We’ve heard from so many people that they want to share our adventure—see America with us vicariously. So one goal for this blog is to log and share a few of our experiences along the way. We’d really like to hear your comments!
May 26—Memorial Day Monday: Embarked from Birch Bay
We drove south from Birch Bay in a drizzle, and hosted a bon voyage trailer-gate party in the Mercer Island Community Center parking lot to say goodbye to friends and family. After the party we began our epic journey with a 28-minute drive to an unremarkable RV park in Preston for our first night on the road.
Here’s our home for the next year: King Oscar—a 25’ Airstream trailer (named after the similarly-shaped King Oscar Kippered Snacks can), pulled by a Toyota Tundra which we call the BAT (big-ass truck). We have a light, airy, very efficient living/dining/kitchen (pots and pans are stored in the oven), a teensy bathroom with a teensy shower across the hall, a bedroom just big enough for a walk-around queen bed, and nooks and crannies for storage. Fortunately we also have storage in the big-ass truck, which is full of necessities (generator, deck chairs, etc.) and all of our sporting equipment (bikes, hiking gear, etc.).
May 27-June 2: Leavenworth, in central Washington
Our first week out was a shakedown period along the Icicle River, getting the Airstream figured out and goofing off with good friends. (We’re finding we should have done the shakedown part a lot sooner—as in, “Why does the toilet flush with hot water but the shower only pumps out cold?)
We hiked the Horse Lake and Sage Hills Trails in the hills above Wenatchee, sipped our way around the Chelan area wineries, and cycled through the Leavenworth valley. The Peshastin Pinnacles in particular were fascinating, sparking an interest in learning about the geology we’re encountering along the way.
June 3-5: Walla Walla, in southeast Washington
We’re going to be doing a lot of driving this year, but we want to do it in sane, manageable chunks—our goal is no more than 4 hours in a day (preferably not on consecutive days). We’ve been to Walla Walla a number of times for its great cycling and wineries, so we know it’s a good time. On this visit we didn’t find any new wineries we particularly loved, but we did find one tasting room with live music—countrified rock with bagpipe!—in an inviting indoor-outdoor space, on a lovely summer evening.
We like small, specialized museums, and the Fort Walla Walla Museum is a good example of one that highlights a few disparate aspects of the region’s history, from mule-drawn combines, to turn of the century fashions, to local civil war heroes, to wonderful beaded Palouse peoples artifacts.
June 6-8: Donnelly, in west central Idaho
My good friend going back to high school has been inviting us to visit for years. We finally made it, and discovered the beautiful area around Donnelly and McCall, Idaho. Driving down into the region from the North via the White Bird grade gives you a breathtaking introduction to this valley ringed with mountains.
Judi and Frank (and their dog Hanu) live for the outdoors, having been back country rangers, ski bums, and with careers in the Bureau of Land Management (stewards of some 8.7 million acres of wilderness in much of the western part of the country). So we explored the region near their mountain cabin: floating the North Fork of the Payette River and hiking on Brundage Mountain. We also detoured through the cool turn of the century Finnish settlement of Roseberry, which one man is buying and restoring.
Monday, June 9: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, in south central Idaho
We’ve always found volcanoes fascinating (in fact, Bruce once won a blue ribbon in the King County Science Fair with his volcano diorama. Woohoo!). So when we encountered almost 700,000 square miles of lava beds and cinder cones, we had to stop and smell the sulphur. I do love that we have the mechanism in place to preserve and protect special places like Craters of the Moon.
Seeing this fissured, cratered landscape, covered in volcanic rocks taller than I am, I imagined western emigrants in wagon trains arriving at the edge of the lava field and thinking: OMG, how do we get across that? (Many detoured this way from the Oregon Trail to avoid conflicts with the Shoshone.) Now anyone so inclined can tramp around on these volcanic oddities (staying on the paths of course), crawl into caves created by lava tubes, see fragile Blue Dragon lava, and understand the difference between a cinder cone and a spatter cone.
The next day we headed into the Rockies and the Grand Tetons—for more truly amazing geologic phenomena that have been protected as a national park since 1872. More to come in our next installment of: Along the way!