Travelin Tiger Archive

August 13, Pendleton to Home

Nothing much today, drove straight from Pendleton to home without stopping.

We did enjoy central Idaho and the area around the Salmon River is really spectacular. Ton thinks we need to try the Sawtooth’s again on a sunny day, and that our bad impression is a result of the rain. The Basque food in Boise was special and deserves future visits.

This trip we enjoyed some planned and some un-planned encounters with people that made the trip memorable and extra fun.

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August 12, Lake Stanley to Pendleton OR

Today was about getting off of the freeway and exploring Boise a bit. The primary target was the Basque Town in Boise. Boise has one of the largest populations of Basques in the US. We visited a museum dedicated to Basque Culture in the US and also learned a little bit about Basque Culture in Spain and France. But the real fun was across the street at the Basque Market where they were cooking up Paella on the sidewalk. Ton says it is the best she ever had. After a quick walk around town, it was 102 degrees, we decided to head west.

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The next debate was whether to head home from Boise or make one more stop for the night. Ton pointed out that we had never visited Prodigal Son Brewery in Pendleton, so one more night it is.

Around Baker City we saw a large wild fire off to the north. It turns out that the next day they had to close I-84 due to smoke from the fire.

In Pendleton we enjoyed a taster at Prodigal Son, and then walked around town for a while. We visited Hamley’s western wear, Ton was very impressed with the quality of the saddles and clothes. Pendleton seems to be enjoying pretty good times these days. Tonight we decided we needed access to electricity as it was still in the 100’s and airconditioning seemed like a good idea. We ended up in a Indian Casino RV park, nothing special except 30amp electricity.

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August 11, Three Forks MT to Lake Stanley ID

Today we started headed home. From where we were we had two options to get home one way was to head for I-84 at Boise and the other was to take I-90 to Spokane and head south. After some discussion Ton decided we had not ever stopped in Boise even though we had driven thru it at least 10 times.

After that decision we decided to take the back way. After taking the Interstate thru Butte a city we both remember as being particularly ugly, we took some back roads thru some hills and small valleys. We came into the Big Hole Valley and ran into the Big Hole Valley National Battlefield Monument. The battle of the Big Hole Valley Battle was between the 7th Infantry and the Nez Perce Indians. The story of the Nez Perce is very sad as they were a pretty peaceful tribe forced off their lands and were essentially just trying to retain some freedom off the reservation. The Monument is very well done as are most National Park operations. Of course we are biased but we think the National Park Service is one of the best things going in our country.

After that we drove down the Salmon River Scenic Highway the opposite direction we had gone a few days before. At Sydney we turned onto the Big Pine Scenic Highway and pulled into a beautiful Forest Service Campground at Lake Stanley. We had Lake Stanley and an incredible view of the Sawtooth Mountains right outside the back of Scout.

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August 10, Yellowstone NP to Three Forks MT

We decided to start our return trip west to Portland by heading due east over the Beartooth Highway. This drive is absolutely spectacular and you really must include it in any trip you take to Yellowstone. It is one of our favorite drives in the US. A lot of better writers than I have described it so I am going to pass. All I can say is make sure you do it at least once.

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After coming down from the Beartooth we jumped on the interstate and headed west towards Bozeman. The place we had picked out to stay was full, so we continued headed down the interstate until we came to Three Forks where we ended up in a commercial campground.

August 9, Yellowstone NP WY

Our day started by joining our son Dylan for breakfast at the Youth Conservation Corp camp just outside Mammoth. Dylan has been a Ranger at Yellowstone for 4 years. This year he is working with the YCC which brings in about 80 high school aged kids for the summer. The kids get to experience Yellowstone and also help out with projects such as trail maintenance and putting in Bear boxes.

At breakfast we were able to meet some of the students and some of Dylans fellow rangers. At breakfast Dylan told us he had to do some last minute work for 3 or 4 hours and he would join us for lunch.

