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Spring Breakout

May, 2012

Spring has sprung - well at least on the calendar. Snow is still in the air, but I'm in spring breakout mode and have hit the road. I originally planned to leave on Thursday, May 3 but snow storms were sweeping across the Montana mountains so I postponed departure by one day. I ended up visitng seven Naitonal Parks along the way - three of which I had not been before.
Spring Breakout 2012 Photo Album

Friday, May 4, 2012 - Calgary to Kalispell
Getting Snoopy into her carrier went relatively smoothly. I stopped at AMA to pick up some maps, dropped Snoopy off at the Cattery, and was on the road by 11:30 am. I had to call Karen to rub it in on my way out of town. Ha Ha
The weather was sunny - not particularly warm (only 55°) but the roads were dry. There wasn't much traffic and I was able to make good time - with one exception. Two dozen horses were licking the salt off the road around St Mary and had the road blocked - totally. They refused to move and there was no getting around them so I just inched forward until finally (after giving the last stubborn one a little nudge) I was through them.
Kalispell, Montana

I arrived in Kalispell just before 5:00 and stopped at the Quilt Gallery before heading to the hotel. I went to Walmart and then McKenzie River Pizza for supper - definitely a "don't do that again" place. Yuk! Not my kind of pizza.

I plan to go to Jeff Fleming's Bear Country Gallery and check out the latest Bearfoots™ before leaving in the morning. I want to pick up some switchplate and who knows - maybe Koleman needs a friend?

Jeff Fleming's Bear Country Gallery, Kalispell, Montana

Saturday, May 5 - Kalispell to Mountain Home
Bear Country Gallery

I got a late start this morning. I stopped at Bear Country Gallery where I purchased All Who Wander and Fluffy. Both just seemed appropriate. I also exchanged the switchplate and spent a few minutes wandering around the shop. We will have to come back in the summer and get Koleman his mate.

All who wander are not lost, And I find it to be true.
When I wander and explore,
It is myself that I find more.
I'm NOT FAT I'm Fluffy!

It was nearly 11:00 before I hit the road. The weather didn't look promising in any direction so I decided to stay on the main hwys. I followed hwy 93 (Lewis & Clark Trail) to Challis, hwy 75 to Sun Valley, and hwy 20 to Mountain Home. It rained and snowed on and off all the way. At the top of Lost Trail summit on the Idaho border, I ran into heavy snow. The temp dipped to 27° but nothing was sticking to the highway. By the time I reached Sun Valley, the sun was out and the sky was clear.

My intention was to stay at Jackpot tonight, but all hotels were booked. Best Western was able to get me in at Mountain Home. After a quick supper and a hot bath, I'm ready for an early night. Weather is still quite cold.

Sunday, May 6 - Mountain Home to Ely
Despite getting to bed early and sleeping like a log, I didn't wake up until after 9:00 so another late start for today but I really didn't have far to go. I made the decision to stay at Ely tonight so phoned ahead with the reservation.
Mountain Home

I had to drive through Mountain Home and was quite impressed with it's size and upkeep. We've been by Mountain Home before but just on the highway, never into the town.

Mountain Home is the largest city and county seat of Elmore County, Idaho. The population was 14,206 at the 2010 census. Mountain Home was originally a post office at Rattlesnake Station, a stagecoach stop on the Overland Stage Line, about seven miles east of the city, on present-day US-20 towards Fairfield. With the addition of the Oregon Short Line railroad in 1883, the post office was moved downhill and west to the city's present site.

Mountain Home Air Force Base is located 12 miles southwest of the city. Opened in 1943 during World War II, it was originally a bomber training base.

Since I was so close to hwy 50 I decided to partially drive it now and find another east/west road when I head to the coast. From Mountain Home I took hwy 51/225 to Elko, hwy 80 to Carlin, hwy 278 to Eureka, and hwy 50 to Ely. From start to finish I had to road completely to myself - and - there wasn't a cloud in the sky to be found today!!

Hwy 51/225 was a bit boring. Hwy 278 was really a pretty drive, winding in and out of canyons with lots of pull outs and overlooks. The portion of hwy 50 from Eureka to Ely is just enough to make it very interesting without getting monotonous. I'm sorry I missed Austin - but perhaps next time.

Eureka, Nevada

The town was first settled in 1864 by a group of silver prospectors from nearby Austin, who discovered rock containing a silver-lead ore on nearby Prospect Peak. The town became the county seat in 1873, when Eureka County was carved out of adjacent Lander, Elko, and White Pine counties.

Ely, Nevada

Ely is the largest city and county seat of White Pine County, Nevada, United States. Ely was founded as a stagecoach station along the Pony Express and Central Overland Route. Ely's mining boom came later than the other towns along US 50, with the discovery of copper in 1906. This made Ely a mining town, suffering through the boom-and-bust cycles so common in the West. As of the 2010 census, the population was 4,255.

Though the railroads connecting the First Transcontinental Railroad to the mines in Austin and Eureka have long been removed, the railroad to Ely is preserved as a heritage railway by the Nevada Northern Railway and known as the Ghost Train of Old Ely.

Hotel Nevada

I arrived in Ely around 5:00, booked into the hotel, filled the car, and went to Hotel Nevada for supper - my usual biscuits and gravy.

