Week 14 ~ Sunday, August 30 to Saturday, September 5

Day 89 ~ Sunday, August 30 - The weather was still rainy in the morning when we got up. The campground offered pancakes and sausage for two bucks so breakfast was easy. Diane did a couple loads of laundry and we listened to another installment of Ronald L. Dart bible study. Great stuff.

We left the KOA Campground heading west on I-84 in a light rain that cleared up shortly down road. We came upon the Bonneville Fish Hatchery on the Columbia river that runs next to the highway. This place sucked us in for a couple hours. We have seen a few fish hatcheries and fish ladders on our trip, but this place tops them all. Big and, unlike the other hatcheries, was fully operational and educational. We took the self-guided tour that explained everything. There were signs and informational plaques on everything. Very cool. Little fish to big fish, we've seen them all. Now we know how they make fish. I thought Kroger did it by themselves.

float pix vacation pix
The Bonneville Fish Hatchery is a huge facility with many building and holding tanks inside and out. Lots of things to read.
vacation pix
Inside one of the building is where they hatch the fish eggs. Millions of 'em.
float pix float pix float pix vacation pix vacation pix
The Hatchery grounds is a real park-like setting with beautiful flower gardens, sculptures, fountains and natural fish ponds. The White Sturgeon flowers are very colorful. Maybe the sign is for the fish in the pond.

We continued our drive west on I-84 to I-5 and headed south. We missed the exit that Gregg and Gale took. Don't ask how we did that, but it was a bad thing. The next exit was ten miles down I-5. We were in a real mess. We followed the map program's suggested route and were led onto a highway that basically turned into a tiny little back road about twenty miles into it. It was rainy and the truck's heater, ac and defroster were all malfunctioning due to the heater core leak and our viability out the windshield was really bad. This white-knuckle, late-day driving was getting really dangerous. It took us quite a while to get ourselves turned around, back on track and return to where we should have been about two hours before. What a damn waste of time and it was very dark outside now.

vacation pix
The weather was okay at the beginning of our drive south on I5 but soon turned into rain.

We got back on eastbound highway 58 and found Willamette National Forest campground that would be our host for this very rainy and dark night. Getting the trailer and truck into a site was a real trick, but it happened and we were in for a good night's rest. Campsite pictures will have to wait until tomorrow morning. God takes good care of us in our time of need and we do thank Him. Dinner was in order with a much-needed glass of booze. What a trip!

Day 89 Summary ~ We drove about 293 miles today which puts us at 11,062 total miles into our journey.
The temperature went down to 53 degrees last night with a light rain.

Day 90 ~ Monday, August 31 - It rained a lot last night and finished by eight o'clock in the morning when we got up to meet the day and see what our campsite looked like. It was really dark when we pulled in last night. The temperature rose nicely to 56 degrees and was still quite cloudy at 9:30 am., but no rain. The roads in the campground were creating steam in the sunshine that was peaking thru the clouds and trees. Pretty cool! Kinda the calm after the storm.

float pix vacation pix
Our campsite in Willamette National Forest Campground came with a green carpeted tree. Neat! This was a real nice rustic campground.
The old poop house was a mess. Fortunately, they have nice new replacements.

We did indeed pick a nice National Forest campground last night; or maybe it picked us. There are maybe 20 sites here of which 3 are occupied that we could see. The highway is very close and we can hear an occasional car or truck zip on by. All and all, quiet, and cheap. The well water has a bit of yellow color to it, but it tastes pretty good and the truck likes it just fine as a coolant; I had to put in a gallon due to the leak in the heater core. I'm going to have to get that fixed; maybe in Boise, Idaho, the next really big city on our way back home. The sites here are black-topped and ours was much higher than the ground on our door side. It made exiting the trailer an adventure and possibly a rock-climbing experience. The site was HUGE and the water was directly behind us. Drop toilets were just around the corner. We didn't know it last night, but we chose well.

After a check under the hood of the truck, we left the campground about ten-thirty heading east on US-58 toward US-97 where we need to turn south toward Crater Lake National Park. The weather is looking better and better with nice sunshine and fewer clouds. The road is in great shape except for a little construction a ways east and we were able to drive 55 mph all the way to US-97.

float pix vacation pix
This construction zone was not very far down the road from our campground.
We are so glad that we didn't try to drive thru this mess last night in the dark and rain.

