Road Trip Western US ~ Jul-Sep 06
Next stop, Grover Hot Springs, was a must after hearing Ernie Von Raesfeld talk about it and the Markleeville Death Ride. It’s a wonderful campground set in a beautiful alpine meadow. We hiked up the river and David road his bicycle up Monitor Pass. Rebecca chose to view the pass from the car.
Yosemite was next where we camped in White Wolf campground. Thanks to Gail Dickenson we stayed in campsite #28, the campsite listed in Sunset Magazine as the best campsite in Yosemite. We spent 4 days there and saw most of the park including the bears. We did several hikes including the Hetch Hetchy area.
Following our love of caves took us to Murphys in the California gold country. There we visited Mercer and Moaning caves. Then it was back through Yosemite to Hwy 395.
Las Vegas and a visit with Rebecca’s son Roger was next on the agenda. Trying to stay off of main Interstate found us on Hwy 168 east from Hwy 395 with an overnight stay in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, of Inyo Park. Awesome place in the high Nevada desert. Our visit to Hoover Dam was great as was our stay with Roger. But, the highlight was dinner at the restaurant where Roger was a Master Cook, MIX in Las Vegas. It’s on the 64th floor of THEHotel at Mandalay Bay. The food, service, and ambience was tremendous. Thank you Roger and Sous Chef Sean O’Toole for a magical evening.
We cruised through the northwest corner of Arizona and then into Utah for a visit to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. Hiking and bike riding were terrific in both parks. In Zion we hiked from the bottom up and through the river into “The Narrows” canyon. In Bryce you see it from the top down. The weather was great except for the hail storm we endured halfway through our bike ride to the south-eastern edge of Bryce Canyon.
Again staying off of main highway we headed north through Utah towards Nevada. First stop in Nevada was Great Basin National park and Lehman Caves. The cave was spectacular as was Wheeler campground. Crossing Nevada on Hwy 50 (Nevada’s loneliest road) was delightful. We learned that the Great Basin is actually a series of basins and small mountain ranges. It was beautiful, but endless. Can’t imagine those pioneers who did it in covered wagons.
Of course we can never see too many caves so back in California we headed back to the Gold Country, camped in Indian Grinding Rock campground outside of Volcano, and visited Sutter Gold Mine and Black Chasm cave. Both worth the visit.
After a short stop in Santa Rosa to pick up Vin Hoagland, we started north on I-5 on our way to Portland and Ernie & Rochelle’s wedding. Yes folks, we were there to witness the grand event. It was a lovely wedding and we wish Ernie & Rochelle much happiness.
Up to Washington to visit Mt. Rainier and Mount St. Helens with Vin were next on the Agenda. Again it was camping, hiking and bike riding. Mt. Rainier was splendid in lush forest and glacial peaks, and Mount St. Helens was dramatic and humbling in desolation and destruction. It was great fun camping with Vin. Amazingly we got the three of us, all of our stuff, and three bikes in our Honda. Tight squeeze!
Vin went back to California and we house sat for Ernie in Grants Pass while he and Rochelle were on their honeymoon in Alaska. We camped with Carl and granddaughter Cece along the Chetco River in southwestern Oregon. Beautiful river, and a lot of fun camping with Cece. What a little hiker she is!
Last stop in this adventure was house sitting for David’s daughter Arwyn in San Francisco, before leaving for Ecuador. While in the City, we had dinner with Arwyn and her friends, cousin Jeff & wife Monir, and friend Notty Bumbo. We stopped in Santa Rosa for the Gourmet Bike Group Reunion as well as a few days in Santa Cruz. We then camped at Lake Davis outside of Portola on our way back to Redding where we had two days to pack for Ecuador. We left for Ecuador on September 27 and returned November 15, 2006. When we got back we had just a few months to prepare for our Peace Corps service in Ukraine, and to make one last round of visits before our final departure in March 2007.