Thursday

West 2018

Wednesday August 1st

Our trip west begins on our 48th anniversary and it is fitting since we have spent so much time traveling!  Ashland, Kentucky and Champaign, Illinois were our first two stops.  We forgot how vast the corn and soybean farming is in the midwestern states...fields stretching as far as one can see on both sides of the highway, thousands of acres...mile after mile...state after state!

Friday

We arrived at the Prarie Flower Campground just in time to set up, change and head for the High Trestle Trail.  We parked in Madrid and ate dinner at the Flat Tire Lounge.


Then we road the trail to Woodward, and returned in time to see the blue neon lights.



Since the campground had no water hook ups and we gave up dry camping with our tents, we decided to move on west. We decided to go to Yankton, SD, to avoid bad weather. On our way we saw lots of garage sales.  Why you ask?  Well, it was the Highway 141 Garage Sale, a 100 mile-long garage sale that occurs the first weekend of August every year!

Yankton is quite a metropolis by SD standards.  It is on the Missouri River, hypes Lewis and Clark and has a neat recreation area on a lake named after them.

Sunday

Interior (SD) was our destination today. It is adjacent to the Badlands NP.  So after we set up camp, we got to drive on the Park Loop Road.  It’s always neat to see the unique landscapes in the Park!



Monday

Today we traveled the back roads to our campground in Hill City (SD).  It’s Bike Week in Sturgis and it draws hundreds of thousands (record is 700,000) of motorcyclists from all over the world!  How do the small towns in this region cope with the crowds? Well, some like Hill City close Main Street to everyone but motorcyclists!



We arrived in time to set up camp before a late lunch. Then we headed to Custer  and Rockford to check out the Mickelson Trail parking areas. The first is urban, the second is really, really remote!

Tuesday 

Today, we rode the Mickelson Trail. In the morning we rode from Custer north to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  It is really well maintained packed gravel. This part of the trail departed from the highway and was very pretty.



Back in Custer for lunch, Gretchen befriended two of the other kind of bikers!



In the afternoon, we rode the trail south towards Pringle...with pretty spots away from the highway.



Wednesday 

Back on the Mickelson Trail today, we started at the Mystic Trailhead.  There were other folks on the trail at this remote spot!  There are three tunnels in this area. First we rode north up hill to see the first tunnel.



The trail went through a beautiful canyon with several trestle bridges, the one below was at least 150 feet above Castle Creek.



We returned to Mystic in time for lunch, then road south uphill to see the other two tunnels.

What is amazing is this 100 mile railroad was built in 1890 using horses, hard human labor, some explosives and primitive tools in just 255 days.  It included 4 tunnels and 100 trestle bridges!



Beautiful day to ride a bicycle!

Thursday

We decided to tour Custer State Park today, one of the oldest (1919) and largest (72,000 acres) in the nation.  We drove the wildlife loop, a vast prarie grassland where we saw buffalo, burros, deer and pronghorn.



The State Game Lodge is an impressive place that served as the Calvin Coleridge summer White House in 1927.

The Iron Mountain Road weaves up through  ponderosa pine forests with two tunnels that  frame Mt. Rushmore.


The Needles Highway is spectacular with  views of rock pillars around every corner.



We were so glad we took the tour today. It was a day of eye candy, and we encourage anyone in the area to take the tour.

We ate a piece of rhubarb pie at the Purple Pie Place the other day and it was wonderful! So, we stopped in Custer to buy one for the road!



Friday

Today was a long day of driving across Wyoming and Montana. We stopped in Big Timber for the night.



The KOA staff suggested we go to the Timber Bar for dinner.  It was a happening place and we had to wait for a table.  But, the locally sourced burgers were super.  Glad we stopped in Big Timber.

Tomorrow we drive the rest of the way across Montana before dropping into Idaho to our next campground.

Sunday




We rode the Trail of Hiawatha today!  It is a beautiful bike ride; 15 miles downhill with  9 tunnels and 7 bridges over a little less than a 1000 foot drop in elevation.

