Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 23

This morning when we unhooked the new battery was only at 12.2 volts -- it should have been 12.6 volts. I suspect that the trailer’s converter is not charging the battery. We headed for Canada anyway because there is no place to get our converter checked out for hundreds of miles. We knew that Banff National Park had full hookups. We went by Columbia Lake which is the source of the Columbia River which empties into the Pcific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. We made it as far as Dry Gulch Provincial Park in British Columbia just before the entrance to Kootenay National Park. We ran the generator until we went to bed and then turned off the refrigerator to keep the battery from being depleted.

June 22

We got up and noticed that our battery was at only 10 volts. It was 12.6 volts when we went to bed last night. The voltage has been fluctuating wildly. We drove to the Wal-Mart in Colville to get a new battery but it did not fit into the extremely tight Casita battery compartment. We found a NAPA auto parts store and bought a battery there that fit. Instead of going on to Canada we went to a trailer park we stayed at last year in Kettle Falls, Washington. We wanted to put a good charge on the new battery. We didn’t take any pictures today.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

June 21

We drove north towards Canada through the constant rain. We set up camp on the northern shore of Lake Roosevelt at the Haag Cove campground, still in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, near Kettle Falls, Washington. Tomorrow morning Carolyn has to make a call to her son's dentist and we needed a place with cell phone service. We have been gone four weeks today and have travelled 4,517 miles. Half of that was in the first week. Tomorrow we are headed to Banff National Park and Lake Louise in Canada. We are getting sick of all this rain.

June 20

We hooked up and drove to the Discount Tire store in Coeur D'Alene (the only one in Idaho) to have them look at my two defective trailer tires. It turns out they were having their grand opening and they had free hot dogs, chips, jalapeno sausage balls, cookies, soft drinks, smoothies and coffee drinks. They also were taking $100 off the price of a set of four tires. They replaced both trailer tires and I also replaced the Pathfinder's tires which were on their last legs. This took most of the day. Then we drove on to Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Spring Canyon Campground, a few miles from the Grand Coulee Dam. This dam on the Columbia River was built in the 193o's and is the biggest in the U.S. At 10PM we went to the dam visitors center for a laser light show projected onto water tumbling down from the dam spillway.

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 19

When we got up it was raining again and it rained off and on all day. We were going to drive 18 miles to the bottom of Hell's Canyon on the Snake River, the deepest canyon in the U.S. (even deeper than the Grand Canyon). However, the road is very steep and too dangerous to drive on when it is wet. The other roads to the top of the canyon do not open until July 1. We drove through parts of the the Nez Perce National Historic Park and went to the visitors center in Spalding, Idaho. They had exhibits of old Nez Perce Indian things. We had beers at two brewpubs in Lewiston and Moscow. The bartender, Wendy, at the Ale House in Moscow gave us two pints for free! We checked into an RV park on the outskirts of Coeur D' Alene so we could take a bath, update the blog, and recharge the Casita's battery.

June 18

When we got up the sky was very clear and we took a picture of McGowen Peak and Stanley Lake. This is a very beautiful place and we would like to come back sometime and stay in the Sawtooth Mountains area a few weeks to do some hiking. We drove the Wildlife Scenic Highway between Lowman and Banks and then continued north along Highway 55 beside the Salmon River on the Payette River Scenic Byway. We lost about 4,000 feet in altitude and the temperature went from 44 this morning to 85 this afternoon. Along the way we went through Donnelly, Idaho, where mother was during the Depression (I think it was in 1939 and 1940). We stopped in McCall and had a beer at McCall Brewing. Next door was a hardware store and Jim got us a percolator coffee pot we could use on the gas stove. He has been boiling the water and pouring it through the coffee. The generator won’t run the coffee maker because of the altitude. We set up camp at Hammer Creek Campground on the banks of the Salmon River near Hell’s Canyon.

June 16 & 17

We left Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve and headed out for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. We stopped along the way in Hailey, Idaho and had the oil changed in the Pathfinder. One of the Casita tires was developing a bulge so we also had the spare mounted in its place. We will stop at the only Discount Tire store in Idaho in Coeur D' Alene in a few days to have them look at the tire. We went to Sun Valley Brewing in Hailey where we had a taster of their beers. We didn’t know which campground to stay for the night and we checked out two before deciding on the Mountain View Campground on Little Redfish Lake. We had a great view of Williams, Thompson, and Baron Peaks across the lake. The weather was mostly rainy and overcast. As we were playing dominoes, another Casita came along and set up beside us. They were a nice couple named Dale and Edie Beasley from Washington, and they had their grandson, Mika, with them. They were headed to Craters of the Moon where we just left.

The next morning we only drove 25 miles to another Sawtooth campground because the area was so beautiful that Jim wanted to see if the weather would improve. We picked the Inlet Campground on Stanley Lake. It rained off and on but we still had a chance to take a late afternoon hike to Lady Face Waterfall. We took our umbrellas and slickers with us and had to use the umbrellas. The trail was muddy in a few places because of all the rain recently. When we got back we played dominoes and suddenly the sun came out but it was still raining a little and there was a beautiful rainbow.

June 14 & 15

We left Hagerman and drove to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve near Arco, Idaho. This is an area where lava welled up from the Great Rift to produce a vast ocean of rock. These eruptions occurred between 15,000 years ago and 2,000 years ago. Formations in the park include lava flows, spatter cones, cinder cones and lava tubes. We got set up just in time to go to a Ranger led hike of Indian Cave. This is a lava tube cave created by underground flowing molten lava. Then we went to Beauty Cave by ourselves. This cave had one entrance and was very dark -- we used flashlights. This cave also had ice on the floor and walls.

The next morning we got up and went to see the rest of the park and hike various trails. The North Crater Flow trail was an interpretive trail that explained a lot of the formations. We hiked Devil’s Orchard trail. Then we hiked to the top of Inferno Cone. From this trail you could see Cinder Cones lined up along the Great Rift. Then we went to see the Spatter Cones and off that trail there was another trail called North Crater Trail. This was a steep, narrow trail along the edge of a huge crater (some of these trails were 94% grade, almost a 45 degree angle). After that we hiked Broke Top Loop which had Buffalo Cave that I went into but not Jim. Then the last hike was to Tree Molds. This was a place where you could view the imprints of lava charred trees. This 2 mile trail we walked very quickly and barely made it back to the Pathfinder before it started to rain. We went back to the Casita and took a nap. We walked about 6 miles altogether.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June 10 - 13

We left Wells, Nevada, and drove to City of Rocks National Reserve near Almo, Idaho. On the way out of town we stopped and had a sampler of beer at Trail Creek Brewing. We got to City of Rocks just as it began to rain. It has rained every day since we left Orinda. We scored the best spot in the park. It was one of 5 RV spaces and it was at the top of a cliff by ourselves.

The next morning we went to the visitors center and bought a map of the trails. We dove to an overlook. It started to rain with hail, so we had lunch back in the trailer. After lunch we did a short hike to Window Arch, walked a trail around Bath Rock and drove down to see Finger Rock, Bread Loaves, and drank water out of a well pump from an underground spring.

The next day we walked around Elephant Rock and observed some rock climbers. City of Rocks is one of the top technical rock climbing places in the U.S. (Click on the picture to enlarge it so you can see the climbers at the top of the rock -- you can enlarge all of the pictures this way -- then hit your browser's back button to return to the blog). City of Rocks was also on the California Trail which pioneers used to emigrate to the west coast in the mid 1850's. We drove through Pinnacle Pass (a narrow pass that was just wide enough for wagons to go through). We drove as far as Twin Sisters (one rock was 2.5 billion years old and the other was 25 million years old). We stopped at Register Rock and Camp Rock where emigrants on the California Trail would sign their names using axle grease from their wagons. We hiked Flaming Rock trail (or so we thought). We ended up at Bath Rock and had to walk back down the road to the car.

The next day we left City of Rocks and drove to Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, known as the Niagara of the West. It is 212 feet high, 50 feet higher than Niagara Falls. Not far from there is the place where Evel Knievel attempted his daredevil jump over the Snake River Canyon in 1974. We also went to Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument which has the worlds richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene Epoch, including the Hagerman Horse, a zebra-like creature and Idaho's state fossil. In the same area we saw ruts of the Oregon Trail which ran through here. Then we saw the Thousand Springs Reserve where waterfalls spring from canyon walls via aquifers along the Snake River.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 9

We left Great Basin National Park and drove back to Ely to catch highway 93 north to Idaho. There is an old timey train ride from Ely to Ruth which we thought about taking, but naturally it does not run on Tuesdays. We stopped at a rest area at Schellbourne which was a Pony Express stop in 1860 and 1861. We read some very interesting history of the Pony Express there. Then we drove on to Wells, Nevada alongside the beautiful Ruby Mountains. We checked into a commercial RV park so we could take showers, wash clothes, recharge the Casita’s battery, and check our email and update the blog. We had no phone or internet access the last three days.

June 8

We got up and drove to Wheeler Peak Trailhead to hike the Alpine Lake Loop Trail. This trail took us past two pretty lakes, Stella Lake and Teresa Lake. The trail started out at 10,000 ft. and gained 400 ft. in altitude. It was 4 miles round trip. In many places the trail was covered by snow and the only way to find the trail was to look for footprints in the snow. Between Stella and Teresa Lakes, the weather took a turn and it started to sleet and snow on us. It took us 2 hours 10 minutes to hike it. In the afternoon we took a tour through Lehman Caves inside the park. As caves go, this one was pretty good.