Monday, June 27, 2016

Yellowstone to Everett, WA

We had an early morning departure from Yellowstone. We exited the West gate into West Yellowstone, which is in Montana. I highly recommend an early morning ride around Yellowstone. We saw an amazing amount of activity on our trip out. We were on the move by 6:00am and so were the bison. We had to stop a few times to let them pass. There is still dried bison manure on my trailer as a souvenir. We also caught a coyote hunting in a field. They have very acute hearing and it was evident with his ears perked up that he was listening for his prey. When snow is on the ground they can pinpoint the exact location of a mouse by ear and pounce through the snow to satiate their appetite.
Many a bison causing an early morning traffic jam.

A little distant, but coyote is on the hunt.

When exiting the park, we found a spot along the street for the rig and walked to a great breakfast cafe. What a treat! We both agreed it was the best breakfast in a long time. My omelet was packed with fresh bacon, tomatoes, ham and cheddar cheese.  Add a slice of fresh baked rye bread, fresh hash browns and some grilled tomatoes and I was set for the day until dinner.

Our destination for an overnight stay was to Missoula, ID.  A great place if you need to replenish supplies and find things to do. We could have stayed longer, but schedule did not permit. I hate schedules, but sometimes they are required and I just live with it.

Our stop after that was Hayden Lake, Idaho. It was a short hop as planned. We arrived at Jess’s long time friend that she hadn’t seen in many years. She and Jane met at Whitefish Lake in Minnesota when they were kids on vacation and have corresponded since that time. Jane’s husband Tom is a great guy and he and I have a lot in common, flying and boating are among them. We helped launch their boat on the lake and set up their boat tarp over the cover for their slip. We ate, drank and listened to stories of Jess and Jane’s summers in Minnesota. Tom and Jane, besides opening their house to us, also took us out to dinner. Besides a great meal we had a special dessert. It is called the “Idaho Baked Potato”. It looks exactly like a potato, but it is ice-cream coated with powdered chocolate and topped with fudge and whipped cream. Ten times better than a potato. We were in Idaho so we had to have a potato right?  I think we did it right.

Is it a potato or ice cream? Let your taste buds decide!

Childhood buds (in Idaho they are spuds) reconnect.
Is that a halo above Jane's head??
 Have you seen the sequel to the movie "The thing with Two Heads?

Many a windmill farm passed along the way. This was just a shot of three
out of a group of fifty.
After Hayden lake we made our way to Kent, Washington. It was 47 miles short of our land 
destination. We ate out that evening at BBQ Pete’s. Man we swear it was the best BBQ we ever had! And you get a complementary ice cream for dessert. The next day we spent doing a serious restocking of supplies and I had an oil change done on the truck. It was a long day, but we accomplished the tasks at hand.

The following morning it was rise and shine at 5:30 am. Jess calls me Captain Bligh and I don’t understand why. Anyway we were on the roll by 6:00 and made our way to Everett. Mission accomplished we made it to the ramp by 8:30. We stopped along the way to fill up the boat fuel tank at the slowest pump on earth. I think it was pumping oil out of the ground and refining it along the way. It was torture filling up 60 gallons of fuel!

The ramps in Port of Everett are the largest I have seen. They are well kept and floating. We launched ILLUSIONS without a hitch, no pun intended. I parked truck and trailer and when I got to the boat Jess had been approached by the local patrol who wanted to inspect the boat for the coast guard regulated equipment and such. Our handy pre-inspection by the auxiliary came in handy. Once they saw we had one, they cleared us without inspection and wished us a great trip.

The Water we came for. Ready to launch in Everett!!
After settling in at the marina we went to the local marine store. I got my crabbing equipment and my salmon and crabbing license. I now need to catch $146.00 worth of crab and salmon to break even. Fishing report forthcoming.

Tools required for a crab dinner

A crab pot can also serve as a table. I wonder
if this will work after we catch crabs. 

After a short visit to the local farmer’s market we were off to Roger’s place to store our rig for three months. I never met Roger and he never met me. The first time we met was when we drove up to his house. We found each other through a boat user site, the C-Brats. I am a member there because of my C-Dory days. Boaters, in my opinion, are the most willing to help each other out. Within minutes of posting that I needed a place to store the rig, Roger contacted me. So our rig is now resting comfortably on a potato farm. Unfortunately, not the ice cream type.

So 17 days, 3,969 miles later and 361 gallons of fuel we are at our water destination and ready to cruise. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Yellowstone - don't miss it!

I have now been to Yellowstone four times. My first time was 40 years ago and it hasn’t changed since. Each time you go you see something different and it is just as exciting as being there the first time. After towing the boat through the Absaroka Mountain Range at altitudes exceeding 8.000 feet we made it to the east entrance of Yellowstone Park. Minutes later we were stopped dead in our tracks by a Big Horn Sheep. He stood there just staring and then meandered away. A nice way to start our Yellowstone adventure. From the east entrance to Bridge Bay Marina, where we launched the boat, was another 30 miles of driving with additional increase in altitude. The speed limit in much of the park is between 25 to 45 mph. Even at 45 mph you can miss something so the slower the better.
Once we arrived at the ranger station at Bridge Bay I had to have the boat inspected for invasive aquatic species.  Primarily they are looking for zebra mussels that can really screw up the eco system. I was cleared to launch and we traveled for a minute to the slip.
For the next two days we took in the sites and animals of Yellowstone. Yellowstone was our first National Park and probably the greatest. In some sections you feel like you have gone back to the prehistoric age and in others you are in awe of the natural beauty. Every time I travel out west I imagine the settlers and their trip cross country for their pot of gold. I cannot believe what they had to endure to go west. They were truly remarkable people. Everyone should have Yellowstone on their bucket list. At 2.2 million acres and technically a volcano ready to blow you should get there ASAP before it is too late.

