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Cross-Country Journal -- September 2002


Sunday, September 1 -- Today was a very windy day and rainy day and we essentially stayed in all day.  Watched college football, did web site updates and had a camp fire.

Monday, September 2 -- We drover two hours over to the east side of Glacier this morning because it is tiresome driving the Going-To-The-Sun Road each time and there are several days worth of sights to see on the east side.  We settled in a KOA with a great view of the Glacier mountains.  We then drove he Sun road to the visiter's center and took a great hike up to Hidden Lake.  Half way bac down we hiked to two waterfalls.  All total we hiked 6 miles today.

Tuesday, September 3 -- We drove up into Canada this morning and visited Waterton, National Park, which is the top half of Glacier.  We visited a beautiful 10 mile long lake that runs north/south where the bottom end is in Montana.  During a boat rip to the south end we crossed over the US boundary.  Look for that picture in the album.  The lake is surrounded by wonderful mountains.  We saw 5 adult bears and two cubs today along with a moose.  Crossed back into the US at 6 PM.

Wednesday, September 4 -- We woke up to rain and heavy cloud cover so instead of spending one more day in Glacier, we decided to head west again.  It took us 2 hours to get back to the west side of Glacier and then we continued on Route 2 up to Bonner's Ferry in Idaho and then down to Spokane, Washington.  The drive was nice and very scenic but tiring since it was all 2 lane road.  The alternative was to use I-15 and I-90 but add at least 200 miles on to the drive.  After 9 hours we found a nice little campground just north of Spokane.  We drove in to Spokane to the Olive Garden for dinner.

Thursday, September 5 -- It was a nice 5 or 6 hour drive across Washington to Seattle on I-90.  Much of it was lava rock plain with nothing but sage brush.  The Columbia river and gorge was a sight.  The crossing of the Cascades was simple after coming from two months 4000 to 7000 feet.  The pass was only 3200 feet and then we descended all 3000 feet to sea level at Seattle.  All our sealed compressible bottles became pushed in on the sides due to the increase in air pressure.  We arrived in Seattle at 2 PM and north of Seattle by around 2:30.  We made a tactical error in driving around for a couple hours checking out campgrounds AND NOT finding anything good.  Seattle is quite built up all over and the traffic was bad and locals had all the state park campgrounds tied up.  Around 5:30 we settled in a pretty nice KOA.

Friday, September 6 -- Today we are doing nothing.  Resting.  Cleaning up.  Etc.

Great news.  Since July 12th we have been trying to get local channels on Direct TV and are finally connected to ABC, NBC and CBS, east and west coast.  Along with the NFL ticket we should be set.  Our KOA has an endless supply of blackberries to pick!

Saturday, September 7 -- Today was a national park day.  Back to the mountains, this time the Cascades.  We drove 50 miles east to North Cascades National Park.  We found that this park is all about wilderness.  In fact, you cannot see much of the park unless you hike 10 to 30 mile trails (one-way) to get to the middle of the park.  We stuck to the only road that enters and crosses the park and viewed the mountains from afar.  We also saw three lakes and several waterfalls.  This park is full of glaciers too.  We got home at 4 PM and had a great fish and fresh green bean dinner.

We tried to capture the glacier water blue in one of our many pictures of the park's lakes.  There is no prettier water.

Sunday, September 8 -- Well, today was NFL football day for sure.  We signed up for DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket in April and today was opening day.  We received the simultaneous broadcast of 13 different games.  The reason for having NFL Sunday Ticket is to be able to continue following the Buffalo Bills as we have been for the last 30 years.  And by telling DirecTV that our address is in Royal Palm Beach, Florida at Tommy's house, we avoid any possible blackout of western New York.  Anyway, we watched football all day long, getting a good football fix.  That was pretty much it for today.

We couldn't believe the Bill's had such an unhappy ending.  They had outplayed the Jets.  Guess there's next week and we hope to have a clear southern view for the TV satellite so we are connected for the next game.  Tom did well at the TV controller finding the game that was on when the Bill's went to commercial.  We can always watch a game every minute!