Driving south on US-97 we stopped in the small town of Chemult at a Pilot gas station ($2.98/gal) for a fill-up and a restroom break and met Gregg and Gale filling up also. We are back together again after our accidental split late yesterday. Oregon has a state law stating that gas stations must provide real full service to everybody who buys gas. I'll bet the women sure love this. There was an attendant who would do everything if you want him to. He was helpful in getting the credit card machine to take our Good Sam card for a three cent per gallon discount. Cool. All tanked up and we were on our way to the park.

vacation pix
Seven miles to Chemult and the Pilot gas station. Less than forty miles to Crater Lake NP.

As we approached the park, we could see a slight smoke haze and could clearly smell the smoke from the wildfires that have been burning in different areas around the park - actually smells like a campfire. On our drive into the park, we could see some of the areas where the fire has been. What a mess, but not completely burnt out. Looked like smaller fires that the firefighters managed to contain. There were firefighters in rest areas and pull-outs. One guy was sitting by a log and sleeping. Fighting these fires is so tiresome and dangerous. Our thanks to them for all their efforts in preventing the fire from destroying our park.

float pix vacation pix
At the entrance to Crater Lake National Park, we can see the smokey haze in the distance from the fire here a few days ago. We could smell it.

We drove around part of the Rim Road (open July to October) of Crater Lake, which is a volcano that collapsed about 7800 years ago, and took a zillion pictures of the perfectly blue and clear lake. It is absolutely gorgeous and deep - 1943 feet deep! Wizard Island sitting out in the lake is a new small volcanic cone that rose from the depths about 7300 years ago. We love this place. It has been 33 years since we were here; glad to be back. Of course the kids don't remember, but it was in July and there was snow in the campground and they made snowballs. Tim won and Andrea lost. They were 6 and 4 at the time. Actually, Chris won until we made him stop. He was 14. There's no snow in the campground today. There has been decreasing amounts of snow every year since the rangers started taking notes in the 1950s - over 650 inches that year. 2013-14 was considered a drought year at just over 200 inches and 2014-15 was about 186 inches.

float pix float pix vacation pix
All around on top of the rim is desert-like conditions. Some of the trees take a beating from the elements. They're not dead yet... Yes they are.
vacation pix vacation pix vacation pix
Crater Lake is absolutely gorgeous! Can you believe the deep blue color?
That is Wizard Island out there. The little chippies are so cute.

Crater Lake from Side to Side

This video is 37 seconds long

See what Crater Lake looks like on a sunny day from right to left to right. The blue is unreal!

Since the lake maintains it's level from rainwater and snow, the rangers are concerned. There is no water flowing in or out of Crater Lake. This year, the last rain was in May until yesterday. They've had 90 to 100 degree days and sunshine all summer. We brought the rain along with us since we've had rain almost every day this trip. Everything here looks dry - the meadows are brown and the trees look droopy. There are brown pine needles everywhere, so that when the wildfires start, they feed and grow hot with the pine pitch and expand quickly along the path of the wind. Firefighters are on call and must report quickly because an hour can make a difference. Some fires are left to burn especially if no buildings are threatened. Some fires are necessary to rejuvenate the forest. The burnt out areas we drove through were battled by the firefighters only last week. That fire is almost under control as of today, but still raging.

We parked the trailer in Mazama Village Campground, loop C, site 2 and close to the restrooms that also offer an electrical plug. The sites are huge and of course shady with spots of sun. Perfect National Park camping, again! There are 3 wonderful, hot, showers in Loop F - FREE too and also pay showers in the vendor operated campground store. We may partake tomorrow morning.

float pix vacation pix
Our Mazama Village Campground campsite was huge. We just love this National Park.
In the village there were these solar panels... Well, if we had these next to our trailer, we wouldn't need the generator. Maybe next year.

After my crackers, cheese and beer, we had dinner and a game of cribbage. The temperature was falling and Diane got chilled so she took a little nap. I ran the generator and then we went to the amphitheater for a ranger talk. Back to the trailer for some old TV show watching and a couple of shots of Jim Beam Apple juice (right). That stuff is so good - warms ya right down to your toes. Good night.

Day 90 Summary ~ We drove about 100 miles today which puts us at 11,162 total miles into our journey.
It is 40 degrees outside at 1:00 am Pacific time with clear skies above.

Day 91 ~ Tuesday, September 1 - The temperature got down to 35 degrees last night with absolutely the clearest skies with a zillion stars visible. We were somewhat warmer inside of our little trailer with layered blankets and love to keep us warm. Love of each other and for this campground in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. It is beautiful here.

This park allows generator use from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm which is quite generous. There are only a few campers running generators and they're pretty quiet. I ran ours about nine o'clock for about an hour and the refrigerator was good for the day. It had to be because we were going for a road trip around the rim of Crater Lake that I knew would take several hours.