The trip begins and ends with a ride through the 1.66 mile Taft Tunnel.  Riding this unlit, 47 degree F tunnel is quite an experience.

Taft Tunnel west entrance.

The bridges vary in length but they are all quite high!




The trail surface is very rocky, not well maintained at all. Every mile reminded me of why I quit biking on Forest Service roads fifteen years ago!

Is the Hiawatha a great biking experience? You bet!  Would we recommend it to everyone? Absolutely! Would we do it again? No way! 



Monday 

We rode the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, from Harrison along the lake toward Plummer.  The area was very hazy due to the wildfires burning in Idaho and Washington but it did not smell like smoke.



After crossing the Chatcolet Bridge, we climbed through a pine forest until we reached the top of the mountain at 13 miles, then we turned around.





It was a beautiful ride, all paved and we really do enjoy riding in 14% humidity!  We're not in Virginia anymore!




Tuesday

It was an easy drive to Prosser, WA today. We’re in wine country so we did a wine tasting at Alexander Nicole; the 2011 Washington Winery of the year.  Their wines were really good!

We drove out into the country to find Bill’s Berry Stand, a real bust! But along the way we saw grapes growing to the horizon, orchards everywhere, and acres upon acres of hop fields!  We’re in a very dry area so all of the crops are irrigated!

Wednesday 

We rode the Sacagawea Trail Loop today, twenty miles starting in Richland.  It is a beautiful setting as the route hugs both sides of the Columbia River. The only problem was the signage.  It was the worst of any trail we have ridden. We were constantly trying to determine if we were on the trail after every unmarked intersection or bridge crossing!


Note the haze from the wild fire smoke.

After cleaning up and washing the car and clothes, we headed to 14 Hands Winery for a tasting.  We like their red blends and the tasting was a treat, since all the wines were reserve ones only sold at the winery or via their wine club.




Thursday

We drove in the haze through the Yakima valley and the rugged landscape to the north on our way to Seattle.  We got settled in our campground, then Greg came and picked us up.  We went on a walk in Bothell, picked up dinner and went back to eat at the camper.  Looking forward to spending a few days with you Greg!

Friday 

Today we went to the botanical gardens at the University of Washington including the Japanese Garden.



After lunch at Belle Epicurean we drove around some of the posh neighborhoods bordering Lake Washington before heading to Kubota Gardens. The 20 acre gardens were developed by a Japanese immigrant and eventually acquired by the city for a public park!



After Gretchen and Greg got their steps for the day, we headed back to his apartment for happy hour. We were glad Greg gave up drinking for he had an excellent bottle of wine on the shelf which we loved!   



Dinner at The Cottage in Bothell ended our day; a fun day exploring many new ( for Gretchen and me) parts of Seattle!

Saturday 



We drove downtown and went to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and tasted one of the flights of special blends. The coffee was great and the store was very cool!



Next stop was Pikes Place Market for lunch at Uli’s Famous Sausage...very good!

The Seattle Sculpture Garden was on our agenda but part of it was closed due to the Hemp Festival.  We probably would have been better off going to the festival since the sculptures in the garden were few.



On the way back to the car Greg showed us the building where he had his massage practice for ten years!  Then we headed to Ballard to see the locks.  



We ended the day with a fine dinner at Rays  on the sound and a drive along the shore back to Greg’s apartment. 

Sunday



On our way to Snoqualmie Falls, Greg took us to North Bend to see the Twin Peaks Diner....and we decided to eat lunch there since it was crowded...and that was a great choice.  When we get home we’ll have to watch a few episodes of the show to jog our memories!



Snoqualmie Falls is beautiful, but the great news is that Greg could hike the steep trail to the bottom and back up with no ill effects.  You see after his heart episode two years ago he started walking, 10,000 plus steps a day plus at least 500 every waking hour! Great job Greg!