The historic, six-story Hotel Nevada is located in downtown Ely. Opened in 1929, it was the tallest building in Nevada well into the 1940s and was the state's first fire-proof building. It is a popular lodging, dining, gaming and tourist stop.

Ramada Inn & Copper Queen Casino

The Ramada Inn & Copper Queen Casino is a family owned casino hotel business established in 1986 and serves travelers coming to the Ely area, Great Basin National Park, and Humboldt National Forest. It is one of our favorite hotels. All rooms face the atrium with an indoor pool and 80 slot machines. It's really neat to be able to walk out your door and sit down at a slot machine or jump into the pool.

It didn't take me long to lose my $20.00. My room is right outside the pool so I'm going for a hot tub now before calling it a night. "Where to tomorrow?" I haven't decided yet. Weather here is not much better - only 60°. I'll see what tomorrow morning brings but so far I'm still in long pants and a jacket. :(

Monday, May 7 - Ely to Torrey
Highways today were a bit erratic. The weather wasn't much better. I drove in and out of rain clouds all day but only experienced a small amount of rain. Temperature the whole day hovered around 55°. Everyone along the way was complaining about the weather. I followed hwy 50 & 487 to Baker, hwy 488 into Great Basin then hwy 487 to Garrison and hwy 21 to I-15 at Beaver. Then after a quick 20 miles south on I-15 I headed east on hwy 20, north on hwy 89, east on hwy 62, and east on hwy 24 to Torrey.
Great Basin National Park

Despite the ominous black clouds hanging over the mountain, I cast caution to the wind and headed into the park. We've passed this area many times so today was the day to tour it. The park itself is not too spectacular but the road climbing up to 10,000 feet is. Yikes!! The designated campgrounds were still closed. Snow has not melted yet.

Great Basin National Park was established on October 27, 1986. The park derives its name from the Great Basin, the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains.

Bristlecone Pines

The park is notable for its groves of ancient bristlecone pines, the oldest known non-clonal organisms and for the Lehman Caves.

The Great Basin Bristlecone is Nevada's State Tree. The pines are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known. The maximum recorded age is 4,844 years.

The gnarled bristlecone pines that grow in isolated groves at tree line are among the oldest living things. In this stressful, windswept environment, where ice particles driven by winter winds carve and polish the wood of the trees, these pines cling to life for thousands of years. Bristlecones growing tall and straight among the spruce and limber pines do not share exceptional longevity with their gnarled cousins.
Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves, discovered by Absalom Lehman in 1885, is a beautiful marble cave ornately decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, popcorn, and over 300 rare shield formations. The caves were originally protected as a National Monument in 1922 and combined with the national park in 1986.

No! I did not go anywhere near the cave.

Kingston Canyon

This route is incredibly beautiful. Hwy 20 winds and twists through the Kingston Canyon. Along this route of red rock cliffs is a grouping of hoodoos. Then hwy 62 follows the valley north through a lush farming area.

Chuckwagon Motel, Torrey, Utah

It really starts to feel good when the red rock buttes come into view.

I arrived in Torrey about 5:30 pm and booked into the Chuckwagon Hotel. I was able to get a cabin again (#9) so it was a good end to a good day. After unloading the car I went to Los Cabos for dinner - a dining experience to say the least. Mexican food, but not your usual Fajita. I'm heading to hwy 261 and Bluff tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 8 - Torrey to Williams

I ran into problems getting a hotel again. Desert Rose at Bluff and both The View and Goulding Lodge in Monument Valley were booked. I didn't know the name of the hotel in Kayenta so I had Best Western book me into Williams. As it turned out there was a Best Western in the Grand Canyon too that looked very nice. I stopped in Kayenta and picked up a business card for the Wetherill Inn so we will have the information for next time.

The extra distance was OK but a domino effect happened. My plans to stay in Kingman tomorrow night got bumped to Bullhead City so I'm actually a day ahead of my plans. I did plan to stay in Bullhead City to go to the Easy Spirit store there. I want to see if I can find anything like my old sandals that finally went to sandal heaven last year.

Driving was easy again with very little traffic. I did the scenic tour in Capital Reef National Park before hitting the highway. I followed hwy 24 east to hwy 95, then south on hwy 261 to hwy 163. I drove through Monument Valley and connected with hwy 160 at Kayenta, hwy 89 at Tuba City and hwy 64 at the Grand Canyon turnoff. I toured a bit through the Grand Canyon and continued on hwy 64 to I-40 and Williams.

There was a major storm over the Manti-La-Sal Forest and I hit a bit of rain on hwy 95 - just long enough and heavy enough to clean the bugs off the windshield. I was thinking I might finally get to see a flash flood but I left it all behind when I turned south on hwy 261. Temperature was a bit better today - steady around 70°. I'm still not in my capri pants!

Fruita & Capital Reef National Park

I did the scenic tour in Capital Reef National Park. It took about an hour and was really beautiful. There is a massive labyrinth of washes crisscrossing the road. It must be a spectacular sight when they all fill with water.

Jerry, Cool Hand Luke & Elmer

I met Jerry, Cool Hand Luke and Elmer - three oldtimers travelling from Wyoming. Jerry is 80 years old and very well travelled. Luke is his sweet dog, and Elmer is his beat up old truck with 300,000 miles on him.


