What’s that you say? A travel trailer that’s what! After months of debating we concluded our camping days were not behind us yet and so we got ourselves a trailer – specifically an R Pod.
Light and compact, complete with small kitchen, bed, and bath, it seemed the perfect fit for camping in the Great Northwest and we took it for its maiden voyage this week. A shakedown of sorts and I will tell you later how it (and we ) fared. But first let me show you the wonderful sights at Silver Springs Campground, an easy 2 hour drive south just outside the Sunrise entrance to Mt Rainier National Park.
First, the trees! Wonderful old growth forest of Douglas-fir, cedar and western hemlock provided the setting, as fragrant as they are beautiful, and that my friend is why we camp.
A River and a Spring
The campground sits along the milky White River, the source of which is Emmons Glacier on Mt. Rainier nearby. Some sites are next to the river, ours was not.
But it didn’t matter for we found a smaller, bubbly stream behind our site that flowed throughout the campground.
We discovered its source, ‘Silver Springs’ (hence the name of the campground) on our evening walk just after sunset.
Isn’t it charming? We thought so. But that’s enough about the campground for now. The next question is: how did we do??
Oh sure, we learned lots of other things about operating the trailer but I won’t bore you with them. The bottom line is that we’re happy to have it and look forward to more trips this summer. I’ll share more pictures from our adventure at Mt Rainier in my next post. Stay tuned.
“Take me back to the Black Hills, the Black Hills of Dakota,” sang Doris Day as Calamity Jane, and ever since I wanted to see those Black Hills. And so I did, some years ago, when we packed our camper and headed east from Seattle to South Dakota, and I recorded our adventures in an old fashioned Journal.
Click here for the first part of the story in case you missed it. Otherwise come along for Part 2 as we leave Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and enter South Dakota.
We take the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway to Custer State Park where we’ll camp the next three days. Scenic Byway indeed, for we enter a world of rugged peaks, fragrant pine, colorful deciduous trees, meadows, and alpine lakes. We pass through mining towns, resorts, fishing holes, and parks, finally arriving at Stockade Lake where we have the campground nearly to ourselves.
The next day we explore Custer State Park, where according to the park’s website, “nearly 1,300 bison roam the prairies and hills .. which they share with pronghorn, big horn sheep, elk and curious burros. Visitors often enjoy close encounters with these permanent residents along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road that winds around the southern edge of the park.”
Yes we do; we drive the Loop Road and see bison around every turn.
The Black Hills are more beautiful than we imagined and Mt. Rushmore more impressive too. We take another scenic highway (too many to remember) to see the faces staring out of the rock above and walk the path around the base of the monument.
The next day we’re off to Badlands National Park, a mysterious landscape of eroded buttes and pinnacles, mixed grass prairie, and home to one of the world’s richest fossil beds. We take a short hike in the park and enjoy its quiet rugged beauty.
On our way back to Rapid City we stop for dinner and meet a friendly Native couple – he’s a Lakota Sioux and she’s Navajo – and feel welcomed by this beautiful land and its people.
All too soon it’s time to leave the Black Hills and return west. Fortunately our favorite park is still to come: Yellowstone National Park. We travel the spectacular Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge Montana to Yellowstone’s northeast entrance, climbing high past snow fields, alpine fir, and finally above the tree line. We see marmots, frosty lakes, craggy mountain peaks, and oh the views below as we reach Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet. Wow! This turns out to be one of the highest and most scenic highways we’ve ever travelled.
As we descend, the lakes begin to thaw, meadows and rushing rivers appear, and we see two moose feeding in the woods. And then we are in Yellowstone’s immense Lamar Valley, often called America’s Serengeti, home to bison, elk, coyote, grizzly and wolf. We stop to take in its raw beauty, then continue to Mammoth Hot Springs where we’ll camp the next two nights.
The next day we head to Norris Geyser Basin, one of the hottest thermal areas in Yellowstone, where we see geysers, boiling springs, and mudpots, all in a steamy landscape.
Afterwards we drive to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and find it grand indeed!
