Cody, Wyoming and then the Grand Tetons

 

We went to Cody on the recommendation of Judy Goff (our friend in Bend, Oregon,  who was born in Wyoming) and I have to say it did not disappoint.

I had managed to get a site reserved at the Ponderosa Campground right in the middle of Cody and we had a back in site that was a bit tight but provided views over the canyon behind us (just don’t go too far back!!).

Our site in the Ponderosa Campground, Cody.
The view 6ft behind us, rather a large drop-off!!

Judy told us that, in her words “It will give you a fun and memorable bit of insight to this part of the American West! “, and it certainly did.

Centre piece of that experience was the Buffalo Bill Center of the West a massive museum that was actually 5 museums in one. A Firearms museum, a Western Arts museum, a Plains Indian Museum, The Buffalo Bill museum and a Natural History museum. Every one of them was an experience in their own right, but together they are incredible. If you ever go there make sure you have a day, as we did, because it will take you that long to go around it and do it justice.

William F Cody (Buffalo Bill) and a friend!!
Another statue to “Buffalo Bill”.
A painting of Custer’s Last Stand in the Western Art museum.
An immense bronze of an Elk.
Recognise this from my pictures of Yellowstone Park!! Beautiful painting.
Another piece of “Wild West” art.
A picture of an Indian brave killing a Bison.
One of the many exhibits in the “Buffalo Bill” museum.
Poster of Buffalo Bill meeting Queen Victoria.
The people who visited the Buffalo Bill Wild West show in London 1887.
Buffalo Bill also led many foreign visitors on hunts in Wyoming.
Plain’s Indian exhibit.
An actual buffalo hide tepee, very rare nowadays .
Wyoming Natural history exhibit.
One of the many huge exhibits in the Natural history museum.
A painting of a large Bison herd in Wyoming before they were nearly wiped out by hide hunters.
As opposed to how the Indians hunted them by driving them off a cliff. But in their case none of the animal was wasted as the buffalo were regarded as sacred by the plains Indians.
A collection of Indian artefacts.
A goat exhibit in the Natural History museum. More than we have seen in real life!!
Another large exhibit of the inhabitants of a Mountain Meadow.
Buffalo Bill’s (William F Cody’s as he was then) actual boyhood house has been moved into the grounds of the museum.
It is an Historic Place in its own right.
Crazy Horse statue.
Beautiful Bison bronze in the grounds of the Museum.

For some reason I do not seem to have taken any pictures of the Firearms Museum, but it incorporates many exhibits from the Winchester Museum. I think I must have been so fascinated I forgot to take pictures!!

On the following day we decided to visit the Buffalo Bill Dam, which when it was built was the highest dam in the USA. You certainly needed a head for heights when you stood on top of the dam wall and looked down!!

Buffalo Bill Dam, the people are walking across the dam wall.
The reservoir held back by the dam is huge.
And it is surrounded by very high mountains.
Looking down the river valley below the dam at the Shoshone River.
Looking down the dam wall.
Fish swimming close to the dam.

From here we headed West towards the East Entrance of Yellowstone Park along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway. We were told we would have a good chance of seeing some bear and Longhorn Sheep on this road. We certainly saw signs but no actual animals.

Bear droppings, they eat lots of berries!!

The scenery was also very interesting with lots of spectacular rock formations.

Remains of volcanos.
Volcanic butte
Interesting shapes all along the valley.
Very phallic.
How on earth does that stay up there!!
More balancing rocks. Notice the windows through the rocks.
And even more.
Hazy view was caused by smoke from California fires.
Your can tell which way the wind blows, never seen a tree growing just on one side!!
And the river wound along the valley, and it’s a very good trout river.
River meandering down towards the dam.
East entrance of Yellowstone, where we turned around.
A pile of deer antlers.
And this was built by a local man out of hand hewn timber. Unfortunate part was he never finished it as he fell to his death off one of the pagoda roofs as he refused to wear a safety harness!!

And on our last night we decided to go to the rodeo, unfortunately the weather had turned cold and we left half way through as we were freezing!! We saw the bucking horse rides, some steer roping and met a brahma bull, but didn’t see any ridden as we were so cold.

Brahma bull on show outside the arena.
Cowgirls getting ready. You can tell how cold it was look at their coats. Unfortunately we didn’t have thick enough clothing!!
Cody’s boast.
Not all the stands were full!! And there were lots of blankets on show.
The opening display of horse riding.
Ooops he didn’t last long.
This one did much better.
Steer roping. Cowboy is just getting off to hog tie the steer, while the horse is trained to keep the rope tight. Pity about the pole!!

From here we moved on to Dubois (pronounced Duboys here as they don’t like the French version!!). We were using this site as our base to explore the Grand Tetons.

We arrived at Windhaven RV Resort after a particularly windy drive ( I guess we should have expected that given the name of the RV site!!) and got set up with a site facing the river.

The Site.
View out of the front window, down river.
And the view up river.
Moon reflecting on the river.

We used Dubois as our base to drive to see the Grand Tetons National Park. Decided to do it over two days as you drove into the National Park roughly in the middle and then you went North towards Yellowstone Park or South to Jackson Hole. Good job we did, as you will see from the pictures, because the first trip in we thought we had missed them! You only saw them once you were right on top of them because of all the smoke from the fires in California.

Memorial erected to remember all lumberjacks who made their living cutting railroad ties (we call them sleepers) by hand. This area produced the majority of the railroad ties used in the entire USA. You can see the smoke in the background.
Smoke, smoke wherever you looked.
Edge of the Grand Tetons, just!!
On the way in we crossed the Continental Divide again at the highest we have been. Getting used to the rarefied air, although the Spark and I puff a bit going up hills!!
Scene from a well known lookout point. You are supposed to see mountains up to 13,776ft high from here, but just smoke!!
Finally got closer but you have to look very closely to see the snow on the mountains opposite.
We chose North first as it was supposed to have bears, but no such luck. Saw some white freshwater Pelicans.
It seemed to clear a bit later in the day.

After this we decided to wait a day (we had some chores to do anyway) and then try the South Loop in the hope that some of the smoke would clear. But it did make some fantastic sunsets.

Sunset at the RV Park looking back towards the National Park. My, my, America is a lovely place.

So, fingers crossed we set off on the Southern Loop around the park. It was obvious as we got closer that things had improved, but it still took a while before we actually saw the mountains.

A Sand Crane we saw on the way in.
And the mountains started to appear, just!!
Need to get closer!!
Loads of Bison grazing alongside the road.
Trying to recreate a famous photo by William H Jackson showing the Snake River with the Tetons behind. He didn’t have the smoke.
It’s improving gradually, but still need to get closer!!
The highest peak at 13,776ft.
One of the Antler Arches at the four corners of the George Washington Memorial Park, Jackson Hole
Getting closer and it is improving!!
Panoramic view of the entire range.
These are the highest peaks and you can see what remains of the glaciers in the valleys. They are retreating year on year.
Close up of one of the glaciers, with the moraine field in the foreground. The black colouration is caused by the smoke.
This is known as the Cathedral group.
Jenny Lake with Tetons in the background
Photo opportunity.
More glaciers.
This is the view from Signal Mountain that is not part of the main group, but still 7,720ft high, with a road right to the very top!!
This is the road we went South on to Jackson Hole, taken from Signal Mountain. You can see the Bison grazing beyond the road.
Not very clear as it is at extreme range for my camera but this was a Pronghorn Antelope herd grazing in the valley below. Focus on the white butts (bums).
Then on the way down the mountain this female Mule deer appeared.
And took a rest!! Very relaxed.
And THEN we saw this magnificent Mule deer stag. What a set of antlers!!
This is the spillway of the Jackson Dam that forms Jackson Lake in the background.
And then on the way back we saw more Pronghorn Antelope.

We were late getting back that evening and decided to eat out at a local restaurant in Dubois called The Cowboy Café. It was a really informal dining place with great food. As we were sat there we were joined by a group of people who had taken their horses in trailers up to the National Park. They had been riding the park trails with their horses all weekend. They were all friends from Lander, Wyoming and we got talking with them and they were really interested in our trip. One of then turned out to be a High School teacher at Wyoming Indian High School near Lander and he asked us if we would be willing to talk to his pupils. So I foolishly agreed, and he gave me a number to contact him on.

Our final day in Dubois was spent in the National Bighorn Sheep Centre, where we learnt that they had the biggest wintering herd, kept on a State park just outside of the town. We still haven’t seen any Bighorn Sheep but at least we learnt the the main reason we had not seen them. At this time of the year they are high in the mountains keeping out of the way of Mountain Lions!!

Bighorn Sheep with a Mountain Lion (Cougar) close on his tail!!

Our next stop after leaving Dubois was going to be Lander, so I contacted the High School teacher (Cleeve Bell) thinking he would have changed his mind about speaking to his pupils, but he was even more insistent it was a good idea! We would be going right past his High School on the way to our next camp site so we should call in. In exchange for me doing the talk he and his wife would cook us a meal that evening. And he had elk on the menu.

So, hoping I had not bitten off more than I could chew, we drove the RV into the car park at Wyoming Indian High School.

