Thursday, July 15, 2010

Promised Pictures

The big guy and me at Crater Lake

The Biggest Tree I've Ever Seen! Redwood Nat'l Forest

Overlooking the misty Pacific off of US 101 (The Pacific Coast Highway)

No clue where we were, other than the Sierra Nevada's, but it was one of the most perfect views. This one was a bad day for all parties involved... just me. I'm ok, bike's a different story.
Yosemite Nat'l Park, it's absolutely amazing.
Words cannot describe how vast, and large the Grand Canyon really is... it's amazing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vegas Baby!

Me and Big Pops took a drive out of Crater Lake, and we headed down through Redwood, and on into Yosemite.

Once we got into Yosemite we decided we would push on out through the park, and head toward Vegas, and not even spend a night in Yosemite. Well a little mishap with my motorcycle, kept us in the park for the night. But we got the chance to enjoy the scenery and see some things we may not have otherwise seen.

Once we got out of Yosemite yesterday we drove on down into Las Vegas (no pictures were taken, and no stories will be shared). But as I type, my dad is packing up the RV, we're going to hit the road, Get an In-n-Out Burger, swing through the Grand Canyon, and drive on back eastward. Once we clear the Grand Canyon, we are planning on making a straight push back to SC, but who knows what will happen.

I swear I'll get pictures and videos up soon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

West Coast to East Coast

Well I bet y'all thought I forgot about you... but I didn't. The last couple of days have been very hectic, and busy. We got Cooper moved into his apartment, and bought some of his much needed furniture, including a pool table and a work out station. Yesterday afternoon, my Dad (Jeff) and I took off out of Tacoma, and headed southward. I was not feeling too well, so for most of the day he drove.

We made the drive down I-5, headed out of Olympia, over the Columbia River, through Portland, and down through Oregon. We stopped just outside Crater Lake. We plan on seeing that today, and getting down to Redwood National Forest this afternoon. Then after we've done our sight seeing, we are going to hop back in the car and head to Sacramento for the night, setting ourselves up for Yosemite National Park tomorrow, Zion National Park on Tuesday, the Grand Canyon on Wednesday, and South Carolina by Sunday. It is a fast pace, but I think we can handle it.

I let Griffin get away with the only device we had to upload images to a computer, but as soon as I can get to a Best Buy or Walmart, I'll replace that. We're gonna be moving fast over the next couple of days, try to keep up.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Welcome Home!

Sorry for keeping y'all waiting. But we made it. And right now, as I sit in my late Uncle Jack's home office, and overlook Lake Washington, in Bellevue, Washington, I can reflect on the ground I have covered thus far, and be thankful for making it to the point that I have.

SIDE NOTE: I have pictures, but have been unable to upload this evening, I'll make sure that y'all get to see them as soon as I can get them posted.

So, we made the push from Glacier, driving through desolate western WA state, which was very pretty, but Griff and I were both ready for the trip to be done, and to be in Seattle. We had a little bit of time to kill, and then the morning of the 4th of July we drove through SeaTac (Seattle/Tacoma Int. Airport), and picked up our mother. We drove to our cousin's, Allison's, house, and spent the 4th of July celebrating the holiday with great family and friends. We spent the next day running errands for Cooper, and preparing for his arrival back into the states. Dinner was had at Aunt Carolyn's house here in Bellevue, and we waited to hear news of when Cooper would arrive.

The phone call came through at around 10:30 pm, announcing Cooper's arrival at McCord Airforce Base. We jumped in the truck to make the 45 minute drive back to Fort Lewis, only to finally get to the reception ceremony and hour and fifteen minutes before the soldiers arrived. We finally got to see Coop, and spend some time with him around 1:15 am, on Tuesday morning.

Coop and I dropped Mom and Griff off in the trailer park (high class livin', it is), and then headed to a casino, played off of a little bit of Cooper's luck, and got a work out in, all before 6:30 am. By 8 am, my head finally hit a pillow for a few hours, and we moved out to run some errands for C around 11:30. We got Cooper an apartment, but nothing else accomplished.

Today, all four of us spent the day running around Seattle, doing the tourist thing, see sight, climbing the Space Needle, and being careless. It was truly great for all of us to be together and have the chance to spend this time together. Tonight we had dinner with family here in Bellevue, all in the family were pleased to see him.

The time of relaxing is nearing an end, as Mom and Griffin prepare to leave, and Dad prepares to fly out to join Cooper and I for a little journey of our own. We are all getting excited, and as always, I'll keep y'all posted.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fresh Snow! Wait, what's the date?

