Almost home

We left Twin Falls this morning at 8:30…not too bad for us!  We had a little over 300 miles to go to get to Green River, WY where we were going to overnight before making it the rest of the way home.  The drive was pretty uneventful and so I took the opportunity to reflect on all the adventures we’ve had together with Ava and The Beast.
Ava in the mirror196 days of adventure to be exact. Did you hear that?  One hundred and ninety six days!!!  That blows my mind!  We’ve been to forts, caves, deserts, planetariums, star parties, beaches, presidents houses, battle sites, monuments, memorials, parks, capitol buildings, mountains, rainforests, cities, skyscrapers, estuaries, islands, rivers, canyons, arches, bridges, boats, kayaks, ferries, plantations, towers, lakes, zoos, museums and probably more.  I’ll have to figure out the exact number but we’ve driven close to 20,000 miles in The Beast, the majority of which he was pulling Ava.  At about 10 miles to the gallon and high diesel prices….well, you can do the math but don’t tell me the dollar amount please.  Because, it doesn’t matter.  Those 196 days exploring this country with my family was worth more than any amount of money.
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Surprise at Twin Falls

It was 500 miles from Hood River to Twin Falls and that is pretty much our max.  We stopped once for diesel and lunch and one other very quick restroom stop.  Our departure time was 7:45am (Pacific time) and arrival time just after 6:00pm (Mountain time).  And through all of that it was predominately hot and dry desserts.  I was starting to wonder why Steph had booked us two nights at Twin Falls as these falls must be a joke in this parched and flat landscape.  We had seen the Snake River a couple of times on our drive and it was definitely big….so maybe they have a little bit of water, but still, where could there possibly be a “falls” in this flat land.  Well, we turned off I-84 towards Twin Falls and there, right in front of us, was a gigantic gash in the earth.  An absolutely spectacular canyon that was a huge surprise after the sort of landscape we’d been in all day.  Conveniently for us the fancy Perrine Bridge allowed us to cross to the other side of the canyon to reach our campground.  Don’t worry, the bridge is not really bent like the picture below will lead you to believe…it’s an artifact of the the way I took the panorama image.
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Mt. Hood

We were pretty cold on the Oregon coast and made sure to always have our jackets with us.  But the last few days in Hood River it has been down right hot.  While we had to run the furnace at night on the coast we’ve got the windows wide open up here.  It’s been a welcome change in the weather!  But when I opened the truck door in the parking lot at the Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood I realized I didn’t have my jacket.  The kids had all thought to bring jackets and Steph had a wind breaker tucked away in her bag (that bag is bottomless it seems).  But there I was in shorts, t-shirt, flip flops and a hatless head.  Now, I had brought socks and shoes so I changed into those, sucked it up and went out to check this mountain out.
Going to Mt. Hood
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Hood River

After a pretty lazy morning we set out for the riverfront park in Hood River to see all the windsurfing and kite boarding action.  I think we sneaked in with the heathens while all the good boys and girls were at church because we got a parking spot right at the park which apparently is usually not possible.  We played at the playground for awhile then took Sheba to the dog beach to play in the water.  But this is also the place for the windsurfers and kite boarders to hang out while they rest or wait “for the wind to pick up.”  After a guy said that I realized this was probably not going to be my sport.  I’m not very comfortable in the water and I’m really not a fan of wind.  But there are plenty of people to keep the sports alive without me.  There were just so many windsurfers and kite boarders it was crazy.  I was interrogating the boarders and kiters about how their gear worked and how they went about learning to fly a huge kite while balancing on an itty bity board bouncing across white caps caused by 30mph wind going upstream and water flowing downstream.  Sounds impossible, but they make it look easy and it’s very neat to watch! Read more

Another dam day

Hood River has been on our itinerary since my good friend John moved there for work this spring and today we arrived at Viento State Park just a few miles west of town.  This state park is right on the Columbia river….but also sandwiched between I-84 and a heavily used railroad.  It is a beautiful place for the eye but not so much for the ears.  We knew this going in so were not surprised.  Our site was a driver side back in so we nailed it on the first try and as we were setting up John showed up!  We chatted for quite awhile as we ate lunch then decided to go check out Bonneville Dam.  John had been to the dam 4 weeks earlier for Father’s day and the shad were running.  He wasn’t sure if there would still be anything to see at the fish ladders or not.  But we were pleasantly surprised to see there were still plenty!!
At fish ladder
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Oregon coast

A trip to the Pacific Northwest would not be complete without a visit to the Oregon coast as well.  Steph was able to score us two nights at the very popular Nehalem Bay State Park so we saddled up and headed down the coast from the Olympic Peninsula.  We had to stop and dump tanks along the way since the Hard Rain Cafe did not have a dump station.  But we found the Kalaloch dump station without issue and only had to wait for one RV in front of us.  We were cruising along just fine until we got to the town of Aberdeen.  I am not sure what the deal was but traffic here was at a complete stand still.  Google was giving us suggested reroutes but we’re nervous of those in towns because Google doesn’t know we’re dragging a 38 foot home behind us and can lead us down some narrow roads, under low bridges and/or tight turns.  Also, NOBODY else was pulling out of traffic.  Surely the locals would all start hitting those side streets to work their way around….but no, everyone just sat there idling.  It took over an hour to get 1 mile through town.  So ridiculous!!  And we still have no clue what the hang up was.

After the crazy traffic jam we stopped for a quick bite to eat and bathroom break before continuing along our journey.  We’d just gone a few miles and were headed up a twisty road when traffic came to a stop.  We could see that up ahead there was a pretty fresh accident.  Luckily it seemed it was a single vehicle (a logging truck mind you) and there seemed to be no injuries.  But this was pretty freaky to see these giant logs scattered all over the road and the big semi jammed into the side of the hill!
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Beach treasures

It is pretty easy for us to spend a whole day at the beach and stay entertained the entire time.  The kids love to play in the waves and dig in the sand.  And all 5 of us can spend hours looking for cool little treasures to collect.  I wish I had done a better job recording our finds on film because we have been to many beaches.  We’ve been to Mustang Island, Galveston Island, Dauphin Island, St. Andrews and St. George beaches.

St. George finds

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Hard Rain Cafe

Back in Three Forks Montana Steph and I spent some time making more reservations for our trip.  She put me in charge of the Olympic Peninsula and I found the Hard Rain Cafe.  It was one of the few places in the area that had reviews on Campendium, confirmed Verizon 4G coverage and was centrally located to both the beaches and the Hoh rainforest.  And they had room for us.  And it was a bargain at $25 per night!!  On the phone the lady assured me they had plenty of room for our 38 foot 5th wheel and some Google reviews agreed with that while others said it was super tight quarters and big rigs should avoid.  While they took a one night deposit I sort of got the feeling the reservation was only taken in the receptionist’s head or maybe a sticky note at best. I called to confirm the reservation the day before and I could almost hear her searching through a stack of post it notes to find the one with my name on it.  I was a little nervous about what the place would be like and being so close to the 4th of July I was worried that there would be no backup options.
Door sign
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Happy Forks of July

It’s the 4th of July and to celebrate our independence we’re going to the town of Forks Washington for their old fashioned 4th of July festivities.  Everyone we talked to said the parade was something not to miss and that we just HAD to enjoy lunch from the traditional salmon bake.  We pulled into town only about 10 minutes before the parade started so thought for sure all the parking would be gone.  But we easily found a spot just across the street from the city park where the parade ends and the salmon bake begins.
Happy Forks of July
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