Week 13 ~ Sunday, August 23 to Saturday, August 29

Day 82 ~ Sunday, August 23 - At nine o'clock on this Sunday morning, we have cloudy skies, 57 degrees and have been served just enough light rain to get things wet. The sun is starting to peak thru the clouds. We are listening to Bible studies by Ronald L. Dart. I recorded these from the internet a long time ago when he was on the radio in Detroit. So interesting, educational, and easy to listen to.

Diane has all of her work done and we are ready to hit the road south toward the good ol' U.S. of A. We left the Bee Lazee RV Park in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, at about 10:30 am and headed south on highway 97. The driving was very good. We have a long way to go today.

The temperature was rising all day during our drive south on highway 97 toward the U.S. border with scenery that was very nice through mostly forests and a lot of farmland as we dropped more south in British Columbia. We drove by a lot of hay fields and lumber works. There were many more people living in the lower part of B.C. and it was starting to show. The whole drive was basically a nice sunny Sunday drive thru the Canadian countryside.

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We are driving south on British Columbia highway 1 about 100 miles north of the US border. 75% of the Canadian population live within 100 miles of the US border. Where the hell are they? I don't see 'em. Hello, Canadians. Come out, come out, wherever you are.
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Pretty nice drive and we went thru 4 short tunnels. Cool.
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What yellow line? Get out of my way you stinkin' American tourists with your damn trailers!
Actually, it's my duty here to point out that the visibility up the road is pretty good. Nobody coming. Why the hell is there a yellow line on our side? Somebody in government has a brother-in-law who sells yellow road paint. Pure waste. I don't think the Canadians will ever run out of other people's money to spend.

It was way after seven o'clock and we drove a lot today and knew we couldn't make it across the border to the U.S., so one more night of camping in Canada. We really wanted to stay our last night in Canada in a Provincial Park because they are so accommodating, and so we did. Cultus Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia was our host for the night. We arrived in our site at eight o'clock which is the cutoff time for running generators. The refrigerator temperature was hanging in there, but I can't run the generator until nine in the morning. Bad planning. We could have, should have stopped in the day use area before the campground and run the generator there for a half hour or so. Bad planning, Oh, well.

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It's so sad. This is our last night of camping in a Provincial Park. We do love these parks.
On the bright side, this is our last night in Canada.

We are not very far from the border as the crow flies. We'll do it tomorrow. So we had a nice dinner and an alcohol beverage to top off the day and our trip thru Canada. We banged out a lot of driving today, so good night, y'all.

Day 82 Summary ~ We drove about 423 miles today which puts us at 10,186 total miles into our journey.

Day 83 ~ Monday, August 24 - (Diane here) We woke up this morning to sunny skies and a bit of warmth. Again, I quietly grabbed my stuff for a SHOWER! Yes, Cultus Lake Provincial Park has showers! I was so excited when I went to wash my hands last night and saw that they had hot water and showers! I turned the water on and there were six small sprays coming from the shower head. It took a while for the water to get warm enough to actually take a quick run through, but that's what I did. I was somewhat disappointed. There wasn't enough water to wash my hair but the major parts are tidied up. I know this is more info than you need, but again, how can these campgrounds keep screwing up simple conveniences? This is unreal or maybe we're in The Twilight Zone. Oh, wait, we're in Canada!

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Cultus Lake Provincial Park has a lake. Some Canadians know how to have eXtreme fun.

We had an interesting experience going through the border and it took just a little longer than usual. We were stopped and had to talk to the agricultural inspections guy because I had an orange still with us and it was from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. He claimed to have been a Spartan and was lenient, but took the orange. In short order, WE ARE BACK IN THE USA!!! How wonderful it feels to be back home and only 7 states to drive through to really be home. Real rest areas with flush toilets and maps, road signs, speed limit signs, traffic, a car from Florida and another from Massachusetts and someone's waving at us – oh, they're from Michigan! Yea! Hi! This feels right! Stores with names that we recognize, temperature gauges in Fahrenheit, miles not km – this is so good!

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Here we are in line waiting to go thru U.S. customs at the Port of Sumas north of Seattle.
We are still about twenty feet inside Canada. Come on, hurry up!
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Now we are in the U.S. - Physically, but not officially.

