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Roaring Fork Valley: Aspen, Snowmass, Carbondale!

This will be short and sweet in light of recent family events.

We had a wonderful time visiting with friends, Joel and Bonnie. Joel biked with brad on trails at Snowmass, we rode the gondola, enjoyed dinner at Woody Creek Tavern and explored the valley.

The campground south of Carbondale was relaxing and being a stones throw from the Crystal River was a plus.

We hope to return to this area soon for more exploring! Thank you Bonnie and Joel for making it extra special!!

I am back at home with the girls as of yesterday and brad will hopefully begin his journey back tomorrow. Thanks for enjoying the trip journal with us. We look forward to sharing more adventures in the future!!

XOXO

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Southwestern CO tour

We arrived at Mesa Verde Tuesday afternoon with a much appreciated drop in the thermometer compared to Moab.

We checked into the campground at the Park early enough to unhook and ride up to the Spruce Tree House, hit the visitors center, and visit the museum. I also bought tickets for a guided tour of Cliff Palace the following morning.

I visited this park about 15 years ago but it was great to return and share it with Brad and the girls! We ventured into Cortez for dinner and back for a nice night with the windows open!

While hooking up the next morning our 37 year old tongue power jack died on us. Fortunately we were hooked up so we could drive to an RV place in Durango to buy a new one (Merry Christmas Brad and Dani :-/). We had to miss our tour but Virginia was able to complete her 5th and final Junior Ranger program.

Durango was a lot of fun. It started off on the right foot at the RV place, where we met two lovely couples from NC! Just hearing their sweet voices made me homesick! We took it easy for a few days: swam at the campground, rode the bus up and took the train back from Silverton, fished in the Animas River, and took in local brew.

The drive from Durango to the Carbondale area was slow but beautiful. We passed through Ouray and took the scenic route up 133.20140726-133059-48659670.jpg

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Utah: We think summer is the “off-season”

Here is the list of potential titles for this post that we came up with:
Utah: Don’t waste your time ūüėČ
Utah: Hot.
Utah: Honey, it’s a dry heat
Utah: I’ll have a pint of Polygamy Porter, please
Utah: They must market the hell out of this place in Germany!

Over the last week we bedded down in Salt Lake for a few days while Brad made a work trip to Twenty-nine Palms, CA….the only place hotter ;-). The girls and I made a trip to the hair salon, parks, took in a movie, and found a great Whole Foods.

Brad’s return flight was cancelled so he and guy from Parsons drove back to Salt Lake from Palm Springs….11 hours…..through the desert…..with a stop in Vegas for “dinner”!

The next day we loaded up, cleared out of the hotel, and headed to Moab. It’s hot there. Our campground had some shade so that was a sweet relief. I can say that the low humidity is a nice feature…as were the evening breezes.

Arches NP is really beautiful. We visited the Windows area, Balanced Rock, and took in Delicate Arch from the viewpoint. Virginia completed her fourth Junior Ranger program.

Brad rode the famed Slickrock mtn bike trail on Sunday morning…apparently he should have started a little earlier in the day! He finished up around 11:30 and was getting cooked. He took the GoPro so we watched the footage that night….of course replaying the part where he went over the handle bars into the sand wash over and over!!

That evening we picked up the off road jeep we rented for the following day. We drove back to Arches that night to watch the sunset on the rocks. Gorgeous!

Monday we spent the better part of the day in the jeep exploring back country canyons, checked out Gemini Bridges and drove down Schaffer trail in Canyonlands NP. It is very unusual to be able to off-road in a NP, but the rangers insist it is the best way to experience this place.

Today we travel to Cortez/Mesa Verde NP. Tomorrow we will explore the cliff dwellings and then head on to Durango.

We are back in Colorado now. The temperature gauge in the car reads 82 and it’s 1 in the afternoon. Ahhhh!20140715-183806-67086571.jpg

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High times in the High Desert

Central Oregon is in the rear view mirror, to our dismay. This may be the 26th time I have sat down to write a summary of this leg the trip…it has been a busy one!

We were sad to leave Portland and plan to return as soon as we can! The Bend/Sisters area took a little of the sting out though. Our campsite was one of the nicer (from an amenities standpoint, not view) that we have inhabited so far. So much so that our arrival resulted in a period of awkwardness, and we (The Leadbetters as Brad refers to our clan occasionally) felt a little out of place. Our “vintage” camper was overshadowed by some seriously big rigs and fancy set ups.

The high desert area provided us with our first sustained days of sunshine and warm temps so far on the trip. Thankfully the campground had a nice salt water pool that we visited everyday!