We got rolling about eleven on our 33 mile journey. This was a great day trip and we saw everything and took pictures of it. We went on a few small hikes to view points of various rock formations and such around the lake. It was a beautiful drive and the weather was perfect with warm temperatures and sunny skies. A great touristy day in all.

float pix float pix float pix vacation pix
Our drive today around the rim of Crater Lake presented a lot of pull-outs to take pictures.
That small island is Phantom Ship. Kinda looks like a ship if you have enough to drink.
vacation pix
These rock formations called fossil fumaroles are named The Pinnacles and there are a lot of them projecting upward from the Sand Creek Canyon floor. There is a long scientific story as to how these were formed. Look it up.
float pix float pix vacation pix
The park offers a trolley service to drive tourists around the rim, for a price of course.
Way on top of a small mountain is a fire lookout - 60x zoom with my camera.
Some guys had way too much time on their hands - a stone outhouse.
vacation pix
Souvenirs and simple food are available at the Rim Village Cafe' and Gift Shop.

When we got back to Mazama Village where the campground is located, it was after five and time for dinner so we stopped in at Annie Creek Restaurant right by the campground. Dinner was great! Back to the camp site we went. I had a rum and coke and did a few chores while Diane took a quick nap and then off we went to the amphitheater for a ranger talk about the National Park system that is turning one hundred years old.

Maybe it won't be as cold tonight. Actually, I don't care because some more booze will keep me warm. Diane crapped out while I worked on this log and then watched another episode of the first season "Once Upon a Time". Fun show. Good night.

Day 91 Summary ~ We drove about 55 miles today which puts us at 11,217 total miles into our journey.
It is 52 degrees outside at 9:00 pm Pacific time.

Day 92 ~ Wednesday, September 2 - The skies were a bit overcast this morning. We need to get an early start today because we have a 400 mile drive to Boise, Idaho. So, a quick breakfast run the generator for an hour, pack up all of our goodies and exit Mazama Campground in Crater Lake, Oregon. We drove out of the park in somewhat foggy conditions.

vacation pix
The road out of the park just disappears into a cloud. Looks dangerous. There could be a fire-breathing dragon in that cloud. What the heck, it can't be any worse than Canada.

This will be a somewhat boring drive today with no meaningful stops planned. We retraced our route in here and exited out the north entrance to the park. We filled the gas tank at the Pilot station on US97 and continued on up to Bend, Oregon, and the junction of US20 where we turned right (east) toward Idaho. The drive east on US20 was a long stretch of hilly, badland-like cattle country with 100 mile stretches without a gas station or anything for that matter. Somewhere in the late afternoon we drove out of Pacific Time and into Mountain Time; now we only have two hours time difference from Michigan.

vacation pix vacation pix
The drive east on US20 across Oregon toward Idaho was long. Don't fall asleep.
Is that a Dairy Queen I see way up the road. Nope, just a mirage.

We found a Dairy Queen and picked up some food and ice cream treats to keep us going and filled the gas tank at the Shell station for $2.969 per gallon. Good to go now, so we continued east to Idaho, where we picked up eastbound I-84 toward Boise.

It's late and Boise is another hour away so we stopped at a rest area info center, picked up camping info, got on the computer and found nothing. So we used our handy KOA book to find a Campground in Meridian, Idaho, about ten miles west of Boise. Sounds good to us, so off we go east on I-84 to the KOA. When we got there, the place looked really nice with a good Wi-Fi connection. Our Verizon hotspot had an extremely good signal so Diane can do her weekly work tomorrow from here.

vacation pix
Our really nice campsite in the Boise / Meridian KOA Campground.

The outdoor temperature is still quite warm and the skies look nice. Good sleeping weather. A rum and coke and some snacks finish off the day. I got on the internet to find an auto repair place. A campground worker said John's Auto right down the street should be good for me. Okay, tomorrow may be the day to get the truck's heater core replaced, the air-conditioner fixed, and maybe the hood release replaced. A tall order. We'll see.

Day 92 Summary ~ We drove about 427 miles today which puts us at 11,644 total miles into our journey.
It is 72 degrees outside at 9:30 pm Mountain time.

Day 93 ~ Thursday, September 3 - The temperature is 60 degrees at 9:30 am with sunshine peaking thru some clouds. After a big breakfast, I set up Diane's computer system so she could work. We are using the Verizon hotspot and the internet speed is very, very fast. The free KOA Wi-Fi is okay for light surfing, but not for real work

vacation pix
This KOA Campground has a great indoor pool and hot tub - the hot tub was real nice last night after a long days drive. This is the best parking lot camping ever!

