Thursday, July 11, 2013

I think we all knew this was coming

Two nights ago on our second night of the trip we made it from Lake Leo Campground in Washington, through Idaho, which was beautiful, into Montana where we reached our destination city Columbia Falls and the western edge of Glacier National Park. Thats where all the fun started but lets go back a bit first.

All along we have had destinations in mind that I have decided would be logical goals for our daily driving totals. The first night after leaving Mount Vernon we reached Lake Leo in Washington on Hyway 20. Nate picked it by looking on the map. Ive tried to let him pick the route and make decisions on what we see or do. Lake Leo was a great camp. It was part of the forest service and was an honor system check in. We picked our site on a drive by because it was on the lake and at the top of a slight rise so if it rained we wouldn't be in the run off. It is Washington afterall. We set up camp and noticed that there wasn't anything dry to burn for our campfire which we feel is nonoptional when camping, which stems from my lingering near pathologic lust for fire, Nates newly pathologic lust for fire and a deterant for the mosquitos. My dad packed us a few bundles of firewood so, I unbundled a pack and set about building our camp inferno. Not bad at first but then it sort of petered out. Not impressive. We fanned it till it came back to life but it was weak and I felt like maybe it was something I said or did. Nate and I conferred and decided neither was true... Grampa had pacekd us crap firewood. It smoked a lot which was good for keeping the mosquitos at bay but it wasnt very warming. What grampa lacked in firewood selection Gramma more than made up for in GORP making. We passed the bag back and forth. Nate said he was happy she went light on the raisins. I thought it sounded un-American to not like raisins. We called it a day fairly early. Nine I think. Our thermarest pads Kelly got us were great. Small and light but just enough to isolate your butt from the gravel that made up our subfloor. Nate slept like a full on drunk and I like a fifty year old fat guy. Im pretty sure our campmates thought there were wild growlers. In the morning I woke with the sun. It was pretty magical. No noise at all except a pair of what sounded like loons and the chirping of a pack of coyotes. There was a thick fog that settled over the body of lake Leo and worked its way into the tree line up to our camp sites. I decided to take a bath in the lake with my trusty bar of Ivory soap so that I didnt end up smelling like a ripe old man. The lake was warm. The soap brought back memories of bathing in Lake Superior at our cabin except that this day I could feel my toes and testicles.

I fired up the single burner Coleman stove thingy and boiled water for our coffee, Nates fruity interational coffee drink stuff and instant oatmeal. Quick and easy and good. Shit, no cups. We made do using bowls.

Not surprisingly, Nate elected not to follow me in a bath. He feels those are overated. I pointed out that he smelled like a forest fire and he agreed but said he liked that smell. I did get him to brush his teeth before we left camp. He wasnt sure he needed to do that either. We broke camp and packed everything back in the truck with no visual change in the volume of stuff we brought. We gotready to go and hoped the truck would start. Vroom vroom. It started on the first try. I let it idle in choke for a bit then we took of for our second day of travel. Day one, success.

Day two had us plodding though Eastern Washington but I chose the most Northerly route because it appeared to be the most scenic. We were not disappointed. It was beautiful, full of mountain switchbacks and climbs over some big peaks. In our two days we climbed as high as 5479 feet without a single sputter or protest. Leaving it in fourth the truck has a huge powerband giving a lot of flexibility to climb. I wish there was another gear for cruising but so far everything looked great. We entered Idaho. No, you da ho. Said that a lot. When we got to the Kootenai River we were both floored by its beauty. Turquois blue waters rippling white over the boulders strewn in its path it cut an impressive swath. Then we came upon Lake Koocanusa. Georgious. It was hot outside which is of course our inside in the truck since there is no AC and the cool rushing waters were tempting. So tempting that we pulled down a side road pointing to a boat launch just take a look. I thought nate might want to jump in once we got there. I wasnt wrong. Can I do that? We are such city folk. It seemed like someone had to tell you it was OK. Well I told him it was OK and off came his shirt and shoes and he ran down the dock flailing his arms and daffying himself into the cold mountain water. It looked awesome. I was hot and tired from driving so I ran back to the car and changed into a pair of mesh shorts and joined him. It was cold but just what we needed. Nate wanted to stay for hours but I reminded him the we had lots of ground to cover yet. We reluctantly left the massive lake for more seat time but felt great the rest of the day and Nate said that technically he did take a bath. I said technically, a bath includes soap and water. He disagreed. He liked the way the water made his hair soft. I said i'm not sure thats soft. It could just be grease. He disagreed.

