NJ and NYC: September 2019

Our first stop in New Jersey was to visit my sister, Terry, and her husband, Gary. They found the BEST parking garage for our trailer for a few weeks that we couldn’t refuse. We also enjoyed a fabulous dinner at a famous farm-to-table restaurant in Hackettstown called James On Main.

Since I hadn’t been to the Jersey Shore since the summer of 2017, we decided to stop in LBI for a few days before heading to Bergen County. I REALLY missed my beach.

As you can see, the beach was not very crowded. We were content with the peacefulness of the day.

Look Mom! My handstand!
Celebrating our friends’ anniversary and friendship!
Saying goodbye to my baby girl. Have a safe ride home!

After the beach, we headed to Oradell for a few weeks. We enjoyed a delicious dinner with my nephew, Steve, and his wife, Malou, at The Stony Hill in Hackensack.

On Friday, September 20, 2019, Danielle was a bridesmaid in her friend’s wedding. It was a beautiful day, and we were so happy to have made it back into town to celebrate with them.

My old buddy Don from my Lipton days!!
Phil and the “Girls”

And then there was my “SURPRISE” 60th Birthday Party on 9/22/19. It was an amazing day that I will always remember. My husband pulled it off and I am so very thankful for the gift of seeing almost all of the people who mean the most to me together in one room, at one time.

On my birthday, September 24, we took the ferry from Weehawken to New York City. It was a spectacular day.

My sister, Rose, surprised me by showing up for my party. Today, she was flying back to Florida, but not before we spent a little time together walking south on the High Line.

Sweet Lavender!

Rose took off for the airport, and Scott and I made our way to Central Park. Although I have been in Central Park before, I never walked through it like a tourist. They still have the horse-drawn-carraige rides. Last I knew, they were banned from the the park.

The Lake
View northeast from atop Belvedere Castle
View of Delacroix Theater
Shakespeare Garden
Shakespeare Garden
Looking out on the Great Lawn

That evening, we saw a Broadway show. It was a wonderful birthday!

The following weekend, we took the ferry into Manhattan (again), but this time with my in-laws. It was a beautiful but windy day.

Dani found a great restaurant for lunch. Afterwards, they got a tour of her new apartment on the upper east side. Below is a picture of the entranceway.

As if one Broadway Show wasn’t enough, my daughter called me on Tuesday morning as she had scored lottery tickets for Mean Girls. I found myself back on the Weehawken ferry. This was a “bonus” last visit with my girl.

Time to say goodbye to New Jersey and head northeast.

Back to New Jersey: 9/4 – 9/10/19

It was time to head back to New Jersey. Part of our trip east would mirror our initial trip west back in June of 2018. We made an overnight stop in Rapid City, SD, so that we could change our address. It is common for full-timers who live on the road to pick up residency in South Dakota. Why pay state taxes when you are not living in the state and reaping the benefits?

It is a thriving business that was begun by full-timers, and it is an economical way to have a mailing address. America’s Mailbox offer various types of plans to suit your individual needs. While Scott handled the paperwork, I went in to town to be a tourist. Historic Downtown in Rapid City features a series of life-size bronze statues of our nation’s past presidents. Can you guess who this old fellow is?

I would have enjoyed seeing all of the statues, but I ran out of time.

Our next overnight stop was in Minnesota at the Rochester/Marion KOA. It was the Ladies US Open Final, so we found Wildwood Sports Bar & Grill to watch the match. I cannot believe that the 19-year old Canadian girl beat Serena. it was a great match.

The next day we continued east on 90 and then on 90/84 as it dipped southeast. At 12 noon, we stopped at Monk’s Bar & Grill in Wisconsin Dells to watch the JETS home-opener again Buffalo. The JETS were winning for the first three quarters with the score 16-3 most of the game. In the fourth quarter, Buffalo woke up and we fell asleep. Final score 16-17. After three ours of sitting in the bar, there was no way we could hang out another three to five hours for a tennis match. It was hard to choose between the football game or Nadal in the men’s US Open Final. Boy, did I make the wrong choice. They did, however, serve yummy food.

We left the bar and drove to Starved Rock State Park near Marseilles, IL, for the night. In the morning, we got as far as Genoa, Ohio, and spent the night in the Service Plaza. One more state to go before we are back in New Jersey again.

Our last stop was at Bald Eagle State Park, PA, which was coincidentally our first stop back on May 31, 2018. We will be in New Jersey soon.

Big Horn Mountains, WY – 9/1 – 9/4/19

We left the Grand Tetons and headed east towards Bighorn National Forest. We stopped in Shell Falls Interpretive Site and learned a little bit about how waterfalls form.

We experienced Shells Falls, a steep ledge that form falls when a river flows over it.

That evening, we stopped at Shell Creek Campground for the night.

The creek was about 50 feet from our trailer. The water was cold but crystal clear.

We hung out on our hammocks enjoying the sounds of nature.

The next morning, we packed up and headed towards Devil’s Tower National Monument, an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills. Our plan was to go to this National Monument for a few hours and then continue on to South Dakota. Sometimes the best laid plans need to be reworked.

We stopped here to fuel up, and this was where our plans went awry.

