The Crown of the Continent, part 1.

It’s official, Lily and I are back on the road for our next Airstream Adventure. This time, we are headed east along the northern most states en route to New England for some epic fall leaf peeping and then down the east coast towards Florida and the southern most point. Along the way, we are stopping at a few National Parks and other interesting places.

Columbia River Gorge

First stop after departing Seattle is Wanapum State Park along the Columbia River to visit friends and take in some of the amazing Washington State wines. Once again, I shall declare that State Parks are really truly amazing. When the wildfire smoked finally cleared and revealed crystal clear skies it was time to get to the wineries.

Space 35 with great views of the Columbia River and beyond.
Cave B was my favorite and their Chenin Blanc was delicious.
I’ve been enjoying Merlots again since being reacquainted over the summer.

In addition to wines, and in keeping with tradition, I stopped at a local coffee shop to grab an oat hazelnut latte (my new favorite), and a bag of their signature roasted beans for the road.

A great little eclectic coffee bean in downtown Ellensburg.
How about a sit and sip on this technicolor bench.

Alas, it was a great few final days in Washington State but we were eager to begin crossing state lines and enter the first National Park on the trip.

Glacier National Park

The Crown of the Continent! Established and protected as a National Park in 1910 and host to zillions of people each year. I was lucky to find parking anywhere! Since Glacier encompasses more than 1 million acres and is bisected by the Continental Divide, we split our time between the West and the East sides of the park. I thought this would be the best way to experience the entire park and still be home in time for a relaxing happy hour each evening.

West Glacier

We rolled into West Glacier, Montana on a cloudy afternoon and the area reminded me a lot of the PNW – similar to a rain forest, in my opinion. And, it rained twice while we were there. We settled in for 4 nights at the KOA Resort which seemed like the nicest RV park closest to the west entrance to Glacier.

Space 127 deluxe patio site, perfect for relaxing and soaking up the sun when it was shining.

Our first full day inside Glacier NP was dedicated to just navigating the park and driving the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Along the way, we passed Lake McDonald and its beautiful colored rocks.

The color of the rocks is determined by the presence or absence of iron.

The red rocks were deposited in shallow ocean waters where the iron was oxidized by the tidal exposure to air. The green rocks were formed in deeper water where oxidation was limited. Actually, I noticed colored rocks big and small all over the park because they had been scattered everywhere by the glaciers.

Hugging the lakeshore is the historic Swiss Chalet themed “Lake McDonald Lodge” where the iconic Red Busses from the 1930s pick-up and drop-off tour passengers.

The road to Logan’s Pass, aka the “Going-to-the-Sun Road” or “The Sun Road” or “GTTSR”, was completed in 1932 and is a very narrow two-lane winding road with hairpin curves hugging the side of the Rocky Mountains. Driving it wasn’t nearly as bad as most people reported on TripAdvisor; unless you have never driven a mountain road I suppose.

The beginning of the climb to Logan’s Pass at 6,647′ elevation.

Granted, the road is exceptionally narrow, and rocks hung over sections of the roadway at times, but that is what made it exciting and interesting and exhilarating.

This was part of a sketchy seven mile stretch about half way up.
Lily taking in the view at the summit.

We drove the GTTSR twice, one day was cloudy (as you can see), but the other day was brilliantly sunny and there seemed to be more traffic because of that.

The GTTSR crossing the little arched bridge at Bird Woman Falls (it’s the lower center of the pic).
The truck was nearly at the width limit for driving the road, so we hugged the yellow line all the way up/down.

Here are a few more pics before we head back down to earth. The views from every turnout and around every curve were spectacular.

These one-dimensional photos don’t even come close to replicating the grandeur of the experience.

Back down on earth, and as soon as I could find parking, I set out on a few hikes. Unless you wake up at the crack of dawn it’s nearly impossible to find parking at any of the popular trailheads. Having patience and a plan B are keys to enjoying your time in Glacier. So, the first hike was part of the Lake McDonald Loop which went along the upper McDonald Creek and showcased some gorgeous pools and waterfalls.

Even with the cloudy sky you can see the multi-color rocks in the water. When the sun is out the colors are much richer and way more vibrant.

The deep blue water color is the result of ground up rock and sediment called “glacial flour”. The movement of nearby glaciers provides a constant source of “flour” for the lakes and rivers.

All the trails in Glacier offer stunning scenery but my favorite on the west side was the Avalanche Lake Trail. Again, parking was guaranteed impossible but I was lucky to be there just as a car was pulling out.

The trail started on a boardwalk that meandered peacefully among the ancient cedars and then continued along the Avalanche Creek Gorge until it reached Avalanche Lake.

Resting and a quick selfie along the trail with the glacial valley behind me.
First view of Avalanche Lake from the trail.

