The annual International Balloon Fiesta, has been on Sharon’s bucket list for quite a time; me, not so much.
To be fair, my thinking of the festival was based upon much smaller events; 30 or 40 balloons at most, not spectacular. On this foundation, I drove our RV from Winslow with mixed feelings, hoping the three days of our attendance might pass quickly.
We approached Albuquerque, a day early; needing to do some RV maintenance and some “boon-docking” at a local truck stop. This evening proved the worst part of our weekend (most truckers leave their generators running and the noise made a good nights sleep, difficult)!
Then came the most pleasant surprise; the balloon fiesta was AMAZING! The weather was perfect, over 500 balloons, interactive pilots & crews, and a well organized event, turned my attitude in a positive direction. I was able to make over 200 images; several that may find their way into my portfolio stock file.
The most enjoyable part, though; watching the “child in a candy shop” behavior of Sharon. Wandering amongst the balloons, not knowing where to look next, amazement as they rose to the sky, and planning what to do next, gave us a memorable experience and a high point of our ongoing adventure!
(Sharon & Max: outside the Amtrak station and storied Harvey House Restaurant & Hotel)
We’ve waved so long to our friends, Dottie & Bruce, who have returned to Upstate New York, and enjoyed beach time along the Pacific Ocean. Talk of extremes, we are now camped at Needles, California (where Nevada, Arizona, & California conjoin); known for heat, ghost towns, and the storied home of SNOOPY’S brother, SPIKE!
Turns out, there is much here to learn & enjoy. The fabled Route 66 begins in Needles: we’ve explored a bit; including Oatman (ghost mining town, turned tourist attraction). We are within driving distance of Hoover Damn, several casinos, and the original London Bridge that now spans the Colorado River in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Bullhead City is the “go to” place for shopping and services. While Needles has seen better times; Bullhead City’s main drag is adorned with the retail and dining franchises that we have seen at every previous 🛑 stop! I suspect this passes for progress.
A portion of our journey, so far, has been the following of the Oregon Trail to the great Northwest. We returned to the trail in July and forge our way through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.
Sitting now, in Northern California, it’s a good time to reflect. Those of us in the East, have little understanding of the impact and destruction caused by wildfires. Our first exposure came near Cody, Wyoming; outside Yellowstone National Park. As we traveled further, different fires 🔥 caused haze and difficult air conditions; Seattle had an ever present haze, from fires to the North, in Canada and breathing was difficult for me around Crater Lake in Oregon. These fires are far from rare occurrences in the West. Even now, a wildfire East of Los Angeles, may require a change in our travel next week.
We spent a terrific week and more, outside Portland, Oregon! Oregon City is accepted as the terminus of the Oregon Trail; it was there that we viewed the Eclipse (99%!) and toured the grounds.
We also celebrated my birthday with an evening of Irving Berlin music; featuring our talented friend, Meredith Kaye Clark. Such a rich voice; thanks to Sharon & Meredith!!!
And, of course, our Hedi flew in from Germany! Indeed; I am richly blessed! Thanks to all!!!
There are times, when you simply need to change your routine and take a break. We reached one of those times recently, traveling/sight seeing can be stressful, even when one is “living the dream!
Henley’s Silver Lake Resort, near Eatonville, Washington, fit the bill. Rural, lake view; these are the best descriptors of this site. Only a few spots for full hookup, no cable, fuzzy over air reception, and inconsistent phone. Just what we needed! Plus, we were in the shadow of Mount Reiner!
Boating, fishing, and coyote howling, provided restful nights. Repair services 15 miles away, gave us a chance to fix the lights on our tow trailer.
Refreshed and renewed, we are ready to head South to Oregon!
This summer's tragic reality, in the American Northwest, is wildfire. Seattle is approaching 55 straight days without measurable rain, while the rest of Washington is dry and fearing thunderstorms with lightening strikes that may ignite the tinder-dry environment and cause more fires than currently burn.
Traveling through Western Montana, parts of route 90 were smokey, but we saw no flames. Idaho was more clear, but entering Washington state, we became aware of smoke from British Columbia fires, blown South. Each evening, Seattle TV meteorologists update their reports with air quality and images of haze.
Our travels have not been heavily impacted by these conditions, not that that is a primary consideration for tourism. What is tragic, is the tremendous loss of natural resources and local economy. Even more, there is report of a firefighter losing his life.
Our plan to visit South Dakota was a brief afterthought. In fact, we altered our plans, when we heard our grandson wanted to visit next summer and thought to scout out possible venues.
Well South Dakota; we are now fans! Mount Rushmore is super, but just the beginning. We fell in love with Custer State Park, the Needles Drive, the Iron Mountain Drive, Badlands National Park, Bison, wild burros, and the Red Cloud Indian School. We found music, faith groups, and terrific scenery!
Our Month in Colorado, fell conveniently into two distinct halves; divided by a significant geological formations- The Rocky Mountains!
On the Western half, we enjoyed several weeks in Grand Junction; dry camping a couple days, while receiving small repairs on the rig, a couple more days at a commercial campground, and a week at the local Moose Lodge, which had electric. There were local festivals, wineries, The Colorado Monument mountains, and a “near-death experience on the Grand Mesa, at the National Forest. Note here: Ford Escapes are not 4-wheel adventure vehicles, but ours did admirably on very rocky terrain, where turning back seemed not advisable.
Finally, Ouray and surroundings host a variety of hot spring pools; warm water & newer facilities were great at the site we visited. There was a “clothing optional” venue for adults; where the facilities were older and dimly lit.
While Colorado’s Western side seemed much like Southern Utah; the Easter side is greener and more cosmopolitan. We camped the entire two weeks at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, in Longmont, which gave access to horse shows and a farmer’s market. We made several trips into Boulder itself for Bands On The Bricks & Unity Church. The Longmont Moose Lodge is great, with electric too; but while we suppered there, we liked the fairgrounds for our camping.
We also traveled to Golden and the U.S. Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs! But the highlight was the two visits to Rocky Mountain National Park; really a “peak experience”!
The end of June, led us Northward to South Dakota and Mount Rushmore. More on that, next visit!