Monthly Archives: June 2012

Mount Vernon, Washington

Historic Downtown Mt, Vernon, WA

Mt. Vernon, Washington was our base for 9 days while we regrouped and prepared for the next part of our journey: Canada & Alaska.  Only 50 miles from the Canadian border, Mt. Vernon is located between the San Juan Islands in the Puget Sound to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east.

Mt. Vernon proved to be a terrific site for everything we needed to accomplish.  In addition to the post office and banking facilities, the historic downtown was lined with boutiques, antique shops and quaint restaurants. Around every turn, were colorful pots of flowering plants.

 

And, in between our chores & the rain showers, on a bright, clear day  we worked in a day of sightseeing to Deception Pass and Whidbey Island. From the deck where we had lunch, we had a fantastic view of snowcapped Mt. Rainer and the cruising boats in the harbor.

Deception Pass

 

 

Snowcapped Mt. Ranier

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Vancouver, Washington: “A Family Affair”

Jenn, Cynthia, Kevin, John & Joy

Following Washington’s scenic route 14 to the end of the Columbia River Gorge brought us directly into Vancouver for our visit with our nephew, Kevin Ross and his wife, Cynthia.  When we made plans with them to meet at the Silver Manatee prior to going out to dinner, we were happily surprised  to learn their daughter, Jenn, was also able to join us.  Not only was it exciting to see the three of them after so many years, following our visit and dinner, we were able to go visit Jenn’s baby boy, Angello, at the NICU at the hospital.  We can only thank Kevin and his family for being so flexible and  making time for such a memorable visit. What wonderful memories we now have of Kevin, Cynthia, Jenn and Angello.  It was truly a “Family Affair.”

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Westward Ho!

Marine Mobile Coffee Shop

With a commitment to ourselves to return to Ketchum & Sun Valley, Idaho, we broke camp and set our sights on Farewell Bend State Park, Oregon.  Leaving Ketchum, we traveled westward through a National Forest until just outside Idaho’s capitol, Boise.  Taking a rest stop, we encountered a local Marine organization that offered free refreshments as a fundraiser for returning Marines.  As it turned out, it was a man and wife manning the mobile coffee shop- he was a retired Marine and she had retired from the Navy.  Drinking our tea and chatting with them just underscored to us how rewarding our journey has been with our encounters with fellow Americans across the country. From the beginning with the volunteers at the Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL,  the Go Texans raising money for education, the many volunteers at the state and national parks to this down to earth couple in Idaho, we have repeatedly met people engaged in making a difference.

Saying our good-byes and taking their good wishes with us, we continued on to Farewell Bend State Park.  Upon our arrival at the Park, we found that we had arrived at the very spot the pioneers heading to the West would turn their wagons from traveling along the banks of the Snake River to cross the plain to the Columbia River following the Oregon Trail.  Greeting us at the park’s entrance were replica conestoga wagons and a plaque commemorating those early pioneers.

Farewell Bend State Park

When we finished backing into our site, we heard, “Good job!” shouted out.  John acknowledged the fellow camper’s comment and after they were settled into their site, walked over to say hello.  It turned out that our neighbors were at the Park for a carp fishing tournament; only, instead of using the traditional fishing poles and tackle, they were using bow and arrows!  Also, all the fish from the three day tournament was collected and picked up by a local plant which would then turn it into material for dog and cat food- a creative way to deal with a man made problem of introducing non-native fish.

Hand Made Tear Drop Camper

As we took a bike ride around the park, the other contestants in the tournament displayed their creativity with the variety of campers- one in particular caught our eye.  It was entirely made by hand out of wood.

Maryhill Museum of Art

Pulling out of Farewell Bend put us on the road to the Columbia River Gorge.  First, however, we were to experience the arid part of Oregon.  Sagebrush and miles and miles of dry land.  We elected to stay the night on the eastern edge of the Gorge in Maryhill, Washington at the state park there.  Shortly after we got the Silver Manatee settled for the night, a steady drizzle started and it rained on and off  not only during our stay in Maryhill but during our travels along the Gorge to Vancouver, WA and on to Tacoma, Wa.  Serendipity played a role in our decision to stay at Maryhill State Park as it turned out that there was an Art Museum 3 miles from the park!  The Maryhill Museum of Art was like a fairytale come to life with its location in a chateau on the Columbia River Gorge. We spent several hours that morning exploring Maryhill Museum’s world-class collection of art ranging from early 20th century European works to an extensive Native American collection. This has to be one of the most fascinating cultural destinations in the Northwest.

As we left the extraordinary Museum behind us, we followed the Scenic route on the Washington side along the Columbia River Gorge all the way to Vancouver, WA to visit our nephew Kevin and his family. Although the pace was slower than if we had traveled on the interstate, it was well worth the extra time.  The Gorge was shrouded with mist from the rain and around every bend another amazing mysterious vista came into view.   Far below, we could see barges and fishermen traveling the waters of the Columbia.  The lushness of the landscape lived up to all we have ever heard or seen in pictures.

Columbia River Gorge

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Putting Our Dreams on the Road: Ketchum and Sun Valley, Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument

 

 

 

When it was time to depart Yellowstone to put our dreams on the road again, the Silver Manatee headed for Ketchum and Sun Valley, Idaho.  After a stop ‘n go in Idaho Falls for a night, we traveled further west and about halfway to Ketchum we made two unique, brief stops- one was the site where the country’s nuclear reactors are made near Arco, ID and the other unusual stop was to view the Craters of the Moon National Monument. The Navy established the site where the nuclear reactors are created and is the largest plant making nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes in the world. The Craters of the Moon is a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of volcanic rock and sagebrush. More eruptions are predicted to occur as the recurrence interval for eruptive activity in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field averages 2,000 years and it has been more than 2,000 years since the last eruption. Both sites seemed so other worldly and definitely gave us pause for thought.

We arrived in Ketchum with brilliant blue skies and the sun shining on majestic mountains with picturesque horse ranches at their base.  As picture postcard as Yellowstone was with its dusting of snow, the sunshine and the sapphire blue sky were welcome visitors to our journey. Located in central Idaho, Ketchum and the adjacent resort, Sun Valley, sit below Bald Mountain or “Baldy” as it is often referred.  Known as a world class ski resort in the winter, this area also offers fishing, hiking, biking, golf and tennis during the remaining seasons along with a summer concert series.  During our stay here we were able to take advantage of a short hiking trail right from downtown Ketchum which offered a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.  We meandered to Sun Valley and explored the Sun Valley Lodge and the adjoining multi-use complex.  The ice rink adjacent to the Lodge was being renovated for the upcoming summer Show on Ice season, but was still open for lessons and we had some enjoyable moments watching a young boy learning to skate.

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Between the lush, green mountainscape with its crisp, pine scented air and the wealth of outdoor & art related activities, Ketchum, Idaho is on our must return list!

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