Eastbound and Down

The fall begins with a a weird feeling of great success filled with failure. We decided to forgo the southern portion of the Oregon Coast Trail in favor of more time with friends and a road trip cross country home. It’s been a great summer of backpacking and vagabonding, making it over 1500 miles on foot.

We tried to rent a small SUV, but ended up getting a brand new Ram 1500 with a HEMI V8 for the same price. Not the most efficient, but it was preferred by all of us. After not having a home for months, the shelter and transportation range the truck provided was a huge luxury.

Headed North, first views of Mount Rainier.

Sunset pictures from Birch Bay State Park in the Northwestern corner of Washington.

This is the view from our friends driveway – they recently moved to Ferndale, WA and it is paradise out there. We stayed with them for several days, enjoying cooking and lounging around the farm and property. Sara and I are hoping to come back to this area in the near future… it’s a beautiful place to live.

More bread making, more cheese.

Sara getting distracted by a friendly gym puppy at Bloc Yard Boulders in Spokane, WA.

Smoky afternoon in Whitefish, MT. We headed to Glacier National Park the next morning, despite the wildfires there. It’s crazy how many miles we’ve traveled around, through, and to wildfires this summer.

Driving the Going to the Sun Road through Glacier…

Smoke over the east side of the park, as seen from Logan Pass.

Like the PCT, only with hand rails for the feint of heart.

The East side of Glacier NP was super smoky, enough to burn the lungs after awhile. Sadly, the day after we were there, Sperry Chalet burned down. It was one of two historic chalets in the park built in the early 1900s.

Back home in Michigan, more big bodies of water but no salt, sharks, or jellyfish.

Delicious pasties and Michigan beer.

Brief stop at Ian’s hunting cabin.

And so it goes. Back home (once we find a place to actually sleep, hah!), at least for now… already starting planning for our return trip to finish the remaining Pacific Crest Trail miles!

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Northwest Roadtrip Spring 2015

In April of 2015 I had been working as an IT Field Engineer doing all sorts of high stress system/network troubleshooting.  After the third Saturday in a row of on call night work, I could see this work/life imbalance was just going to continue.  Around that same time I visited an old coworker at the paddle shop I used to work at, she asked what I’d been up to.  The conversation went something like this:

 “Work.”

“That’s it? No trips or anything interesting?”

“Yup.”

Followed immediately by me thinking about how I hadn’t had a vacation in two years.  And noticing just how boring it is if all you have to talk about is work.  So I put in my two weeks notice, the company ended up getting me to work another four weeks to finish up projects and then I’d do something.  I’d never been further west than the Ozarks in Arkansas so I decided to drive around the lower 48 for a while.

My goals for this adventure were:

  • Sleep in the truck when possible to save money
  • Visit friends and family
  • Make it to Colorado, Oregon, and Washington
  • Not return home for at least a month

The Route

I had a rough idea to drive out to Colorado as fast as I could, stay with a friend there, then make my way over to the Pacific Northwest to stay with another friend.  From there I’d take a northern route back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to end the trip.  While I didn’t end up recording my exact route, I did stick pretty close to my plan.  Below are most of the places I stopped on the trip, with friends places removed for privacy.

Gas was cheap that summer and my Ram 1500 has a V8 gasser in it, so the fuel economy was relatively low, but for the truck I was satisfied.  It was especially fun driving manual in the mountains.  I tracked the gas in a Google Sheet for no particular reason.

Photos

Favorite photo from the trip:

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Wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon.

Other photos from the trip, grouped by location:

Garden of the Gods

Colorado

 Lucky Peak State Park

Ecola State Park

Crater Lake National Park

Smith Rock State Park

Fort Stevens State Park

Misc. Oregon/Washington

Hoh Rainforest

Cape Flattery

Olympic National Park

Glacier National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Tetons

Black Hills National Forest

Mount Rushmore

Badlands National Park

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And finally back home to Lake Superior.