I've been wanting to visit my daughter Jayne in Colorado, but despite loving to fly I've come to hate the airport experience, and the idea of flying into Denver and having to deal with the largest airport in the U.S. and 2nd largest in the world was more than I could handle. That didn't leave many options. Taking a bus or hitch-hiking was out so that pretty much left driving and I couldn't think of anyone who was free to pack up and go with me for two weeks....or for that matter, who I could be couped up in a car with for that long.
Then last December I had an early Christmas dinner for my family and after dinner I was visiting with daughter Penny and her daughter Marisa; I half jokingly ask Marisa if she wanted to go on a two week road trip with me. When she said "yes" I asked "really?" and she said "yes" again. "Okay" I said, and that was it. In February I started thinking about the trip and called Marisa.
"Were you really serious about taking two weeks to do this trip with me?"
"I would love to do this trip with you", she said.
"It wouldn't be a problem for Roger?".
"Not at all", she said. I was thrilled. I love all my family but Marisa is one of few that I could spend this much time with, without going crazy. It was time to do some serious planning. Marisa loves nature, she loves photography and this would be new territory for her to capture. Deciding the route would be easy. I wanted to avoid the roads I had traveled many times and discover new ones with Marisa.
My little truck is dependable and comfortable for short trips but it's a standard transmission and we would have a lot of mountains to climb so I decided we needed an SUV.....and I can tell you now....it worked it's transmission off climbing those mountains. I picked up the SUV on Monday and Marisa came down to spend the night so we could load it up and get an early start. Made sure we had supplies for any emergency, plenty of water, addresses and directions, phone numbers, window cleaner, paper towels, umbrella, blanket and pillows, phones, sunglasses, flashlight, matches, chargers, credit cards, proof of insurance, driver's licenses, etc., and even notarized "permission to seek medical care" forms. We drove out the gate at 6:69 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Our first day took us south through Central Oregon, along the base of Mt. Hood and on the east side of the Cascade Range, but much to our chagrin, most of the mountain tops were ensconced in clouds. It was disappointing but there was still a lot to see at eye level....and below. We crossed many beautiful, deep gorges, like these in Oregon with Mt. Hood in the background.
Our lunch destination was Bend, OR. and Olde Towne Pizza, where we met cousin Joanne for the best pizza in the country. OTP just happens to be owned by my SIL (sister-in-law) Teri's son Terry. (No monies exchanged hands for this endorsement....just unlimited ice tea.)
Lunch over, we headed east for Ontario, OR. This part of the trip was to be the first of many long stretches in barren country with at least one section under road repair that went on for miles. We really appreciated the air conditioner during those 5-15 mile long, 45 mph crawls on 80 degree days. This was also the place where I discovered the vehicle didn't have the same size gas tank as my truck and we had to stop at a dumpy little gas station in a place called Brothers for enough gas to get us to Burns. I bought 4 gallons at $4.95 per gallon and from then on topped off the tank before we headed across any long stretches.
Upon arrival in Ontario, we hung a right and crossed the Snake River into Idaho....just 45 miles to Sara's house. (Sara is my granddaughter and Marisa's sister.) I grew up in Boise and was familiar with the major streets and out-lying areas, but I left home in `53 and now millions of homes occupied all the millions of open fields and farmlands. I had Googled addresses and directions....for all the good it did us. Marisa's GPS..."Lola" got us close but she became confused when all the streets ended in "wood". Sara lives on Mossywood, surrounded by Terracewood, Lillywood, Littlewood, Gatewood, Homewood, Shelterwood, Bigwood, Jadewood, Tanglewood,....and you get the picture. We stopped in the middle of a street and called Sara, who turned out to be a block and a half away, and as we came around the last corner she was standing in the middle of the road in a neon pink outfit, waving her arms wildly. She was making sure we wouldn't miss her. We spent the night and headed out early, promising to spend 2 days with them on our return home. I had hoped the few directional errors we made were in the past but they rose up to haunt us first thing out of the gate the 2nd morning when we took a wrong turn to get from Sara's to the freeway....and again when it took us 3 tries to get on the freeway from the same interchange. I wasn't wrong in suspecting this was going to be the theme of our journey. We were in for many "do overs" during the next 13 days.
Our first stop of Day 2 was breakfast in Glenns Ferry, ID, on the banks of the Snake River, and a drive around this small railroad town where I spent many happy summers of my youth with an aunt, uncle and cousins. Some of the buildings are empty now but it's still a busy town. The water tower I used to climb is still there, the swimming pool we used to sneak into at night is gone, the haunted high school is still there and still boarded up and the aunt and uncle's house with the newly planted tree 65 yrs ago is still there....although they have passed. A lot of good memories made there.
After breakfast in a creepy restaurant that even Chef Robt. Irvine of Restaurant Impossible wouldn't touch, we hit the road for Twin Falls and the beautiful and breath-taking Shoshone Falls. It's in a deep gorge the Snake River has carved out over it's lifetime and at 212' they're higher than Niagara Falls. Spring run-off usually doubles the amount of water as seen in this photo. Beautiful and impressive either way. The only other time I ever saw it, at about age 13, it was bone dry, which isn't unusual after a mild and not so wet winter and spring.
From Twin Falls we headed south to Jackpot, Nevada, where we decided that we were due for a little luck to offset the minor set-backs we had encounter thus far. Not being a gambler, I decided to throw away 20 bucks and call it quits. Found a machine named Rich and true to it's name it was $13. richer when I quit. Found another named Big Red, put in the remaining 7 bucks and when it gave me $42. I quit, this time for good. Marisa didn't have much luck that day.
High Altitude Gardening fame who lives in nearby Park City. We really looked forward to meeting her and seeing all the beautiful flowers in her yard. Follow the link and you'll understand why.
To Be Continued.....