We decided to head out to Lamar Valley again while we waited for Dylan to join us. We stopped and took a short hike out into a field to get a look at a herd of Bison. We were following all of the rules staying the proper distance from the herd, but someone forgot to tell a bull Bison the rules. On our way back to scout we came around a curve with a steep hill to our left and a creek with a 5 or 6 foot drop on the right and ran into a bull Bison about 20 yards in front of us. Ron decided to retreat towards the creek figuring we could jump down in the creek bed if the Bison took offence. As we moved down toward the creek Ton grabbed Ron just before he stepped on a snake. At this point the bull pointedly ignoring our little show sauntered on past and went on his way down the trail.

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Deciding we needed Park Service supervision we headed back to Mammoth and picked up Dylan. We went to lunch in Gardiner just outside the park entrance, and then headed over to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Dylan opted for home Thai cooking for dinner and invited one of his co-workers to join us. Ton made some of her famous Larb, and we enjoyed a nice dinner while hearing about Rangering with teenagers.

August 8, Grand Teton NP to Yellowstone NP WY

We were going to try to make it to Mammoth Hot Springs Campground because it is the closest one to where our son is working at the park this year. He told us that they are having record visitors this year and if we wanted to get in the campground we needed to be there before 10am. So we got up early and headed into a very rainy cold day. We forgot just how big Yellowstone is, the drive from Grand Teton to Mammoth Hot Springs on the north side of the park was 104 miles and took nearly 3 hours because of the typical tourist traffic and some much needed road work.

When we got to the Mammoth Camp Grounds we found that there were plenty of camp spots still available, probably because of the miserable weather forecast 50 degrees and raining all day. We had some time to kill because Dylan was working all day so we began by checking out the new visitors center, and all of the stores at Mammoth. Of course given the weather we were joined by a lot of the other visitors.

During a break in the rain we went up to the hot springs and it seemed like they were flowing much better than the last time we were there. Ton took lots of pictures, and then we decided to head out to Lamar Valley as it was not raining too hard at that point. In Lamar the Bison were out in force and despite the weather there were plenty of people out.

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The park is indeed the most crowded we remember. It seems that the Chinese have discovered Yellowstone and must be contributing a great deal to the record number of visitors.

August 7, Victor ID to Grand Teton NP WY

We had not spent much time in Grand Teton NP so we decided to spend a day exploring. We got up early as the campgrounds fill up early. The traffic in Jackson Hole was noticeably busier than the last time we had visited two years ago.

When we arrived we parked in the parking lot near the visitors center by the lake. Ton ran into the visitors center, and Ron was going to move Scout to a better location when another Malayan Tiger drove up. The Johansons were from Seattle and had their Malayan for about a year. He had done a lot of work on his truck so it dwarfed scout. They were quite nice and we exchanged stories about our trucks until we had to leave for a Ranger Walk.

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We took in a nice ranger walk focusing on the lakes and the mountains in Grand Teton. As usual the Ranger was extremely knowledgeable and did a great job. We also attended a talk on Bears. Our plans to walk down to the lake for sunset photos was wiped out by a rain storm.

August 6, Salmon to Victor ID

We had been coresponding with a couple in Victor ID who have a Siberian Tiger vehicle on order. This is the much larger cousin of our little Tiger. They had a standing invitation to visit them if we passed that way so we decided to take them up on it.

Enroute to Victor we were driving down the Sacajawea Highway in Idaho. It turns out that Sacajawea was from the area that is now Salmon, so there is a great deal about her in the area.

Outside of the town we saw signs for the Lewis and Clark Scenic Backcountry Highway. Ron was nervous about the state of the road due to all of the storms the night before, but Ton said that the BLM and Park Service always exaggerate how tough things are, and we could always turn around if it looked bad. The byway is a 38 mile gravel route to Lemhi pass where the Lewis and Clark Party crossed the continental divide. It turns out Ton was right and the road was a well graveled road suitable for logging trucks.

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When we arrived at Victor not wanting to arrive with empty hands we stopped at Teton Brewing to pick up a growler. The beer is good and growlers are cheap if you are in the area.

We enjoyed good conversation, excellent Pizza and Beer. Thanks Ron and Gabi for your hospitality.

August 5, Mountain Home AFB to Salmon ID

Today was scenic highway day. We planned to cover two scenic highways the Sawtooth Scenic Highway and the Salmon River Scenic Highway. The problem is that the weather was not that cooperative with periodic heavy thunderstorms throughout the day.

