Monday, September 28, 2015

What's Goin' On...

Once we left Glacier national Park, we headed to Missoula, MT.  The ride was very scenic...mountains, rolling hills and ranches.  Definitely "Big Sky Country"!  The distant mountains had snow on them.  Although we were cruising along, we did manage to see one bison sitting in a field.  And another wildlife highlight is seeing pronghorn antelopes running through fields and ranches.

From Missoula, we headed into Butte.  Along the way, we were treated to the same beautiful scenery.  And although we like to camp in gorgeous sites, sometimes we are staying overnight at a truck stop, Wal-Mart, or Cabela's.  Typically, not so pretty.  However, we lucked out a bit at a Pilot truck stop.  Turns out there was a huge field with mountains in the background, and we were able to park along the edge of it, away from the constant din and overshadowing of the big 18-wheelers.   We ended up staying two nights and each night there was a beautiful sunset!

We try and shoot for as many free camping sites as possible.  We are always in the "save money" mode, and these parking lots, although not so attractive, are free.  At truck stops, we have had some decent interactions with some truckers, but mostly we are left alone.  Envision our tiny trailer with an 18-wheeler on either side!  However, at one recent truck, as I was attempting to back up into a spot (and backing up is a whole other story!!), an 18-wheeler was aiming right for me.  So I hit the gas, and the nightmare I hoped to avoid happened, our trailer jack-knifed.  What this means is that the rear panel of the car hits the front corner of the trailer.  I thought I had hit a car when I heard a "pop", but Michael's reaction let me know what I had done.  There's good and bad here...the trailer was absolutely fine (thankfully), but our poor 4Runner has a big ol' dent on its side.  Everyday when I see it, my heart sinks.  At some point we'll need to get an estimate for repairs.

Most Wal-Mart 'super centers' allow RV's and trailers to park for a night in their lots.  There's a sense of security here as typically there are 8 or 10 or even more campers there on a given night.  Cabela's isn't usually very crowded with other campers, but it is a last resort for us.

On Friday, September 11, we thought of all affected by the World Trade Center catastrophe.

We zipped through Wyoming and made it to Rapid City, South Dakota.  The scenery turned more to open plains and ranches with "black hills" in the background.  Once we hit the Badlands National Park, we knew we had to stop!  Right before we got into the park, Michael spotted a gravel road that led into a big hay field.  Since there was no "no trespassing" sign and no fence or gate, we drove right in!  We found a spot away from the road and behind a group of trees, surrounded by wildflowers and loads of sulphur butterflies of yellow and orange hues.  The area had these neat stone ridges and round bales of hay scattered around.  It was a little slice of heaven!  And speaking of heaven, the night sky was heavily sprinkled with stars!  We even had great looks at the Milky Way! Awesome!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Glacier National Park, Montana - Awesome!

One place we definitely wanted to visit was Glacier and we spent four days there, not nearlyenough time! It is filled with majestic scenery, mountains and passes, lakes and waterfalls, and forests and bears!  Well, we only had a super quick glance at one in Apgar Village.  None in the campground we stayed at, and none seen on the trails we walked.
We made two trips on The-Going-to-the-Sun Road, a MUST for anyone visiting this park. On the 4th we took a free shuttle bus up to Logan Pass, about a 45 mile ride.  The views were just gorgeous!  However, we weren't prepared for the change in weather at 6390'!  It was 60+ degrees at the campground and somewhat sunny, and this trip up the road was somewhat spontaneous!  So thirty-five wet and windy degrees didn't feel so great!! But, we were so taken by the scenery, we didn't mind...much!

The road was mostly one lane each way, and very twisty-turney.  At some points, only a 3' high rock wall separated us from soaring to our deaths!!

Two days later, I drove us up.  But due to snow we could only go 27 miles!  Here's what we saw!

Put Glacier NP on your bucket list!

Catching Up

Greetings from Necedah Wisconsin where we landed on Wednesday the 16th.  Before I write about recent travels, I want to post some photos from beautiful Coffee Pot Lake, that I wrote about in my last post.  This was in Harrington, Washington and we found out about it in a free camping book we were given as a gift.

One of the birdwatchers who came by to bird the area, Chris, took us birding to some local hotspots, and even had us to his home for breakfast!  Chris got us on one target bird, a Swainson's Hawk.

Overall, we had 49 species of birds at Coffee Pot Lake!

On September 27, we headed into Spokane and found the Riverside State Park.  As parks go, it was nice.  Campsites were too close together, but we were close to the Spokane river. Another highlight was the Swinging Bridge.  I was ready to march my way across, but seeing the river through the slats was enough for me to say no way!  Michael had no qualms about the crossing!

Next post will start with our stay at Glacier National Park, Montana. Be prepared for lots of photos!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Heading East

Apologies for disappearing for so long.  Finding Wi-fi is difficult because most our camping has truly been off-the-grid. And my Dell tablet doesn't work much of the time so I am left with blogging on my phone and this normally has me pulling my hair out.  But, I am anxious to tell you about our travels since the Olympic Peninsula!

On August 12, we returned to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Park, but this time we camped for over a week in the southern part of the park, near Snoqualmie Pass (still in Washington).  We were near the trailhead of the McClellan Butter trail.  Elevation was around 3750'. Beautiful mountain surroundings.

On the 17th we left for the town of Ellensburgh so Michael could get his wrist and hand checked again.  Carpal tunnel syndrome is suspected.  He is in a brace since.  Still has pain, so we will get it checked out again in Texas.  On this date we calculated our miles traveled at 6,707!

On August 18th, we discovered a potential free campsite in our campground book outside of Harrington WA.  Called Coffee Pot Lake, the area was situated among Basalt Rimrock cliffs and scrubland.  It was beautiful!  Upon arrival we found just 6 campsites and we were the only ones there.  The next night, Neil came to camp for three nights.  He had been evacuated from his home near one of several wildfires in the region.  We experienced smoke and fire smells, but we weren't in harm's way.  The smoke was really a haze that made for some intense sunrises and sunsets!

The sun was pleasantly warm and the abundant shade was delicious! The lake was close to 15' down, according to one fisherman.  No open fires were allowed due to the dry conditions.

We had porcupine and mule deer sightings and it turned out to be the birdiest place we had visited so far.  We had 48 species of birds including some real highlights: Pacific Wilson's warbler, California quail, white pelican, "Audubon" yellow-rumped warbler, black-billed Maggie's, Townsend's solitaire, Brewer's blackbirds, violet-green swallow, American red-starts, eared grebe, cinnamon teal, rock wren
and much more!

Three birders visited the lake and we all ended up birding together!  Jean, Buzz, and Chris were so nice to meet and they ended up coming a second day, so we really got to know oneanother.

We found a little brown bat sleeping on the inside of a trailer tire one morning!

On the 26th we left Coffee Pot Lake for Davenport to meet up with new friend, Chris.  He invited us to his home for breakfast and then took us around the area to bird.  Great looks at Swainson's hawk, but dipped on a target bird, sage thrasher.

From here we headed to Spokane, and Riverside State Park.  Next entry will start there!

Having trouble posting pics.   Will work on it!