After our hike we headed to Chateau Ste Michelle for some wine tasting.  It is a hopping place on a Sunday afternoon. 





Back in Bothell we ended the day with a Thai dinner before saying our good byes. Greg, we so appreciate you driving us all around Seattle...showing us the neighborhoods and relating your experiences in them.  Our time with you was a real treat! Thanks so much.

Monday

Long drive to Kelowna (BC) with many climbs over steep mountain passes! 

Tuesday

So, since we can’t count days, we have an extra day in Kelowna! The campground was able to accommodate us and we were able to ride a great rail trail we thought we’d have to miss!  It’s cycling karma!



The Kettle Valley Railroad was constructed in 1910 to carry ore from copper and silver mines in the region and produce from the Okanagan Valley directly to Vancouver.  The seven miles we rode in Myra Canyon has 18 trestles and 2 tunnels.



The largest trestle shown below  is 726’ long and 180’ high!



We loved the trail and were so glad the smoke from the wild fires did not affect our breathing!

One note, Kelowna is not the quaint resort town we expected.  It is a sprawling, traffic snarled, urban mess in dire need of a good city planner!

Wednesday 

The drive from Kelowna was not what we expected, that is to climb over mountain passes. Rather, we drove along a gorgeous valley through lake country, an agricultural area and steep mountains. We’re pretty sure we rode the Canadian National Railroad through this area on our trip from Vancouver to Montreal in the 70s.  It was a moonlit night and the mountains were spectacular!

Once in Revelstoke, we set up camp, checked the TI Office, walked around town and found two bakeries!  Then we headed upriver to the dam on the Columbia River.



The dam creates Lake Revelstoke, a very pristine lake with no development other than a state park. The hydroelectric dam is 574 feet tall and produces enough power for half a million homes!

Revelstoke has free concerts in the town square...every evening...in the summer.  The folk duo playing tonight was very good. We enjoyed listening for an hour!

Thursday 

We drove the Meadows in the Sky Parkway in Revelstoke NP. It is a 16 mile, 5249’ climb to the summit.  Bicycle riders can have a go at the mountain for free!  We saw one guy nearing the top, looking like he could ride the Tour de France.



The haze from the wild fires blocked out all the mountain vistas.  But the meadows at the top were pretty!



We drove east to the Rogers Pass Discovery Center which marks the spot where the Canadian Pacific Railway line sliced through the Selkirk Mountains in 1885 and connected a nation from coast-to-coast. The pass is a mess with road construction, workers and large machines everywhere.  It served as a great reminder of the work that had to be done by lots of men with little machines in 1885 to build the railroad through these mountains!

Notes
1. Revelstoke is a neat town and we would definitely stop here again if we’re in the region.
2. We stopped in Revelstoke because my roommate in college died here. He was 49 years old; a very successful city planner who lost it all...family, home and business to drugs and alcohol.  How sad is that?

Friday 

It was an easy drive from Revelstoke to Banff.  We were set up in the campground with time to walk around the downtown, get information at the visitors center and shop for groceries before dinner.

Saturday

Daily Quiz

Which hotel are the Morgan’s staying in tonight: A or B?






First thing we did today was searching for a bicycle trail which took us directly through the Banff Springs Hotel property. Adjacent to the hotel is the Bow River Falls. The view of the mountains looking down river from the falls is wonderful!



The Bow River as it flows through Banff is really turquoise.



We drove the Lake Minnewanka Loop and found the “Red Chair” view point designated by the National Park.  This one was only a short stroll from the parking lot!  The smokey haze is worse today.



This afternoon we went to Johnston Canyon and hiked the trail to the Lower and Upper Falls.  It was spectacular!




Lower Falls


Upper Falls

On the way down from the Upper Falls, we smelled cotton candy.  It was from a guy vaping in front of us.  Let me paraphrase Iago and say...he who vapes in the wilderness is a lost soul!

Sunday

We rode the Banff Legacy Trail today from Cascade Ponds in Banff to Canmore and back.