Parking lot at the High School.
We were at the right place!!

And it all seemed to go quite well. The pupils all introduced themselves to us, including telling us what Indian tribes they were descended from. I used my laptop to show them where we were from, and then gave them a potted history of the British Isles. I showed them pictures of the Queen, Houses of Parliament and how we lived in England (not all in stately homes!!). We passed around our passports, UK notes and coins, and luckily Anne had a Hello magazine featuring the wedding of Prince Harry to Megan Markle which they were very interested in. We also got asked about the Spice Girls and One Direction!!

The High School class.

We then went on to the campground, got set up and drove back into Lander for a lovely meal with Cleeve and his wife. Their website is Here.

After dinner we got back to the campground to see a magnificent sunset over a lake in the grounds.

Wow!!
Double Wow!!

The next day we moved on to Green River to visit the Flaming Gorge, the subject of my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

Ever since I read an Eagle comic recreation of the Battle of Little Bighorn when I was a young boy, I have always wanted to visit the site of the only battle in which the Indians actually won!

So we moved on from Livingston to Billings, which was slightly off route but got us close enough to the battlefield to make my wish come true.

Rest area in I90
Another rattlesnake warning. Didn’t see any. I suppose I should be careful what I wish for!!
Parked up in Billings.

We drove to the battlefield the next day. I hadn’t realised until we got there that it was quite a long battlefield. I always envisaged it was just the hill on which the Last Stand took place but it was in actual fact spread out over 5 miles, after a crucial decision by Custer to split his command in two. One group of men under Major Reno was sent to attack the Indian encampment and the other group under General Custer continued West to try and flank the village and capture them in a pincer movement.

7th Cavalry are the blue routes, Indian braves the red routes.

You can see here where the main 7th Cavalry force split on the right. Unfortunately for General Custer, Major Reno’s force was beaten back and forced to retreat back over the river and take up a defensive position in the hills above.

General Custer not knowing that continued west, splitting his group again to attack the village while he continued west. That force under Lt. James Calhoun was harried by Indian forces, losing many men, until they too turned back to the hills and rejoined General Custer’s main group.

General Custer then turned to attack the village, only to be met by superior Indian forces and was forced to retreat (dotted blue lines) back to where they were surrounded and lost their lives in the Last Stand.

Major Reno’s group knew nothing about this, as they were over 4 miles from that area, so they consolidated their position and beat off Indian attacks until they were saved by the advancing columns of Generals Terry and Gibbon.

The Indian village was camped amongst the trees in the Valley below. It was here that the force was split and Major Reno sent down into the valley to attack the village.
This shows you Major Reno’s force attacking the village (blue arrow) but the Indians counter attacked and …..
Forced them to retreat back across the river, losing many men on the way. They retreated back up to the top of the hill where they set up a defence.
A map of the defensive position that Major Reno’s troopers set up, and defended successfully until the arrival of the relief troops.

While moving west General Custer was harried all the way by Indian braves. Wherever a white marker is positioned it is approximately where a 7th Cavalry soldier fell. Most of them have no names on them, as all they knew at the time was a soldier was killed here.

White markers show where 7th Cavalry soldiers were killed. Inscriptions read “US Soldier 7th Cavalry fell here June 25 1876”.
This is the area where Lt. Calhoun and his men fought his way back to General Custer. As you can see a lot of soldiers lost their lives here.

They re-joined General Custer who began his attack on the village but were met by a large Indian force, so they too had to retreat back up into the hills.

This was the route of the retreat back to the hills. There is a valley at the far end with more markers in it that you cannot see, but it is painfully obvious that the 7th Cavalry lost a lot of men in this retreat.

And then General Custer tried to defend the hill top that became known as the “Last Stand” hill.

Overall view of the Last Stand site and monument.
View of the Last Stand from the monument.
Where General Custer was killed, in the previous picture it is in the middle.

The memorial lists the 268 men made up of 7th Cavalry soldiers, Indian scouts and civilian workers who died at Little Bighorn.

The memorial to the dead.
This side shows the Indian Scouts and Civilians who lost their lives.

It should not be forgotten that many Indians also died here and to this end they have started to place markers for the Indian dead as well.

Indian markers are made of sandstone.

There is also an Indian Memorial.

The memorial traces the history of the tribes that fought at the battle.
And tells some of their stories from the day.
And commemorates a way of life that was lost after this day.

And there was one other group that lost their lives at the battle, the horses, and they are remembered too.

The Horse memorial. Many were shot by their own riders so they could use their bodies as protection.

All in all a very sobering place to visit. From my point of view I always thought of General Custer, after reading that Eagle comic story, as someone to be looked up to. This battlefield memorial makes you think of all the people and animals involved and makes you stop and think whether he deserves that image, and could all this have been avoided.

From here we turned South again and headed to Cody, home of William F Cody sometimes called “Buffalo Bill”.

 

 

 

 

 

Yellowstone National Park

We moved on from Butte to Livingston which was close to the Northern Gate into Yellowstone Park.

Rest Area on the way to Livingston.
Still “Big Sky” country
We keep meeting these people!! Lewis & Clarke expedition.

Arrived at Osen’s RV Park and got set up.

Our site.

While we were eating we noticed that there were 5 chicks on the ground and the mother trying to feed them all!!

The five chicks huddled together.
Every time the mother turned up there was a rush to get fed first.

Livingston was chosen as it was close (in American terms) to the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

After looking at the maps it looked like we would have to make at least 3 visits in order to cover it all.

So we set off on visit one. Even getting there was interesting with the Yellowstone River running alongside the road all the way and numerous trout fishing areas.

Lots of places advertising white water rafting and you can see why.
Yellowstone river valley.
And “Big Sky” was still with us.

And then we were in the Park. I think this is the most magnificent place we have been, but you, the viewer, will have to decide for yourself.

What we can expect to see in Yellowstone Park.
Mountain Ranges from Mammoth Springs.
The remains of a calcified spring in Mammoth Springs.
The runoff from the hot spring above causes the calcification.
This spring has also attracted bacteria that causes the change in colour.
Steps caused by gradual build up of calcium.
Mammoth springs in the background which has huge ranger station.
This is the hot spring above the previous pictures that fed the cascade.
And further up the levels there was this spring.
And then at the top this beautiful pale blue spring, so hot it had steam blowing off it.
Calcium column caused by the spring growing up the middle of the column. More bacteria causing the colouring.
A whole bed of coloured calcium deposits.
The Spark parked on one of the plains on top of the park around 8,000ft up.
Snow still on the mountains in August.
Panorama showing the lake (Swan Lake) and the mountains.
This was called Staircase Rocks. Same basalt configuration of the Needles in Ireland
Another lake formed by hot springs.
And this is the spring that did it!!
Norris geyser basin.
Wherever you looked something was either bubbling, gushing or spouting!!
Small geyser going off.
Very hot steam fumarole.
Yellowstone river cut this valley.
Strata in the rock face that ran alongside the road.
Yellowstone river canyon.
A petrified tree.
And just when we had gone all day without seeing any wildlife I spotted these Sand Cranes.
And while we were stopped for the Cranes this guy/gal turned up. Coyote!!
And he proceeded to catch something right in front of us and here he is chewing on it!!
And when we got back to Mammoth on the way back to Livingston there were Elk feeding on the lovely mown lawns. They obviously know where the best grass is!!

We had a day’s rest and then did the bigger loop to see Old Faithful.

An amazingly coloured Spring that flowed into the river.
And the colours of Anne’s top nearly matched it!! I don’t think!!

A hot spring called Beryl. Temperature is between 188.5F (87C) and 192F (89C) so don’t take a bath!!

Lower Yellowstone Falls
Lower Geyser Basin, a hot spring.
Bacteria causes the beautiful colours.
A deep blue hot spring.
A mud spring, just as hot!!
This is called Leather Spring.
The whole Lower Geyser Basin, it was huge!!
A steam geyser, as you walked past it water droplets hit your skin. Very cooling.
The main hot spring.
This hot spring drained into the Yellowstone River.
And then we arrived at ……
And with brilliant timing it erupted just as we got to the viewing area.
Reached about 50-60ft in the air.
Two old geezers at the geyser!!
Another beautiful multi-coloured spring.
And then we crossed the Continental Divide again at quite a height!!
And there was this beautiful lake full of water lilies right next to the Continental Divide that fed two rivers one going east and the other west.
Yellowstone Lake as with everything in Yellowstone was huge!!

At this point we turned towards Livingston and thought the Jordan curse of seeing no wildlife had hit again and then out of the corner of my eye as we passed a picnic area………

Bison feeding just about 50yds from a family sat at picnic table!!
He had a massive head and horns.
And then it got silly, a massive herd!!
Feeding right next to the road and causing a traffic jam as they crossed it.
You can see how close we were to them here.

So we returned to the campsite after a meal in a cowboy grill in Gardiner just outside the Park.

For our third visit we decided to go along the Lamar valley where we were told we had the best chance of seeing bear.