Service Station in Moorcroft, WY

Scott started to put “fuel” in our Diesel truck, and then went to clean the windshield. It wasn’t long before he realized that it was NOT a green pump going into the gas tank. It was black and full of gasoline. The car was still running with the A/C on as it was in the mid-90’s. With it still running, he was able to back the trailer off to the side of the large parking lot and then turn it off. Then, we called AAA.

We weren’t the only ones leaving a vehicle behind.

The parking lot for our trailer for the next two nights.

It was Labor Day, and we were lucky to be able to get a tow from AAA. The truck was towed from Moorcroft to Gillette, about a 30 minute drive away. Scott went with the Tow Company and I found myself in a small motel a few blocks away, enjoying the a/c and TV. We were told that the truck my not be serviced on Tuesday, but perhaps on Wednesday. So, instead of going to Devil’s Tower, we spent the next two days hanging out in Moorcroft, WY enjoying inexpensive local food and ridiculous desserts.

Local’s hangout with good food but too smoky.
Local resident left free vegetables on the bench for the taking.
This is the “small” ice-cream for $1.99.

If we didn’t experience this mishap, we would never have seen the cute little town. Devil’s Tower will have to wait.

Gros Ventre Campground, Grand Tetons, WY: 8/30 – 9/1/19

We are happy to be back in the Grand Tetons! It is one of our favorite places to hike. We boon-docked here last August, and this time we are dry camping in Gros Ventre Campground, which is located right near the Gros Ventre River.

We got there around 6:00 p.m. After we set up, we took a walk down the path to the river just before sunset. We were pleasantly surprised by the first moose cow we came upon.

It wasn’t long before we saw another moose cow and two bulls across the river. I got a little nervous and wanted to head back to camp.

The next morning we got up early to begin an 11-mile hike to Surprise Lake. One of our first views on this beautiful morning was the Grand Tetons.

This was an impressive and challenging hike with an elevation gain of 3,143’. It was also the first hike that I encountered not one, not two, but four bears!!! Scott may be comfortable with the possibility of seeing bears on a hike, but I am still working on dealing with my adrenaline rush coupled with heavy breathing. We began our initial ascent on Lupine Meadow Trail.

One of the first signs we saw warned us of it being bear country, even though we already knew that. Last year we encountered one moose but no bears.

I was ready to go. I even wore my distance glasses so that I could spot wildlife more easily.

On our initial ascent, we encountered the first bear not six feet off the trail. I was in the lead and Scott said, “Sue. Stop. Bear.” I walked right past it without even seeing it. I quietly made my way behind Scott while he snapped this photo. I had my hand on the bear spray can as my breathing accelerated. Scott was in his glory.

You mind your business, and we will mind ours.

Not too much farther up on the trail, we encountered our second bear. This time, I spotted a young cub. Again, my heart began to race as I made my way behind Scott. He instructed me to grab the bear spray as he snapped away. I couldn’t even think about taking out my phone to take a picture.

At this point, I was concerned about going up any farther. We were close to Surprise Lake, so I shook off my fears and we continued up. We finally made it to the first of two lakes. It was quite peaceful and beautiful.

We continued up for about a half a mile until we reached Amphitheater Lake, Elevation 9,698’.

We continued walking up beyond the lake and found some amazing views.

Soon, we began our descent. As we approached Surprise Lake again, I wanted to stop and sit for awhile. As we got closer to the water, I heard something making noise in the bushes not far from us. Scott was oblivious to the sound. I told him to stop and listen. All of a sudden, we could see the bushes by a tree moving. I saw dark black fur on top of the greenery. Scott turned towards me for a split second and missed the BIG BLACK BEAR that peered at me from behind the tree. It was a BIG bear! My heart started beating rapidly, but Scott didn’t see the bear and was not alarmed. I think that he knew by my actions that there had to have been a bear by the tree. Instead of hanging out by “Surprise” Lake, we headed down the trail. Scott was in the lead trying to talk me into calming down, to no avail. We had picked up our speed, and all of a sudden, I tripped and went flying into the air. I landed on my right forearm and I screamed for him to pick me back up. I was shaking with fear, expecting the big, black bear to catch us.

Eventually, I calmed down. It was the THIRD bear that we had seen on one hike. Soon after, we came to a switchback, where we saw about eight hikers waiting below us, calling to a bear. That is when we noticed it semi concealed by a tree.

The excitement was over and we continued making our way down the trail. I was very alert for furry wild animals lurking in the brush, but all we saw for the remainder of the hike was the beautiful landscape below us.

We survived. We are alive.

Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho: 8/29/19

In the morning, we packed up and continued driving south of Route 75, the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.

We stopped at a popular overlook and took a picture of where we had just been.

We drove for a few more hours through the open Idaho landscape filled with wheat fields and farmland.   All of a sudden, the common landscape completely changed before our eyes.  We had arrived on another planet! 

“In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge used the 1906 Antiquities Act to proclaim Craters of the Moon National Monument preserving, ‘a weird and scenic landscape, peculiar to itself’.”

All around us were rocky, dark grey globs of dried out lava from long ago.  The temperature was in the low 90’s when we parked at the Visitor’s Center.  We did our typical tour of the museum and asked a ranger to suggest which hike we should take since we were only passing through and didn’t have much time.  She suggested two:  Inferno Cone and Snow Cone.  