Arriving at the lake was such a highlight. I sat on a log taking in the view while munching on trail mix and hydrating. Legend says the lake was named “Avalanche” because in 1895 when it was discovered they could hear the avalanches of glacial ice falling and echoing loudly through the gorge. The lake is fed by glacial runoff and that makes the water crystal clear and turquoise blue. It was such a gift to have this experience that day.

Back home at the Airstream, I enjoyed several happy hours with some local gin and whiskey I tasted and then acquired at Glacier Distillery.

My favorite kind of street sign.
Huckleberry Whiskey and Gin is delicious.

And so, on a cold and rainy morning, we left West Glacier and drove two hours towards East Glacier crossing the Continental Divide to begin the second half of our Glacier NP experience.

One last look at Lake McDonald as we depart on a cold and cloudy morning.

Stay tuned for the second half of our Glacier NP experience with more hikes, lakes, waterfalls, and an actual glacier!

A Seattle Summer to Remember!

Hi there! We hope you’ve had a splendid summer so far. Lily and I have been parked at home in Seattle for six months relaxing and planning out the next adventure. The weather sure did take a bit longer than I had hoped to turn nice but once it did I was reminded that summer in Seattle is absolutely spectacular.

“Seattle and the Olympics at dusk from the Mt. Baker Ridge Viewpoint.”

One of the best things about being home was reconnecting with friends and spending time enjoying my favorite eateries and home happy hours. In my opinion, happy hour at home is much more enjoyable and practical these days. Here are a few of my home happy hour indulgences.

“Spring Mtn. Napa Nectar of Joy”
“The Bloody Brunch Mega-Mary”
“The Classic Bleu-Bob-Tini”

So, here’s what Lily and I have been up to all summer.

Immediately upon returning home, I bonded with my neighbor’s Husky “Otis” and we had some amazing walks and quality dog time outside wandering the neighborhood together. Lily didn’t mind sharing me, in case you were wondering.

“This is Otis and he’s a pretty good boy.”
“Otis loves perusing ivy for rodents and sticks.”
“THIS is a happy husky.”
“Lily always answers the door when Otis comes over for a visit.”

In May, Lily and I took a road trip sans Airstream to visit our very closest friends in Northern California. We got to visit some of the amazing wineries in the stunning Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. Spending time with my favorite people drinking amazing wine is always good for my soul.

“Handley Cellars – Philo, CA”
“My most favorite people.”
“The beautiful Anderson Valley.”

Summer arrived with Pridefest and Seafair returning to Seattle after a two year hiatus. It was fun to be out mingling and celebrating at the street fairs and then have the Blue Angels roaring over my house and decorating the sky with smoke trails. Life felt almost normal again post pandemic.

“View of Seattle from Alki Beach on a sunny June afternoon.”
“Pride at the Space Needle. “
“Welcome back Blue Angels.“
“Flying in perfect formation over Seattle.”
“High arc maneuver over Lake Washington.”
“Angel dust across mighty Mount Rainier.”

Seattle had a few delightful heat waves in July and August so we took that as an excuse to escape the city for a few local road trips to visit the Washington coast. Port Townsend was a fantastic day trip for some wine tasting and exploring the little historic downtown with someone special.

“Harbor View from the Port Townsend Vineyards Tasting Room.”

Then we were off to Ocean Shores for a relaxing weekend of cooler cloudier weather to celebrate Rachelle’s birthday. I took the Airstream out of storage for this trip so Lily and I could get reacquainted with Airstream life and start prepping it for our next big trip towards the east coast.

“Camping near the Oyhut Bay Seaside Village.”

Well that pretty much wraps up our little summer break in Seattle. We will be back in the Airstream very soon getting ready to see more beautiful places and bring you along for the adventure.

“Back in the Airstream ready to go.”
“Lily is packed and ready to go.”

Our first stop on the way east is Glacier National Park and I’m very excited to get there and share the experience and some stunning photos with you so stay tuned!

First Tow!

The day that I have been anticipating and waiting for finally arrived. The weight distribution hitch was installed and …. wait for it …. I got to tow the Airstream for the first time. I literally did not sleep the night before I was too excited. Lots of questions got answered this day.

I think the truck was ready too!

As I pulled out of the warehouse bay, I felt for the first time all the weight behind me. The truck brakes were like oh okay things just got serious huh?!  I put the transmission in tow mode and started off out the parking lot and into the world with my new toys.

Those first initial sensations of the truck registering with the movement of the trailer were amazing. I pulled into a strip mall parking lot just to get some space to take it all in. And, I really wanted to see if backing up was easy or hard. Let’s just say, it’s gonna take some practice!

I spent a few hours driving around – on the freeway, thru parking lots, into a roundabout, back onto the freeway, and back to the dealership. It was really fun, I just wanted to keep going and going.

Next milestone is taking the Airstream to Portland for the upgrades/upfits – solar, Li-ion batteries, WeBoost Cell Booster, washer/dryer combo, and some other cool stuff.