Flat Dad: Recap Part 1, the stats

Let’s start with the statistics before we get to the meat of the trip, shall we? I could give you some juicy ones, like the number of days without a shower, but If I figure that would just gross you out.  So rather than give you something that may make you squeamish, here are some fun stats instead.

Days on the road: 33

Hottest Day: Washington State (eastern) 106F

Coldest Day (without windchill): Oregon (central) 38F

Coldest Day (with windchill): Glacier 15F

Highest Elevation: Pikes Peak, CO 14,115

Lowest Elevation: Under sea level Hug Point, OR (tide pooling on the “Super Moon”)

National Parks: 5

National Monuments: 2

National Forest: 19

State Parks: 12

Miles covered: 7762

States: 19

Time Zones: 3

Nights camping: 21

Nights slept in the car: 2 (not in a row)

Nights in a hotel: 4 (not in a row)

Nights in the home of a friend: 5 (not in a row, spread across 3 states)

Ok, ok, you read this far:  Most days in a row without a shower: 7

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Two Turtles

As I came back into camp at Diamond Lake I saw a girl setting up her tent in the space next to me.  Based on her set up I was guessing she was a Pacific Crest Trail hiker. I could tell that she was hurting and most likely dehydrated.  When she asked where the registration kiosk was I knew that if I asked her to take one single more step she would cry and/or collapse.  When I told her that the space she was setting up in was a reserved space, but I offered to share my super large site with her she seemed relieved.   As she gathered her stuff up I asked if she wanted dinner.  Of course she said yes! 

Over and after dinner we exchanged stories.  Molly is a super cool girl, who like myself, was doing something that many people think that she is crazy to do.  I told her that we were two turtles just different sized shells.  Both are mentally taxing.  Both are spiritually taxing.  All are about perspective.  She laughed and said I was right.

As we spoke, she took her shoes off and I had a peek at her feet.  They were a wreck . Having packed enough “people meds” for “just in case”  I fished through the box looking for the right combo of goop and wraps to fix her feet. Now, I have some odd things in my “people meds” box.  I have antibiotic cream that farmers use on cow udders and vet wrap among the cacophony of other meds.  When I told her that the udder cream works wonders she was doubious, but desperate. She gooped and wrapped her feet and casually mentioned that the next time she did something like this she would wear higher socks. 

“What do you mean?” I asked.  She said that her socks only went up a little past her ankles.  I went to the car and rummaged through my cold weather bag and found my biggest pair of SmartWool socks I had.  I handed them across the table to her.

“Are you sure?” 

“Absolutely, I can’t have you banged up.  Besides, they are wool they will stretch.”  I said as she started to gently pass them over her bandages.  “See, told you!” I said with a big grin on my face as they slid onto her feet perfectly.  She seemed stunned that someone was completely willing to give her, a stranger, socks.  Let alone, kind of expensive socks.

“This is amazing, thank you.” I shrugged.  I didn’t think it was that amazing.  I saw someone in need it is what my Dad would have done.  

In the morning I made Glutino gluten free pancakes, which were awesome, and coffee while she unwrapped her feet. 

“Wow, that is magic cream!” she declared.  I grabbed a plastic baggie put the tub in it and handed it to her.  She started to protest.  I looked her her with the “just take it” face.  I iterated she had holes in her feet and hundreds of miles in front of her.  I had multiple states and lots of feed stores I could stop at to get more.  I won the argument.

As we progressed through breakfast I discovered she had no gloves.  My jaw went slack.  What do you mean you have no gloves?!   Well, her ex-boyfriend talked into dumping them at Mazama Campground.  I pointed out that she still had to do Three Sisters.  She sheepishly admitted that that was a dumb decision.  I went to the car and pulled out my favorite pair of pink and orange gloves. 

“Here, take these.” I said practically shoving them in her face.  “The only thing I ask is that you mail them back to me when you are done.  They are my favorites.”  This time she took them without protest. 

