Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Travel Map Across the US, Boston-San Francisco, 6 Weeks and Rolling. What Have I Learned So Far

Travel Map Across the US, Boston-San Francisco, 6 Weeks and Rolling. What Have I Learned So Far

I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday about the trip and he was asking about the path. I have a map on the Trip Map page which shows the route as we go. I have been using, site and phone app. It has been pretty good for tracking our journey. Below is a screen shot from our journey on RoadTrippers.

Road Tripper plotting of our journey across the US this summer.

The trip, so far, has gone very well. We have seen a lot and haven't had any real issues other than the heat. We thought we would camp a lot more than we have but because it has been so hot we have been mostly staying in hotels and inns. It wasn't until we arrived on the west coast that we have been able to camp. Hopefully we will get a few more opportunities.

Closer view of our journey

Most Scenic Places:
• Ryan Island in the Missouri River below Great Falls in Montana.
• Both Glacier and Mt. Rainier National Parks, all over. The trees are amazing, lots of waterfalls and beautiful mountain views.
• I was really impressed by the wheat fields in Western Montana, they are huge and stunning.

Lessons We Have Learned So Far:
• Our country is huge, I have driven across the US before, but not at this pace. We have gone slow and spent time looking. Everyone should get out and see the country, it is amazing.
• A small 6 pack size cooler is just perfect, you can get the ice at the hotels and it holds just enough. Place it behind and between the driver and passenger seats. Stock with a couple of apples, some string cheese, yogurt, a couple of juices, Half and Half creamer for coffee, half stick of butter. Maybe a little bit more, that is it. Apples make a great snack
• We stay in a lot of hotels, select the rooms with the Kings size beds. The beds usually have better mattresses than the rooms with the Queen size mattresses. Some place on the mattress there is a decent place to sleep.
• Find a spot and then put your stuff in the same spot every time. Same pockets on your pants, same place in your back pack, and same location in your car. Same spot everytime. Otherwise your stuff just disappears.

Everything goes back in the same spot every time

• A small pair of scissors is very helpful.
• Carry a box of small zip lock bags and some extra rubber bands.
• Be fine with changing your mind at the last minute. To much traffic, go another way or place.
• Switch drivers every hour or so. We don't really follow this but we try.
• Have a rough idea where you are going but be sure to wing it and drive down odd roads. Some of the best places we have seen have been because we went down an odd road. "Lets see what is down here?"
• The less planned visits the better. It is amazing how a scheduled visit will ripple back and effect your trip, even weeks out you will find yourself having to adjust to fit a date three weeks in the future. Remember it is your trip not your friends and family's trip. Resist as many as you can.
• Take two or three day breaks in the journey to recharge, changing hotels every night can be really tiring.
• WiFi is in every hotel and with the mid price hotels it is almost always included. Not real fast but it is everywhere and easy to connect to with a newer computer. We are using a MacBook Air and have had no issues.
• I asked my wife what she would suggest for a better trip next time, "Don't let your spouse bring a computer"

Monday, August 29, 2016

August 25-28, 2016, Traveling along Route 101 and 1 in Oregon and California, Coastline, Paul Bunyan and Elk

August 25-28, 2016, Traveling along Route 101 and 1 in Oregon and California, Coastline, Paul Bunyan and Elk

We have been in travel mode after leaving Mt. Rainier. We had two excellent camping days and then on August 25 starting heading south to San Francisco. We traveled along Route 5 then to Route 101 in Oregon and then to California before switching to Route 1 in Leggett California. Both Routes 101 and 1 pretty much follow the Pacific coast.