Yellowstone River again.
Beautifully marked Pronghorn deer.
Better view of the markings.
And massive herds of Bison. One having a dust bath to cool down.
Another two Pronghorns further down the road.
Mother and calf.
While we concentrating on the main herd, this huge bull bison came wandering down behind us, and wandered across the road and then back again holding up traffic. You wouldn’t argue with him he was much bigger than the Spark.
Magnificent scenery at the end of the Lamar Valley road.
Huge mountains either side of the road.

And that was the end of our visits to Yellowstone, still no bear, but lots of other animals and seeing Bison was a treat.

Then we moved on to Billings so I could see the Battle of Liitle Bighorn National Monument.

 

 

Montana, Big Sky country.

Well our first stop in Montana was Campground St. Regis a small but very nice campground just outside, you guessed it, St. Regis.

Our site, nicely shaded if a little dusty!!
View down the site to the Office, and the swimming pool.

We were told by our Canadian friends from Spokane we just had to go back into Idaho and visit a town called Wallace where, among other things, there was a very good Silver Mine tour.

And so it turned out, we really enjoyed the tour of the mine and the rest of the trolley bus tour gave us an orientation of Wallace.

We met our guide (an ex-miner of Swedish origin who had a very good sense of humour) and got kitted out with our hard hats.

He moved!! This was our guide.
Anne and I in appropriate attire.
And off we go into the mine.
Our guide showing core samples from the mine.
Explaining the levels of the mine and mine rescue breathing sets.
Diagram of mine levels. Mine when in production had 14 levels.
Guide demonstrating a pneumatic drill. Water is also sprayed at the face to keep the dust down.
Demonstration of a blast sequence. Luckily only lights flashed.
Child on the tour running the drag shovel.
Steel hawsers running back to drag shovel. Pneumatic powered.
Tunnel got quite tight at times.
Our guide explaining how the mine lifts worked and showing these girls how to work the lift signals.
Flooded section.
A pneumatic dump shovel . Run the digger forward, fill up the shovel, and the shovel goes up and over and deposits the ore into a cart behind. Keep you fingers out of the way!!
Core sample showing silver which is actually the black rock, white is quartz.

We then had a look around Wallace itself. It is quite an old town that has the distinction of every downtown building being on the National Register of Historic Places. This came about because when they were building I90 they planned to knock down most of Wallace for the Interstate to go through, which obviously the inhabitants thought was a bad plan. A local businessman, Harry Magnuson, sued the Road building authorities saying they hadn’t done a proper environmental impact. And he won, and as part of that process got all the downtown buildings placed on the National Register which forced them to build I90 over Wallace on a flyover!!

It also considers itself to be the “Centre of the Universe” which came about because it claimed to be the centre of the silver mining area that had mined over 1.2 billion ounces of silver in the mines surrounding it. With a population of just 784 that is a pretty big boast, but you can see the plaque if you take your life in your hands as it is in the middle of a cross roads!!

Centre (Center) of the Universe Plaque.

There is also quite an interesting museum of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Illustration of the route of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Anne modelling a dressing up hat in the Museum. For some reason this was also in the part of the museum that had a display of bordellos in Wallace, hence the other “ladies”.
Pictures showing how they moved the station building (where the museum is housed) during the building of I90
Apparently Lana Turner, the Hollywood star, was born in Wallace.
Lots of old silver mine sites around the town.
Including one that was blown up with dynamite by the miners in a gun war between the miners and the mining company! The rubble behind is all that is left.

Wallace was a very interesting place and well worth the trip if you are ever close by.

You can see why they call it “Big Sky Country”, blue skies and magnificent views.

The following day we went to a local county fair. Local people displaying their handiwork, and their livestock, plus some events in the rodeo arena. Unfortunately the rodeo itself was not on until after we left the area.

Award winning quilt.
Goat kids having fun.
Lots of pigs.
Rodeo arena set up for dog agility.
This one was very good.
This one hadn’t got a clue and was a bit large for the tunnels!!
Smokey the Bear put in an appearance but had to be taken down when the wind got up (he is already leaning!!).

And then we moved on to Indian Creek Campground, Deer Park which is just above Butte, Montana.

Rest stop and more “Big Sky”.
Blue skies everywhere.
Even the sunsets are huge!!

It never ceases to amaze me what we find on this trip of ours. Deer Lodge was chosen because it is just above Butte, Montana the site of the largest opencast copper mine in the country. But Deer Lodge itself was home to the Montana State prison Museum, a huge classic car museum and at least another 3 museums, plus the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site a completely preserved Ranch.

External granite walls and internal prison brick buildings built by prison labour in the late 1800s.
Execution of two prisoners who killed a guard trying to escape.
Main prison building.
Typical cell, block was very like Alcatraz.
Cell block at rear, shower block and canteen in foreground.

And right next door is a classic car museum with cars from very early Mercedes Benz (1886) to the classic cars of the 70’s & 80’s.

1914 Detroit Electric Car with an advertised range of 80 miles although in tests it did over 200 miles on a single charge.
1926 Chevrolet Superior Coupe
Ford Model T cabriolet, very rare.
Early air conditioning a Thermador Car Cooler. You filled it with cold water and the air was cooled as it passed through the unit into the car.
Beautifully restored green Chevrolet circa 1951. The paintwork was immaculate.
Chevrolet Impala Convertible
Another classic Chevrolet.
“Gone in 60 seconds” Mustang GT500 “Eleanor”
1965 Shelby Cobra.
Corvette Stingray.
Guess what this is?
The first jet ski!! 1958

I could put up more pictures but there are over 160 cars in immaculate condition.

And outside were two immense trains.

This massive diesel loco is nicknamed “Little Joe” as they were originally built for Russian railways after WWII, but the contract was stopped because of the Cold War, so they were converted to work on US railways but that meant a change of track width, and they did it!!
And then the “Milwaukee Road” was electrified and these were used to pull passenger trains. Funny how now the entire network out here seems to have reverted to diesel and freight only.
And when we got back to the RV there was a “Big Sky” sunset.

The following day we came back to see the other museums and the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site.

A small town exhibit.
Another house in the town.
Dentist price list (notice “Without Pain”!!)
Gun exhibit in the Western Museum.
Dolls in another museum. There were at least 20 exhibits like this.
Grant-Kours Ranch.
Ranch House
Longhorn cattle on the ranch.
Ranch cat in the Blacksmith’s shop.

All I can say is we were amazed that so much was available in a town with a total population of 3,111!!

So on to Butte, the reason we stayed in Deer lodge in the first place. We took the Trolley Bus tour.

Butte is a copper mining town established in 1864 and grew to become the largest copper mining town in the USA and at one time in the world. Incredible amounts of copper were mined using conventional techniques i.e. digging a shaft and then cutting galleries into the seam. Some of the mines were over 6,000 ft deep. In its heyday there were 19 mines (14 mine headframes are still standing) and in 1910 alone copper ore mined from the Butte mining district totalled 284,000,000 pounds (130,000 tons). It attracted miners from all over the world including Cornish miners from the tin mines hence why there are these.

We actually ate pasties in this shop and they weren’t at all bad.
Mine Headframe
And another one at the Museum of Mining.

In the 1950’s underground mining gave way to open cast mining leading to the creation of one of the largest open cast pits in the world, the Berkley Pit.

The Berkeley open cast pit, which flooded when mining ceased in 1983 and was replaced by an equally large and productive open cast pit called the Continental Pit. The water came in from the old mine shafts when pumping also ceased in 1983.
A 4,263 ft deep lake was formed, which is highly toxic and they have to scare water birds away as they will die if they ingest the water. They are gradually reducing the level by purifying the water and pumping it elsewhere as it mustn’t be allowed to seep into local aquifers and poison the drinking water. 
Lots of “old” buildings around Butte including Dumas House, a house of Prostitution opened in 1890 and wasn’t closed until 1982 even though prostitution was illegal in Butte!!
Example of a pre 1900’s house.
And another, mainly built for the mine owners. They liked their round towers!

After the trolley bus tour we visited the World Museum of Mining which included another mine tour.

Down we go into the mine.
Imagine going to work in this every day. This is a mine cage for lowering the miners into the mine. Apparently it was usual for 6 to go down but 9 to come up!! This was about 3ft square so it was a tight fit!!
Looking down the shaft to the levels below. This mine when it was in production was 2,600ft deep. Now the bottom levels are flooded.
The mine signals universally used by hoisting engineers. This one goes from 100ft to 5,000ft but we have seen them down to 6,000ft. At that depth the temperature reached 50C (122F) and ventilation was very important.
View from the top of the headframe about 100ft up. Big Sky!!
This is Our Lady of the Rockies. The statue was built by volunteers using donated materials to honour women everywhere, especially mothers. The base is 8,510 feet above sea level and 3,500 feet above the town. The statue is lit and visible at night. It was put there by helicopter and they plan to build a cable car to visit it. It looks down on Butte and I got this photo from the top of the headframe.

The Museum also had an old town section and a collection of dolls houses.

The drug store.
The Soda store.
One of the dolls houses.
And another.

As always there is so much to see and we ran out of time.

From here we moved on to Livingston Montana and Yellowstone Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across Canada and into the USA.