You can explore Craters of the Moon via a seven-mile loop road that provides access to trails that take you over, under, and around the various volcanic features.  Inferno and Snow Cones can both be reached via a short, steep 0.2 mile walk to see these miniature volcanoes.  Below is our view as we made our way up the path to the cones.

As we peered into the cones, we could see snow, lost hats and glasses, and our shadows.

Next, we drove a little further to Tree Molds Trail.  We parked and walked across the parking lot to begin a two mile hike to view the imprint of lava-charred trees.  

We made it about ten steps down the black, hot path before we both looked at each other and realized it was just way too hot to be doing this.  We got back into the air conditioned truck and headed back out of the park. Although this park seems barren, the park’s lava fields and arid sagebrush areas sustain a surprising diversity of plant and animal life.  Annual wildflower blooms peak in mid-June.  Below is a picture of an area that would be lavish with color during the previous season.

Late August
Wildflowers in June

We got back in the truck and continued heading east towards Idaho Falls.  In the distance, we saw what looked like homes built up on the hills.  

As we got closer, we realized that they were numbers sprayed or carved into rock that represented graduation years.  Odd. Before we knew it, we had arrived in Idaho Falls.

We stayed one night at Snake River Run RV Park in Idaho Falls. We would spend the time doing laundry, and I even took a short swim in their outdoor pool.

 In the morning, we are heading to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.  It will be our stop before we begin the long drive back east to New Jersey for a September wedding.  

Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho: 8/25 – 8/29/19

We left Lewiston, Idaho, and headed south/southeast.  We stopped at Cascade Lake State Park and was able to get a site at Sugarloaf Campground, located in the central eastern section of Idaho, for the night.  We wanted to break up the drive to the Sawtooth Mountains.

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908FCA47-63A4-4DE4-A086-5FB28BB91B73After we were settled, we took a short walk with our chairs and relaxed by the water’s edge.

CD77EB2B-D62F-4509-B12F-0A9DCF0D132E.jpegI put my toes in, as Scott braved the cooler temperatures of the lake.  If the air and the water temperatures were a little bit warmer, I would have gone for a swim.  It was already late in the day and the temperature was falling.

BB6C494B-92E8-4911-86C2-BEB11823ACFFThe camp host and his wife were very nice and chatty.  They told us that they volunteer for six weeks each year at various campgrounds.  They have free board, and they work Monday – Friday, with weekends off to enjoy the local attractions.  I have to say that I don’t really want to clean fire pits, campsites, and restrooms in exchange for free room and board.  I would, however, be willing work in one of the Visitor’s Centers at any of the National Parks.  I’d rather enjoy spending my time meeting and talking with people.

The following morning we headed east toward the Sawtooth Mountains.  The Sawtooth Range, a major attraction for hiking and camping, is nearly a 700-square mile section of central Idaho and contains hundreds of alpine lakes left by receding glaciers.  Some say that they are the most beautiful lakes in the country.  I will say that they are quite pristine, clear and clean.  From the highway, we could see the jagged edged mountain range in the distance.

EFBAC377-1233-4BE2-BDC8-1B1451EBCB94.jpeg“The Sawtooth Range is a mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in central Idaho reaching a maximum elevation of 10,751 feet at the summit of Thompson Peak. It encompasses an area of 678 square miles. There are 57 peaks with an elevation over 10,000 feet in the Sawtooth Range, all between 10,000 to 10,751 feet in elevation.  The Sawtooth Range and Wilderness are home to nearly 400 lakes created by receding alpine glaciers.”

We didn’t have a reservation.  We made our way to Redfish Lake, which featured several campgrounds located on the perimeter of the lake.  The sign for Sockeye Campground indicated that it was “Full”, but we have learned that sometimes there may be one or two campsites still available.  Luck was on our side, and we got a beautiful site for two nights.  Sockeye Campground is composed of 23 secluded campsites including 6 double-sites on the shore of Redfish Lake. (See map above)  All sites here are first-come, first-serve. The campground is situated in a Lodgepole pine forest, common near the ocean shore and in dry montane forests to the subalpine, but is rare in lowland rain forests.

D92CAC9D-A16C-4EFB-9C89-817DA015CBFDThe next morning, it was 35 degrees outside and 45 degrees inside at 8:00 a.m.  We bundled up and began an 11.5 mile, round-trip hike on Redfish Trail.

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A14B0A26-886D-4901-AF73-514E22F07C0CAbout a mile into the hike, the sun quickly warmed things up and we began to lose some layers.

D07BB6F8-D896-477B-9585-C55F3267AB33As we gained elevation, we could see the Sawtooth Mountain peaks (“saw teeth”) through the trees.

850a00e9-9e32-4eb2-9f7c-7012951e2615We had reached the end of the marked trail.  If you wanted to go further, you had to create your own path.  I am not particularly fond of “bushwhacking”, so we turned around to go back down.  Next thing I know, Scott was suddenly stung on his nose by either a bee or a wasp.  His nose began to swell and he could feel the stingers.  I didn’t see anything sticking out of his nose, however I didn’t have my reading glasses with me.

693EF83F-9FCF-4483-A76B-5B24BF6F3C6BHe told me that he had NEVER been stung before, a fact that made me a bit uneasy.  He had a first aide kit in his pack but it didn’t have any Benadryl, only an antiseptic wipe.  Luckily, Scott did not have any adverse reactions to the sting.  On the way out, we looked back at what we had hoped we would have climbed.  There is always a next time.