We pushed on, Nate plotting our route and plugging towns into Garmin our official navigator who is reluctantly overruled from time to time. Our goal was Fish Creek Campground in Glacier National Park on its far Western edge. We stopped in Eureka for pizza because that was the only thing that stayed open for dinner. There were some cute local places like Jax Diner but it closed at 4. Huh? Anyway, we had pepperoni and sausage and we were both struck by the pretty lady who took our order. She seemed like she should be a model. She had such a pretty face. Then she brought our plates and napkins out to the table we picked out front on the porch. I asked her what folks did here in her town and she said she didnt know. I asked again and she said she worked here at the pizza place. I asked one more time what other folks did around here for a living, like was there an industry that served the community and she indicated that most people worked in stores or restaurants and whatnot. It was in that last exchange that her rose wilted a bit. You could see that dental care was not top on her list and that pretty face was shaped right but had a patina. A bit later the owner, a nice man with the same dental plan came out with our pizza. He asked about the truck. I told him and he seemed pleased. He said that he had a bunch of kids. All grown and gone now. He just went to Norway to see his son get martied to a Norwegian woman he met while in Cambodia. He said he was happy to be back in Eureka. I asked him the same question I had asked his waitress, what did folks do for a living round here. Nothin he said. Since they closed down the plants (timber) he said it was like all the jobs went away. They used to be the christmas tree capital of the world. Then they closed it down. Damn democrats and their job killing policies. They will kill all the jobs and not bat an eye. Hell, what should we expect from the same folks who think its perfectly fine to kill babies. Yeesh. Thanks for the pizza though.

On to Glacier National Park.

This is what everyone was afraid of! We camped at our site at fish creek campground picked by Sara. Our site was small and the campground was crowded with wusses in their mini vans and diapered babies. Our fire was way more successful thanks to gramps not so crappy second firewood bundle and Glacier Park pine needles which i assured the park ranger I brought with me from home. We stayed up til our fire burnt out and Nate had sucessfully melted his IBC rootbeer bottle. He didnt believe when I told him it would work. A good nights sleep and another early wake up. We started the truck after breaking camp. She motored out of camp but them sputtered and backfired and died. Uh oh. We panicked a bit and called grampa for advice. He sounded like a guy who had been sleeping because it was like 7:00 his time and he was, infact sleeping. I finally got it started after much farting swearing and backfiring. Im pretty sure the other campers loved us. We decided to stop for service at the next town back at a place called Johns Garage. John adjusted the points and it ran fine for the next two hundred miles. He charges us $25 bucks for his expertise. We had more issues near many pines campground which is about 36 miles shy(north) of White Sulphur Springs (WSS), montana. It just kept dying and flooding and all manner of crazy frustrating stuff. We would get it started then drive it two or three miles where it would die again. So, i finally got it started again near many pines camp ground where we were considering staying. But i just felt like if I could limp it to a small town maybe there would be a phone we could use (a great day for a stupid sattellite phone by the way). Well we limped along in third gear for ten miles coughing and bucking and dying a few times then finally we came up to a wide spot in the road where there were like ten houses and I pulled off into one of the communal drive ways and looked for signs of life up the mountainside road. Way up at the top Znate spoted a new truck. Not one if the old rotted out ones we were fooled by earlier thinking people would be there. So we went up and met a nice but a bit frightened looking lady who woke her husband up to come help us. It was about 9:00. We hadnt had cel service for about two hours so we were just happy to see a live body and hear that they had a phone. They called a tow service from WSS and said he would be out in about 40 minutes. It sounded from the conversation I could hear on my end that the yow guy was insinuating these people should put us up for the night and that he would come get us in the morning. The guy laughed and said, "no i think they wanted to come into town tonight?!" Then he looked nervous but said that he would see him soon. So they asked us to sit and watch Duck dynasty with them til the truck came. Very nice folks. At one point a young boy came out of a bavk room in this little summer cottage and took a dump but never even acknowledged that there we two strange people in the house. He was a big strapping kid with no shirt so when he walked by I asked if he was a wrestler to the nice lady who i thought was his mom but she said, "I dont know. I dont think so but he is my grandson so i dont know." Ok.

So anyway the tow truck gets there about an hour later and at first its just some guy in a 1973 ranger pickup with a cap. Wtf? He pulls up and says,"Where find you find this jewel?" He went on and on about how he couldnt believe it when Mr Simmons told him that there was a guy and his son who need a tow and they were driving a 58. He loves those trucks. "Why, I told Simmons I'd come in the morning but when I heard it was a 58, well, holy shit Im coming out right now I saystoim." What a guy. Wes. He is regarded as the best Ford mechanic in Montana says his tow truck driver who was also impressed with our mission. So Wes took Nate and I in his little Ranger (named Mary) weaving aimlessly through the Montana pitch black night back to town after "getting a good look" at nate. Then took us inside his shop to show us his 41 ford pu he is restoring. That was his first car. Had pictures and everything. Then he took us to the local hotel and said he take a look first thing. Sounded like a float to him. "But hey lets see." By the way, when we dropped the truck off the tow truck the vop showed up and was driving a chevy. They gave him crap about that the he showed them he was getting 12.9 mpg according to his computer. I said that what I got in the truck and wes said,"shit i can get you up to sixteen and Ill bet bet Mary on it!"

Not a great day. But it was a great day. Tomorrow will likely be an expensive day.

