Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 65 – Whoop De Do #2

We first met Dave and Jackie when they drove all the way from Kansas City to attend our 2012 blogger Party (Louisiana crawfish boil) and on the way home from our 2013 Western Trip, they suggested we stay in KC for a couple of days and they would throw a Whoop De Do (whatever that was).  Turned out, it was when they invited a bunch of people over and laid on a real feast with these dishes: Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce, BBQ Turkey, 30 Garlic Peppercorn Beef Roast, Cranberry Sauce & Salmon, Baby Back Ribs, Stained Glass Jello Salad, Corn and Pepper Succotash, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Potatoes and Green Beans, Mac and Cheese, Chorizo Sausage and Apple Stuffing, Cowboy Pork and Beans, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Apple Cheddar Pie.

So on our way west this trip, we had lunch with them as we past though KC and they invited us to come to another Whoop De Do on our way back home, to which we quickly said yes.  This menu included appetizers of bacon wrapped apples and bacon wrapped sausage.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Days 63 & 64 – Traveling to KC

We got on the road from Denver a little before 10am and had an uneventful trip to the KOA in Wakeeney, KS.  I’ve been a fan of KS roads since we began RVing and this day was no exception.  While CO was working on their part of I-70, they have a ways to go and the road surface improved noticeably as soon as we crossed the KS state line.

The drive scenery was about as expected with crops either harvested or about to be and some giant wind farms – one was about 20 miles long.  It never ceases to amaze me how much is grown in the plains and we can only see a few miles on each side of the road rather than the couple thousand miles north to south between the US and Canada – it’s about the same distance, east/west as well.

The Wakeeney KOA was a decent park and not as tight as many KOA’s and while not fancy, they are a great overnight stop as they have long pull-thru’s that can easily accommodate big rigs without unhooking the car.  Check-in was smooth and efficient and we were guided to our site.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 61 & 62 – Hanging Around Denver

Our car has been making a funny hot smell for the past couple of weeks but we were getting no alarms and the gauges showed A-OK, but since the campground was only a mile from a Buick dealer and it was under warranty, we decided to take it by resulting in a nice down day for us and they fixed the problem.

Since we did nothing on Tue, Wed got a little busier as we went out for breakfast at a place called Café 13 in downtown Golden and while it got high reviews (mostly as a stop for coffee and pastries), we were disappointed with our meals.  Oh well you can’t win them all.

After that, I left the girls in downtown for some shopping while I headed back to the RV to do a little planning for the next day’s drive to Kansas.  Golden looks like a nice little town and is home to the Coor’s Brewery and the Colorado School of Mines.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

2015 Western Trip- Days 59 & 60 – The Special Part Of RVing

When we got into RVing, I thought it was because I wanted to see America but after four years I now find the best part of RVing is meeting Americans, especially bloggers and RVers and while in Denver we got to do a 3fer.

It began with our third visit with Bob and Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) and included blogger Heather (Rocky Mountain Cooking) and LA’s goddaughter Stephanie at their new digs in Highlands Ranch for a casual dinner party.  All of these shots were taken by various phones and sent to me - my camera was in the car.

Friday, September 25, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 58 – Headed to Denver

We left Grand Junction for the pretty drive along I-70 to Denver, beginning with a great view of the Palisade area from the elevated road and all of the agriculture that covers it.  From there we traveled through steep canyons carved by the Colorado River, over the 10,662’ Vail Pass, and across the continental Divide at the 11,158’ Eisenhower Tunnel.  The big diesel comfortably moved us up the mountains in third gear at a respectable 40mph with no engine temperature issues.

We passed through a canyon just east of Grand Junction and the very pretty Glenwood Canyon further east – unfortunately we couldn’t enjoy it as it was two-way traffic with one side of the interstate closed.  The road through the canyon is pretty much two bridges and the river looked to provide some great white water rafting thrills.  There is also a bike path along the road - here are a couple of shots from the web.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Days 56 & 57 – Grand Junction Area

After three days of driving, I didn’t care whether or not we did much for the first day in Grand Junction, but I was up for breakfast at a place in the railroad station complex called Pufferbelly Restaurant (Pufferbelly = steam locomotive) with our kind of menu.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Days 53-55 – Driving East

I try not to drive more than two days in a row, but after we revised our trip to shorten it a little, we needed to get from Sisters, OR to Grand Junction, CO (960 miles) and there was no where we wanted to spend an extra day so it was three straight behind the wheel.