On the 25 we tried to get over to the Oregon coast around Tigard, OR but the traffic was just to heavy and we turned back. We stayed in Woodburn, OR for the night. The next day, August 26, we cut over at Eugene and got to Florence on the Oregon coast. Had a very nice lunch in Florence and then worked on getting a hotel for the night. By mistake we ended up picking a town about 20 miles north of Florence called Yachats. It worked out great. I also was able to finally get into and stand in the Pacific Ocean. We have come all this way and hadn't gotten to the beach yet.  This area, south of Florence, OR, is the area of giant sand dunes. We drove into several of the sites along the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  This is a great area for dune buggies and you see lots of them all around. We were also now on Route 101 and driving along the coast.

We wandered along the Pacific coast, stopping at different viewing sites. It is beautiful along this route, we still had mist and fog, but it is beautiful. For the evening we stayed in Brookings, OR, just north of the California border. On August 28 we headed into California passing through the Redwood National and State Park. Route 101 sometimes gets down to just 1 land each way and the giant redwood trees are inches off the road. Very dramatic. Along the way we passed the Trees of Mystery in the Redwood forest. kind of a small Redwoods trees theme park. They have a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox to bring in the tourist. We also saw near the end of the park 3 male elks trying out their horns and testing their manhood. Pretty amazing to see.

We left Route 101 and picked up Route 1 which is even narrower and windier than Rt 101. It goes right along the coast with the cliff on one side and hill on the other. Don't make a mistake. There isn't really any place to stay on the upper end of Route 1 and it was getting dark. We drove into Westport, CA, not to far from Fort Bragg and discovered a wonderful little hotel called the Westport Hotel and Old Abalone Pub. It is a reconditioned 1890 hotel with excellent food and accommodations. We had an excellent dinner and breakfast at this great little hotel. Very nice rooms. I highly recommend it.

August 29, we left Westport this morning heading south along Route 1. Around Port Arena we got tired of all the switchbacks and driving on the cliff edges and cut back across the mountains through Booneville to Route 101 and headed down to San Rafael for the night. The cutting back had even more tiny mountain roads, back and forth and up over several mountains but we made it fine.

Bruce and Louise on the beach near Yachats, OR

Bruce standing on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
The entire area has been just mist and fog

I think this is Yachats, OR where they pull the fishing boats
out of the water everyday, because of the harbor depth,
and put them on these funky trailers.

I continue to see dinosaurs everywhere I go out here.

A giant Paul Bunyan at the Trees of Mystery in the
Redwood forest

This was really cool, we watched these elks butt heads with each other for a while

Louise standing on the black sand beach in Westport, CA

The cool little Westport Hotel in Westport, CA, excellent food and sleep

The California coast along Route 1, we finally have a sunny day on the coast

Thursday, August 25, 2016

August 23-25, Camping Cougar Rock, Mt. Rainier, Hiking to Glacier Vista and Cooking Pancakes, 100 Years of the NPS

August 23-25, Camping Cougar Rock, Mt. Rainier, Hiking to Glacier Vista and Cooking Pancakes, 100 Years of the National Park Service, (NPS)

We did it, we finally camped. We have been lugging our camping gear all over the country. But it has been so hot that we just couldn't bear to break it out. After flying back from guitar camp we thought the weather might be a little cooler and we would give it another try. On Tuesday morning, August 23, we drove back to Mt. Rainier and took a chance that we could grab a spot. We noticed that during the week spots were often open. We were right. Cougar Rock Camp Site had a few spots left.

The weather was beautiful and we had a great time. Our tent is kind of big, 10'x16' but we were lucky and one of the available sites fit. Everything went fine, no problems. The tent works, our new REI inflatable mattress were perfect, the camp stove worked, the weather was perfect, nice and cool and we had lots of pancakes.

On Wednesday we drove up to Paradise and I hiked the Skyline Trail up to Glacier Vista at 6336 feet. Paradise is where the main lodge is a Rainier and the starting point of many of the trails. It is all straight up but with the help of my hiking poles I made it just fine. The two best investments; the REI mattresses and two hiking poles.

On Wednesday night we also attended a lecture in our Camp ground on the changes that are always happening at Rainier. I have been to a number of lectures at different National Parks over the years and they do an excellent job with education.