I drove the truck about 1000 feet to John's Auto Repair to get an estimate for replacing the heater core on the truck. Well, $1700 and more than one days work was a bit out of line, actually a lot out of line. So I went to Napa Auto Parts and purchased more radiator stop leak; this time a package of six pills like the ones I have used years ago with success.

Back at the campsite, I removed the top radiator hose and crushed four stop leak pills into the open hose, poured in a little water to wash the powder down the hose and then put it back together. We'll see tomorrow if this does the trick. Our four hundred plus mile trip yesterday didn't use much water at all. I think the first install of stop leak weeks ago and the two plus gallons of water I added in the past three days finally made its way to the heater core leak and plugged it. I figured more stop leak can't hurt at this point. This whole mess will have to be flushed out when we get back home and replace that heater core.

The second problem with the non-functional air-conditioner was easy to diagnose. The lousy magnetic clutch is not working and the fuse is good. I'm not sure what to do about this just yet. The weather is supposed to be much cooler for the next few days. Of course, we won't be here. We'll be somewhere easterly down the road heading home. Our next major stop will be The Grand Tetons. And grand they are. I want to hang out there for a few days or a few weeks.

The third problem with the non-functioning hood latch was easy to fix. I removed the two bolts that hold the latch assembly onto the truck and low and behold there is a spring missing that normally pulls the latch into place. Well, there was a tiny piece of the old rusty spring hanging on. Good. This shows the size of the spring. I need a new spring. Easy. Back to Napa for a spring. They only had a package of carburetor springs for five bucks. Perfect. I can make this work. A little cutting and bending and, tada, the fix is in. The hood now closes normally. Now that was a good repair and that spring will last forever. The rest of the stuff is questionable. I'm not worried. The engine is running great and the gas mileage is a good 13mpg. Not bad for a thirteen year old truck with 175,000 miles on it. It'll make it back home, I hope.

It's getting late and Diane got her work done. Time for dinner and some evening entertainment like smoking, drinking and old TV viewing before bedtime. It was a good day here in the KOA campground, or should I say parking lot. Actually, this is by far one of the nicest KOAs we have stayed in.

Day 93 Summary ~ We drove about 4 miles today which puts us at 11,648 total miles into our journey.
It is 67 degrees outside at 8:00 pm Mountain time and the sun is setting with beautiful skies.

Day 94 ~ Friday, September 4 - The temperature went down to 49 degrees last night; kinda like northern Canada. After a nice bagel and cream cheese with a cup of yogurt and a few prunes to keep things moving, we left our KOA host, stopped by the post office to drop off business mail, fill the tank with Shell gas and hit the road out of Meridian, Idaho, driving eastward on I-84.

vacation pix
The view on eastbound US20 goes on forever. Well, a few miles anyway. Cowboy country.

About forty miles down I-84, we got onto eastbound US20 heading toward our next stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument which we never heard of before our stop at a rest area and picked up information brochures. The drive along US20 was thru rolling hills and tumbleweed; cattle country. We were now a little more than half way across Idaho and as we got close to the park entrance, I did a quick stop at a pull-out in an area that looked like it had been burned out by a wildfire. Not a wildfire. The ground was covered with black lava rock as far as we could see. Cool! There was a big sign that said this was the start of the park.

vacation pix
There is lava rock as far as the eye can see. And it's pretty flat here so that's a long way.
Actually, there are 618 square miles of lava rock here. Enough for a lot of gas barbeques.

After our stop in the Visitor Center for movies, information and a souvenir hat, we drove around the loop road in the park and took a lot of pictures of black lava rocks and all the weirdness. We were tempted to spend the night in the campground here, but it was too early.

float pix vacation pix Go anywhere, anytime
In the parking lot, we encountered the ultimate RV unit - the Siberian Tiger - cost: $221,000
vacation pix vacation pix
We hiked this twisty turny paved trail way back in to see the lava rock up close and far away.

We spent a bunch of time in the park and we still had a lot of driving ahead of us. It was decided that we should stop for dinner soon and then get another hour or so of driving done today. The nice little town of Arco was our dinner stop and The Pickle Grill was the place with the food. After dinner, we filled the gas tanks for a stupid $3.099 per gallon and continued east on US20 at 65 mph; full speed ahead. US20 is a very nice road with minimal traffic so we were making good time.

