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Our names are John and Cathryn.  We live in Kalispell, Montana and recently came back from a year long RV trip together around this beautiful country.  We traveled over 31,000 miles and drove through over 35 states.  It was an adventure to remember and one that sealed a friendship between us that began twenty one months ago that we hope will last the rest of our lives.  As we adjust to living together in our home in this beautiful part of Montana, we are happy, content and enjoying life one day at a time to the fullest!  Life is good!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HOMEWARD BOUND TO MONTANA VIA WISCONSIN

Remember us?  John and Cathryn....... 




and Dexter and Annie!





California etc.....

It has been awhile since Cathryn and I posted updates on our travels about our cross country journey.  After we left the Valley of Fire State Park northeast of Las Vegas, we continued our journey across the Mohave Desert toward the Los Angeles area with hopes of visiting with some old friends and enjoying the beautiful coast as we planned to drive north.  We wanted to spend some time in Monterey and Oregon before we headed back home to Montana.

We did have lunch with my old friend Bob Hunter in Victorville, California before moving further west to the Saugus - Newhall area north of Los Angeles.  Bob and I go back many years and it was very nice to see him again and catch up.  He plans to retire this year after more than thirty years in law enforcement and we wish him the best!


Bob and Carol

Our plan to visit with two of my oldest (time known, not age!) friends (other than hometown classmates in Texas), Barry and Pati Gump, had to be delayed until another time as both were fighting the flu bug.  I have known Barry since 1963 when we were stationed together at Iraklion Air Base in Crete, Greece with the US Air Force.  He and his beautiful wife, Pati, are very special friends. I really wanted them to meet Cathryn but we hope we are able to visit again another time soon before age and health issues get in the way. Barry is fighting Parkinson's disease but he has a great attitude and there are plenty of folks rooting for him, including us.  You are in our prayers Barry.


Barry and Pati with their beautiful daughter, Nancy.


Leaving the Los Angeles area, we were able to continue our journey north up the coast highway past Santa Barbara to Vandenberg Air Force Base where we stayed for about a week.  This area is where I was stationed back in the mid sixties with the Air Force and it is also near the quaint town of Solvang, a fun and charming place to visit.

Solvang, California









I shrunk!!!

Solvang is a unique small Scandinavian town in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.  It is always fun to visit and has great pastries and plenty to see and do.  The surrounding area is full of beautiful vineyards, wine and food shops, vegetable farms and thoroughbred horse farms. President Reagan's ranch is near here where he loved to visit and chop wood to keep in shape.

Change of Plans......

While here, Cathryn received news that her brother-in-law, Craig, who lives in Stoughton, Wisconsin and had been fighting cancer, had worsened and was placed on hospice.  We took an unplanned trip to Stoughton from Ontario, Canada early in our trip last year to visit with Craig, Cathryn's sister, Pat and their children. We are glad we did.  We checked the various flights from the Santa Barbara area so Cathryn could fly back to support the family but the options were not very good.  We decided instead to drive back to Wisconsin from California so we turned east again and headed out......only 2500 miles to go!  

The trip was not one to enjoy, both for the reason we were going and for the fact we were pushing ourselves to drive over 500 miles each day, about twice my normal.  We also blew out our turbo on the truck when going over the very steep Rocky Mountains just past Salt Lake City. That cost us a bunch of money to fix plus we lost a day and a half travel time for the repairs.








As pretty as they look, big trouble awaits us when we cross those beauties.
  
These folks helped us get back on the road but at a high cost!

Unfortunately, we did not make it to Stoughton in time. Craig passed away two days before our arrival. We were able to be there for his family and service and visit and support all the other family members that came. Craig was only 51 years old and had been bravely fighting this battle for the past six years.

Heading West Again...........

From Stoughton, Wisconsin we drove into northeast Iowa and visited Cathryn's hometown of Maquoketa. She has several cousins still living there that we visited.  We also paid our respects to her parents who are buried nearby.


This is the home Cathryn grew up in in Maquoketa, Iowa.  

One of Cathryn's cousins, Joel, owns a large farm and raises elk.  We spent a few days with him and it was interesting to see his unusual elk operation.  Joel is a real neat guy and we really enjoyed our visit with him.


Cathryn helping Joel at feeding time.


They are shedding their winter coats.



We also spent some time with two other cousins, Janene and Ann, at Ann's farm.  She and her husband farm over 500 acres and raise cattle and crops. We enjoyed riding around the farm on her ATV's in search of fresh Morel mushrooms. We got rained out but still got to eat the mushrooms she prepared for us. 

Iowa and Wisconsin are very beautiful states. Although the reason for our being there was tragic and sad, we enjoyed our visits with family members before moving further west towards Mt. Rushmore.



I really enjoyed riding around the farm on these!
Barn quilts are a common sight in this area.

Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota

As we traveled back west, we enjoyed visiting Mr. Rushmore again.  It is an amazing sight to see and deserves to be known as one of the seven wonders of the world.


Simply amazing......a must see for every American.



We drove through Custer State Park and saw lots of bison.

This is the Chapel in the Hills in Rapid City, SD.  It is an exact replica of the Borgund stave church in Norway built around year 1150.

Wyoming and crossing through Yellowstone.....


The beautiful Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.

Wyoming backcountry near Cody.