The trail was built in 2010 to honor the 125th anniversary of the National Park.



Although the trail is next to the Trans-Canadian Highway, you don’t mind the cars because the scenery is so gorgeous!





Monday

It rained last night and we awoke to snow clad mountains all around the campground. It was 40 F this morning but the heater in the trailer is great!




We drove the Icefields Parkway today to Jasper. The scenery is stunning: mountains rising thousands of feet on each side of the highway, turquoise rivers and lakes, icefields spawning glaciers in mountain cirques, cascading waterfalls and knife edged peaks pointing to the heavens!



The Athabasca Glacier and several other glaciers fall from the Columbia Icefield which is the largest in the Canadian Rockies. You really can’t see the icefield since it is a vast area on top of the mountain behind the glaciers.



Athabasca Falls is a short walk off the highway and very pretty.  Note the red in the photo in the tree line at the base of the mountain.  It is all dead trees. The Mountain Pine Beetle has killed millions of trees in Jasper NP. Stopping its carnage has become a major endeavor for the Park Service.

Tuesday 



We went to Lake Louise today. ✔️

Wednesday 

Yoho NP was our destination today. Our first stop was the Spiral Tunnels view point. The tunnels were completed in 1909 to get trains safely over the very steep Kicking Horse Pass. We could see trains leaving the tunnels but could not get in our mind’s eye how they were traveling over the pass. Luckily, the NP Information center had a model.  The huge spirals are inside the mountain!

The information center is in Field, a hamlet of 200 people.  We cannot imagine spending the winter here!



At Emerald Lake we had a “back to nature” stroll around this beautiful glacier lake.  Halfway around we realized you don’t have to unplug your electronic devices...the mountains do it for you!

Driving up the Yoho Valley Road, we encountered the steepest, sharpest switchbacks we have ever seen on a highway!  Our destination was Takakkaw Falls (Cree for “It is magnificent “) and it is, dropping 833 feet from the brink!



We have toured the parks in this region for six days now but we have not see one animal other than a squirrel! But on our way back to our campground on Tunnel Mountain, we saw a herd of elk with a large bull!



Thursday

We toured the Cave and Basin Historical Site in Banff this morning.  It was the spot, a hot spring, where the first Canadian National Park, Banff was designated in1885.   



The Interpretive center was really nice with art shows, movies and hiking paths. We did the Marsh Walk...and saw more elk!

Next stop was the Cascade Gardens which surround the Banff NP headquarters.



The garden is at the end of Banff Avenue!



We concluded the day with a drive up Sulfur Mt to the gondola, then the Banff Springs Golf Course Drive, and finally a walk around the town before we head east tomorrow.

We loved Banff and we were awed by the mountain scenery in all the national parks we visited.  

Friday

We left Banff  and the mountains behind by the time we got to Calgary on our way to Medicine Hat.  Did you know that Medicine Hat has the most sunny days of any Canadian  City, more bike trails per capita than any other Canadian city and it owns natural gas wells? Our campground neighbor told us those were the three things we needed to know about his fair city!

Saturday 

Due to the Canadian Labor Day holiday, we could not get a campsite with full hookups in Regina. So, we decided to head south to Montana.  On our drive from the Trans Canadian Highway to the border crossing at Wild Horse, about half of the sixty miles had no telephone towers, no electric lines, no houses or other signs of man except the road. We imagined the road disappeared, cattle were bison and we were on horseback riding through the prairie as it appeared circa 1800!

Sunday

On our drive across Montana and North Dakota we saw a thousand wheat fields, hundreds of oil wells and miles of rolling prairie before we arrived at the International Peace Garden in Dunseith.



Straddling the 49th Parallel, the Park is its own entity with half in Canada and half in the USA. 