Day 1 was finding our way around Bend, lunch at 10 Barrel (at Heathers suggestion, good stuff!), grocery shopping, and a stop at the Bend Rock Gym for Virginia to get her climb on! Day 2 landed us in the McKenzie River area and Brad tackled all 26 miles of that amazing trail. Thankfully he took his GoPro and video recorded segments of the ride, which took him 4 1/2 hrs! We picked him up at the bottom and headed back to camp.

Day 3 brought a trip to Shevlin Park in Bend, one of many areas they have for biking, hiking, etc. I fished Tumalo Creek and actually landed a few trout…as Brad put it, knocking the stink off of my dry spell thus far!! No Go Pro footage of that, but I swear it happened! That afternoon I was lucky enough to try my luck on the beautiful Metolius River…

Day 4, July 4th, we headed back to Bend for the Annual Pet Parade (what an event!), a festival in the park by the Deschuetes River, and some bike riding that afternoon. We met some new neighbors in the campground and made fast friends as did the girls.

Day 5, our last full day, we took in the Museum of the High Desert. It is a very nice facility with wonderful exhibits on animals, Native Americans, and history of the area. After a few hours we headed back to camp for dinner and some live music by the lake.

Sunday (yesterday) was a “road day”. If someone tells you there is not much in southeastern Oregon, they are not exaggerating in the least! Probably the most desolate stretch we have experienced so far. Five and a half hours later we pulled into a little park next to the Snake River in Ontario, Oregon to cook dinner and try to cool the camper off. It was 104 as we crossed the desert and 100 at 8:30pm as we pulled into the truck stop to overnight. Not the best sleeping!

We are back on the road today, hoping to end up somewhere near Salt Lake City. We are treating ourselves to 2 night in a hotel there while Brad flies back to CA for a work trip.

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Portland: A Sampler

We couldn’t have asked for better accommodations or tour guides! Visiting with Heather and Kris for three days was the perfect way to hit our mid-trip milestone.

We arrived Friday, walked to the “neighborhood” grocery, cooked a yummy dinner and crashed in our first non-camper accommodations in 27 days!! Saturday we headed downtown to check out the Rose Garden (roses at their peak!), stopped by REI, Powells Bookstore, Deschuetes Brewery for lunch, and Fat Tire Farm ( bike store for Brad). After a rest in the afternoon it was wings at Fire on the Mountain for dinner.

Sunday we had a less hectic schedule but still managed to visit the new Keen store/headquarters, wood fired pizza for lunch, a local stationary store, and Queen Bee for a new/replacement wallet for me! The guys checked out HUB bike bar and we stopped by laurel hurst park for some playtime. Then, it was back home for the tail end of the World Cup game.

Some good patio time and another yummy dinner were enjoyed! Heather and Kris introduced us to the game SkipBo and Virginia was the winner!

We said our goodbyes this morning and headed towards Bend. We are at the Sandy Ridge trails currently…brad is getting in some “seat time” while the girls and I hang out.

Looking forward to our upcoming week in the Bend/Sisters area!! Hoping to fish, hike, bike, and check out the breweries that have been recommended.

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Lush is an understatement!

The west side of Olympic NP did not disappoint…it was green on green on green.

Our campground was in the NP, Kalaloch was amazing!! I feel so fortunate we were able to reserve two nights there!! We could hear the ocean from our site in the temperate rainforest!

We made a trip down to the beach as soon as we set up camp. Huge drift logs and gorgeous stones were everywhere. Amazingly different than our east coast shoreline. It was misty, cool, and windy but beautiful none the less!

We biked around and had our first campfire since RMNP. Hot dogs over a fire just taste soooo much better! Thursday we trekked into the Hoh rainforest…through the Hall of Moses. What a place….

Virginia and Kimberly received their Junior Ranger badges and Virginia also completed the Ocean Steward Program.

Friday we headed out through cloudy, rainy skies…Portland bound.

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Contemplating Scale

imageSince we arrived on the Olympic Peninsula and in the vicinity of Olympic NP I have been feeling a bit small. Not in the sense of being insignificant maybe, but more about just our physical presence as well as how short our time is – when you really think about it.

Being in a place like this will make you think about these things. The isolation in time and space of this area has created an environment that is truly unique, not to mention, there is a lot here that is really big: snow-capped mountains, huge trees, the wilderness in general really…

This park is quite different than any other I have experienced, especially related to the three we visited before this one on our current journey. The road access is really just around the perimeter, and outside of the park at that. Venturing into the heart of the park is an experience exclusive to backpackers. I think that is awesome. I wish I was packing in for a week. I have lamented the fact that I am not several times a day so far.

One reason for that desire is that there is so much of the park you simply cannot experience any other way, and another possible reason is that Brad took off for CA for four days right after we got here…maybe I was longing for a little “quiet time” away from the girls :-).

