Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Co-Pilots Views

We had a few really cold days in Helena. It got down to 7 degrees and John was worried about the plumbing, but we kept the heater running and everything was fine. It got up in the 60s the last few days we were there. We left 8:30 Monday morning and went over McDonald Pass elevation 6300) in the rain and 40s. At 1:00 PM we passed our first vehicles of the day (WooHoo!), 3 semis going up to Lookout Pass (3200') on the Idaho Border. John was really excited, because he never passes anyone, and he was worried if we would have enough power going thru the mountains.

The pine trees in Montana are dying from a pine beetle infestation, but it makes the mountains look like beautiful fall colors. The pines are turning varying shades of lighter greens until they eventually turn yellow and then a rusty brown as they die. It's very sad to see all the trees that are dying, but also a magnificent show of colors. I'm not sure if you will be able to tell in the photos I took from the co-pilots seat. John says co-pilot implies that I sometimes take over driving and that's never going to happen! So I suggested navigator, which he said implies I can read a map. He suggested luggage handler, so I guess I am luggage handler and stewburner (navy term for cook). I think John is wishing my mother had come along, since she is a better cook and navigator and he would probably even let her drive!

Just west of Lookout Pass we stopped at a scenic view where a 1910 fire burned over 3 million acres and 85 fire fighters died. The smoke over Montreal and London interfered with North Atlantic ocean traffic.

At 1:30 PM we stopped at the Sunshine Disaster Monument between Ozborn and Kellogg, Idaho. On May 2, 1972 it was the worst mining disaster since 1917. 91 miners were killed when carbon monoxide and smoke impeded rescue efforts. The last two survivors were found a week later. John says it's a really good book, "The Big Deep". It's like traveling with a walking encyclopedia. A few minutes later we went over the 4th of July Pass (3,069'), so named because Lewis & Clark spent the 4th camped at a nearby stream.

At 2:30 we drove thru Coeur d' Alene which is quite beautiful, my brother says it's the most beautiful place he has ever seen. By 3:00 we were in Spokane (home of Bing Crosby) where we stopped at the Flying J for gas. That blows the budget for the day. Bread and water for supper, I guess. The country side around Spokane is brown, dry and sagebrush.

At Ritzville(sounds nice, huh?), we turned south on US395 toward the Oregon border. We stopped at a rest area just past Umatilla, Oregon where we had a little supper of rice & beans and a glass of wine. We were just settling into bed when a big, noisy reefer truck pulled in and parked right next to us. Damn truckers, anyway! Thankfully, I packed a box of 3M ear plugs and luckily, I was able to find them amongst all the other unnecessary crappola John says I drug along. I slept like a baby!

Tuesday 8:30 AM - On the road again heading thru the Columbia River Gorge and then Hood River where wind surfing started, because there is such a constant wind. There are lots of wind turbines along the ridge. We had a great view of Mt. Hood with lots of snow on it right ahead of us. It's the only place in the U.S. that has year round skiing. We saw lots of fishing boats in the river and many irrigated vineyards on the north side where I suppose they get lots of sun. The fall colors were gorgeous as we drove by several state parks. Arrived in Portland around noon and missed our turn and ended up on a scenic little river drive and a narrow little bridge where traffic had to wait for us to get across. We finally found a place where we could turn around and circled around a little more till we finally found our way back to Aunt Dorothy's street.
On a side note, I just finished a book written by a friend of ours who John used to work with at Coast to Coast and I liked it very much. It is about his years in the Navy in the late 60s. A Lover, a Fighter and a Tug Boat Rider by Steven Carl Stanga. I understand he has had several book signing events in Brookings recently and I'm sure there must be a copy at the Brookings Public Library and book stores in Brookings.
We will be relaxing with Aunt Dorothy for the next few days.
Happy Trails,

1 comment:

  1. Keep's the only way I'm going to see the country. Your narrating is great by the way!!!