We took route US-20 from Sisters to Caldwell, ID and I think it may have been the longest 313 mile drive I’ve taken.  We went through desert, agricultural areas and curvy mountains.  By the time we got into the Ambassador RV Park, I was pretty whipped but check in was a breeze and the park was very nice with concrete patios and river rock parking spots – first time I’d seen that and I’d definitely stay there again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 52 – Cascade Volcanoes

If you have any knowledge of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980, you are likely aware that the Cascade Mountains has several volcanoes – that was my trivial understanding until we visited the area.

The Cascade Volcanoes (also known as the Cascade Volcanic Arc) are a number of volcanoes in a volcanic arc in western North America, extending from southwestern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California, a distance of well over 700 miles.

Monday, September 21, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 51 – A Day In Sisters

When I booked our stay in Sisters, I had done no research on what might be going on while we were there – I just knew I wanted to visit the area.  As it turned out, Sisters is almost entirely a tourist town with the main street consisting of mostly places to eat or shop and nearly all with front facades of an old west town.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 50 – Camp Sherman & Fish Hatchery

At breakfast the other day, we asked the restaurant hostess the three things she would recommend we do while here and she gave us the those she does when her family visit and the one we chose for this day was a drive in the forest to visit Camp Sherman and the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery.

We weren’t sure what to expect from Camp Sherman, but it was basically just a small community in woods with a school, volunteer Fire Dept, small lodge, store/post office/gas station, and many campgrounds.  Here is a shot of the new and old gas station at the store.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 49 – A Pretty Drive To Mt. Bachelor

We had two scenic drives planned with the first one being south to Bend then west to the Mt. Bachelor area.  But first the ladies spent a little time scouting out the downtown Bend area of concentrated shops – they decided an extensive return trip would not be required.
From Bend, we headed out the Cascade Lakes Oregon Scenic Byway and soon after leaving the city we found ourselves  heading through pine forests on a steady incline pretty much all of the way to the base of Mt. Bachelor ski area.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 48 – Finally A Little Cooking in Sisters

After 46 days on the road and not visiting a beauty parlor, by looking at the exposed roots, I was shocked to discover the Bev and Pat both have white hair and that they actually color it red.  The focus for this day was getting that corrected but we began with a trip out for breakfast.

Sisters is hosting a huge Folk Music Festival this coming weekend so we decided we better do our in town things before it happens so we headed to the spot that received the best breakfast reviews – The Cottonwood Café.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 47 – Starting Back East To Sisters, OR

After seven fun and relaxing days in McMinnville, OR, and 46 days of heading west or south, we finally pointed the coach east and headed across the Cascades to Sisters, OR.  There were a couple of routes to choose from and we settled for OR-99W down to Salem then OR-22 and US-20 from Salem to Sisters.

It was a beautiful drive through and over the mountains, often following alongside a pretty stream but it was not necessarily a relaxing drive as there were plenty of 40 mph curves to negotiate – no big deal for an ole WV/TN mountain boy.  The road surface was in great condition with mostly new payment on the west side.

I knew there has been a drought in California, but didn't realize it extended into Oregon as well.  Here are shots (from the web) of Detroit Lake as it's supposed to look and a shot of the reality we saw.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Days 44 & 45 – FM & Brunch

After reading Cathy’s blog (Wives With Knives) over the years, I’ve always been impressed with her shots of the Saturday farmers market in Beaverton, OR and since the ladies love them, it was a must do.  This may be one of the best we’ve been to with row after row of goodies and virtually no crafts.

I took a few shots and bought some oysters and razor clams and the ladies bought a few things as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 42 – A Trip To The Oregon Coast

The Oregon coast is considered by many to be the prettiest in the nation (especially to those who live here), so no trip to this area would be complete without a visit and in keeping with our plan to avoid the upcoming holiday weekend crowds, we went on Thursday.  After doing research from home and talking with locals after arriving, it was clear that Cannon Beach and Seaside were the places to go.