Yesterday morning, while checking into our campground, I saw a brochure for something I had promised Griffin I would try and take her to do while on this trip. So yesterday morning, we made mid-day reservations to go whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

The rapids were nothing too wild, simply class 2 and 3 sections, but the look on Griffin's face, before and after going through them was priceless. Even better though, was the look on her face when the 35 degree glacial water splashed up on her... and even better was the look she gave me as I drug her into that water for a brief swim following our rafting trip, where, much to her dismay, she completely submerged herself, saying "When in Rome." Showing that she truly does have a little bit of the Carpe Diem attitude that Cooper and I aim to have.

After spending the evening with the furnace on, and eating a warm dinner, we retired for the evening. Planning on getting up to face the day at around 7, the earliest any day has started on this trip.

Today, we took a bus tour of "Going-to-the-Sun Road," the only road to cross from one side of Glacier National Park to the other. We awoke at 7 to the sound of rain on the roof of the fifth wheel, and pulled ourselves out of bed. We headed to the front of our campground, in West Glacier, Montana, and jumped on the Glacier Park "Red Bus."
Evidence from an avalanche in 2006

The bus took us into the park, to its historic lodges, over its aqua marine rivers and lakes, up its steep slopes, over Logan Pass (yeah, if you were following closely, the highest and most trecherous point of the roadway that goes through the park is called Logan Pass, which sits at 6646 feet above sea level), down the eastern slopes of the mountains, only to turn around and do it all again, only with a different vantage point. All in all, an 8.5 hour journey.

The morning with the rain, and chilly temperature (mid forties at 3100 feet, where we started), made for a relatively miserable start to the day, and the climb to Logan Pass was often times covered by clouds. On occasion, the cloud cover would lift, and from the valley floor we could see fresh snow on the peaks of the mountains surrounding us, nearly 6000 feet straight up. We pushed up to Logan Pass, where we saw snow-pack from the winter still left over, and snow this time of year averages between 10-15 feet thick. FEET OF SNOW IN JULY? But it really is pale in comparison to the 500 inches of snow they often receive in a regular winter. Griffin and I were in awe.

We hopped back in the bus to ride down the eastern side of the mountain range, and out of the Pacific-Northwestern Rainforest on the western slope. The sun decided to pop out for a little while, and we got to see St. Mary's lake, where the Glacial Flower, the sediment with a bluish tint that gives glacier water it's color, met the green forest, the red, brown, black and tan rocks of the mountains, the blue sky and the white snow... and the view was breathtaking.

We rode down and out of the park, only to head north toward the Canadian border, pulling back into the park in an area known as Many Glacier. We went to the Many Glacier lodge, and had lunch over looking the lake behind the lodge, and the mountains behind them. By the time we finished lunch, and headed back up "Going-to-the-Sun Road," the sun had cooked off all the clouds but those at the peaks and those hovering around Logan Pass. We were able to see glaciers, more snow, and views that simply cannot be described in a blog.

On our way back over the pass, we stopped again at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, and while we were there, the weather conditions worsened. The temperature dropped to below 40 degrees, and the wind was howling at about 40 miles per hour, all while rain was falling down, but that didn't keep us from taking a few pictures along the way.

Well, other than the views on the way back down, and a few spots where the driver couldn't see the clouds were so thick, the drive down was very similar to the drive up.

All in all, Griffin and I decided that we thought the beauty of Glacier National Park far surpassed that of Yellowstone, however, the diversity and the wildlife in the latter of the two parks is much more impressive. That being said, all of the parks that we have visited thus far, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, are something that everyone in this country shoud take the time to see at some point. I have truly been fortunate during this journey to get the chance to see the country that I was so lucky to have been born in. The beauty, majesty, and mystery of these parks, and these parts of the country has to be seen to be understood.

Tomorrow morning the two of us will pack up our little house on wheels and head toward Seattle. We are going to go as far as we can, and then stop, I'll rest for as long as I can, and then we'll head on toward Fort Lewis, hoping to get there the morning of the 4th of July. We're are going to spend the 4th with our family in the Seattle area, something that Griffin and I are both looking forward to. I am sure that we will keep y'all updated.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hey Boo-Boo, I smell a pic-i-nic basket! Oh wait, it's Yellowstone, not Jellystone

So as a part of this current road trip, I guess it is my responsibility to do at least one entry of "blogging". Well, we haven't blogged since we left Rocky Mountain National Park... and we have covered a lot of ground, leaving us with a lot of catching up to do.

