Road Trips

Road Trips

Camano Island Getaway

When the clouds lifted across the way we discovered a spectacular view.

As our Thanksgiving holiday approached and it became clear that we would be celebrating without family for the first time in many years, Reg and I chose to do our social distancing and turkey roasting in Washington State. We managed to rent a one bedroom cottage on Camano Island, perched right on the waters of the Puget Sound region. When the clouds allowed, we enjoyed a view across to Whidbey Island and the mountains of Olympic Peninsula beyond. It’s been the perfect getaway.

We were sandwiched between two state parks, each an easy one mile walk from our front door. Wednesday we headed to Cama Beach State Park, first detouring along the trail to Cranberry Lake. It seemed an appropriate destination for a holiday walk.

We chose not to linger, instead turning back to find the trail to Cama Beach.

We found the beach deserted but rows and rows of rustic cabins, when filled with vacationers, promise a very different scene.

We climbed back up to hike the Marine Loop Trail, enjoyed a perfect lunch spot and then finished our tour of Cama Beach State Park.

The following day we headed in the opposite direction to explore Camano Island State Park, choosing the loop trail which took us high above the beach, down to the shore and then back up again.

We drive home tomorrow, but squeezed one last walk in today. Another loop trail through the Camano Ridge Forest Preserve allowed us the chance to explore the opposite end of the island.

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Back in Bend, Oregon

Our last minute plan to squeeze one more trip out of camping season landed us at this Glamp-Site in Bend, Oregon.

Friends Lan and Jeff stayed here (The Crown Villa RV Park) last month and provided good reviews, so we knew we’d be comfortable on our last outing of the season. Beggars can’t be choosers – especially when looking for 3 nights just one day in advance. This is a very nice RV park located inside the Bend city limits. We feel quite spoiled and are hardly roughing it.

We did get some good hiking in, so in spite of our pristine site, we managed get a little dusty. Shevlin Park was crowded on Sunday afternoon, but we found the last open parking spot and settled on a loop trail that took us on a 5-mile walk through the park canyon.

It was a nice warmup for the hike we did the following day. The 6-mile Matthieu Lakes loop trail is located off the beaten path outside of Sisters, Oregon.

Our destination was North Matthieu Lake (above) which was just shy of the turnaround point of our 6-mile hike.
We first walked through acres of burned forest. There is very little regrowth from the 2017 Milli Fire.

We passed several small ponds along the way. Although we were in shirtsleeves today, one pond was edged with ice, evidence of how low the nighttime temperatures drop this time of year.

Our first glimpse of North Matthieu Lake.

Following the trail around the lake, we found the perfect lunch spot.

We continued on to South Matthieu Lake, a smaller lake but every bit as pretty. This is where we intersected with the Pacific Crest Trail, turning back along the iconic path and returning to the trailhead.

Our return trip took us up high with views of ancient lava flows, a view of Mt. Washington, a bird’s eye view of our lunch spot and back through sections of fire damage. All in all, a great hike and a good end to camping season!

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It’s About The Journey…Not The Destination

A little over 2 weeks ago we waved goodbye to friends Chris and Judy as we left our campsite near Bend, Oregon. We had 4 days to reach Sedona, Arizona where we had reservations for 2 weeks of hiking and biking among the red rocks.
Twenty minutes into the drive, Reg began lobbying for a change of plans. Temperatures were hovering in the 90s in Sedona…a little warm for outdoor activities. “We should go to Colorado,” he said. I put up a fight, but after a few more heated miles, we canceled our first week in Sedona. And so our journey began, and that’s how we ended up spending our first night here. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

It was 6:00 pm, Reg had been driving since mid morning and I had called every RV Park I could find with no luck. Tired and frustrated, we spent a restless night at this Interstate Highway rest stop outside of Boise, Idaho, cooking hot dogs for dinner.

The following morning we cobbled together reservations for 3 more nights on the road and 5 nights in Ouray, Colorado. The plan was to then head down to Arizona and salvage the last week of our Sedona reservation.

We spent one night in the Brigham City, Utah KOA (Kampground of America chain of parks) and then 2 nights in the KOA in Grand Junction, Colorado, where, as you can see, Reg began to relax after a frantic three days.
Since Grand Junction wasn’t part of the plan, we weren’t sure how we’d fill our day until we discovered nearby Colorado National Monument. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

There are plenty of spots to pull over and take in views of the canyon while twisting and turning along 23-mile Rim Rock Drive.

