Monday, August 3, 2015

On the Oregon Trail

So, eight days on the road, and we haven't killed each other yet. ;) I write this from our RV while parked in Cascade Locks, OR. If you've seen my Instagram, you've seen several photos from the trip along the way. If you've seen Facebook, you've seen.... a handful of photos.

We've seen a lot since last Sunday. After leaving the RV Park, we headed over to Kelley's Island to see some grooves left by glaciers. They are among the largest and best preserved glacial grooves in the country. It's sad to know that there used to be even better examples on the island, but they were destroyed by quarrying for limestone.

After Kelley's Island, we headed into Indiana to the Dunes, then across Illinois to Wisconsin. It was raining in Wisconsin as we crossed the Mississippi, and missed the lock we wanted to visit; construction kept us from accessing it. Overall, Tuesday was a disappointment, with the Blue Mounds being too far from the parking area for mom to hike to. We did see a statue of the Green Giant (ho ho ho) in Blue Earth, Minnesota, and found a really good beer store there, though.

We spent more time in South Dakota than I thought we would. We hit the Corn Palace first thing on Wednesday morning, then went to the Minuteman Missile Visitor Center, only to find out that the tours to the Delta-1 Launch Control were all spoken for for the day. So, we went to the Prairie Homestead and the Badlands, then looped back around to see the Delta-9 silo and then Reptile Gardens in Rapid City before calling it a night. The next day, we decided to go to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, and I did the Minuteman Missile Training facility tour on Ellsworth AFB. That was awesome. The whole museum is awesome, and I would certainly suggest visiting it.

After that, we swung by Deadwood, and we were pretty meh. Nothing seemed worth stopping for. So, we headed west and ended up making a side stop at the Vore Buffalo Jump before going to Devils Tower.

Friday, we got to the Little Bighorn Battlefield just after opening, and were able to see quite a bit before the foot and vehicle traffic became too heavy. We stopped randomly at the Big Horn County Museum, and in Bozeman for a visit with my friend James, then called it a night in Butte.

Saturday was random day. We were going to go to Glacier National Park, but with mom's limited mobility, the only way she was seeing a glacier was at the singular glacier viewing point from Going-to-the-Sun Road. However, wildfires had that part of the park road closed, so there was little point in us going all the way up there if she wasn't going to be able to see the park's namesake. So, we ended up stopping in Deer Lodge at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch on a whim, and while there, it was suggested by one of the rangers that we go by the National Bison Range. So, we went there afterwards and were treated to close encounters with elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer! 

We made it to Ritzburg, Washington afterwards, trying to avoid wildfires that were within 100yds of the highway in Sprague. It was an uncomfortable situation, seeing those fires so close, and seeing the firefighters working so hard to contain them.

Today, we made a quick stop at the Wild Horses Monument on the Columbia River in Vantage, then drove through Naches and Packwood on our way to Mt. St. Helens. While in Packwood, I saw that someone was holding an autocross on the Hampton Mills site, so I begged mom to stop for a little bit so I could say "hi" to some people. Of course, some people were trying to get me to drive or at least ride along, but I avoided the temptation. Obviously, we went along to Mt. St. Helens afterwards, and called it a night here.

Tomorrow's supposed to be the John Day Fossil Beds and Crater Lake, with the Giant Redwoods and Yosemite coming up on Tuesday. We'll see. There are more wildfires in Oregon, and that could impede out progress.

I'll upload photos later when I get a better connection.

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