Monday

The Peace Garden was dedicated on July 14, 1932 with a Cairn, which states, “To God in his Glory we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live we will not take up arms against one another.”  It is a beautiful place with gardens, facilities for a summer music camp (2200 high school students from Canada and USA) and an athletic camp (1200 high school students), a campground, lakes and 13.5 miles of roads that we clocked on our bike computers. At the far end of the photo below is the Peace Chapel.  Inside the walls are etched with quotes promoting peace from leaders around the world...very impressive!



The Promise of Peace sculpture (Arthur Norby) is in the foreground above and the Floral Clock is in photo below.



In the Interpretive Center, there are two greenhouses filled with cati, hundreds of varieties!






The Morgan’s at peace in the Garden!



So how connected are you in the Garden? The answer is in the photo below!



The International Peace Garden is a beautiful, wonderful spot in the middle of nowhere. But if you are anywhere in the region, we would encourage you to visit!



Wee’l Turtle sculpture in Dunseith, ND. Yep, old wheel rims live on!


Wednesday

We arrived in Richmond, MN, last night in time to set up camp and relax.  Today we’re riding the Lake Wobegon Trail.  How could a cyclist listen to NPR and not stop to ride?

We started in Avon and rode to Holdingford, the hamlet Garrison Keillor said inspired his Lake Wobegon tales.



Entering Holdingford, the trail goes through the longest covered bridge in Minnesota!



When we returned to Avon, the odometers clocked 36 miles and Gretchen insisted on riding 40 miles like she did in Qu├ębec last year. So we did bringing our total mileage for the trip to 211 miles!

Thursday 

We drove through beautiful farmlands avoiding the interstates to Rochester. We dropped the trailer at a campground and arrived at the Bolton’s by late afternoon. We had a delightful evening catching up with Liz before retiring for the night.

Friday

Jeff came back from his trip in the morning and in the afternoon we headed to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona. What a surprise! The small museum has masterpieces by Turner, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cassatt, Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, O'Keeffe, Homer, Wyeth, in addition to several rotating shows.  It is a delightful spot!



Our next stop was the bluffs above the town for a view of the Mississippi River.



Saturday



It was a Minnesota morning by the fire before beginning our day!  



In the afternoon, we toured Assisi Heights ...a private residence, home to the Sisters of Saint Francis. The Sisters founded Saint Mary’s Hospital where the Mayo brothers practiced in the late 1800s...the beginning of today's Mayo Clinic! The tour was delightful, mainly due to the elderly Sister Margaret who served as our guide.







This guy shows up even for Pitt/Penn State games!

Sunday

We met the owner of the Austin (MN) Rydjor Bike Shop in Custer, (SD)! He encouraged us to visit the shop because it is a bike museum.  So we decided to head to Austin today because in addition to the bike museum, we could also visit the SPAM Museum!




The SPAM Museum is a cool museum that relates a lot of the history and information about the product in a colorful way!



However, the best thing about our visit was Liz and Gretchen got to taste Spam for the very first time!



Monday

We stayed an extra day in Rochester because Jeff invited us to go to the premiere of the Ken Burns documentary, The Mayo Clinic: Faith-Hope-Science.  What an evening...interviews with the film makers, dedication of a history exhibit honoring the Mayo Brothers, a VIP reception, the premiere and a drone show.  We got to meet many of Jeff's colleagues and got to see Jeff working the crowd! The film is excellent, outlining the history of the Mayo Clinic and the factors that make the hospital system so successful.  


Film makers Chris and Erik Ewers, with PBS interviewers, Burns and Mayo  CEO Dr. John Noseworthy

We had a wonderful visit with the Boltons, seeing many spots in the area through their eyes, getting to see Lisa, enjoying great wine and food thanks to Chef Liz and Grill Master Jeff, and experiencing a superb Mayo evening!  Loved being with you two and we think we made some great memories!

Tuesday



We left for home and after two long days on the road we arrived safely in Lynchburg.  It was a great trip, 8095 miles driven, great bike rides, many new spots visited, and fun family times!  Driving across the country also refreshed our memory of how vast the USA is, and how different the midwest agricultural region and the west mountain region is from the east coast.