Friday, July 20, 2018

Glacier National Park

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Hi, Steven here. After a great visit to the Seattle area, we had one more place to stay in our beloved, Washington State: Wenatchee. Our planned 2-day stay at Wenatchee River RV Park was really a place to just decompress. Our site was right by the river and I think the most exciting thing we did while we were there was go to Walmart and Home Depot :)

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Our little spot right by the Wenatchee River.

After that, we were bound for Glacier National Park. We stopped for an overnighter at the Elks Lodge in Coeur D'Alene in Idaho and left early the next morning.

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All tucked in at the Elks in Coeur D’Alene.

We stayed at North American RV Park in Coram, just a few miles outside of the west entrance of Glacier National Park. We were there for seven whole days. Linda prefers shorter stops, in general, whereas I like to really take the time to absorb a place and figure out optimal places to photograph. In this instance, I think we were both happy to be there for a week.

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At the North American RV Park. We had an interesting neighbor. This is one of the more unusual rigs we’ve seen.

This was our third time to visit Glacier together and it seems that every time we go there is some kind of construction going on or the weather does not cooperate. We have rarely seen any wildlife more exotic than a few deer, even though others have seen mountain goats and bears and moose. Go figure. So, for me at least, my expectations were to capture the majesty of the landscape and not try to find the elusive wildlife.

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Yeah, except for the moose part.

We were disappointed to learn that Going to the Sun Road, a highlight of the park, was closed due to snow. This meant that more than half the park was inaccessible to us. Still, there was plenty to see regardless.

One of my favorite scenic views in the park is of McDonald Lake from Apgar Village, a little touristy area with gift shops and cafes. There are benches right by the water's edge with absolutely wonderful views of the lake and distant mountains. I spent quite a bit of time there on my solo trips to the park. I find it to be quite meditative.

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The view from Apgar Village just never gets old.

In my quest to visit sites were Ansel Adams made some of his more well known photographs, I wanted to find out where he had captured one of McDonald Lake. After doing some research and accidentally stumbling upon the place which turned out to be the Ranger's Station, I made plans to come back one evening and take the shot. After two attempts which had me sitting in my car for over an hour waiting for a thunder storm to pass over, I gave up. The lake needed to be glassy smooth for a reflection and the water was just not cooperating. Oh well, it was still cool to stand where the master did and ponder the original photo instead.

Linda and I have a love/hate relationship with all things touristy. Mostly, we try to avoid them and, although our friends say "you should see this or you should see that", we mostly don't. There are some clear exceptions to this rule. When we were in Seattle, for example, we did the Argosy Cruise and we really enjoyed that. There is a lake cruise in Glacier and we decided that would be our touristy thing for this trip. Although the weather had been pretty changeable, we lucked out for the cruise. The water was dead calm and the sun shone the entire time. It ended up being one of the highlights of our trip.

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Dead calm on our boat trip. The views were wonderful.

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I managed to capture some nice scenes on some of my solo trips into the park.

While we (and mostly I) spent the majority of our time at Glacier, we ventured north to see the little ski town of Whitefish. We toyed with the idea of going up on the ski lift for the views but, remember our aversion to touristy things?, yeah, that fell into that particular category. But we did visit the historic train depot back in town.

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Loved the train museum in Whitefish and we had a beautiful day to boot.

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We topped off the day by stopping at the Whiskey Barn for a tasting that led to a purchase (of course).

We learned late on the day before we were to leave, that Going to the Sun Road had reopened. We knew we had to do it so we got up early on our departure day and made the trip. Our initial excitement didn't last when we drove into a soupy fog for what seemed like an eternity. When we got to the top of the pass, we could barely see our hand in front of our face. We were going to turn back but decided to continue to the eastern side of the park. And, man, I'm so glad we did. Within minutes of our descent, the fog disappeared and the views of the mountains and surrounding valleys were just mind -blowing. Our visit to Glacier was now complete.

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We were a little discouraged when we got to the summit and were about to turn back.

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So glad we didn’t turn back because the east side of the park was in full sun. It was simply gorgeous.

As usual, we saw no wildlife during our stay but the vistas easily made up for that. Maybe one of these fine days when we return, we'll get a photo of a bear, a moose and a mountain goat doing the can-can together. Is that too much to ask??

Up next: Wonderful Highway 2!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Home Again, Seattle and Beyond.

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Since we have been on the road, we have returned to Seattle every year except 2017 when we stayed on the east coast. It was great to skip a year between trips because we found ourselves really looking forward to returning this summer. In fact, we intended to spend a couple of months there, but last February when we tried to make reservations at the places we wanted to stay, we found most were already booked up! We knew to do it earlier, we just didn't get around to it!

We wanted a month at Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell, because it's only six miles from Zoe and Dan, but we only got two weeks and had to change sites after the first week. We wanted to return there in July to attend the birthday bash of our friend Tammy, but no joy. Our favorite place, Salt Creek? Booked. We did get a week at Fidalgo Bay Resort in Anacortes, and found a wonderful city park in Sedro-Woolley near Zac that was practically empty the four days we were there. It's 70 + miles from Seattle, but right in the foothills of the Cascades Scenic Highway. Perfect!

In the end, we reduced our stay in Washington to four weeks total. We'd be in and out by mid-June leaving the rest of the summer, my least favorite time to travel, to be on the road. This is when we decided to visit the last three states missing on our travel map, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Our time in Washington shortened, we made the most of it visiting with friends and family. Even though our kids are young adults with jobs and busy lives, they made a big effort to spend loads of time with us and we were thrilled about that! My dear friend Virginia organized a pot luck night at her home for some of our Sammamish friends. This, in spite of the fact that she'd recently injured her foot, had surgery and was scooting around on a knee-scooter! She's amazing and it was wonderful to see everyone. Afterward, we got a tour of our friends Rich and Emma's new travel trailer. This is their third, the first being our beloved popup, Alfred Hitchpop. Emma blames us for this obsession, which thrills me to no end. :) Happy travels, guys!