We have managed to take in a few of the more accessible areas including a drive up to Hurricane Ridge…known as such for the high winds that, coupled with the 30+ feet of snow a winter, make for a most inhospitable environment! You can see several beautiful snow capped mountains from here, including Mt Olympus. You can also see back over Port Angeles to Canada…not very far away. The city of Victoria is easy to make out right across the Straight.

The girls and I ventured to Sol Duc Hot Springs and soaked for an hour or so. It is a more pungent spring than our last experience as has a slightly slimy feel to the water…tried not to think about that too much though as the girls were having fun. There were quite a few people there when we went and many were Eastern European…they have us beat in the “distanced traveled” department by a long shot!

Several of our excursions have taken us past Lake Crescent, a glacial lake that is several hundred feet deep and the most striking azure blue you can imagine. It is very distracting when driving along the shoreline…you have to keep looking over at it to convince yourself that it really is that surreal color. Quite beautiful.

Another adventure led the girls and I to Salt Creek Recreation Area, not too far from our campground. I had read somewhere that the tide pools at low tide were fun for exploring. We were right on time tide wise and were able to investigate the mid tide range with mussels and limpets exposed on the rocky shore and loads of beautiful driftwood and seaweed, unlike anything we have at home, on the beach area. It was probably my favorite outing so far.

Today we hiked to Sol Duc falls and it was beautiful!! Such spectacularly clear water…unlike anything I have ever seen – and I spend quite a bit of time in that environment!

Tomorrow we will leave this campsite and head around 101 to the west to stay at Kalaloch campground for two nights. We will visit the Hoh rainforest. I am super excited!! Hall of Mosses here we come! This region of the park gets 12-14 FEET of rain a year!!!

Only negative to report: last night my purse was stolen out of the truck – which was accidentally left unlocked for the first time the whole trip. A morning spent canceling credit cards, etc was no fun but we have taken care of everything and minimal damage was done. I need to replace our camera so am stuck with photos from the iPhone for a few days. Otherwise, just a small bump in the road!

More Olympic to come…

 

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Seattle: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Since we are trying to be candid with our journaling efforts on this trip…here’s the low down on the latest adventures:

Arriving in Puyallup – merely a campground within a hour of Seattle and NOTHING more – we were relieved to not be at a truck stop, have laundry facilities, and of course…a hot shower. We did a little drive around the tacoma area, just so we could say we did, and called it a night, excited for Kimberly’s birthday jaunt into Seattle the next day.

We woke to cloudy skies (seemed appropriate given our locale) and headed out by 7:30. I was regretting not lining up a stroller rental in advance and wondered how many steps it would be before kimbo pooped out on us. Fortunately, given the anticipation of certain activities she hung in there quite well.

To say entering the sprawling metropolis of the greater Seattle area was a bit of a shock to our systems is to put it very mildly! Within an hour we parked the car downtown, one block off of Pike Place Market and it was on.

I have to say, having been in relative wilderness for the previous two weeks did not prepare us well for the deafening volume of the city. We couldn’t hear each other…we were concerned about the car being vandalized, as we were clearly tourists making a day of it with backpacks, water bottles, and the like ;-)…and, of course we had no idea where we were going.

Being the one charged with all planning and scheduling, six eyes were on me. It took a quick stop at a coffee shop, a few glances at my phone map, and we were off.

First stop: Seattle aquarium. If you go there, do NOT judge it by the exterior. It looks pretty rough. Actually turned out to be the second nicest one (next to Baltimore) that I have ever visited.

Next up: a quick lunch at a sandwich joint. Good food. We strive to avoid “hangry” as much as possible…we are all susceptible!

Off to the much anticipated (by Kimberly) monorail – a throw back to the 1962 worlds fair – that took us to Seattle center to see the space needle.

We opted for just Brad and Va to go up…it is really pricey and the clouds were limiting the view.

We enjoyed the return trip on the monorail and stopped in a Marbles store to find a few gifts for the birthday girl. After our walk back to the car it was back to the campground before rush hour began.

All in all, the city trip was ok. Some of the negative resulted from our sensitivity to the noises, smells, sights…and some is related to the experiences we had to explain to the girls on the way “home”. Like: why were there people camped out on the pier next to the aquarium (fairly large homeless camp right there, including discarded clothing and evidence of various bodily functions feet away from us); why did daddy go back to check on car (shady guys casing lot as we left); why was that man screaming cuss words “at” us as we walked by (mentally ill man talking to himself on corner); etc etc.

Brad and I both took a depth breath in as we crossed the Hood Canal onto the Olympic Peninsula today. At a quick stop in Port Angeles we scored with a wonderful food co-op (yes I do sniff those places out)! Our campsite is awesome. Tomorrow Brad leaves us for CA for 4 days but I am excited to begin exploring the park with the girls!!!

Note: we opted to stay at Elwha Dam RV park versus at Sol Duc as I needed hook ups while Brad is gone. So that location is wrong on the schedule.

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Gold Fever!