I was aiming to cross the border further East but hoping to not cross too many mountain ranges in doing so. So the first part of our route brought back memories of our RV trip in 2013, when we did the huge loop around British Columbia in a Canadream hire RV, as we were following the same route but in reverse. Up BC 1 to just above Hope and then BC 3 (known as the Crowsnest Highway) to Princeton.

Taking a rest on the Crowsnest Highway.
Built by the Royal Engineers in the 1860’s.

We arrived in Princeton and stayed overnight at a small site called River’s Edge RV & Camping.

View down the river we were on the edge of!!
View back from the river bank to the RV in the middle of the picture.

The next morning we were off again after dumping the tanks (getting rid of excess water etc. this site just had 30amp electricity and water connections), and on to BC 3 to the bottom of Christina Lake. Here we stayed in our last campsite in Canada called Cascade Cove RV Park. Purpose of the stop here was twofold. One to get ourselves ready to cross back into the USA by reading what we were allowed to take back in , and two to have a last look around Canada.

 

Parked up at Cascade Cove (well not quite the slide is on its way out).

Our site was just above the border crossing at Laurier.

Just back along BC 3 from where we parked was the town of Grand Forks which had a fascinating little museum called the Boundary Museum. It contained a lot of very interesting exhibits from a whole room devoted to the Doukhobors, to a whole store and an exhibit of a copper mine that grew to be huge in 10 years and 10 years later nothing of it existed. Boom to bust in 20 years!!

The Doukhobors were a Russian religious sect that believed in hard work and rejected the use of any technology. A bit like the Amish they built a community in the area that farmed thousands of acres and built schools and towns devoted to their way of life. Unfortunately they were distrusted by the local population and by federal government, which gradually split the communities, firstly by making all schools abandon Russian as a language, and then by forcibly taking children and putting them in residential schools stopping them learning about their culture and breaking the link between generations. Because of this the community farms no longer exist and the Doukhobors were assimilated into the general population of Canada.

The Doukhobor exhibition. Over 7,500 emigrated from Russia to Canada.
A Doukhobor classroom. In case you cannot read it across the top it reads “I will not speak Russian in class”.
A Canadian General Store.
First Nation exibits.
The museum.
The complete site of the Museum

Grand Forks was an interesting little town but unfortunately a lot of it was closed up due to the Fraser river flooding it in the early spring.

We also had a look around Christina Lake which is a huge lake with homes right on the edge with boat docks, beaches (can never get used the idea of a beach on a lake) and lots of little inlets and parks all around it.

Christina Lake
One of the many houses with boat dock lake access.
Boat docks.
The beach and if you didn’t know it was a lake you would think you were at the seaside.
Lots of boats all over the lake. Also lots of water skiing.

I also took a hike up to Cascade falls just up the Kettle river from Cascade Cove RV Park.

Cascade Falls, not the most impressive but the water falls!!
Looking from the Falls to the BC 395 bridge. Becomes RT 395 on the other side of the border.
The Falls from the bridge.
And the private cove on the Kettle River attached to Cascade Cove RV Park.

Having got rid of all the foodstuffs we thought would get confiscated at the US/Canada border on the Monday 23rd we crossed back into the USA at the Laurier border crossing.

US Immigration and Customs post at Laurier.

And despite our best efforts our tomatoes and peppers were confiscated by the guard who searched the RV. Didn’t read they were banned anywhere until he showed us another list. But he let us back in and stamped our passports until January 2019.

So we set off to Spokane RV Resort in Deer Park just about 15 miles north of Spokane, Washington. This was a lovely site right next to a golf course.

Sunset at Spokane RV Resort
Huge concrete pads and flowers and manicured lawns. Must be paradise!!

To be honest we were treating this site as a rest stop as we thought there wasn’t much to see around the area and we needed a rest. The facilities were great, lovely sites, great swimming pool and we found that our next door neighbours were from Edmonton in Canada and we got on very well with them and enjoyed their company.

We were told we ought to go and see Coeur d’Alene which was a very pretty lake and there was quite a lot to see in the town. Well it turned out to be a nice lake but the town was one of those American tourist traps.

View across the Lake from the Park.
Purpose built apartments all around the lake each of which comes with a boat dock (they are the blue canvas structures to the left and beyond the tour boats).
View across the lake, with boat area in the foreground, photographed from a restaurant we ate in.
Strolled around the town and lots of tourist shops etc. but a nice Harley!!

You can probably guess we were not too impressed, but I guess it must appeal to someone as it was doing a roaring trade.

Next stop was Spokane itself. There was supposed to be some impressive falls here. But two problems arose. Firstly the park (Riverfront Park) where the falls were, had been part of the 1974 World Fair and lots of the structures were being updated as they had obviously got a bit old and tatty. So about 60% of the park was closed and it made it a lot harder to walk around. I will give it its due when it is finished it will look quite spectacular if the plans are to be believed, but in 2018 it is a building site!!

And secondly the Falls we were told are spectacular when the river is in full flow. Only when we arrived there was not much water going over them.

The clock tower was the only part of the park open.
The falls with a lack of water.
We were told this was about a tenth of the normal flow, so this would be quite spectacular with more water going over it. Indeed if you look closely at the rocks you can see where the normal water level is.

On the Saturday we had to move sites right next to the golf course.

The front windows were facing right over the golf course. Got to see some interesting golf swings. Site rules said if a golf ball hit us nobody was liable except us. Luckily no balls came anywhere close!!

Then Deer Park held Settlers Day which apparently is the oldest continuous community celebration in the State of Washington, running over 100 years. And I have to say that Anne and I really enjoyed it. We walked around here for hours, meeting various people, and listening to the music that was being played by various groups.

Deer Parks Fire truck.
And their off road truck for fighting forest fires.
The mayor’s car.
Beautiful blue Pontiac Le Mans
A few big block Chevrolets
An entire park taken over with all sots of stands.
This was interesting, they had an entire area set aside for reunions of years of the local High School. Here is 2008.
Some very good local groups played all sorts of music.

And then we moved on into Montana after crossing a little bit of Idaho.

Back on the Lewis and Clarke trail. They got everywhere!!
First Rest Area in Montana, the land of Big Sky!!

I have also updated the RV Map but as is usual it is ahead of where we really are.

But more of that in my next post as Montana is another story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vancouver Part 2

Caroline & Rashied and family returned late on the Monday from the USA as extensive shopping had to take place in various US outlet malls.

On the Tuesday they came out to us and we all visited the Fort that Fort Langley is named after. Another place with lots to do although initially a fine drizzle put a bit of a damper on it.

Zaid signing in
Zaid found a canoe.
“I will paddle the canoe Mum, you and Zara catch the fish”
Zara had fun as well.
A bigger family boat!!
Zaid panning for gold.
Look I panned a bit of gold, although I am not sure what it is.
Walking back to the ice cream parlour.
Look granddad’s taking a photo!!
This is my new outfit grandma made me, twirl!!

We ate in the RV and then they all returned to Tim’s.

Next up was the trolley bus tour of Vancouver. We decided that we would get off at two points, Prospect Point which has views over the harbour and the Lions Gate Bridge, and the Chinese garden.

Zara decided to entertain the people on the bus by giving them a royal wave much to everyone’s amusement.

Hello I am Zara and I am waving!!
Come on lighten up!!
The Olympic torch for the Winter Games in 2010.
Stanley Gardens rose bushes.
Vancouver skyline from Stanley Park.
And again.
Lions Gate Bridge from the trolley bus.

Then we got off at Prospect Point where we had lunch and the terrible twosome were given sun glasses.

What do you do with these?
Like this Zara.
We got to meet a Mountie bear!!
Prospect Point with Lions Gate Bridge in the background.
And this nice man took a picture of all of us. Zaid wants his sunglasses.
Zaid would be pointing at this and saying “Flying Boat”!!
The view from the Point towards the Pacific.

Then we got back on the bus and got off again at the Chinese garden.

“Amazing Laughter” a group of laughing statues in Morton Park.
Steel crab outside the MacMillan Space Centre
Vancouver public library looks like the Coliseum!!
China Town.
Koi Carp in the Chinese Gardens.
And a turtle.
In a pagoda!! Zaid look this way!! “I have seen a fish”.
More Koi Carp.

Caroline and Rashied went off souvenier shopping again as they hadn’t bought all they wanted to.

On the Thursday we were invited to Brenda’s house (Emily’s mother) for a barbeque in the evening. So we decided to spend the day visiting  Squamish and Shannon Falls as her as her house was at Horseshoe bay on the way back.

Shannon Falls from a distance.
On the way up.
Here they are close up.
We made it.

We went into Squamish to get something to eat and of course the obligatory shopping!!

Then we drove back to Brenda’s house for the barbeque. It overlooks Horseshoe Bay and the marina.

Brenda’s (Emily’s mother) house perched on the hillside overlooking Horseshoe Bay.
Swimming pool next door.
Other houses up the hill.
The marina in the bay (difficult to see through the trees).

Brenda treated us to a great barbeque (with Tim on gas barbeque duty) and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

And then we reached the last full day before before Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara were due to go back to the UK.