According to Wikipedia when trapper Charles Cook first saw the canyon in 1869, he wrote, ‘I turned and looked forward from the brink of the great canyon, at a point just across from what is now called Inspiration Point. I sat there in amazement, while my companions came up, and after that, it seemed to me that it was five minutes before anyone spoke.”
No, the pictures don’t do it justice but you get the idea. And after seeing the colorful Canyon you can understand how Yellowstone got its name.
We complete our tour with a drive through Hayden Valley, then it’s back to Mammoth Hot Springs for our last night in Yellowstone. The next morning we embark on the final leg of our journey, and two days later, we’re back in Seattle.
Twelve days, two National Parks, four National Monuments, one enormous state park, scenic highways galore and too many animals to count, and we are home! I hope you enjoyed this Journal through the American West. Thanks for coming along!
There’s nothing like summer in the Pacific Northwest and what better way to enjoy it than with a walk at Coulon Park on the shores of Lake Washington?
Where sky and lake meet in perfect shades of blue and sailboats await the call.
Where turtles bask in the sun
and the ghost of Mt Rainier watches over all.
Out and about at Coulon Park where the bluest skies you’ve ever seen sometimes really are in Seattle.
Sue asked me to draft a letter so she could close it with the salutation, ‘Sincerely, Benji.’
I don’t know why but here goes.
‘Dear Sue, I like sitting on your desk when you are there. You are my best friend.
Thanks to Benji for playing along so I could use that exquisite (my opinion) picture of him.
Wouldn’t you trust a cat with a face like that?
I’m from the Pacific Northwest and love the cool climate and the dark evergreen forests of giant Douglas Firs. But I have to admit that the Palm trees of southern California have a majestic beauty of their own, surviving and rising above temperatures of 114 degrees F. (yes, this week.) Here are a few of them for you to enjoy.
Looking forward to returning to the Evergreen state and a cool 75 degrees.
Before there were blogs there were journals – remember Lewis and Clark? I too kept a journal on a road trip through the American West, from Seattle to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
It was a bright day in May when we packed up our camper and left Seattle heading east. We crossed the panhandle of Idaho and spent our first night in St. Regis, Montana, where we woke the next morning to sunshine streaming through the windows, birdsong and rabbits scampering about the campground. What could be better?
After our morning coffee we proceeded through Big Sky Country, a rugged land of mountains, rivers, and wide open spaces. Our first stop was Helena, where we toured the capitol building and saw Charles Russell’s gorgeous mural, ‘Lewis and Clark meeting the Flathead Indians at Ross Hole.’
Charles Russell, Western artist and storyteller, was born in St. Louis in 1864 and moved to Montana at the age of 16 to fulfill his dream of becoming a cowboy. He produced over 4000 paintings, drawings and sculptures, of cowboys, the Plains Indians whom he greatly admired, and wildlife, which he called ‘nature’s people.’ We stopped by the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls dedicated to his life and work and I picked up some postcards of his paintings.
Of course you can’t travel in Montana without reminders of Lewis and Clark. Meriwether Lewis was greatly impressed by the beauty of the Great Falls of the Missouri River calling it “the grandest sight I had ever held.” We visited the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center overlooking the Missouri, and nearby Giant Springs, one of the largest freshwater springs in the country.
Our final Lewis and Clark stop was at Pompey’s Pillar, east of Billings, a huge outcropping of Sandstone rising 150 ft above the Yellowstone River. It was here Clark carved his name in the rock he named after Sacagawea’s son. The carving is the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Clark recorded the event in his journal, “.. at 4 PM I arrived at a remarkable rock… I marked my name and the day of the month & year. July 25th, 1806.”
We took the trail to Pompey’s Pillar to see the carving which is now protected under glass.
Continuing into northeastern Wyoming, it wasn’t long before the landscape changed from the golden, rolling hills of cattle country to green forest and red rock. We’d entered the Black Hills and began to look for the mysterious Devil’s Tower around every turn. When we finally saw it rising above the landscape, it didn’t disappoint (though my pictures might.)
We were delighted to discover our campground was at the base of the 1,267 foot basalt tower and we fell asleep under it’s otherworldly presence.
The next day we walked the easy trail around the Tower enjoying the sunshine, breathing in the fresh piney air and watching climbers tackle the massive Rock.