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Cherolyn and Virginia, part of my Sammamish posse.

Upon our arrival at Lake Pleasant in Bothell, Zoe, Dan and Zac joined us for dinner. We made plans for the following week, which included making a trip to Sephora where Zoe's works, and a day in Seattle with Zac. Though we've been to most of the city sights several times, we thought this time it would be fun to be tourists in our own town. It was especially fun to have Zac along, as he was just a kid last time he was in many of these places. I think he enjoyed a day in Seattle as much as we did. Steven put a video together of the day’s sights. You can click here to watch it on YouTube.

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The view out our window at Pleasant Lake RV Park.

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Our traveling mascots, T. Rex Tillerson and Bo Barky enjoy the lakeside view!

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With Zoe and Zac at Pleasant Lake.

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When your daughter works at Sephora, you get some stuff. Good stuff. And a facial from her coworker, Mary!

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No matter how many times we go to Pike Place in Seattle, it’s always a lot of fun!

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Zac be all, like “Mom, this is the 47th selfie we’ve done today!!”

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Down by the waterfront in Seattle. We chose not to ride the Ferris Wheel.

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One of the best views of the Seattle skyline! On a clear day, you can also see Mount Rainier in the background.

Steven and I returned to the city by ourselves intending to take the Hop On, Hop Off tour, but I spontaneously suggested we instead board the Argosy Locks Cruise. LOL, we've done this cruise at least three times before, and multiple Harbor Cruises as well, but taking an Argosy Cruise is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. As luck would have it, one  was departing within the hour, so we hopped on! Over the years the narration has changed. I recall on several earlier trips the narrator talked about the television show "Frasier", and how there is no condo or apartment building with his downtown view of the city. On this cruise, there was no mention of "Frasier", instead, it was all about "Grey's Anatomy". Times change!

Steven put together a video of the highlights of this trip too and you can also view that one on YouTube by clicking here.

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Puget Sound and inside the lock.

Our two weeks at Lake Pleasant went by quickly and before we were ready, it was time to move on to the little Riverfront Park in Sedro-Woolley. Zac works about 20 minutes or so from there, and it was the closest we could get to him. It turned out to be a very comfortable and restful place to stay and we weren't lacking for things to do. Not only did we see Zac everyday, but we were also able to drive to take a trip to Mount Baker and to Diablo Lake, two of Washington state’s most beautiful areas. And, Zac took us on a tour of the marijuana growing facility where he works. Times change, indeed!

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Our campsite at Riverfront Park in Sedro-Woolley.

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Zac’s workplace.

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Zac gives us a tour of the joint (pun intended)

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At Diablo Lake in the North Cascades.

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The views are hard to beat even on an overcast day.

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Mount Baker. The lodge below was not open yet.

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Nooksack Falls, near Mount Baker.

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The river near Nooksack Falls

Soon we were off to Anacortes for our stay at Fidalgo Bay RV Resort. This is one of our favorite campgrounds, but only if we get a spot on the water. I remember camping there in Alfred Hitchpop when the kids were younger. All around us were these huge Class A rigs and I would just gawk because they looked so awesome and shiny. I don't think it ever occurred to me that one day that would be us, but here we are.

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The good old days, circa 2011 at Fidalgo Bay.

As a family of five, we have not been together since Zoe's graduation in 2015, and even then, just a few hours. So, in reality it's been much longer than that.  I thought it would be a fun idea to have a sleepover while we were staying at Fidalgo Bay Resort. In Scoopy. LOL. I know, absolute madness on my part. I hounded the kids, reminding them of the dates over and over, telling them "you have to come, we'll all be together!" Of course, being all together meant Tara had to take time off work and fly to Seattle from San Diego, but I considered that just a minor detail. It came down to the wire, but bless her heart, Tara pulled it off! Believe me when I say I used up all my "Mom Card" credits just to get everyone to agree to sleep over! And yes, it was very crowded, but it really was so wonderful to have my family together.

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Our campsite at Fidalgo Bay.

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Zac, Tara, Steven, Dan and Zoe on the trail at Fidalgo Bay.

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We’re getting the band back together!

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The sleepover…enough said!

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Yay, a new family portrait!

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The oil refinery across from us at Fidalgo Bay. It was ever-changing and fascinating to watch.

Our last two days in western Washington were spent with our dear friends Dan and Sherrie. We joined them the first night for a happy hour with two other couples, one of whom are fulltime RVers! It was fun to compare notes of places we've been. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we abandoned Scoopy for a night and stayed over in Dan and Sherrie's beautiful home overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The following day, we went into Coupville and enjoyed delicious food and wine, then returned home to spend time snuggled in blankets on the deck, with more wine, of course. After a fabulous dinner prepared by Dan, we said our goodbyes and made our way back to Scoopy to prepare for our morning departure.

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Dinner, courtesy of Dan’s amazing culinary skills!

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With Dan and Sherrie on Whidbey Island. We love spending time with them!

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It doesn’t get much better than hanging out on Dan and Sherrie’s deck with fabulous views of the Strait.

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Steven thought Sherrie and I looked like garden gnomes with our cute hats :) It was sunny, but chilly!

We are not done with the Pacific Northwest. In fact, after our visit we both felt as though we'd been "home", and it felt good. We decided to alter our usual fall and winter holiday travels and instead of returning to the ranch, we're going back to Portland and Seattle. Naturally, the Seattle campground was already full, but we hounded them every day for a week until they finally found us a spot. Hallelujah!

NEXT UP: Fabulous U.S. Highway 2