BE9D08F3-E4A5-46A7-B695-BC7ED08E1AA2The next day we decided to pack a lunch and go on a lake picnic.  We took one kayak and the paddle board and began our lake adventure. We took turns switching off between the water toys.  The water was a little chilly, but we did get wet.  Then, we found a private beach to dock our boats and set up our hammocks.  Just look at the clean, blue-green water and the majestic mountains in the distance.  It was exquisite.

390D342D-9C70-411F-83A1-0477CAC71F8F92B6098A-6B83-4C6B-B220-AA377FFD739475B66B4C-6910-46E3-8443-48072B82BA6E

8C59C38E-4028-4B40-96BD-7F5691715925The lake water was cold but refreshing.  I wasn’t able to stay in as long as Scott did.    It was time to cross the lake and make our way back to our campsite.  We made a fire on our last night at this campground.  Tomorrow we will continue our travels east.

Lewiston, Idaho: 8/17 – 8/25/19

“Lewiston was founded 157 years ago in 1862 in the wake of a gold rush which began the previous year near Pierce, northeast of Lewiston. In 1863, Lewiston became the first capital of the newly created Idaho Territory.  The only thing separating Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington, is a river (The Snake River) with a state line running through it.   These twin cities are bonded by the history surrounding their namesake explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. They are further linked by being the gateway to Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area, home of North America’s deepest gorge.”

Scott’s sister, Shelley, and her husband Jack, live just outside of the town of Lewiston, about a 30-minute drive through a beautiful, bountiful countryside.

CDC9E308-3B51-4A79-B47A-B8FE3FA483AC

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D2150DD5-412B-4AD6-BB96-6948A9942CC5They have quite a bit of land, with ample room for our home on wheels.  This would be our parking spot for the next week.

BA2E5E49-F978-4645-A961-8798264DA148Shelley and Jack moved up into this area from the town of Lewiston about a year ago.  They wanted more privacy and space as their family continues to grow.  Neighbors are spread apart and their view of the countryside goes on and on.

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88D7E90E-5961-4E6B-A674-914467F52919The community mailboxes are about .7 mile walk down the road.  It had gotten late when we took a walk to check the mail.

7EB61C8D-5AB2-4356-BDA8-F3F791E0BB90On a clear night, the sunset is absolutely gorgeous!

3F208886-C97C-48B1-8B6B-702207903488Jack breeds and trains English Setters to be hunting dogs.  Their dogs (Gus, the father, is a ginger, and Tess, the mom, is tricolor) had a litter of nine pups approximately five weeks before we arrived for our scheduled visit.  Here is a glimpse of the nine puppies, and two of their grandchildren, on the day we arrived.

974C78B9-4E71-48D8-8818-B09D4C6EBF0FOne minute she was playing outside of the pen.

C9548414-8308-4E97-B0C7-503633DE0F09I turned my back for a moment and look what happened.  If we all could think like a two year old, how much more fun we would have!

6B221FC7-C5D9-4960-8373-CB0527B6453F.jpegHer big brother had other ideas of how to play with the puppies.

5C779C69-C9FA-4D90-8C81-C4DCE7B45A1AI was in puppy heaven!  I picked up one puppy at a time to take a selfie, but somehow I missed three of them and took duplicates of others.  Of the nine puppies, there were five males and four females, six tricolor and three gingers.  And, they each had a name.  It was so overwhelming.

11F02AFE-8DAF-4B24-BA1B-5A3C4BE94300Scott was busy taking photos of the scattering puppies.  While he photographed one, another (Minnie) made a swing out of his camera’s strap.

cc3ad667-ec5a-4bf4-93a7-3b9bfc7b37d3.jpegSoon, it was feeding time.  In addition to their mother’s milk, the puppies are now receiving puppy food.  Look how nicely they cooperate.

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The next day, we took a drive along the Snake River.  “The Snake River originates in Wyoming and arcs across southern Idaho before turning north along the Idaho-Oregon border. The river then enters Washington and flows west to the Columbia River.”  We were on the east side of the river in Idaho, just west of Lewiston.  We stopped to take a walk down by the water.  It was a beautiful day with a nice breeze that took a bite out of the hot sun.  Across the river is the state of Washington and eventually Oregon.

72187127-C382-4D23-A9A6-AD1206B3956EEven though there were warning signs posted, there were still people who came to wade in the water.

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654195DB-458E-4044-83F0-449AA8C5B055Our next stop off was at Buffalo Eddy, an historical park featuring petroglyphs.

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“Long before Europeans or Americans first set foot in this country, the Nez Perce left behind vivid evidence of their association with this land.  On either side of an eddy formed by a series of sharp bends in the Snake River, are densely grouped clusters of petroglyphs and pictographs.  Known as Buffalo Eddy, the unique petroglyphs  contain hundreds of distinct images that possibly date from as early as 4,500 years ago.”

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The next morning, Scott was already outside in the yard reading.  He told me I could let the puppies out.  I immediately obeyed.

Next thing we knew, Tess, the mom, was let outside and the puppies went into a frenzy chasing her.  Scott made a comment that I shouldn’t have let the puppies out yet.  He filmed my reaction.

Later that morning, Shelley told us that there was a trail down the road from her house that she had been wanting to check out.  It was five mile hike down the canyon to the Snake River.  The trail was semi overgrown and it had two tracks for a quad (OHV).

2E4D8DF4-2B13-4F93-83A2-AE07AC0E4988Along the way, we passed plum trees that had ripened.  We ate them right from the tree.  These plums were the sweetest I have every tasted!

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It was extremely hot, but we continued on for a little while longer.  Then it was a mutual decision to turn around.  Three miles round trip in the heat was enough.  We hoped to get back out on this trail one early evening, but it didn’t happen.

August 21 was Shelley’s birthday.  Scott had not been with his sister on her birthday for many years.  It’s not easy when you live on opposite sides of the country.  Not only were we there to celebrate her special day, but her mom and Larry showed up as a surprise.  She was VERY surprised when she saw them in the parking lot by the restaurant the day before her birthday.

92701FFA-AF35-42F8-9D27-F440E3286A7EWe planned to meet them inside of the restaurant, but she snooped them out immediately.  Below is a picture of four generations of beautiful women.

FE6B22FC-29F2-48BF-B06B-DAA75CDFB270284355FC-49E5-49D6-AF6C-CDC0CA18B54262A3C12A-70ED-4631-AD4E-D455FF04F308The next day we celebrated again with chocolate birthday cake.

59AA4D05-2952-4035-981D-AB5D60CC99D1453DFC99-068E-42F3-A905-8A35A226396BThe next day we drove to the confluence of two rivers, just outside of the border of Lewiston.  First, we walked part of the path, crossing bridges from the state of Idaho to Washington.

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2398FEE1-9FC3-49D2-9A0C-468D4371F5CDThe following day we went into the town of Lewiston to a car show.  One of my favorites was a 1966 Ford Mustang that reminded me of one of the first cars I drove…my brothers blue 1967 mustang.

The town has many businesses that are still thriving, while some have closed down.  This old movie theatre is an historical landmark.

FBFEB3E6-6120-405B-B9EF-7B09A87ED306That evening, we took a walk around their property to see if their apple and plum trees were bearing ripe fruit.  It wasn’t long before the sun began to set and we were left with a beautiful sunset.

CD96FF30-A85D-406B-AFDA-0287BFF491CA16E8F92A-95BF-4D18-9C58-F2654075158041488B0B-0605-427D-892A-578390C3FB77Gus, the puppies’ father, is just over a year old.  He is still in training, and Jack invited me to help him with his daily lesson.  I don’t have much experience with a shotgun, but Jack took the time to explain how to safely use it and how to keep the lock on until I was ready to shoot.  It was only a blank in the gun that is shot to create sound.  This simulates someone shooting a bird.  The dog must wait until he is told to go fetch the bird.

6ADBAE7C-1C4A-4A1B-8686-8E70ABC63A25EEFB36C2-8398-445A-A64E-B8D10A0AC46D

636A0434-113E-462F-B35F-A9227F23BBCFThe week flew by and it was almost time to hit the road again.  By the end of the week, the puppies took on unique personalities as they braved their new world.  We really wanted to take a few with us…especially Ginger.

468E07FD-3EEE-4DD8-9969-2EFB44A37EB9Scott’s nephew, Nate, and his fiancé Kaitlin, came to visit on our last weekend there.  They also fell in love with the puppies.  We weren’t the only ones who wanted to take some home.

D0561787-614C-4599-9B59-9AFBF10AB0AFIt was time to say goodbye, and I needed to get a picture of the four of us together.  Well, the five of us. I thought that Jack was going to insist that we take Ginger with us, but his intent was only to have her in our group picture!  Just kidding.

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3130E6F9-0EBE-4085-93AE-B460FAA80628Shortly after we left, Scott’s nephew, Nate, (Kaitlin’s fiancé) was able to see his nephew, John.  I am not sure who missed who more.

2606976B-C6F2-4601-8379-A7BD401122EFFrom the first day that we arrived, I tried to get a picture of all of the puppies together.  It was an extremely challenging task.  This was the best I could do.

 

 

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Our next stop is the Sawtooth Mountains.

 

Priest Lake, Idaho: 8/14 – 8/17/19

We made it!  Hello Idaho!

0043BFF7-B8A9-423C-AE0A-D5B727F72CDBOur first stop in Idaho was Priest Lake, known as “Idaho’s Crown Jewel”, located in the northern tip of the state.

D61B2826-2E88-4418-B19D-51A6ED96421AThey boast a “Four Season Paradise” with “Hawaii like sand beaches”, 25 miles of pristine lake for boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle-boarding and swimming with the Selkirk Ridge mountains along its Eastern flank for hiking.  Their golf course is open May to October, and in the wintertime, groomed and cross-country ski and snow-shoe trails are very popular.  Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful.  Hawaii like sand beaches?  Not so sure.

We have a habit of reading almost all signage when we enter a new park or begin a new hike.  I always feel better when we are reminded of exactly where we are.

6B1E7D9A-69B4-4047-ABF7-116C5140D3CD.jpegWe were able to get a campsite at Luby Bay, located on the lower western side of the lake.    Check out the map below.

9142D4DE-425E-4206-A962-19ACF30F51DFThere is a narrow, winding dirt road that runs along the perimeter of the lake, with short access roads into the various campgrounds.

389E0D7C-27FF-4B15-A993-9C9DC4F73CD4.jpegThe next day, we took the paddle board to the beach and enjoyed hanging out on a beautiful afternoon.  The water temperature was surprisingly perfect!  Someone forgot to take a picture of our campsite, but we did take pictures taken from lakeside.

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24801366-E5D9-4AD0-8EB0-F580FF73C72F.jpegThe following day was a bit cooler so we decided to take a hike instead of braving the water.  We took a four-mile round-trip hike on Lakeview Mountain.

3D856F2C-028F-4359-AF8A-4DEA8D786704Maybe they want us to register because we are in grizzly country?  The trail was well maintained through a wooded forest.

754D3872-425C-4A65-9CF6-E9F12429C688.jpegEven though it was only a four mile round-trip hike, the first two miles to the peak were continuously uphill.  The view of Priest Lake was worth it.

4C85C207-9A8C-41AE-81F9-8379BB472446The next day we packed up camp and continued south/southeast to Bayview, ID.  We enjoyed lunch with Scott’s step sister, Liz, her mom and step-dad at the marina.  It was a pleasure to meet Liz’s parents, and to spend a few hours together.  They eagerly shared historical information about Lake Pend Oreille and what happens when cougars get too close to the towns.  Yikes!!!!

81151FF9-73D9-43F5-B340-738351451B4BOur next stop is Lewiston, Idaho, where we will visit Scott’s sister and celebrate her birthday!

 

North Cascades National Park, WA: 8/11 – 8/14/19

“The North Cascades are the wildest and steepest mountains in the lower 48 states. The ice age lives on within these mountain peaks with more than 300 active glaciers in North Cascades National Park Service Complex.  Snow melts when summer comes to the North Cascades valleys.  In the shade of some high mountains, where snowfall exceeds melting and evaporation, snow remains year after year and forms glaciers.  Glaciers are compacted layers of snow and ice that creep and slide downhill.  These powerful masses of flowing ice and rock constantly shape these mountains and provide streams and rivers with life – giving fresh water in summer.”

We left Whidbey Island and headed east on Hwy 20 towards North Cascades National Park.

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When we were there two weeks ago with Molly, we only saw a small piece of it.  We decided to return and explore it a bit more.  This time we stayed at Newhalem Campground near the Skagit River.

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C4E38CDC-97D8-4F29-94D2-367BA5289E64It was a large, private campsite with lots of shady trees.  We got settled, and then we took a short 1.8 mile hike on the River Loop Trail that surrounds the campground.

EEAD7267-E050-4BE3-9524-1B164403DAC7The trail led us to the water’s edge.

FB0343A1-2CF5-4ADA-8EEE-56B11D30BAFF“The Skagit River was born from snowfields and glaciers high in the Cascade Mountains.  As you walk along the river, notice waters tinted green by glacial ground “rock flour”.  The Skagit’s flow carries these minerals and organic sediments which provide nutrients to life along its course.”  In the picture below you can see the green-tinted water.  It was beautiful!

0BA3687C-53B5-4A41-8ABB-C0563266AC89The following morning, we got up early to drive farther north to hike Cascade Pass and the Sahale Arm Trail, a 12-mile, round-trip hike with just over 4,000 feet elevation gain and amazing views.

“The Upper Skagit people utilized Cascade Pass for thousands of years to travel to Eastern Washington.  This popular hunting, trading, and camping route became a crucial path for fur traders and explorers.”

Today, it is a popular hike but not necessarily an easy one.  The first 3.7 miles had 33 switchbacks through a shady forest with a moderate elevation gain.

9C355647-D3B1-4E16-AA28-17A9680544724F292832-64FA-4E39-993F-EFF3FE929DE35CC7C94F-1043-4B79-939B-1D84C58509C7  This was the last of the switchbacks.  At this higher elevation, there were some wildflowers still blooming.  To our right we could see several glaciers when the clouds unveiled their presence.

3481C539-7138-44FF-98F9-46A309EE63B0As we climbed a little bit more, we could see Doubtful Lake below us.  The color of the water from glacier run-off is one of a kind!

29CA0DFA-8D90-452C-90B4-9A835DF68A4CIt wasn’t long before we came upon a young couple that had retreated about a quarter mile after seeing a mountain lion.  Because it was so cloudy, they were hesitant on continuing on until the clouds passed.  Below is a picture of us staring off into the distance at what we believed to be a mountain lion perched on a rock.  If you zoom in on the second picture and look dead center, you can see “something” perched on a rock.

670190FA-6533-4023-9B9D-F980E1F71FCE710E41A3-0E5E-4384-96EC-410E89145130Another couple that we had previously passed had caught up to us.  The six of us formed a pack and continued on, believing that six versus two people would scare off the wild animal.

5677A7D9-0E6D-4BB5-B270-9E33324B0336The last 2.3 miles took us up and over ridges, until we reached the final stretch which was straight up very steep, rocky terrain.  I was loosing my ambition to reach the peak, so I stopped to rest and eat lunch.  I encouraged Scott to continue on since I was pretty much done with uphill for the day.  After finishing my tasty peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, another hiker stopped to rest with me.  Together, we decided to continue to the peak as we had come so far and were almost there.  We took each other’s picture to prove our quest.

AAE7E1CB-6C71-4BAB-937D-BDE903C9285BSahale Arm Trail has sites for overnight camping for those ambitious folk who don’t mind carrying their heavy packs up this steep terrain.  Off to the right are small camping holes that can fit two small tents.  They are surrounded by a three-foot rock wall to provide some shelter from the wind.  Scott walked up higher to check out the various camp sites.

DD2FD2B5-B246-4E34-B85C-F3046B920DE3.jpegThe picture below shows one of the campsites up on the rocks.  If you zoom in and look to the left center, you can see a woman sitting on a rock wall that surrounds their campsite.

C3313ADF-39CE-4CC2-9D68-BCEC55598B6A.jpegWe sat down for a while to take in the beauty all around us.

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Another View of Doubtful Lake

We stayed longer than we normally would, as the view was spectacular.  Since we were not camping overnight, we needed to get up before our muscles would tighten.  We still had roughly six more miles to go.  And, so the descent began.

EDAEE0CF-7F31-41E1-8056-70300991195DAfter the initial 2.3 mile steep descent, we enjoyed stopping every now and then to take some photos now that the clouds were waning and revealing some of what we could not see on the way up.  I was in my glory, ahead of Scott, walking and whistling down the trail.  I love going DOWN.  All of a sudden, I heard him tell me to STOP.  Then he said, “Bear!  Bear!”  I saw the bear to my right, and my adrenaline started to rush through my body.  I turned around and quickly got behind my tall, brave husband while my heartbeat rapidly increased.  He told me to be calm and to take the bear spray out of his pack.  If you look closely, the black bear is dead center in the picture below.  There was a group of hikers toward the left under the clouds that had stopped to watch the bear (and us).

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0829863C-0ADB-48CC-9D54-C21CE01F0EA0How about some live footage?

For some reason, I cannot get the video to load.  I will try to edit and add the video when we get into an area with better WIFI.

The bear retreated over the ridge, and we went on our way.  Here are a few more photos as we continued our descent.

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0206532B-ED92-4BBD-92F5-8D6F0B7B1FCDIt wasn’t long before we were at the start of the 33 switchbacks, which indicated another 3.7 miles to the parking lot.  It was after 6:00 p.m.  It was a long day but certainly one of our favorite hikes to date!

A3CACB82-73D1-456A-A8B8-3781D02D5A19The next morning, we were back on Hwy 20 heading east towards Idaho.   We stopped in a town called Twisp and parked our car near a park to eat lunch.  Scott spied a swim club across the street, and I excitedly changed my clothes and went for a swim.  While I swam, Scott read under the shade from the tree in the park.

F621E9BA-BF23-4148-B842-F2D47953ACBFA few more hours on the road, and we called it a day.  Arriving in Idaho would have to wait until tomorrow.  We spent the night at Canyon Creek Campground, WA.

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6106CF59-F150-4FC7-BFFB-7D07FADAA062I met three bicyclists from Maine that were riding across the country.  They had stopped here in Colville to spend the night.  Talk about determination and energy.  They carried their sleeping gear, etc. on their bicycles!!  They had left in early May and were on track to arrive on the west coast before the end of August.  Quite ambitious, but not for me.

Off to Idaho!

 

 

 

 

Whidbey Island, WA: 7/12 – 8/10/19

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I thought that it would be helpful to see a map of Whidbey Island.  We typically enter the island from the east, taking the ferry from Mukilteo on the mainland to Clinton, which you can see on the map above.  We left Corbett, OR, late Friday morning for the trek to Whidbey Island.  Obviously, we forgot our rule to NOT travel on Fridays.  It took us about four hours to travel north up the coast on Hwy 5.  The heavy traffic did not let up.  It is a Friday in the summer.

4CBE0B47-F4D3-491A-B9D7-93797AC962E3We finally got to the exit for the Mukilteo Ferry, only to sit in the ferry car lane for two more hours.  When we finally got to this point…

49E53C6A-B202-407D-B510-434E87426E5E…it was still another hour until we got to board the boat.  At last, we were on our way.

E2FAC519-23EE-44ED-A087-B94FEC22670DWhen we were here last December/January to visit, we parked our trailer at my in-laws property and stayed in their private apartment above their garage.  Below is a view of the apartment from the backyard.

FD92F52D-4A80-4E74-9B1C-D10B86F14394They had just sold this house, so we had to park our trailer at the Holmes County Rod and Gun Club, where they are members.  It is less than a ten-minute drive from the gun club to their home.  (Even though the house was sold, they were not vacating it until 8/8/19, but we were not able to park our trailer there this time.)

13A9ECB6-CEEF-4325-8E50-D269DF40CFE8The town center of Langley was just another five minute drive from the gun club.  We drove into town to have a bite to eat.  Then, I had mother and son pose for a picture.

0B6F4D46-91A7-40B2-BA59-E6C63C56ED03We ran into a friend of Sue’s who has a four-month old puppy that is being trained to be a service dog.  His name is Quincy , and I want him.

D1B42CFF-EBC3-48E9-9C0D-79B87F3B1557The next day, Scott and I took our bikes to Fort Ebey State Park in Coupeville.  After our ride, we took a break by the overlook.  There was a couple with two pets at the picnic table right next to us.  At first, I thought that they had one dog on a leash.  Upon closer examination, the reality of their two pets was apparent.  See if you can tell the difference.

2544A8C6-CC20-4B5E-983B-239E5D9E014DOn Saturday, July 20, Langley had a town parade as part of their four-day summer festival.  There were about fifty people lined up along Cascade Avenue, which ran parallel to the water.

FA40F5CB-92B5-4E79-80B3-256829E20353

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84ADE36D-6583-4D57-8085-4E4123FD31F7Some of people that were marching in the parade were throwing candy to the kids.  Others handed out small water bottles, and I got a banana from a gorilla!

 

 

The parade lasted about fifteen minutes.  It was adorable!

That evening, Mitch, Ani, and Mila joined us for dinner at The Porter Pub at Whidbey Air Park.  I love restaurants that have indoor/outdoor seating.

1FB7B3D0-E40D-41A7-9DDB-F7D04920D5C2Scott’s mom’s birthday was July 25.  We celebrated her special day with dinner at Blooms Winery on Whidbey, located in Freeland.  In addition to wine tasting, it offers both indoor and outdoor seating in a casual setting located at the historic Bayview Corner.  Mom got the fish taco special.

01A71DA1-71CB-4AC4-8802-87ED40079B92The following day Molly arrived and we had a do-over birthday dinner at Gordon’s on Blueberry Hill, a polished indoor only restaurant with harbor views, also located in Freeland.  Our server surprised mom with a treat!

4002F657-757A-4873-8EB4-0A338CEED6A4A few days later, we took a drive to Double Bluff Beach, one of many off-leash dog parks that are found on the island.  The beach is large and goes for miles at low tide.  It is home to housing eagles.  On clear days you can see Mount Rainier and the Olympic Peninsula.  This early evening, we enjoyed taking in the sights.

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290AA479-DBB1-464E-BCBB-FEA2E254D611There it is!  Snow-capped Mount Rainier can be seen in the distance.

CB632CE4-9F12-46AA-A293-ADA06F7CCE21On Saturday, August 3rd, Scott went back to Ebey Landing to bike ride with Mitch.  He dropped me off at their house, and Mila and I hung out waiting for Ani to get home from work.  Bubba and Blu entertained us as we sat outside drawing freehand using a U-Tube video as a guide.

0F40A5E3-1575-457B-A305-2B2689BDA4ADEC4622B6-7FEA-489F-8EB7-B05E6CA1D664When Ani got home, she packed a lunch/snack, and the three of us walked a mile down the road to a local winery, Holmes Harbor Cellars.

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61AE4648-5399-4282-B65F-97DBFE5D436DAfter tasting a few wines, we walked another mile back to the house.  I would like to live down the street from a winery, just saying.

On Sunday, Scott and I took a drive to South Whidbey Community Park in Langley.

1B238B21-0395-4B46-AE92-AF5649F909C2It features softball, baseball, and grass soccer fields, a basketball court, picnic shelters, several restrooms, a children’s playground, a skateboard park, and many hiking trails.  We enjoyed a short hike in the shaded forest.

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FD0C1E62-CDCD-497E-A6AE-EAED78C7BC02Scott and I returned to Double Bluff Park on Monday for a hike along the shoreline. Today there were a number of bathers that came to frolic in the water and seek refuge from the hot sun under their self-made cabanas.

 

FEC4A5E1-AFD6-403C-9A65-D820B615C4D40319EB21-5294-46A1-8D39-58EE9A0E7991We didn’t have our suits on but the water was a bit too chilly for me to enjoy a swim.  There were, however children and adults enjoying the water.  One woman said she could only stay in for a little while before her legs were numb.  It didn’t seem to bother the children!

As the official move date of August 8 approached, we found ourselves eating out much more than eating in.  I didn’t take a picture of EVERY restaurant we dined at, but below are two more.

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Breakfast at Cozy’s

 

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Gun Club for lunch/dinner (multiple times)

One afternoon, blue jello shots were on the specials’ menu.  We all graciously declined.  Then, the assistant manager brought them over for free.  Mom and I wanted no part of them, but Scott and Larry did.  He wasn’t quite sure how to go about “drinking” the semi-solid shot.

676C9F01-D934-4AE4-AEC8-5C5F14938300On Day One of the three-day move, they rented a U-HAUL trailer that Scott attached to our truck.  They began the process of emptying out the two storage facilities.

CCA408A2-5A05-4398-A25E-F2CA52E6A639They had a LOT of things.  Even the lawnmower was going.

AEB696AA-FAD4-484E-B9AD-305B30028CC6On Day Two, we used all three of our vehicles (Scott’s truck, Larry’s truck, and Sue’s car) and transported all the “loose, unpacked” items that we could handle.  On Day Three, they hired “Back Breakers” to move the furniture and heavy boxes.  Below is a picture from the inside of their “new” garage.

64CFA4AC-CD0E-480F-B507-B9A10FBD1119On our last night on Whidbey Island, we enjoyed a delicious dinner and wine with Larry and Sue at Bloom’s.

FF4AF51C-9B7B-4AC2-A450-E2853FA4D733I kept telling Scott that I needed a picture of the two of them on the front steps of their new home.  Why don’t I have one????  It was hard to say goodbye, but we will be back to Whidbey Island soon.   We know where to find them.