Busam's 2006 Fall Vacation
Car Trip to Pacific Northwest

Our first vacation after retirement!   We had been looking forward to taking vacations sometime other than during the crowded summer months.  We did manage a fall trip to New Zealand a few years ago but that vacation was during New Zealand’s high season.

The side story to this vacation is technology: GPS, Skype, and Internet access.  We took our cell phones with us but Virgin Mobile didn't have service in Canada, Montana, or Yellowstone so we were without cell phones for more than one week.

 A week before we left we bought a TomTom One GPS for our car.  Around town we found it interesting but not really useful.  By the end of the first day of the vacation, we were happy to have it with us.  There were times in the mountains that it couldn’t figure out our position, but in general it kept amazing us with what it did.

We took a laptop with us.  While we did stay at places that did not have wireless Internet (or for that matter any Internet) available, we were surprised at how many motels included wireless Internet.  When we did have Internet connectivity, we were able to use Skype for “free” calls to the US and Canada.  This allowed us to check phone messages at home and make calls for motel reservations for the next night.  Very neat.  The downside was that were never really out of touch with home.  But since we’re retired it didn’t seem to matter like it did when we were trying to get away from work.

Our vacation was open ended.  We got in our car and started driving north.  We pretty much knew what we wanted to do on our way to Canada and that we would then cross the Canadian Rockies through Banff.  After that we had several possible scenarios and planned to just “go with the flow.” 

So here is a summary of our odyssey.  (Click on any of the pictures below to see it in full size; you may need to click your browser's back button to return to this page.  In Internet Explorer, hover cursor over picture to see brief description.)

Wed., Sept. 13 - Left Los Gatos, stopped in Dunsmuir to view two small waterfalls, (Hedge Creek and Mossbrae) stayed in Medford, had dinner in Jacksonville at the Bella Union (outdoors in the Wisteria garden), and visited with the Frutcheys.  On the way we used the GPS to guide us to the In-and-Out Burger in Redding.  In Dunsmuir we used the GPS to find the two waterfalls, although it misled us on one of the falls since the falls were behind a chain link fence and we had to use an alternate entry point.  In Medford, we used the GPS to both get us to Jackson for dinner and to the Frutchey’s house.  By the end of the day we were impressed with its capabilities.
Hedge Creek Falls (361686 bytes)
  Hedge Creek Falls (743537 bytes)  Hedge Creek Falls (634242 bytes)  Mossbrae Falls (705397 bytes)

Thu., Sept. 14 - Hike off of Rogue River.  We stopped at the Forest Service for advice and decided to hike to Raine Falls from Grave Creek.  We saw fish jumping at Raine Falls. Turns out it was the same section of the Rogue that we had rafted several years ago.  Then drove to Salem, evening with Tony and Debi. Dinner at their house.
Raine Falls (443866 bytes)
  Rogue River  (376886 bytes)

Fri., Sept 15 - Drove to Poulsbo, WA to visit Dick and Marian Lord (former neighbors), then on to stay with David and Jeanette Lord on Marrowstone Island.  Dinner at their place.

Sat., Sept. 16 - Stayed on Marrowstone.  Took morning walk where we met a neighbor who took us onto the beach and showed us the end of a Mammoth tusk that is buried in the cliff.  Gorgeous walk along the bay, where we saw a seagull harass an eagle in flight! Went to Port Townsend for a day visit.  Bought lunch at Safeway and ate by the water.  We borrowed David and Jeannette's bikes for a ride in the afternoon.  Dinner at Scampi's - great fish and chips and fish tacos!  Stayed at Lord's place again.  Jennifer loved the Marrowstone area and could easily live there.
.Marrowstone (325734 bytes)  Marrowstone (368508 bytes)

Sun., Sept. 17 - Drove to San Juan Island via two ferries.  First went to Port Townsend, ferry to Whidbey Island, (took a gorgeous walk by Deception Point - lots of moss and shoreline views) drove to northern tip and then another ferry to San Juan Island arriving at Friday Harbor.  Another drive to Roche Harbor.  Hotel de Haro is over 100 years old and has never been renovated.  The floors are uneven, bathroom down the hall, no TV, no free Internet. Jennifer loved it!  Everything in this very, very small town is owned by one company.
Port Townsend Ferry (217254 bytes)
  Port Townsend Ferry (343562 bytes)  Deception Point walk (812592 bytes)  Hotel de Haro (423430 bytes)  Roche Harbor (414192 bytes)  Roche Harbor (282364 bytes)

Mon. Sept. 18 - Took walk around resort in AM, including an overview of Wescott Bay Sculpture Park.  Went on a kayak trip in PM.  Dinner in Friday Harbor.  
Sculpture Park (576365 bytes)
   Sculpture Park (540286 bytes)

Tues. Sept. 19 - Spent more time in the sculpture garden.  Well worth the time; what a great idea.  Drove around west side of island to the British Camp and American Camps, finding out a lot about the "Pig War" between Britian and the U.S.  (If only all wars were that civil!).  Then on to Friday Harbor to catch the Anacortes Ferry to get back to mainland.  Had dinner with John and Berdi (Jennifer's college roommate) in Bellingham and stayed with them.  When Berdi suggested having dinner at the Cliffhouse Restaurant, Jennifer found it was listed in the GPS and so we didn't need to get directions.
Anacortes Ferry (237052 bytes)
  Anacortes Ferry (278594 bytes)

Wed., Sept. 20 - First day of real rain and even then not very heavy.  Took a short nature trail (Birch Bay Park) and walked along beach in AM in light rain.  Had a relaxing afternoon before dinner in Ferndale with John and Berdi again.