We had two nice night time fires at our site and some amazing views of the night sky and millions of stars.

Skyline trail heading up

Mt. Rainier through the trees.

Along the Skyline trail, stunning views, wild flowers have passed and the
season is changing

Hiking on the Skyline Trail. all trails lead to Paradise

Mt. Rainier towering over the Paradise Lodge. 14,410 feet. A beautiful site

Mt. Rainier over my shoulder
Our tent, it worked great, a little big but it went up and down easily.

Pancakes cooking and a cup of cofferer

Louise sitting at the table with the tent in the background.
They have really nice tent camping sites

Bruce cooking up some pancakes for breakfast

On Thursday it was the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. It was founded formally on August 25, 1916. It was kind of cool to be there for it. Rainier was the 5 park formed. The National Parks are fantastic and I encourage everyone to visit as many of them as you can. We went to a display at Longmier but got on the road to start going south and missed the cake ceremony that was held at Paradise in the afternoon.

They had a nice display from the museum at Longmirre, Mt. Rainier.

How I Wrote The Song Montana Sky at Summer Acoustic Music Week, SAMW

How I Wrote Writing Montana Sky at Summer Acoustic Music Week, SAMW

So one of the best things I did this year at guitar camp was to write and perform a song. I have written little tiny songs before but not a full fledged song with lyrics, chorus and music. I figured with all my traveling this summer and lots of adventures and stories I would have plenty of material. I took Joel Mabus's beginning song writing class followed by Pete Kennedy's class on song craft. Joel starts you off with a set of words, basically an idea starter and you go from there. I knew what I wanted to write about and the line of text was helpful to get started. We eventually took it out, but other people in the class kept their text in. The entire

For my story I wrote a song about Louise and I sitting in a Subway Sub shop in western Ohio when 8 Missouri Highway Patrol Officers came in for lunch followed by two contractors one of which had a side arm. Ohio is an open carry state so he had the right to carry but it created a very odd situation and a little stressful with us sitting in the middle. We were basically the only customers in the restaurant that didn't have a gun. Patrol men on one side, man with gun on the other. For the song I tried to walk a fine line about being in a very odd situation rather than a for or against guns song.

What was also cool is that I got a lot of help with the writing and creating of the song. It was a true collaboration with Bo Veaner, Bill McQuaid and Mike Kaufman all helping out during the week. On Friday I performed the song. Bo was my main partner for writing the music and arranging and he also played with me on stage for the student concert It was a great experience.

My initial notes on the song before I took the class

My initial notes on the song before I took the class

The line I was given by Joel Mabus in the class.

First take on roughing out the lyrics

Second take on the lyrics. For the music I started with the bluegrass song Cripple Creek and then changed from there

A story grid, a technique I use for design, I tried it with music and it works also
The song is really starting to pull together, but is does look messy

My final version, I use these pages at the student performance.

August 12, Fly Back to Boston for SAMW Guitar Camp, Open Mike, and Wrote a Song

August 12, Fly Back to Boston for SAMW Guitar Camp, Open Mike and Wrote a Song

As sometimes happen in trips, we take a detour for a little while. I had a long scheduled trip to my annual guitar camp run by WUMB radio in Boston called the Summer Acoustic Music Week or SAMW. This is my 15th year going to this camp. It is always a blast. I flew back to Boston and connected with my friend Bo and we headed up to New Hampshire for a week of music and friends. Before going Bo took me to a new coffee house called Appleseed and I got to play a song with old friends. Great way to warm up for camp. This year my goal was to learn how to write a song, finish it and then perform it on Friday at the student concert. I did. Learn more about my song in the next blog post. I take you through the steps.

The lines were really big at the Seattle Airport. You know you are
managing things the best when you have a guy with a sign that says
End of The Line

Mt. Rainier from the air, pretty cool

Playing the Appleseed Open Mic with friends, Janet, Bo and Carolyn

Our beach on Lake Winnipesaukee

I am always smiling at guitar camp

The evening dances are one of my favorite things.