Like most of the west coast, Oregon has the Cascade Mountains then a valley area then the coastal mountains before getting to the Pacific.  The drive through the coastal mountains was very pretty and obviously a source of a lot of the timber we use.

Our first stop was Seaside which actually had more of a town area than most of the coastal towns we visited.  It has a nice promenade next to the beach and a statute marking the end of the Lewis & Clark Trail.

Monday, September 14, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 41 – Meeting Blogger Buddy Diane

One of my big goals for this trip was to meet up with some blogger buddies and in this case a fellow West Virginian and WVU grad who was there at the same time as me but we didn’t know one another. 

Diana from “Voice In The Garden” lives a pretty drive from McMinnville down the Willamette Valley and she and husband, Pete, graciously invited us to come by for lunch and a tour of her gardens – which I really wanted to see.

As has been the case so far with bloggers I’ve met, Diana and Pete were special people who invited us into their beautiful hilltop home and treated us like old friends.  We began the visit with lunch which was made mostly from ingredients from their veggie garden.  We had cucumbers several ways, gazpacho, salmon cakes, zucchini casserole, kale, and Caprese salad.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 40 – First Wine Tasting Day

Even though we were staying seven full days in McMinnville, the final three were over Labor Day weekend, so we’ve structured our stay to attempt to avoid the crowds.  We began the first day with a visit to Crescent Café for breakfast.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 39 – Let’s head to Oregon

It was a nice little 3-4 hour drive down to McMinnville, OR traveling most of the way on the very busy I-5 – it must be the only north-south road in the far west.  I-5 through Portland was a nightmare road with tight turns and unusual exits - the person who decided to run the road through town and then designed it like that had to be crazy, drunk, or both.  We got off I-5 on to OR-99W just south of Portland and almost immediately began seeing blue and white signs pointing to wineries – one of the reasons we’re there.

We pulled into Olde Stone Village RV Park in early afternoon, got set up and relaxed – this is now the best place we’ve stayed so far and the rates are surprisingly reasonable. 

This is our spot and I really like having the concrete for parking the car and for the patio – really keeps the dogs (and us) from tracking so much debris into the coach and we have a large field behind us which is perfect for the pups to romp in.

After a day here, I was even more pleased as everything worked well including their WiFi, which is unusual.  I doubt we'll make back out this far, but I would certainly stay here again.

As it turns out, we are right beside the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, which is a big draw in this area but I’d never heard of it.  We didn't visit it while here as I didn't think my knees would let me get much benefit from the $25 cost - it’s a large area encompassing three big hanger buildings – the one with the plane on top is really a water park with slides coming out of the plane.  I’m sure Dave and Laurie would be all over this place.

The museum contains Howard Hughes' famous Spruce Goose - a huge seaplane made from wood.

You may have noticed that I started posting everyday as the blog is getting too far behind reality.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/31/15 event date

Friday, September 11, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 38 - Pike’s Place Market In Seattle

Friday and Saturday we did very little except clean up the coach due to the much needed heavy rains in the area so on Sunday (our last day) we decided to drive up to Seattle for a visit to Pike’s Place Market.  

The market was started as a farmers market in 1907 so farmers could sell directly to the public and by-pass the middle men who were buying from the farmers and jacking the prices way up for the consumer.  It is one of the oldest continuously operating FM’s in the country and it is a site to see and it includes the main six story building plus several more across the street and vendors in the street.

I took several shots and some were not as good as those on line so following is some of both but those from the web are still what we saw.  There was a mass of humanity (10 million visitors per year) shopping for a vast assortment of different things.  Most of what I saw was in the main arcade and a small portion of the overall nine acres of stuff for sale.

One of the first things we saw were the folks gathered around this seafood stand and cheering as the fish mongers tossed the seafood to each other as needed.

Since they were such high volume sellers, I was hoping for some good deals on seafood, but found just the opposite – I guess I’ll have to go to Alaska and buy directly from the fisherman to get a good deal on salmon.

There were several fruit and veggie stands but what impressed me the most were the flowers – they were plentiful, beautiful, and very reasonably priced.