They make a great combination. Jerry said he still has so much to see!! A bit of an inspiration for sure. I wish I had his contact information so I could find out where his travels took him.

I Love This Road!!

It wouldn't be right if I didn't play on hwy 261 for a while. I drove down, up, and down again before saying goodbye and heading to hwy 163. I'm by myself this year so Willie had to ride shotgun.

There were some changes that I noticed. The area where there is a large pull off just after the turn seems quite a bit smaller this year. Couldn't swear by it, but I think it was missing a large chunk.
Monument Valley

I didn't stop in Monument Valley. I was going to pull into Goulding but the turn off area was very congested with tourists and school busses. I didn't need gas so I just continued on.

Grand Canyon National Park

I took in a couple of the overlooks and actually got quite close to the edge - close but not too close! There was a lot of traffic and tourists which was surprising for this time of year. I stopped for a few minutes at the Visitors Center.


Williams is a city west of Flagstaff. It lies on the route of Historic Route 66, Interstate 40, and the Southwest Chief Amtrak train route. It is also the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway, which takes visitors to Grand Canyon Village.

Because of its location near the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Williams is a major tourist stop and has many inns and motels. Restaurants and gas stations may be seen serving mainly tourists rather than local residents, especially during the summer and holiday seasons.

Staying at Williams is always a treat. After booking into the hotel, I headed downtown to do some shopping, wander around, and have supper. I bought my dreamcatcher for this trip. I had Fajitas at Pancho McGillicuddy's - a strange name for a Mexican food restaurant.

Pancho McGillicuddy's

Constructed in 1893, Pancho McGillicuddy's (then called The Cabinet Saloon) is one of the oldest buildings in Williams, Arizona.

In February, 1993, the building underwent a major renovation, and many of the historic features were restored utilizing the original materials where possible.

The film "Midnight Run" was filmed on this location in 1988. The cast included Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin who posed as U.S. Treasury agents in a scene filmed at the end of the bar.

Wednesday, May 9 - Williams to Bullhead City

The distance put on yesterday made for an easy day today. I left Williams about 10:30 and stayed on I-40 until Kingman with a short side trip into Seligman. At Kingman I headed north on hwy 93 to Chloride and back to Kingman to pick up Route 66 to Oatman. After leaving Oatman I took hwy 153 to hwy 95 and Bullhead City.

The weather improved considerably today. Kingman temperature was 84° and Bullhead City was 95°. It looks like I'll have my capri pants on tomorrow.

Seligman, Arizona

I took a short side trip into Seligman to eat lunch. It's amazing that this small town has survived, let alone flourished. Driving into Seligman is like a leisurely drive to 1950. It's not a place, it's a feeling.

Careful planning and shear determination have this town hopping. The street was full of tourists, lined with tour busses and cars. The stores and restaurants were full. Everyone had one thing in common - relaxed.

Could It Possibly Rain?

An amazing thing happened. For a town that has virtually no rain in a year, I got to see a rain cloud forming over it - no rain, but the cloud was there.

Delgadillo's Snow Cap Cafe

For those who have been there before, part of the entertainment at the Snow Cap Cafe is watching the expressions on the faces of first-timers when they order an ice cream cone, and the man behind the counter asks, “Do you want mustard with that?”

And before the befuddled customer can answer, the server aims a yellow plastic bottle and delivers a direct squirt. The customer shrieks, and the onlookers chuckle because the squirt is actually a piece of yellow string, so no shirts or blouses ever get stained. Arizona Oddities
Well I guess I fell into the "expressions on the faces of first-timers" because that's exactly what happened to me. When I was finished being startled, I burst out laughing. I didn't even correct him when he pronounced my name "Dori". I'm not sure why we never ate there before, but it was sure busy today. When I arrived they had just finished feeding a bus tour.
Chloride, Arizona

Chloride is a strange little town - not really a ghost town but not really a thriving community. The yards were all well kept but decorated in a strange way with antiques - some sparsely, some completely covering the yard, and some arranged in such a way as to create something else. Interesting. There is still a post office in Chloride but not much else. A nice looking cafe named Yesterdays was just off main street.

Chloride is a onetime silver mining camp and is considered the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in the state. In 2000, the population was 352.

Prospectors first located mineral resources in the area in the 1840s, including silver, gold, lead, zinc, and turquoise. Chloride was founded about 1863, but mining was not widespread until the 1870s after a treaty was signed with the Hualapai Indians.

Cool Springs

I stopped briefly at Cool Springs to say hello to George and buy a cold drink.

Cool Springs Service Station was built in the 1920s and eventually had a cafe, a bar, and cabins. But Route 66 was bypassed in 1953, and the station was abandoned in 1964.

Adding insult to injury, its ruins were blown up for the 1991 Dolph Lundgren/Jean-Claude Van Damme film Universal Soldier. Ned Leuchtner purchased Cool Springs in 2001 and in 2004 rebuilding construction was completed. Today, Cool Springs is open for business. Whether you are looking for a Route 66 Beer or to purchase souvenirs, Cool Springs can provide it. There are no restaurants or gas services - just a cool refreshing stop and down home history - and George.
Oatman, Arizona

I stopped for about an hour to visit Brenda and get the update on all the donkeys. Peanut has a new baby Nikki and she is an absolute doll. Brenda named Nikki. Apparently the rule is that the first one to see the baby gets to name it.

