Friday, July 27, 2007
I left Portland during rush hour, which influenced my decision to drive up the Oregon side of the river before rejoining I-5 in Longview. But one thing leads to another and by Scapoose, I had an urge to go back to Mist and visit the old store. Just a little out of the way. But many miles of winding road later, I found the Mist Store was gone. I thought maybe my memory had blanked (it had only been 27 years), or that maybe I might be somehow missing downtown Mist (hah, hah!), but I found a site that looked like it might have once been the place. A big gas tank and a vacant plot of land.
I still have a photo of the Mist Store from July, 1980. I had visited the Nehalem Valley back when the Mist gas field was new (probably the only commercial production in the northwest) and remember how remarkable it was to see gas wells in the midst of the forest, since most of the oil and gas I had seen before had been in somwhat less lush geographies like Wyoming and Bakersfield.
Thanks to the web, I have now learned that the Mist Store served burgers and milkshakes, that it was the oldest continually operated store in Oregon (since 1874), and that it burned to the ground on July 6, 2001.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I took a break at lunch from discussions of coastal management and melting ice sheets to reconnect with some simpler stuff. I combined a medley of Portland mass transit - MAX and the street car - with a good cup of tea (the tea was good, the cup was actually a bit tricky) at the Chinese Garden. Nice cultural contrast to the great Cuban food at Oba! this evening.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Road Trip redux
States (WA, ID, MT, WY, CO, UT, OR)
- St. Regis MT
- West Yellowstone MT (2)
- Rock Springs WY
- Estes Park CO (3)
- Dillon CO (2)
- Buena Vista CO
- Moab UT
- Twin Falls ID
- Kennewick WA
Camped (8 nights)
Hotels (5 nights)
-- Brown's Canyon on the Arkansas River
-- Emerald Lake above Estes Park
Showers (every night)
Dairy Queen (frequently)
Lattes (almost every day)
Most miles in a day (545)
-- Moab to Twin Falls
Serious car problems (none!)
Thunderstorms (never enough)
-- Yellowstone Lake on evening of July 4th
-- Between Pinedale and Rock Springs, in distance
-- Estes Park
-- During raft trip
Hottest point (100+)
-- Grand Junction or Salt Lake City?
-- bison, pronghorn, deer, wolves
-- elk, raptors, moose, jackrabbits
-- road kill, bugs, tourist pets
-- most on first night
Maximum speed (81 mph)
I persuaded D & M to get out of their sleeping bags so we could get out to the Canyon while the light was still relatively low, the temperature not too hot, and the tourists not too thick. It was a bit overcast, but spectacular as ever. Kept waiting for Thelma and Louise to cruise past...
But this is not the trip nor the season to linger here, and so we went back to town, packed up the tent and bought ice, and headed for Seattle.
Beautiful early evening drive along the Colorado above Moab, followed by a late dinner at ZAKs in town and another RV Park. Nice showers and a covered parking space for the tent! Glad the adjacent space wasn't taken. Noisy - highway traffic and late night french tourists.
We turned off the TV, decided against the bike ride down from Vail Pass (maybe next trip?), and made reservations for Brown's Canyon that afternoon. The raft trip down the Arkansas was great. The river was pretty warm, but the rain was cold and we shivered a bit. Typical - our family complains about the heat all the time, and then the one time we want it hot, it isn't.
We camped at the Buena Vista KOA - which was actually one of our nicest camp spots of the trip - great views of Mount Princeton across the valley. Then up and over Independence Pass and a couple hours walking through Aspen, a round of minigolf at Glenwood Springs (we decided against the giant hot springs pool), and off for the western desert.
We left Jellystone and drove down to Boulder (our farthest point from Seattle and probably the place on the trip most similar to Wallingford politically), where we stopped at REI for me to find a better camping pillow. I dragged M&D up past Rollinsville to the East Portal of the Moffett Tunnel, then we drove through Central City (ice cream and t-shirts have given way to a gambling Disneyland over the past 20 years). Crossed under the continental divide on I-70 (was this our 8th or 10th crossing of the divide so far this trip?) and found a Comfort Suites at the bottom of the hill in Dillon (Jellystone had exhausted my patience with RV Park camping, but showers sounded good and D had gone many days without cable).
We tried out some restaurants in Frisco and spent a good part of a day at Breckenridge. M went into town while D and rented bikes and rode down the mountain. We all did the alpine slides and the minigolf.
We had headed to Rocky Mountain Park on the Friday evening after the 4th, without reservations. So somewhere between Walden and Granby, M pulled out the AAA book and the cell phone and started calling. Most places were full, but one campground outside of Estes Park had a space. Hey, hey, hey!
We spent two days in Estes Park, mixing it up a bit. Minigolf, pizza, bumper boats, and yes, we even went hiking up above Bear Lake. We hung out a couple of times at Kind Coffee, where D and M played cards while I drank coffee and uploaded photos.
The coffee place is located at the lower edge of town, about where the police had closed off the road on that wet night back in late July, 1976, when the Big Thompson canyon washed out. When I hitched up the canyon late that afternoon, the dark clouds had been impressive, but the rain hadn't started yet. I spent hours that evening walking through hard rain and constant lightning back and forth from town to the park entrance, trying to find a dry place to hide. I still have a copy of the next day's Rocky Mountain News.
We headed over Trail Ridge Road late Friday afternoon and then dropped into Estes Park, which looked as it always does - crowded.
D complained about getting out of the car, but once he did, jogged up the stairs to 12,000 feet.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Rock Springs is conveniently located on America's main drag. The Bay Bridge is 1000 miles to the west; the George Washington Bridge is 2000 miles to the east. We drove in the direction of Yankee Stadium for 150 miles or so before turning south and heading for Colorado. Cattle, antelope, and snow fences.
Originally, I had hoped to stay in Pinedale, but it turned out that the evening drive south to Rock Springs was even better.
I was playing Sawmill Creek's Willow on my iPod as we drove into town - "she settled on a small place somewhere down near Pinedale, in the Wind River Mountains, she lived wild and free" - a song I first heard while on a rig site in South Dakota in 1982 and which I chased down in Boulder a few months later.
The sun was setting off to the northwest. A bright northeastern sky sillouhetted the whole Wind River range, from north of Gannett Peak all the way south to where they taper out near South Pass. Fremont Peak was prominent. I went to the top during my month-long sojourn in the Winds during the summer of 1981. I told D I wanted to go back and show him the place someday.
A big electrical storm filled the sky to the southwest and there was lightning all the way to Rock Springs. Active oil rigs on the Pinedale Anticline were lit up against the darkening western hills. An occasional jack rabbit dashed across our bright beams. It was completely dark by the time we dropped down the hill into Rock Springs and onto Interstate 80.
Some rides are better than others. This was one of the best. An "E" Ticket with an emotional punch.
We spent July 4th doing the Yellowstone tourist circuit, not getting back to the campsite until the parade was over (the West Yellowstone fireworks had been cancelled due to the fire risk). We substituted lightning and rainbows over Yellowstone Lake and a beautiful sunset from Old Faithful, figuring we'll get our share of fireworks in Vancouver in a few weeks.