This got worse as we crossed the pass through Yellowstone National Park into Montana and Idaho heading west.

We made it though Idaho and into Oregon where we visited with our dear friend, Margie, in Prineville before continuing our travels toward Portland.  One of our tires was wearing badly so we had to stop in Eugene, Oregon to have the axles aligned and new tires put on both the 5th wheel and the truck.  Whew!! Another unexpected, but necessary, expense.

Getting new tires all the way around.

This shop in Eugene was the only place in Oregon that could align and reinforce the frame on our trailer.  Very nice folks and excellent work.

While we were waiting for the work to be completed on our 5th wheel in Eugene we took the opportunity to visit with my sons, Josh and Jason, and also see some old friends from back in my Lane County Oregon Sheriff's office days.  We also took a few day trips to the beautiful Oregon coast and let Annie swim in the Pacific Ocean.



Josh, me and Cathryn enjoying a day in the country together.
 Josh lives in Medford, Oregon now.  He is working as a Registered Nurse with Providence Medical Group and loving it.  He gets outside to hike and bike frequently in this beautiful part of Oregon.  He said he likes everything about it but the rattlesnakes!  I agree!

Looking through a portal on a covered bridge just outside of Jascksonville.  Beautiful river and country around here.



Jacksonville is a quaint old town with a lot of character.  

We had a great visit and dinner with old friends Kurt and Barb.  Kurt and I worked together on the Lane County Sheriff's department for years and he stayed on to retire.  We enjoyed rehashing some old cop stories.

My youngest son, Jason and his family, live in Portland so we drove up to have a short visit and lunch in the park with him and Grandson Shawn. I love this little guy! ......and his Dad too.  I am very fortunate to have two great sons I can enjoy being with every chance I get.

While in Portland I paid my respects to my dear Pati.  It is hard to believe it has been four years since I lost her.  It was Memorial Day weekend and all the resting sites had American flags on them. Very patriotic 



Our day trips to the coast were very enjoyable and the weather was perfect!

Annie had a hard time sitting for a picture.  She loved to run and swim!

The Oregon Coast is like no other.....beautiful!

This is Newport harbor on the Oregon Coast.

Joseph and the beautiful Wallowa Mountains

From Eugene we drove east through the Columbia River Gorge.  It is always a beautiful trip seeing the water falls along the Columbia River.  Our destination was Wallowa Lake State Park in Joseph, Oregon.  It is located in the far northeast corner of Oregon next to Idaho and Washington near Hell's Canyon.  We had arranged to meet some Kalispell friends, John and Barb, and camp together for a few days and then travel back towards home together.


Wallowa Lake in June....beautiful place.  The mountains are called the Swiss Alps of America.



We took the tram to the top of the mountain and had to walk through some slushy snow to hike some short trails. That is John and Barb behind Cathryn.

The hike was worth the effort for this view.

Huckleberry ice cream at the top of the mountain....yummmie.

The gondola ride up the mountain is one of the steepest in the U.S.

John and Barb enjoying our campfire.


Barb and Cathryn.....good friends and pretty ladies.


These two nice fishermen come here for a week every year just to fish.  They said they enjoy fishing but didn't like eating the fish so they gave us a bunch of trout and kokanee (a type of salmon). I cooked them on the grill and they were very good!

This is at about 8000 feet elevation overlooking the Snake River canyon.

Idaho and the Salmon River Canyon

From Joseph we continued east through Boise and headed north along the Salmon River toward Montana.  We camped for a few days at a great RV park right on the river where we enjoyed having a pair of bald eagles as neighbors.  They had a nest in a tree across the river and two young eagles that were about grown were in the nest.  The parents took turns bringing fish back to the nest and guarding them.  


John, Barb, Cathryn and Annie.

One of the eagles on guard duty in a nearby tree.


On the right is the eagle nest with the young ones and on the left the two parents are standing watch.  Sure wish I had more lens!!






A great blue heron doing what I can't....catching fish!

A herd of mountain goats licking salt from the roadway
Baby goats too young to come all the way down off the mountain side.



The Salmon River.  Lewis and Clark floated this river in an attempt to get across the mountains but had to abandon due to the strong rapids.

Sacagawea, a Lemhi Shoshone woman born and raised near Salmon, Idaho.  She helped the Lewis and Clark Expedition achieve each of its chartered mission objectives exploring the Louisiana Purchase between 1804 and 1806 and traveled thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean assisting with cultural contacts.
Montana.....eleven months and 31,123 miles later!


The Flathead Lake as we approach Kalispell.

Cathryn and the "kids" enjoying a real living room!
Very special friends, Jeff and Letty, from Bend, Oregon stopped by for a visit shortly after we got home.


I put the 5th wheel on the market as we plan to settle down at home for the next year and save our pennies so we can buy a small motorhome.  If any of you know of someone looking for a great 5th wheel, please send them our way...........the price is right and I will sell my truck with it if desired.  


Annie enjoying her "pond" at the fish hatchery near our home in Kalispell.



We enjoyed this beautiful rainbow from our back deck shortly after getting home.  What an appropriate beginning and ending to a wonderful year long adventure!!  Thank you for riding along with us..........Happy Trails and we hope to see some of you soon.  Come visit us!!!

John, Cathryn, Annie and Dexter