My heart went out to this girl.  She was prepared and some dumb boy influenced her to make a stupid decision.  I was glad that he was the ex boyfriend whoever he was.  After breakfast, I drove her the 3 miles to the trailhead.  We piled out of the car.  I was sad to see her go.  As she walked down the trail I said a silent prayer for her safety.  As I went south and she went north I haven’t stopped wondering about Molly.  I hope that she is warm, hydrated, safe, and accomplishing everything she wanted to with her journey.  She deserves it.  Perry and PCT hiker

 

You, sir, are an ass

I will admit after nearly 3 weeks alone on the road I’m not inclined to be with, or around, people. I like being quiet. I don’t want to know your story, nor do I want to tell you mine. I just want to be quiet. I have found my zen.

If I had more balls I’d camp on Forest Service land away from people. I’d find a quiet piece of land and throw my tent up. Unfortunately, I’m not that brave when I’m alone and not packing any kind of self-defense. So, my routine is to pull into a campground, set up my tent, have dinner, and then hunker down in my tent. I will read my maps, play solitaire, or go to bed. Quiet. Easy. Zen. Tonight I’ve been pushed to my limit by the family next door.

Their kid is a jerk, but it’s not his fault. He has an ass for a Dad. I’ve been listening to him the scream at the Dad. Then Dad scream at the kid. Apple can’t get away from the tree. I’m not sure if the kid is a jerk because of the Dad or if the Dad is responding to the kids attitude. Either way it’s not healthy and more important, for me, it’s not peaceful NOR quiet.

The way I see it, camping should be fun. If it’s not for whatever reason, pack your shit up, go home, and try again another time. Look, crap happens, I get it. But, please, you sir and your devil spawn are being asses and are ruining my zen.

Oregon Coast: Part 2

Pacific OceanAs I moved south on the Oregon coast the sea started to become more angry and the sand gave way to cliffs.  101 started to seem more like Highway 1 in California; twisty.  I have discovered the secret to traveling along the coast; get up early and get on the road before the RVs do.  I try to be exceptionally respectful while I am on the road, but getting pushed off of it by an RV or worse, getting pushed out of a parking lot because of an RV got old quick.  So, Perry and I have taken to getting up and out early and it has made all of the difference in the world.

I must say, I am surprised the number of towns that are exactly the same; a bead shop, a knick nack shop, a candy shop, and a glass blower (because what town isn’t complete without a glass blower).  Town after town they all seemed to blend together.  Nothing about them really stood out.  Of the 200 miles of coastline I have driven I have stopped exactly twice.  Once was for Tillamook creamery (because who can’t live without cheese curd), and the other was for something completely Oregon unique (myrtlewood). Other than that, meh, take it or leave it. Not exactly what I am sure the Oregon economy wants to hear.

IMG_4149We’ve had a grand time exploring the difference beaches and seeing all of their different personalities.  Perry, has been having SUPER fun running in the waves and rubbing in the sand.  My poor “new” car.  I think that Dublin Dog needs to pair up with Subaru to make the “No Stink Car”. 

 

Oregon Coast: Part 1

I had been looking forward to the Oregon coast as MY part of the trip. Most everything else was being done for Dad. Considering I hadn’t spent any time on its coast, or the state itself I was super excited.

I came in on Sunday to Astoria. Which by the way is not only home to the Goonies house, but to an awesome Sunday market. I’ve been watching the new “old” posters of the National Parks coming out and the artist just happened to be there. I got 4 signed prints from him! I’m excited to get them home. Astoria has this wonderful laid back and friendly vibe to it. 20140716-153510-56110575.jpg

As I started down 101 I stopped at pretty much every beach I came to. Each had their own individual style and vibe. That said my favorite so far has been Hug Point.

20140716-153825-56305211.jpg I went there on Monday morning when the tide was exceptionally low. I walked for miles looking at the sea caves, tide pools, and this surprising waterfall.

I stayed my first night at Nehalem Bay. Talk about cushy digs for a tent camper. Every space has their own water and power. I was able to quickly charge my laptop without feeling like a criminal ‘borrowing’ power at the bathrooms. Which. Were. AWESOME.

