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Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana), May 9 - June 22, 2004

Eureka to Montana
Montpelier, ID, Sunday, May 23rd. Finally getting some time to work on this trip's journal. We left Eureka on May 9th, spending a night at the SKP park in Sutherlin, Oregon, and then on to the Cummins Coach Care facility in Coburg where we had routine annual service on the chassis. We next spent 2 days at Jantzen's Beach in Portland. Holly added another Columbia river swimming spot to her resume, this one downstream on the Vancouver side. A lot of wildlife along the banks, including this Great Blue Heron. We met and had dinner with Bob and Mary Hatch, having previously only known them from online forums. Columbia River Columbia River
Arriving in the Port Townsend area a day before our reservations at Ft Flagler, we stayed one night at the Marina. Far right is a view across the water at the Ft Flagler campground. Port Townsend Ft Flagler
At Ft Flagler we had a group of 25 for the semi-annual Pacific Northwest Campout, a gathering of regulars from rec.outdoors.rv-travel. This was campout number 7; we previously attended numbers 4 and 6 at Deception Pass and Ft Canby. PNWCO7 PNWCO7 PNWCO7
Here is a view back across the bay at our previous stop in Port Townsend. Among the wildlife along the spit at Ft Canby were these Black Oystercatchers. Port Townsend Black Oystercatchers
After the weekend gathering, we headed SouthEast towards Idaho, with stops in Toppenish, Washington, and Baker City, Oregon. We spent two days in Nampa, visiting the Boise area.

We drove down to Swan Falls Dam and the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area on the Snake River. The abundant ground squirrels are a reason there are so many raptors in the area, although we only saw one hawk on a quick flyover that eluded my camera. We did not recognize the Marmot, and had to look through a field guide later to identify what this critter was. There were quite a few of them at Swan Falls. The Yellow-Headed blackbird was an observer as Holly had a short swim.
Snake River Swan Falls Dam Ground Squirrel
Marmot Yellow Headed Blackbird Swan Falls
South of Boise is the World Center for Birds of Prey. Included among the birds we saw there were an Ornate Hawk Eagle, a juvenile Bald Eagle, a Kestrel, and a Bateleur Eagle. Ornate Hawk Eagle Bald Eagle Kestrel Bateleur Eagle
We also visited the state capitol in Boise. Idaho State Capitol Idaho State Capitol
Travelling on to Twin Falls, we took the Thousand Springs scenic byway, where water flows out of the bluffs above the Snake River. Thousand Springs Thousand Springs
In Twin Falls we viewed the gorge from the highway 93 bridge, and visited Shoshone Falls. These must have been really specatacular before most of the water was diverted to agriculture. This area also had a population of the Marmots. Snake River Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls Marmot
We continued east to Montpelier, planning to visit the California and Oregon Trails museum, which won't be open until tomorrow. We had also planned to visit Minnetonka Cave, but it turns out that doesn't open until June 3rd. This morning the hills all had a fresh dusting of snow, and the bottom right picture taken near noon through the windshield shows why I have time to work on this journal! Montpelier Montpelier
Livingston, MT, Wednesday, June 9th. A cold dreary day, time to update the latest two weeks of our trip. The Trails Museum in Montpelier is a good interpretive site. We joined a tour with a group of students from Idaho Falls. The first part of the tour is given by a Wagonmaster, and then two women "pioneers" take over and put on a very good, and informative show. California and Oregon Trails museum
We went down to Salt Lake City for a couple of days at Motosat, the makers of the Datastorm. I picked up a new pre-release dish controller for beta testing. The current Datastorms have to attach to a Windows-based PC to provide the brains for pointing the antenna; the new one is an intelligent controller that does not require an attached computer.
Leaving Salt Lake City, we headed towards the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our travels took us along a lot of the Oregon/California trail, and we stopped at several places including Independence Rock. A lot of the pioneer travelers carved their names and other information into the rock's surface. Independence Rock Independence Rock
The trail was retraced by pioneer Ezra Meeker in 1906, where he inscribed "Old Oregon Trail, 1843-57" and said "I hope the inscription may last for centuries." I don't think so... Independence Rock
We tarried a couple of days in Casper, Wyoming. They have one of the nicer Dog Parks we've seen, along the banks of the North Platte River, which Holly got to add to her resume.

She thinks there is a squirrel up every tree, and sometimes she's right!

We were treated to a spectacular electrical display out our front windshield on the evening of May 28th.
North Platte River Casper WY
Casper WY Casper WY
After Casper, we traveled to Custer, South Dakota, where we stayed a few days. The first day we did some walking on the Mickelson trail, a rails-to-trails conversion that runs north-south through the area. We also visited the Crazy Horse Memorial, and drove the Needles Highway through Custer State Park back to Custer. Mickelson Trail Crazy Horse Memorial
Needles Highway Needles Highway
We took the car over as far east as Wall, to see the "legendary" drug store. Not worth the trip, but now we can say we've been there!

On the way back we took the wildlife loop at the southern end of Custer State Park. We saw numerous Bison and Prairie Dogs, as well as Big Horn Sheep, wild Burros, Pronghorn, and small critters like this Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel.
Wall Drug Store Buffalo Buffalo
Big Horn Sheep Wild Burro Pronghorn
Prairie Dog Prairie Dog Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel
No visit to the Black Hills would be complete without Mount Rushmore, and we enjoyed our visit there in both the daytime aand for the nightly lighing ceremony. Mount Rushmore Mount Rushmore Mount Rushmore
Another worthwhile visit was Wind Cave, south of Custer State Park. The ranger is standing next to the original hole where the cave was discovered more than 100 years ago; more than 300 miles of cave have been found since, and they think there could be as much as 1000 miles. Wind Cave Wind Cave
Devil's Tower. What can I say, other than "That's one heck of a rock!" If you look closely at the third picture, on the left side, you can see the climbers in the middle picture. Devil's Tower Devil's Tower Devil's Tower
Heading west again, we crossed the Big Horns at Powder River Pass. 9666 feet, the highest we have been so far in the motor home. There were 10-foot drifts remaining behind the snow fences. This is the second time Holly has seen snow (first was last year in Sequoia/Kings Canyon), and the first time that it was deep enough to be meaningful. She surprised us by spending about 15 minutes rolling, like she does in grass! Powder River Pass Powder River Pass
Powder River Pass Powder River Pass
After a couple of days in Ten Sleep, with a side trip down to Thermopolis, we headed for Cody. We had an obligatory stop at a quilter's Mecca - Big Horn Quilts in Greybull. Big Horn Quilts
At Cody we spent almost two days at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, definitely recommended. Joy had never been to a rodeo, and the Cody Nite Rodeo was having their Park County Night with tickets at $2 instead of the usual $15, so it was a natural. One of the few warm evenings we've had this trip. Cody Nite Rodeo Cody Nite Rodeo Cody Nite Rodeo
Cody Nite Rodeo Cody Nite Rodeo Cody Nite Rodeo
Bandon, OR, Monday, June 21st. We'll be headed home tomorrow, so it's time to wrap this one up. After leaving Cody we headed North, destination Glacier, and managed to run into a lot of poor weather. Wind, rain, cold. We stayed two nights in Livingston, MT, and two more near Townsend, mostly just waiting out the rain. While at Townsend we did get into Helena and had a good look around at the historic old town, and the natural history museum there.

One more stop before Glacier at Great Falls, where the Missouri was added to Holly's river resume.
Holly in the Missouri
Staying in Kalispell for a few days we tarried another couple to let the weather clear some more before heading up the "Going to the Sun road" in Glacier. On June 15th we decided to give it a try. When we got to the entrance to the park, the word was that the road was closed 29 miles up, 3 miles from the top, but that they were working on opening it up. We had come that far, so decided to go as far as we could. In the second picture, below, that alpine-looking mountain in the mist was where we were headed - the road cuts across the face a bit below the top of the lower clouds. Didn't look too promising.

As it turned out, they opened the road to the top about 20 minutes before we got there. I'm sure that Glacier is one of those places that has a different beauty depending on the weather, and we got to see it in somewhat wintry conditions. Holly got another roll in the snow, and we had some great vistas. The squirrel was a resident up at the pass, and the other critter is a Hoary Marmot, cousin to the Yellow-Bellied variety we had seen in Idaho. Having never seen a Marmot before it was something to see both species on the same trip!
Going to the Sun Road Going to the Sun Road Going to the Sun Road Going to the Sun Road Going to the Sun Road
Going to the Sun Road Going to the Sun Road Going to the Sun Road Going to the Sun Road Going to the Sun Road
From Kalispell it was pretty much a run for home. Two days in Missoula, where Holly romped in Bark Park, and then stops in Pasco, WA, Sutherlin, OR (where we met up with Bob and Mary Hatch again, having Sunday breakfast with them), and a final stop here in Bandon. Missoula Bark Park

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