Monday, September 9 -- We spent the day in Seattle.  First was a tour of Boeing where we toured the 747 assembly factory.  It was impressive to be in the largest building in the world and see how these jumbo jets are put together.  It takes 11 months to complete one jet, they can build 20 per month, are at a current rate of 7 per month.  We spent the rest of the day in Seattle seeing almost all of the key sites.  We arrived home late at 8 PM.  Pepper usually eats dinner at 5 PM.  Oh well.

We were able to find out the truth to whether the Space Needle was being moved.  The Washington State Lottery had an ad talking about someone buying the Space Needle and moving it.  We had just caught it but not understood it was not true.  The elevator operator told us lots of people had thought the same thing.  I had to also find the famous market where they throw the fish.  We found Pike's Place Market and found the store where they throw fish.  We bought some tuna and cooked it.  

Tuesday, September 10 -- What a day.  It was a long trip up into Canada and then on a ferry boat to and from the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island.  The capital of British Columbia is a beautiful city and it is a larger city than we ever imagined.  The ferry boat ride was interesting because they operate them like clockwork.  We were a little late for both sailings and ended up as one of the last 10 cars on each time.  One thing we did not correctly anticipate was the hour and a half wait at the border to get back into the USA.  We probably should have realized that coming through this border crossing on the eve of September 11 would be slow.  We got home at around 8 PM again.

We stopped at Butchart Gardens and it was truly amazing.  We could not believe the amount and varieties of flowers in bloom.  I got a needed garden fix.  We also stopped at a butterfly garden.  They hatch 35 varieties of butterfly and moths.  It was magical.  On the ferry boat ride we also spotted seals! 

Wednesday, September 11 -- Today was a free day to putter around the house.  The weather started out foggy but cleared nicely.  We had the oil changed in he Jeep, among other things.  For those Binghamtonians, we grilled lamb spiedies tonight.

The washing machine and dishwasher were put to use.  Another big bowl of blackberries were picked.  Pepper and Louie have enjoyed some outdoor time.

Thursday, September 12 -- We left the campground around 7 AM and arrived at 8 AM for an appointment at Trace Engineering in Arlington, WA just north of Seattle.  Trace manufactured our charger unit and I asked them to check out our 12V system.  I was concerned ever since we found two dead batteries.  Good thing we stopped.  Trace took one look and said that two of the four batteries are not wired correctly and essentially not in the system.  They were not supplying power and they were not being charged.  Alfa had made the mistake!  And that's why those two batteries had eventually died after 6 months since the motorhome was manufactured.  I called Alfa and they paid Trace to fix it.  Afetr that we drove about 150 miles south to a campground 7 miles from Mt. Rainier.

The new campground had 700 spaces and we picked a wide open space in a meadow.   Pepper could go out the door and run.  We took advantage of the hose and no one around and washed the Jeep and the motor home!  After that Pepper was next!

Friday, September 13 -- Today we got up close and personal with Mt. Rainier.  What a sight!  I took so many fantastic pictures that I will have to work hard to select a few to put on the web.

We walked the Sourdough trail and got close to the glacier covered Mt Rainer.   To really feel a part of a national park, walking a trail always seems to do it for us.  We had the most glorious day of weather, blue sky and sunshine but we heard snow was in the forecast for the next week so we though it might be time to wrap up all the mountain traveling.

Saturday, September 14 -- We left the campground early and drove 100 miles west and then south to get to Mt. St. Helens even though the mountain was only 25 miles from where we were in Randle, Oregon.  (By the way, Randle Oregon was right in the line of fire when Mt. St. Helens exploded in 1980.)  We parked the motor home at the visitor's center and drove the jeep 45 miles east to the Johnston Observatory which is only 5 miles directly in front of the crater.  It is quite an experience to be right there and "re-live" May 18, 1980.  Late in the afternoon we drove the motor home another 50 miles south to Vancouver, Oregon and found a nice campground where we can get the satellite TV for tomorrow's NFL games.

Mt St Helen's is such a contrast to Mt Rainier.  It once had the beautiful lake and trails.  It is definitely an amazing show of the power of  nature's force.  My job was to find a campground with no trees that would interfere with the satellite and be an easy on and off.  We got lucky and had a great spot that seemed very homey.  Louie got to meet the neighbors.  A chocolate lab and three small dogs wandered over to check her out.  She was about twice as big as the little dogs and she has no fear of labs so she stood her ground.

Sunday, September 15 -- Filled some prescriptions at Wal-Mart.  Then watched NFL games, including the Bills against the Vikings.  What a great game.  Two overtimes in two weeks and this one we won!  Need to empty holding tanks and get ready to move to southern Oregon coast tomorrow morning.

A great Bills victory.  We are all Drew Bledsoe fans!

Monday, September 16 -- We drove straight south on I-5 through Portland and on down to Eugene.  We passed through Wilsonville and saw the Xerox west coast site which is right along I-5.  This is the company that was Tektronics.  This is where Xerox's only remaining desktop printers are designed.  In Eugene we stopped at a home depot for a few things and then headed west on route 126 through the hills and down to the coast in Florence.  This area has the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area.  We found a really nice little campground on a fresh water lake only 2 miles from the beach.

We woke up to rain and at first thought maybe we should just stay put but we decided to move to the coast.  We found a  $10 campground from Passport America and Tom thought I was crazy to even considering staying here.  We got the "last" spot and it was in a soggy grass area, last in the line of a string of homes.  Since it was raining we decided to stay for one day anyway but then asked if a better spot would be opening up.  We could move the next day to a very nice spot with a view of Lake Woahink.  We drove around the area.  We are across the street from Oregon Dunes NRA. 

Tuesday, September 17-- This was our first totally rainy day.  (Although it did stop for 30 minutes now and then)  I built a round, 24" diameter table top on top of the tilted up steering wheel.  We draped a round, fruit print, table cloth over it which hangs down 20".  On top we have some plants, picture frame and a knick-knack or two.  It hides the steering wheel and dash and makes it look more homey.  We saw "The Shipping News" on pay per view.

After having rained all night Tom wiped off the slide outs and we moved to our new spot.  It is great and we decided to stay for a week.  Pepper and I walked down to the lake and she jumped off the dock for a stick.  It was still raining off and on so we did some much needed cleaning and projects. 

Wednesday, September 18 --This was a great Oregon coast day.  We enjoyed it.  The lake is quite big and has very tall pine trees all around it with some homes and cottages mixed in.  The ocean is easy to get to and the sand dunes that cover the space between here and the water are beautiful.  The beach is wide and empty, but the water is like ice.

We awoke to sunshine and blue sky.  We inflated the kayak and went out on the lake.  We went over to the beach area with Pepper and walked over the dune and then along the beach.  Pepper ran free.  At our campground we watched a man walk a very tiny dog and a cat by our site and on down the road.  I got Louie to the window so she could see the possibility.  Later on another man walked his cat by!  Maybe Oregon cats are more doglike and leash walking is normal but we think Louie should try it.

Thursday, September 19 -- We spent quite a long time on the beach today.  It was beautiful.  After all the mountains this summer it is wonderful to be at the ocean and beach.  Not much else going on today.

Although there is a leash law for dogs on the beach, with no one around and miles of open beach we let Pepper free.  She remembered ocean water tastes bad and tired herself out running.  Watched the first Survivor!

Friday, September 20 -- Went to the beach fairly early today at around 10 AM, however, the wind and the cold drove us out after about an hour.  The best time for the beach here in Oregon at this time of year must be in mid-afternoon.  By noon the sun is shining full on the beach.  The only problem is that the wind tends to increase during the afternoon.  Later today we tried to see a movie at the local one-screen theater but the Greek Wedding had been replaced as of today by The Banger Sisters.  We skipped it.  We made Thai food for dinner.

We are amazed at the grass on the dunes and how it looks like a sea of waves itself.  we watched some sea lions at the end of the dunes area and Tom drove to the beach with the jeep but we have to wait until Sept 30th for cars to be allowed on the beach.   Tom started to drive up a sand dune but thought maybe it was a bad idea.   We watched an ATV on a sand dune.


Saturday, September 21 -- Spent much of the day working on a couple of projects, including a retainer for all the glasses in the dish cupboard.  It was relaxing.  Went to the beach for a while late in the afternoon.  Not much wind today.  Since the rain stopped last Tuesday, we have had nothing but perfectly blue skies.  Updated the web site using the modem telephone line available at this campground.  We can access the internet via our cell phone here to do email and even upload html pages to the web site, but when it comes to uploading photos to the web site we need a land line phone.  We cooked steak and lobster tails for dinner.  It was the best.

Spent some time using the washer/dryer.  We have found this works well but it takes time.  Our "little" home has everything we could want and everything works fairly well.  Much easier to live in this motor home than the rental we had for our 6 week journey.

Sunday, September 22 -- This morning we hit the lake in the kayak at 9 AM and paddled north for 45 minutes.  The lake is quite large and beautiful with tall pines all along the shore.  There are scattered homes or weekend cottages, many with exquisite docks, boat houses and landscaping.  Pretty upscale.  We got back at 10:30 AM just in time to start watching football and the final round of the PGA golf tournament in Ireland.  The Bills did not play until later (1 PM).  After the games we just relaxed outside.  Today was a great day weatherwise.

Nice Sunday with kayaking, nice weather, football, phone calls, good food.   Doesn't get better than that.

Monday, September 23 -- Went over to the beach but it was very windy.   We walked on the beach. Took some pictures.  Drove north up the coast to the Sea Lion Cave.  We weren't sure if we should go in when we heard there were only 3 sea lions in the cave!  It was neat though.  The coast is beautiful.

Tuesday, September 24 -- We decided to go see if the cinema downtown had My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  It did.  We thought it was great.  We thought about the last year's wedding and I think we are the toast family.  See the movie if you don't understand.

Wednesday, September 25 -- Today was a moving day and the drive down the Oregon coast was beautiful.  We had a campground in mind in Brookings but when we arrived we were not pleased so we decided to go further which put us in California!    We started driving into every campground after the state line.  We ended up in one with a water view and are hoping no one else pulls in beside us.  Basically we wanted TV for the big golf event, the Ryder Cup and then Sunday NFL ticket.  I called in my personal hair colorist, Thomas to highlight my hair.    He is very good and works for just a few glasses of wine!

Thursday, September 26 -- We spent most of the day seeing the northern portions of the Redwood National Park.  We drove through forests and took some hikes.  The redwoods and the national park are spread out over more than 100 miles along the coast.  We did the top 50 miles ending up putting over 130 miles on the car.  The weather was quite foggy all day right along the beach.  The frequent fog along this coast allows the redwoods to flourish.  Got a pizza for dinner (first one since June).

Friday, September 27 -- Well today and this weekend is going to sound boring or sedentary.  It's Ryder Cup weekend and it's been three years since the last matches.  I watched TV starting at 5 AM and until 3 PM !!  After that we went 15 miles to Crescent City and explored a major grove of redwood trees.  We went 6 miles deep into a forest.  These redwood forests are REAL FORESTS.  These trees grow to 370 feet tall and typically 22 feet in diameter.  They live to 2000 years old.  We took some neat photos that will be put into an album.  The weather was mostly sunny today but windy.  I think it was sunny because it was windy.

Stout Grove was listed as one of the top 10 hikes in California.  We had hiked through Muir Woods and wondered if it could be better.  The road to the grove was like driving a hiking trail through the forest.  The trees were indescribable.

Saturday, September 28 -- Today was another foggy day along the ocean front.  Up at 5 AM again and in front of the TV until 3 PM.  After that we took a hike out a trail along the waterfront.  Rested and got to bed early because tomorrow the Ryder Cup starts at 4 AM !!

I thought maybe Louie could walk with us.  Louie is not a long distance hiker!

Sunday, September 29 --

After ending the golf watching marathon, we watched another nail biter of a Bills game.  Another over time.  We decided to find the beach and packed up Pepper and went to Kellogg Beach.  Pepper had a great run and we came home with a collection of stones! We  watched the sunset into the Pacific Ocean.  We started out the summer watching the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean in Maine and now we were watching it set in California.

Monday, September 30 --

Time to move again.  I picked out a campground from our big book .  We had another clear day and saw some of the Pacific vistas which had been fogged in on Friday.  The campground, Sounds of the Sea, which I had thought meant surf noises was across the road from the ocean and the sea sounds were those of sea lions.  We do have an ocean view but it is a little cool outside.  We drove to see Trinidad, Clam Beach and Eureka.  At Clam Beach we drove the Jeep on the beach.  It could be difficult calling AAA if you got stuck in the sand.  We saw all the Victorian houses in Eureka.  Very neat.