RV Adventures: A Trip Out West! Day 13

Thursday, June 17, 2021

We were on our way to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by 7:00 AM. As we left the campground and got on the highway below is the view we saw of the sky!

Morning sky!
On our way to Mt. St. Helens

On our way, we stopped at Coldwater Lake. The lake was created from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. It is located in the heart of the blast zone in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We parked and walked the Birth of a Lake Interpretive Trail. The path has interpretive signs that explain how the eruption of Mt. St. Helens debris avalanche dammed the Coldwater Creek that created the lake! The lake was very clear and we noticed beautiful flora!

Mt. St. Helens Viewpoint

We arrived at the Johnston Ridge Observatory but it was closed so we walked around the area and the trails nearby. It was an eerie feeling when you know that it is still active. If the Visitor center had been opened we would have been able to see the functioning seismograph and the live feed of current activity of Mt. St. Helens.

Below is a picture of what was left of an ancient forest that was filled with 150 foot tall trees. The blast was so powerful and filled with debris that it struck this hillside traveling at 500 mph and stripped the trees of their limbs, bark and snapped the trunks so only these stumps were left!

The Mt. St. Helens Eruption Memorial is made of granite and lists the names of those killed on May 18, 1980 by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

Mt. St. Helens Eruption Memorial

After our visit to Mt. St. Helens, we headed to Mt. Rainier National Park. On our way we stopped at the overlook for Riffe Lake. The lake is a reservoir that was formed by Mossyrock Dam in 1968. The towns of Riffe and Kosmos no longer exist and their residents were relocated because the towns would be submerged by the lake.

We spent the afternoon and early evening at Mt. Rainier National Park!

Mt. Rainier is the tallest volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range and rises 14,410 feet and 25 glaciers extend down the mountainside. A lot of snow was still present.

Mt. Rainier with a cloud floating in front.

There was still a lot of snow along the road and some trails. The snow was about 8 feet along the side of some roads.

The Kautz Creek Trail gave us more views of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding area.

A waterfall we passed in the park was Christine Falls. It was on the Van Trump Creek and was 69 feet tall. The higher tier had a 32 feet drop and the lower tier dropped 37 feet.

The Nisqually Glacier was located on the southwestern face of Mt. Rainier and because it was one of the larger glaciers it can easily be seen! With climate change, the glaciers are shrinking dramatically. One study stated that from 1971 to 2006 the Mt. Rainier lost 14% of its glacier cover. We have to wonder what the percentage of loss is today, fifteen years later.

Nisqually Glacier

Narada Falls has two tiers and its total height is 188 feet and its width is 50 feet. The trail down to the falls has a steep 200-foot descent. The path was narrow due to the snow and ice and it was extremely slippery. We needed our hiking poles which we didn’t have with us for traction! Of course the best viewing is from the bottom. It was too dangerous for us to make it all the way down so our pictures are from the top. We read online that later in the summer the snow and ice will be gone.

Our next stop was the Paradise Inn and Visitor Center. It was busy at this stop. The Park Rangers were stationed outside the Visitor Center which was closed due to Covid-19 but the restrooms were available. It was fun to watch people throwing snowballs in shorts and t-shirts, we saw people sledding down small hills while using their jackets as sleds, and hikers carrying their skis and snowboards to hike and ski!

The Reflection Lakes were still snow and ice covered. We could see a little of the water as we walked around the area. It is a popular area for photographers because of Mt. Rainier’s reflection in the water. There wasn’t any reflection happening when we were there! LOL

There was snow drifts that had trees bent over and buried and you could see how the wind and snow stripped trees and bent them so that the trees are at a slant.

We drove the Stevens Canyon Road which is 19 miles long and it is only open seasonally. It was a beautiful drive and we saw more waterfalls in the canyon.

Along Stevens Canyon Road there is Box Canyon. There is a short trail that we did. Box Canyon is a 180-foot deep, 13-foot wide chasm in the rock that the Cowlitz River flows.

Falls Creek Falls was also along the Stevens Canyon Road.

Falls Creek Falls

It was a long day with visiting Mt. St. Helens National Monument and Mt. Rainier National Park but we enjoyed every minute!

RV Adventures: A Trip Out West! Day 12

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

As we leave Spokane, we only see flat land and no mountains in the distance as we travel on Route 90. We drove past Sprague Lake which is alongside the freeway. It’s listed as offering some of the best fishing in the area.

There was a scenic overlook along I-90 near Quincy, Washington. We pulled over and saw beautiful views of the Columbia River. We no longer have flat land!

The scenery along the highway was definitely amazing.

Mt. Rainier

We also saw the Cascades mountain range in the distance as we were driving by the cities of Thorp and Cle Elum, Washington and continue along I-90.

We arrived in Olympia by late afternoon because traffic was so heavy from Seattle to our campground. When we checked into our campground the owner told us that the last several days they have had three inches of rain but it was blue skies when we arrived.

After settling in to our campsite, we cooked some dinner and then ventured off in the car to walk along the Pacific Ocean shores.

On our way we drove through Aberdeen which some consider the “Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula” because it is located at the southern end of the peninsula and Olympic National Park.

Ocean Shores, which is in Grays Harbor County, has a long beach and when we visited it was peaceful and a great place to unwind after a day of traveling!

RV Adventures: A Trip Out West! Day 11

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

This morning we were up early and on the road by 7:30 AM to head to Spokane, Washington. Our route took us into Montana, state number 9!

In Montana we passed over the Continental Divide which runs through the Bitterroot Mountain Range.

Continental Divide in Montana

We also passed the town of Lima, Montana which has a population of a little over 200. It is named after an early settler whose home was in Lima, Ohio.

The Clark Canyon Reservoir in Dillan, Montana is also the site of Camp Fortunate. In 1805, Lewis and Clark set up camp and also met the Shoshoni tribe. The leader of the tribe was Sacajawea’s brother and she recognized him when they met and that helped Lewis and Clark to be accepted as coming in peace.

Clark Canyon Reservoir

Along Interstate 90 in Montana we saw many canola fields. It is a popular rotational crop with wheat and barley. When you see these fields the yellow is vibrant!

Technology can be such a wonderful thing! Our son did a FaceTime call so we could talk to and see our granddaughter! We loved it!

FaceTime with Erin and Ryan

When we left Montana and we’re back in the panhandle section of Idaho we crossed into the Pacific time zone. We still feel like we are on Eastern Standard time so the three hour difference is messing up our sleeping!

The Murray Gold Fields is where a permanent gold rush camp was established in 1884 and the town of Murray flourished for over ten years.

When we pulled off the highway for a rest stop, there were a lot of prairie dogs running around and in and out of their holes outside our RV. It was fun to watch them! We were able to get a picture of one of them.

Prairie Dog

By afternoon we crossed into the state of Washington, our tenth state!

Washington

We checked into our campground and noticed our hot water tank cover was missing. It had to have jarred loose as we were driving. Many of the highways were very bumpy and rough. Dave called the RV manufacturer and they are sending a new one to where we will be staying in Oregon. They told us how long it would take to get shipped and we figured Elkton, Oregon is where we will be camping with friends! In the meantime there wasn’t a cover.

On our way to our Spokane KOA we saw a wine cellar. It was calling our names to stop by for a tasting. So after setting up camp, we hopped in the car and drove to the Latah’s Creek Wine Cellar. It was a great way to end the day tasting Washington wines. One could also tour the adjoining winemaking facilities but that was not open when we were there for our tastings.

Tomorrow we travel to Olympia!

RV Adventures: A Trip Out West! Day 10

Monday, June 14, 2021

Our first stop today was a visit to Tire Discounters in Provo to get our tire fixed. It turned out that the tire had a bad valve stem. Thank goodness it didn’t take too long to be repaired. Once it was attached to the RV we were off to our next campground in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

On our way we saw individuals paragliding. It was beautiful to watch them.

When we stopped for gas Dave noticed that one of the bottom storage bins where he kept his toolbox was not locked. When he used his tools to put the tire back on the spot for the spare he put his tools away but forgot to lock the bin. It was a misfortune but easily fixed. We’ll stop at a hardware store and replace those tools.

Idaho- state number 8!

Mid-morning we crossed into Idaho which is our eighth state. So far we’ve traveled 2300 miles and that doesn’t include the miles on the Prius. There were a lot of potato fields along our route. A lot of the crops had irrigation systems and we saw a lot of water being used. It’s been hot and dry so the fields of crops need water!

Once we checked into our campground and set up we drove through Arco which was the first city lighted by nuclear power and its population is under a thousand. This town was along US Route 20.

Arco Baptist Community Church (US National Register of Historic Places)

This historic route is the longest U.S. highway in the country at 3,365 miles! It begins in Boston, MA and ends at Newport, Oregon along the Pacific Ocean.

Along Route 20 is the EBR-1 (Experimental Breeder Reactor-1) museum. Unfortunately we couldn’t stop and visit because it is temporarily closed due to COVID. It is where the world’s first nuclear power plant generated electricity in 1951! It became a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The EBR-1 was built at the National Reactor Testing Station and was followed by what is now called the INL(Idaho National Laboratory)! It was eerie driving along this route and seeing the signs for the INL everywhere and wondering what they were doing in all of these buildings! We then got on the INL.gov website and saw that they are involved in many programs, such as nuclear energy, energy and the environment, national and homeland security. Their website mentions that their isolated site is good for their programs.

A visit to Craters of the Moon National Monument is filled with lava flows and cinder cones. We hiked around the area. It was 95˚ and a full sun was beating down on us as we hiked the black surfaces. We were melting quickly and drinking a lot of water!

We met with the Park Ranger to get a free permit to explore the caves which were former lava tubes. The questions we had to answer were to make sure that we don’t spread any diseases that would harm the bats particularly white-nose syndrome. It is a fungus that is deadly to bats.

The landscape is filled with hardened lava from lava flows. The lava found here came up out of fissures in the earth and sometimes spewed out of vents. The monument is a dormant area and geologists believe the area will become active in the next 1,000 years!

After dinner we walked along the River Walk in Idaho Falls which follows the Snake River. The walk consists of the falls and 14 miles of river bank. We walked several miles along the path. Idaho Falls is named after the falls in the heart of the city.

We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

RV Adventures: A Trip Out West! Day 9

Sunday, June 13, 2021

This morning no one showed up at 7:00 AM to replace our flat tire. Dave called and finally someone showed up almost 4 hours later!

the inside tire

In the meantime we walked around Lakeside RV campground and did some reading.

We noticed the sky to the south was very hazy due to the wildfires in Utah. One of the wildfires was east of Salt Lake City. There was a fire weather watch and an excessive heat watch for the area. No campfires of any kind.

Finally the tire was replaced and we were ready to go exploring the area. Our first stop was Salt Lake City. It was noon when we arrived and it was already close to 100˚. We walked around downtown and spent most of the time at Temple Square. The square encompasses 5 city blocks and is the worldwide headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There were beautiful gardens, monuments, church office buildings, the Tabernacle and other buildings.

When we left downtown, our next stop was Snowbird to ride the tram. Visiting Snowbird was also a recommendation. On our drive to Snowbird we drove through Little Cottonwood Canyon.

We passed avalanche signs and also saw areas of destruction from previous natural avalances. We would not want to drive these roads in the winter.

The drive to the Snowbird resort included many curves and some narrow roads with steep drops!