We called Dad because our cell phones work again. We talked to Tim. We called Gregg and Gale and texted them too, but they probably won't get any phone messages because they have shitty Sprint. Our Verizon hotspot works again – we have internet! I can't tell you how good this is. I never want to leave the states again. Gas is a mere $3.00 per GALLON and not a litre. All we have to do right now is get gas, get ourselves through Seattle traffic at rush hour, find a campsite at Mount Rainier and then find Gregg and Gale. That's our short list. Completely doable. Right?

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We are on southbound highway 9 in the U.S. and it's 80 MILES to Seattle, not 80 Kilometers.
And there isn't any French translation here either with all the extra vowels. Okay, to be fair, the French translation of Seattle is Seattle. But the point is: We're out of Canada.
Our daughter Lindsay has a road named for her and a town in Montana. Wow!

The lumber and boat businesses are HUGE here in northwest Washington – RVs too. We've passed lots of places for them. Espresso Shops are everywhere. Mt. Baker is to our left – just where it's supposed to be. I-5 has 6 lanes of traffic, but it's moving nicely. Seattle is only 26 miles away now. We're driving 60 and it feels sluggish on this road. We made the jump to I-405 heading south. Traffic still moving well on our side and heading into the city. The other side – heading out of the city - has been backed up and solid almost since we got on I-5 and has continued that way on I-405 – lots of traffic here. We'll get slammed south of Seattle and into Tacoma. We remember this from the last time we were here which is why we've never seen the Space Needle or Seattle for that matter. We got into their traffic and just wanted OUT.

We're just about even with Seattle and the traffic on our side has slowed to a near stop. We are in trouble here. Maybe it's a good time to stop for dinner and let these people go home. It's about 80 degrees and the sunshine feel great - warmth – finally warmth. There are traffic lights on the freeway entrance ramps to meter the flow of cars entering the freeway and that's probably a good thing here.

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Welcome to Seattle rush hour traffic. We're not going anywhere in this mess. We did manage to move over to the right and get off the freeway. Lots good that did. The surface traffic was just as congested. Oh, poop!

We got off the interstate and all we hit was traffic and more traffic that wasn't moving, really not moving. I don't know how anybody every gets home from work. We finally stopped in a Whole Foods parking lot, wandered around inside and bought a few things, then walked across the street to Chick-fil-A for dinner and regrouping. We've heard a strange noise earlier that we think is coming from the truck. Just what we need. We'll have to investigate later if we ever get out of this damn city.

We again tried to go south with no luck; there was still unbelievable traffic. The Verizon hotspot is working well and we have internet and Google so we found a couple of local parking lot campgrounds but they didn't seem inclined to unlock their doors to take our money. Looking for an RV Park took way too much time so we located a Walmart on the internet. A night in a Walmart parking lot would be a first for us.

We did indeed spend the night in the noisy Walmart parking lot in Puyallup, Washington. This Walmart is open 24 hours and the store had all of the food provisions that we need for the next few days including a new pair of sneakers; I wore out my old pair. What a night. We did get some sleep when the kids weren't drag-racing thru our campground, I mean parking lot. This is the ONLY campsite that I didn't get any pictures of. Well, I really didn't want any.

Day 83 Summary ~ We drove about 209 miles today which puts us at 10,395 total miles into our journey.
I don't have any night-time weather to report. It was warmer than Canada

Day 84 ~ Tuesday, August 25 - We were up early and checked out the Walmart for shoes, groceries and cough medicine. First, I wore out an older pair of shoes and now Alan has worn out a pair too. We've been doing a lot of walking. Some might call it hiking, but I don't. We are finished with Walmart, so, out of the parking lot we go.

I found a Jiffy Lube on the internet and it was just a block away, we got the oil changed in the truck. It was such a blessing that we stopped, because Alan found that the Serpentine belt idler pulley was half way falling off and caused the belt to go off its track and get sliced lengthwise. What a mess! It needed to be replaced immediately and was probably the noise we heard yesterday. Carquest had the belt. Installing the belt revealed another problem. The bolt that holds the air conditioner magnetic clutch plate onto the pulley was missing. A metric bolt that Carquest had in stock. The poor truck is falling apart.