When we left the Rockies, we pulled into a small campground about 7 hours north of the park, putting us in Dubios, Wyoming. Little did we know that the drive between these places was going to be almost as beautiful as the national parks, themselves. There were mountains, ranges, canyons, plateaus, rivers, creeks, and lakes covering every inch that we drove. When we got to Dubois, Wyoming, we found that we had picked up two scres in the rear right tire of the fifth wheel. By the next morning, the tire was completely flat and could not be repaired. Well, in the Middle-of-Nowhere, USA, there is not a single tire shop open on a Saturday morning. After hours of searching for a tire shop and attempting to remove the spare (which was stuck, and not coming off any time soon), Logan decided to go ahead and pay a ridiculous amount of money for a new tire. Although it took many hours, it did not set us back and we drove right through to Grand Teton National Park, straight into Yellowstone National Park.

Making it to Yellowstone was a relief and it reassured us that we could stay in one place for four days without moving the trailer around. Much to our surprise, there was no power at the campground. I thought that it would be hard to work around no electricity, but we ended up being ok; cold (25 degrees to be exact, with snow on the ground), but okay.

The Rockies were breathtaking, but I felt like Yellowstone beat the Rockies. It was almost like Yellowstone had more to offer; ranges in front of lakes, with mountains behind the same lakes. We divided the park into four quadrants; north, south, east and west. For every day that we spent in the park, we explored a new quadrant, making it easier to see the entire park. We drove over 440 miles inside Yellowstone National Park, covering almost everything that we could.

Believe it or not, there were as many animals as there was land. Logan and I saw bison stretch from horizon to horizon, elk graze on the planes, birds fly above us, and foxes drink from the creeks. We also saw about four Grizzly Bears. One with two of her cubs, and the other was taking a little bear nap. After seeing these large and dangerous bears, Black Bears were nothing to us. Unfortunatly ever time we encounted buffalo, they were causing some serious traffic jams... which was funny, but almost frustrating. The bison were most definatly our favorite animal, though.

They say everthing is bigger out west, and as it turns out, the mosquitos are as big a crows. Also, what we were not expecting was the wolves howling to the full moon at Midnight, setting our first night in Yellowstone off with a hair-raising start.

After leaving this afternoon (traffic jam from the buffalo), we are now in a small, small town called Deerlodge, Montana on our way to Glacier National Park. After two days there, we will head to Seattle to see Coop fly in!

Much love,


Thursday, June 24, 2010

High Peaks and Low Valleys; the Last of Colorado

So, today we decided to take the morning and drive into Rocky Mountain again. We spent the morning, from about 10 am (that's Mountain Time if you were wondering) until about 2 pm, driving around the park, and driving to the highest accessible point in the park. It took us just about 3 hours and 15 minutes to get to the highest point in the park, and about 45 minutes to get back to the RV. So that should tell you that we made plenty of stops and took plenty of pictures.

We started our day at just over 7,000 feet, and the highest elevation we reached was 12,127 ft. I had hiked similar peaks in Switzerland, but had forgotten just how hard it can be to breath in that environment. The slightest bit of movement leaves you gasping for breath. Once we got to just north of 9,000 feet, Griffin saw her first bit of snow in June... I think she was kind of disgusted. But never-the-less she chose to "frolic" in it. Being above the tree-line was something else that caught her off guard, she was higher than trees were able to grow, she was shocked.

Spending a morning of exploring and enjoying the scenery, we decided to turn around and head back to the campground, where the two of us decided to take a nap.

Following the nap, there was only one part of the park that we hadn't seen that we truly wanted to see, and that was Bear Lake. Bear Lake, as it is written is "just inside" the Beaver Meadows entrance to the park, "Just Inside" really means about 20 miles. We hopped on the motorcycle, and tore off down the road. Once we got inside the park, we took a dive from about 7,500 ft. down to 4,500 ft., passing through breath taking meadows and creeks, down a twisty, turny road, to a sign that said, "Caution: Steep, Curvy Road Ahead." At that point I knew that I was in for a fun motorcycle ride. Having spent time in the Hudson Valley of New York, I knew that mountain roads were way more fun to ride than long straight stretches that Griffin had experienced, so I chose to show her a ride. We rode into hairpin turns, faster than the recommended speed requested, leaned into the curves, and sped out of them, with a huge grin on each of our faces, climbing from 4,500 ft. to a little higher than 9,500 in just over 8 miles.

After one of the most enjoyable motorcycle rides of my life, we found ourselves at Bear Lake, an absolutely beautiful alpine lake, surrounded on all sides by 12,000 foot peaks. The crystal clear water looks very appealing to Griffin, until we noticed leaches swimming in the water! After 30 minutes of "taking it all in," we hopped back on the bike, only to ride the roads again. On our way out of the park, we stuck our noses into every possible trail, roadway or driveway we could, explored it all, and found wonderful scenery around every turn.

Without a doubt this has been one of the best days of the trip to date. And I say one of, we love everyone we've visited, but Colorado is a whole new ball game.

Keep following, we're just getting started. Headed toward Grand Teton tomorrow.