My third night I stayed at Cape Lookout. Perry and I did the 5 mile round trip out to the Cape hoping for good weather. No, we got no view and dumped on with rain. Meh, win some loose some.

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20140716-154234-56554072.jpg At least we got our exercise in.

The Mountains: Rainier, Helens

Mount Rainier and flat dadMy Dad has wanted to climb Mount Rainier for as long as I can remember. Even before the internet my Dad would talk about Rainier like it was this mythical being.  He also would talk about Mount Saint Helens and what happened during the blast, the destruction to the environment, and to people’s lives.  I was driving up State Highway 12 from Sunnyside when I came around the corner and there she was in all her glory.  I do believe the phrase, holy crap, came out of my mouth.  Now after all of these years, I finally get what he was saying.  It is a gorgeous mountain.  Only one tiny little problem, it’s a volcano. 

I snagged a campsite at La Wis Wis on Forest Service land and used this as my base camp while I went and explored Rainier and St. Helens.  TOTALLY worth every single penny I paid for it. The drive up to Rainier was unremarkable (coming from the east side) right up until you came around a corner and then BAM! mountain.  first peak of rainierI was shellshocked.  As I drove up the mountain every time you could come around the corner it would get bigger and bigger and bigger.  Yeah, it was a very special place.  Too bad Perry and I couldn’t hike it.  It’s that whole NPS against dogs thing again.  Grumble.

After reaching Paradise, which is as far as we could travel, we got out pictures, sat and chatted with a lovely couple of PA, met a deer who was absolutely NOT afraid of Perry and returned to the campground to go swimming in the Blue Hole.

Now, if you want to know what swimming in 40 degree glacier waters feels like, just ask me.  After watching all of the kids jump off the rock, of course I had to do it too (fully clothed). 

They are lucky that that phrase was all that left my mouth. 

The next day we headed up to Mount Saint Helens.  I was super excited to see it considering the number of times I had heard about it as a child.  As we drove up I kept wondering where the mountain was, then I came around a corner and there it was.  Well, what is left of it.  I stopped at the first vista point and ran into a really lovely family who sold everything and is traveling the country as well as their local guide.  He was a super nice guy who had all sorts of interesting insights.  IMG_3943As we were on Forest Service land (yay!) Perry and I hiked down to Spirit Lake.  I was shocked at how much water was showing now vice the log cover from all the trees that were blown off the mountain.  Mother Nature does heal herself.  Perry and I had a grand time hiking down to the lake; even if the pumice flats were HOT! 

All in all, I know Dad will hate me for this, but I actually like Saint Helens more than I liked Rainier.  I was on the East side of St. Helens, which meant no visitor centers, no displays, no crowds, but more importantly you could see how nature is trying to heal itself for yourself. 

One word; gorgeous.

 

Eastern Washington: Yeah no so much

I left Montana headed for eastern Washington.  I wasn’t exactly sure what my plan was, but I knew that driving all the way to Mount Rainier area was out of the question for a single day drive.  As I drove through Idaho and into Washington the temperature shifted from a nice mountain cool to a holy-mother-of-all-things hot.  I was pretty sure I didn’t travel to Arizona, but that’s what it felt like. 

Eastern Washington, if you’ve never been there is a cross between Arizona desert and Kansas.  There are wheat fields as far as the eye can see, but with temperatures that cross in excess of 100 degrees.  What ever possessed anyone to say, “Gee this looks like a good place to stop to farm” is beyond me.  IMG_3842

I stopped for the night at Lewis and Clark Trail in Dayon, Washington.  To say that it scared the bejesus out of me is putting it mildly.  Not only was the park in scary shape, but the people staying at the park were rather scary too.  I didn’t sleep too well that evening.  I was up bright and early the next morning and headed for Palouse Falls.