Mandolin masters, they are all amazing

Our student performances

Friday night we have a mandolin, guitar, fiddle, whatever parade

Got together with some friends afterwards for an evening in Maine,
to much fun

August 10, 2016, Drove through Mountain Rainier, Hiked Smaller Trails, Headed Towards Seattle

August 10, 2016, Drove through Mounts Rainier to the North Entrance heading towards Seattle, Hiked Smaller Trails around the park.

Today the sky cleared and we had beautiful views of Mount Rainier as we drove along Route 410 across and up and out the top entrance. Along the road we stopped at Box Canyon which is about 170 feet deep and the Groves of the Patriarchs, which has some amazing trees. A day earlier the fog and mist were so heavy we had to turn back, but today much better. For the evening we stayed in Enumclaw. On Friday August 11 we drove to Louise's brother's house in Seattle.

View of Mt. Rainier in the background

Box Canyon, Seasons Canyon Road, Mt. Rainier,

Box Canyon, Seasons Canyon Road, Mt. Rainier,

Mt. Rainier along Stevens Canyon Road

Louise walking along the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Recycled Spirits of Iron Sculpture Park, Daniel Klennert, Sculptor and Ex-Nihilo

August 9, 2016 Recycled Spirits of Iron Sculpture Park, Dan Klennert, Sculptor.

On the way back from hiking at Mt. Rainier we stopped by this interesting site on State Route 706. It is the workshop and gallery of artist Dan Klennert. Klennert is a sculptor that works in recycled scrap iron and wood. He creates these huge metal sculptures of all kinds of animals. He has horses, elk. fish, giraffe, spider and many other creations. They are very well made and very interesting. All of them are outside and open to the public. Everything is just giant. All over the west we have seen large creatures and sculptures and have stopped to look at many. If you are in the Mt. Rainier area it is worth a visit.

Giant metal fish by Daniel Klennert

Metal Giraffe

Herd of horses by Daniel Klennert

Video on the art of Daniel Klennert, metal sculptor and his sculptor park "Ex-Nihilo"

August 9, 2016, Walking the Paradise Hiking Trails at Mt. Rainier, Mist, Clouds and Trees

August 9, 2016, Walking the Paradise Hiking Trails at Mt. Rainier

Another rainy day at Mt. Rainier but that didn't stop us from having a fun time hiking some of the trails. We have been staying at Whittaker's Motel and Historic Bunkhouse. This is like grown zero for Mt. Rainier hikers. The motel was founded by Lou Whittaker the brother of the famous Jim Whittaker who was the first American to climb Mt. Everest and one of the founders and builders or REI sporting equipment. Lou himself is famous for leading thousands of people up Mt Rainier. There are hikers all over the place all dressed in their cool hiking cloths.

We had no trouble getting to the Paradise area today, it is mid-week and rainy, so plenty of parking. Paradise is the second major area and where the main visitors lodge for Mt. Rainier National Park is located. The Paradise Inn is also located here. Lots of trails start here going off in many directions with some heading to the meadows and then to the glaciers. All kinds of hiking groups meet here and then start out. We went on two of the easy trails, Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls and Nisqually Vista Trail. Click to see maps and info on all the Rainier trails. Our weather conditions were very misty, sometime a little rainy and low visibility but it was still beautiful. We didn't see any peaks but did see lots of wild flowers in meadows and amazing trees. After Paradise we headed up to Louise Lake and then back down to Narada Falls. All and all a beautiful day. The mist around the trees is really pretty neat.

Entrance to Paradise

Myrtle Falls along the Skyline Trail

Bruce and Louise walking the Skyline Trail

Along the trail

Mist on the Nisqually Vista Trail, it was very beautiful

I hiked down to the viewing area for the Narada Falls