Soon we would enter South Dakota where more adventures awaited: Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park and Badlands National Park. Too much to tell here so I will save that for Part 2 of a ‘Journal through the American West.’
Okay so I made it up myself. I miss the Weekly Photo Challenge and decided to do my own to carry me through the week.
The word is ‘orange’ of the sweet, juicy variety and also of the capital Orange variety, for here I am in Orange, California, enjoying sunny weather and temperatures in the mid eighties. Until Friday that is, when temperatures are expected to soar to a sizzling 105 or more depending on which weather app you believe. (!!!)
Here then to celebrate ‘orange’ are some photos from Old Town Orange where the oranges are tasty and the flag flies high in the town square.
Happy 4th of July.
This is Benji and I love being a cat.
Everything I do makes me happy, especially whatever I am doing currently. Sleeping on my new perch is a good example.
First I take a deep breath and stretch as long as I can. You should try it – it feels so good!
Then I turn this way and that to find the very best sleeping position which I enjoy as long as I can.
Sometimes I turn around just for the fun of it. All positions are good.
You might think I’m too big for my perch, but no, not at all.
See how well I fit?
A recent visit with a long lost cousin reminded me of our shared grandparents and history at Pleasant Harbor on Hood Canal.
Just off of Highway 101 where it runs along Hood Canal there was a small restaurant with a home in back and attached store in front. They were owned and operated by Floyd and Elsie Chapman and the sign in front read “ELSIE’S PLEASANT HARBOR.” Hood Canal is a narrow shimmering fjord about 50 miles long and averaging 177 feet in depth. The clear, blue, water is filled with abundant life and on its shores are plentiful clams and oysters. Pleasant Harbor is a quiet natural cove on the canal and that is where Floyd moored his shrimp boat.
On a sleepy day in 1963 Floyd was outside in his blue overhauls and captain’s hat, working the fire under a large kettle where the day’s catch of shrimp was to be cooked. He’d been up since early that morning when he had gone to drop the traps in the canal.
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I wandered in the garden one morning
and found the boys apparently at odds.
It was mostly Tiger who needed cheering up.
‘Hey Tiger, you handsome boy! How are you doing?’
‘Oh I don’t know Sue. I don’t feel very handsome. Did you notice the carcass in the yard?’
‘Yes Tiger, I noticed. A mole. Great job!’
‘It wasn’t me Sue. Benji caught it. That boy is fast! You should have seen him out here this morning. It was brilliant.’
‘He knew just when to strike and brought the beast down without a struggle.’
‘That’s great Tiger,’ I replied. ‘The mole was destroying the garden and needed to go. I’m happy Benji took care of it. So what’s the problem?’
‘Don’t you see Sue? I used to be able to do that. Not anymore. Let’s face it. I’m finished.’
‘Oh Tiger, you mustn’t think that! You did your part. It’s time to let the boy do the dirty work. Who wants to kill moles anyway? They’re not good for eating.’
‘You’re right about that Sue. But I just feel so useless sometimes.’
‘You’re not useless Tiger! Just your presence keeps a lot of varmints away. Honestly, I love how you wander in the garden; how you linger and enjoy the moment.’
‘You remind me to stop and take time to smell the roses.’
‘And the lavender.’
‘And the bounty of the garden. Did you notice the raspberries are ripening?’
‘And look! Our first year for thimbleberries!’
‘Yes Sue, I noticed. And how about those strawberries? They really smell good!’
‘Indeed they do Tiger! Youth has its place, but if everyone ran around in a frenzy all the time, hunting and wild-eyed, how would it be? There’s got to be some to provide guidance and wisdom to the young. And stability, too. You’ve got a lot to give.’
‘Aw thanks Sue. I could give Benji a few tips alright. I don’t really feel like hunting moles anymore, though I may be up for an occasional vole (or bird, though I know how you feel about that.) Mostly I’d rather be right here where I am, in the garden visiting with you.’
‘You and I are more alike then you know, Tiger.’
Sorry if you have to work today. I think I shall stay right here.
In the zone.
~ Susanne and Benji