Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Color High Sierras, Oct 2016

Reminder, click on any picture to see a larger view. 

Fall color in the high Sierra is a must see. We decided to make the trip up and over highway 88, highway 89 and down highway 395 looking for color we go. We left just before lunch, on the way we stopped at the Lockeford Meat and Sausage Co. This some of the best sausage you can buy, we got two we had not tried to take on our trip. Next we stopped for lunch at Clements Ridge on the corner of Hwy 12 and Hwy 88. I highly recommend the tri-tip sandwich, one of the best I have had. Bakery items looked great but not on the diet. Our plan was to drive up Hwy 88 and check out Hope Valley always a great spot for fall color.  This year did not disappoint.




We had planned to camp at the Hope Valley Campground. The NFS had already closed the campground for the winter. WTH are they thinking with all the people coming up to look at the color? The PG&E camp at Blue Lake was open but it just did not fit for where we wanted to camp. Decided to head for Markleeville as I knew of a smaller campground, found it was closed.  Saw a sign that Monitor Pass was closed for an accident so we headed for Grover Hot Springs State Park and found a campsite for the night.  Quiet with not many other campers, enjoyed a nice campfire and read our books until too dark to read. 

Our camp for the night at Grover Hot Springs.

We were up early after a great nights sleep in the camper. Cold morning but not as cold as I thought it would be. After we had breakfast we lowered the top and headed back to Markleeville. Found the sign was still showing Monitor Pass closed. Asked why and we were told a tanker driver took Monitor to save fees going into Nevada. He crashed and spilled his load, haz-mat clean up and had been closed for a few days.  Not much to do except head to Hwy 395 through Minden NV.  I had not been that way in years, area has grown. We passed back into California at Topaz Lake, somewhere I had never been. I always turn up Monitor Pass when on my motorcycle. Heading south we turned off Hwy 395 to go back to Virginia Lakes. You climb fast as you head up the mountain, the lake is over 9,700 feet in elevation. The colors made this trip up the mountain well worth the drive.




Getting near lunch time we decided to make the stop at Whoa Nellie Deli. This is one of the best gas station restaurants you will find anywhere.  Just before we got to Lee Vining there was a flagman stopping traffic. The fire last year burned the area by Mono Lake. The hill was being covered with chainlink fencing to keep the rocks from falling when the winter rain falls. 





Two really talented crane operators putting up the chainlink.












I stop at Whoa Nellie Deli every year on my birthday motorcycle ride, Normal lunch is their Caesar Salad with a perfect skirt steak on top. It is huge so I decided on pork tacos, Veronica had the fish tacos. Both were good, the pork may be some of the best carnitas I have every had.


 Everything is good, one item that they do not have every time is the Cream of Mushroom Sherry Soup. That is what we were hoping to have. If you stop and they have it give it a try.












Heading south after lunch we turned on the June Lake loop. This is another area that has great fall color.








From June lake we headed south to Convict Lake. As I am typing I realized we passed by Lundy Lake guess that will be on next years trip. Lots of history at Convict Lake and may be our favorite lake for the view.





Heading down 395 our next turn is to McGee Creek. Another recommendation from California Fall Colors. Short climb from 395 and you are in a picture perfect valley of aspens with great color. The parking lot at the end of the road was 1/2 full of cars. This is a trailhead going to the John Muir Trail. Hope everyone hiking and camping were aware of the weather coming in.






Our plan for the day was to drive down to Bishop Creek and find a camp for the night. We changed our mind when we passed McGee Creak Campground. Looked interesting and we drove in on the way down. Found a great site and spent the afternoon walking the creek and enjoying our books. For those who prefer an campground McGee Creek is a fine NFS campground with flush potties.


View from the road above.

Our camp for the night.










Another fine night in our Four Wheel Camper. This was a cold night, I have the thermostat set for 40 degrees when we sleep. At 6:30am it goes up to 70 degrees so we get up to a warm camper. This morning the heat came on just before 6:00am as the camper was 39 degrees inside.  