They still had some shopping to do so after returning their hire car we took the train into central Vancouver to “The Bay” (the shop named after the Hudson Bay company).

Zaid found some Canadian friends at the store.

Then we went to Granville Island on the Water Bus.

Zara liked the ride.
Zaid sat next to Grandad
View from the Water Bus.
Grandma enjoyed it (I think).

You guessed it, more shopping took place, and we also had lunch there, before walking to Kitsilano (Kits) Beach for Zaid and Zara to get their last swim in Canada.

Mmmmm I like this ice cream.
I am tired out with all this shopping!!

Tim and Emily joined us after work and we all walked back to the Afghan Horsemen for the family’s last meal out in Vancouver.

Great food at the Afghan Horsemen.

And suddenly it was Saturday the 14th and we arrived at Tim’s early to find they still hadn’t completely packed. They finally managed to get their clothes and all that shopping in their cases, plus a few extra carry on items!! Their luggage was a little bit overweight, but Zara did a good job of charming the airline staff, so they managed to check in without an extra costs. And then we had to say goodbye. Speaking for Anne and I we had a great time in Vancouver with them, and I think they thought the same!!

The Dirk family departing.
Grandad and Grandma saying goodbye.
And thanks to Tim and Emily for putting them up.

Afterwards we returned the car seats and the cot to the hire firm and then returned to the RV to relax!!

On Sunday we met up with Anna, Ian (Anna’s Dad) and Jim, Anna’s new partner, for breakfast at the White Spot, where we caught up with what they had been up to since we last saw them.

Monday was a day of rest and Tuesday was time to get the RV ready to move on. We met up with Tim and Emily in the evening for our last meal out in Vancouver.

Goodbye son. You may notice someone got her hair cut!!
Cheerio Tim & Emily.

And then on Wednesday we set off across Canada to reach the point we had decided to cross the border back into the USA, which is the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vancouver Part 1

We arrived in Vancouver on the 25th July a few days ahead of Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara as we were charged with picking up the car seats and the travel cot they had hired for their holiday in Vancouver at Tim’s house. It was lovely to meet up Tim again and meet his new

It also gave us time to get ourselves sorted out before the rabble arrived!!

We had booked a site at Fort Camping, on Brae Island, near Fort Langley about 26 miles out of Vancouver from Tim’s house. About a week before we were due to arrive an email arrived saying this

—————

Mosquito Notice

We are currently experiencing a very high number of mosquitoes, not only here at the campground, but all along the Fraser River.

—————

As you can gather we were not exactly looking forward to meeting them, but we had really no option as the booking was for 3½ weeks and no one else was going to fit us in for that period of time at such short notice!!

When we arrived we got even more worried as the booking office was covered in a huge mosquito net which did not bode well. Looked like we going to be wearing “L’Eau de Deet” for the entire stay. However, we pressed on and we had a nice site, but the mozzies descended and both of us got bitten setting ourselves up on the site, so we quickly retreated inside, although a few followed us in, where they met an untimely death!!

The next couple of days were spent sorting out various routes in and out of Vancouver and getting our supplies in from the local supermarkets and we also had a meal out locally with Tim and Emily.

Then Thursday 28th June arrived, the start date of the “Dirk Invasion” (the name of the Whatsapp Group we set up !!). Anne and I went and picked up the two car seats and the travel cot, taking them to Tim’s house, and from there Tim drove us to the Airport.

After about an hour wait, Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara came through the doors into International Arrivals.

Zaid is just behind the buggy on his Trunki, you can just see his foot.
Someone looks a little tired.
Who are all these strange people?
Our Junior Crime Fighter modelling his new Canadian hat.

Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara got in  a taxi plus luggage and we went back to Tim’s car to go to his house, where they had already arrived plus the mound of luggage. They were are determined to stay up as late as possible, so the toys Tim, Emiy and Anne had amassed were brought out.

Zara liked the bricks.

I took Zaid for a walk down to the Fraser river, because as per usual he was still going strong, and then we went to a local White Spot to get something to eat. At this point they were all beginning to feel the effects of the travel, so they all went back to Tim’s house for their first night’s sleep in Canada, and we went back to the RV.

The following day had been designated a shopping day by Caroline, so we met them at the Real Canadian Superstore near Tim’s house. They had already been there an hour when we arrived but it took a further 2½ hours to complete the shopping, at which point we all went back to Tim’s where later that day he cooked us a salmon dinner which came on a cedar plank. It made a very tasty meal, but the time difference and all that shopping had caught up with someone!!

Zaid succumbed to the time change and the shopping!!

Emily joined us on the next day as it was Saturday and we went into central Vancouver on the bus and the train to Waterfront Station. Walked down to Gastown and saw the steam clock where Emily had booked a sushi meal in a restaurant there for lunch.

The famous steam clock. the movement is a normal clock, the quarter, half and hour chimes uses the steam whistles to play a tune.

After lunch we took the SeaBus to the other side of Vancouver harbour to see the city across the water.

Vancouver from the Grouse Mountain side of the harbour. It was a bit grey and rained that day but weather gradually improved.
A Dirk family photo in Vancouver.

Grandad was volunteered to take Zaid on the tour of HMCS Calgary, a Canadian Navy frigate, that was docked here and they were doing guided tours of the ship. The rest of them walked around the market. Zaid and I had a great time looking over the ship.

HMCS Calgary’s badge.
Zaid in front of the 50mm forward gun.

We then returned to central Vancouver to see some of the cruise ships leave.

This one was absolutely huge!!
A slightly small and older one.
Zaid was absolutely fascinated by the flying boats landing and taking off.

Sunday saw us all going out to Steveston where there was big Canada Day celebration with the entire main street pedestrianised and turned over to all sorts of pop up demonstrations, food stalls, local stalls, beer areas and many other interesting exhibits.

Zara trying a smoothie!!
Father and son!!
Two veteran Mounties being given a lift.
A pop up with unicyclist on a 10ft unicycle. Here he has got three members of the public helping him get up on it.
Finally up and juggling!!
Rashied trying to persuade Zaid to run through the water cascade (he is carrying him!!).
One slightly damp father and son.
Zaid warming up on the concrete.
I thought I would sit here and eat the grass!!
Uncle Tim decided to help!! Zaid getting changed in the background.
Zaid ready to go again!!

After a long day in the sun we returned to Tim’s house for barbequed hot dogs, potato salad and salad.

Monday was a public holiday in Canada as Canada Day was on a Sunday, so we all went to Lynn Canyon Park to see the falls and cross the suspension bridge.

On the way down.
Warning sign showing the number of deaths and injuries to people tombstoning into the canyon.
Even so there were two guys jumping into this from 60ft up!!
The photo above the falls. Zara was more fascinated with roaring water. Anne decided she didn’t like the thought of the suspension bridge.
Walking the paths through the forest on the other side of the river.
Zaid had to be persuaded to go into a hollow tree, you can just see Tim in there with him.
He was much happier running along the boardwalk, grab him someone!!
The rest following along behind!!
Here we go crossing the suspension bridge. Hope the cables can handle all those people!!
Getting near the midpoint.
View of the falls from the bridge.

After the canyon, Zaid had spotted another water park on the way, so we ended up there.

Zara – I quite like this swinging!!
I am ready to go but it looks a bit cold!!
I’ve got a water cannon!!
Look at me up and crawling – backwards!!
Zaid is funny!!
Not sure what was going on here, but even Grandma thought it looked bad!!
Zara trying out the climbing frame, with a little help from her parents.

Had a nice meal in a Persian restaurant called the Casbah and then everyone went home after a long day.

Caroline and Rashied and family visited us in the RV the next day, after they had been down to the USA border to get their entry visas for their trip to see Julia and Michael in Port Townsend. We spent quite a lot of time at the pool and then adjourned back to the RV for dinner.

Zaid and I in Fort Camping’s pool.
Well we all fitted in …. just. Zaid had his own little table in the bottom right corner

They left so late that their car got locked in the visitors car park and we had to find the security guy to let them out!!

The next day was a swimming day as well, but this time at Stanley Park’s second Beach pool. It was a lovely day and almost everyone got in the pool at sometime during the day.

Zara is getting quite good at this waving lark!!
Cheese!!
Peekaboo!!
Finally got Zaid down a slide!!
Although there was no stopping his Mum!!
I think we are getting the hang of these family groups.
Grandma keeping Zara warm.
It was Caroline’s and Rashied’s  Wedding Anniversary. Grandad and Grandma baby sat with Tim and Emily’s help.

And the whirl continued the next day with a trip up Grouse Mountain on the Gondola.

At the bottom waiting to board the gondola.
Off we go.
Half way up passing the other gondola coming down.
Nearly there.
What’s all the fuss about? Can we get off now?

Lots to do at the top, so here are a few(!!) highlights.

The main area, first we had to feed the ravenous ones!!
Lovely views of Vancouver.
And another.
Huge wooden carvings.
Father and son.
Another carving.
Grizzly bears.
Say cheese!! Those aren’t bears!!

