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.