Spring/Summer 2017

Overland Expo West, up the West Coast all the way to Inuvik, over Top of the World to Alaska!

Day 53 – Prince George and Sunset Lake 

Yellowhead Highway – Central British Columbia 

Tuesday, June 13

It looked like Prince George was probably our last big chance for shopping for a long while, so we stopped. Prince George is a large town and seems like it functions as a shopping destination for much of the surrounding area.

We shopped at a Wal-Mart. So far, the Wal-Marts in Canada have been pretty disappointing. The shelves are often half empty and the prices aren’t nearly as low as usual. Many of them do allow overnight parking in their parking lots.

We found a private liquor store and bought some Canadian wine and beer.

We stopped at a Canadian Tire shop. Imagine a cross between an automotive store, a tractor/farm supply, a sporting goods shop, and a Wal-Mart. They have a little bit of everything.

Canadian Tire

2017 is the 150th birthday of Canada. Most stores have big displays of Canada merchandise near their entrance. Since we assume that we will still be in Canada on July 1st (Canada Day), we decided to get into the spirit of the event. We bought shirts, a pot holder, a can koozie, flip flops and several other small items.

After this, we headed west on the Yellowhead Highway (Canada highway 16). Generally speaking, there are only two highways leading from central British Columbia to the North. The Stewart-Cassiar on the western side of BC and the Alaska Highway along the eastern part of BC.

We had a Road Atlas, but it seemed like the maps of Northern British Columbia and the Yukon must be woefully lacking in detail. The reality is that there just aren’t that many highways. It is a mighty big area with a relatively small population.

After looking over the maps, we decided to take the western route to the Yukon and return along the Alaska Highway.

We saw our first wild moose.

Female cow moose

We decided to try another BC Forest Service campground. We found one that was a little bigger this time. Sunset Lake was near Topley. It had eight campsites and a day use area. 

Sunset Lake BCFS Campground

The campground had a mix of campsites. There were several right next to the boat launch. After our experience with the teenagers, we chose one that was screened from other campsites by trees and brush.

Jon had a chance to try out one of the Canadian beers and the Canada can koozie.

The lake was really beautiful. We went for a walk around recreational areas.

It was nice to have a chance to hang out and enjoy the weather, scenery and peace and quiet of this place.

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Day 49 to 50: Canada! Cnoccarne B&B and Irish Wolfhounds 

June 9 and 10, 2017

Cnoccarne B&B

Mission, British Columbia

On June 9, we crossed in Canada at Sumas/Abbotsford – this is a smaller border crossing a bit east of the main Seattle/Vancouver corridor.  Usually a fairly quiet crossing but there was a Blue Jays game in Seattle so lots of Canadian baseball fans traveling south really had it blocked up southbound.  To simplify things we stored our rifle in a mini-storage in Sumas, ($12/month) just a few blocks from the border crossing.

We were staying at Cnoccarne B&B for the first couple of days after reaching Canada. We stopped at a few shops to buy groceries and wine in Abbotsford and then headed to Mission.

I’ve been Facebook friends with Emma Ross for several years now. She and I both have a passion for Irish Wolfhounds. Jon and I lost our last Irish Wolfhound in September, so I was excited to spend some time with her Irish Wolfhounds.

And she had five Irish Wolfhound puppies!

They are already so well behaved.

We stayed in our camper in her front parking area which included electricity, water and a picnic table.

It was great meeting her in real life. She was so welcoming. Her dogs are wonderful, too.

Typical adult Irish Wolfhound position

We had the opportunity to go on a walk with the puppies with some of the dogs following on the other side of a fence.

The first night we went out for dinner at The Historic Dewdney Pub with a few other local Irish Wolfhound owners. It was a pleasant evening following a rather long day.

The next day, Katy, another Irish Wolfhound owner, and her two dogs came over in the morning. It was great meeting her two dogs, too. We played with the puppies and Emma’s other Wolfhounds.

Jon and I worked on general maintenance and cleaning up the Fuso and camper. It is like owning a very small and quite complicated home. There are always things that need time and attention.

At this point in our trip, we had driven around 5,000 miles. It was time for an oil change. We had bought the supplies in the US. It was good to have the time to do it.

Jon gave Emma a hand getting the mower out a field. To keep the property gorgeous, it takes a lot of mowing.

We drove into Abbotsford for supplies and to exchange some US dollars for Canadian ones. The exchange rate was highly favorable for US dollars. It was 1 US dollar for every 1.33 Canadian dollar. It makes a trip like this much more affordable than if it were the other way around.

We stopped at Lepp Farm Market on our way back to Cnoccarne. They had a great selection of meats and vegetables. We brought a nice loaf of bread to contribute to tonight’s dinner.

Tonight’s dinner was stuffed mushrooms, salad and bread. Emma started a campfire in her back garden.

The weather was great. It was a really treat not to be fixing dinner tonight.

Jon enjoying a pre-dinner glass of wine by the fire

And in such a lovely place and in the company of such wonderful people.

Cnoccarne B&B through the smoke from the dinnertime fire

We left on the following morning. It had been great to catch our breath after doing so much travel and crossing the border.

