Day 17 (June 17) – Cheyenne, WY to Des Moines, IA (652 Miles). Finally out of the mountains and into the flatlands. As nervous as the mountains made me, I’d rather have the scenery and excitement than the boredom that hit me driving through Nebraska and Iowa. There was some amazingly safe driving going on in these states, but myself and others, but the boredom was incredible.
Day 18 – Des Moines, IA to Erie, PA (765 Miles) HOME! It was a great trip and we saw some friends, and I’m no longer scared of another trip west, because I have been indoctrinated into mountain driving.
So there it is.
Our trip there:
Our trip home:
5504 miles plus just over 300 miles of driving around towns and such, 5800 mile journey total.
It is hard to drive home after an experience like that. Somewhere in Idaho, I started getting sad our trip was coming to a close. But it’s nice to get home.
Day 16 (June 16th) – Boise, ID to Cheyenne, WY (736 Miles) – If I had to pick one day where we were all cranky, travel-weary, and frustrated, this (Day 16) would be the day I pick.
It was 98 degrees (F) for most of the drive. About every 20 minutes, we thought we smelled baby poop, and we kept pulling off the highway at rest areas and checking Amelia, and she was always clean. A couple of wet diapers, but no poop. We’d get back in the car and be on our way, and we’d smell it again, strongly. We’d pull over, check her again, look through the car to see if we had left a dirty diaper in the car – all negative. We’d drive, we’d stop. It was a long process.
We stopped at a big rest area/motel “oasis” in Wyoming called Little America. This is where we found the source of the problem. But there are two things that you should know before I tell you what I’ve learned.
1. Our daughters poop smells like butter, or buttered popcorn, about half the time.
2. While we were in Victoria, we went grocery shopping for the week, and I bought butter. While packing up to continue our trip, I saw that we didn’t use all the butter so I put it in a Glad plastic container (poor man’s Tupperware?) and put it in a bag with the food.
You can probably guess that the butter melted and leaked out all over the food bag.
Don’t keep butter in the car on a very hot drive through Wyoming, especially if your baby’s poop smells like butter.
Day 14 – Boise, ID – This was another two nights of rest without driving at all. Anywhere. Just hanging out at a really nice house with a really awesome family. On day 14 we had a spectacular salmon and rice dinner with salmon caught by a friend in Alaska. There was so much that it was all-you-can-eat with no shame involved. I performed a few card tricks just for fun, and was then excluded from the card game that happened afterwards. I did not consider this a problem.
Day 15 – More of the same, but Mexican for dinner. I worked on a writing job both these nights. I had been conducting interviews for a book that needs to go to press by the end of the month. Janelle was an invaluable help, because she saw that I was stressed out, and told me to relax a little, and she would transcribe the interviews while I was driving us the rest of the way home.
[All of the pictures I took involved this family – and the children. They do their best to keep pics of their kids off the internet, so, not many pictures here.]
Day 12 (June 12, 2015) – Victoria, BC to Portland, OR (254 Miles) took the Port Angeles ferry to get back into the states, and we ate lunch at the diner on the ferry, which was pretty fun for me. I love being on a boat. I stopped at a few gas stations when we got back in the USA looking for Monster Java – I had been without it for the week in Canada. Couldn’t find any near the border either. We stayed at a hotel in downtown Portland – it was old and crappy, but it was cheap, and we only slept there.
Day 13 – Portland to Boise, ID (429 Miles) – We went to meet a friend at the Original Dinerant in Portland, where at 8 in the morning I was able to get a Cheeseburger with feta and a shot of the house cinnamon whiskey. And a beer. We took a walk to the Saturday Market – shopping is always kind of fun, and the carnival-like atmosphere is always exciting to me.
We caught a blues cover band that was pretty good, and fun to watch.
During this leg of the journey, we stopped at a sign for Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, and though we should check it out. It was pretty cool, but living near Niagara Falls makes any other waterfall a bit less impressive through the law of diminishing returns.(the social one, not the economic one)
I may have said this before, but this was the most nerve chilling drive of the adventure so far. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. (Link to a news article about Interstate 84 through the Blue Mountains, with it’s signs telling trucks to only go 18mph.) I remember going up and up and up, and then it stopped and I waited for it to go down – but it got flat for a mile, and then went up even more. Some people’s conception of hell may be fire, but for me it’s a continually rising highway with a drop-off 15 feet away and a guard rail that wouldn’t stop a Schwinn. My worst nightmares will include that highway now.
Fortunately, we stopped and visited some friends in Boise, ID, and stayed for three nights, so I got some rest and relaxation before driving through the rest of Idaho and all of Wyoming. I also got a chance to do some work on a current project for the Magic Firm. More on all of that soon.
Janelle started her Digital Humanities class at the University of Victoria on Monday. This was a one-week class that ran Monday-Friday from 8am to 4pm. The whole time was nice, but a blur for me because I took Janelle to school, hung out with Amelia, took Amelia to school at lunch so Janelle could feed her, and then back to the school when class was out.
It was a lot of fun discovering different parts of town while wheeling a stroller, and I met a lot of people that I normally wouldn’t have met because I become less threatening when I’m carrying a baby.