A first today. I saw two sets of donkeys on the road. The first donkey crossed a few hundred yards before Cool Springs and a group of three were grazing on the side of the road about a mile after Cool Springs.

Brenda says that it's been dry up in the mountains and there is a lot of green grass along the roadside that is drawing them. Apparently it's not unusual - just that we haven't seen it before.

After a relaxing hour visiting, it was time to head out. Brenda is going to send me pictures of the new babies to put on my Oatman page.

Is that a "I might have to kill you" look?

Bullhead City

I booked into the Best Western and headed over to the Factory Outlet on Casino Drive, Laughlin. The Easy Spirit store had sandals similar to my deceased ones, but they didn't fit right. So, sadly, I left empty handed.

Laughlin is very quiet. There is virtually no traffic and the hotel parking lots are really empty. I drove down Casino Drive and then stopped at the Colorado Belle, wandered around, and took the riverwalk. Finally ready to call it a night, I ate at I-Hop and filled the car.

Thursday, May 10 - Bullhead City to Bakersfield
Today was a leisurely drive. I didn't have far to go so could stop along the way whenever I wanted. I followed hwy 95 south, I-40 west, hwy 95 north, Route 66 west to Ludlow, I-40 west to Daggett where I went north and crossed under I-15 to Calico Ghost Town. I then went back to I-15 to Barstow and west on hwy 58 to Bakersfield. I finally have on my capri pants.

Route 66, San Bernardino County

There's not much of anything left along this 70 mile route other than the railway which was actually quite busy. It seems to be a major marshalling route. Some of the homes & businesses have chain link fences around them. Others have just been left to the elements and vandals.

The sky was really weird today. There was a strange haze. It was like a thick fog. It was dark. There was no fire and no wind to make dust and it didn't look like a heat haze so I don't really know what caused it. Maybe smog?


Goffs is a nearly empty one-time railroad town at the route's high point in the Mojave Desert. Goffs was a stop along famous U.S. Route 66 prior to 1931, when a more direct route between Needles and Amboy was built. Goffs was also home to workers of the nearby Santa Fe Railroad.


Essex, a former oasis along historic Route 66, was allegedly founded when a motorist suffered a flat tire only to discover there were no garages for miles. In Essex's heyday, there were a number of important buildings utilized by motorists and local patrons, including Bell's Towing and The Wayside Cafe.

Essex was notable along Route 66 for providing free water to travelers, thanks to a well installed by the Automobile Club of Southern California.


Amboy was once a major stop along famous Route 66 but has seen much lower visitation since the opening of Interstate 40 to the north in 1973. Amboy is home to the famous Roy's Motel and Cafe, a Route 66 landmark.

Although Amboy was first settled in 1858, the town was not established until 1883. Lewis Kingman, a locating engineer for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, created the town as the first of a series of alphabetical railroad stations that were to be constructed across the Mojave Desert.

In 1926, Amboy became a boom town after the opening of U.S. Route 66. In 1938, Roy's Motel and Cafe opened, which prospered due to its isolated location on the route. The town remained busy until the opening of Interstate 40 in 1973, which bypassed Amboy.

Ludlow - "The Town Too Dry To Die!"

Ludlow is a small town in the Mojave Desert on Interstate 40. The older remains of the ghost town are along historic Route 66. The town started as a water stop for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in 1883. Ore was found in the nearby hills, leading to a boom. From 1906 to 1940 it was the southern railhead for the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad.

By the 1940s, local mining and railway activity had ceased and the town survived supplying the needs of travellers on the National Old Trails Road, renamed to become the legendary Route 66 in California. After Interstate 40 was built bypassing town there was little business and most residents departed, leaving ruins of empty buildings.

A new small "Ludlow" just to the north at the off-ramps of Interstate 40 was built in the 1970s, and contains two gas stations and a small tire and repair shop, a small motel, and a restaurant and fast-food cafe.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1 on the Richter scale struck the Mojave Desert, centered at Ludlow near Interstate 40, on December 6, 2008.

Calico Ghost Town

I had lunch at the restaurant in Calico then spent the next hour wandering around the town and through the stores. There is a bluegrass festival there this weekend.

Calico is a ghost town and former mining town located in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert. It was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, and today has been converted into a county park.

Walter Knott (of Knotts Berry Farm fame) purchased Calico in 1950s, architecturally restoring all but the five remaining original buildings to look as they did in 1880s. In November 1962, Calico Ghost Town was registered as a California Historical Landmark (Landmark #782). In 2002, Calico vied with Bodie in Mono County to be recognized as the Official State Ghost Town. In 2005, a compromise was finally reached when the State Senate and State Assembly agreed to list Bodie as the Official State Gold Rush Ghost Town and Calico the Official State Silver Rush Ghost Town.

The town was the basis for the Kenny Rogers and the First Edition album The Ballad of Calico.

Murray Family Farms

This unique store is off I-40 I stopped here bought a smoothie and munchies.

"Shop our indoor Farm Direct Markets for ripe, home grown fruits and veggies, charming jams, jellies, specialty canned goods, tender chewy beef jerky, dried fruits and nuts, homemade pies, cookies & turnovers, creamy fudge, cut fruit salads, all sorts of snacks, and more free samples."


Bakersfield is a major city near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County, California. It is roughly equidistant between Fresno and Los Angeles.

