Along the way—The Pacific Northwest

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.

The King Oscar AirstreamThe King Oscar Airstream   The King Oscar AirstreamHere’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

Leavenworth Valley

Leavenworth Valley, toward Icicle Canyon

Bruce & Sue with Ken and Susan

Tasting Chelan wines with Ken and Susan

Along the Icicle River in the King Oscar

Along the Icicle River in the King Oscar

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.

Charles Smith Winery

Whiskey Creek Band at Charles Smith Wines

Fort Walla Walla Museum

Plateau woman’s hat, Fort Walla Walla Museum

Downtown Walla Walla

Summer evening in Downtown Walla Walla

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.

Roseberry, Idaho

Finnish settlers’ cabins, Roseberry, ID

Goose Creek trail, Brundage Mountain, McCall Idaho

Goose Creek trail, with Judi, Frank & Hanu

Payette River

Rafting the North fork of Payette River

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.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

Craters of the Moon Nat. Monument & Preserve

Ranger Holly at Craters of the Moon

Ranger Holly at Craters of the Moon

Buffalo Cave, Craters of the Moon

Buffalo Cave, 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!

4 thoughts on “Along the way—The Pacific Northwest

  1. hey Bruce and Sue,
    Glad to see you’re having some excellent adventures. Finally just getting around to checking your travel blog. love it! I am going to make a point of checking it on a regular basis. Keep those posts coming.

  2. I love hearing from you guys! And who knew drive-by geology was a search link!!!!
    Love you. Keep it coming.

  3. Hi Dan! Great advice – we’ll definitely work on keeping the shiny side up! We expect to be in the Utah canyon lands sometime next spring and it would be great fun to rendezvous. We don’t know very far ahead where we’ll be when, as we’re just wandering and exploring–but we have a very rough idea of which coast we want to be on in which season. We’ll give you a little advance notice on timing.

  4. So jealous! Our poor lonesome Airstream is stuck in its storage lot week after week. I assume you guys will be further East come September, but if you’re anywhere near Zion or Bryce Canyon maybe we can rendezvous. In any case, keep the posts coming (Bruce, where’s your blog?) and keep the shiny side up.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *