Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 64: Toronto ON to Newport VT

Friday, June 19
Toronto ON to Newport VT
Odometer begin: 118,822
Miles traveled: 451
Wx: overcast, foggy, rain, high 60s F
States traveled: ON, VT

The last long stretch today. We landed at my Mom’s house at 4:30 pm.

Some final numbers

Totaled Miles traveled with Subie: 11,473

Gallons of gasoline purchased: 381.8 (30 MPG)
Most expensive gas: $4.11 Ontario
Least expensive gas: $1.89 Virginia

Unusual (for us) Animals sighted: Pika, Elk, blonde and brown Black Bears, Grizzly, Alligator, Prong Horn, Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Mule Deer, Black Tailed Deer, Marmot, Bison, Armadillo, Golden Eagle, California Condor, other birds not identified and various lizards.

States and Provinces traveled: NH, VT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, WV, VA, TN, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, TX, NM, AZ, UT, NV, CA, OR, WA, BC, ID, MT, WY, SD, MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, ON, QB

Thank Yous: To our families for supporting our decision to go on this journey
Joan and Fran and Kim for watching Apollo (and Sue and Lori for offering to watch him). Rick and Jay for the Vegas advice. Mary for the America The Beautiful Pass. Jen, Corey, Laurie, Sid, Sue, John, Scott, Karen, Pat, Melissa, Sam B, Leslie, Matt, Sam M, Christy, Stephen, Kim, Dave, Moriah and Patric for putting us up for a night or two so we didn’t have to sleep on the ground the whole time! Thank you to all who offered advice on where to go and what to see and do. And for all followers and commenters on the blog, thanks for making it fun to write.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 63: Toronto ON

Thursday, June 18
Toronto ON
Other: We could finally see the whole CN Tower at 5:oo pm when the clouds rose.
Wx: overcast, foggy, rain, high 60s F
States traveled: ON

We walked around the Toronto today, checking out what the city had to offer. If you want to see art or history in this town, it appears that you have to be willing to part with quite a few Yul Brynners. We did catch The Second City: Chicago, Toronto, traveling to your town, you’ve got to see these guys. The Toronto show currently running is 0% Down, 100% Screwed, it was great!
As today is our last real day of the trip, tomorrow we are back into familiar territory and staying with my Mom for a few days, we came up with the following,

You know when you’ve been on the road when:

Someone walks into your locked room at 2:30 in the morning, you say “ah” and you can go back to sleep, waking up in the morning and you either think it was a dream or you don’t really care. With only a 10th of a millimeter of nylon between you and the worst animals in the US and Canada for the past two months, one drunk Canadian doesn’t seem such a threat, eh?

Housekeeping stops by your room while you are taking a nap but you tell them they can come in anyway. Did I mention that Brian sleeps and naps in the nude?

When you take four showers a day just for the hot water…

Ramen, black beans and cheese sticks is a balanced meal, with all two color groups.

You’ll turn over your pepper spray but not your blackened banana to customs. You may never know when that extra potassium may come in handy.

You spray your T-shirt with Fabreeze, let it flap around in the wind in the back of your car for a while before you wear it for the 10th day, just so that it is clean again.

Day 62: Kalamazoo MI to Toronto ON

Wednesday, June 17
Kalamazoo MI to Toronto ON
Odometer Begin: 118,439
Miles traveled: 443
Time spent traveling: 7.5 hours
Other: 1 hour in Toronto traffic…fun.
Wx: overcast, foggy, rain, high 60s F
States traveled: MI, ON

We made the trek today with 2 stops for espresso, (chai and then a latte for me). It was all highway travel in heavy rain at times. We crossed the border at Port Huron. There is a seven lane customs there! Quite impressive and a lot of cars. Our border agent was very friendly and asked us for the umpteenth time how we can afford to travel for two months. He actually asked if we were independently wealthy.
I can’t believe how many people ask this question. If I met people who were traveling (before this trip), I would have thought it, but never asked! I’m not offended just surprised. We explained that Brian telecommutes and that we live frugally. Camping and making all our meals really cuts down on the cost of things. We are not fussy so that helps.
We are in Toronto for two nights, cities always cost more, but we are staying at a hostel, (the Clarence Castle) again private rooms cost more but MUCH less than a hotel. So we’ll probably see a show while we are here and get some dinner out but you budget for those city side trips.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Days 60 &61: Madison WI to Kalamazoo MI

Monday, June 15
Lakefield MN to Madison WI
Odometer Begin: 117,735
Miles traveled: 404
Time spent traveling: 6.5 hours
Other: We went and saw Wolverine finally!
Wx: mostly sunny, high 70s F
States traveled: MN, WI

Not a lot happening these days. Just driving, it is kind of boring. You know those days where you have no plans and there is not much to do so you just lay on the couch and you would be eating Ben & Jerry’s but you just can’t move yourself from the couch to the freezer? It is kind of like that. We are on interstates now and driving through miles of farm country.

Tuesday, June 16

Madison WI to Kalamazoo MI
Odometer Begin: 118, 139
Miles traveled: 300
Time spent traveling: 5 hours
Other: Paid in tolls; $5.85
Wx: cloudy, high 70s F
States traveled: WI, IL, IN, MI

We are truly back in the east. The tolls have started up again and we are back in the Eastern time zone. Also for no apparent reason Garmina took us off I-90 into a eastern Chicago neighborhood for some sight seeing, it was great… We are ending the day’s travels in Kalamazoo (say that 3 times fast).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 59: Badlands National Park SD to Lakefield MN

Sunday, June 14
Badlands National Park SD to Lakefield MN
Odometer Begin: 117,355
Miles traveled: 380
Time spent traveling: 6 hours
Other: There is a Chamberlain MN!
Wx: mostly cloudy , rain then sun high 70s F
States traveled: SD, MN

We continue east; crossing into the Central time zone and Minnesota. We chose Kilen Woods State Park for the place to set up camp for the night. I got in a quick trail run before dinner which felt great to stretch the legs. One thing I remember about the last time I was in MN is that it is BUGGY! It didn’t disappoint my expectations. Dinner was linguini and Italian sausage, which will also be lunch tomorrow!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 58: Riverton WY to Badlands National Park SD

Saturday, June 13
Riverton WY to Badlands National Park
Odometer Begin: 116, 880
Miles traveled: 475
Time spent traveling: 8.5 hours
Other: Cost of entry to Mt. Rushmore we didn’t pay: $10. You can get the same view from outside of the park.
Wx: mostly sunny high 70 F, thunder storms at night
States traveled: WY, SD

We drove across the plains today past Mount Rushmore, ending out drive at Badlands National Park. Badlands is a very unique area of small canyons and sharp rock peaks. We camped at Cedar Pass Campground. Our friend Dave had told us about Sage Creek area to camp in and I was really looking forward to that but it turns out they close the road after heavy rain storms and June is the rainiest month here.

S Dakota

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 57: Yellowstone NP to Riverton WY

Friday, June 12
Yellowstone National Park WY to Riverton WY
Odometer Begin: 116, 633
Miles traveled: 247
Time spent traveling: 7 hours
Other: Full dinner for 2 at Taco Bell: $4.76
Wx: mostly cloudy high 60 F, showers
States traveled: WY

We left Yellowstone this morning and drove through the northern part of Grand Teton National Park.
From Grand Teton and WY
We crossed the continental divide a few times and find ourselves on the Atlantic side for the remainder of the trip. As we make the push east our thoughts begin to go ahead of us and start thinking of our next step. We have really enjoyed this trip so far and want to be fully in the trip until the end, since this is a once in a life time opportunity.
From Grand Teton and WY

Day 56: Yellowstone National Park

Thursday, June 11
Yellowstone National Park WY
Odometer Begin: 116, 505
Miles traveled: 128
Time spent traveling: 6 hours
Other: Old Faithful geyser ruptures every 90 minutes +/-
Wx: mostly cloudy high 50s F.
States traveled: WY

So, no snow last night but it was cold. We started out the day at Mammoth Hot Springs Lower Terrace. It is a terraced area of white, yellow and orange, plus steam. We decided that we would drive the interior loop of Yellowstone. We checked out the falls, they were cool, but we have seen falls before. The yellow walls of Yellowstone canyon were beautiful. We headed by the lake next which is enormous and then through a wildlife corridor where we saw LOTS of Bison.

We ended up at Upper Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful is at around 12:45. Old Faithful erupts every 90 minutes and the next eruption was at 1:15 ish. We with at least 3,000 others waited for the show. Click on photo below to watch short movie.
From Yellowstone
It was cool but the real show is from Grand Geyser, which is less predictable. They estimated that today it would erupt between 9:30 AM and 1:30 pm. We got there at around 1:45 pm and it started as soon as we walked up, no joke. How is that for timing? Grand geyser is the biggest in the park and last for 7-20 minutes. There must have been at least 100,000 gallons of water coming out of it!

Tonight we camp at Norris Campground which is much better and there is even a Ranger Talk on the history of Yellowstone we may check out.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 55: Glacier NP MT to Yellowstone NP WY

Wednesday, June 10
Glacier National Park MT to Yellowstone National Park, WY
Odometer Begin: 116, 079
Miles traveled: 426
Time spent traveling: 8 hours
Other: Percentage of chance of snow forecasted for tonight: 30%
Wx: mostly sunny 40s to 60s F.
States traveled: MT, WY

We stayed dry for the most part with just the feet of our sleeping bags getting wet from touching the tent. In the morning there was a nice coating of ice over everything! We also had a couple visitors to the campsite, a male roughed grouse that was doing his wing beating thing, not minding at all our presence and Frank, our white tail deer mascot who grazed on the outskirts of the site. We did see a herd of Big Horn Sheep with binoculars on the hillside above the campground and a moose on the drive out. We also saw a Pronghorn (antelope) and Elk. A good day to see wildlife.

We drove through prairie land of Montana between the two parks. Unfortunately, a truck hauling gravel threw a stone at the windshield and what started out as a tiny gouge grew to a pretty good crack in about an hour! We’ll probably have to get that fixed too!
From Yellowstone

Upon entering the park at the North entrance we stopped at Mammoth Campground. Brian thinks I always should be positive in the blog but I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning so, it is the worst campground I have seen in a National Park or Forest! He took the picture of the site at an angle so it looks better.
From Yellowstone
We had Santa Fe Chipotle Soup for dinner and then went for a small trek up the hills around the campground. We didn’t see many animals (just a small herd of Elk with 5 calves in tow who were super cute) but we did see a lot of poop!

Day 54: Glacier National Park MT

Tuesday, June 9
Glacier National Park MT
Odometer Begin: 115,945
Miles traveled: 134
Time spent traveling: 3.5 hours
Other: First rain on tent in 50 days!
Wx: mostly cloudy, rain, sleet, haiil, low 40s F
States traveled: MT

We packed up our things after a warm breakfast of a ham, black beans and egg scramble. Since the Going to the Sun road is not open yet, we had to drive around the southern border of the park on Highways, 2, 49 and 89. It is a very pretty drive so we didn’t mind much. The east side of Glacier is quieter which suits us and it also way more breathtakingly beautiful. The Mountains are sharp and jagged and just amazing! We got to the Many Glacier campground around 12:30, found our site and set up the tent. Rain was coming so we put the tarp up over the table. We’d decided to hike into Grinnell Glacier and see if we could spot any Big Horn Sheep or Mountain Goats. The hike is definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It follows a valley by several lakes and then climbs up to look over Grinnell Lake. We are not exactly sure where the glacier was among the snow or if it is still there because a sign at the trail head said it was decreasing rapidly in size. We did see Mountain Goats off in the distance that we could look at with binoculars. We did not see and grizzly or black bears but I guess they were active in that part of the park during the day.

When we got back to camp we were getting dinner ready when it started to rain. Because of the rain we ended up getting in the tent around 6:30 and reading books. We had met a couple of English blokes (father and son) who were actually from NH and had an RV. They came over to check on us in the rain and invited us over to warm up in their heated RV. We went over for a while, and had ginger snaps and chocolate chip cookies…I was happy. The rain continued through the night but we could see that we were just below the snow line, I think snow may have been better because the tarp sprung a leak but we were staying mostly dry.

There are a lot of photos here but they are pretty stunning if I do say so myself...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday, June 8
Troy MT to Glacier National Park MT
Odometer Begin: 115,784
Miles traveled: 161
Time spent traveling: 4.5 hours
Other: We saw 1 common loon in the lake
Wx: cloudy & misty high 60s F then sunny high 60s F
States traveled: MT