Today we drive to Bishop and turn up Hwy 168. We have camped at Bitterbrush Campground just out of Bishop on our way to the FWC rally.  Today we are headed farther up the road to South Lake and Sabrina Lake.










Both roads to South Lake and to Sabrina Lake had great color. We did check out some of the campgrounds on the way for future travel. Our plan for the day was to head back and over Tioga Pass staying at Porcupine Campground in Yosemite. We were sure the valley campgrounds would be reserved.  Timing was just right so Veronica suggested we have lunch again at Whoa Nellie Deli. We had hoped for Cream of Mushroom Sherry Soup but it was not to be.  We split the the Caesar Salad with shirt steak.


After lunch we headed up Tioga Pass and stopped at Olmsted Point for the view.





Never underestimate the draw of Yosemite NP. Wednesday night in October and Porcupine Campground is FULL.  No camping in Yosemite for us tonight. Nice thing we are only a couple of hours from home.





Friday, August 12, 2016

Minnesota and Glacier National Park. Part Three we head home






Reminder, click on any picture to see a larger view.  

Part Three, we head home with much more to see.  We have said our goodbyes and are on the road to Fargo and to get Mark's motorhome checked out.




Fargo was a great little city. We stayed at a city park, they sure know how to do a park in Fargo. Camped on the shore on the Red river. Not a lot of spots and all were full. 



Monday. 7-25-16
Our plan for the day was to get the noise in Mark's motor home fixed. But first blueberry breakfast with Grandma.







We took the motorhome to Luther Ford. Service Manager went for a ride and thought it was a wheel bearing.  I said I know what a wheel bearing sounds like. I told  him I heard the noise from the drive line e brake. He said the mechanic would check both when he lifted the rig. They could not get to it until 1:30. 



So off we went to check out Fargo. Getting hot and humid so we went to the mall for lunch and relief from the heat. Really nice mall with better store selection than at home. Mark enjoyed looking at the Roger Maris Museum that is located in the mall.  




We took advantage of our time in Fargo to get some laundry done. Who knew a washer could be so entertaining














Kids wanted to go back to the park, so off we went. Super nice  play area but hot now. We stayed in the shade hoping for a breeze no such luck. When the kids got tired we went back to the Ford dealer to wait in their AC. They had a waiting area for the kid with games and Tinkerbell on the tv. This place took care of their customers, coffee and fresh baked cookies. Laura went to see how long it would be. Came back with a smile on her face. Mechanic found a shield in the e brake had came loose making the noise Mark heard. Less than $100.00 I will be sending a letter to the BBB on the great service we got at Luther Ford. 

We had planned to drive and camp near Jamestown SD  Monday night.  Arrived and it was over 90 with humidity  to match. Hit Applebee's for dinner, Veronica and Laura made the decision to drive through to Bismarck and stay in a motel. AC and both wanted to wash their hair. Arrived just about 8:30 to dark sky's and heat. I will say it was good to get cleaned up and sleep with AC.  Great free breakfast the next morning. 

Tuesday.  7-26-16
Left Bismarck and headed for Theodore Roosevelt NP.
Dark sky in the direction we are headed. Check of radar showed we would get our first day time rain of the trip. P  & P enjoyed watching the lightening as we drove through the thunderstorm. You know why this area is called the bread basket of the world. Wheat and corn as far as you can see in all directions. Rain was over as we reached Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Got our campsite and set off to see the park. Landscape very different than the wheat fields we have been driving through. Prairie dog villages were a hit for the girls.


 The girls loved looking through the binoculars. 

Prairie dog mounds as far as you can see.















Saw one bison just as we drove out of the campground. 



Girls wanted to see more bison and we did not. So we pulled over to do a hike, in just a short time the girls spotted bison in the river below, life is good again. Look to the left in the picture below and you will see bison in the river.
A little farther on the trail we saw the herd of over 50 bison below us across the river. Fantastic view at the end of the trail.  As we headed back to our campground the car in front of us stopped. 

A herd of wild horses were walking across the road with one young colt. This made the girls day.  