He also checked out the under-carriage of the trailer for damage. We'll need to find a dollar car wash to see if there are any problems underneath all of the Canadian mud. The auto parts guy told us where to find the DIY car wash down the street. Five dollars later, most of the Yukon dirt was removed from the wheels on the truck and trailer. We'll see if this helps with the strange noise we are hearing. This is turning into a maintenance catch-up day and the services we need are available. While we're at it, we should probably refill our 2nd propane tank since we changed over a couple weeks ago. That can wait for now.

Gregg and Gale have not responded yet to our texts and messages, so we will continue on toward Mt. Rainier. If they decided to visit Victoria Island, they may still be in Canada. We just don't know. Mt. Rainier is not far and waiting for us. We're coming!

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Eatonville, Washington - Ya just gotta love small-town U.S.A.

Feeling good again about the truck, we drove south and into Mt. Rainier National Park to Cougar Rock Campground about four-thirty in the afternoon and found a note from Gregg and Gale that they had spent the night before at this campground. The note was unclear whether they had registered for 2 nights or one, so we chose a site across the road from their site, site A4, which is one site away from the restrooms. We had dinner and walked around the campground. We've stayed here before and believe it to be the most beautiful campground that we have ever stayed; Loop B is our favorite with its twisty, hilly road.

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Guess where we are. Is this a cool park entrance or what?
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Our campsite in Cougar Rock campground, loop A, site 4, is actually a pull-thru but so damn uneven that I had the front jacked up almost all the way and the rear sitting on the shortest jack stands. And our trailer is only fifteen feet long. Just try to level a 24 footer. The turns getting in and out of this site were real tight. Fogetta-bout-it Mr. Fifth-Wheel.
This picture was actually taken the next morning.

After parking the truck and trailer into the site, disaster struck when I (Alan) opened the rear truck door and my Disney Mickey Mouse coffee mug rolled out, hit the rocky ground and broke. It is a favorite cup and I knew the risks of bringing it camping with us. Now we need to go back to Disney World to buy another one. I loved that trip in May. I did have that cup for a few years and got a lot of use out of it. I'll be more careful with my new Mt. Rainier cup that I bought as a replacement for the remainder of the trip. Coffee is better out of a ceramic cup at home and away. One of those comfort things, you know.

At eight-thirty, we attended the Ranger talk about stars at the amphitheater and barely stayed awake. We walked back to the trailer to feel the pillow smack us in the face at ten o'clock. Our previous night's sleep at Walmart was inadequate to say the least. We are tired. Good night.

Day 84 Summary ~ We drove about 60 miles today which puts us at 10,454 total miles into our journey.
The temperature was in the lower fifties during the night with clear skies.

Day 85 ~ Wednesday, August 26 - The weather is absolutely beautiful except for a bit of haze in the distance which is cutting down the visibility of the far-off mountains that surround us. It is warm, 60 degrees, and sunny in the early morning.

This is our second day camping in Cougar Rock campground and we changed campsites in loop A from A4 to A28 which is the next site over. Now we are right next to the restrooms; very convenient. BTW: the water is very good here; melted mountain snow.

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Our second campsite, A28, is better and closer to the poop house.

Gregg and Gale did not reappear at their site and we don't know where the hell they are. Oh, well, they must be in a hurry to leave this most beautiful campground where we chose to stay another night. The last time we were here was in 2002 and we wanted to retrace a few of our steps to see if all the trees were in the same places. Of course they are right where we left 'em.

It's a little past noon and the sun shines brightly, but the air is a bit hazy as we left the campground and drove up Paradise Road toward Paradise. We took a lot of pictures on this drive and stopped at most of the pull outs to get pictures of Mt. Rainier, but the very top was hiding under a cloud all day and never showed itself. There's always tomorrow. Hazy pictures today all over. The distant mountain ranges are foggy looking. Oh, well! We can't control the weather. We never did see Mt. McKinley in Alaska. I don't think it exists.

Christine Falls, Narada Falls, and Mystic Falls were sparse due to the lack of rainfall here. We've heard that Washington State is in a drought now and observed it in the emaciated lakes and rivers. We also drove very near a forest fire getting in here. A couple days ago, 3 firefighters lost their lives just to the north. That fire is not yet under control. Washington is in a drought and California is getting rain – go figure – must have something to do with “global warming”. Al Gore knows the answer.

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This is Narada Falls. The water is way down this year. Just not enough rainfall.

