Jul 182011

After a detour to the fairgrounds, about three miles from the Bremerton Elks lodge campground, to use the dump station, we were on the road a little after 10 a.m. yesterday morning. The weather report was for partly cloudy skies, but as soon as we were on the road the clouds closed in, and it began to rain steadily.

It rained all the way south on State Route 16, across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (where I didn’t snivel even one little bit), and into Tacoma, where we picked up Interstate 5 northbound. I had hoped that on a Sunday morning traffic wouldn’t be too bad, but it was pretty much bumper to bumper all the way to Auburn, where we got onto State Route 18, and then all the way to Interstate 90, near Snoqualmie. There the rain let up, and as we turned east, a thick band of clouds looked like a white belt stretching as far as we could see, on both sides of the highway.

Cloud band 2

We climbed up to Snoqualmie Pass, admiring the heavily forested mountains and Keechelus Lake as we passed by.

Snoqualmie lake 2

Of course, no trip is complete without road construction, and a traffic jam that doesn’t move for several minutes. 🙁

Road construction 

Finally, things started to move again, and we began the downhill run. Even in mid-July there was snow on the mountains and in some of the meadows we passed.

Snoqualmie Pass downhill

It’s amazing that as soon as you get east of the Cascade Mountains, within a few miles the countryside changes from tree covered mountains to rolling hills, and the trees start to disappear.

Snoqualmie open country 2

We passed a wind farm, and then the landscape started to flatten out and we were in agricultural land, with roadside signs telling us what crops we were passing. 

Wind farm

Is this what they are talking about when they say wide open spaces?

Wide open spaces

We stopped at the Flying J in Ellensburg for fuel, only to learn that it’s not a Flying J any more, but some type of affiliate or franchise dealer. The price was higher than listed online, and the help was rude to say the least. We’ll avoid this place in the future.

We didn’t stop, but we waved as we passed George, Washington. Yes, there really is a town in Washington named George!

George Washington

Eventually we started getting into more hilly country again, with some short but rather steep grades, and then we were back into forest again.

Steep downhill

Back in pines

We were trying to decide whether to stop at the Elks lodge in Spokane, or the one in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, another 35 or so miles east. But then Miss Terry’s phone rang, and it was our friend Bill Becker. Bill had read the blog and knew we were headed east, and told us that he and his lovely wife Mabel were in Coeur d’Alene. Well, okay then, that’s one decision made for us! We told Bill we’d call them once we got in and parked.

Traffic is always bad in Spokane, and this trip was no exception. There was also a lot of road construction, with narrow lanes and rough pavement to contend with.

As we crossed into Idaho, we saw something we had never seen before, a sign saying that all watercraft must stop for inspection. I guess the two kayaks on our roof are watercraft, so we pulled into the Welcome Center and followed the signs to the Watercraft Inspection Station. There were three or four workers there, who kind of swarmed over us, one asking where we were coming from, when was the last time our boats had been in the water, and where was that at. Meanwhile the others were carefully checking over our kayaks. I guess the folks in Idaho take invasive marine species seriously, as they should. I wrote about this problem in a Bad Nick Blog titled Mixed Up Priorities. Once they were satisfied that we posed no danger to the waters of Idaho, and that we were only passing through and would not be paddling this trip, they wished us well and sent us on our way.

Of course, I never mentioned the two inflatable Sea Eagle kayaks inside our Explorer. I figure it’s kind of like the military – don’t ask, don’t tell. 🙂 Hopefully sometime this summer Miss Terry will finally get to paddle the Sea Eagle I bought her for Christmas, and then I can pretty much bet you we won’t be hauling the two Manta Rays on top any longer. Anybody want to buy a couple of kayaks?

We arrived at the Coeur d’Alene Elks Lodge campground about 5:30 p.m. We have stayed here before and liked it. The lodge has 32 RV sites on level grass, with 50 amp electric and water, for $18 a night.

Elks Rv park

Elks Rv park 2

Once we were parked and hooked up, we met Bill and Mabel at a nearby Texas Roadhouse for dinner. Bill and Mabel are a wonderful couple, who are always going the extra mile helping us at our Arizona Gypsy Journal rallies, where Bill sells rally T-shirts, and Mabel teaches seminars on Swedish weaving. They told us they are thinking about coming to our Eastern Gypsy Journal Rally in Celina, Ohio in September, and Mabel said if they do come, she’ll be happy to present her Swedish weaving class there too. So ladies, sharpen your needles and be prepared! The waitress took a picture of the four of us, and even though Bill looks grouchy, he really isn’t. He’s just wondering how a guy my size can survive on the petite portions I eat. 🙂

Nick Terry Bill Mable

Miss Terry loves photography, especially taking pictures of critters. So when Mabel told her there was an osprey nest right behind their RV park, we followed them home to check it out. Unfortunately, it was getting dark, and Terry was shooting from a distance at maximum zoom, so the shots were not as clear as she’d have liked, but here are a couple to show you.