Following the discovery of gold in California in 1848, settlers flooded into the San Joaquin Valley. In 1851, gold was discovered along the Kern River in the southern Sierra Nevada, and in 1865, oil was discovered in the valley. Bakersfield was first incorporated in 1873, but was disincorporated three years later. The city reincorporated, which is used as the official incorporation date, on January 11, 1898.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace

After booking into the hotel I went next door to Buck Owens Crystal Palace for supper and to wander around the museum. It's really a great place to eat. The museum has some additions since the last time I was there. It now houses a statue of Garth Brooks and George Strait and a showcase with Brad Paisley photos and memorabilia.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace was constructed by Buck Owens, and was opened in 1996. Primarily it is a performance venue for country western music. It is also the home of Buck Owens museum, which contains items related to his career.

The Crystal Palace is designed in the Western Revival style, a style that resembles buildings from the 19th century American Old West. The interior resembles an American western town from that same period. The museum is located in display cases around the first floor, which resemble the windows to the building.

Best Western Crystal Palace

I booked a room at the Crystal Palace Inn & Suites and I was really looking forward to my stay there again. I was sorely disappointed. The lobby, hallways, parking, pool are all absolutely beautiful, inviting - everything and more I would want from a hotel but the room is in very bad shape. It was in disrepair and dirty. The worst part was that the bathroom smelled of sewer gas. The whole room smelled like a public washroom. I was nearly sick by 7:00 am so just got up and left. I didn't even have a shower or brush my teeth. My plans to stay an extra day and lounge by the pool flew right out the window - or should I say "down the toilet".

Friday, May 11- Bakersfield to Sonora

I hit the road very early this morning. I simply couldn't stand to be in that hotel room any longer.

Hwys today were pretty convoluted. I drove north on hwy 99, hwy 65 to Exeter, hwy 198 into Sequoia National Park and hwy 180 out of Kings Canyon National Park. At Fresno I turned north on hwy 41 into Yosemite National Park, hwy 120 out of the Park, then hwys 49 and 108 to Sonora.

Between the lush valleys, beautiful orchards, and the mountain forests, today was without a doubt one of the prettiest I have ever driven.


The orchards along this route were absolutely beautiful. Row on row of trees flowing across the hills and through the valleys laden with fruit.

I noticed that the trees were cut flat across the top. This gave them a "crew cut" look. You could still see the rows but the tops were very flat. I tried googling this, but couldn't find out why.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park, famous for its giant sequoia trees, is in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California. It was established on September 25, 1890 and spans 404,063 acres.

The Giant Forest within the Park contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world, including the General Sherman tree. General Sherman measures 37 feet across the base.


The bad news was that there was about 10 miles of road construction. The good news was that passage through the construction was by pilot car escort. This meant that we were travelling very slow and I was able to view the sights. We even stopped completely a couple of times and I took pictures.

Tunnel Log

Tunnel Log is a tunnel cut through a fallen giant sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park. The tree, which measured 275 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter, fell across a park road in 1937 due to natural causes. The following year, a crew cut an 8-foot tall, 17-foot wide tunnel through the trunk, making the road passable again. I subsequently found out that I confused what I saw (Tunnel Rock) with this information about the Tunnel Log.

Sequoia vs Redwood

The giant sequoia and the coast redwood are often confused as the same tree. They are quite different although they are in the same family. The giant sequoia is the world's largest tree based on volume while the coast redwood is the tallest tree. The giant sequoia, protected by law, grows in the mountains and the more plentiful redwood grows on the coast and is harvested for its wood.

Sequoia National Park Slideshow

Kings Canyon National Park

I just drove through on the main road. I did not take the road to King Canyon National Park.

Kings Canyon National Park is connected to Sequoia National Park. It was established in 1940 and covers 461,901 acres. Kings Canyon National Park consists of two sections. The small, detached General Grant Grove preserving several groves of giant sequoias, including the famous General Grant Tree, and the Redwood Mountain Grove, which is the largest remaining natural grove of giant sequoias in the world.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park covers an area of 761,268 acres. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984. Yosemite was set aside as a state park in 1864, but didn't become a National Park until October 1, 1890.

Wawona Tunnel

I was coasting along nicely stuck behind a slow driver which was actually OK until we reached the tunnel. Wait a minute!!! Tunnel? What tunnel? I had no choice. I braved the elements and followed my slow driver into the tunnel.

There was no light at the end of this tunnel!! As he drove slower and slower, my heart raced faster and faster!! Now it was not OK to be behind him any more. By the time we reached the other side I'm sure I was panting.

The Wawona Tunnel is 4,233 feet long, and as such, is actually the longest highway tunnel in California at this time. OK, so it's not as long as the Zion National Park tunnel - but I was all alone this time so there was no one to tell me to breathe. Yikes.


The Best Western Sonora Oaks Hotel certainly made up for the disaster in Bakersfield last night. It had a fireplace and a jacuzzi - both of which I happily partook.

It was lights out early for me. I didn't even tour around town. Time to do that in the morning.

Sonora is the county seat of Tuolumne County. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 4,903.Sonora was founded by Mexican miners during the California Gold Rush. It was once a booming center of industry and trade in California's Mother Lode.