Paradise is right where it's supposed to be with a Visitor Center and the Paradise Inn. This is a pretty busy area right at the base of Mr. Rainier. We took a hike on the Skyline Trail where the wildflowers are in full bloom and the trail is paved and very much up hill. There were a lot of walkers on the trail and we met a nice Czech lady who showed us her pictures of a tri-colored marmot and several other creatures on the trail ahead. Also, a nice couple from Ashville, North Caroline, who flew in and were staying at the Paradise Inn. Lucky them.

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In back of the visitor center is a large seating (rest) area with a great view of Mt. Rainier.
The mountain is shy today and is wearing a fluffy white hat. Too much haze.
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The Skyline Trail is a most scenic walk with birds and other small creatures.

We walked thru Paradise Inn at about five o'clock and visited the gift shop where I bought my new Mt. Rainier souvenir coffee mug mentioned earlier and Diane got another pin for her collection. Like the lodges in other National Parks, this inn would be a wonderful place to spend a week, or two. They have a great looking formal dining room.

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The Paradise Inn is designed to withstand a zillion feet of snow on its roof.
The inside is a real classic lodge decor without dead animal heads hanging on the walls.
There is a cool "Mail Bear" mailbox.

Here's a good one for ya. Before we left the Paradise parking lot, I opened the hood of the truck to check the oil and see how the new serpentine belt was doing. That stuff was okay. I closed the hood and it bounced, not latching. What the hell? I now have another problem to fix. The latch got a good cleaning by spraying a crap load of WD40 on it. Not working. Looks like the latch may have died. Well, there's the second safety latch. Not good enough for me so I wrapped a piece of wire around the whole thing as a temporary safety thing. The nice people of the world will be telling me that my hood is not latched. Good grief!

Also, the left rear truck brake has been making noise and getting real hot. Looks like the caliper is binding. I saw this one coming several days ago and I was hoping the power washing of the Yukon dirt would help the situation. Still noisy and hot. I'll try to ignore it for a couple days.

We managed to kill the whole afternoon so we headed back to our Cougar Rock campsite for cheese and chips, rum and coke, and then a really nice dinner. A perfect touristy camping day in all with mostly sunny warm weather. A little too much haze that prevented a clear view of Mt. Rainier. Maybe tomorrow. It's going to be good sleeping tonight. Quiet and cool. We love this park!

Day 85 Summary ~ We drove about 18 miles today which puts us at 10,473 total miles into our journey.
I failed to get an exact temperature reading for the night. The skies were clear again.

Day 86 ~ Thursday, August 27 - The temperature was 58 degrees at eight-thirty in the morning under very sunny skies. We'll get to see the mountain today during our 30 mile drive over to Ohanapecosh Campground. First, we need to run the generator, again. It's eight-fifteen and time to wake up the neighbors. After the generator run, we packed up the trailer and hitched it up to the truck.

Well, off we go up to Paradise and down the road to Ohanapecosh on the ever-so-scenic twisty turny drive thru the huge trees. We stopped a dozen times to take pictures and more pictures of Mt. Rainier which stood out in all its glory today. This is a beautiful National Park with a lot of hiking trails, long and short, several campgrounds, rivers and waterfalls and all things mountain and nature like. We want to come back soon and spend a week here. Maybe next year.

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On a beautiful day like this, Mt. Rainier is absolutely spectacular.
There is beauty around every 15mph hair-pin curve. Watch your speed.
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The Paradise River that supplies water to Ruby Falls is kinda low. The water flows under the bridge and then "falls" down the rocks. There are a lot of waterfalls in Mt. Rainier NP.
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The view from the pullout at Ruby Falls on a sunny day. Pretty nice i'd say.

Ruby Falls

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Even with the water as low as it is, Ruby Falls is very picturesque.
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A tunnel thru the edge of a mountain is always a thrill.

We took several hours to drive the forty-five minute drive from one campground to the other. Finding an open campsite for just this one night took us a while looking thru most of the eight camping loops. We settled for Loop F, site 1, close to the restrooms, of course, with no neighbors to our back. Most of the sites here are quite small and suitable for tents only. Most of the sites are maybe twenty-five feet deep at most and sloped like hell. Lots of trailer leveling required. There are a few pull thrus that will handle a larger rig, maybe 26 feet. If you have a 36 ft fifth wheel, you won't make it around the curves in the loops. Same thing at Cougar Rock Campground. Very tight turns with large trees close to the road. Big rigs better stay home.