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Day 48 – Rain in Washington 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Rain in Washington State

It started to rain last night and was continuing to rain. I’m sure the scenery would have been beautiful if we could have seen it through the fog and mist.

We hit the Seattle metropolitan area pretty early in the day. We made several stops at stores along the way in preparation for our drive into Canada tomorrow.

We were going to cross over at the Sumas-Abbotsford Customs Center. Because we hadn’t ever gone through a border crossing in the Fuso, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. So we didn’t buy any food or alcohol.

Once we finished our shopping, we drove northeast. We planned to stay at one of the campgrounds in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

We passed several campgrounds that were full. Finally we came to the Douglas Fir Campground.

We found a campsite. It was reserved for the weekend, but available for tonight.

Really big trees.

Our campsite backed up to the North Fork Nooksack River. The river was running fast and really high.

The view of the river and campsite from the back of the Fuso was interesting.

It stopped raining for a while.

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Day 47 – Iron Goat Trail, WA

June 7, 2017

Leavenworth,  Iron Goat Trail and Money Creek Campground in Washington

We drove through Leavenworth around lunchtime. It is an interesting tourist town with an Alpine Village theme.

We found it attractive, but were very glad we weren’t driving through it during prime tourist season.

We stopped at the Iron Goat Interpretive Site and Trailhead.

Iron Goat Trail

The Iron Goat Trail is a “rails to trails” converted railway route. The Great Northern Railway, known as the Iron Goat Railway, had one of the most deadly railway disasters in the US. This area is prone to heavy snows and high avalanche risk. In 1910, two trains were stopped along the track when an avalanche swept both trains off the tracks. Over 96 people died in the accident.

Wellington Train Disaster

Even now, the area is prone to washouts. This bridge was constructed to cross over an area that was washed down the mountainside.

The trail follows along the train track and still contains a number of railway structures such as tunnels and snow sheds (areas along the track that have a top and side to protect the train and track from snow and avalanches).

The trail has lots of options for length, elevation change and steepness of your hike. We opted for the suggested 5.9 mile loop trail. It has a long gradual climb along the former railway track, up the steep Martin Creek Crossover, along another section of former train track and finally down the very long and steep Windy Point Crossover.

There was an incredible variety of flowers in bloom.

Dwarf Dogwood

We checked out the two tunnels. The wooden supporting timbers of the first tunnel had partially fallen down. 

The stone tunnel was still standing.

There was a wooden snow shed protecting the gap between the tunnels which had fallen down and broken apart.

The second tunnel had completely collapsed.

We walked along the side of a tremendous concrete snow shed.

On the upper part of the trail, we walked along the top of the same snow shed.

When passing through an area with moderately tall shrubbery, we surprised a black bear. We scared it as much as it scared us. It did what black bears are supposed to do which was climbing up a tree to get away from us.

It seemed to be an adolescent, so we were concerned that a mother bear might be around. Fortunately, it seemed to be alone. We hadn’t brought our bear spray or bells because unlike many of the places we had stopped, there weren’t any warnings about bears. I took a few photos and then we continued our hike.

The rest of the hike was uneventful. By the time we reached the Fuso, we had hiked at least 7 miles.

We found a great campsite at Money Creek Campground in the Washington Cascades.

It was not too far from our hike. The Campground was along the Skykomish River.

It was at the back of our campsite. The river was running really high like almost all of the rivers in the area.

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Day 46 – Oregon to Washington 

June 6, 2017

Today we headed north to Washington state via highway 97 to highway 197.

Both were picturesque. We had great views of Mt Hood while in Oregon.

To reach Washington, you cross over the Columbia River.

The land along the river was interesting.

You could see the impact of volcanic forces on the landscape.

And how much effort must have been required to put in roads and railways.

We stopped in Yakima for a few more supplies.

We camped along the Yakima River Canyon. There are several BLM campgrounds in that area. We stopped at each of the ones we passed.

There weren’t very many campsites at any of them. The first several campgrounds were barely more than parking lots with picnic tables.

We finally reached the last campground, the Umtanum Campground. 

It was a little bigger than the rest and had more of a campground feel. The campsites weren’t just all lined up and had gaps in between them. Plus there was a pedestrian bridge across the river to the other side. 

Like most of the places we visited recently, the river here was running high and fast.

As we had learned earlier in this trip, “great bird watching” usually equates to “lots of bugs”. We decided to not cross over to the other side because of the really wonderful insect habitat.

Once the teenage camping groups went to bed, we had a relatively quiet evening.

We did see several birders out with cameras and spotting scopes early the next morning.

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Day 45 – Earthcruiser, Bend, Oregon 

June 5, 2017

This morning, we made our way to Bend, Oregon.  A lot of folks know Bend for its beer – Bend has the most breweries per capita of any town in the USA, which alone makes it worth the visit.  We had another reason – to visit friends Lance Gillies and Michelle Boltz at Earthcruiser. Lance and Michelle are the founders of a company that builds overland vehicles on the Mitsubishi Fuso chassis and we have always admired their builds but never had a chance to stop by and see their shop. Robinson Fuso is, of course, built on a Fuso chassis so we often have people ask us where to get a vehicle like ours.  Ours is home built, but for most people a better option is to have someone build your vehicle for you – if you want something on the Fuso chassis then Earthcruiser is the best option we’ve found.  Lance and Michelle are good people, and we really like their work.