Below are just a few of the things we got to experience in Yellowstone.

A view as we idle on Yellowstone lake in our boat
Black bear on log resting in the afternoon
Coyote doing his early morning hunt

The upper falls of Yellowstone Canyon

Male elk grazing in the woods
Grizzly foraging in the grass
Mammoth springs. Extremely hot water running down .
No explanation needed
Old Faithful. Not the largest geyser in the park, but the one that can
be consistently predicted as to when it will erupt. 
The Yellowstone river 
The diversity of beauty is amazing
Bison mother and calf


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Forsyth to Mount Rushmore

Our trip so far has been fantastic.  After Forsyth we went to Nashville, St. Louis, Mount Rushmore and today we hit Yellowstone. We spent a fun day in Nashville only to return to the campsite to a flat tire. I carry plenty of spare parts like bearings, races, two complete wheel hubs and two spares, so a spare tire was mounted and we were ready for the next day. It was a brand new tire flat too, WTF! The following day I brought it to a shop and they checked it out. Turns out that the guts in the valve were leaking so they replaced it at no charge! We’re definitely not in the northeast anymore Toto! Nashville was also a great stop.  A bit crowded with the festival, but fun. We visited “Recording Studio B” which was used by many of the great recording artists of the past and is still used today.  It was pretty neat to sit at the piano Elvis used in many of his songs and to stand exactly where he and many of the other artists (Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Frank Sinatra) stood at the mic while recording.
Off to St. Louis.  Of course the Arch was the first place we hit. They are rebuilding the entire waterfront so it wasn’t the most welcoming, but they still accommodate visitors. The engineering is amazing and in case you don’t know it, you can actually take a ride to the top. That is if you don’t mind sitting in a washing machine for 7 minutes. You get a great view of the entire city from the top. We also spent a day at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  Acres of different gardens and well worth the visit. They have many rare plants and do a lot of research. Well worth the visit if you go there.  Jess, being the gardening fanatic, had to be dragged out.
Our ride to Mount Rushmore was also wonderful. As you drive through the open plains, which can be boring, you come to the foot of the Black Hills and start climbing.  Our rig, trailer and truck, is 58 feet long and weighs 10,400 pounds but our 3500 Silverado with a diesel Duramax pulled it like a champ. More importantly going downhill the truck has a special trailer mode and an exhaust brake. I hardly have to put my foot on the brakes as we descend some pretty steep hills at a 7% grade for as long as 5 miles at times.
Mount Rushmore is a great story, four presidents representing: Founding (George Washington), Growth (Thomas Jefferson), Development (Theodore Roosevelt) and Preservation (Abraham Lincoln).  We learned a lot about how the mountain was carved and the men who worked on it.  We also visited Jewel Cave. This cave is the third largest in the world and is over 183 miles.  I don’t know how deep it is but we descended to a depth of 370 feet. The temperature is a constant 49 degrees, so bring a sweatshirt.  Or you can buy one in the gift shop like I did because I forgot mine at the campsite.
A ride through Custer State Park is a pleasant loop where you can see many a buffalo and prairie dogs barking at you to keep away from their mounds

Below are a few picture:

Elvis's Piano
X marks the spot where current and past artists stand to record.
Look at how old the tiles are.
The St. Louis Arch

One of many displays at the Missouri Botanical gardens

Mount Rushmore

A herd of Buffalo at Custer State Park 

An example of some of the roads and terrain traveled

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Pacific Northwest

Sorry I have not posted in a while, but no need to bore you with a similar trip so I did not post any of our winter trip this season. However, we start a new adventure. This one will be part land and part sea, a "Surf & Turf" type trip. We are towing the boat to the Pacific Northwest and will be cruising the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands and Victoria BC. Perhaps Alaska, but we don't think time will allow for that. We will be launching the boat out of Everett, WA and expect to arrive there on June 26th. 

Our road trip will consist on making stops in Nashville, St. Louis, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Hayden lake, ID, Kent, WA and then Everett, WA. Kent, WA is the birthplace of ILLUSIONS. We plan on visiting our friends at the factory and get a tour of how the process goes in making dreams come true. 

We left early yesterday morning from Placida, Florida and made a stop in Forsyth, GA. We left there early today and plan on staying two nights in Nashville, TN. Perhaps we hit it right, or maybe we didn't, this is the Country Music Festival weekend. They expect 70,000 people to arrive. Luckily the campground we are staying at has a shuttle to and from the city so it should be easy access for us.

I believe I have mentioned it before, but when we tow the boat we stay at campgrounds. It is actually much easier than going in and out of hotels and parking the rig in tight places. We have a galley and sleeping right behind us. Why move into a hotel room? A fellow tug owner friend of ours coined the phrase "Boaterhoming".

So you have the easy part, just sit back at your computer and click on our blog and enjoy the next adventure without leaving your home.

Three loads like this of clothing and supplies. Honey, do you really need 10 pairs of shoes? Just kidding, Jess does well with packing.

You have to stop at a fresh peach stand in Georgia. And you may as well pick up some tomatoes also!

Our first stop in Forsyth. Nice people, they made us some home made chocolate chip cookies. The best I ever had and they were four inches in diameter. Are we in Georgia or Texas?

Early morning departure from Forsyth. We wanted to get a jump on traffic through Atlanta and beat out the 70,000 people heading to Nashville.