Osprey 5

Osprey 6

She also got a nice picture of the beautiful sunset.


We were worn out after driving 370 miles, so after a short walk on a trail behind their RV park, we said our goodbyes to Bill and Mabel and headed back to our motorhome. Today we’ll press onward, and we’ll end up in somewhere in Montana tonight, but we don’t know where yet. Probably around Butte or Bozeman. I don’t see any Passport America campgrounds or Elks lodges with RV hookups listed, and since it’s going to be hot, we’ll just wait and see what plays out. Hopefully it will be someplace where we can get a decent signal on our Verizon air card to get a blog posted.   

Thought For The Day – Never explain your actions – your friends don’t need it, and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.

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Nick Russell

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  13 Responses to “Raindrops, And Mountains, And Osprey, Oh My!”

  1. Wonderful pictures!!!!! Love the sunset.

  2. As you continue to patronize Flying J, Pilot and other truck stops, we see the dissatisfaction you have with them. We had the same problems as well and for the past several years we refuse to fuel up at truck stops. We instead use regular stations that generally have fuel at a lower price. Sometime not as spacious as the truck stops, but we make sure we can get around before entering.

  3. Beautiful sunset photo!

    One of the social costs of the “green” movement is to discourage highway development, and thereby create a state of almost continuous gridlock. This in turn causes lost time and increased tailpipe emissions, which seems sort of counterproductive to the green agenda. I’ve never driven I-5 through Seattle that it hasn’t been bumper-to-bumper. Howsomever, my son and his family live there, and love the place, so I guess it’s each to his/her own.

    I am disturbed to hear that the Ellensburg J is no longer a J. We have stayed there several times, because it is so convenient on the way to or from Seattle. I hope this is not the beginning of a trend for Pilot, to divest the J stations. They are a real treasure for the traveling RV’r.

    We hope you enjoy your trip east, and travel safe.

  4. All FlyingJs (now Pilot) are not the same (and perhaps that is the real problem). We just filled up yesterday at the FlyingJ on Interstate 95 (just north of Richmond, VA, exit 104) and the fill up went without a hitch. Since we have the MH now and are almost always pulling a toad, we use the truck islands 95% of the time. We pulled in and inserted our loyalty card (which I registered online) and filled up. Karen went inside and paid using a credit card. The .03 cent discount was displayed on the receipt and we were in and out while MHs at the RV pumps were still waiting in line.

  5. Hey Nick,
    If you folks are using I90 to go East, stop in Rapid City here at Hart Ranch. We have a deal here for 39.95 for 3 nights with full hookups and great Verizon service. Even the wifi works most of the time. Kathy and I would love to touch base with you two again and maybe interview you again for our podcast, Living the RV Dream.

  6. Awesome pictures especially the sunset. Did I miss read that you took pictures of you and all and Bill and Mable? Be safe on your travels.

  7. I know it’s too late, but if you ventured a little north (between Bozeman & Great Falls), you could use PA at Conestoga Campground in White Sulfur Springs. Great spot, fantastic owners…it’s our home campground for C2C & RPI. We love it there…quiet little town, lots of good day trips.

  8. Too bad you are in a hurry to get east. We could have shown you quite a few interesting things around the Ellensburg area. Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Ronald are old mining towns with interesting cemetaries. Roslyn was also used in the tv series Northern Exposure. Lots of wildlife in the area, i worked on the windfarm projects out by Vantage a couple of years ago, they have a tour at one of them. Also at Vantage is the Ginko Petrefied Forest and the Wanapum Dam. The drive around Lake Couer D’ Alene is very nice and there is a cafe in town called “Jimmy’s on the Street” that has been featured on one of the Food Network programs. Good meals. :>)

  9. Nick, based on your comments about hookups at the various places you have stayed at over the years, if sewer hookups are important to us, is it safe to say that the lodges and the TT system would not be right for us? Thanks, Bob

  10. Shoot, I hope you stopped at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Hamiliton (I think) coming down out of the mountains. My dad bought me 2 of them that are mounted on the bar back in “51 or ’52 when the orginal owner was just starting to do that! Just another one of those kitsching places to see!

  11. Keith – I saw online that all of the former Flying Js in Montana are now Town Pump franchises.

    John Huggins – We’re going by way of North Dakota this trip. It’s one of the last states we need to complete the lower 48.

    Bob Plaskon – Some Thousand Trails/NACO parks have full hookups and some don’t. Same with Elks lodges. Some have full hookups for RVs, some only water and sewer, and some just a parking lot to boondock in.

    Elaine – My mistake.I have added the picture.

  12. Bring those kayaks down to Arizona. I might be your buyer.

  13. We left Keystone S.D. today and when we ran from SD Rte 36 East to SD 79 there was a Flying J there that couldent be friendlier…..
    I guess it’s all about the zone that you are in…..
    Happy Trailes

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