The Mother Lode is most famously the name given to the long alignment of hard-rock gold deposits stretching northwest to southeast in the Sierra Nevada of California. The California Mother Lode is a zone from 0.93 to 3.7 miles wide and 120 miles long, extending from Georgetown in El Dorado County on the north, through Amador, Calaveras, and Tuolumne Counties, south to Mormon Bar in Mariposa County. It was discovered in the early 1850s, during the California Gold Rush.

Saturday, May 12 - Sonora to Yuba City

Only two (actually three) highways today - hwy 49 north to Grass Valley and hwy 20 east to Yuba City and I drove the entire length of hwy 153 - twice - once up and once down.

My plans to tour Sonora before leaving this morning were squashed. All routes were blocked in preparation for a parade. The detour to take me out of town wound down some interesting and beautiful residential streets and farm areas.

Once again today's drive was absolutely beautiful. The road twisted and turned it's way through many unique little towns, mountain passes, and through valleys.

Hwy 49

I don't think there is a continuous 100 yard straight stretch on hwy 49 (except perhaps through the towns). The turns were all 10-15-20 mph. There are Historical Markers are all along the trail. It was a wonderful drive.

All the towns along this route have something unique about them - if only the name - unique names like "Cool" and "Drytown". They are built on the sides of hills, and nestled in valleys. They are extremely clean, well kept, quaint, and their individual historic charm remains. It was hard to keep moving. I wanted to stop and explore every town.

Angels Camp

The first town I encountered was Angels Camp. Main street has clothes lines strung across it - displaying an array of petticoats, bloomers, long johns, shirts and jeans. Of course, I had to stop, explore, and have lunch. Two hours later and only 20 miles from Sonora I was back on the road.

Mark Twain - Samuel Langhorne Clemens
(November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)

Mark Twain's cabin is along this route. I didn't go up the road to the cabin. Something to remember for next time. In 1861 Twain joined his brother, Orion and headed west. Twain and his brother traveled more than two weeks on a stagecoach.

Mark Twin Cabin

Replica, with original chimney and fireplace. Here on Jackass Hill young Mark Twain while guest of Gillis Brothers, 1864-65, gathered material for "Jumping Frog of Calaveras" which first brought him fame, and for "Roughing It". Historical Landmark No. 138, Department of Public Works - Division of Highways

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras

"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is an 1865 short story by Mark Twain, his first great success as a writer, bringing him national attention. The story has also been published as "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" (its original title) and "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County".

In it, the narrator retells a story he heard from a bartender, Simon Wheeler, at the Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California.

Jumping Frog Jubilee

Frogs are revered in Angels Camp. In 1928 Angels Camp paved the main street. To celebrate the occasion they held a frog jump competition. Every year since 1928, with the exception of 1933 during the great depression, the Jumping Frog Jubilee has been held in Angels Camp. Today this internationally renowned event draws competitors from around the world as hundreds of jockeys and their frogs compete.

Hwy 153 - Been There Drove That

State Route 153 extends only 0.5 miles from the junction of Cold Springs Road and SR 49 to the monument marking the grave of James Marshall, whose discovery of gold along the American River, January 24, 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush.

Although the California Department of Transportation has posted a sign indicating that SR 153 is "California's Shortest State Highway", it is not. SR 77, SR 265, and SR 283 are all shorter. However, these highways are merely short connectors between other highways.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park near Placerville marks the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in 1848.

The park grounds include much of the historic town of Coloma, California, which is now considered a ghost town as well as a National Historic Landmark District.

Morman Cabin

The Morman members of the sawmill crew built a cabin near the mill during the winter of 1847. Earlier they had shared a cabin with the Wimmer family, but they became discontented with Mrs. Wimmer, the camp cook. They decided to build their own cabin and cook for themselves.

Henry Bigler, Azariah Smit, William Johnstun, Alexander Stephens, William Barger, and James S. Brown moved into their new cabin on Sunday, January 23, 1848. The very next day Bigler's diary recorded the momentous event: "This day some kind of mettle was found in the tailrace that looks like gold."

Eldorado Jail

Coloma's first jail was made of logs and was located around the corner on High Street. The second jail, built in 1855, quickly proved to be too small, and this stone-block prison was erected. It was used from 1857 until 1862. The metal cell that stands nearby came from the county courthouse in Placerville.

Yuba City

I arrived in Yuba City around 6:00. I went to supper at Chilli's then did my laundry. This hotel is great and the pool area is lovely. I decided to take an extra day, stay here, relax and hang out at the pool.

Sunday, May 13 - Yuba City

I spent the day here in Yuba City mostly sitting at the pool with my computer updating the travel blog and reading my book. About noon I went to I-Hop for lunch and stopped at Kohl's where I purchased a couple of Fiesta gusto bowls.

Best Western Yuba City

This is one of the nicest hotels I've stayed at and it's not even classed as a Best Western Plus. It has been completely renovated.

The first night I had a room by the laundry so I could do my washing. The second night I had a room by the pool so I could just be lazy. It's been great to stay here. I wish every hotel was as nice as this one.

Monday, May 14th - Yuba City to Eureka
After 6 hours on the road, I had only gone about 220 miles. Three highways today - hwy 99 north to Red Bluff, 36 west to Fortuna and 101 north to Eureka where I decided to stay for the night. I'm at the Best Western Bayshore, a really nice hotel a block away from the ocean. It's quite cold and foggy right now. I hope it clears for tomorrow.