Palouse Falls is gorgeous.  I wish I had camped there the night before, ah, lessons learned.  The falls themselves were magnificent. They are kind out out in the middle of no where, but it was totally worth the side trip.  20140710-065759-25079403.jpg

Note to the wise: Do not visit Walla Walla before 10am.  Nothing and I mean, nothing, is open before 10 am. Well, except for the Starbucks which I gratefully visited for the clean bathroom, free wifi, and my newest addition the blackberry tea. 

After spending a few hours in Walla Walla, I was incredibly lucky enough to get a chance to see two friends of mine in Sunnyside.  I scored a hotel room, something that I didn’t want to do, but there was no place to camp, and drove up to their family farm.  It was incredibly wonderful spending the evening with an amazing family, sharing a meal, and stories afterwards. 

If it weren’t for the visit with friends I could honestly say that Eastern Washington just isn’t my thing.  I know a brother who lives in the desert who would love it there.  To each their own.

Washington: Land of contrasts

20140710-065759-25079403.jpg20140710-065758-25078503.jpg This is not what most people picture when you say “Washington State”. Most people think of the coast, or Olympic National Park; lush and green. There is a whole other side to the state that actually looks more like Arizona. I’ve spent the last few days exploring this side of the state.

Let’s start with the heat. Holy bejesus it’s hot. Every day has been well over 100. Then at night it drops down into the 60s. A hard earned lesson when I froze my ass off camping the first night. Hey, in my defense when they grow corn and wheat it’s hard to remember this is technically a desert.

Then let’s talk about the strange contrasts. With all of the irrigation they are growing all sorts of crops that they probably couldn’t otherwise. Irony is being unable to eat wheat and being surrounded by wheat fields. The cows are grazed open range, like much of the west. Oh and should I mention I just missed cherry season, dammit.

While this side of Washington has been interesting I’m looking forward to getting to Mount Rainier.

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Getting our/my shit together

I “lost” my key in Glacier National Park today.  I use the quotes because eventually I found it, but not before a phone call to Subaru Roadside Assistance, a tow truck, and two new keys at the tune of $149 a piece.  Yeah, it’s been a rough day.  After tearing the camp apart and packing it up, oh and several nights of nightmares, I decided that reestablishing the camp was just not in my emotional wheelhouse.  We departed the part (with the found key) and headed for Kallispel. 

Springer sleeping

Perry is not amused

On our way to our very nice Holiday Inn Express we drove past a laundromat/car wash that just happened to be right next to a health food store.  SCORE!  We turned around at the next intersection and stopped in.  Clean underpants are not to be underrated, and after yesterday’s journey up to Kintla Lake; Glenda needed a bath, badly. 

As I scrubbed the dirt off of Glenda I started to feel lighter myself.  While the inside of the car is still a disaster, at least the outside looks a thousand times better.  There is always tomorrow to fix that disaster.

We pulled around front I pulled together all of my dirty laundry to throw into the washer.  One $2 washer later (when did they get so expensive) I sat down at an outlet and started working on uploading all of the video that I had taken on the GoPro while in the park.  It was very zen sitting in the sun, getting clean underpants, and clearing my head. 

Clean laundry in tow we headed to the hotel.  Something about a shower makes everything better.  Let’s hope that that I’ll get a good night sleep.  Let’s also hope that the two keys arrive at the dealership tomorrow so that I can get out of this funk. 

Glacier Part 2: West Side Story

Getting up before the crack of dawn to break down my tent is not exactly what I would call vacation-like behavior; however, I’d heard the Logan Pass was an absolute zoo. Dad taught me from an early age that if you want peace and quiet you figure out how to get it. So, up at 0430 it is. As we drove up the Going to the Sun road all alone I had the opportunity to take in all of its splendor without having to fight people on the road.

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When we got up to the pass we were the only ones there.

20140705-175659-64619890.jpg It was fantastic. Perry had a grand time rolling in the snow. Then we headed down the other side to the West Side.

I have to say I like the west side better. The people are friendlier, the Rangers are friendlier, and overall the vibe is better. We rented a kayak on Lake McDonald today, and most likely will do so again tomorrow. Yep, having a grand time. This is what I was expecting of Glacier.

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