 

How big are the bears?
Unfortunately the bears were hiding from the sun.
We could just see some fur.
This is a bit of a cheat for Zaid. One of the bears when Grandad and Grandma saw them 5 years ago.
And this grizzly was on full show!!
After lunch it was the Lumberjack Show!! Not this pair, some proper lumberjacks.

 

Climbing a tree by inserting climbing boards in it.
Axe throwing.
Log rolling.
Somebody else got in on the act.
You’re not supposed to be up there!!
He’s fallen off but guess what he is attached to a zip wire!!
The cast takes a bow!!
Caroline, Rashied and I went up the chair lift to the very top of Grouse Mountain
Saw the aerofoil tandems taking off.
Up and away.
Still going up!!
It was at this point that Rashied dropped his phone!! Nasty crunch as it hit the rocks below but one of the operators at the top managed to retrieve it and although the screen was badly cracked it still worked!!
The view from the top.
An even better view!!
Vancouver way below.
Going down the mountain on a zip line.
Grandma was looking after Zaid and Zara.

We had a long queue to get down the mountain to the car park and Rashied was supposed to be picking up their hire car by 6pm for their trip to see Julia and Michael in Port Townsend.  Because we were late leaving we got stuck in the rush hour traffic and had to abandon that and find somewhere to eat instead. We ended up at Tony’s Fish and Oyster Café on Granville Island where we had a lovely meal.

Not bad this fish and chips!!
Grandad are you taking a picture of me…. pose!!

We then went our separate ways, Caroline, Rashied and the kids back to Tim’s to get ready for their trip to Port Townsend, and us back to the RV.

The next few days we managed to get some well earned rest, as chasing around after grandkids is exhausting. Tim and Emily had a college project they had to finish. However, we did meet up with them on Sunday night for an Indian meal at Thali’s restaurant in Surrey, half way for both of us.

Part 2 covering the second week and more of our Vancouver stay to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Port Townsend

We drove along RT101 having already arranged with Julia (my sister Wendy’s daughter) that she would meet us on the edge of Port Townsend to guide us into our site at Point Hudson Marina and RV Park, as there was a lot of road works on the main route. She had investigated a couple of alternative routes, avoiding narrow roads (does such a thing exist in the USA?), and overhanging trees (remember we are 12ft 6in high just under truck height) and had chosen one that would work.

Julia was parked up on the edge of the road and we followed her in to our site. Wow not quite a front row waterfront site, but only one row back looking out over the Puget Sound which is around the Fort Worden Point from the Straits of Juan de Fuca and is the main shipping route into Seattle from the Pacific.

The view from the front window.
Our site.
The main channel into Seattle.
Lots of wildlife.
Point Hudson marina.
Sunset over the Puget Sound.
Sunset towards Fort Worden.
Marina at sunset.

We went out for a meal at Doc’s marina Grill with Julia and Michael in the evening where we worked out what we would do over the weekend. It was lovely to see them at last and after a very nice meal we went to bed that night with sound of the channel bell tinkling away in the distance.

On the Saturday it had been decided we would drive to Julia’s and Michael’s early in order to drive to Hurricane Ridge, but on the way stop for breakfast in Port Angeles at a place that Julia knew called Chestnut Cottage. After a lovely breakfast we then carried on up to Hurricane  Ridge, 5,242ft up in the Washington Olympic National Park. From here you get 360° views of the mountains inland to the south and Port Angeles, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island to the North. There is also quite a bit of wildlife around, the deer especially just grazing peacefully yards from the visitors centre.

Deer grazing on the hillside.
Inland towards Olympic National Park.
Cloud covered glaciers. the weather gradually improved all day.
Even I had to put on a fleece as the wind blowing over the snow bank in the next photo was making it quite cold!!  Julia & Michael and the two Brits.
Straits of Juan de Fuca and a snow bank. Quite a few paths were still closed by snow and this is June 16th!!
Bambi!
Another view of the mountains.
Lots of flowers just beginning to come out.
View towards Port Angeles, Dungeness Spit and Vancouver Island.
Snow was still melting and causing waterfalls.
Dungeness Spit in the distance. You can just see the Lighthouse.
A tunnel on the main road to Hurricane Ridge.
Trees clinging to the bare rock above the road. I was amazed they didn’t fall down.

From here we went to Dungeness Spit in the above photo, a spit of sand that sticks out into the Straits and has a lighthouse at the end. Waves crashing in on the beach and yet more driftwood. An artist who used driftwood as their medium would not lack a supply for their art in Washington state.

Dungeness Spit Lighthouse a 5 mile walk along the spit. Needless to say we were not up to the 10 mile hike!!
The Spit with driftwood!!
Looking towards Port Angeles and the Pacific Ocean.
One of the many container ships going to and from Seattle.
Group photo on the Spit!
A deer just came walking past!!

We then returned to Julia and Michael’s house where we had a steak barbeque. The views from the front of their house over Discovery Bay are absolutely stunning especially when the sun sets through the trees.

Sitting on the front looking out over Discovery Bay.
A yacht in discovery Bay.
Hummingbird on their feeder.
Sun setting over the bay.
Almost gone.

The next day (Sunday) we set off early again from J&M’s house to go and see Lake Cushman, a snow melt fed lake in the Olympic National Park. The weather was now getting hotter and we arrived at the lake in brilliant sunshine.

Lake Cushman’s beautiful blue waters.
Look at those clouds!! A swimming and canoeing area.
Another view.
Mountains behind the lake.
Crystal clear water.
Snow still melting so it was still filling the lake.
One of the many boating and swimming docks on the lake.
Looking down the lake towards Olympic National Park.
You can get to the lake many ways, but your own seaplane helps!!

We then drove back to J&M’s for another barbeque and another look at Discovery Bay.

Another hummingbird.
Sun going down over Discovery Bay.
Nearly there.
The sun setting over the beach at the RV Park.

Monday was a work day for J&M so we just pottered around the RV Park and the Marina, but we returned the favour and cooked them a meal in the RV after they had finished work.

Got the table and chairs out on the camping mat and ate breakfast outside.
Who wouldn’t with this view.
This is the port channel buoy whose bell we could hear at night.
Loads of birds feeding as the tide went out.
Need a lift Sir!! Crane used to get boats into the boatyard.
Need a few $$$$ for some of these. The black hulled one to the left behind the car was $105,000 for a second hand yacht!!
A lovely dual masted yacht.

On the Tuesday both Julia and Michael had the afternoon off so we met them at the Spruce Goose at Port Townsend “International ” Airport. It is an International Airport as people fly into it from Canada in their private planes!! The Spruce Goose is renowned for its fruit pies and I can say with some certainty they lived up to their reputation. We then drove back to Port Townsend and we walked around looking at the sights. Pretty little town with some interesting shops.

A ship yard where they train boat builders.
Building a wooden clinker built boat. Out the back a steamer was steaming the wood ready for it to be bent into the hull.
Bronze Sea Otters.
The refurbished Town Hall. At one point it was threatening to fall, but it was carefully restored and the end piece to the left added to improve the structure.
One of the Jetties.
Beautiful yacht.
The original Fire Bell and the oldest in Washington State.
The Post Office (originally the Customs House).
The ferry we will be using at the end of the week.

We ate out in the evening at the Old Whiskey Mill.

On the Wednesday we decided to drive to Seattle to have a look round. Got caught up in a massive traffic jam where they were redeveloping the I5 at Tacoma, so it took us a bit longer than expected.

First we visited Pike Place Market, which sells almost anything you can think of but is also famous for a particular fishmonger that throws their fish around when creating a display.

Pike Place Market
The fish display at the fishmonger that threw the fish around. I was too slow to catch it (a photo not the fish). They had also fixed up a lever in the mouth of the monkfish and if you got too close it talked to you!!
Panoramic view of the harbour from a viewpoint on top of the market. The market is 5 stories high.
Circus shop where you can see some strange exhibits, like a shoe from the World’s Tallest man.

From here we drove to see the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. The Space Needle was partially closed because they were refurbishing it, but there were still some magnificent views. The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum was an absolute stunning exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s glass works.

View of Seattle from the top of the Needle looking North.
View of the Harbour from the Needle.
Seattle Skyscrapers from the Needle.
Someone trying not to look too worried as she leant back on the glass between her and a 605ft drop. Notice the left hand gripping the bench!!
Chihuly interior glass garden.
Lovely colours in these glass vases.
Amazing glass work.
Sea creatures based sculpture. This is an octopus.
Huge multi faceted glass sculpture, made from hundreds of individual blown pieces.
Detail from within the sculpture.
A complete glass garden.
Another view.
A closer look.
A boat full of individual blown glass pieces.
A blue chandelier.
Another chandelier the other way up.
A stunning blue glass bowl.
And an orange one.
A complete ceiling made up of individual glass pieces.
Another ceiling panel.
And another.
Glass sculpture in the garden.
Same piece with the Needle in the background.
Glass pieces in the garden looking like real flowers
This piece must have been at least 25ft tall.
Same piece, trying to get Anne and the Needle in the picture.
This hall was closed for a private function but I managed to sneak a picture.
Another tall garden piece.
A magnificent tall glass sculpture looking like plant in Avatar(the SF film).

