Hey, I'm back! What did I miss?

Back from the Big Trip out to Washington State. Snoqualmie Falls, 4 stars, they get an extra star for being right off the interstate (we are definitely jump-out-of-the-car-and-take-a-picture tourists). Had to pass up Mt. Rainier for the opposite reason–too far away, would have taken another day just for that (very strict schedule, have to be back at work Monday morning at 7:30).

Had to skip the whole Seattle/Port Townsend/Whidbey Island thing for the same reason. Major bummer: you can’t see Seattle from the interstate, you drive along in a valley and there are trees in the way.

Total mileage: 6,162 miles. Average mpg: well, the bigass Chevy van pulling a trailer heavily laden with 5 people and their STUFF made about 7 mpg, but hey, what did you expect? Lowest gas prices were in Missouri–$1.35/gallon. Highest prices–Oregon, $1.79 more or less, and get this, it’s 15 cents cheaper in Washington. We get gas in Kennewick at $1.63/gallon, drive across the river to Umatilla, and suddenly it’s $1.78. Why is that, anyway?

Stood there at the Official Mt. St. Helens Viewing Spot at the Visitor Center and saw–the place where we could have seen Mount St. Helens if there hadn’t been a clump of trees in the way, in the middle distance. I know it’s a National Monument, but does that mean that somebody can’t go out there in the middle of the night with a chainsaw and improve the view for people who drove 1,500 miles to see it? The visitor center was nice, though. :rolleyes:

Mouth of the Columbia, very impressive.
Grand Coulee Dam, even more impressive, but we were disappointed the Incline Elevator wasn’t working when we were there. Bummer.

Ocean Shores–not as trashy as predicted. But then again, I’ve seen both Cape Cod and Nag’s Head. Ocean Shores looked about 1/4 the size of Nag’s Head, and I thought it was kinda cute, in its way.

High point of trip–the entire Olympic peninsula.
Low point of trip–the long homeward slog across Kansas on I-70, but the tornado Thursday night did perk things up a bit.

Biggest mosquitos–Moorhead, Minnesota.
Hungriest mosquitos–at the dam across Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota.
No mosquitos at all–the entire state of Utah. (How do they do that? Is it a Mormon thing, like the gulls that came along and ate all the crickets?)

Most overly hyped scenic attraction–the Columbia River gorge. We all agreed it was about 20 minutes worth of scenery stretched out into a LONG drive.
Runner-up–Garden of the Gods, Colorado. Rocks. Red rocks. And not very many of them. Where’s the gift shop?

Most unexpected nuisance–the presence of actual mountains in Idaho and Colorado that slowed us up considerably, even on interstate highways. I mean, where do the Rocky Mountains think they get off, obstructing traffic like that? I guess even highway engineers have their limitations. On I-70 through the middle of Colorado, even the bigass Chevy van was groaning along uphill in low gear at 25 mph. We were in good company, though, with bumper-to-bumper truckers in the right lane with us. And just when I was feeling most discouraged about our slow rate of speed (about the time we were passed by a vintage VW Beetle), somebody in the back seat helpfully pointed out, “Yeah, but at least no RVs have passed us.” A most consoling thought.

We couldn’t see the Great Salt Lake, because we had a tip from a fellow camper in Butte that the entire Salt Lake City highway system was basically closed for construction, due to the 2002 Olympics. “I just came through there,” he said, still trembling from his ordeal, “and, trust me, you don’t wanna go there.” So we went around it, and in so doing, discovered Heber City, Utah, where we hit the RV jackpot–all in the same parking lot, a change-your-oil while-U-wait place, an RV carwash, a Food King grocery store, and a Taco Time.

Best undiscovered treasure–the Charbonneau Park Corps of Engineers campground in Kennewick, Washington. Once again, my admiration for the C of E is unbounded. They have the BEST campgrounds, I don’t care what they did to Glen Canyon.
Runnerup–Ocean City State Park, Washington.

Best unexpected pleasure–discovering that we were going to go RIGHT PAST the official Kensington Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota. Well, it would have been criminal to skip it, wouldn’t it? (That’s the stone covered with Norse runes that supposedly proves the Vikings made it all the way to Minnesota in the 11th century.) The museum’s the product of a fascinating alliance between the Runestone “true believers” and the local historical society. That sure must have been an interesting meeting, when they set up that museum. (High point–the 60 foot high fiberglass Viking out in the middle of Main Street.)

Most boring gift shops–every National Monument/National Park we visited. Nothing but books. Not a cheesy t-shirt or plastic backscratcher or silly hat in sight. What is the matter with these people? Don’t they work for us? Can’t we do something about this?

Biggest “thank God it’s everything we hoped for” non-disappointment–Dinosaur Quarry, at Dinosaur National Monument. (even with a boring gift shop–fortunately for the mental health of the back seat, there was a REAL capitalist gift shop thoughtfully located just outside the park entrance, that had a life-size fiberglass brontosaurus already equipped with a Western saddle on the neck, and a little stairway helpfully leading up to it. No charge for photos, so of course after our photo session we had to go inside and buy a complete set of refrigerator magnets showing all the states we’d traveled through, and a container full of chocolate rocks, not to mention a stuffed jackalope, which was immediately christened “Clarence” and given a wristwatch to wear as a collar.)

Best unashamed gift shop–Garden of the Gods Visitor Center, Colorado. Two gift shops, no waiting. Gift shops upstairs AND downstairs.