Thu., Sept. 21 - Headed into Canada and ended up in Revelstoke.  Took Canada's Hwy 1 all the way.  We might not have missed much scenery if we had taken Hwy. 5 as a shortcut.

Fri., Sept. 22 - Passed through Canada's Glacier National Park on way to Golden, where we spent the night.  Took a hike (about 2.7 mi, but steep up/down) to Marion Lake by Rogers Pass in the Park.
Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk (599934 bytes)
  Roger's Pass (358232 bytes)  Marion Lake (500934 bytes)  Marion Lake (382274 bytes)  Flora (650628 bytes)

Sat., Sept. 23 - Headed east into Yoho National Park for the day.  Saw a couple of good waterfalls including a short walk into one of them.  Jennifer walked around Emerald Lake.  Back to Golden for the night.
.Takakkaw Falls (651727 bytes)  Emerald Lake (386298 bytes)

Sun., Sept. 24 - On way east from Golden, we saw a train enter and leave a spiral tunnel - great timing!  Drove to Lake Louise visitor center and then up to Jasper.  Stayed in Jasper National Park at the Pyramid Lake Lodge (good find, although no internet at the Lodge).
Train in spiral tunnel (535096 bytes)

Mon., Sept. 25 - Took a morning hike (circular trail, about 5 mi, quite level) to Five Lakes valley, just south of the town of Jasper.  Spend afternoon in town of Jasper.  Jasper is a nice little town that while catering to tourists; doesn't seem like a tourist trap.  Stayed at Pyramid Lake Lodge again. (Note the elk among the birch below.)
Crow's Foot Glacier (437471 bytes)
  Hwy. 93 (473090 bytes)  Horizontal strata (310076 bytes)  Mountain Goat (551558 bytes)  Sumpataw Falls (659998 bytes)  Sumpawta Falls (662289 bytes)

Parker Ridge (220554 bytes)  Parker Ridge (275664 bytes)  Athabasca Falls (313450 bytes)  Elk (397342 bytes)

Tues., Sept. 26 - Drove south back into Banff National Park taking a hike (3.3 mi round trip) to Parker Ridge on the way south, and a hike (4.2 mi round trip) to Lake Agnes out of Lake Louise.  Stayed in Banff at the Swiss Village (acceptable, but certainly not our best accommodations).
Lake Louise (435236 bytes)
  Lake Agnes (440998 bytes)  Lake Agnes Teahouse (425757 bytes)  

Wed.., Sept. 27 - Spent morning finding a doctor for Vince to see.  Just before lunch Jennifer took a short hike to Stewart Canyon.  Then we drove to St. Mary on the east side of the U.S.'s Glacier National Park getting there late but in enough time for dinner.  Stated at The Resort At Glacier (good selection of rooms and decent restaurant, but minimal TV, no internet)
Lake Minniwanka (318606 bytes)

Thurs., Sept. 28 - Found out that the road across Glacier National Part is shutdown in the middle for maintenance.  We spent the day viewing spots on the west side of glacier and driving the Going-to-the-Sun road as far west as we could.  We also drove in to Many Glacier.   Then we drove around the south side of the part to get to the West Glacier where we spent the night, some TV no internet.

Fri.., Sept. 29 - Spent the day on the west side of Glacier.  Jennifer took two hikes, Hidden Lake Overlook and Avalanche Lake,  and Vince went on Trail of the Cedars nature trail.  Stayed same place as last night.
By Logan's Pass (358674 bytes)
  Mountain Goats (538742 bytes)  Avalanche Lake (360884 bytes)

Sat., Sept. 30 - Spent the day driving to near Butte, MT.  Stopped in Missoula to get internet access.  Spent night in Belgrade, MT.  Good TV and internet access!

Sun., Oct. 1 - At Yellowstone National Park, did top part of figure 8 road pattern.  Saw a Pronghorn sheep at the entrance and a bunch of elk at Mammoth Visitor Center  Jennifer did a walk on the south rim of the Yellowstone Canyon.  We saw a number of bison and elk around dusk.  Stayed in West Yellowstone (no internet at our motel).  Jennifer saw part of a black bear in the brush.  
Mammoth Springs (382998 bytes)
  Mountain Goats (365510 bytes)  Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (565982 bytes)  Lower Yellowstone Falls (516415 bytes)Uncle Tom's Trail (710399 bytes)  Lower Yellowstone Falls (417896 bytes)  Elk (415654 bytes)

Mon., Oct 2 - Did lower part of figure 8 road pattern.  We saw a grizzly in the open.  Started raining in afternoon getting quite heavy by late afternoon.  Saw Old Faithful go off in a heavy drizzle (or perhaps even a light rain).  Stayed night in West Yellowstone again.
Gibbon Falls (456786 bytes)
    Bison (425116 bytes)

Tues., Oct 3 - Spent the day driving to Salt Lake City to visit with the Petersens.

Wed., Oct 4 - Lazy day just hanging out at the Petersen's place.

Thurs., Oct 5 - Drove all the way home.  The following rough map of our route shows we covered about 3800 miles but the car's trip odometer recorded 4575 miles (ignore the yellow squares with numbers).  For our last five tanks of gas we got 32.16 mpg in our 2004 Toyota Camry SE, 4 cyl., manual shift.