Thursday, May 24, 2018

April 22 - HOME!!!!!

After leaving Billings, it's all downhill.  Literally.  Eastern Montana is not particularly interesting after all the mountains and forests.  Once you get into North Dakota, the scenery gets better as you are in the northern badlands and the painted hills.  That is always a nice drive through just miles of miles.  Once past Bismarck, though, it's just driving.  We did get our first North Dakota sunset. 

We got the camper up to the house, did a quick park, leaving the truck attached, and rolled out the jeep.  We loaded it for a week in Moorhead and headed down to our daughter's.

Monday, May 21, 2018

April 21st - Into Billings, Mt

The night of the 20th, we were driving along.  I was driving through mountains and forests and it was drizzling.  Never fun, but at least it wasn't snowing like last time.  There was a semi following me pretty close and we were in a construction site with one of the two lanes closed off with those big orange trashcan sized pylons.  Apparently, someone before me had gotten too close to the pylons and had clipped a couple.  The pylons were standing right in the middle of my lane as I came to them.  Maneuvering with a fifth wheel in tow is not something you can do quickly. I managed to miss one of them and hit the other with my driver side corner.  Stupid thing went under me, but thankfully, out the back.  All was well, but it was enough for one night.  That was why we stopped in a crowded rest area in the mountains. It was, I think, the only time on this trip where we didn't stay at a campground.

The next morning, we got going and made it out of the mountains and cruised into Billings.  The campground we stayed at was KOA's Holiday Campground.  It is touted as the first national KOA campground.  It was pretty nice.  The sites had everything but sewer, but it had a great dump station.  I had a couple of complaints, though.  The fresh water faucets at the dump stations leaked causing sprays I had to avoid while working.  The other issue came as we got there after hours and no one was around to show us our site and no notes were left.  A gentleman who works there did come by and help, but it seemed the KOA national booking office had not communicated with the camp or something.  But the guy was nice and guided us into a spot well enough.  It was overall, a good experience.

That night, we caught an Uber into downtown.  On the Billings city website, it mentions the walkable brewing district.  A number of things to see in downtown Billings while you walk a path visiting any number of local craft breweries.

We took the path backwards and only went to a few places.  The first was Montana Brewing, and after we got there, we realized we'd been there before.  Just down the street, were two places that shared a parking lot.  There were a couple of nice bikes parked in the lot.  We went into Angry Hank's first.  The beer weren't very impressive.  We had one each and sat and talked a small group that were the owners of the bikes.  After that we went next door to Thirsty City.  Hank's was busy but the people didn't seem to have a great knowledge of their products.  Thirsty City was quieter, but the two behind the counter were knowledgeable and friendly.  We sat to an ex-marine with family in North Dakota. They had some good tasting brews.  We left there and went to another place by Uber called, The Garage at Yellowstone Brewing Company.  The people and beers were not very impressive, but the guy at the door and another who was just helping out were nice.  A band was playing and sounded pretty good.

We went home from there by Uber, and had a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

April 20th - Finally, Spokane

Mt. Hood and the Columbia River

Our day of rest was over and time for the three of us, (Laurie, Gypsy, and myself), to continue on home.  Our route was to travel back south across to Portland and catch the I-84 east alongside the beautiful Columbia River until just past Boardman where we switched to a couple of other highways north to reach I-90 east and ultimately, I-94.

Present for the beginning of the trip, Mt. Hood loomed over us on the south with the winding Columbia to the north.  Beautiful country.  Photos from a moving car never does great scenery justice, but we got enough decent impressions . 

About halfway across Oregon, we stopped at a town called The Dalles.,_Oregon
There, we stopped for food at a craft brewery built in an old ice factory.  It was pretty cool. The brews at Sedition Brewery were okay. But we didn't stay too long.

Just before we got to Boardman, we stopped at a rest stop and picked up our Oregon geocache.

Boardman EastBound--Don't Fence me in - GC13W9Z

After that, we just drove until we finally made Spokane.  We drove around a little and parked downtown to get dinner at the Iron Goat.  There was an energitic kid there playing guitar and singing and it was nice.  We continued on for a while, getting through Idaho, but when it started getting later, we stopped at a rest stop up in the mountains in western Montana.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

April 19th - Layover

Geocaching update.  I tried to find two different geocaches on the way up through California, but I wasn't patient enough to succeed.  We did, however pick up one in Oregon and one in Washington, two states where we had never had finds before.

Laurie had never been to either Oregon or Washington state.  I had lived in Spokane for a couple of years when I was a child but that was my whole experience up there except for driving up and down from and to California back then. 

We spent the morning looking around Vancouver.  In the afternoon, we took our bicycles down to the Waterfront Renaissance Trail.  It was a nice bike ride along the river.  Loowit, a craft brewer was right there, we visited them.  Not a bad place and the afternoon exercise was fun.  The Loowit trail is on Mt. Saint Helen.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

April 18th - The end of California

Last post, I incorrectly stated that the rv park we stayed at in Crescent City was 99 RV park.  Actually, it was a small run-down park called Sunset Harbor.  The place really needs some work, but as that area is pretty depressed, it is understandable.  It was good enough for our needs, though. 

That next morning we went to breakfast and looked around the area a little before heading up the road.  We had breakfast at a cafe called The Good Harvest Cafe across the highway from the fishing marina.  There were a couple of pictures of the marina before and after a flood that hit it.  I did some research and we went across and took pictures of the repaired marina.  The town has the reputation of having suffered the most tsunamis on the pacific coast.  When large earthquakes in Japan or Alaska happen, this little port town of just over 7000 people get hit.  There have been 31 tsunamis hitting this town since 1933.  The largest and most destructive was in 1964.  This last one was in 2016.

Our path took us once again into the forests, following the Smith River up hwy 199 until we came to Grant's Pass, Oregon.  We took a short break in Grants Pass which is where 199 runs into I-5. We kept following the Smith River all day.  The west side of Oregon is very much a logging system.  With the Deschutes Forest on the east of I-5.  I-5 is how the products are moved.

We continued north until we reached Portland, and jumped just over the border to Vancouver, Washington.  This is where we stayed at the 99 RV park.  That evening we met some great people and found some good brew at Ghost Runner Brewery.