There were also several street entertainers and this first duo included a banjo and a cord strung between a stick top and a wash tub.

This is from the market out over Puget Sound.

The girls thought it was just an okay place to visit, but I enjoyed it, especially the people watching and my sausage sandwich from Uli's Famous Sausage, made there in Seattle.

None of us are big city folks so visiting the market and driving buy the Space Needle is all we did in town - except for spending lots of time sitting at some of the longest red lights on the planet and I think I caught every one - I hate life in the city.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/30/15 event date

Thursday, September 10, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Days 34 & 35 - The Coast and Rainier

Since the weather indicated we may only have two clear days, we decided to head for the coast our first day in Kamilche.  It was about an hour and half drive over to Ocean Shores, WA where we drove down on the beach then had lunch in town.  After seeing the Pacific in CA, we were surprised at the flat beach and the docile ocean in the area but it was perfect for a little horse ride.

We ate lunch at Mike’s Seafood because they had razor clams on the menu and I wanted to try them.  They were pan fried with so much other stuff, I still don’t think I know what a razor clam tastes like.  I would say all of the meals were okay but un-remarkable – tourist food. 

The next day was supposed to be the last dry day for a while and we decided we should head up to Mt. Rainier Nat. Park and it turned out to be the clearest day we’ve seen since we left Nebraska. 

We didn’t get any decent long distance shots of the mountain so this first one is from the Longmire Area- I suppose they conducted driving tours at some point in the past.

From there we drove up to the Paradise Area and paid a visit to the Paradise Inn.

From the inn, the glaciers don’t seem to far away but the mountaintop is about 9000’ above Paradise.

Notice the trees with all branches on one side – downwind from the prevailing direction - just like Dolly Sods in WV.

From there it was down the southeast side where we got a couple more shots.

We went prepared with a picnic which we enjoyed in the deep woods at the bottom of the mountain.

There didn’t seem to be as much to do in this park as some others we’ve visited and I suppose that is due to that giant rock taking up such a large part of it but it was still an enjoyable day seeing the mountain and the sites in between - we took different routes each way.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/26 & 8/27/15 event date

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

2015 Western Trip – Day 32 & 33 – Wrapping Up Anacortes then Onward To Kamilche, WA

For our last day in the Anacortes area, the ladies had three choices – a trip to San Juan Island, a drive up into the cascades, or a day shopping in the tourist town of La Conner.  The decision was a no brainer for them as going on a scary ferry ride to visit some more of what we’ve been seeing let the Island out and the prospect of seeing some more smoky (from the fires) mountain scenery left the Cascade drive out, but I believe they would have picked shopping in La Conner anyway.

Before the shopping trip, we had breakfast in downtown Anacortes at the Calico Cupboard Café.

Pat had her usual French Toast, Bev had the Skagit Hash and I had the Smoked Salmon Benedict.  Bev said her sprouts could have cooked a little longer but otherwise we enjoyed our meals and would go there again.

The next day, we moved from Anacortes down to Kamilche (a wide spot in the road near Shelton) which was a short trip of 165 miles but it involved driving one of the busiest places in the country.  I came down I-5 to I-405 then to avoid more of I-5 until I had no choice, I ran WA-167 and WA-512 which got me past Tacoma.  Then we got back on I-5 and ran it for a few miles thru Olympia prior to exiting on to US-101 north to our destination.

The road surface was so-so and the traffic was heavy everywhere – there were actually lots of cars in the right lane riding at the speed limit or below – never see that at home (cars in the right lane or driving below the speed limit).  I don’t remember from which road, but we had a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier for several miles.

We pulled into the campground at Little Creek Casino Resort around 2pm and got set up.  This was a great find and the best place we stayed so far and at $29/day, it is also the cheapest – but we’ll likely make up for it at the casino.  Casino shots are from the web - the campground is just to the left in the first shot.

The casino/resort is first class and they even had a completely separate non-smoking section which we really liked.  Our RV spot was large and surrounded by lush grass and everything worked well - I would definitely recommend staying here.

This is a happening place and campground and the gravel parking lot for dry camping were both pretty full during the weekend we were there, including a couple of semi's.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


8/24 & 8/25/15 event date