I did meet one woman in her 70s that told me to have many more babies because the white race was dying out and we needed to keep it going. There were so many things I wanted to say, but I figured if she’s been here 70 years talking like that she must have heard it all before and it had no effect, so why bother…
We visited downtown a couple of times, and I already posted a couple of the photographs, but I’ll put them here again, in better context.
While we were eating at a restaurant downtown, I had to do the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking victim, and that kind of stuff always puts a damper on dinner, but other than that it was a great time. Victoria is a beautiful city and I would love to go there again to explore it even further. I loved the AirBnB rental, so we would probably stay at the same place.
I highly recommend Victoria as a relaxing getaway. If you don’t have a college class and an 8-month old baby.
Day 7 (June 7, 2015) – Anacortes to Victoria, BC (60 Miles) We took the Anacortes Ferry through the San Juan Islands, which was very cool – the longest ferry ride I have ever taken. Seeing the islands was beautiful, and I took way more pictures than I really needed to – I think I was using the camera to try and capture my feeling for the place, instead of just pictures. The ferry took us to Sidney, BC and we drove into Victoria.
We stayed at a house we found on AirBnB and it was really really cool, close to downtown and the hosts were great. More on that in a post coming soon.
All in all, 60 miles was a pretty relaxing day, especially since I only drove about 20 miles.
We went to Floyd’s Diner in Victoria and had a great meal, then checked in to our apartment. Since it had a kitchen and a fridge, we walked about 1/2 mile to a supermarket and stocked up for the week.
Day 5 (June 5, 2015) – Spokane, WA to Seattle, WA (279 miles). So far, this was the scariest (for me) drive through the mountains, with the best views and the most beautiful landscape. The scenic viewpoint that I mentioned in the last traveling post actually happened today – but right now I’m feeling too lazy to go back and correct it. Drove to downtown Seattle, found a lucky parking spot, and took about three hours to walk through the famous Pike’s Place Market.
We left Seattle and made the short drive to Medina – we stayed with friends who live in the neighborhood where Bill Gates lives. We didn’t drive by his house, and we didn’t even know that Gates lived there when we went, it just seemed interesting to note. Dinner, chatting, and sleeping, and we were ready for the next day.
This area is home to Mount Rainier, the volcano that seems to loom over everything, although it is beautiful to look at. My phone didn’t really capture the enormity of the volcano in the background of the beautiful lake scene – pictures are never like being there.
Day 6 – Seattle to Bellingham, WA (87.4 miles) to Anacortes, WA (40 miles)
It was a nice, easy drive into Bellingham, and we were lucky enough to find a parking spot immediately downtown, right next to the farmer’s market. The market itself was much less busy than Pike’s in Seattle, and that made me like it a lot more. We met some friends at The Woods Coffee and chatted for a while. I also had to check out ecigexpress Bellingham, which is where I have been ordering the majority of my electronic cigarette supplies for the past three years. (Yes. Yes I do.)
We left Bellingham and headed to Anacortes, our next destination. As we neared our friend’s house, we drove over a two-bridge scenic view called Deception Pass, which is worth checking out online, though I didn’t get any photos of it myself.
After visiting our friend, we headed closer to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal for our trip tomorrow by ferry to Sidney, British Columbia, Canada. We got lucky, and found a motel, Lake Campbell Lodging, that had their vacancy sign out. We spent the night across from the lake – like right across the road from the lake. It was great. Janelle and I ate dinner sitting out front of the motel, looking at the water and boats. We went to bed looking forward to our boat ride to another country.
Day 3 (June 3, 2015) – Sioux Falls, SD to Billings, MO (660 miles). Stopped in Montrose, SD not too long after we started out because we saw a giant metal sculpture of a bull, and that is usually how we go sight-seeing. Something catches our interest and we stop. It turned out to be Porter Sculpture Park, and we talked to the artist, Wayne Porter, for a while, and paid to walk through the sculptures ($8 US per person, Amelia was free. He offered us a golf cart to drive through the park because we were carrying a baby, but we declined – too much driving, the walk sounded great. (I have a link to a gallery of my photos I took at the park here. I also have a standing offer to stop by when I have more time and have a beer with Wayne – which is now on my list of things to do. But not this trip. We also made a quick stop at the (apparently) famous Wall Drug Store in Wall, SD. It was a little too touristy for our tastes, but they had diesel for the micro-van (VW Golf).
Three pics of Wall Drug in Wall, SD
One really cool mention about Wall Drug was the sanctuary – it seemed really peaceful -after all that driving and then stopping at Wall and seeing thousands hundreds (edited: author is prone to hyperbole) of people walking around making noise – to walk into the sanctuary where there was a nice respectful silence. People were noisy until they came in, and then serenity kicked in. Day 4 – Billings, MO to Spokane, WA (540 miles) This is where we started getting into the mountains Continue reading “Traveling west – the digital humanities tour day 3 and 4”→
Janelle got a scholarship to take a one-week digital humanities course at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. She’s been wanting to travel west for more than three years, and I always recommend the south instead. I am addicted to our Southern history and sites, but mostly I was trying to avoid driving through the mountains. I bit the bullet and said, “Let’s make a road trip out of your course.”
Day 1 (June 1, 2015) – From Erie to Chicago, 450 miles. Not much happened on this part of the journey, except that Janelle and I learned a little bit more about traveling with a baby (We did take a trip to Savannah, GA earlier this year, so we were a little bit used the idea.)