Oh one last thing... When i told the lady at the hotel our story we got the room for $70 instead of yhe ususl $90. Ha!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Tomorrow is the big day

I woke this morning to a chorus of roosters once at 5:00 and then again less vigorously at 7:00. A slow lazy start today with no real commitments planned til this evening when my wonderful and captivating story telling uncle Earl and his son and my cousin Joe stop by for bugers.

I had to get the truck arranged and do some extra map reading to make some last minute planning decisions about our route through far eastern Washington and a couple parts of Idaho and Montana. Food gets packed in one bin and camping gear in another. My dad gave me a small box about the size of my head filled with the "extra" parts he accumulated during this last year of rebuilding. That made me feel better... I think. I set the gerry can for gas in the back corner of the bed and lashed it to the inside of bed rail by way of a bungee cord strung through two stainless eye bolts my dad installed for just such a purpose. I unpacked, built, brokedown, repacked and stowed away our tent with a rainfly I bought online and had delivered to the ranch. Its a cheapy one from Coleman but when I got it up and Nate scrambled inside he shouted back out to me," Yeah, this looks like it could stop a sasquach."

Started up our new butane stove and felt like a sissy. Then remembered that our only cooking/water boiling/pancake making device is a flimsy fold up handle frying pan we got at the cheapshit, used merchandise camping isle at Fred Meyer (its like Target Store). Thanks for nothing Big 5 sports. You suck. Oh and if anyone is looking for a c
Chinese sweatshop produced coin sorting machine for home use… they have that right in the middle of their fryingpanless camping goods shelf. Huh? This is a sports store, right?

A couple hours of talking families with my mom and dad turned into supper with the Peth in mom's garden sancuary. It was really nice to visit and Earl and did not disappoint… plenty of great stories of trips they had taked across the pass where friends died, trucks caught fire from too much braking and plenty of reactions like, "20?, oh crap you're not taking 20 are you? Marty, he's taking 20. Good luck!

I hope we are ok.

More tomorrow.

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Location:Marihugh Rd,Mount Vernon,United States

Saturday, July 6, 2013

One day til departure

Nate and I have one more day til we leave and my mom is trying to kill us before the mountains have a chance. This morning she invited my uncle and his wife for brunch to start the day. Thats normal in her world. Most people reserve brunch for occasions like mothers day or Easter. Not my mom. She doesnt even wait for the normal widely agreed upon brunch day of the week, Sunday. In her Paula Deened world any day is the right day for brunch. We had coissant sandwiches with eggs, cheese and Virginia ham. She had a big fresh fruit platter with fresh apricots and meticulously cut up canteloupe. Cowboy coffee and homemade almond danish also made an appearance. Afterward nate went and raided the cookie jar and guzzled the rest of the half gallon of milk. She forgets how much milk goes into a 13 yearold.

We rested by going to Fred Meyers a local store that appeared to be a lot like Target but with more stuff made in sweatshops in the far East and conveniently can sell you a shotgun or handgun as well as your ammo.

Then when Nate and I pulled back in she announced that was time to get the Tommy's for a salmon bake. The gigantic 45 fish was fresh off the tug boat where he works in the Puget Sound. A little garlic and butter and a low Alder fire turn a regular fish into a feast that only happens here. We pushed on and plowed through another huge meal then watched all of the young kids play in the slip and slide and little pop-up pool. Nate wanted to go in too. I could tell. But he said he was fine. Tough to be the oldest kid.

We spent the redt of our time at Tommy's giving test rides to disbelievers and naysayers as well as, what I am now seeing as normal, folks who say they wish they could be doing something like this. We were sharing stories as we were getting ready to return to Mom's and Tommy, who has lots of hunting experience in the aea we are going to asked if we would be going through RedLodge, MT and when I said yes, he said that we would be going 20 at the top but thats ok because the trip down is straight down except where it diverts to make a wild and crazy turn that wants to sump you in the river.

When we got back to the ranch we set up all of the mounts for our GoPro camera. That should be interesting. High tech.

All in all fulfilling.

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Arrival at moms

My parents were nice enough to slog down to Seatac and pick us up when we arrived tonight at 10:30. The alternative would have been to catch the last shuttle of the night at 11:30 that comes this way. It would have dropped us in Burlington at 2:00 am which is still a good poke from mom and dads place. Interesting to note how different the arrival area and more specifically people's actions vary from Chicago to Seattle. There was literally one vested man patroling the entire arrival pick up area. People just stopped where ever they saw their party. If they spotted them from the outside lane they would just stop right there. WTH? It looked like an Idian bazaar. Chicago cops would have freaked out and folks would have been shot. Seattle... very chill of you.

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Location:Mount Vernon WA

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day one. Leaving chicago

We are at the airport both of us sitting in the more comfy chairs at potbellies after eating a bit of pre travel chow; me a salad and Nate... A large chocolate ice cream cone from Ben and Jerrys. Masterful Nate.

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