Highway 36

This road twists and turns its way over the Coast Range, through the Six Rivers National Forest and, in the final leg, through the Grizzly Creek Redwoods area.

It was an incredibly beautiful drive today and I saw (maybe) 50 other cars the whole way. All in all a very laid back relaxing day.

Grizzly Creek Redwood State Park

I was going to drive into the Grizzly Creek Redwood State Park but the gate was closed with a sign that read "Closed Due to Budget Cuts".

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park is one of 70 California state parks proposed for closure by July 2012 as part of a deficit reduction program. It was previously one of several state parks threatened with closure in 2008.

Eureka, California

I'm at the Best Western Bayshore, a really nice hotel a block away from the ocean. It has a fireplace in it too. It's quite cold and foggy right now. I hope it clears for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15 - Eureka to Lincoln City
One highway today - Coastal Highway 101 California and Oregon taking in Redwood National Forest, spectacular ocean views and the Sand Dunes. Now, if only I would remember to take pictures life would be perfect.

Redwood National and State Parks

The Redwood National and State Parks are located along the coast of northern California. Comprising Redwood National Park (established 1968) and California's Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks (dating from the 1920s).

The combined four parks protect 45% of all remaining coast redwood.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

I took several side trips through State Parks and along coastal drives. The day was slow going, but most enjoyable.

In the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, I followed the Cal-Barrel Scenic Road for about a mile. The road is actually three miles long, but it was getting too spooky being up there all alone so I headed back to the main road.

I'm wondering where the "prairie" comes into play. Nothing today that looked like a prairie.

Oregon Coast

Karen and I stopped several years ago at this overlook just north of the Seal Lion Caves. It wasn't any warmer today than it was then and just a windy.

Wednesday, May 16 - Lincoln City to Forks

Still only one highway today - 101 North. I stopped at the Visitors' Center just inside Washington to get the Victoria Ferry times and rates. I decided to take the west route to Forks. She gave me the names of some motels in Forks.

This route, with the exception of the coastal areas, is long and boring - basically bush and more bush. There wasn't much in the towns either.

Nehalem Bay

Nehalem Bay is formed by the confluence of the Nehalem River into the Pacific Ocean. It had a population of 233 in July 2009.

I stopped in Nehalem Bay for a short break and visited a gift store. There, I bought Forest (a new friend for my roosters).

Astoria Bridge

Now that's a bridge!!

The bridge spans the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice, Washington. The span was the last segment of U.S. Route 101 between Olympia, Washington and Los Angeles, California. The bridge is 21,474 feet in length and is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.

Karen would have been impressed. Half way over the bridge there was road work and a flag man stopped us for about 2 minutes!!

The Great Coastal Gale - December 2, 2007

The trees in this area are totally flattened. There is restoration work being done but the blow down damage is still very evident for a couple of miles. I've heard about blow downs but have never seen one.

The Great Coastal Gale of 2007 was a series of powerful Pacific storms, the remnants of Typhoon Mitag and Typhoon Hagibis, that affected the U.S. States of Oregon and Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia between December 1, 2007 and December 3, 2007.

Olympic National Park

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt originally created Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909 and President Franklin Roosevelt signed the legislation in 1938 to authorize a re-designation to National Park status.

The park can be divided into four basic regions: the Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west side temperate rainforest, and the forests of the drier east side.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach is located on Highway 101, twenty seven miles south of the town of Forks. Like virtually all beaches on the northern coast, Ruby Beach has a tremendous amount of driftwood. It is notable for the number of sea stacks there. A sea stack is a geological landform isolated by erosion consisting of a steep and often vertical column or columns of rock in the sea near a coast.

Rain Forest - Peak 6

I took a side trip into the Rain Forest. Peak 6 store is located about 5 miles up the road. I decided not to go any further and while turning around noticed these two bears just waiting for someone to sit down and visit them.

I didn't visit the bears but did go into the store and visited with Charlotte.

Women to Reckon With

This book brings together the stories of twelve adventurous nineteenth century Olympic Peninsula women. It is co-written by Gary Peterson, grandson of Minnie Peterson, one of the pioneer women in this area.

Gary's wife, Charlotte, is the Art Director for the book. I spent a lovely half hour visiting with Charlotte and listening to stories about the area. Charlotte also has an original copy of "Spell of the Yukon", by Robert Service.

Forks, Washington

Forks, named after the forks in the nearby rivers, was officially incorporated on August 28, 1945, It had a population of 3,532 in 2010.

There's not much to see (or do) in Forks. No hotels and motels are old and pretty run down. There's a reason no one heard of Forks before Twilight.

A large percentage of Forks visitors are fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, which is set in the town. The Twilight series of books have sold over 100 million copies and have spawned a series of successful films. Tours are available of locations that resemble the places described in Meyer's books, although the movies were not actually filmed in Forks. The average annual number of tourists visiting the town rose from 10,000 before Twilight to 73,000 by 2010.

Thursday, May 17 - Forks to Chemainus, British Columbia

Two highways today - 101 in Washington and Trans Canada in British Columbia.