State most completely lacking in state parks with electric hookups–Montana. I realize that as custodians of the Cowboy Way, they’re not in the business of catering to the needs of RVers who need electricity to run their refrigerators, but still…it’s not like we’re demanding cable TV or anything.

Places I want to go back to someday: Williston, North Dakota. Astoria, Oregon. Spokane, Washington. Vernal, Utah.

So, back to real life. What did I miss here? Is there a short answer for “wha’ hoppen with the big 7/2 update?” I faithfully loaded up 20 days worth of ATMB threads to get the skinny, but it’s three pages of threads, and I’ve got a dining room table here still full of stuff to put away from the trip, and hey, life’s too short, you know?

But I see that at least MPSIMS hasn’t changed–still two threads with the words “nipples” or “vagina” in the title.

Nice to see ya back and good to see that you still have kept your short & sweet style of posting :smiley:

Well lets see what’s new/happened :

Shayna and Techchick have done a The People of The Straight Dope page . Can’t wait to see your pic. :wink:

There was a particulary ugly incident concerning some numbnuts(odz bodkin) posting saying Bratman was in a bad car accident. It all went pear shaped after that .

And Cecil posted a naked pic of himself but that thread has been deleted . :smiley:

I’ll leave the rest to other people to fill you in on .

Oh, trust me, they are there. They are just very small. I know they are there, because I was the official all night mosquito buffet before I moved.

Well A: You didn’t miss much. Really. There’s nothing to see and it STINKS to high heaven.
and B: I could have told you about the road construction. Why didn’t you ask me?

I hope you didn’t spend too much time in Heber. They are all inbred, backwards cowboys. Seriously, I advice everybody to stay away from Heber.
But now you have made me all homesick, you were just about 15 miles from where I grew up. It’s beautiful up there isn’t it? Do you see the Jordanelle Dam? I remember when that thing was built, I remember when the road went right through the bottom of the resivore. Did you go through Provo Canyon? That is a lot of fun at 6:00 AM during a major blizzard, let me tell you. Did you go to Park City? If not, I’m very sorry you missed out. That is (or was as of last year) one of the greatest towns I have ever seen.

I’m glad to see you had fun! And welcome back!

I thought your name went by once or twice. Someone thought you were gone for good, etc.
I envy the trip.

Well, I put in “Duck” under Search, asking myself all the while, “Are you really this egotistical, to imagine that anyone would have noticed you were gone?”. The answer evidently is, “Yes”. But it came up with 275 hits, and evidently I’m not quite THAT egotistical yet, to wade through all of that, hoping to see my name mentioned.

Anyway, if you say so, it’s nice to know somebody noticed.

Pepper, I’m truly sorry I didn’t think to ask you about Utah, but at the time we left, I wasn’t planning on going through there. However, our plans changed in a big way after the Rocky Mountains got so cranky about letting us through with reasonable dispatch on the westbound voyage, so while homeward bound we ended up playing Beat the Clock and zipping through that top right-hand corner at 60 miles per.

I saw what you mean about Heber City as I sat there and read the local paper in the Taco Time. Juicy local murder all over the front page, I can hardly wait till it makes a TV-movie. Rancher killed two of his hired hands (a married couple), got another hired hand (a non-English-speaking Hispanic) to help him blow up the bodies with dynamite, on the assumption that that would take care of matters, but the hired hand, who presumably didn’t want to lose his green card, was singing to the high hills. Great stuff.

I hope it was nobody I knew. But now I’m gonna be worried, so I think I’m going to call my grandparents and see if I can get the details…

Don’t upset your granny, Pepper. It’s a rancher named John Pinder–here’s a sampling, from the Uintah Basin Standard. I’m sorry, it didn’t occur to me that it might be people you knew. :frowning:


Thanks for the link DDG, it was nobody I knew or was related to. (That’s always a very distinct possibility in that area) But it is very sad.

Huh? In the 9th paragraph, you asked where the gift shop was at Garden of the Gods, then down near the end you say it’s one of the best ones you found. That trading post on the south side is full of great touristy stuff, and the visitor center on the north side has a decent selection. And I will have to agree with you on the I-70 slowdown. I came thru there in Sept. '96, barely 60 degrees, and got passed by a dozen litte MG-looking convertibles. All had the tops down, all had guys with scarves & bright red noses, and all going 80 mph. Never did figure out where they were headed. Beautiful area to travel, tho.

DDG: Glad you had a good time. Re St. Helens, we should have specified the ridge observatory, instead of the main visitor’s center; it’s higher up and looks into the crater. It’s named after a guy who was killed in the 1980 eruption. Much better place to visit. Oh well.

Activgurl: The “where’s the gift shop” question, I think, was meant more like this: “Okay, let’s see the attraction. …That’s it? Really? Um, okay, great, I guess. So, where can I buy a soda?” …As opposed to there not being a shop at all, it was, I think, a comment on the lameness of the ostensible destination, that you’d shrug and immediately look for somewhere to purchase the commemorative refrigerator magnet.

And back to DDG: So, was it worth it? Would you come back to see the stuff you missed? :slight_smile:

Yeah, I’ll definitely have to go back sometime, there was tons of stuff I had to miss because of the time constraint. Also, I never did succeed in locating any kind of official Bigfoot center–I asked the nice lady at the Forks, Washington historical society/timber museum, but she just gave me a funny look and started trying to give me pamphlets on the Makah Indian reservation (“furthest northwest land point in the U.S.”)