Then it was on to Ouray (pronounced You-Ray) Colorado and more surprises.

KOA campgrounds saved us on this trip. Our site for 5 days at the Ouray KOA was tucked up under the trees and alongside a creek.

We weren’t expecting a fall color trip, but were thrilled to see our first high altitude change of season. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

Another National Park that was never on our radar was Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Not far from Ouray, we decided to make a day trip out of it. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

A short hike along the Warner Point Nature Trail led us to a spectacular lunch spot.

We drove along the “Million Dollar Highway,” a 25 mile length of route US 550 between Ouray and the historical mining town of Silverton. The history of the name varies depending on the source. Some say it refers to the million dollar cost of building the road, others claim it refers to the amount of ore mined from the area. My favorite explanation tells the story of a traveler who was so overcome with vertigo that he insisted he would never travel the road again…even if he were paid a million dollars. The drive offers spectacular scenery including an overlook of what’s left of the Red Mountain Mining site where an historic silver boom took place from from 1882 a 1893. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

The overlook offers a view of the old Train trestle and mining operation as well as informational boards with its history.

When it was time to leave Colorado the Arizona temperatures were just not cooling off. We made the decision to turn around and return home. Disappointing, but there was still more to see. Making the best of it, I snapped photos through the windshield as Reg battled some gusty winds. This really is a beautiful country. If we hadn’t changed our plans, we would have missed this.

While we never reached our destination, we still enjoyed a memorable journey…and for us, that’s what’s important!

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Everyone Needs a Little Helper in Utah

It isn’t often that we post photos from towns we’ve stayed in, but we found the little town of Helper, Utah oozing with charm and we can’t wait to tell you about it! What was to be simply a roadside stop for the night as we traveled back into Utah turned out to be the biggest, nicest surprise of the trip.

Castle Gate RV Park gets our vote for best RV Park views of our trip.

To say we were pleasantly surprised by Castle Gate RV Park would be a gross understatement. Clean, tidy, uncrowded and practically brand new, the staff was friendly and helpful. We were happy as clams…then we walked into town.

Our first stop was this incredibly preserved old gas station.

Regular for .31 per gallon and premium/ethyl for .38 per gallon. Boy, those were the days!

We moved into the heart of town and the surprises kept on coming. Everywhere we looked were tributes to the town’s past.

“Big John” (the tallest coal miner in the world) celebrates the mining history of Helper, Utah.

This little gem of a town is located about halfway between Provo and Green River on Highway 6 in Utah. It’s well worth a stop to check out the rich railroad and mining history. In case you’re curious, the name Helper originated with the helper engines that, in days gone by, assisted trains making the steep 15-mile climb up Price Canyon.
What a treat is has been to have a little “Helper” today.

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Telluride, Colorado

The River Walk in Telluride.

We huffed and puffed our way along the gentle Riverwalk Trail in Colorado’s upscale mountain community of Telluride. At an elevation of about 9,500 feet, we appreciated the relatively flat terrain. There was plenty of scenery and fall color to enjoy, and a beautiful little town park where we stopped for our picnic lunch.

After lunch we made the short drive to Mountain Village, a resort ski town where everything looks new and luxurious. It was here we took the free Gondola ride that connects the communities of Mountain Village and Telluride.

The cars were sprayed with some sort of sanitizer before we got on. Reg and I had the car to ourselves.

The gondola system was designed and built to promote clean air and discourage people from driving between the towns (like we did…oops). It opens early in the morning and runs until late at night, carrying skiers during the winter months and hikers, bikers and tourists during warmer weather.

The cable flung us off the platform and we were off!

So there we were, hanging high in the sky on our way to the high point of the ride – an elevation of 10,500 feet. The views were astounding. And then…we headed straight down.

A bird’s eye view of Telluride.

Carryoncouple decided this was a much easier to travel than lacing up our boots. We could get spoiled!

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Along the Perimeter in Ouray, Colorado

Happy to find a sturdy bridge across the stream.