I woke up early (bed was very uncomfortable) so I figured I might as well get going. I left Forks about 8:00 am and arrived in Port Angeles 90 minutes later. There still wasn't much to see along the way but bush. I was the first one in line at the Ferry. Do you think I was a bit anxious to get off the peninsula? I wandered around Port Angeles but, like most else on the peninsula - it's dead. Most stores were closed and boarded up. I ate breakfast and headed back to my car to read, sleep and kill a couple of hours.

MV Coho, Black Ball Line

MV Coho first sailed from Washington to British Columbia on December 29, 1959. It has a carrying capacity of 110 vehicles and up to 1,000 passengers. The Ferry was rockin' and rollin' as we left the harbour. I was thinking everyone would be green around the edges but the time we reached Victoria but once we got out to sea things smoothed out. Sun was shining. It was a good trip.

Back in Canada - Back to Aggressive Driving

It amazes me that after only two weeks away I can get unnerved by Canadian drivers. We are so aggressive and apparently we still haven't got the "speed kills" idea in our heads. I've just spent two weeks travelling through every western state - driving the back roads, the side roads and the interstates. I found my way without hassle through large cities and small towns. Never once did I have trouble changing lanes, merging or exiting a road. Most drivers drive less than the speed limit and will back off when they see you trying to change lanes, merge or exit the road. Here, drivers not only will not let you in (or out), they speed up to close the gap to ensure that you can't get in (or out).

Only a few minutes back in Canada and I had to quickly get back in "aggressive mode". I had no intention of missing the entrance to Timmies - so just "back off" buddy. I can only imagine what visitors must think of us. It's actually embarrassing.

Chemainus, British Columbia

It didn't take me long to decide to forget staying in Victoria. I headed north and stopped in Chemainus, a small coastal town. The Best Western Chemainus Inn is a beautiful hotel - a bit of a treat after last night's uncomfortable bed in Forks.

The town has a quaint "old town" area with all sorts of shops. I had supper at the Willow Street Cafe. I'm going to explore tomorrow before I leave.

Friday, May 18 - Chemainus to Parksville

The Trans Canada ends at Nanaimo and hwy 19 continues on to northern parts of the Island. I by-passed Nanaimo switching to hwy 19 just before it. I'll be back in Nanaimo to take the Ferry to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland.


I arrived in Parksville just after noon and found the resort area relatively easily. I was able to check in early. I'm staying at the Beach Acres Resort.

I drove around the various resorts here. The Grotto, Madrona and Oceanside Village appear to be the nicest ones.

Oceanside Village

I stopped at the Oceanside Village show suite and was able to view two of the homes for sale. I very nearly signed, sealed and delivered on the spot. They are absolutely beautiful.

Seasons by the Sea - Quilt Festival

Once I was settled into the cabin, I headed into town to the Quilt Festival.

What an incredible display of quilts. I'll take my camera tomorrow. I bought some buttons and a "Yo Yo tool". Yo Yos are little rosettes made by gathering circles of fabric.

Saturday, May 19 - Parksville

I got a rude awakening this morning - at 6:00 am. As I was having a lovely sleep in my peaceful log cabin - my car took a life of it's own and started blowing it's horn. Once I realized that annoying racket was my car, I leapt out of bed and ran around in circles trying to find my keys. Before I could find them, the horn quit. Groaning I crawled back into bed only to have a repeat performance at 8:39 am. This time all my neighbours were outside sitting on their decks - fuming. They had been awake since 6 am and didn't hesitate to tell me about it. At that point I actually felt guilty for going back to sleep.

I think my car computer has a virus. It keeps telling me that my liftback is open, my hood is open, or a break in was attempted. Of course the break in report only happens after I have to deactivate the automatic horn honking episodes. The horn has started by itself a couple of times but this is the first time (that I know of) it has gone off in the middle of the night. With my car parked right in front of #66 cabin door, there was no doubt who it belonged to.

Quilt Show

I visited the Quilt Show again this morning and bought a few things from the sale tables. This is probably my favourite quilt. It is completely hand quilted and the note on it says it took her 5 years to complete.

Larry and Agnes

I left the festival around noon and called Larry and Agnes. It turns out they are right here in Parksville - not Qualicum Beach. To boot, the are about 3 blocks from the Quilt Festival.

Larry unhooked the battery on my car to see if resetting it would fix my problem and I took it into the GM dealer for a diagnostics. They couldn't find anything wrong with it so maybe whatever Larry did fixed it. If not, I'll get it looked at when I get home.

We stopped at the deli and picked up some salads and Larry barbecued some steaks. It was a great visit. We are heading to Tofino tomorrow if the weather is good.

Sunday, May 20 - Parksville

Weather was overcast raining off and on. I went to Larry and Agnes' for breakfast. We scrapped the idea of going to Tofino because of the weather. I spent the afternoon relaxing at the cabin and late afternoon, I went back to the Quilt Festival to buy an iron that I saw on a demonstration.

Larry and Agnes came over for the evening. Larry barbecued pork chops. We made an early night of it as I want to be on the road early to catch the ferry in Nanaimo.

Monday, May 21 - Parksville to Calgary

I was up early and one of the first cars in the line for the ferry. If was a bit overcast this morning and there was a mist in the air but no rain. Once in Vancouver, however, it was pouring rain.

I was planning on stopping in Sicamous for the night but it was raining there too. I toured around the town at bit, went to Timmies, and continued on to Calgary.


©Jumpy 2008 - 2022