It is unbelievably quiet here. The trees are huge! Many are 3 to 4 feet in diameter and touch the skies with their height. The national parks don't believe in cutting up the fallen trees and there are massive logs all over the place. It'll probably take fifty years for them to rot. We just love this whole place and everything about it. The best camping!

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Our campsite in Ohanapecosh Campground is huge, just like the trees. The actual parking spot was not so big and on a nasty slope. This huge tree is about 4 feet in diameter and probably 300 years old. They are all over this campground.
To top things off, there is an actual hot springs here in the campground.
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Did this tree make a sound when it fell if nobody was here to hear it fall.

Even with our little fifteen foot trailer, it took a bit of maneuvering to get situated and level. We are snuggled into our one-night site and the temperature is a warm 79 degrees at 4:30 pm with a low 42% humidity and sunny skies. We can't see the skies because the trees are so tall. We are in a valley and there is no way to see the big mountain from here. That's okay. We have a lot of pictures. They are predicting rain tomorrow. They need it. Everything is so damn dry. There are a lot of forest fires outside the park causing problems with visibility and road closures.

A beer, chips, a walk on the nature trail to see the hot springs, check out the river and then dinner capped the late afternoon and early evening. What another great camping day this has been. Our thanks to the National Parks. My personal thanks to Jim Beam Apple Liqueur with Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey in a bottle and now in my glass, neat. Boy is this stuff good!

Day 86 Summary ~ We drove about 33 miles today which puts us at 10,506 total miles into our journey.
It is 68 degrees outside at 9:25 pm Pacific time with clear skies.

Day 87 ~ Friday, August 28 - The temperature is a comfortable 58 degrees at ten-thirty and we have a sprinkle-type rain going on outside since very early this morning. We have to leave Mt. Rainier National Park today in search of our next campground with good Wi-Fi or good Verizon 3G or 4G service so Diane can do her work thing for this week.

We kept changing our minds about visiting Mt. St. Helens and finally decided to do it because we are so close. We hit the road at about eleven heading south out of the park and then west on US12 toward Packwood where we gassed up for a silly 309.9 per gallon. The truck is running great, except for all of the little squeaks and things, and is getting better than 12 miles per gallon which is pretty good pulling the trailer up and down mountains. Sure glad the valve job was done right before we left.

Verizon was giving us a good signal and the hotspot was working fine and we had mobile internet to help us find our full-service camping for today. The town of Mossyrock was on our way to Mt. St. Helens and they have a park with camping. This is one cute little town with a cute little downtown. We slowly drove thru to the far side and out down the road a couple of miles to Mossyrock Park. Here we are for the night with electric, very nice restrooms with showers and good Verizon service. Fills our bill. Diane is working and I am typing this stuff. Up it goes to the cloud. A Sam Adams with sardines in honey mustard sauce on crackers is the appetizer. Camping is good.

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There are one heck of a lot of trucks hauling logs. The logging business is big in Washington.
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Our Mossyrock campsite is paved and level. You can see our trailer carpet drying in the sun. Notice the slightly open hood on the truck? Something else to repair. Diane is inside, working.

The skies are slightly overcast and there was actually a tiny bit of sprinkles that disappeared quickly. The carpet and pad in the trailer needed a major shake out and drying due to one of our water bottles failing to completely hold water. So out they came and onto the paved camp site to dry in the funky sunshine while Diane worked. I still need to pull the rear wheel off of the truck to see what gives with the overheating brake. Maybe I can fix the hood latch also. I did pull the left rear wheel and found nothing weird.

I took a break, sat on the picnic table bench and enjoyed a can of sardines in mustard sauce with crackers. Yum, good stuff loaded with good fish oil. It's getting dark and dinner needs to be made. It's Friday and salmon (fish is an old Catholic thing for Friday) is waiting. No, I didn't get the salmon from Alaska. Too expensive there. I had a cup of black tea and the last piece of tasteless peach pie for dessert. This puts us at the end of another wonderful day. Good night.

Day 87 Summary ~ We drove about 61 miles today which puts us at 10,567 total miles into our journey.
It only got down into the sixties during the night and poured rain.

