Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Wild West

Our coffee and eggs were served with a heap of Western culture today in Burns, Or. Our hostess (her first day on the job) rubbed her arms and shared that she was sore from "bucking up hay bales" with her mom the day before. (Translation: She was hurling hay bales into the back of a pick-up truck). Then, our waitress nodded toward a female biker and said, "I prefer my transportation with four hooves." Lots of horses and hay in Oregon. And then there's the shoe tree.

PHOTO: Oregon's shoe tree sprouts mostly sneakers and a few flip-flops. Discarded socks lounge nearby. The little girl belongs to a local who has watched the tree sprout since last year.

The tree is along a dramatic stretch of Route 20 (between mile markers 206 and 207) and draws lots of locals, who, like most people familiar with this phenomenon, know nothing about who is doing it or why. It's just fun. (

PHOTO: The Boise capitol building rises inside a busy downtown.

Once in Idaho, we stopped in Boise to give our doggies a needed break from riding in Otto. We couldn't find a promised dog park on a military reserve-turned-recreation park.

PHOTO: Jacob inside a Civil War cemetery in Boise.

Instead, we visited a Civil War cemetery, where the guys tried to run around, but were waylaid by the 92-degree temperature.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Versatile Oregon

PHOTO: Granddaughter Choe enjoys the Pacific Ocean at Seaside, Or.,,OR,USA&sa=X&oi=map&ct=title, where she and her family own a beach house. I'm the walker in red with my poodles.

Seaside, Ore., ( treats Pacific Northwesterners to "their" day at the beach -- a bit rainy, always a chill and then, a bit rainy and windy. In late June, it was 59 degrees, windy and sprinkling, yet teens in bikins and sleeveless Ts romped through the sand and laughed without exposing a single goose bump.

PHOTO: Mount Mazama ( exploded, then collapsed more than 7,000 years ago, creating a caldera for what is today Crater Lake, Oregon's only National Park.

At Crater Lake (, we camped with the bears inside the national park (we didn't see bear, but we saw clumps and clumps of bear hair, scratched out, I imagine, after they awoke from their winter hibernation).

After spending two days in the wilds, we weren't up to Interstate driving, so we aimed East on Route 97 and found Bend, Or., (,+OR,+USA&sa=X&oi=map&ct=title) and its magnificent Big Sky Park dog park (three fenced acres of sage brush, pumice dust, lava rocks and big dogs -- St. Bernards, Great Danes, Labs and my guys). A BIG sign warns of rattlesnakes! We played anyway, all the while listening for rattles and watching to see if the curled sticks moved.

Bend is on U.S. Route 20, which snakes through Oregon's high desert ( midsection. Dusty towns along the historic highway cling to life covered in grit and sagebrush. Brothers was home to Klondike Kate ( and very few others. Those who did try to homestead there left after about five years, tired of battling droughts, short growing seasons, lack of topsoil and no lack of jackrabbits. Just imagine millions of desolate acres ...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Just passing through

Our Navion RV survived the Montana Rockies (above, with a smidgeon of Idaho in the picture, too) with aplomb! Not even a huff or a puff!

Interstate 90, our direct route to Seattle, is tedious in the Midwest. Exits provide a homogeneous blend of strip malls (with eye-rolling names like Black Hills Plaza and Mt. Rushmore Mall) and fast-food joints.

Once we crossed into Wyoming and Montana, that changed.

Many I-90 exits spilled us into yesterday, where dowtowns shared space with horse corrals and cowboys. These were no tourist traps. In fact, exit signs warned "no services." How delightful.

We're boondocking tonight in Post Falls, Idaho, in a WalMart lot with lots of other RVs.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Boondocking at the Wall

At about 2 a.m., we boondocked in the back parking lot of Wall Drug, a honky-tonk tourist stop just east of Rapid City, SD. Most people just pass it by, but the lure of free camping was too great for us.

In the morning, we walked the dogs past Black Hills Gold souvenir shops and ate an $8 breakfast buffet (horrible 5-cent coffee).

It's our fourth day out; what an amazing journey. The wide-open land gently rolls in places and is wrinkled in others like dirty laundry. Sage brush and cattle intermingle. We see waterspouts, craggy trees, endless horizons.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Head 'em up!

In four days, hubby Allen, and I will begin the first leg of our five-week journey out West, to Seattle. We'll have two big poodles in tow -- Joshua and Jacob.

Otto is one-fourth packed. MAN! You have to take lotsa stuff ( when you travel by motor home. Who knew we have to take nails??