewing water on a fairly predictable basis (see visitor center for predictions) the image of this geyser isn’t hard to find. Just peek into any gift shop, restaurant, or hotel. Keep in mind that, like the Mona Lisa, “Most Famous” doesn’t always mean “Best.”
* Grand Geyser: If you are willing to wait an hour and a half to have rolls “throwed” at you (see: Throwed, not Thrown), then you are probably willing to wait around for a few hours to watch a geyser erupt. Although Grand Geyser (above), the World’s Tallest Predictable Geyser, is um, predictable, there is a rather large time frame in which it might erupt. For example, when we saw it, the sign said “Eruption should be between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.” It erupted at 3:00 p.m. This gets my vote for “Best Geyser.”
* Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Although this is not quite as big as that other Grand Canyon, it offers spectacular views. It seriously looks like a painting. And yes, it is called the Grand Canyon of THE Yellowstone, in reference to the river. The Grand Canyon of THE Yellowstone wins “Best Canyon.”
* General Stores: There is usually at least one of these in the vicinity. They sell everything from camping supplies to souvenir mugs to shirts that say, “Yellow(stone).”
* Other Hydrothermal Features: There are hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, and steam vents throughout the park. Some of the hot springs are Morning Glory Pool, Beauty Pool, and Chromatic Pool. Some of the other geysers include Spasmodic Geyser, Solitary Geyser, and Fountain Geyser.
Well, there you have it. Yellow(stone) in a nut(shell).
Posted by Stan
Sierra will give you the words about Yellowstone National Park. A lot to see and take photos of, enough to merit a new category at Flickr . . . if we could find a good enough connection to post dozens of them. That might have to wait until August. Meanwhile here are a few chosen to illustrate the amazing range of colors throughout the park.
Posted by Stan
Yes, Sierra was happy to be entering Montana — even if the sun made it hard for her to smile.
Montana became the 46th state we’ve visited on our journey, and was quickly followed by No. 47, Wyoming.
But the real reason to post this photo is that Sierra has now been in all 50 states at least once. She’d kick everybody’s butt on that Facebook list going around . . . were she on Facebook.
Posted by Sierra
Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten anything from Harry & David, be it online, as a gift, or from one of their stores. It may have been Moose Munch, Royal Riviera pears, Bing cherries, or a gift box with an assortment of goodies. We went to the flagship store in Medford, Oregon. There you can take a tour of the bakery and the packing plant for $5 (you also get a coupon that is good for $5 off a purchase of more than $35). At the end, you get free samples (more on that later)!
The first stop on our tour was the bakery, where you can see Moose Munch being made (the photo above). Some 8,000 pounds of Moose Munch are made per hour! You can tell what each worker does based on their hairnet/gloves. A green hairnet means you’re a supervisor, a blue hairnet means you’re a line leader, a yellow hairnet means you speak Spanish and English, and any other colors mean you’re just a worker. Also, purple gloves mean you work in a high-allergen environment and should be careful not to contaminate anything. Also in the bakery are Swedish ovens, which rotate the baking goods. Two giant vats can hold about 6,000 pounds of chocolate apiece. Then come the free samples. You get a cookie and a chocolate. The chocolate was good, but the cookie had jam in it. I hate jam. But Mom and Dad were happy to eat mine.
Next on the tour, you go to the packing plant. On the way there, you pass the orchards, where they grow 800 pounds of peaches and 19,000 tons of pears a year. At harvest time, it takes 400 workers 6 weeks to get all the pears off the trees!
You can see people packing fruits and other treats into baskets and boxes. The experienced packers can pack 300-400 boxes a day!
Finally, at the end of the tour, you end up back in the store. I recommend buying lots of Moose Munch. The chocolate kind is yummy, but (in my opinion) the fat-free toffee kind is even better. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sneak some. Don’t tell Mom!
Because Matt Van Wyk asked so politely . . .
Even when it’s cloudy the views are terrific.
A lot of snow left on June 17, which we expected. That I’d be beating off mosquitoes while shooting this photos was more of a surprise.
Posted by Stan
One reason we’ve taken a curious route through Oregon, first heading north up the coast, then over to Portland before turning south, was so we could make Crater Lake National Park our last stop before driving to Yellowstone National Park.
That’s because it snows a lot at Crater Lake, and it takes a while to get rid of all of it. They aren’t even close. We knew we wouldn’t be able to travel the Rim Drive that circles the lake or take the boat ride to Wizard Island, but we wanted to camp in the park and hike where we could. Our patience was rewarded when they opened a campground last Friday.
And at least Cleetwood Cove Trail was open. That’s the only authorized route down to the water, the one you take to board a tour boat (when they are operating). It’s steep, descending about 700 feet during a mile hike, leading to incredibly blue water.
The kids will love the hike, Matt. Take them on the boat as well.keep looking »