Judy (Anne’s pen friend in Florida) had told us to visit this place and all I can say is if you get a chance to see it don’t miss it.

After eating our evening meal in Seattle we decided to go back to Port Townsend using the Bainbridge Island ferry.

The M.V Spokane our Washington State Ferry.
Seattle skyline from the ferry.
Sunset with people on the front of the ferry.
Sun setting as we approached the Bainbridge Island dock.

On the Thursday we had a rest day after the long day in Seattle, although we did manage to fit in a trip to Poulsbo for the mandatory Quilt shop visit. In the evening we went out J&M’s for a barbeque and the group photo!!

Magnificent view in the background, pity the foreground spoiled it :-).

And Friday 22nd dawned and it was Anne’s birthday. We first of all Skyped Alan and then Claire, although we missed Caroline’s call, so they could all wish her Happy Birthday. We had managed to find some clotted cream in Poulsbo the previous day so I made some scones from a packet mix in the convection oven, and we had a cream tea in the afternoon with Julia, after we had visited the Port Townsend Museum.

Carriages in the museum.
Statue that I think was on the top of the Town Hall before its refurbishment.

And then we went to a local restaurant called The Fountain for Anne’s Birthday dinner.

Anne’s Birthday dinner.
And when we returned to the RV the Ferry was caught in a rainbow.

Saturday dawned and we had to get up early to pack everything up, hitch up the Spark and get ready for our Ferry crossing to Coupeville at 11.45am. We had to be there 45 minutes before the booking time, and Julia and Michael came to see us off. We really enjoyed our visit to them and all they had arranged for us to do. We really liked Port Townsend and there house on Discovery Bay.

So at 11.00 am we pulled up at the ferry gate and got measured (50ft 6in long and well within the height as the ferry takes trucks).

We then paid our fare and waited in Row 1 for the ferry to arrive.

Here it comes!!
Two big trucks right on the front.

We were first on as we were the biggest vehicle on this trip and they parked us right at the front in the middle of the car deck, so we got a really great view out of our front window for the whole trip.

The ferry engine is running to keep it in the dock.
And off we go.
Cliff edges on the Coupeville shore.
Approaching the Coupeville Dock
Journey’s End, well not quite we need to get to Concrete.

Eventual destination is the KOA at Concrete / Grandy Creek which is only 50 miles from the US / Canada border but below the last Flying J / Pilot gas (petrol) station where we have to fill up as petrol is way more expensive in Canada than in the US.

Also gives us time to figure out what we can and cannot take across the border as everything we read gives a different story from “they will intensively search your vehicle” to “they will  stamp your passports and wave you through”!!

We arrived at the campground at about 2.30pm and parked up. Nice site, but obviously a Canadian / USA camping holiday destination as there are hundreds of children running around!!

Parked up among the trees.
Another photo.
We had a surprise visitor (our son Timothy) on the first night, who came to wish his mother Happy Birthday.

After we had sorted out our laundry and checked all that was in the fridge etc. on Monday 25th June we set off to the border.

The queue at the Canadian border.

After about half an hour we reached the border. The guy in the booth asked us if we had any Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms and explosives, to which the answer was “No Tobacco, 2 bottles of wine, no firearms or explosives”, he stamped our Passports and said “Welcome to Canada, enjoy your stay” and waved us through. Next sign we saw was …….

And we then drove to our Canadian site for the next 3 weeks, Fort Camping, Brae Island, Fort Langley, British Columbia.

That will be my next post, our stay in Vancouver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forks, Washington

I had booked this site in complete ignorance that Forks was the setting for the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer which were later turned into the Twilight films. Luckily we did not see any vampires!! Of course our children thought it was a huge joke that the “parentals” didn’t realise the significance of Forks!!

To be honest we booked this site to give ourselves a bit of a rest after the guided tours of Bend and Portland (thank you Judy and Susan!!), as we looked at the guide books and it appeared that they were not many touristy things to do. That shows that you should never trust guide books as they might be coming from a different perspective from you. They were right about Forks itself as apart from a good Fabric/Quilting shop and a rather run down timber museum there was very little to recommend it. The people were friendly and the supermarkets were fine so that was all we needed.

The site we stayed at Riverview RV Park was really excellent. Good sites, not too busy, and really friendly owners.

All parked up.
Laundry and Shower block was brand new.

After a couple of days of doing nothing (bliss) we set off to take a look at a local seaport called La Plush. Amazingly pretty place, rather like a Cornish crabbing village but on a larger scale as you will see. Loads of wildlife including bald eagles and seals, plus a crab fishing fleet and numerous sport fishermen catching cod and halibut.

La Push restaurant and totem pole as the town is part of the Quileute Indian Reservation.
The port at La Push.
Halibut caught by a sport fisherman.
Cod caught by the same man.
A crab boat. Crab, as in England, has to landed alive, but they do it by having a 3,000 gallon tank built into the boat. No store pots required!!
The tank full of crab.
After 10mins of pumping you can see the live crab more easily. There was about a ton of crab. They call them Dungeness crab, it is like our edible crab, but with smaller claws.
A bald eagle perched waiting for fish.
Another picture.
La Push beach – never seen so much driftwood (or so I thought).
The channel into the harbour comes around the island and you enter between the jetty and the island.
The main channel into the harbour which is to the right. Beyond the bank at the top of the picture is Rialto beach.

A beautiful place made even more beautiful by the discovery of Rialto beach which is reached by driving down the road on the other side of the Quillayute River that runs into the port.

View down the Quillyate river towards La Push port.
Rialto Beach, crashing surf and masses of driftwood (much more than on La Push beach).
A panoramic view of the beach.
The forest comes right down to the beach.
Huge driftwood logs including huge trees still with roots that are apparently tossed up onto the beach by winter storms.

This beach is one of those places that takes your breath away and makes you sit back and just enjoy your surroundings, and it wasn’t even mentioned in the guide book!!

The next place we found was the Makah Cultural and Research Center at Neah Bay, which is on the Makah Indian Reservation right at the top left hand corner of Washington State. To get there you drive along RT 112 which winds along the northern coast of Washington State. Across the Strait of Juan de Fuca is Vancouver Island, our first sighting of Canada.

Vancouver Island across the really blue sea.

The road itself was really interesting as it was right on the edge of the coast and in some cases they had carved the cliffs out to accommodate it.

RT 112 hanging on the edge of the coast.
Cliffs carved away to get the road in.

The Makah Indian Museum was really interesting, with most of the artefacts in the museum excavated from an archaeological dig. The site of the dig was a Makah village further down the coast at Ozette that had been completely covered by a mud slide sometime in the last 300-500 years. A bit like Pompeii it was a sudden event, so complete Makah Indian longhouses had been engulfed and the people and cultural artefacts had been frozen in time. It is well worth a visit, but I can only show you external pictures as for some strange reason they wouldn’t allow photographs to be taken inside the museum.

The Makah Indian Museum
Carved figures outside the museum.
Museum entrance.

Neah Bay itself was an interesting place, with a small port and some shops.

Neah Bay and its port.
Sea lions had settled in on the dock.

Next day we had a closer look around Forks, still didn’t discover anything of interest except this (this is going to bore most readers except if you are a train buff!).

There was an example of a very unusual train that was used in the logging industry around this area. It is called The Shay Locomotive and it featured a steam driven, all wheel drive engine that could pull huge loads up very steep inclines and didn’t need steel rails, it could work on wooden rails.

Instead of a normal steam cylinder driving the front wheels like a normal steam engine, the steam was used to drive vertical cylinders which in turn drove universal joints geared onto each axle including the tender, which meant although they ran very slowly the tractive power was immense. It’s a bit like putting a transverse engine into a train.

The vertical cylinders that provided the driving power.
The series of transfer boxes along the side of the train that drove each individual axle.
The complete train with the vertical cylinders and the transfer boxes on the front AND back axles if you look carefully.

On our last day in Forks we went back to have another look at Rialto Beach on a beautifully sunny day (which boded well for our upcoming visit to Port Townsend). It was as wild as ever but it was lovely to just sit there and watch the Pacific waves crash onto the beach.

Sun shining on Rialto Beach.
The islands just off La Push.
Island way off the coast that used to be part of the mainland.
Power of the sea, a huge 70ft plus tree, plus roots just tossed up onto the beach during the winter.

The next day we drove to Port Townsend. More of this in the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portland and Fort Stevens National Park

The drive to Portland was quite short but quite complicated with all the bridges over the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Didn’t help that we met a bridge swing queue!! Also it was my last chance to put the RV through a truck wash, but it did look good afterwards!!

Here it is parked up at our site at Sandy Riverfront RV  and the river was right behind us.

Our site.
Sunset at the site.
The view behind us down the Columbia river.

We had come to Portland not only to see the sights but also to meet up with Susan Dean, Anne’s cousin. She promised to show us the sights in and around Portland, and she lived up to her promise.