Off to Glacier National Park today. We weren’t sure how much of the Going To The Sun road was going to be open yet, so we got to the park and went straight to the Visitor Center. The ranger was very helpful, he suggested a few campgrounds and hikes. We could only get to Avalanche area of the road so we chose a campsite at Sprague Creek campground, set up our tent at a sweet site on the edge of McDonald Lake and drove up the remaining 12 miles of the road that we open. There we parked and decided to hike the 2 miles out to Avalanche Lake. Us and everyone else. Parks being what they are always crowded but since this was the end of the road, it seemed like everyone had the same idea. The lake is amazing! The steep snowcapped mountains jut right out of the lake. We headed back to the car and had a yummy dinner of black bean quesadillas, I had been thinking about them ALL day!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 52: Rossland BC to Troy MT

Sunday, June 7
Rossland BC to Troy MT
Odometer Begin: 115,647
Miles traveled: 137
Time spent traveling: 4 hours
Other: Minutes spent at the US border: 5, the fastest re-entry ever!
Wx: cloudy high 60s F then sunny high 60s F
States traveled: BC, ID, MT

Today we were going to go to Banff National Park and then head out back to the US tomorrow. But fate had other plans so we turned toward the US border in Idaho instead. Another gorgeous drive. We spent the night at Yaak River Campground in the Kootenai National Forest, which is a beautiful spot which we had practically to ourselves. Unfortunately, while sorted photos I realized we didn’t take any of British Columbia. Trust me, it is breathtaking.


Day 51: Deception Pass WA to Rossland BC

Saturday, June 6
Deception Pass WA to Rossland BC
Odometer Begin: 115,245
Miles traveled: 402
Time spent traveling: 8 hours
Other: Minutes spent at the Canadian border: 20
Wx: cloudy high 60s F then sunny high 70s F
States traveled: WA, BC

We were heading to British Columbia toady but couldn’t decide which route to take. Our choices were enter Canada in Washington or drive through the Northern Cascades and then crossing up. We flipped a coin and the coin said to spend more time driving in BC. We changed our minds and chose driving through northern Washington. The Cascade mountains are incredible! Today also marked the first change in weather that we had had in about 40 days. We wore pants all day and didn’t have sun until later in the day. We reached Rossland around 6:30 and met up with our friends Patric and Moriah for dinner.
N Washington

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 50!!: Upper Hoh Rd to Deception Pass WA

Friday, June 5
Upper Hoh Rd (south of Forks WA) to Deception Pass WA
Odometer Begin: 115,060
Miles traveled: 185
Time spent traveling: 8 hours
Other: Number of times we saw the word “Twilight” on main street in Forks; 5
Wx: sunny low 80s F
States traveled: WA

We got up and out today, leaving the rainforest of Olympic for the mountains. On the way to Hurricane Ridge we drove through Forks. If you don’t keep up with female teenage culture, you may not know why Forks and Twilight go hand in hand. If you really want to know, click here. Forks is a small town but reminded me of home in that if seem to emerge out of the timber industry and it is simple. Although,… there is at least 3 espresso stands in town.

It was cloudy and cool in Forks but as soon as we turned inland and east the clouds gave away to warm sunshine. Next on route 101 was Crescent Lake, which is absolutely gorgeous. The lake is large and clear and the mountains start right at it’s shores.

We took the drive up to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park and the views did not disappoint. We saw alpine meadows in bloom, snowcapped mountains and Black Tailed Deer. We had a 2:15 ferry reservation in Port Townsend, which is like an upscale Eastport ME with a paper mill on the outskirts of town…smelled faintly familiar. On the 35 minute ferry ride we saw many water fowl and even a seal! We ended today at Deception Pass State Park, with another great campsite and chicken fajitas for dinner.

We are off to British Columbia tomorrow and therefore will only post text messages from Brian’s phone to the blog. We will post photos when we reach the US again.
OP to mainland

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 49: Quinault WA to Upper Hoh Rd

Thursday, June 4
Quinault WA to Upper Hoh Rd
Odometer Begin: 114,968
Miles traveled: 92
Time spent traveling: 2 hours
Other: Miles run this morning: 4
Wx: sunny low 90s F
States traveled: WA