Back in camp to do the important things. 








Mud pies to make.




Bikes to ride and trails to explore.












Wednesday.  7-27-16
Really nice night, slept well with the windows open. Everyone up early as we had moved to mountain time. As we were leaving the park our one lone bison showed up to say goodbye.  







On the road headed for Billings MT. I know now why they call this big sky country views are fantastic.
Saw several big thunder heads but only got a sprinkle. Not a lot of places to stop for lunch, Laura found a bar in Custer on her phone that sounded OK. And it was, great brisket sandwich.

From a national park campground we are back to RV Resorts. KOA in Billings for the night. Interesting that this is the first KOA. Much friendlier staff than the KOA in the black hills. The showers were new and nicer than many hotels I have stayed at. They also had activities for the kids.
 Teed up and and ready to play.
Really nice course. 






Took the crew to Cabela's, parked next to a nice ATC camper.











Kids enjoyed the fish and just about everything in the store.

 Some one is watching.

Just like Aunt Jenny's.
The big fish tank.










Back to the KOA and time for bed. Cicadas are in full song as I type this, sure hope they get tired soon.  How can something so small make so much noise.

Thursday. 7-28-16
The rain and thunder started around 1:00 AM last night and did not stop until 4:30 AM. Up early as Mark and Laura wanted to get on the road to Yellowstone NP. Today we head different ways as we turn north to Glacier NP. Below are some pictures Mark and Laura took on their way home.


























~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Veronica and I are now on our own.





Stopped in Great Falls for gas and provisions. At lunch we decided on a city park in Valier Montana, as the stop for the day. The All Stays phone app sure makes it easy to find campgrounds. 








This will leave us a 74 mile drive to St Mary MT. Fine little city park. 
We asked for no hook ups. Got a spot over looking the lake away from everyone.

The main camping area, lots of open spots.

Got a nice rainbow as the storms started to come by. 









We had the Mayor's wife stop by and ask about our camper. Gave her a card for our blog and told her to check out FWC's. We watched the storms go around us before they came in just at sun set. At the same time there was a small plane doing touch and goes at the airport. Not sure I would be up in the thunder and lighting.

Grass runways, don't see many of those in California.









Got a few pictures of the sunset, but could have been better.  Rain started to fall and we had to take cover in the truck. 






 I got an umbrella and the Canon SLR and took photos outside. 






 Sun breaking through the clouds, should be a good sunset.

Mother Nature came through as the sky lit up. These were taken in a light rain.








Friday. 7-29-16


We departed Valier and headed for St Mary and Glacier Park, just about 74 miles. 















A large part of the trip is through Indian land. You can tell the building codes are not the same.  


We checked into our campsite early and looked over the map deciding what to do. 










Early enough we drove up going to the sun road to the Logan Pass Visitors Center. Stopped at several pull out going up and back.






Lots to see, and the visitors guide gave a description of the area. Visitor Center was packed. NO parking, we decided to go up early tomorrow and be there when they open.



For lunch we stopped at the Park Cafe, recommended for pie by several WTW members. 




We both ordered the Smoked Salmon Wrap. This was the best wrap sandwich I have ever had, order one if you stop there. Also big enough to split.








We did share a slice of peach/raspberry pie, also very good. After lunch we drove 30 minutes to Many Glaciers. Checking the map later we were only 10 miles from Canada.



 Our goal was dinner at the Many Glacier Lodge. We have dined at many of the great lodges and wanted to add another to the list. 








We had time to kill so we took the two lake boat ride. Short hike between the lakes. Well worth the time as the guides were great and told us much about the area.  
Views from the boat were fantastic. Our Captain gave us a lot of local history of the lake. 


The second lake was just as nice as the lower lake. 






Unloading for our hike to the upper lake.







We enjoyed the boat ride and would do one again.

Veronica enjoying a near perfect day.










Dinner was top notch, everyone should try to eat at our national parks. 
Fresh Lake Trout.

There version of surf and turf. Crab Cake and Kobe Burger. Darn good. 