We found ourselves in Idaho briefly, long enough to rest for a night and tour an old gold mine.  The Crystal Gold Mine in Kellogg, ID was mined briefly in the late 1800s and then boarded up and abandoned until it was rediscovered during road construction in the 1991!  We camped on the premises so we were the first ones in on Monday morning.

Kimberly getting the safety talk from Frank, the owner

Kimberly getting the safety talk from Frank, the owner

Kimberly did a great job of keeping her miners hat (hard hat) on the whole tour!   It was very interesting and we were able to see gold and silver in the walls!   At the back of the mine we were 900 feet below ground!!  We panned a little afterwards, but chilly temps and icy water minimized that experience.

Back on the road, we stopped in Coeur d’Alene long enough to have an awesome lunch at Fire Pizzeria…the lake there is beautiful!

 

Our attempt at a family photo in the mine ;-)

Our attempt at a family photo in the mine ūüėČ

 

The afternoon brought a few more hours of driving as we were making our way to the Washington coast. ¬†Similar to parts of Wyoming and Montana, there is a lot of agriculture and undeveloped land in east Washington. ¬†We found ourselves hunkering down for the night at another truck stop in George, WA…my least favorite accommodations so far. ¬†Dinner and a few games of Uno rounded out the evening.

Notice the size of the "shaft"...not for the claustrophobic!

Notice the size of the mine shaft…not for the claustrophobic!

Today we will be arriving at a campground (thank God!) around lunchtime near Tacoma, setting us up for a day in Seattle tomorrow. ¬†I am looking forward to spending Kimberly’s birthday there and we plan to take the girls to the aquarium among other places.

Thursday we are headed to the Olympic Peninsula for a much needed break in travel.  We will be there for 8 days, yay!!

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Good times in Bozeman

The past three and a half days have been spent in the lovely town of Bozeman, MT. ¬†I could definitely live here…not so much Brad though, too much snow for his taste.

Prior to arrving in town though we made a slight detour to Chico Hot Springs in Pray, MT. ¬†I was nervous about dragging the family there, as it was just through internet resources that I learned of this place, and you never know what you’ll get with that stuff! ¬†It was a success though. ¬†We donned our bathing suits for the first time on the trip, I can safely say this is the palest I have ever been in June…not much sunbathing in the recent temps of CO and WY! ¬†The “hot” pool was around 104 and the larger pool was around 90 degrees. ¬†It felt great to soak in the minerals and the sun, despite the outside temp of 50 degrees! ¬†We lounged and played for about 2 hours and then it was back on the road.

Ahhh...

Ahhh…

We arrived in Bozeman Thursday afternoon and found a local grocery…a great co-op, kind of like a cross between Chatham Marketplace and Whole Foods! ¬†It was a very welcome sight after the limited fare in Yellowstone! ¬† Dinner was Bison burgers with a fried egg on local arugula and potatoes…YUM! ¬†Friday Brad found a local mountain biking trail…this town has plenty to choose from. ¬†As he “crushed his soul” on an 18 mile ride with the first 9 being uphill, I hung out at the campground with the girls. ¬†That afternoon we ventured to another local find: Spire Climbing Center. ¬†I put both Kimberly and Virginia in harnesses and Brad belayed them as they tried out wall after wall…well, Kimberly did it a few times, and only about 8 feet high, but that was a major success in my book! ¬†Virignia on the other hand was killing it! ¬†For two hours she wore Brad out, even tackling some walls that were partially inverted (sloping backwards)! ¬†It is a great place and it was fun to watch all the climbers practicing their moves.

RIMG0209Dinner at the Montana Ale House was very good, as was the break from cooking in my 20 square foot kitchen!

Saturday brought rain in the am and chilly temperatures. ¬†I was concerned as I had booked us on a river rafting trip on the Gallatin for lunchtime. ¬†We took care of our chores and a final grocery shopping trip before heading down towards Big Sky. ¬†The Montana White Water Company is fantastic and I highly recommend them if you are in the area! ¬†I opted for the “scenic float” as I was concerned that even the family-friendly Class 1-3 trip might being pushing it in the cold water temps and for a first trip for the girls. ¬†Excellent call in hindsight! ¬†With the river running fairly high from runoff, the scenic float had just enough excitement to have everyone smiling at the end! ¬†Our guide Brent was super and he and Brad chatted about biking, construction, and everything else as we took in the beautiful Gallatin…part of our reach was used in the filming of A River Runs Through It.

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Brad and Kimberly waiting for the bus ride to the put in…the wetsuits were much appreciated!

Today, Father’s Day, we load up and head out once again. ¬†We are hoping to end up somewhere between Missoula and Couer d’Alene this evening. ¬†Planning to tour an old gold mine in the am. ¬†I am hoping for another success in the “momma side trip” department!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads….