Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Road Trip Update, Part #1 (August 1-11, 2009)

Here's a re-cap of our first 11 days on the road. We started from our home base in Redondo Beach on August 1st (super early 6 a.m.) and have been on the move ever since. There is at least one photo below from every day so far... and some days get a few. Then, there's our detailed notes of what we've experienced that sometimes aren't captured in photos...

August 1, 2009:
Drive from Redondo Beach, California to Mammoth Lakes, California. (Approx. 5 hours)
-- Hiked to Mcleod Lake (1/2 mile... but gorgeous lake!)
-- Took a drive around the lakes (see photo below of one of our stops at Twin Lakes)
-- Ate some of the most delicious mexican food and arguably the most delicious salsa I've ever had at Roberto's Cafe. Definitely worth it if you're in the area.
-- Watched a "Movie Under the Stars" -- but since we had already seen it (Night at the Museum), we just watched a little. It's put on by the city and it's totally free and fun. Lots of kids.
August 2, 2009:
Drive from Mammoth Lakes, California to Yosemite. (Approx. hours 4 hours with all detours)
-- Visited Bodie State Park (see photo below). Old gold mining town that closed in the mid-1900's. It's located 13 miles off the main drag with 3 of the miles being dirt road. The town itself had about 2,000 buildings in existence and now has 200 buildings remaining. Much better than Calico. Worth the $5 a person.
-- Drove to Mono Lake because my AAA magazine boasted these gorgeous views. Too bad is was a stinky place! There were flies everywhere and while there were some decent views, we would never return. This is probably the only thing thus far that we would not recommend. It was smelly (sulfuric) and the salidity of the water is higher than the Pacific by a few percentage points!
-- We entered Yosemite's east entrance after visiting the two locations above. We arrived at our campground (Crane Flats) and had a YUMMY pasta dinner-- carbo load--with our friends Jen and Travis. Then, we attempted to sleep early so we could get up at 3 a.m. for our Half Dome hike. Our camping neighbors thought differently and kept their fires going and generators generating until about midnight. Thank goodness for preparing and buying ear plugs!
Bodie State Park (above), Mono Lake (below)
August 3, 2009:
No driving except to our hotel (about 30-40 miles within Yosemite NP) and to dinner outside of the park with Jen & Travis.
- Started our hike around 5 a.m. after losing our camera for a moment and packing up camp at Crane Flats. We started just an hour before daylight which was perfect because we were able to see Vernal Falls (1st of 2 waterfalls on our ascent). Below is a picture Travis took on our ascent. Fun!
Here we are at the trailhead for Half Dome. It's 5 a.m. and we're surprisingly happy. The headlamp Ray's wearing did not make it. Somewhere on the trail, someone else became a proud owner of a nice Black Diamond lamp. Enjoy, stranger.
I'm pretty sure my palms are getting sweaty just looking at this scary site. We attempted the cables to officially "summit" but when I started thinking... I became terrified. I never thought I was afraid of heights until that moment. I guess skydiving doesn't even compare. Our friends are troopers though. They summited and seemed untouched by the rock!
August 3-4, 2009:
Woke up at the hotel (below) and had an AMAZING breakfast. So amazing that it's worth posting about. This came free with the night's stay at the hotel and comes free every day you stay! The menu (all buffet!): eggs benedict, home fries, ham, sausage, fruit/cinnamon/oatmealy goodness, bagels, fresh fruit, pastries, yogurt, eggs....
-- After breakfast, we drove up to Redding, California. We were welcomed on the I-5 (highway) with many tomato trucks... a good reminder of all the delicous produce that the Central Valley of California provides. I've been taking this drive with my family since I was a small child... but as an adult, I value it more. I care more about the factories and production that goes into our resources.
-- Here's the hotel we stayed in that night. It was fantastic! Check it out here if you're interested. John Muir (naturalist), presidents, Walt Whitman... etc. have stayed/dined there. It's very quaint and I'd love to stay there again. A bit pricey, but very nostalgic.
-- When we got to Redding, we checked into a really sketchy motel (not pictured). We're trying to save money and staying at cheaper motels is just not fun...
-- After checking in, we visited the booming (haha) Mt. Shasta mall where we purchased some See's candy for my Great Grandmother.
August 5, 2009
Drive to Oak Run, CA --> Lassen National Park --> Weed, CA --> Crater Lake National Park --> and finally our night's stay in Bend, Oregon. (total driving time, a lot.)
-- We began our morning by visiting my Grandparents in Oak Run, CA. We first stopped off to see my Great Grandmother Madeline at her house. She's looking great at 95!
-- Then we visited my Grandparents next door and brought my grandmother some cake for her birthday (she turned 70 on August 5... the same day we visited!)
-- We stopped off at Lassen National Park and considered camping there. They were having fires nearby and learned a bit about the park before heading on to Weed, CA (close to Oregon border).
-- We took a couple photos in Weed, CA because they have an amazing sight from the backside of Mt. Shasta.
-- We proceeded on to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. It was gorgeous and we really wanted to camp/lodge there, but there was nothing available for at least 25 miles! That's how it works when you're living wild! :)
-- Since there was no where for us to stay, we took some photos of the gorgeous Crater Lake (planning to return eventually to stay in their lodge and visit the Tillamook Cheese factory near Portland.... future trip) and headed back into our car for a trip to Bend, Oregon. That was our residence for the evening. We certainly drove a lot and saw a lot that day. Phew.
Picture of my grandparents and my Uncle Ron.
Ray in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. It was indeed freezing and windy there if you can't tell by the photo!
August 6, 2009:
We began our journey from Bend, Oregon and headed to Kennewick, Washington. Since that wasn't exciting enough for us (the Walmart was impressive, however), we moved on to Spokane, WA for the best hotel stay yet!
-- The first big city we stopped in on the way to Spokane was called Sisters, Oregon. Ray met some guys at Young Life camp once that lived there. It's a really cute town in the dead center of the state. We stopped off at Ray's Food Market and took a photo (see below).
-- On our way, we stopped in Kennewick, Washington and learned about the wind there. We also learned about there being a huge nuke plant in the vicinity. We shopped at Walmart, and left.
-- We drove to Spokane and checked into a hotel before going for a walk around downtown. We liked the downtown and had dinner at this cute Pizza joint, Rocky Ricoco. It doesn't measure up to Chicago, New York, or even Los Angeles. But, they did have a mean salad bar. When we got out of dinner, it was pouring rain, thundering, lightning...
August 7, 2009:
Another epic drive day. We drove from Spokane, WA to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho... then into Cranbrook, British Columbia (Canada).
-- Driving into Coeur d'Alene from Spokane is a short drive. It's a resort town with a decent lake, but nothing to write home about like the hype has been made of it (although... I am sort of writing home about it......). We walked around in the rain and stopped off to have lunch at a great brew-pub. They have a system there that you can pay $25 to have a "peg" to hang your beer mug and no matter then size, it's always $4 refills whenever you come in for the year. I had a delicious beer-cheese soup. Yum.
-- We continued on through Idaho and continued north to pass through the border of USA --> Canada. It was my first time over the border into Canada! The guy at the border was really pushy and didn't seem excited to let us Americans into his country.
-- We arrived in Cranbrook in time for a little more sightseeing. We visiting a tiny ski town that had nothing but an A&W restauarant and retirees. We did see 8 different deer sightings on our way there, though! We eventually had dinner at a Taco Time Cantina. It's something these northwesterners love. I don't really get it... but it was decent.
A boat we saw in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. We love "Life is Good" brand! I'm actually wearing a LIG hat in the photo!
Ray standing on the dock in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
August 8, 2009:
We drove from Cranbrook, BC, Canada, to Invermere (a cute little resort town) and finally to Kootenay National Park (Canadian) and camped for the night.
-- The visit at Invermere was great. They had a cute farmer's market (that didn't sell huckleberries, sadly). We saw a deer within 10 feet that didn't bat an eye as we walked back to our car.
-- We had lunch at Tim Horton's (Canada's obsession with donuts baffles us. You can get a sandwich, drink, and donut combo. Seriously, donuts are everywhere!) This chain restaurant may also explain the lack of Starbucks. It was also the home to the most angry Canadian I've met.
-- We drove through Radium Hot Springs just inside of the Kootenay National Park. Doesn't "radium" sound dangerous? Apparently they named it Radium Hot Springs because they wanted to attract tourists to an odorless hot spring. But, Radium? Yeah, it contains small amounts...
-- We kept on driving through to a little lake (Olive Lake) and then to Mcleod Meadows Camground. It was fantastic. There was gorgeous glacial water and 2 bridges with very few campers.
Here's Ray at the campsite.
One of the great bridges over the glacial water.
August 9, 2009:
Today was our drive to Banff, Alberta, Canada. It wasn't too far from our camp the night before. We checked in to the timeshare Ray's grandparents reserved for us while we stay here a week. They're amazing! We're so grateful and it's been so nice having a "home" for a solid week. We hadn't stayed anywhere for more than a day before this.
-- The MOST exciting thing about the entire trip, according to Brandy, is the Moose sighting! This was the second I've ever seen. It was another girl and we saw her well. Unfortunately, she didn't want a photo taken of herself... but just so incredibly gorgeous. Thanks, God!
-- We visited Marble Canyon in Kootenay NP and saw the dead trees from the 2003 wildfire that killed off about 12.5% of the NP's in Canada. There are some gorgeous wildflowers coming up out of that devastation, though.
-- We checked into the Banff timeshare... then off to explore the town.
-- Banff was cute. We had some really overrated mexican food and were just overall disappointed. It should be a law that they automatically serve chips and salsa. We also found a fun surprise for Ray's sister... we also visited the Banff Springs Hotel that is pictured below (incredible).
-- We also visited Bow Falls which was... okay. It's right in the downtown area and the "falls" are about maybe 20 feet. Not too impressive.
-- Safeway visit for yummy food! We're excited to be able to cook at our homestead for the week! Eating out is tough after awhile.
Banff Springs Hotel - Banff, Alberta, Canada.
August 10, 2009:
Gorgeous sightings today! We left our "apartment" to visit Lake Louise = beautiful. We visited another lake, Lake Moraine, saw Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park and a small town named Field.
-- Lake Louise is just stunning. The glacier behind is obviously depleting. I can't imagine it being there for more than another couple hundred years.
-- The hotel at Lake Louise (Chateau Lake Louise is even more beautiful than Banff's above hotel).
-- Moraine Lake is another lake close to LL. It's also beautiful and less crowded.
-- Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park (1 of the 5) was great. It was raining and windy. Perfect combination for a fun waterfall adventure!
-- We visited a small town of Field and then back to our home base in Banff.
Here's the incredible Lake Louise!
Lake Moraine
Takakkaw Falls
August 11, 2009:
We drove to a local town of Canmore just outside of the National Park (only about 20 miles away from where we're at in Banff). Did a little sightseeing... then back to work out and hang out back in Banff. It was a rainy day here and we did a little chilling out (hence the blog update).
-- Canmore was cute and had a fun combo of Wendy's/Tim Horton's!
-- Ray stopped off to check out a tiny old gold mining town, then back in the car for the next stop...
-- Lake Minnewanka...
-- Two Jack Lake...
-- On the way back to Banff, we stopped off to check out 30+ elk in a meadow just hanging out. It was incredible. Incredible. Maybe one less cool point than the moose a few days prior. But, to see that many wild animals in a pack is just incredible. It's right there up with the cruise outside of the Channel Islands with the pod of 1,000's of dolphins. Also incredible. Seeing wildlife just makes you so thankful for the gorgeous world God's created.
-- This marks the 3rd day of intense cardio workout for the Wilson's! We feel amazing.
-- Visit to the hot tub... and Safeway, again for delicious, overpriced produce.
Here's a peek of the elk.

There's an even better elk photo and much more if you click HERE.


EastCoastMarc said... [Reply to comment]

I have been trying to find your Uncle Ron for about 7 years! If you would be so kind, send me an email, and I'll tell you who I am, how I know him and give you my contact info. Thanks!