A Fuso ready to become an overland vehicle

After an afternoon of shopping/resupply, we stopped to have drinks with Lance & Michelle at Goodlife Brewing Company, because when you are in Bend that’s what you do!

Sunset over Bend

Because of the hour, we camped in the Deschutes National Forest again. This time, we boondocked just out of town off of China Hat Rd. The area is obviously used as a place to have a wild time – we can never understand why folks need to leave so much crap behind after they have been out enjoying a nice natural setting. Jon picked up about two trash bags full of miscellaneous garbage left around our campsite. We didn’t have room to haul out the burned mattress but got a lot of the other junk gone.

Thank goodness there weren’t any shenanigans this night. We had a quiet evening in the woods.

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Day 42 & 43 – Rogue River Gorge, OR

June 2 evening through June 4 morning 

After we left Crater Lake National Park, we had to figure out where to go next. Always a possibility when you don’t have any firm plans or reservations. The Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway through the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest seemed promising. 

We stopped at Farewell Bend National Forest Campground. It was a beautiful campground with some sites right on the Rogue River. 

Farewell Bend Campground at Rogue River 

The Rogue River is at the back of our campsite

Because of the large snow pack this year, the river was running really high.

We had a quiet night. Next day went on a hike from the campground. 

Our campground was upstream of Rogue River Gorge. 

The terrain in this area was volcanic in origin. This led to a number of interesting natural features along this part of the Rogue River.

Although the river right by our campsite was wide and relatively shallow, the river is forced through a natural gorge becoming very fast and violent.

The Chasm 

Inlet to the chasm

If you keep following the trail, you also see

The Cave

The Cave is on the left side of the river as it widens out

We kept following the trail because we wanted to see:

The Hidden River

Along with the Natural Bridge 

However, there was nothing to see.

The water was so high and turbulent that you couldn’t even tell where those features were.

But it was a great hike. The river was pretty amazing. 

On our way back, we stopped for ice cream.

We were really tired by the time we got back. We had a low key evening.

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Day 44 – Newberry National Volcanic Monument 

June 4th 2017

Big Obsidian Flow

Newberry National Volcanic Monument near Sunriver, Oregon

We drove up to the southern part of the park stopping at the Paulina Visitor Center. They have some really great hike possibilities, but the snow made a great many of them unfeasible.

One hike that was open although still snowy in places was the Big Obsidian Flow.

The area had been covered with obsidian about 1,300 years ago.

Relatively recently in geologic terms. 

It was an interesting hike and we had a good time.

Jon looking like a sacrifice to the volcano gods.

You could see one of the lakes in the Newberry Caldera.

The Obsidian isn’t uniform. 

After this hike, we headed to the other side of the park to go into the Lava River Cave.

The cave is really amazing. The cave passages are huge, almost like a subway tunnel. 

The cave is easy to walk through once you get there, but there are a lot of steps to get to the bottom.

The Newberry National Volcanic Monument is adjacent to Deschutes National Forest. All camping within the Park must be in Campgrounds, but you can travel down the Forest Service roads in Deschutes National Forest and stay at campsites scattered through the area.

We found a really lovely place in the woods very close to a lava wall.

We climbed up it to see the view. It is incredible that this volcanic activity took place so recently.

We had a peaceful evening in the woods.

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Day 42 – Visiting Crater Lake National Park 

June 2 – Afternoon

Crater Lake National Park Opening Day

We planned on camping at Crater Lake National Park, but they were still mostly snowed in.

The port-a-potties give you a sense of scale.

The individual campsites were surrounded by walls of snow over 15 feet.

It may have been interesting to stay there, but not a lot of fun.

So we drove up to the Lake.

We walked along the tiny bit of the lake you could access.

The rest was still snowed in. 

It was going to be a while before you could do much more than snowshoe or cross country ski. 

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Days 40 to 42 – Lava Beds National Monument, CA

May 31 to June 2

The entrance to Skull Cave is huge.

Lava Beds National Monument in northeastern California

Lava Beds National Monument. The park has a signigicant number of Lava Tube Caves that you can visit. 

May 31

We went to the Park’s Visitor Center and picked up the Information and permission slips to visit the caves the next day.

We found a campsite at the Park’s campground. The arrangement of spaces was really strange.

Once we were set up, we walked through a couple of the closest and shortest caves.

On June 1st, we had a great day of hikes in the caves.

Jon checking out his light while in Golden Dome

My Garmin gps watch only recorded 10 miles,  but it most certainly doesn’t record the miles underground. 

Some cave entrances are easier than others

We hiked through quite a few of the lava tube caves that were open.

We even did Hercules Leg to Juniper as a through trip.  It involved a lot of crawling. 

More so for Jon Turner than for me. 

We came across this sign on a trail from our campground.

Grilled sausages for dinner tonight. Great sunset.

Driving up to Oregon tomorrow. 

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