Sunday, June 29, 2014

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

We arrived at the Coeur d’Alene RV Resort early on Wednesday, and after checking out a couple of available sites, we chose site 148 which backed up against an open grassy field.  We had to do a little tree trimming, but then we had plenty of room!

Site 148

Of the available campgrounds in the area, this one is probably the nicest – it has nice wide roads,

Nice wide roads










plenty of grass and trees, and even an indoor swimming pool!  We didn’t have anything special planned while we were there, but we did enjoy the pool a couple times.

After dinner on Wednesday, Tom and I took a drive into Coeur d’Alene to check out the town.  Driving up the main street along the lake, it reminded us a lot of Ann Arbor – lots of shops and restaurants, with people dining on the sidewalk.  There were lots of people around, and even a band playing in the park.

Music in the Park

We found a parking spot on the street, and looked at a few of the shops.

Sweet Shop

Mrs. Honeypeeps Sweet Shop wasn’t open, but we found another that was.     Candy Store









Cotton Candy in a vending machine

We passed on the cotton candy vending machine, but got ice cream cones instead . . . they even had black licorice, but I wouldn’t let Tom get it again!!

We continued our walk around town, stopping to see Marvin the Moose.

Marvin the Moose

Tom liked this old truck, even if it wasn’t a Ford!

Chevy Truck

He made a new friend, too!

Tom's new friend, Charlie

I had to take this picture for Bryce – he likes Bassett Hounds!

We followed the bike path down to the park by the lake – it’s a really nice community park with a playground and basketball courts,


Basketball Court











and the bike path goes from there to the marina and beach area.

Beach at sunset

Marina at Couer d'Alene











The lake is really pretty,

Lake Couer d'Alene

and one other campground we looked at is on an island in the lake.  It was a nice location, but not on this weekend . . . there’s an Ironman Competition in town, and by Friday the nice quiet town was a zoo, with roads closed around the lake, so I’m not sure we would have had an easy time getting out of that campground on Saturday!  We were glad to be a few miles out of town!

Driving back to our campground, we followed the Spokane River and caught a couple good shots of a beautiful sunset!

Sunset_June 25

Sunset over the river

On Friday, we checked out a few sights in Post Falls.  We went over to Falls Park, and took a walk on the path . . . with the geese and ducks trying to chase us away!

Walking in the park

Family of geese











We found Post Falls, a hydro-electric generating dam from the early 1900s.    Post Falls









Post Falls


This is an interesting-looking dam – man-made structure, along with the natural boulders, and with a 90 degree corner in the middle of it.

We saw some interesting flowering shrubs, too.


Further along on the trail, we caught a glimpse of the Post Falls Bridge over the Spokane River.


Back in the park, the boys just couldn’t resist the playground equipment . . .

He's just a little too big!

but I think they are getting a little big!!

Boys will be boys!











That was about all there was to Post Falls, Idaho . . . so we took another drive through Coeur d’Alene but didn’t stop since it appeared to be registration day for the Ironman, and there were people everywhere!  We needed a few groceries, and we saw a Winco and decided to try it out.  They had pretty good prices, and we really liked the extensive bulk food area . . . but we failed to notice that it was cash/check only until we were at the checkout!  I never carry my checkbook, but fortunately between Nicolas and I, we had enough cash!  That meant we had to stop at a credit union ATM to replenish before we headed up toward Glacier the next day, though.

After stocking up, we went back to the RV Park and I did a couple loads of laundry while to guys packed up the back of the RV.  We were planning on getting an early start the next day, since we had a 240 mile drive . . . all on non-interstate highways, and a good chance for rain.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Over the mountains and through the woods . . . to Idaho we go!

After waiting for a part to arrive, we finally left Centralia late Tuesday afternoon.  We wanted to cover a lot of miles, so it was going to be a long day with an overnight stay at Walmart.



Rather than going up I-5 through Tacoma and Seattle to get to I-90, we decided on the more scenic route along US-12 (yes, the very same US-12 that we know as Michigan Avenue!) to the Yakima Valley, and then along the Columbia River to I-90.





Yep – we’re headed east now!!


The day started out overcast as we drove past Mt. Rainier – couldn’t see much of it today!

Starting the drive with overcast skies

As we passed by the mountains, the sky started to clear and it turned into a beautiful day.     DSC_0573








Blue Skies

Nicolas was driving the RV, and he enjoyed the ups & downs, and twisty turns as we crossed over the mountains!












We drove around lots of mountains,


alongside lakes,


through forests,


and tunnels!


We followed a flowing river for several miles,


with lots of National Forest Service campgrounds along its shore.  It was a beautiful location, and I’d love to come back this way and spend some time here.

Eventually the forests cleared out and the landscape became more rugged and desert-like.












Bryce thought this looked like a great sledding hill!


We reached the Yakima Valley, and started to see evidence of fruit farms within the desert.     Yakima Valley

Yakima Cherries are just starting to come in season, and I would have loved to stop at a U-pick farm, but we were about a week too early!




After a quick dinner at McDonalds in Yakima, we took I-82 north through what looked as desolate as the Mohave Desert in California!


Making the turn east on I-90, we drove out of the desert and back into farming country.


We drove past corn, wheat, alfalfa, onions . . . and windmills!