On the Saturday we visited the Chinese Garden in Portland. The garden was built in 1999-2000 and was a collaboration with the Chinese city of Suzhou which Portland is twinned with. It was built by 65 artisans from Suzhou to a design by Kuang Zhen, with over 500 tons of rock including special Tai Hu rocks from Lake Tai in China. All the wood used was also imported and are from native trees of China. A very interesting and tranquil place, although when we visited it a Taekwondo demonstration was taking place, which made it a bit noisier!!

All the floors were made with individual stones formed into patterns.
All the woodwork was hand carved.
Hand made tiles and end caps.
The pavilions appeared to float over the central lake.
All sorts of flowers and plants throughout the garden.
An example of a Tai Hu rock carved by water.
The central lake.
Hand built patterned walls were everywhere.
The Taekwondo demonstration.
Some of the peonies grown in the garden.

From here we walked into downtown Portland where there was a Saturday Market and a Funfair.

One of Portland’s many bridges, but this is unusual as it has a central lift section.
The Saturday market.
A historical society group. The lady in the red Elizabethan dress had hand made the entire costume.
The Funfair. Wouldn’t catch me on that!!
Dragon boats ready for a race the next day.

We then took a trip on an aerial tramway to the hospital complex where Susan used to work (now retired), but it also gave you good views of Portland and its surroundings.

On the way up. The automatic ticket machines had failed so we got a free ride!!
View across Portland to the mountains from the top. Note the number of bridges!!
Not sure which snow capped mountain was we could just see (MT Hood perhaps?).

 

The gondolier and the view down the river.

The next day Susan took us on a scenic drive to see Mt Hood, via the Multnomah Falls and Bonneville Dam that Judy Goff had recommended because of the salmon ladder.

Prior to this we also stopped at a viewpoint that let you see the Columbia River Gorge.

The view up the Columbia river gorge.
Susan and I at the entrance to the Falls.
The Multnomah falls from far away.
Closer view with bridge that was currently closed due to last year’s forest fire closing the trails.
Two old codgers in the way of a nice view!!
The light playing on the falls gave it a very misty image.
The Bonneville Dam with lock gates (huge for really big ships) to the extreme left.
The spillway, wouldn’t fancy falling into that!!
Salmon on the ladder passing one of the viewing windows.
People count the Salmon as they swim up the river.
The Salmon ladder, tough going by the look of it.

Then we got to Mt Hood, and the Timberline Lodge. Some ski runs were still open in June, and the mountain still had quite a lot of snow on it. It is used as an Olympic skiing training centre as it has ski runs open all year round.

Mt Hood.
The lodge car park looking up the mountain. Notice the snow mobiles.
Snowmobiles dressing the ski runs.
People cross country Skiing.
Mt Hood statistics.
Still loads of snow.
The very impressive Timberline Lodge.

Keeping up the pace, Susan took us to see Mt St Helens the following day. This is the volcano that erupted in a huge explosion in May 1980, resulting in the top of the mountain being blown off, and one entire side collapsing leaving a horseshoe shaped caldera. The eruption killed fifty-seven people, and destroyed 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway. The elevation of summit of St Helens was reduced from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,363 ft (2,549 m) and it’s mass was reduced by 0.7 cubic miles which was spread over the surrounding countryside as ash and a pyroclastic flow avalanche which flattened an area of 230 sq. miles. An entire lake and recreation area called Spirit Lake was also destroyed with the remains of the lake containing hundreds of logs blown over in the explosion. It continues to erupt to this day, but not as violently, and is still an active volcano.

As you drive up to Johnston Ridge Observatory you see the ash fields and the trees that were flattened by the explosion.

Ash fields covering the valleys.
Flattened trees.
More flattened trees.
It was cloudy day but all of a sudden the clouds parted to show the caldera and the current volcano cone.
Mt St Helens with clouds obscuring the cone, but you can see the horseshoe shaped caldera.
A longer view showing the devastation in front of the observatory. It was here that a volcanologist David Johnston lost his life as the volcano erupted and he announced “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it”. His body was never found.
Even after 40 years it still looks like a moonscape with very little vegetation.

On the Tuesday the “Big Beast” had a first full service, which was required in the terms of our extended warranty, so we had to get up early, disconnect everything and hitch up the Spark. Susan was expecting us at her house later in the evening to meet more of Anne’s and Susan’s relations.

As is usual with the best laid plans of mice and men the service ran longer than was expected so we had to agree to leave “Big Beast” overnight, so we now had nowhere to sleep. Luckily Susan had a spare room and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer so we spent the evening meeting Anne’s relations and then stayed at her house. Susan’s son Orion (and his family) was one of those relations, plus some other very nice people we will someday figure out how we were related!! But it was a very good evening and we enjoyed meeting everyone, plus we also found out that Orion and his family would be at our next site, Fort Stevens, at the weekend and we promised to meet up with them.

So next day we went to pick up “Big Beast” after saying goodbye to Susan, we were due to move on the next day, only to find it still wasn’t ready and could we come back at midday. We returned as asked and all was well, so we drove back to our last night at the campsite.

The next day we moved on to Fort Stevens State Park, near Astoria in the top left hand corner of Oregon. We decided to camp there so we could see the rest of the Oregon coast down to the point of our trip North from Depoe Bay and the Washington coast north of the Columbia river which has a peninsular called Long Beach.

We had a very shaded but nice site in amongst the trees of the campground.

Our site.
Deep in the forest.
Big site with 8 camping areas.

Fort Stevens has 3 or 4 artillery bunkers that were manned in World War II. It is the only place in the USA that was bombarded in that war. A Japanese submarine came in close and used its gun to fire on the Fort. The battery retaliated  but the only damage caused on either side was a shell that exploded on the Fort’s baseball field!!

The southern arm of the Southern Jetty that together with the Northern Jetty protects the mouth of the Columbia river extends from the top of the state park out into the river.

Southern Jetty
Beaches looking down the Oregon coast.

The Columbia river entrance and sand bar is a very dangerous entrance to one of the main shipping rivers in the USA. Because of this the US Coastguard has their National Motor Lifeboat Training School based there as the sea conditions can be some of the worst on the Pacific Coast.

Nearby is the Astoria bridge that joins Oregon to Washington.

This is the bridge we will cross when we take the RV to Washington!!

As promised Orion, Caitlin and Rose and friends turned up on the Saturday and we were introduced to the delights of s’mores toasted on their campfire (American campers love their campfires!!).

Orion, Caitlin and Rose

If you can imagine a sweet biscuit with chocolate on one side with a fire-roasted marshmallow on top and another biscuit making the sandwich. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever tasted and set my teeth on edge. The Americans feed these to their kids on camping trips, no wonder they are so hyper!! Rose (Orion’s daughter) and her friend decided to go off and draw with charcoal on the camp road and very good they were too. Here they are holding the hands of their charcoal friend!!

Original artwork by Rose and her friend.

It was nice meeting them again, but I will give s’mores a miss next time.

On the Monday we explored the Oregon coast south of us. It was a mixture of a sort of US version of Blackpool called Seaside and more upmarket seaside towns with galleries and gift shops.

Seaside, the end of the Lewis & Clark trail, two early pioneers trying to find a North West passage. I doubt they would recognise it today.
Hotels behind the beach.
Somehow I thought we would find one of these!!
Apartments at the more upmarket Cannon Beach
Lots of driftwood artwork
Beaches are fantastic here as with the rest of Oregon.
Another scenic view!!
Imagine living in this house, what a view!! I guess the sobering thought is that it is slap bang in the middle of a tsunami zone!!
More miles of Oregon beach. How this state doesn’t have more tourists is beyond me.

We turned round at Manzanita the farthest town we had reached north of Depoe Bay.

Two kite surfers on Manzanita beach.

We got back to Astoria early in the evening on a lovely day and drove up to local landmark called The Column. It is a tower that you can climb up but it also has a beautiful painting all around it depicting the Lewis & Clark trail.

The Astoria Column
Looking towards the Cascades.
A panoramic view.
Looking towards Washington.

Next day we headed north into Washington to explore Long Beach. First stop was Ilwaco , a fishing port with a maritime museum with early lifeboats in it.

Ilwaco port.
Early lifeboat and life preservers through the ages.

Just beyond here was the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse with the US Coastguard practising helicopter cliff rescues.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.
Coastguard helicopter.
Winching the winch man back up.
Further up the coast, there be whales!!

Long Beach as well as being a very long beach(!!) has a big oyster farming  area and there were mounds of oyster shells all over the place.

Oyster shell mound.
Oyster Boat
Someone else fancied a meal!!
Looking back to Oregon from the Washington side of the Columbia River.

On our last day we looked around Astoria. It has a very good maritime museum with an ex-Columbia lightship as an exhibit.

Astoria’s fortune was built on the Salmon canneries.
Picture of the cannery workforce
Exhibit that shows why the Columbia river mouth is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. Each dot is wrecked ship.
Five miles of Astoria bridge.
The Columbia lightship.
A trolley bus that runs along Astoria seafront.

The next day we left for Riverview RV Park  just outside of Forks Washington which will be my next post.

I should also point out that our RV Map has been updated all the way to Vancouver although the BLOG is not quite there yet!!