We had a leisurely morning with today being a short travel day. We got up and ran the Quinault Rain Forest Loop. We then had eggs, using the last of our fuel and packed up. Along the drive up 101 we stopped a couple times looking for more fuel with no luck.
The Olympic National Park has three ecosystems. The ocean, the rainforest and mountains. We stopped by the ocean first were it was probably in the 60s. We then took Upper Hoh Road to the Hoh entrance of the park to the Hoh Rainforest. We found fuel (yay!) at Peaks Adventure and dinner was saved. The rainforest was cool. We started out on a small hike that was similar to this morning but a female Elk, (do they call them cows?) put an end to that one. Elks are giving birth right now and we were told by Rangers and signage to give the Elks room, as they are aggressive this time of year. So we turned around and hiked the short Hall Of Mosses trail instead, which I have to say, I thought was a cooler trail. It took us through old growth rainforest. It was not totally what I was expecting given the weather is hot and dry but it was lush and green and cool…er.
We found a free campsite managed by the state of Washington by the Willoughby Creek, which runs quite swiftly and is glacial runoff so we are not going in it.
Olympic NP

Day 48: Shelton WA to Quinault WA

Wednesday, June 3
Shelton WA to Quinault WA
Odometer Begin: 114,873
Miles traveled: 95
Time spent traveling: 2 hours
Other: Cost for a new clutch and part of the exhaust: $1040...damn
Wx: sunny low 90s F, which isn’t supposed to happen in the Olympic Pen!
States traveled: WA

So no movie last night, because it was either Up, which is Pixar so it could have been good, or Night At The Museum 2 (or whatever). We watched House MD reruns instead. But yesterday did give me a chance to catch up on the Fug Girls and to take off the month and ½ old red nail polish on my toes.
Today we dropped Subie off to get a the new clutch and were told it was going to be about 6 (!) hours. Robin, the office manager for Transmission Plus drove us back to the hotel were we were graciously given the check out time of 11:30 as opposed to 11:00 which everyone else had to adhere to. We watch some POINTLESS television…although the History Channels show about ancient alien astronauts was entertaining. We then checked out and walked toward downtown to Suzan’s Grill for lunch.
After that we strolled over to a shady area by the Taco Bell and across the street from the Wal-Mart…scenic. Upon checking in with the guys over at the Transmission Plus and finding out Subie needed a new part of the exhaust too, we decided to “hike” around Wal-Mart. We ended up buying books to read. We walked the mile and ½ back to Subie only to find no shade so we ended up walking a little further and sitting on the shady side of a vacant building on the corner of two major roads…lovely. The car was ready at 5 so we picked her up, transferred our savings to a silver “account” with four wheels and headed around to Olympic National Forest where we scored the best campsite so far at Willaby campground. A swim was in store, and then off to read our new book purchases.
S Olympic Pen

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 47: Puyallup WA to- Subie is in the infirmary

Tuesday, June 2
miles travelled: 63
Other:Mileage when transmission gave up the ghost: 114, 865

Well Subie, who has been crankin' along through all we asked of her, gave out on us today. We made it out to US 101 and Port Angeles was on the horizon when the clutch started to slip. The final straw was going out to pass a car and she just didn't want to stay in fifth. We selected the Auto Services option on Garmina and she lead us to Transmission Plus. They have to order a clutch kit for the ol' girl and will not be able to work on it until tomorrow. So, we find ourselves in Shelton, WA. We are going to see what the local movie theater has to offer...we'll keep you posted.

Day 46: Portland OR to Puyallup WA

Monday, June 1
Portland OR to Puyallup WA
Odometer Begin: 114,566
Miles traveled: 243
Time spent traveling: 5 hours
Other: Date of Mt. St. Helens eruption: May 18, 1980
Wx: sunny low 80s F.
States traveled: OR, WA

We had a small crisis this morning while leaving Portland. Garmina wasn’t making sense! The directions she was giving us were crazy out of the way and she kept “recalculating” while we were on interstate 5 without giving us any directions. What were we going to do? Were we going to have to READ a map and come up with our own directions? How would we know what time we would arrive? What would happen if we missed a turn? Were we going to have to start paying attention to road signs?!! It was a sad moment, but then we remembered that we had set the system to Pedestrian yesterday, so she was giving us walking directions, of course I-5 didn’t exist in that universe. We reset the system to Automobile and peace and calm was restored.
We visited the northwest side of Mt St Helens today, which was pretty crazy to see and read the incredible stories of the survivors and witnesses. Then it was up to Puyallup to see Kim and Dave, who just moved out from Gorham. Tomorrow it is off to Olympic National Park.
Mt St Helens

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 45: Portland OR

Sunday, May 31
Portland OR
Wx: sunny low 80s F.
States traveled: OR

Today we checked out the area of the city that we are staying in. We had dined street side for lunch, browsed the Saturday Market and then caught a session at Kells Irish Pub for dinner.