Last week I left you hanging as Trish and I continued our Western Tour. We had a great visit in Portland. Now we headed northeast into Washington. Since we arrived in Portland via the south side of the Columbia Gorge, we left on the north side. We pretty quickly left the city behind and cruised along a 2-lane scenic drive overlooking the river. We planned to go up and see Mt. St. Helens at the eastern visitor center. We left the river drive heading north and after some time arrived at an overlook. We actually could see Mt. St. Helens pretty well, though the top was in clouds. We had snacks, used the facilities, took pictures and went on. After a couple more miles that road was barricaded! It was the end of May, and the road was closed in snow. We backtracked and stopped again at the overlook, another drink, another pee, took more pictures, as the clouds had lifted some. Then we headed north, hoping to go into the Cascades and come out near Leavenworth. After going quite a few miles, that road was closed too! Again we backtracked, stopped at the overlook, peed, had a snack, took the best pictures yet, and went back to the Columbia River road. We drove east for a while and took another route north. End of day 1! Be sure to see my Dream Vacation 2 slideshow.
The next day we headed for Leavenworth, a ski resort town in the eastern Cascades that is modeled after a Bavarian village. We stopped and shopped for a couple of hours. It felt good to walk around, we'd been driving for hours through lovely green country and over mountain passes. I was determined to cross into Canada that day, so we drove and drove. We went through Customs, drove till I was starving and stupid. Trisha picked out a hotel in Penticton, and we ate, drank, hot-tubbed and crashed.
The next day we wended our way through many cities on pretty lakes, stopped at Staples for more camera memory cards, and headed for the Rockies. Another LONG day of driving! When we got near Revelstoke, we were getting pretty excited about the mountains looming around us. But we hadn't seen anything yet! We made it to Banff Provincial Park, Lake Louise area at sunset. Wow! Talk about mountains! The rest was a blur of snow covered mountains, turquoise lakes and rivers, elk, bears, glaciers, gift shops, and finally the Banff Hot Springs for a REALLY great soak. The city of Banff was a pleasant surprise too, a college town surrounded by mountains. Warm days, crisp cool evenings, dining outside...nice!
The next place we headed was Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park. Waterton was glorious. The lakes area is quite extensive, and the mountains surround it. After driving through prairie for hours, you come to this beautiful area, which is only the beginning of another mountain adventure. After dining, we took an evening ride into Red Rock Canyon. It was so beautiful at sunset, that we did it again in the morning sun. Then we headed south to Glacier National Park in Montana, where we saw all we could see on the eastern side. The Going To The Sun Highway was only open part-way, so we didn't see all we wanted to. We drove up it for 18 miles, then there was a big snowbank, and the road was closed. We headed south toward Helena and found Montana Grizzly Encounter, where we took too many pictures of the two grizzly bears that were out that day, Brutus and Chrissy. (see the slide show on the website) Finally, we ate, drank, soaked and rested in a cushy hotel in Helena. Can you guess where we went next?
I gotta say, it's hard to write a capsule version of this. We had so much fun! I did all the driving, and I'm pretty happy driving, especially in the western mountains. Trisha was in awe of everything, and we giggled and sang the whole time. I had loaded my Ipod with travel music, oldies, cowboy, blues, folk and anything else we could sing to. When I got tired and hungry, she guided me into a hotel and restaurant and we giggled through dinner and drinks and hot-tubs when we could get them. We made up words and told stories over and over. We discussed everything under the sun. The picture above is Trisha spinning around singing, "The Hills are Alive!" There's nothing better than traveling with such a good friend! Look for Part 3 next week.
Don't forget: The destination is the journey itself!