Day 88 ~ Saturday, August 29 - We were aroused from our slumber very early this morning by the pouring rain making a lot of racket on our metal roof. We're used to the noise and went back to sleep for a couple more hours. The temperature at nine was a warm 68 degrees, as compared to the warm 58 degrees in Canada, extremely windy and looking like more rain any minute. This weather may deter our viewing of Mt. St. Helens today.

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Mossyrock, Washington, is a cute little town with a real post office. We had post cards to mail.

Well, we are off to find the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center, not far from here, maybe sixty miles. The drive was very scenic. This is western Washington and the countryside is absolutely wonderful. I could live here. When we arrived at the Visitor Center, built in 1998 and run by the state, not federal, and across the road from Seaquest State Park on Hwy 504 about fifteen miles east of I5. We visited the mountain in 1982, two years after it blew, and there was a temporary Visitor Center at Johnson Ridge right close to the mountain. The view of the mountain from there was breathtaking. All of the trees were flattened down by the blast and there was six inches of ash covering the ground as far as we could see. Quite an experience seeing the devastation two years after the event.

The new state-run Visitor Center is very large and loaded with information and movies. We walked the mile-long nature trail in back of the Visitor Center and looked for the mountain which is quite visible on a clear day from here. This is not a clear day and the mountain was too far away with too many clouds in the way. We decided to drive the 42 mile trip up to Johnson Ridge for a closer look. The nasty winds last night took out the power to all of the buildings up the road to the mountain. The rain started again and the clouds came in closer to really block our view. About thirty miles up the road is another Visitor Center without power, but manned by some park personnel. We were told that the mountain was not at all visible today at Johnson Ridge, so this was the end of our Mt. St. Helen viewing adventure. We know it's there and wanted to see how nature has recovered in thirty-five years since we were here last. Oh, well.

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The weather was quite nice here so we went for long walk on the boardwalk and nature trail.
We had to watch out for the gators and the creature from the black lagoon.
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Just a half-hour drive up the road to Mt. St. Helens and the weather looked like this. It was raining and we were only a short distance from the second visitor center.
There was no way we were going to see the mountain today.

We stopped at the Safeway store right off of I-5 in Woodland, Washington, about thirty miles north of Portland, Oregon, for food and rum. The state tax on liquor is 20.5% plus $3.77 per liter. Wow! The Safeway here has a gas station like some Kroger stores back home. Well, years ago I got a Safeway shoppers card like the Kroger Plus card and I have been booking in points on this trip which I applied to my gas purchase for a nice little savings. The station also sold Rhino propane, so I swapped out the empty bottle for a nice new one for twenty bucks; good price. We are good to go again.

Here's a good one for ya. The state of Washington charges 20½% sales tax on liquor. Alcoholic beverages are very expensive here.

In a light rain, we continued our drive south on I-5 across the Columbia River and into Portland, Oregon, where we headed east on I84 about 22 miles to Multnomah Falls. There is a very nice visitor center and restaurant there right next to the spectacular 620ft tall falls. One of the best falls viewing areas we have ever seen with its stone walls and small raised viewing bridge. Really cool and picturesque.

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The 620ft high Multnomah Falls is absolutely spectacular. The Visitor Center to our right is a beautiful stone building with a restaurant. It was raining and I had a drop of water in the middle of the camera lens. That's Diane walking into the gift shop to spend some money.

Multnomah Falls

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This is a cool waterfall.

Well, the rain started to get real serious and we left our umbrellas in the truck; dumb move. It's time to leave 'cause we're getting wet, it's late and it is getting quite dark. Gregg called us on the cell and told us that they were camped out in a KOA Campground in Cascade Locks about 15 miles east off I-84. So off we go. The campground was a typical KOA with small sites and clean restrooms; a nice port in the storm. A late dinner was in order with a little booze to help me sleep. Good night, Irene, good night.

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Our campsite in the Cascade Locks KOA Campground was a dandy. Lousy rain!
Day 88 Summary ~ We drove about 202 miles today which puts us at 10,769 total miles into our journey.
It is 62 degrees outside at 9:30 pm Pacific time and it's been raining for hours.
This is the end of Week 13 ~ Tomorrow is Sunday and start of a new week, so you'll need to Click Here to Go to Week 14