The first highway we took on was the Sawtooth Scenic Highway. It has a reputation as a beautiful road. I do not know if it was the weather cutting down on the views, but while it was pretty and had some exciting views it did not knock either of our socks off.

The Salmon River Scenic Highway on the other hand really made a positive impression. As it sounds, the road follows the Salmon River through some incredibly beautiful mountain valleys and gorges. We were very impressed with the Salmon River Highway.

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We spent the night in a campground run by an 83 year old widow, because Ton was so impressed with the quality of the reviews of this campsite and her spunk to run a campground by herself. Right as we checked in there was a big thunderstorm to put us to sleep.

August 4, Burns OR to Mountain Home AFB ID

Today we drove the Owyhee National Scenic Backcounty Byway. Last year we had visited Leslie Gulch on the Oregon side of the Owyhee’s. This year we decide to cover the Idaho side of the Owyhee’s. The byway is 130 miles long of which 100 miles is good gravel. It was an interesting drive but not as spectacular as Leslie Gulch.

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The highlights were the three forks area where the three branches of the Owyhee come together, and a couple of Pronghorn sitings. While the valleys were pretty it was mostly sagebrush and grass so after awhile it got a little monotonous.

The final stop was Mt. Home AFB, for laundry and restocking of the fridge. Tomorrow we need to find a car wash to knock 130 miles worth of dust off Scout.

August 3, Stewart State Park to Burns OR

We had decided to drive the Owyhee National Scenic Backcountry Byway. On the way we were running out of steam and decided to stop for the night in Burns. Ton had heard that an old friend of ours sometimes spent time in Burns so when we checked into the park we asked for Gary, and not only was he there, he was about 4 spots down from us. We spent the evening catching up with Gary, it was nice to see an old friend and we were glad to see he was doing well.

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Gary gave us some of his home roasted coffee, and it was awesome. Ton has a new idea to try when we get home.

August 2, Stewart State Park

Paul, Dee and their girls were going to head off to Crater Lake despite the smoke that was still lingering. Ian and Julie were going to go swiming and Julie was going to prepare a proper English Roast Meal. Ton and I decided we would contribute by heading into Medford to get some beer.

Medford and Ashland between them have 8 breweries now. We decided to check out 3 of them. The first stop was Walkabout brewery. This was the one we were most interested in, but when we pulled up the parking lot was empty, we got out to verify it was closed and it was, as we were walking back to Scout a guy walked out and said sorry they were closed. We asked when they were open and he asked if we were from out of town, we said we were and he said come on in and try a sampler. You have got to love people who are passionate about their business. We had a great chat about beer in the area, and enjoyed some good beer. Of course we took some back to share later. The other two breweries were ok, but we picked up samples none the less. Mission completed we headed back to the park.

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While we were gone Julie had cooked up a wonderful authentic English Roast meal. Good food and good beer made for a great night.

August 1, Stewart State Park

Good friends made a tough day enjoyable. Besides the smoke from the fire which was about 20 air miles away, the high temperature for the day was 104 degrees. Not exactly ideal camping conditions. But with our friends there we all made the best of it, and surprisingly the park was almost at capacity. I guess Oregonians are a tough lot. Dee cooked up a fantastic Thai meal on cookstoves, Ton and I were thorougly impressed.

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Interesting shot of the sun thru the smoke at our campground.

July 30, Home to Joseph Stewart State Park

We are starting the trip out by joining some friends of ours on a weekend outing to Southern Oregon. The state park we are staying at is halfway between Medford OR and Crater Lake. One of our good friends from Portland has never visited Crater Lake during their time in the US, as they are English. They are going to use the State Park as a base for a trip into the National Park.

It was an uneventful drive until we got off of I-5 at Canyonville. As we were heading east out of Canyonville we began to see smoke from a forest fire and quite a bit of fire fighting equipment. We decided to press on using the logic that they would close the road if the fire was a threat. After a few miles we could actually see the flames and several helicopters attacking the fire. But as there was no one stopping us we pressed on. The smoke was very thick at times reducing visibility to less than half a mile.

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Eventually we arrived at a smoky Stewart State Park. Several people were leaving, but we all decided to stay and see how it went.

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