The Big Bend in the Road

Mt. Rainier does not exist under our feet. Mt. Rainier lives in our minds”
― Bruce Barcotti

One cannot go much further West than Washington, unless an ocean going vessel is involved. With mixed emotions, we began to make the big, U-turn that would take us back to the east coast. We, will, of course, be happy to reunite with our family and friends at the end of the journey but it is hard to leave so much beauty behind. We will just have to carry the experiences in our hearts and know that parts of our souls will remain with the landscape that we left behind.

My husband was quite ambitious regarding miles we could travel in between stops during our return voyage. Granted, at the time he made the plans, we had a deadline to meet if we hoped to meet our friends for a stop at Bob’s Lake, Canada, in late July. It turns out that, due to Covid-19, and the border closure, we would not be winding up in Ontario and the rush home was for naught. The groundwork, however, had been laid, and reservations made, so we began our overly-ambitious marathon back to Maryland.

Our 1st, and only stop in the stunning state of Oregon was at the Wildhorse Resort and Casino. Because I am a nature lover, my preference is always to stay at state or national parks, but this place gets a thumbs-up. The sites are large and level, and there are ample grounds for dog-walking or just taking a stroll. It is an easy amble to the casino from the RV park, and for the slothful amongst us, there is a courtesy van that will deliver campers to the door of this gambler’s utopia. There are plenty of slots and table games, and the air is not heavy-laden with cigarette smoke. Definitely a more than acceptable alternative for a quick stop (or a longer stop if luck is a lady…)

I hate traffic and generally deplore the part of the journey that is spent on the highway. However, it is not congested in this part of the world, and believe it or not, I actually enjoyed the drive! Route 84 is indescribable in its splendor as it winds its way through the Columbia River Gorge, The Hood River Valley, The Dalles, The Umatilla National Forest, etc. There were a few curvy, steep, twists and turns that caused me to grip the steering wheel for dear life and I may have said a bad word or two, but we managed to get to Idaho without diving off of a cliff.

When I think of Idaho, I think of Potatoes and cults. I do not think of The Oregon Trail, or The Snake River Valley, or arid desert land. After staying at Massacre Rocks State Park, I will never again think of Idaho as simply the spud-capital of the world.

Although this park is situated just parallel to I-86, you feel as if you have entered a different world than the one that you left on the highway. The hiking trails are entwined throughout the grounds, and lead to the Old Oregon Trail. The Snake River runs through the park, and numerous white pelicans soar along the estuary. The ground is dry and covered with fine basalt dust.

“The trails held a million places for those beady-eyed death noodles to hide.”
― Shaun David Hutchinson

The Grizzlies did not stop us in Montana and the Rattlesnakes did not stop us in Idaho.

When you’re stupid you have to be tough.

Oh! give me a home where the Buffalo roam,

Where the Deer and the Antelope play;

Dr. Brewster M. Higley

After leaving Idaho, we headed to Lander, Wyoming. I was almost hit by an antelope. There’s a statement that I never thought I would utter.

If you’ve never been to southwest Wyoming, you have no legitimate claim to having been “in the middle of nowhere.” There is limitless, free-range land as far as the eye can see. signs say things like: Caution. Cows on the Road, and Grouse Crossing, and Antelope Enter Road at 55 mph. The antelope that nearly crossed in front of me had slowed down to a respectable 35 mph, and thankfully, ran a quick, slant route, and avoided colliding with Big Bertha.

Sadly, amidst all of the magnificence of The Shoshone National Forest, we found ourselves in yet, another roadside RV rest stop, for a one-night stay. Maybe I’m just getting used to these stop-overs, but Sleeping Bear RV Park is really, kind of cute, and has a pathway that enables you to walk into downtown (?) Lander. The management is friendly and the park is clean. There is a small stream on the property and there are overlooks that enable you to see mountains on the horizon.

Tomorrow: Custer, SD… SO MANY MORE MILES. <sigh>

Next adventure will have fewer miles and longer stays. I am weary.

Stay tuned…

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