What better way to learn the lay of the land than to walk the perimeter…and that’s just what we did today in Ouray (pronounced You-Ray), Colorado.

Trail guides vary, listing the circular Perimeter Trail as 5 1/2 – 6 miles with 1,600 feet of elevation gain and loss. All promise spectacular views.

If you look closely, you can see the trail alongside the mountain.

The trail took us through tunnels, across numerous bridges and through some gorgeous fall color. There was a bit of climbing, mostly at the beginning and end. We chose to walk counter clockwise, saving our glimpse of the waterfall until the end.

We got a bird’s eye view of Ouray.
Lots of color.
It wasn’t much of a waterfall in October, but there was still a trickle spilling from high above.

All in all, this was a good days hike. By the time we reached our starting point we were hot and dirty and tired…but in a good way!

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Battery Point Lighthouse

We took advantage of what was, without a doubt, the most beautiful day we’ve ever experienced in Crescent City to explore the Battery Point Lighthouse. Built in 1856, it was the 10th lighthouse built on the west coast and one of 16 Cape Cod style lighthouses built in the 1800s.

Perched on a rocky island point, it’s accessible only at low tide. We scrambled across the rocks without getting our feet the least bit wet, and made the short climb to the top. Too early for a tour, we poked around the outside and tried to imagine what life must have been like for 19th century lighthouse keepers.

Some say this historic building is haunted. Surely it has stories to tell. If it looks familiar, perhaps you’re a Tim McGraw fan. According to Wikipedia:

…the music video for the Tim McGraw song “Not a Moment Too Soon” has scenes of Tim next to the light on the lighthouse’s top balcony and scenes of the Battery Point Light from a distance.

If you listen carefully, perhaps you’ll hear the music!

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Cape Disappointment Exceeds Expectations

We enjoyed a long hike through Cape Disappointment State Park two years ago, so despite the gloomy name, we were enthusiastic about our 3-night stay. Our campsite was the best, (site A-9 if you’re taking notes) lots of open space backing up to a long stretch of sandy beach.

It’s always fun to camp with friends, so we were thrilled when Pam and Jim took a few days from their trip north to stir up some trouble with us. As a recently installed, card carrying Elk, Pam was eager to check out the Long Beach Lodge, and we all tagged along, not wanting to miss the fun. I’m happy to report we all received a warm welcome and ice cold drinks!

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At Least We’re Not in a Tent

Drizzle and puddles greeted us at Washington’s Grayland Beach State Park.

We woke up this morning, our third at Grayland Beach State Park, to the sound of drips on our trailer roof. After the absolutely beautiful day we had yesterday, it was a surprising disappointment. But we agreed, “At least we’re not in a tent!”

Above are scenes from our outing yesterday to Ocean Shores, a touristy community situated on a finger of land between the Pacific Ocean and Grays Harbor. We had hoped for more sunshine today, but settled for a drive along a scenic route with the laundromat as our destination.

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Our Night on a Riverboat

The Delta King is docked on the banks of the Sacramento River.

The historic Delta King, a 285-foot riverboat, offers landlubbers (like us) the chance to spend a night bobbing about on California’s Sacramento River. Reg was skeptical when I tossed the idea out to him, but the ratings were good and it was just one night…what did we have to lose?

Old Town Sacramento is home to the Delta King.

The Delta King was originally built in Glasgow, Scotland and in Stockton, California. It was christened in 1927 when it began a daily 10 1/2 hour voyage between San Francisco and Sacramento. What a trip that must have been. If you listen carefully, you might just hear the ghosts of days gone by…days of prohibition era drinking, gambling, jazz bands and fine dining.

We checked into one of the smaller rooms that could be described as “filled with character.” In reality, while small and a little rough around the edges, it was comfy enough and the lifeboats were right outside my door…just in case!

We discovered the full bar, complete with beautiful wood paneling and none of those pesky prohibition restrictions, at the bow of the boat. We settled ourselves at a table, enjoyed the view and chatted with a senior couple from Boston who were on an extended bus trip through the west. All in all, we loved the experience and would certainly recommend a stay on the Delta King.

Having been submerged in the San Francisco Bay for 15 months, restoration of the Delta King began in 1984 and lasted over a 5-year period.
We called it a night as watched the sun go down from the stern.
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