They do a fantastic job on the flowers at the Lodge.

Back to our camp, to plan tomorrow and our early start.   On the way we saw mother bear and cub by the  lake.  








After the bear we ran into more wildlife. Range cattle. 








Saturday 7-30-16
Up early and on the road to get to the visit center by 8. 


Driving up Going To The Sun Road has been on my to do list for a long time.
Had to make several stops just to take in the view. 


Saw many of the old Ford busses. 
Small waterfalls everywhere, even this late in the year.  

Flowers thought it was still Spring not the middle of Summer.


Great views at every stop.
One of the glaciers still left.
 Tour boat heading up the lake.
Took a short hike along this creek, this was an old burn area.
Veronica walking through the burn area.
 One of the larger falls.
Other side of the bridge a beautiful stair step falls. 
 The bridge we walked under.
Panoramic view with the visitor's center in the distance.








We arrived to find the Visitor's Center does not open until 9:00 wtf. We were told they open at 8:00 AM.

What we saw of the Visitor Center.

We decided to do a walk around and enjoy the view. Surprised me we were only at 6,600 feet elevation.





Parking almost full at 8:30 AM. It is also trail head parking explains why no parking. All the parking on the left side of the lot is reserved for the Red Buses and the shuttle. 


The trail around the Visitor Center.
Saw a lot of hikers heading up the trail. Most looked loaded for a few days hike. 
These guys did not care about any of the hiking going on. 
Panoramic looking west from the Visitor Center

Next we head down the Going to The Sun Road. Glad we are on the road early with very few cars on our side of the road. However the side coming up just was almost bumper to bumper in spots. 



 The views going down changed at every corner.


More water coming down, earlier in the year you need to roll up the windows here. 










 Stopped here for a short hike and a great view of the west side valley below.
Our reward for a very short hike. 
Selfie over looking West Glacier. 


 We arrive at McDonald Lake.

We are having a great day and just getting started.


Red bus loading at the lodge. For many people this is the way to see the Going to The Sun Road. 
The boat dock at Lake McDonald



Next we stop at the Red Rock area.
Does not show well in the picture be all the rocks are red.
 Picture taking at Red Rocks


Walkway to the Red Rock viewpoint. 









Next on our list for the day was lunch in Polebridge. Only 11 miles of dirt road to get there. You are also 30 miles from anywhere and only a couple of miles from another entrance to the park. 


Still traffic even on a dirt road.
And the dirt road goes on.









And we arrive in Polebridge. We have 1/2 of our smoked salmon wraps we saved from the day before. Our little 12v compressor fridge keeps everything fresh.










This is what you drive down dirt roads and stand in line to pay $5.00 for. The famous Polebridge Mercantile Huckleberry Bearclaw. Yes it is that good. 
 Yes they have cookies.
 More goodies.


Picking just the right one.
The Wild Huckleberry, this one was by our campsite.

We had a great time in Polebridge, talked with some campers from Sacramento as we had lunch. We do live in a small world. 



We did drive up the dirt road to the Northwest gate to Glacier Park. Not a lot of traffic up here.







Next we are off to Columbia Falls to meet our friends Steve and Janet Goff.

 Something is going on in Columbia Falls. Traffic was stop and go for miles and no traffic coming on the other side. We found out they had a parade with horses. That accounts for all the horse shit on the road.

Our good friends Steve and Janet. We had a wonder full dinner and ice cream in Whitefish Montana. 











Sunday 7-31-16


Time to head home, said our good byes to Steve and Janet. Long way home so we got going early. Going to do a two day trip to home.  Plan today is to make Bend OR. Lots of smoke as we left Montana, cleared as we reached Idaho. Long 10 hour drive but we made it. Tomorrow we will be home after a 7 hour drive. 

Never been to Ritzville but we have now.
Under all the tall cranes are Unlimited Hydros!  If we had more time we would have stopped.  

 Nice roads through Montana. 
 Our first time in Northern Idaho. 

 Not much out in Eastern Washington.


You know you are near California when you see Mount Shasta.