We crossed the Columbia River,

Columbia River

as the sun was getting low in the sky,

Bridge over the Columbia River











and finally pulled into the Walmart in Moses Lake a little after 8pm!  It was a long day of driving, and we were relieved to finally get off the road.  We settled in behind the Auto Service Garage, did some grocery shopping, and had a quiet night in the parking lot.



Bright and early the next morning, well-rested, we drove the last 125 miles into Idaho.  It’s not new on our map, but this is a new area of Idaho for us to explore.  We’ll stay here for a few days before we continue on to Glacier National Park.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mt. Rainier National Park


We had planned on leaving Centralia on Saturday morning, right after Tom and Nick got back from Michigan, but arriving home from the airport on Friday night, we discovered a puddle under the RV.  Our leak that couldn’t be found had resurfaced!  It looked like we’d be staying a few more days until the technician could get to it on Monday morning!

On Saturday, the boys took apart the underbelly of the RV to locate the source of the leak, which turned out to be the connection between the shower drain and the gray tank, and I got some grocery shopping and the laundry done.

Sunday was more fun . . .

Fullscreen capture 6212014 103807 PM

. . . since we’d be moving across Washington quickly to get to Glacier, we packed a lunch and took a drive over to Mt. Rainier National Park for the day.     First glimpse of Mt. Rainier

We entered the park at the Nisqually Entrance,


drove up to the Ski Lodge at Paradise (which gets you pretty close to some of the glaciers), and exited through the Stevens Canyon Entrance.  It was a beautiful day, with mostly clear skies, and we got lots of great pictures of the mountain!

The Nisqually area has many historic buildings including the National Park Inn, the Longmire Museum – which includes this Vintage Gas Station,

Historic Gas Station

and another old building that is used as the Wilderness Center now – this where backcountry hikers and mountain climbers have to check in.

Wilderness Headquarters

They also have an old log, dating all the way back to 1293!


The ranger in the museum gave us some tips on interesting hikes and things to see, and as soon as she mentioned hiking in snow up at Paradise, Bryce was ready to get going!

We passed several waterfalls along the way, and they were really flowing!

Christine Falls

Christine Falls

Narada Falls

Narada Falls

This was only the top of Narada Falls.  There was a lower section of the falls, too, which the boys walked down to see, but Tom and I stayed up above.  We liked the way the water twisted as it flowed off the rocks.

Still covered in snow


As we continued to climb up the mountain toward Paradise, we started to see snow along the side of the road – the boys just had to get out and climb up on it!  The road was clear, but we could see pathways and trails that were still completely covered in snow!







We were getting an up-close view of the glaciers from here, too.


We saw signs along the road saying that the parking lot at Paradise was full, but Tom wasn’t going to be put off by that . . . we were circling the parking lot looking for a spot when a Park Ranger asked us if we were looking for a place to park.  We said yes and he directed us to a couple of spots at the end of the government vehicles row that nobody ever parks in.  Sure enough, he was right and they were open!

We carried our lunch over to a picnic table and enjoyed a picnic with a great view!

Mt. Rainier glaciers

There were people snowboarding and skiing down the hills surrounding the mountain . . . it felt like being at a ski resort . . . except it was 70 degrees out!!

Walking on top of the snow!

The park ranger had told us that there would be a marked trail across the snow, and we could walk out far enough to see the glaciers, but with all the people around it was pretty difficult to find the trail.  We walked across the snow for awhile, but it was slippery, even in our hiking boots.


Tom and I were sure glad we had our hiking poles!











We managed to make it back down the hill without falling!

This guy was all geared up!


We were surprised at how warm it was up there . . . Nicolas even took off his sweatshirt!  We saw lots of people bundled up for winter weather, and several like this guy who were all geared up!

Hard to believe it’s the 2nd day of summer!







From Paradise, we continued through the park towards the Stevens Canyon Entrance.  Along the way, we had many more great views of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding valley.

Mt. Rainier












Cascade Mountains

Another view of the glaciers on Mt. Rainier

We passed by Reflection Lake, and even though it was still mostly snow-covered, we had a great view of Mt. Rainier’s reflection.

Reflection Lake

Bryce wanted to feel the icy water, but I wouldn’t let him get any closer!

Bryce wanted to touch the water

The park wasn’t crowded at all, so the drive through Stevens Canyon was really pleasant.

Stevens Canyon


Our next stop was Box Canyon, a narrow slot between two canyon walls.

Box Canyon

Box Canyon


Standing on the bridge over the canyon, we could look down and see water rushing between the canyon walls.

We had another great view of Mt. Rainier, too!

Mt. Rainier

Looking the other way, we could see Mt. Adams in the distance.

Mt. Adams

Box Canyon Overlook

Silver Falls

As we neared the entrance of the park, we stopped at one more waterfall, Silver Falls, and the boys climbed down to get a closer look.

Silver Falls

There was one more hiking trail we were going to stop at, but the parking lot was really full, and we were all kindof ready to head home, so we continued out of the park and back into the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest.

Leaving the National Park

Ice Cream Shop


On the way home, we stopped for ice cream in Packwood . . . it was good, although Tom’s black licorice cone looked pretty disgusting!

Tom ice cream

He said it tasted really good, though!


Another great visit to a beautiful National Park . . . and this one wasn’t even originally on our radar . . . we’re glad we added it!