It was getting dark and there were some nasty looking storm clouds ahead, but we continued on to Idaho Falls. I wanted to get as far as we could today in order to minimize the drive tomorrow morning to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming which is about a hundred mile away. We checked the internet and found Snake River RV Park and made them our host for the night. Its an old parking lot RV park that used to be a KOA Campground. More than likely they lost their franchise due to lack of maintenance and overall crappyness. The thing is: the park is full. They're taking in about $8000 per night and the place is a dump. Laughing all the way to the bank. It will just have to do for one night. Samuel Adams was good before bedtime.

vacation pix
Our poor choice for a campground was Snake River RV Park in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
This place is a classic dump imported from Alaska or Canada.
Day 94 Summary ~ We drove about 276 miles today which puts us at 11,924 total miles into our journey.
It is 65 degrees outside at 10:30 pm Mountain time.

Day 95 ~ Saturday, September 5 - The weather is a bit cool this morning at seven-thirty with 50 degrees and nice and sunny. We are getting an early start (for us) by driving out of this crappy old ex-KOA campground at ten o'clock and heading east on US26 toward Jackson, Wyoming. Okay, we took a wrong turn again. We got on US20 instead of US26 and went about 12 miles before I looked at the computer and saw the mistake as the GPS was tracking us off our route. It was an easy fix with a right turn onto county road A4 running straight east where we ran into eastbound US26 where we should have been. Only a couple miles out of our way. We were back on track.

About an hour later, we got to highway 31 where we turned left heading north to highway 33 which we reached in about a half hour. This entire drive today thru Idaho farm country was as picturesque as it could be. Very pretty country. In the small town of Victor we turned right onto highway 33 which is the last leg of the trip out of Idaho and into Wyoming. Six miles later, we crossed the state line. We are in Wyoming. Another state in our back pocket.

The next portion of our drive today was climbing Teton Pass which was a chore for both the truck and motorhome. We made it to the top and took a bunch of pictures. We were now going down into the famous Jackson Hole which is a large area in between the mountain ranges. The drive down hill was a bit traumatic for the truck because I didn't have enough braking on the trailer and the truck was doing too much braking and the the brakes smoked. We pulled into a pull-out and cooled the brakes and increased the trailer braking. No big deal. We continued down the hill into Jackson.

vacation pix
It's downhill from here into the Hole and the small (getting bigger everyday) town of Jackson.
vacation pix vacation pix
Downtown Jackson, Wyoming - What do you do with a pile of antlers? Build an arch. Then put a bunch of orientals under it. Smile.

Jackson used to be a small tourist town forty years ago, but now it is way too big with lots of traffic. We stopped into the Visitor Center for info about stuff ahead of us including some good local maps. We drove out of town northbound on US26 toward Grand Teton National Park

vacation pix
Oh look! The Tetons have put out the gray carpet for us. And painted lines on it.

The temperature got up to only 65 degrees today as we entered the park and drove into Colter Bay campground. Our campsite for the next few days is on Loop O, the last loop in this giant campground. The campground is part of Colter Bay Village that encompasses a general store, marina, laundry and shower building, visitor center, amphitheater, restaurant and I don't know what else. The whole village is in dire need of road maintenance and, really, it looks like crap since the last time we were here in 2002. Everything outside is worn out. The campground restrooms are the worst we have ever seen in a National Park. They should be bull-dozed and rebuilt. Terrible. But, the setting is absolutely beautiful. Colter Bay Village sits on the east shore of Jackson Lake with the Tetons on the west shore. A breathtaking view from all places looking west with beautiful sunsets as the sun goes behind the mountains. I love this park even though the infrastructure is looking real shabby.

vacation pix
Our campsite in Grand Teton National Park Colter Bay Campground. All of the sites were small half-circle pull-outs parallel to the road. The sites are very deep. We could get lost in our own backyard.

We all jumped into the truck and drove the distance from Loop O to the Village downtown looking for the restaurant for dinner. On our way, a fox ran across the road right in front of the truck. Our thrill for the day. It was five o'clock and the restaurant didn't open 'til five-thirty. Rats! The displayed menu didn't look appealing to us so we went back to the campsite for dinner. Something more reliable and cheaper.

vacation pix
Here are the Teton mountains across Jackson Lake at sunset. This is the best.
Pretty nice and just a short walk thru the woods from our campground loop.

A walk from our campsite thru the wooded trail down to Jackson Lake finished off our day with a beautiful sunset right in front of us. The cigar I smoked kept away the bears. The Jim Beam Apple liquor I had while watching old TV shows really hit the spot before bedtime. They are predicting 30 degree temperatures outside tonight. Oh, boy...

Day 95 Summary ~ We drove about 136 miles today which puts us at 12,060 total miles into our journey.
It is 44 degrees outside at 10:30 pm Mountain time.
This is the end of Week 14 ~ Tomorrow is Sunday and start of a new week, so you'll need to Click Here to Go to Week 15